It wouldn't be Christmas without mention of some books. Despite my admittedly fussy preferences, they're usually always something I enjoy receiving as gifts and nowadays gifting to other people as well. Side note: Friends and family, please stop reading this post. Now. Here's my carefully curated edit of books I think would make fantastic presents this Christmas. This is the mere tip of the iceberg and in the interests of not making this post longer than it is, I have streamlined my recommendations. That being said, if you want any more recommendations just ask. I am always happy to talk about books with anyone, whether they ask for my opinions or not. Oh and stay tuned to the very bottom of this post because you can even win a book or two for yourself. Huzzah!
The one for the fashion lover: Get a Life: The Diaries of Vivienne Westwood is a recently released volume of Westwood's diary entries, from 2010 to 2016. It's a hefty book, coming in at close to 500 pages and is crammed with interesting insights on fashion, politics, the environment and activism. All topics that Vivienne is incredibly passionate about and well informed on. It makes for absolutely enthralling reading.
For the twenty-something who loves humour and relatable reads: Where Am I Now? by Mara Wilson aka the now grown up girl who played Matilda and was the youngest daughter of Robin Williams in Mrs Doubtfire among other nineties family films. The title, a play on the often asked question by Hollywood media hints at the cleverness and humour contained within. It's an incredibly relatable read and even if you cannot relate to child stardom, there is still something valuable to gain from Mara's writing.
The beauty product bible for beauty lovers: Pretty Iconic by Sali Hughes has made a few appearances around here now and it's worthy of high praise indeed. I have said it before but I will say it again, Sali Hughes is a beauty writing wizard. This collection of iconic beauty products and Sali's personal musings on them, as well as interesting facts will satisfy many a beauty lover.
For the one who grew up with Harry Potter: Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them: Original Screenplay* by JK Rowling. It may be wrong to judge a book by its cover but you have to be forgiven when it is as exquisite as this 1920's inspired treasure by graphic design team Minalima. If they loved the film they're bound to lap this up as well. It is always a treat to reenter the world of the genius that is Jo Rowling.
The Summer beach/poolside read for the Zoe Foster Blake Fangirl or Guy: The Wrong Girl by Zoe Foster Blake is the right book for the aforementioned fan. See what I did there? It's funny, smart and just a really enjoyable read. It's the paper equivalent of eating Lindor Chocolate and I love Lindt so that is high praise indeed.
The one for the Gilmore Girl lover: Talking As Fast As I Can by Lauren Graham may not be a lengthy read but it is mighty enjoyable. It is also possibly the closest thing we will ever have to a afternoon chat with Lauren Graham. As well as being packed with Gilmore Girls stories, she reflects on her time pre-Hollywood, her career as a writer, the stigmas around singledom and more.
For the lifestyle goddess: Bloom* by Estee Lalonde, the aesthetically pleasing, inspiring book that is bound to go down a treat. This is a beautiful coffee-table book for a bit of inspiration and to flick through for some ideas and wisdom.
The book everyone needs: milk and honey by Rupi Kaur. Poetry is one of those genres that people seem to either love or hate but this collection of poems and musings by Kaur seems to please even the divided. It'll make you feel a thousand emotions and want to dog-ear pages to commit to memory. It's a best-seller for a reason.
Magazine Subscriptions/Assortments of Magazines: Magazines are a bit of a luxury so it's always lovely to give or receive them. I try to include them with gifts, especially for people overseas who may want a little slice of home or a chance to peruse some unknown pages. My recommendations are: Miss FQ, British Vogue, frankie, Kinfolk and The Happy Reader.
Bookmarks, in particular these and these: A great stocking stuffer and an ideal accompaniment to a gift for the person who reads all the things. These ones from Whitcoulls are currently on 3 for 2 so I nabbed a set for myself as well as some for friends and family members. I love that they're magnetic too so you won't lose your place in your book.
A Reading Journal: For the true reading enthusiast, a reading journal is a fantastic way to track what you've read and document your true, honest opinions safe from the prying Internet eyes. There's no chance of offending anyone with your controversial opinions and you have a paper record of what you've read too. Wins all round.
-What books would you recommend as gifts? Oh and don't forget to check out the giveaway below!
Now for the fun part, I am giving away a copy of Pretty Iconic** by Sali Hughes and Talking As Fast As I Can by Lauren Graham. To be in to win simply follow the steps outlined in the Rafflecopter box below and leave me a comment here or on social media letting me know which book you'd like to win. This giveaway will close next Thursday the 15th of December so there's more of a chance of you receiving the book by Christmas.
Note: Due to the size and weight of Pretty Iconic, I have to restrict the giveaway for that title to New Zealand entries only. However, anyone in the world can enter to win Lauren Graham's book. As always, if you are under 18 please get permission from a parent or guardian as I will need your address details. Good luck!
**Thanks to Harper Collins NZ for supplying a copy of Sali's book.
There's been a few underdog beauty brands that have seemingly appeared from nowhere and thus taken the beauty world and beauty enthusiasts by storm. None have done it quite as spectacularly as Glossier though, more on that here. Brainchild of Into The Gloss founder, Emily Weiss, Glossier has gone from strength to strength since its launch. Oh and if you're wondering how I managed to get those products to NZ, I used NZ Post's YouShop service. Glossier's manifesto is: A new way of thinking about (and shopping for) beauty products. Because "beauty" should be fun, easy, imperfect and personal. Above all, we believe that you give life to products-products don't breathe life into you. So a couple of months back I made a little order and here is what I grabbed. These are really first impressions as I've not really had enough time to form concrete opinions on everything just yet. For now though, I love everything and am particularly fond of just how simple yet effective their products are.
Super Pure Serum-Containing the hero ingredient, niacinamide which Morgan did a informative post on, it is designed for combination skins, prone to breakouts and the odd spot of redness. Although Glossier say this serum is suitable for all skin types, one of the other two may be better for you. Do your research first. It is super lightweight and feels more like a liquid version of a hyaluronic product like Hydraluron. I've not been using it long enough to notice if it's working, partly because I have been somewhat noncommittal with my skincare lately but I will definitely do an update on it sometime early next year.
Boy Brow Styling Pomade in Brown-This has been dubbed the Number One brow gel by Buzzfeed, Teen Vogue and numerous other outlets so you know it's going to be good. That and the fact it is often sold out on Glossier. It's a bold claim but this may be my new favourite brow gel. It's not too heavy a product, meaning it's a bit subtler on and because it's a bit wetter, rather than thick it gives you more time to work with it. Oh, and more importantly it keeps my brows in place all day. My only gripe is it's tiny. Please do a larger size soon G team!
Generation G Matte Lipstick in Cake-These lipsticks are designed to give your lips what Glossier dub the popsicle effect. Think lips that are stained with the subtlest hint of colour. They're partway between a matte lipstick and a tinted lip balm so they're not the most hydrating of lip products. In saying that, I don't find this drying out my lips when I'm wearing it and it doesn't settle into the creaselines of my lips like some insanely matte products tend to do. The Generation G lipsticks are a lovely option for people who don't want to commit to a matte lipstick or find bolder colours a bit intimidating. Cake, a peachy-brown nude is one of those colours that suits every kind of makeup look so it's been getting a fair bit of use for me. In fact, I think it's been living in my makeup bag for the last week or so-that's how much I like it.
-Have you tried any Glossier products before? What did you think of them?
Come December 1st, or if we are being honest here, November, I enter the festive mode. Things look a bit twinklier, I get old-school and write actual Christmas cards on actual paper, I start buying gifts for my loved ones, accumulating far too many of those vanilla-filled Cadbury chocolates (mmm) and compiling gift guides. The latter may just be one of my favourite tasks and while attempting to streamline these lists is a struggle, just wait until you see Friday's book offering, it's something I really enjoy. Today we have what I have deemed the Luxe Beauty guide. I'm sure some of these inclusions mightn't be so luxe elsewhere in the world so just as a general guideline, all the products featured here are $50 (NZ) or more. If you want to spoil a makeup loving friend or family member, I am sure one of these would go down a treat. Hey, maybe you want to treat yourself to one of these too. After all, it is Christmas...
YSL Mon Paris* Fragrance-If you really, really want to indulge then a new perfume is the best way to go about it. I am absolutely loving YSL's Mon Paris for this time of year. It is a sweet scent with a bit of a sexy vibe to it and unlike most perfumes I wear in Summer, it does not evaporate into oblivion within seconds of application. If we are talking aesthetics, the bottle is super pretty too and not too showy which I love.
Lancome Les Petits Tresors eyeshadow* and Le Duo Khol liner*, limited edition-My photos really aren't doing the packaging of these eyeshadows justice but they're super glossy and super sparkly. The Les Petits Tresors shadows are really more of a pressed pigment, at least the one pictured is. This means they work best when applied with a dampened brush or worn over the top of cream products where they really shine. As this colour, which irritatingly doesn't have a name, is on the sheerer side of things, it adds a touch of iridescence without going too overboard. These liners make the perfect stocking stuffer as well. On one side you get a darker colour; pictured is the black liner and the other you have a more pearlescent shade, ideal for inner corner highlighting and eye brightening. I love two-in-one products like these, especially for traveling and throwing into my handbag to reapply during the day.
Hourglass Ambient Lighting Edit in Surreal Light, limited edition-This palette is truly one for the beauty fanatics and I am sure many a girl would be ecstatic to receive this. Whilst the price tag may make you wince, you really do get your money's worth with this one as these palettes last ages. It is best suited to fairer skintones which is a rarity in the beauty world but that is why I have personally been getting a lot of use out of it. Who can resist that sleek, marble packaging as well. Swoon...
MAC Extra Dimension Skinfinish in Beaming Blush*-Each Christmas MAC usually bring an Extra Dimension collection out and they are always in high demand due to their limited status. This year, they have made the Extra Dimension skinfinishes permanent. The formula seems to have been jazzed up in the best way and now more than ever you can achieve that 'lit from within', Kendall Jenner/all the Victoria's Secret Angels glow. Beaming Blush is absolutely beautiful and may just about rival my love for Champagne Pop. This powder is one for the MAC lover and highlighting enthusiast.
Charlotte Tilbury The Dolce Vita Palette-You cannot beat a beautiful palette at Christmas and Charlotte Tilbury's are so luxurious and stunning. There is an array of palettes, to suit a wide variety of eyeshadow needs and complement different skintones but my pick of the bunch is The Dolce Vita. Inside you have four beautiful, shimmering bronzes with, the exception of the cream-toned shadow. They all work beautifully and in honesty, this palette is worth buying for that pressed glitter alone. I'm not sure what Charlotte puts in it but it glides onto the lid like magic fairy dust and makes your eyes look stunning.
Yves Saint Laurent Star Clash Rouge Pur Couture lipstick in 01*, limited edition-Another luxury brand delivering on the glittery front is YSL. If I wasn't being so disciplined I would have grabbed the Touche Eclat in this packaging but it is more than likely sold out now. Boo. Hiss. Maybe next time wallet. This lipstick in the shade 01 is your true, vibrant red. Rumour has it that Alexa Chung is a fan of this shade. If you know someone who wants to channel the Chung then this is for them. There's also a beautiful nude in this packaging too. Did I mention it is embossed with stars, and in a glittery casing? Okay I will stop..
Jo Malone London Christmas Ornament, limited edition-Nothing whispers elegance in a glamorous way at Christmas time like Jo Malone. Their Christmas Crackers and Ornaments always go down a treat with their recipients and you cannot really go wrong. This year I think their ornament is rather exquisite as it contains a mini bottle of Peony and Blush suede, aka my favourite Jo Malone scent. Oh Jo Malone, so kind of you to design an ornament with me in mind. No, no, you hang up first. They have also included a Grapefruit Body Creme, another of my favourite scents when it comes to body products. Pro tip: If you are going through Auckland Duty Free you can save a little bit of cash on these, if they are still around. Otherwise they will set you back around $55. The perfect gift for the ladies in your life, or yourself if like me, treat yo'self is your philosophy.
-What luxe beauty products are on your wishlist this year?
The one with the laughs, the stories and the novel that's getting a lot of attention....
Scrappy Little Nobody* by Anna Kendrick-My first introduction to Anna Kendrick was in that unnamed vampire franchise, which I shamefully spent the better part of a year recommending people read. Dark times. Dark times. Thankfully I put that aside and saw her talented self in Into The Woods and Pitch Perfect among other things. Her Twitter has always been incredibly witty, especially when she engages in banter with Aubrey Plaza. Anyway, Scrappy Little Nobody reminds me a bit of Amy Poehler's book, which I also love. So naturally I loved this. As well as containing humorous musings on Hollywood, she also talks about life pre-fame, how not to throw parties and what it's like being in the weird fashion labyrinth that is celebrity styling. It's an extremely entertaining read.
something to say by frankie magazine-Before I get carried away with retelling one of my favourite stories from my holiday, I'll let you catch up here. Now that's over, here we have the best of twelve years of frankie hilarity and stories that as they put it, will make you laugh awkwardly in public. Fan favourites like Benjamin Law, Marieke Hardy and Rowena Grant-Frost all have work featured but there's tons of talented writer's work in here. One standout piece which I'm so glad is included is a story called 'things wheelchair users wish you would know' by Stella Young. It's hands down one of my all-time favourite pieces of writing frankie has included for many reasons. If you're a fan of the magazine or just like witty, humorous, sometimes mischievous writing then this is for you.
Commonwealth by Ann Patchett-This is one of those instances where I saw the cover and was intrigued, partly because the model reminded me of Cate Blanchett in Carol. However it was the blurb that enticed me further and this book has been atop bestseller lists for months. In fact, I think I requested this quite a while ago from the library. Commonwealth is a story of two families and how fate can set unexpected events in motion. I really love books like this that flit between two periods of time and the different stages characters are at so I'm sure this will end up being a book I thoroughly enjoy.
How to Win at Feminism* by Reductress-Harper Collins kindly sent me this for review and I was intrigued from the get-go. Rather than being a no-nonsense, instructional manual on Feminism 101, this is in fact meant to be more satirical than anything else. Goodness knows, we all need a laugh after the year that was 2016 so I'm looking forward to winding down with this book during December.
-What are you reading during December?
'Tis the season to stock up on Lush. They're certainly one of the key players when it comes to Christmas bath and body gifts and their stores are always manic in the days leading up to Christmas. They have some standout sets but for me, their hero product at Christmas are their bath bombs. Today's post is therefore a bit of a love letter to these carbonated, often sparkly and surprise-laden delights. Cynics might say you're literally dissolving money but there's just something so comforting and fun about bath bombs, especially during the stressful festive season...
Never Mind The Ballistics*-If you like bath bombs that fizz away slowly, allowing you the chance to unwind and recharge your batteries, this is the one for you. Its scent reminds me of Perky Nana chocolate bars, which are my fave so I love that about it. Like Butterbear, mentioned below, it contains cocoa butter so it has that moisturising quality to it. Your skin is left smelling sweet and feeling silky smooth. What more could you want?
So White-So White is one of my favourite Christmas bath bombs from Lush. It's not as showy as some of Lush's other bath bombs but don't let that lead you astray from it. It's apple scented and is like bathing in Granny Smith apples. It smells sweet with just a tinge of sourness and while it may not be the most memorable of bath bombs, it's still a nice one nonetheless.
Northern Lights*-From what I can remember, this is a new addition to the Christmas bath bomb range and admittedly I am not a fan. Its scent reminds me a lot of Granny Takes A Dip which is more on the herbal side of things. Although the notes lean more floral so maybe it's just me imagining scents. Either way, I feel like Northern Lights has a very distinct scent that won't be for everyone so choose wisely.
Shoot For The Stars-I have to confess, I am yet to use this bath bomb but I have been assured by Lush enthusiasts and staff alike that it is beautiful. I may have even seen it being demo'ed at their Christmas launch last month. Inspired by Van Gogh's famed Starry Night painting, the water is left a deep, shimmering blue and notes of Brazilian orange and bergamot fill the air. S Club 7-inspired singing sessions are encouraged with this one.
Butterbear*-This is the Christmas twist on Lush's popular Butterball bath bomb. A blend of vanilla with real bits of cocoa butter throughout. It's like bathing in a chocolate milkshake, albeit a very moisturising one. I feel like this bath bomb would appeal to a wide range of people; from kids through to Mums so it'd make a great stocking stuffer.
Star Dust, not pictured-I'm a bit obsessed with star shaped things and this love naturally extends itself to bath bombs. Star Dust combines the scents of rosewood, vanilla absolute and bergamot oil. It colours your water a milky blue and leaves behind a trail of multicoloured stars. So yes, this is a visual treat. It also smells divine, like vanilla shortbread or Macarons so again it's a winner with me. I'll be trying to stock up on these before the end of the festive season. PS-Santa, I would not say no to one or four of these.
Golden Wonder, not pictured-I couldn't do this post and not mention what is quite possibly my favourite Lush bath bomb ever. In saying that, I've not bought any this Christmas. I'm a disloyal fan. Golden Wonder is a present shaped bath bomb which fizzes away, releasing some gold stars and lustre (Lush's equivalent of glitter) before leaving you with turquoise blue water that looks like something from a Greek island. Admittedly it's this colour that is the biggest appeal for me but I love the scent of it too, kinda sandalwood-y and beachy.
-Have you tried any of Lush's Christmas bath bombs? What did you think of them?