BOOK REVIEW // The Winters - Lisa Gabriele

I was really excited to read The Winters and was very happy when I was sent a copy to review, it felt like it was going to be the perfect read in the runup to Halloween and it turned out it was, there's no denying the opening line “Last night Rebekah tried to murder me again” is striking and lures you in. I ended up reading this one in a day or two as I flicked through eager to see what was going to happen, the story follows an orphaned and unnamed narrator as she falls for the older, wealthy New York Senator and recently widowed, Max Winters as he holidays in the Cayman Islands, Max is charming yet somewhat damaged having recently lost his wife Rebekah, mother of his troublesome teenage Daughter, Dani and he soon meets the soon to be second Mrs Winters who works at a boat shack that Max frequents, both of them bonding over their seemingly troubled pasts, they fall for each other very early on in the book and it's not long before she's whisked back to Asherley, his Long Island mansion, which was somewhat of a passion project of his former wife and is definitely an underlying element throughout the whole book, Asherley is dark and compelling and a stark contrast to the opening setting of the Cayman Islands, it adds a sense of unease throughout the whole book. 

I haven't read Daphne Du Maurier's Rebecca that this book is based on so I can't comment on the similarities but there's definitely an eeriness and sense of foreboding to this story that I have heard the original does have, as each new character is introduced, you can't help but wonder how they will play into the book, it kept me guessing until the very end and was a thoroughly enjoyable if not slightly creepy read, perfect for these darker winter months. 

Have you read this? What did you think?

Soph x

BOOK REVIEW // The Christmas Sisters - Sarah Morgan

I realise this is probably a little bit late now but if any of you are wanting to relive that festive vibe, this is a really enjoyable read, the story follows three sisters, Posy, Beth and Hannah as they prepare to meet up at their parent's home in the Scottish highlands, there's snow, there's Christmas, there's family angst, budding romances and marriages being tested, what more is there to want? In all seriousness though, this book does have a lot happening set against a cosy, Christmas background, it had a bit of a feel of Paige Toon's 'The One we Fell in Love With' - possibly because of the three sisters but I enjoyed how the sisters relationships played out and how they were quite realistic. 

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and would highly recommend it and although it does definitely have a festive feel and I did read it in the run up to Christmas, I think this would be one that you could definitely still pick up now and enjoy. 

Do it!

Do you have any other Sarah Morgan recommendations?

Soph x

BOOK REVIEW // One Day in December by Josie Silver

Where to start with this book, I read it pretty much in one sitting as I got completely and wholeheartedly lost in Laurie's world, the book opens as Laurie, fresh out of university and living in London spots a boy from the window of the double decker bus she's riding on, she falls in love instantly and so ensues the story of Laurie, her best friend and Flatmate, Sarah and Jack, the boy she fell in love with. We follow Laurie, Jack and Sarah throughout the years as their lives entangle and intertwine across Friendships, Heartbreak, new Jobs, rubbish Jobs and Tragedy. 

Laurie, our leading lady is an aspiring Journalist who can't quite seem to get catch that break so she can leave her Hotel Receptionist job and make it into the heady world of Publishing, Sarah is the glossy but brilliant best friend and Jack is the ultimate boy next door that I think pretty much everyone would fall in love with. The story spans over 10 years, starting in 2008 (perfect for a bit of nostalgia) and takes us right up into 2018 as we follow the lives of these three.

It's utterly charming, it's everything cosy and wintertime, it will make you want to write new years resolutions every year and know that sometimes you will make wrong choices and bad decisions and that's OK but ultimately it will make you believe in true love and in a world of Trumps, Brexit and post Christmas January blues, who doesn't want that?

BOOK REVIEW // Lady Mary - Lucy Worsley

Lady Mary tells the story of Mary Tudor, Daughter of King Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon as told by TV Historian Lucy Worsley, the book itself is aimed more towards the younger teen side of young Adult but as a 30 year old, I really enjoyed this book, the Tudor period is a particular point in history that has always fascinated me so I went into this knowing with a bit of background on these characters and as you would expect with the author being a historian, it was very factual and doesn't stray from the history books. I loved reading this from the view point of Lady Mary who is sometimes lost in history for her fairly short reign that preluded the much more notorious Queen Elizabeth but Mary really does have such a fascinating story. Each chapter starts with the year and also which home or palace Mary was staying in that time, because i'm a weirdo, I actually quite liked looking them up as I was reading to help build a picture of what it was like.

As I mentioned, this is aimed towards the younger demographic but even if as an adult you just want to delve into British History a little more, this is a really enjoyable read, we're introduced to characters in this that you will likely have heard of such as Thomas Cromwell, Catherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn and you start to get a picture of what they were really like from the viewpoint of Mary. Also, Lady Mary was a child from a broken home so there's themes of this throughout the book as she tries to come to terms with her parents separation along with themes of religion and politics with the books showing the birth of the Church of England with King Henry VIII denouncing the Catholic Church so he could marry Anne Boleyn. 

Finally, this book shows a very strong female character as the lead, who fought on even in the face of adversity, obviously sometimes this was a little extreme and historically Mary with her moniker of Bloody Mary is known as being ruthless and savage but my view point is that she was no different to any other leader in this time period, I see her as a great role model for younger girls as someone who truly believed in her self and her beliefs and wasn't swayed by people that tried to tell her she was worth less. A great read and definitely one I'd recommend for anyone interested in Lady Mary.

Have you read this? What did you think?

Soph x

BOOK REVIEW // The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society - Annie Barrows and Mary Ann Shaffer

Let me start by saying that Juliet is one of my favourite characters that I've read, witty, smart and fiercely strong and independent, she's very much a girl icon. I've picked up and put down The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society so many times, I heard how wonderful it was via a friend when it first came out but just never got round to reading it until now, when I saw the movie was coming out, I knew I couldn't put it off any longer. It's written in a series of letters between Juliet, our lead character and a number of people in her life such as her publisher, Sidney, Close friend, Sophie and several members of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society - there are some other characters in there too. It's set in 1946 in a post War setting with Juliet being an on the rise author who is struggling to find the topic for her next big hit, she receives a letter from Dawsey, a member of the Guernsey Literary Society who has found a book that once belonged to Juliet and through their love of reading so ensues the beginning of the relationship between Juliet and the members of the The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.

Something about the way this book is written makes it so interesting, you get to see Juliet's character develop in the way that she interacts with the different people in her life, the openness with her friend Sophie and the endearing way she talks with Sidney, her publisher and also Sophie's brother along with some of the wittiness that comes through in some of her earlier letters with the American Publisher, Markham Reynolds and her passion of reading and writing with Dawsey and the society members, the sense of family that comes through in the way she interacts and talks with Kit - it's an interesting concept and initially I wondered if I'd enjoy reading in this style because I thought it could make the story a bit 'bitty' if that makes sense and not really pieced together but without that first person point of view but it really is, if anything, I felt a stronger connection with Juliet than some other books I've read recently as we see her own letters but also how Juliet is perceived through the letters written to her - not gonna lie though, this definitely did give me Jolly Postman vibes, a book from my childhood that was a series of letters between a postman and various fairytale characters which I loved!

I think Juliet and many of the members of the society are the kind of characters that just stay with you, I have a similar view with Eleanor Oliphant where they sometimes just pop back into your head as if they're an old friend and I definitely think that they will be like those characters for me. At the heart of this story is the underlying power of friendship and family and how powerful it can really be, I was so sad to finish reading this but I will be one of the first in the Cinema on April 20th when the film adaptation comes out to see if they've managed to bring the book to life. 

Have you read this book? What did you think?

Sophie x

BOOK REVIEW // Johnny Be Good - Paige Toon

I'm going to confess to being a fully fledged Paige Toon addict as you may see from a number of reviews that I have coming up, I've completely fallen in love with her the way she writes and also all of the characters, I never used to be a chick-lit kind of gal, tending to prefer fantasy or dystopian type books but I read this as I just wanted something easy and nice to read and I've found that it's a good way of upping my reading and also keeping myself in a reading routine. So, anyway, back to Johnny Be Good, I put off reading this one for a little while based on the blurb as I sort of thought it would be a cliche, girl falls for rock star manages to tame him but this one throws out lots of twists and turns and as with most of Paige's books that I'm now finding out, they don't always finish the way you think they will which I love - however, with this one, there's a follow up book and also a short story spin off so I'm interested to get stuck into those to see how this does end up playing out.

I loved the lead character in this, Meg, PA to Rock Star Johnny Jefferson, she's very honest and likeable as a character, Johnny Jefferson, our rock star is a bit flawed and troubled, in my head, he reminded me of an early 00's Robbie Williams, and I like seeing how that plays out throughout the book, learning more about what makes Johnny tick and the reasons for his flaws. Meg gets the role to be Johnny's PA early on in the book and leaves her London life behind her to fly out to LA and take on the Glamorous role of PA to a Rock Star. It doesn't all go smoothly and Meg soon finds herself falling for her new boss...The background setting of sunny LA definitely helps make this book the ultimate summer read, although, I read this in the deepest darkest depths of Winter and still loved it as it makes for a great escape from the constant ice and rain we seem to be getting in the UK at the minute. As you would imagine, everything doesn't run smoothly for our lead character Meg and her new boss as she navigates the crazy lifestyle of being the worlds biggest rock star. 

I'm definitely going to be reading the follow up next which is rare for me as I normally like to move into a different genre of book once i've finished one but I don't know, the characters in this just stuck with me. As with all of Paige's books, there's little links to other characters in other books so this one links to Chasing Daisy as well as Lucy in the Sky, I love the way this works and I quite often wonder if some of the stronger side characters will end up in a book of their own at some point! You don't have to read Paige's books in order (and I haven't) but those I haven't read yet, I will start reading in order from now on. If you're in the market for a good Chick-Lit and haven't yet ready any Paige Toon - definitely give this one a go!

Do you guys have any recommendations on any other good authors I should be checking out in this genre? It's fairly new to me and I will have worked my way through Paige's books soon so need something else to get stuck into.

Soph x

BOOK REVIEW // Practical Magic - Alice Hoffman

Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman is one of those books that I have been meaning to read forever, literally, the book was first published in 1995 when I was just a teeny tiny 7 year old but I bought the paperback a few years later when I must have been about 12 or 13 and just never got round to reading it, when I saw last year that Alice Hoffman was revisiting this and releasing a prequel to the book, I knew I had to read this one quickly. I'm so annoyed I hadn't read this book sooner, it's literally the most perfect book to curl up with on a cold winters day, once, I started reading this, I really struggled to put it down, the story itself is fairly slow paced if I'm honest, although there's plenty to keep you reading along, the real crux of this book is the two main characters and their stories and how they develop throughout the book, the story follows two sisters Gillian and Sally who tragically lose both their parents and are sent to live with their two aunts who just so happen to practice magic and we soon learn that the girls themselves have magical tendencies too, the book takes the girls from their childhood and being bullied and essentially outcasts at school right through to their adult years navigating relationships and life as they go.

There is definitely a key incident that happens that forms part of the central plot line for the book but the main thing for me that I loved about this book was the relationships, be it romantic relationships, the girls bond as sisters and also the various family relationships that are included as well. The book is so beautifully written, it's almost poetic at times and one particular reference to the lilacs in the garden almost made me feel like I was actually standing in Sally's Garden, which honestly, on the cold January day that I was reading this, I really did want to be transported to the balmy, summer garden. Another key point for this book is that, despite the fact it's now over 20 years old, it doesn't feel dated at all which was something I was a little concerned about before reading this.

If you're after a high action, fast paced read, this may not the be the one for you but if you want to get lost in another magical world for a little bit, grab a cup of tea and a blanket and give this one a go. I can't wait to read the prequel now which focuses on the lives of the two Aunts before they became guardians to Gillian and Sally and I'm hoping it will be as much of a dream as this one.

Soph x

BOOK REVIEW // Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine - Gail Honeyman

Ah, where to start with this book, I didn't want it to end, although I'm pretty sure I think that with any good book but this one just sort of captures your heart, the characters, the storyline, the under currents throughout the book that all build up to the final few chapters of the book, it's so well written, sucks you in and you start to really care about the characters and what happens. Essentially the book follows the story of Eleanor Oliphant, the main character who has worked at the same company for the past 10 years, each weekend consists of the same routine and her main contact is a weekly call that takes place with her mother, very little changes in Eleanor's routine which is how she likes it until one day something does change and thus we follow Eleanor's story. 

This book has been talked about all over the place and for good reason, I first heard of it before it was released as did many as this book was shortlisted for the Lucy Cavendish Fiction Prize before it was even completed, I remember reading the blurb and immediately wanting to read it. I bought it as soon as it came out but I was already part way through a book and for some reason kept putting off reading it until later on in the year. I think because it had been so hyped both in the press and in my head, I didn't want it to disappoint. Eventually, when I did pick it up, I managed to read it in three days, it really is one of those that sucks you in. There's something about Eleanor Oliphant that you really warm to, to a certain extent I think we all know an Eleanor or certainly come across people like Eleanor in daily life, someone who comes across as being difficult or weird when in reality they're actually just struggling with something, be it trauma or mental health, there's a moral element in this book about judgement, no matter how someone acts or looks, until you truly know them, you have no idea of who they really are and I loved that, it was subtle but it was one of the themes that I really took away from this. 

Although the storyline is somewhat darker than you originally think, there's a real element of humour in the book, albeit somewhat subtly, Eleanor's views and opinions of people are so cutting at times, they really make you laugh out loud.
I'm going to really miss Eleanor even though she's only been part of my life for a few short days but I'm already so excited to read more from Gail Honeyman who I think is going to be a bit of a treasure of an author.

Have you read this, what did you think?

Soph x

UPDATE // Wolf & Maine

Hello there - It's been a little while since I last posted on this, I first started this blog back in 2012 when blogging was still a fairly unknown thing, it originally started as a nail art blog then as my love of all things beauty kicked in, it eventually became more of a skincare and makeup blog, essentially I just wanted a little corner of the internet where I could feed my passion of writing and share my love of beauty. Work and life took ended up taking over a few years back and this little blog got forgotten about. My passion for writing and blogging is still there and whilst you will definitely still see makeup and skincare posts occasionally, I want to introduce other elements such as book reviews, reading is my other big passion, baking and recipes, life updates etc - to be honest, anything I fancy writing about, so I've relaunched the blog under the new name Wolf and Maine because OCBeauty felt like it was just too focused on the beauty element, there's not much meaning behind the name other than I like it!

I'm looking forward to welcoming old and new readers back - I hope you like the new layout and if you have any things you'd like to see on here, please let me know.

Soph xx

REVIEW // Nivea Daily Essentials Double Effect Eye Make-Up Remover

This little bottle of duo-phase loveliness has been popping up all over my blog feed recently and when I ran out of my trusty Clinique Take The Day Off I knew I had to try it if only to see if matches up, I actually have the Charlotte Tilbury version of this and they are incredibly similar but the Nivea ended up being over a tenth of the price...I'm all for splashing the cash on my skincare but if something works as well for £1.85 versus spending £24.99, I'm going to go for the cheaper option.

As it's a duo-phase product, you need to shake the bottle up to mix the two layers into one and very simply apply to a cotton pad and sweep across the eye to remove any eye make-up, I tend to hold it down on my eye for about 10-15 seconds to allow the make-up remover to do it's job then sweep across the eye a few times to make sure everything is off, I use one cotton pad per eye and then an extra one to tidy up and make sure everything is off. I do find the layers settle down quite quickly when you shake it up so you need to shake each time you want to add some to a cotton pad. I've used this with both waterproof and non-waterproof mascaras and it's taken them off with ease, I also used it today with my Tarte Lights, Camera Flashes Mascara which is notoriously a b*tch to take off and it didn't seem to have any problems.

The packaging on the Nivea product isn't as fancy as the Charlotte Tilbury which comes in a pump dispenser bottle but to be honest, that drives me insane because it squirts out bright blue liquid everywhere when you press down, meaning I have to stand out the way of it to make sure it doesn't end up all over my top and mop up my side after using it which is really not ideal. It's also not quite as quick at removing make-up, but there is literally a matter of seconds in it, so I think I'm OK with that. One thing I was worried about was whether this would irritate the skin around my eyes, which has a tendency to be sensitive to some products but it was absolutely fine, it's also safe for Contact Lens wearers which is a bonus.

You can find this in most supermarkets and drugstores and it's normally half price or on some kind of buy one get one free offer.

Have you tried this, what do you think?

Soph xx