Harry Potter Make Up Brush review

Harry Potter Make up Brushes (sadly the bag didn’t come with them but it’s a cute match I think!)

So something completely different from me today – make up brushes?! I apologise in advance for the photos, I’m most definitely not a beauty blogger, I just came across these and thought some other book nerds might appreciate them too.  A few months ago I came across Harry Potter make up brushes online which were super cute and tempting. They were by no particular brand which didn’t exactly fill me with confidence BUT I’m also not a huge make-up person (Nights out only really) so I don’t really need anything amazing.  I tried looking online for reviews and didn’t really find anything conclusive – some people said they were great, others said they were awful, and every set had been purchased somewhere different, so who knew which would apply?  For about £5 though, I figured they were worth a go, and today I’m sharing my thoughts! The particular seller I ordered mine from isn’t listing them anymore, but they’re back on Amazon at the minute.  Interestingly, I’ve since discovered that a while ago Storybook Cosmetics did a set that looked very similar but has been discontinued because it didn’t have the proper licensing.  I figure these are probably a knock off set of those which makes my brain hurt a little if I think about it too much.

So, in each set you get five brushes. Mine arrived wrapped in plastic, with each brush individually wrapped as well – plus points for protecting them while they travel but a negative on the envrionmentally-friendly front.  Personally, for a fiver I wouldn’t have minded if they’d been just wrapped once, and better yet wrapped in something like brown paper instead of plastic.  When I first opened them, the first thing I noticed is that they’re heavier than I expected. Some of the reviews online say they’re metal-handled but the ones I’ve got are definitely plastic, and come in a silver tone – when I bought them they came in a choice of silver, gold, gunmetal or rose gold, but most places seem to just have either the silver or gunmetal now.  I went for the silver because I was worried the gunmetal might just look dirty, and I’ll always choose silver over gold/rose gold. Despite that, they feel substantial and sturdy.  The second thing I noticed is that they’re really soft – before these worked their way into my regular make up bag I was using a mixture of ecotools and body shop brushes and these feel just as soft, not scratchy at all.  They’re quite long (longer than a standard pen for a size comparison) which I love because it gives me plenty of room – I can hold near to the brush for fiddly work, or further away for broader sweeps of colour.  Also, while the Harry Potter design is purely for the love of fandom rather than any practical use, I quite liked having something ridged to hold onto because I’m a clumsy soul.

From left to right: Harry, Dumbledore, Voldemort, Ron & Hermione

Each brush is themed around a particular Harry Potter character, from the left I think we’ve got: Harry, Dumbledore, Voldemort, Ron & Hermione.  Honestly, my make up knowledge basically extends to being able to tell you that they’re all eyeshadow brushes, so I’ll just talk you through what I’ve noticed & what I use them for!

To photo the product pick up, I used a Collection 2000 palette I had lying around, just because it had a variety of colours, though they’re not the best in terms of pigmentation. Otherwise though you’d probably be looking at five different shades of metallic because I’m a creature of habit and that’s what I tend to buy!  For each swatch, I used the brush to pick up product just once, dry, picking up product the same way I would for putting on makeup normally.  From left to right: Harry (purple), Voldemort (green), Ron (blue), Hermione (black), Dumbledore (bronze).

Left to right: Harry (purple), Voldemort (green), Ron (blue), Hermione (black), Dumbledore (bronze).

My favourite of the five is probably Dumbledore’s, which is just a fairly standard, dense and fluffy brush. As you can see from the pictures above (bronze) it packed in the most colour, and this is the one I tend to reach for first for an all over sweep of colour when doing my eye make up.  I find Hermione’s, which is the smaller angled brush, the most precise (black swatches), so although I don’t tend to wear eyeliner, I occasionally would use this brush wet for giving a little bit of definition.  Ron’s, the fluffier angled brush, is perfect for adding colour into the creases (blue swatches) and if I wanted to pack a lot of colour in a smaller area for a smoky eye type look, I’d add that with Harry’s (purple swatch).  Honestly, I’m not really sure what I’m supposed to use Voldemort’s wand for (green) – it’s a fluffier and less dense brush – but I tend to just use it for blending.  Alternatively if I’m going for a really subtle daytime look I might use it over Dumbledore’s, though I have to admit if I could only fit one in my make up bag, it’d be Dumbledore’s.

All in all, I have to say I’m really pleased with this set. If you’re a high-end brush fan, of course they’re not going to compare, but as a bit of a novice, and always on a budget, I think they’re great: they’re soft, they’re easy to use, they’re budget friendly and they let me add a little nerd to my make up bag. What’s not to like?

An update on Scribd

I posted a few years ago about how much I was enjoying using Scribd, when I was getting through a lot of audiobooks as part of my commute.  I let it lapse once my commute changed, as I just didn’t have time for many audiobooks, and because I got a bit fed up with the bank cancelling my card every month because the payments were in dollars.  I saw Lauren’s post a while back about how much she was enjoying it, and having looked into it, I decided it was worth pausing my audible membership for a few months and seeing how the two compared now.

How it works:

  • The subscription reading service is $8.99 a month (about £6.40)
  • Unlimited audioooks and ebooks
  • You don’t own the books but borrow them

The Good:

  • Scribd is cheaper than audible, and I can listen to as many audiobooks as I want, as well as read e-books.  As long as I listen to one audiobook a month, I’m no worse off (in fact, I’m just over £1 better off) and of course I could listen to/read a lot more than that if I want to
  • I’ve found that being able to buy multiple books makes me a lot less picky: I’m no longer worrying that I need to get my ‘money’s worth’, so short stories are back on the menu.  I’d probably never get to these short-stories otherwise.
  • I don’t feel the same pressure to make sure I pick something I’ll really like – if I don’t get stuck into something, I can just start something else instead
  • Because I CAN listen to more than one audiobook each month, I’ve found that generally I do.  I always felt like one book a month was about right with audible, but actually now that I have the option to listen to more I find myself making excuses to listen more often and getting through more books.
  • The technical problems I had previously (download speeds, disappearing books) have all disappeared, and using PayPal has got round the fact the payments are in dollars.
  • You can save books for later – it doesn’t download them or take up space on your device, but means that I’ve got plenty of options lined up ready for when I finish a title.

The Things I’d improve:

  • Occasionally if I pause the app, when it starts playing again the volume has disappeared.  I’ve only noticed this on my phone, not on PC or iPad, so it’s probably a problem with my hardware, but a simple force-close has always resolved it.
  • The one thing I’d love Scribd to add would be a percentage/progress marker of some kind. Just because I’m a stats nerd and I’d like to be able to update Goodreads with my progress more easily than doing the maths to work out how far into the book I am.

What I’ve read so far (since February 1st):

  • Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
  • Indulgence in Death by J.D. Robb
  • The Blood of Olympus by Rick Riordan
  • Other Minds by Peter Godfrey-Smith
  • The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan
  • Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire
  • Throne of Fire by Rick Riordan
  • The Serpent’s Shadow by Rick Riordan
  • Down Among The Sticks & Bones by Seanan McGuire
  • Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer
  • A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir (still reading)

The selection isn’t as good as audible, and you have to be careful because some audiobooks are abridged, which I personally avoid.  The books available do change pretty regularly though, so there are a few books on there that have become unavailable since I saved them, but there are other titles I’ve saved because they’ll be available from the 1st of April.  The only potential issue I can see is if you got started on a long series, and later books ended up getting removed before you’d reached the end of the series.  Personally, I haven’t found it an issue yet, because I’ve got a long list of other things I want to listen to, so I’m more than happy to enjoy those and maybe the titles that expire will come back on in future months.

The cost for what you get is excellent value – about the same as 10 months of audible, so as long as I listen to at least one audiobook a month (or more accurately 10 audiobooks a year), I’m better off.  It hasn’t been at all hard to find at least one audiobook a month I wanted to listen to, and I’ve got 30+ audiobooks and another 25 ebooks saved for future months.


The Verdict: Definitely sticking with!

If you’re curious, you can get a two-month trial (no affiliate advantage as far as I can tell, just a nice perk for friends!)

The Greatest Showman, like P.T. Barnum’s circus, is a lie – and that’s okay

I knew I wanted to see The Greatest Showman as soon as I saw the adverts: I love musicals, I love Hugh Jackman, and it just looked totally up my alley.  I wasn’t sure how I felt about the fact the story was based around P.T. Barnum, who by all accounts was pretty awful. I read a few initial reviews which objected to the fact the story had been ‘Disney-fied’, but that didn’t necessarily put me off: a truly accurate story would have been depressing!

Before seeing the film, I listened to the soundtrack once. I debated for a long time about whether to go into the film completely blind, but to be honest I just couldn’t resist listening to it!  It meant I had some idea about what the songs were saying, so when they came on in the film I wasn’t overwhelmed by the dancing and on screen action without being able to keep up with the words.

From the moment the story opens with Hugh Jackman’s lone voice singing, I was hooked.  There were a few actors I was a little nervous about: I know nothing of Zac Efron apart from his High School Musical days (which I’ve actually never seen, maybe I should?), and while Zendaya is gorgeous I thought her character in Spider-Man Homecoming was just a bit boring. I needn’t have worried though: they were both fantastic.  The acting and the writing were great, and there wasn’t a single character in the film that I couldn’t empathise with in some way.  The plot is, in some ways, the weakest aspect of the film; it’s a little slow at times, and going into it blind, I wasn’t entirely sure where the story was going to go.  Looking back at it objectively, the film feels almost like it shouldn’t be as enjoyable as it is, and yet I loved every moment.

The film is gorgeous to look at, from the costumes to the sets, and the choreography and dancing are spectacular.  The scene for ‘The Other Side’ is my particular favourite, and despite being an absolute non-dancer I’m incapable of hearing it without tapping my feet at least!  As good as the acting, choreography and plot are, it is of course the soundtrack that’s the stand-out feature.  The songs range from huge, inspiring and epic group songs to softer, sadder reprises.  The vocals are just astounding, with the genuinely awe-inspiring ‘Never Enough’ and ‘This Is Me’ to the softer but no less emotional ‘Tightrope’ and ‘Rewrite the Stars’.  It’s impossible to pick a favourite, but after seeing the film, I’ve been listening to the soundtrack pretty much incessantly.  Going back to see the film a second time, more familiar with the soundtrack, I loved it even more, and despite my issues with the plot, I was still completely lost in the story.

The reviewers who said the story has been ‘Disney-fied’ are absolutely right: Barnum comes across as a generally good guy.  He’s imperfect, and he makes a few very unpleasant decisions, but the overall impression was that Barnum wasn’t a bad guy at heart, and he tried to repair the mistakes he made. In reality, Barnum was exploitative and manipulative.  The Greatest Showman, like P.T. Barnum’s circus, is a lie – and that’s okay. While not necessarily historically accurate, the way they portrayed Barnum’s story made for a film that felt uplifting, inspiring, and generally feel good.  I do sort of wish they’d chosen to just base the story around a fictional circus instead, but there’s also something quite nice and ironic about the fact such a positive story came out of something so grim in reality.

And now, I’m off to listen to the soundtrack some more and lust after these amazing custom Funko pops (Anne still being worked on at the time of writing). Also to possibly go and see it a third time, because it was awesome.

How amazing are these custom Greatest Showman pops by RudyV?

The Girl with All the Gifts (M. R. Carey)

The Girl with All the Gifts (M. R. Carey)The Girl with All the Gifts by M. R. Carey
Published by Little, Brown Book Group Limited on 19-06-2014
Genres: Dystopia, Fantasy, Fiction, Sci Fi
Pages: 461
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley


Every morning, Melanie waits in her cell to be collected for class.

When they come for her, Sergeant Parks keeps his gun pointing at her while two of his people strap her into the wheelchair. She thinks they don't like h
er. She jokes that she won't bite. But they don't laugh.

Melanie is a very special girl.

Emotionally charged and gripping from beginning to end, THE GIRL WITH ALL THE GIFTS is the most powerful and affecting thriller you will read this year.

Plot: ★★★
Characters: ★★★★
Readability: ★★★

The storyMelanie is a little girl who lives in a cell.  Every morning, men with guns and grim faces lock her into her wheelchair, push her down the corridor and into the classroom, where she and around twenty other wheelchair bound kids are taught lessons by a variety of teachers.  Melanie likes her classes, she loves her teacher Miss Justineau and she adores Greek mythology.  She doesn’t particularly love being strapped into her chair during classes (makes it hard to make friends), or the fact that most of the adults seem scared of her, even when she’s trying to be nice.

The jacket of the book gives very little away, so if you’d rather go into this blind as was intended, it’s probably best to stop reading here! If you don’t mind the slight spoiler/already seen it elsewhere or if you’ve already read The Girl with All The Gifts, you’re safe to read on!

The Girl with All The Gifts is not a book about a little girl with special abilites – I have to admit I was imagining an X-men style mutant or something similar.  It turns out, The Girl with All The Gifts is a book about zombies.

I’m seriously squeamish so zombie movies and TV are not my thing at all, but my few forays into zombie fiction have gone pretty well so far.  I adored Feed by Mira Grant, and I enjoyed Dearly, Departed by Lia Habel (though the second book not so much).


The characters

Melanie is an absolutely great character, and I think without her this book just wouldn’t have worked for me.  She’s unbelievably smart, but she’s also like a puppy: she’s so eager to please, and she has questions without answers that no kid her age should have to worry about.

The supporting characters mainly consist of Miss Justinea, Sergeant Parks and Doctor Caldwell which is perhaps where the story fell down a little for me.  With a relatively small cast, I expected to really connect with the characters, but although there were a few moments where I connected with the others, I didn’t really find myself drawn to any of them in the same way as I did with Melanie.  Strangely, the supporting character I found most real was Doctor Caldwell, who is less likable than both Miss Justineau and Sergeant Parks!


final thoughtsWith hints of the same scientific basis as Mira Grant’s Feed and moments so tense I didn’t want to leave the safety of my locked bedroom, I’m not quite sure why I didn’t click more with The Girl with All the Gifts.  It took me a while to get into, and there were few moments where I was truly hooked – I definitely enjoyed it, but The Girl with All The Gifts was probably a 3.5 star read for me.


Buy it? This is one I’d borrow or pick up on a deal.
In a nutshell: Enjoyable, and I’ll definitely be looking out for more by M.R. Carey, but it didn’t wow me.


Other Reviews of The Girl with All the Gifts: Wondrous Reads | The Book Plank | The Book Smugglers

One StarOne StarOne Star

No In Between (Lisa Renee Jones)

No In Between (Lisa Renee Jones)No In Between by Lisa Renee Jones
Series: Inside Out #4
Published by Simon and Schuster on 19-08-2014
Genres: Contemporary, Erotica, Romance, Suspense
Pages: 304
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley

"Chris and I have faced our demons and bared our souls to one another in Paris. Now that we are back home in San Francisco, I want to believe that nothing can tear us apart. Not Ava’s accusations against me to the police, or Chris's fear that he will destroy me as he feels he did Amber. And not Mark, who was once too intimately a part of our lives, and who I can see crumbling inside out. He believes he is invincible, just as I want to believe Chris and I are invincible. We have to be invincible. We need each other too much for any other ending."

SPOILER ALERT: As No In Between is book 4 in a series, there may be some spoilers for earlier books.

Plot: ★★
Characters: ★★
Readability: ★★★

The story

The story picks up pretty much where Revealing Us left off – Chris and Sara are just arriving home from Paris, preparing for Ava’s trial.  Chris and Sara are trying to prepare themselves for what promises to be a nasty trial, while also balancing their relationship, issues from ther past and their worry over Ella.

No In Between is the fourth book in Lisa Renee Jones’ Inside Out series, a series I’ve been loving so far! You can read my reviews for books 1, 2 and 3, but the short version is I gave all of them four stars! Unfortunately, No In Between just didn’t live up to the earlier books for me.

No In Between is the first book of the series where I’ve found it difficult to get back into the story.  I definitely think it’d be worth re-reading at least Revealing Us before getting stuck into No In Between because at this point the mystery is getting complicated, and it took me a while to remember who everyone was etc.  I also admit that I hadn’t read My Hunger or His Secrets between going in, which may have had something to do with my slow reconnection.  However, this shouldn’t be a large influence as a note from Lisa at the beginning says “you don’t have to read [His Secrets] to enjoy this story”.

I found No In Between felt dragged out, and I honestly felt this book was largely unecessary.  At 256 pages, No In Between is quite a lot shorter than the first three books (at 384, 351 and 256 pages). Whilst the first three felt sharp, snappy and successfully built the tension, No In Between in comparison felt like it was just going over the previous ground.  Don’t get me wrong, it was full of twists and turns, but it didn’t seem to actually go anwhere.  For me, the lact of progress with the story meant that for me all of the tension that had built up and built up through the first three books, instead of being resolved, was left hanging.  I would have preferred this to be bunched together with book 5 to make a longer but satisfying read.




The characters

The main cast of characters are the same we’ve seen throughout the series: Mark, Sara and Chris.  Chris is great, and Mark remains the mysterious, elusive man you can’t help but want to know more about!  Sara’s vulnerability made her more relatable, and it was great to see the way Chris dealt with that vulnerability. I definitely found Chris and Sara’s relationship the hightlight of No In Between.

As well as our main three, there’s also a large number of supporting characters, including both characters from the earlier books and some new characters.  We see more of the Walker brothers from the Tall, Dark and Deadly series which I liked, and I loved seeing a tiny bit more of Crystal.  However, I personally thought there were a few too many characters for a book where little truly happens; at times it felt like some of the characters were only there to give you more possibilities for what happened to Rebecca.


final thoughtsI had very high expectations of No In Between based on the fact I thought the first three books were brilliant, but unfortunately No In Between just didn’t live up to those expectations.  It’s full of twists and turns, some steamy sex scenes and some touching moments between Chris and Sara, but the lack of resolution means that for me this would be much better if you could read it immediately before the next book, rather than alone.


Buy it? This is one I’d maybe buy on a deal, but perhaps after the next book is out too!
In a nutshell: Would almost certainly benefit from a re-read of Revealing Us first but unfortunately this one disappointed me.

Other Reviews of No In Between: Sensual Reads | Page Princess | Drue’s Random Chatter

One StarOne Star