This has been a very slow summer of reading. A lot slower and unproductive than I would have hoped. Nevertheless, here are the reviews and summaries of the books I've read recently. 



I finally got round to completing the third book in the series after not being able to get into it straight away. Sadly, this book didn't live up to the other two's standards; I don't know whether it was because the final focus of character of Lottie was not one I felt was relatable. The premise of this book was that Lottie wanted to start a feminist revolution by pointing out every patriarchal flaw she comes across while keeping up to date on a YouTube channel. There was, of course, the usual tropes that come along with a youtube video- it, of course, going viral. It did cover topics such as trolling which are important for our generation. However, I felt, apart from the obvious characteristics that put the girls in sixth form college, the overall writing was a little juvenile. 
I don't know whether by this last book, I have outgrown the characters and the storyline but this one just didn't appeal to me. I know that there's the final add-on to this series by Holly Bourne "...And A Happy New Year?" which I do want to get round to completing so I definitely have still enjoyed this series and want to see how things are rounded off. Overall, this book (along with the series) carried some great messages but, for me, it was the weakest of the trilogy and may be more suited for a slightly younger audience than myself. 



I have reviewed before other Mitch Albom books that are always so beautifully written and resinate with me well but this one I have been trying to read on and off for years and I finally powered through and finished it: I am so glad I did. It was almost as if it was designed to be a little book of life advice disguised as a novel and I love that. 
When Mitch returns to see his old professor in the last few months of Morrie's life, they share their last lessons together where both Mitch and you, as the reader, get some great take-home messages that will stick with you. The messages and the feelings I took away from this book were ones I haven't felt from a book in a very long time. If you want a short, powerful, thought-provoking read this is definitely one I'd recommend for you.



I hadn't heard of this author before but, when HotKeyBooks sent me through a synopsis, I was intrigued and as soon as it came through my post box, I was reading it. It's set in a medieval school based on old legends surrounding, surprise, a Stag. It's a book of cult-like organisations within the upperclass network at this famously posh school. The main character, Greer, came to the school on a scholarship and spent her time feeling alone until she received an invite to attend a weekend at Henry de Warlencourt's house along with the other prefects known as the "Medievals". She was invited along to a weekend of bloodspots; Huntin' Shootin' Fishin'. However, things aren't as nice as they seem and as the weekend's events unfolds things become a little strange. 
While this made a nice change to the usual YA I read, the plot was a little lacking; while saying it's a thriller it wasn't really edge-of-the-seat stuff and their weren't any twists and turns that shocked or surprised me as a reader. Nothing with the plot was left for the reader to decipher before a big reveal- answers were given on a plate. There was also a lot of pop culture references throughout this book; I liked the film references but the simple explanation of Greer liking movies was just that- simple. Also the talk of social media could make this book one that becomes dated very fast. 
Having said that, it's still a book I would recommend for fans of E.Lockhart's We Were Liars if you like the mystery element of that book and also fans of her book the disreputable history... as the setting of the book seems fairly similar. 

I'm hoping that, with what's left of summer, I will be able to get cracking on reading some more and maybe actually complete my goodreads yearly challenge (here's to hoping)!
What books would you recommend I read next?
Hope you're doing great,
Sarah X

If I could do 1st year again what would I do differently? Here are some goals I want to set myself to make sure I have a fab year at uni. 

So if you've been reading for a little while, you'll know I finished my first year at university studying Psychology. It had its ups and downs but, all in all, I enjoyed my time there, the things I accomplished, the friends I made, the independence I achieved. I sadly didn't update my blog enough though out the year of what my year really consisted of and that's my first goal going into my second year...

1. Make time for blogging. 
I have neglected my blog over this passed year and I always seem to try and set aside time to get it done. But being so strict with scheduling my blog doesn't seem to work for me. Instead of setting specific deadlines, I am going to just make sure I keep up to date with the blogging world and carry on posting everything I love along with a lot more uni related posts. If you have any suggestions of posts, I'd love to hear!

2. Stay Ahead. 
While it wasn't such a need-to-do thing in first year, I really want to put my all into second year. This includes staying on top of my reading, writing up my notes and not leaving essays to the last minute. I've always been pretty good at this but I want to make sure I try my best to get everything done with time to spare. 

3. Find a balance. 
This is something I wish I'd done better in first year. Some weeks I'd lock myself away in my room to work while other weeks I'd do no work at all. By doing this, it encouraged me to procrastinate but, then when I did start the work, I'd begin to panic and soon feel burnt out. I want to make sure I get the balance between work and play right to make sure I make the most out of the year and still get good grades while I'm doing it. 

4. Try new things. 
While my inbox may be constantly full with weekly newsletters from all the different societies and club activities I signed up for at the Freshers fair, I definitely didn't step outside my comfort zone to try something new. This is something I really want to accomplish this year whether it's attending society socials or going along to campus events. I want to throw myself into uni life on a whole new level. 

5. Explore the city even more. 
I think I did an OK job of doing this already but there's still more to explore. I go to university in York and I feel like it's quite a cultured, historic city with some great places to visit. One thing I failed to do last year was make the most of the free entry to museums and galleries in York that I get as a student. Along with this, I never even walked along the York walls or visit half the cafes I wanted to. 

I'm sure there is more I want to accomplish this year, some that I've not even thought of yet, but with these five goals, I hope my second year at uni will be even better than the first.
Hope you're doing great,
Sarah x

Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponge

As my B.Beauty Blender looked as though it was coming to the end of its life and there was a 3 for 2 offer on in Superdrug, I had to finally give this ago and I wasn't disappointed. While slightly more expensive, I still love this sponge. When damp it becomes a super soft and super easy to use sponge that makes blending foundation hassle-free. It works great for full coverage foundations that need an extra bit of work and leaves me with a great looking base. 

Morphe Bronzed Mocha Palette

This is my first impression of Morphe and I'm impressed. The array of shades that came in this palette and the quality is great and definitely worth what I paid for it. The colours add a warmer tone to my usual browns and golds that I opt for and has made me use more burgundy and orange in my eye looks which I love at the moment. Sadly this palette, I think is now sold out as it was limited edition but the Morphe 350 Nature Glow palette is a good alternative.

The Body Shop Blending Brush

Helping out with the eyeshadows, in the blending brush. I always wanted a Mac 217 blending brush but due to the price and them testing on animals, it was out of the question. I was so excited to give this a go when it was first released and since buying a few months a go, it's become a go-to to aid my more heavier eye looks to make sure there are no sharp edges in sight. 

Ordinary 100% Plant-Derived Squalene Solution 

If you saw my CRUELTY FREE BEAUTY: SKINCARE SAVIOURS post, you will have seen me mention this. Since using this, I have notice a slight difference in the way my skin reacts to my moisturiser in terms of helping my skin feel and look more hydrated. I can't say it's a miracle worker as some days my drier patches are still visible. However, it's a great addition to my skincare that has helped me over the last month. 

I don't really mention food favourites but I can't not mention these. If you follow me on instagram (@distortings) you may have seen these on my story when I picked them up. While expensive for a sweet, they taste amazing and are vegan which is an added positive for me. I actually picked these up in Superdrug for cheaper stockists such as Topshop so I'd try there first if you want to give these a go which I suggest you do!

Zara Mustard Frilled Jacket

Since picking up this coat, I haven't stopped wearing it. It's perfect for this time of year. For something so thin, it keeps me warm as I walk to and from work as well as looking really nice and being something a little different to my black bomber jacket or yellow raincoat. It's a great piece that, even though it's mustard, goes with so many outfits and looks as though you've made more effort that you actually have which I'm all about. 

Oliver Bonas Marble Geometric Phone Case

I've only had this phone case a week but I'm so glad I picked it up when I saw it on sale in Manchester. Going from a cheap marble phone case to a bulky holographic case, I'm glad to be back on the marble trend with a twist. They had some really nice phone cases so they're definitely ones to check out! This is another that is now sold out but Coconut Lane have some great Marble phone cases. For a 20% discount use my code saraheliza20!

So that's everything I've been loving recently!
Hope you're doing great,
Sarah x

Here's a run down of all the products by brands that are perfect for paler skin that are also fab and cruelty free. 

Back in 2015 which seems like quite along time ago in blogging terms, I created a few posts centred around being a super pale gal and the problems that comes with (finding the right shades, limited choice etc.) and from that I created a post entitled PALE APPRECIATION POST followed by another one a year later called MORE PALE APPRECIATION. In these posts, I narrowed down  and shared with you the best products and companies for the fair ones of you. I said on monday in my CRUELTY FREE BEAUTY:WORRIES AND SOLUTIONS that something I was concerned about was limiting myself too much and not finding products that were both perfect for the paler person and didn't test on animals. I can say, I needn't have worried and so today I share with you ALL of my make-up products by companies that cater for us pale 'uns. While some of these products are ones that are repeated from previous posts, I thought it would be worth having them all in one place. 


This is the hardest and, I think, the most crucial product to find in the right shade and, so, a lot of this post is going to be dedicated to the different cruelty free foundations I use as well as some I've heard good things about that you may find useful to check out. I'm someone who likes a different foundation for a different situation so here's the run down. 


I'm not going to say much on this one as I feel this foundation has taken up a lot of discussion on my blog recently. I think that's because I'm so happy to have found a foundation that is perfect not only in finish but also in the shade. If you want to read my full review to see whether this foundation is for you, see it here. It's very rare I'm not the lightest shade so this is one to be able to cater for super fair skin tones. 

Similar cruelty-free options: Tarte Amazonian Clay Foundation, Too Faced 'Born This Way' foundation (Just added an even paler shade!). 


As the name of this foundation suggests, it offers a fresh-face feel with the palest shade being perfect for little pale me. As I am the palest shade, anyone more pale than me may have trouble but it's definitely one to give a go and the body shop staff always seem happy to help. The coverage is light to medium making it perfect for an everyday make up. 


Here's another that needs no real introduction to long term readers. This is my base of choice daily because it's a stress free, easily applied base. It is said to adapt to the skins tone as it's worked into the skin. I don't know how much I agree with that but it does provide a fair, thin base for my foundation as well as a great way for me to add a subtle glow and a dewey look to my make up. 

Similar cruelty free options: Illamasqua skin base, bareMinerals Complexion Rescue BB Cream. 


There are other products that skin colour needs to be accounted for such as concealer and contour so I thought I'd share with you my favourites as well as some recommended to give a go if looking for pale, cruelty free products. 


After writing this post, I sadly found out that Collection do actually test on animal. Therefore, if anyone has any cheap cruelty free alternatives they would be much appreciated!

Similar cruelty free options: Urban Decay Naked concealer, Tarte Shape tape, Kat Von D 'Lock It' concealer.


There are so many great cruelty-free pale contour kits out there on the high street but the Sleek Contour Kit is still my one and only. It's got a perfect colour that doesn't leave me looking muddy and gives me a great contour with a highlight to compliment. Definitely worth the purchase every time. 

Similar cruelty free options: Make Up Revolution Contour Range, Freedom Make up Contour Range, The Body Shop Honeycomb Bronzer, Nip + Fab contour palettes. 


Another product I've exhausted talking about on my blog but one I feel I should mention again. The translucent shade makes this a great universal powder and it doesn't run the risk of adding extra coverage in the wrong colour. It's such a great setting powder that works well on my skin. 

Similar cruelty free options: Make Up Revolution Translucent Pressed Powder, MUA Translucent Pressed Powder, Collection Invisible Setting Powder. 

So there's my complete run down of all the products that not only I love but I've heard others love that are cruelty free and have a decent range of shades (some more than others) for pale, fair skin. I hope this may have helped some of you!
What are some of your favourite cruelty free brands?
Hope you're doing great,
Sarah x

Shop for products mentioned here: 

Here are some of most loved and most-reached-for cruelty-free skin care products when my face is in crisis.

A big transitioning point for me when it comes to cruelty-free is the skin care; skin care is something I regularly like to switch up. Luckily, almost all of my favourite skin care products are cruelty free and which made my life much easier when switching out those that weren't cruelty free. For me, my main problem is retaining moisture along with battling the odd breakout and so below you can find all the products I find work a treat!



This is the newest edition to my favourite products that work wonders. The Ordinary is a company that has received a lot of attention over the past year and I was happy to jump on that band wagon to see what all the fuss is about. I can say that, with this product in particular, I see why people love it so much. While the formula to start felt as though it was just a layer of grease on top of my skin, after a few minutes that grease was gone and my skin felt just as, if not better than, when I apply my moisturiser. And with moisturiser added, my skin was on top form in terms of keeping that hydration. 


This has been a staple for me for the last year as you may have seen in my previous CRUELTY FREE SKINCARE FAVOURITES. It has similar benefits to that of The Ordinary serum but while that is more of a skincare aid, this is one that helps my skin appear flawless when it comes to applying my make-up and is one I grab for more on a daily basis. Applying before moisturiser and make-up makes my skin look smoother and even as well as giving it that extra moisture boost for the day. 


Also a previous favourite in my most recent CURRENTLY LOVING, this moisture is a great cruelty free alternative to other, even more expensive, hydrating masks such as the Origins Drink Up Mask which I previously owned. While appearing tacky to start, I can feel the hydrating benefits before I go to sleep and even more when I wake up. With The Body Shop always having sales, this is one to definitely snap up when an offer is on. 



This is another one to get your hands on when there's a fabulous "30% Off Everything" sale that The Body Shop like to grace us with quite often. I love the Lush Mask Of Magnanimity mask but when, being on a budget, this works just as well acting not only as a mask but also as face wash and exfoliator to really get into those pores and get all the nastiness out. It's such a refreshing wash and mask that I do notice a difference in after I use it. 


Staying on the same subject of unclogging pores, this Soap & Glory mask is one I grab for on special occasions when I seemed to have a real build up of nastiness. For me, the texture of this mask and application was one to get used to but the heated properties of this feel really soothing on my skin and with the exfoliation it gives,  draws out everything hiding away.


I can't go through this cruelty free week without mentioning a lush product. Even though a small one, it's definitely a nice little purchase. With the tab, you add it to hot water and steam your face over it. The smell is lovely and we all know how good tea tree is for spots. While, thankfully my blemishes haven't been too unbearable over the last few years, tea tree products were always a saviour and lush, along with almost all skincare brands, have products dedicated to tea tree and it's definitely a cruelty-free and natural method of drawing out the toxins from your face. 

So there's a run down of my continued favourite skin care products that really help tackle my skin's problems. 
What are some of your skin care saviours?
Hope you're doing great,
Sarah x

Shop the products mentioned/cheaper alternatives below x