There's Lead In Your Lipstick by Gillian Deacon

While I am an avid label reader and science nerd, trying to understand the confusing words on packaging is hard. Enter There’s Lead in Your Lipstick, which serves as a perfect entrance into figuring out what is actually in the products your using and how to avoid the toxins.

Would you ever imagine that there are harmful chemicals in the products you rub on your face every day, the things you wash with, what you brush your teeth with, or fix your hair with? I think the majority of people, including myself, probably wouldn’t. You would assume that there is some kind of governing body somewhere ensuring harmful toxins are not put in things we use. Unfortunately, it isn’t really the case (while there are bodies, they’re not as protective as you would hope) and the biggest lesson you will learn from There’s Lead in Your Lipstick is that you have to be your own advocate.

Of course, there are some chemicals banned for use in cosmetics but that doesn’t mean that what’s allowed in cosmetics is perfectly safe. Far from it. Luckily for those living in the EU, we appear to have stricter regulations that those in the US and Canada, but again it still doesn’t mean we are actually being protected from things that can cause us harm. (And with the whole Brexit debacle, who knows what kind of laws products will or won’t have to comply with.)

We have no way to measure the impact of an ingredient combined with every other chemical you encounter day after dayAdditionally, the ease of internet shopping might mean that by buying from abroad you’re exposing yourself to ingredients which are banned in your own country. Coal tar is one example. The known carcinogen is banned in the EU but is still allowed in products in the US, where it might be found in anti-dandruff shampoo, hair dye, and soaps.

I have found switching to a toxin-free lifestyle quite overwhelming, but Deacon’s book is the ideal accomplice. She explains the issues with each toxin and what it might also be referred to as on the label, in a really easy to understand way. I was half expecting There’s Lead in Your Lipstick to be a bit of a dry, textbook-style, read but it was far from it; it was equal parts interesting and horrifying. Her writing style is quite conversational, and I finished it off on my flight home because I just could not put it down.

As well as explaining some of the key ingredients to avoid (and giving a handy list of 20 things you really need to avoid), Deacon explains how to avoid them by including DIY recipes and lists of companies and products which are toxin free. Knowing what to do instead definitely takes away from some of the feeling of being overwhelmed because you feel like you’re armed with solutions and starting points. (And believe me, you will feel a little overwhelmed and want to throw away a large chunk of the stuff in your bathroom.) Note that this book does not detail every single ingredient you shouldn’t avoid, though I’d kinda like that book.

The book is split up into sections dealing with different kinds of products, such as hair, face, hands and feet. Two of the best sections are definitely the ones which teach you how to understand labels and deals with the issues with companies being able to use the words “natural” or “organic” pretty liberally without very strict guidelines.

It is sad that it’s surprisingly difficult to buy toxin free products in on the high street (how did the world come to this?). I have a few recipes or products saved on Pinterest but it can be tricky to keep going back to different pages and trying to remember where I saved something, so I like knowing I can pick up this book and flick to the section I need easily.

I wish books like this didn’t need to exist, but with the plethora of chemicals we’re exposed to every day without really realising it, and no one knowing the accumulative and combined issues they can cause over time, books like this are important. If you read one non-fiction book this summer, heck even this year, let it be There’s Lead in Your Lipstick.

I would like to point out that the products in the main photograph are not all toxin free, and NARS are no longer cruelty free either.

If you’ve read this, what did you think of it? Do you have any recommendations?

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All Over The Place by Geraldine Deruiter

When I first read that one of my favourite bloggers was releasing a book, I instantly began impatiently refreshing Amazon’s UK Kindle site until they let me pre-order All Over The Place.

I’ve followed The Everywhereist for years after following a link to it from an article her husband wrote on the Moz blog, right back when I’d just dropped out of university and started working in marketing. (I find it a little soothing that I’ve just finished her book and my undergrad. degree.) Geraldine’s blog was a bit of a beacon in the blogosphere for me because she was unashamedly traveling her way, getting lost, experiencing things her way, and telling hilarious stories about all of it. Her book is no different.

You are not going to read this book and gain an understanding of how best to fold your underwear, how to get the cheapest flights, how to avoid food-poisoning, or spend no money while exploring an expensive Scandinavian capital city. Instead, you are going to laugh so hard you might cry while she tells the story of the time her mother tried to take a pickax through security. Geraldine writes that All Over The Place should perhaps serve as a reminder of how not to travel; but with some of the stories she’s got out of her way of traveling, it’s hard not to want to do the same. (I am simultaneously thankful but a little disappointed that I do not have a relative who feels it perfectly normal to take weapons in their hand luggage on family trips.)

This is a book that oozes comfort. The writing is so natural and effortlessly funny that you sink into the book and feel like you’re sat in a cafe (eating cake, of course) with Geraldine. If, like me, you find yourself constantly living in fear of everything, you will also find another kind of comfort in this book. I found myself laughing out loud and pondering my own experiences as I read about Geraldine navigating her life, the relationships with her partner and family, her health, and her thoughts on life and the “path” we’re on.

One reviewer on Goodreads summarised this book really well for me, “All Over the Place is a travel book, except that the travel is at least as much internal as it is external. It’s not just about the places she, her husband, or friends explored; it was about what she learned about herself, life, her family, her husband, and her friends.

As you reach the end of the book, Geraldine takes her husband to the Italian towns her grandparents came from. She tells a story of meeting relatives and Italian dinners and it honestly feels like you’re sitting right there at the table. You can almost smell the pasta (and that is an excellent quality for any book to have).

I reached the end of the book feeling thoroughly satisfied. All Over The Place was everything I thought it was going to be. If you’re looking for something hilarious, but with some poignant life lessons, to read this summer this is the book you need in your life. In fact, I think it would be the perfect book to read while traveling because it is so easy to read.

What have you read recently?

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Blood and Earth by Kevin Bales

It’s been a long time since I’ve written a book review, eh? I’ve barely had time to read this year but Blood and Earth demanded I read it with some kind of immediacy and then tell everyone that they need to read it too. 

 

1. You don’t know what you don’t know

I can’t speak for everyone but I went into this book thinking I knew about where things were coming from but I was wrong. I was shocked by a lot of the things I read. I had no clue that shrimps were harvested by young boys and men who had been lied to, enslaved, abused, and forced to live in awful conditions with the threat of death if they tried to escape back to their families. I honestly would never have made the logical leap from shrimp farming to slavery. Never.

It is very easy for us to buy into marketing and what we are told by retailers without ever questioning the origin of our phones, laptops, food, or clothes. It’s easy to be ignorant because you don’t have to ask that many questions before you feel very uncomfortable.

 

2. It is our responsibility to know where things come from

By buying a product we are, whether we like it or not, agreeing with the practices of a company we buy from. Large, global retailers don’t really care about anything aside from profit and to force them to change their profit needs to suffer.

This leaves us with the reponsibility of holding companies accountable with you and me. By actually asking companies to change and voting with our money we can make companies aware of the way we feel about their actions. More transparency is needed and until we demand it most retailers probably won’t feel obliged to provide it.

 

3.We kinda like the planet

The kind of scum who value profit above people’s lives are also the kind of people who don’t care about the environment.

Mining for gold has resulted in streams and rivers being polluted with mercury, which local families use drink, wash in, or use for cooking. Would we stand for that happening in our own towns? No.

The demand for charcoal has resulted in large chunks of forests being decimated and ecosystems destroyed, resulting in not just loss of species but severe flooding in local areas because the forests “held” the water.

Mangrove forests are being destroyed in x for shrimp farming. The problem with this is, again, not just related to the ecosystems and species being wiped out, but mangrove forests are also huge carbon sinks. When they’re destroyed, that CO2 is released into the atmosphere.

None of these are positives and Kevin Bales does an incredible job of explaining the link between slavery and the destruction of the environment. He states that if you combined the CO2 pollution of global slavery, it would be the third biggest polluter behind America and China. If not for humane reasons, slavery needs to be stopped.

 

4. It will change your life

This might sound cliche but you will struggle not to question your buying choices or retailers actions after reading this. And that is perfect and exactly what the world needs.

In one of the last chapters, Kevin shares the story of Claudio and Maria; two environmentalists who lived on their farm in Brazil and taught others how to live and make money off their farms without being destructive. Disgustingly, they (along with hundreds of others) were killed because they stood in the way of people who wanted to destroy the forests for profit. The loss of their lives can’t be in vain and who wants us to be sitting around in years to come and think we should have taken action sooner?

 

5. Our governments are idiots and we need to make them change

Ok, so let me preface this by saying not all governments are idiots. The UK and US governments seem especially moronic and ignorant when it comes to the environment at the moment. In America, you have a President who thinks climate change has been invented. In the UK, we are in the run up to a general election and the current party in power aren’t talking about the environment at all in their manifesto. In the UK, the capital city breached annual legal pollution limits for 2017 after just five days. And, the UK government has failed on repeated occasions to clean up the air in London, despite thousands deaths as a result of it. This is not acceptable.

The more of us who are educated, the more we can force change.

I’m not going to lie, this isn’t a happy Sunday afternoon read but it is an important read that shouldn’t be ignored, no matter how bad it makes us feel. I did actually find Blood and Earth to be a really gripping read because I just needed to know more immediately. Despite all the horror, it’s an inspiring read to know that we are responsible and can force change.

I’d also like to point out that I’m not suggesting that if we all read this book things will change instantly and it’ll be a walk in the park, full of sunshine, bunny rabbits and fluffy clouds. This book isn’t a silver bullet, it’s a starting point. It will be hard to change our society and the things we take for granted, and have become so reliant on. No one said change was supposed to be easy but if we want to ensure slavery is wiped out, want to enjoy the natural beauty of this planet, and continue sharing it with wonderful species that are vital to the ecosystem, we have to try.

If you’re intrigued by Blood and Earth, or want to know more, you might also like to read Kevin Bales’ interview with NPR (it’s written so you don’t need audio).

If you’ve got any suggestions for environmental / ethical reads, please send them my way.

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I’ve not had time to read much during the past few months, but with 20 hours of flying time soon coming up I will definitely be reaching for my Kindle to pass the time.

Though I’ve got a pretty packed 12 days planned, I’m hopeful that I’ll have some time to sit down and enjoy the view with a book in my hand, or maybe when I’m all cosy in the tent.

The Dream Thieves - Maggie Stiefvater

The Dream Thieves (The Raven Cycle #2) – Maggie Stiefvater

Considering how much I enjoyed The Raven Boys, I can’t believe it’s taken me a year and a half to get around to reading The Dream Thieves. To be honest, I did start it pretty much straight after I finished The Raven Boys but hit a reading slump and didn’t want to force myself to read it and end up not loving it as much as I know I would.

 

A Court of Mist and Fury - Sarah J Maas

A Court of Mist and Fury (ACOTAR #2) – Sarah J. Maas

I read A Court of Thorns and Roses last year and loved the world building, but was a little disappointed in the lack of action. However, I did love the last third and I need to know what happens next, especially with Rhysand. A Court of Mist and Fury is a bit of a beast and is about twice the size of ACOTAR, so I’m hoping it’s an action packed 600-odd pages, and not more room for little action.

 

The Girl At Midnight - Melissa Grey

The Girl at Midnight – Melissa Grey

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you probably know how obsessed I am with Magonia and I almost bought the Kindle version of it so I could read it with glee at 30,000 feet. I was about to buy it when I spotted the ‘people also buy’ section and saw The Girl at Midnight.

I was completely sold at “Beneath the streets of New York City live the Avicen, an ancient race of people with feathers for hair and magic running through their veins.” Underground New York, feathery hair, and magic? What more do I need from a book?

 

What have you been reading this summer?

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Four books on the go

I’ve been stuck in a bit of a reading rut for most of 2016 so far. That’s not to say I haven’t read some great books though, but I’ve struggled to find time to really get into books.

At the time of writing this, I have four books on the go:

  • Allegiant Collector’s Edition – Veronica Roth: I’ve been reading this since it came out in October, and I’m pretty sure I’ve not finished it yet because of the ending.
  • Glass Sword – Victoria Aveyard: I’m over half way through this and really enjoying it, but meh, the reading rut.
  • Carry On – Rainbow Rowell: if anyone can bring me out of a reading rut, it’s Rainbow Rowell, so I started this in the hope it would pull me out.
  • Wild Swans – Jessica Spotswood

There are thousands and thousands of blog posts floating about sharing tips on how to get out of a reading rut. But sometimes, all the tips in the world don’t work and you just need to give it time.

I keep scrolling through Instagram (shameless plug, you can find me here @eatreadglam) and getting all excited about people’s enthusiasm for something they’ve just read, or something they’re about to read, and wishing I felt the same. That said, I am having a hard time not buying A Court of Mist and Fury right now BECAUSE IT LOOKS SO BEAUTIFUL AND SURELY BEAUTIFUL BOOKS WILL PULL ME OUTTA THIS FUNK. RIGHT?

WRONG. The reason I’m stuck in a reading rut is because I’ve got so much going on with university and my job. I have never been one of those people who can steal five minutes with a book here and there. I’m one of those people who gets fully invested and sucked in and will not be moved from the sofa for at least an hour, and finding a spare hour feels increasingly hard at the moment.

There’s no point forcing it because I know I won’t enjoy what I’m reading if I do that, and my second year is almost at an end, so I’ll have time to read over the summer.

Sometimes, you have to ignore all the tips and just wait; just wait until you get that time when the house is quiet, there’s nothing gnawing at the back of your mind reminding you to do something, and you can relax and fall into someone else’s head.

 

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5 types of people who want to borrow your books

For bookworms, there are few things more exciting than recommending books to your friends. BUT lending to friends comes with perils because there five types of people who want to borrow your books.

The hogger

This pesky friend will get all excited when you talk to them about a book you love and will declare that they want to read it right away. You will immediately hesitate, squint your eyes at them, and your brain will ask you if you can trust this person with your beloved. Their enthusiasm will convince you that they’ll read it quickly and give it back to you within a couple of weeks, so you’ll tentatively hand over your book.

A week later, you’ll ask how they’re getting on with it and they’ll say something like, “I haven’t got around to reading it yet, but I’m going to make a start this weekend.”

At this point, your brain will go “I told you so” in a singsong voice and you’ll tell it to shut up.

The weeks go by and the same answer keeps coming. Every time you go around their house, you’ll see it sat on the shelf, collecting dust and not looking like it’s next to be read.

Eventually, after a year passes, you’ll go to their house and rescue it. Maybe you’ll say something, or maybe you’ll say nothing and see how long it takes them to notice, while wondering if it’s illegal to steal something back that is yours. Can you steal your own belongings? I know you can get caught cheating for ‘plagiarizing yourself’, so maybe taking your own things back is stealing.

And the evil voice in your brain will get a slight kick out of the thought of them finally realising it’s missing and stressing out – your brain will call that payback for hogging.

I actually did this once when my friend borrowed The Fault In Our Stars. After a year, I’d had enough and rescued it.

 

The spinebender

You know the one; you’re probably letting out a low growl now just thinking about this.

I like my books to look pristine, even when they’ve been read, and that means not cracking the spine wide open. It’s entirely possible to comfortably read a book without cracking the spine. But the spinebender doesn’t even consider the damage to your bookbabies and will open the book wide open. Maybe they’ll even flatten it out. The horror.

 

The dogearer

I am not the kind of person who somehow manages to prevent anything in my bag from becoming bent or crinkled (I do have friends like that, and I’m 100% sure they’re superhuman) – until it comes to books; I treat books like they are precious, delicate pottery. This friend, though, will show your books no such courtesy.

Your book will return to you looking like someone played football with it; the cover will be creased and pages will be wrinkled.

They’ll say something like, “I only put it in my bag to read at school.” And your brain will go, “And you were attacked by a pack of hungry trolls at school were you?”

 

The snacker

We all love a good snack (or three) while we’re reading, but YOU DON’T EAT SNACKS OVER BOOKS!

This friend will return your book with little presents left buried deep between the pages. Just no.

 

The soulmate

This person seems to be a rarity, and they follow exactly the same rules as you when reading books. They will return your book in the same condition they received them; there’ll be no snacking or dog-eared pages, and you’ll both fangirl or fanboy over it together.  Make a vow to never fall out with this person.

Is there anything you’d add to this list? Tell bookworm horror stories about times you leant books to friends.

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6 books I have on pre-order

Don’t you just hate that feeling of finishing a book and knowing you have to wait months before you can find out what happens next? That’s been happening to me a lot recently. 

When I pre-ordered The Cursed Child the other day, I realised that I’d got six books on pre-order in total. SIX BOOKS ON PRE-ORDER! That has never happened before. It seems that there are so many books coming out this year that I just cannot wait to get my hands on.

Warning: I’ma mention the word ‘love’ a hella lot in this blog posts. Sorry, not sorry.

 

Kindred Spirits – Rainbow Rowell | February 25th, 2016

Kindred Spirits is a 96-page release for World Book Day 2016 that follows Star Wars fangirl Elena as she queues up to watch the latest Star Wars film.

I absolutely adore Rainbow’s writing; her characters are so detailed and real. I always finish her books feeling like I actually know the characters. She is an autobuy author for me.

After reading and loving Fangirl, I’m looking forward to see what she might do with a Star Wars fangirl.

 

The Glittering Court – Richelle Mead | April 5th, 2016

This has been described as a mix between Elizabethan and frontier worlds; what is not to love about that? The Glittering Court is a kind of finishing school for for ‘impoverished girls’ – you guys know how I feel about books that involve boarding schools. (I’m just assuming it’s a boarding school here.)

I’ve read and enjoyed the first three Vampire Academy books, so I’m sure that I’ll enjoy this.

 

The Crown (The Selection #5) – Kiera Cass | May 3rd, 2016

This is the second book in The Selection reboot (fifth book overall), and I WANT TO READ IT RIGHT NOW! The cliffhanger at the end of The Heir was cruel and I need to know what happens next.

A lot of people seemed to find Eadlyn irritating, but I quite liked her; it was nice to read a character who was unashamedly imperfect.

 

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child – J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne, and John Tiffany | July 31st, 2016

I’m not sure I even need to say a lot about this.

The play has been advertised as ‘the eighth installment’ in the series, but I’m going to try not to think about the book like that since it isn’t actually a novel, it’s a copy of the script that will be used when the play is first shown later this year. That said, I’ve been waiting to find out what happened to Harry, Ron and Hermoine for years, so I’m sure I’ll love it.

 

The Midnight Star (The Young Elites #3) – Marie Lu | October 11th, 2016

With each book I read by Marie Lu, I fall in love with her even more. When I didn’t think she could beat the Legend series, she released The Young Elites. When I didn’t think that could be beaten, I fell harder for The Rose Society.

Her world building is so wonderful; she creates these wonderful and elaborate places, that you just sink into like a cosy bed at the end of a long, hard day.

The Rose Society took a very dark turn and I’m looking forward to seeing how the series comes to an end.

 

Aerie (Magonia #2) – Maria Dahvana Headley | November 3rd, 2016

I almost hyperventilated when I saw how stunning the cover for Aerie is. LOOK AT HOW BEAUTIFUL IT IS! I have fangirled about Magonia enough on my blog, Twitter, and Instagram for you to know that it is one of my favourite books, so I am on tenterhooks to get my paws on Aerie and hold it in my hands. And love it, and date it. I’m definitely going to date it – where shall I take it? Is Nando’s too informal? What shall I wear?

Magonia was one of those books that stood alone solidly, but I am desperate to return to the world of Magonia and find out what happens next. Every time I hear Bird Set Free by Sia I can’t help but think about Magonia – I’ve had to remove it from my Spotify playlists because I keep thinking about Magonia and I don’t think it’s wise to be quite that distracted when driving.

 

Have you got any books on pre-order?

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