29 Jun 2017

beauty empties for the first four months of 2017 & mini reviews

At the end of 2016, I decided to set a box aside for beauty things I finish throughout 2017. This will enable me to see just how much I go through with the intention of preventing hoarding and excessive impulse buys. Here are the first four months and some mini reviews on each finished item.


Baby Foot 
I had high hopes for this foot mask but it disappointed me. I'd read reviews that said they had peeling feet for a good few weeks after but mine didn't even flake! Feet were no different afterwards and I soaked them for the recommended time. 0/10

The Body Shop Blueberry Body Butter
Performance-wise, I'm a huge fan of The Body Shop body butters but not the price. I usually wait until they have a sale and a 40% discount code as you can usually combine the two. They are a luxury and so I try and only use them during the cooler months where my skin is dryer. Smells lovely and keeps my skin soft and moisturised. 7/10

Tony Moly I'm Real Radiance Sheet Mask
I reviewed this mask earlier this month, please see here :)

Liole Super Gold Snail BB Cream sample
I found this was the right shade for me but it didn't seem to go on as smoothly as my Missha Perfect Cover BB cream (my current go-to base). It made my skin look dry and flaky and just wasn't impressive. Disappointing as I do love products with snail in! 1/10

Holy Snails Shark Sauce sample
Holy Snails have some well loved products on the Asian Beauty Reddit subforum and so I found myself eager to try their offerings. I bought the sample pack and gradually made my way through each product. Shark Sauce has Niacinamide in, an ingredient that brightens and evens complexion while fading scars. This product didn't do anything (negatively or positively) so for that, 2/10. There are many who say that Shark Sauce has improved their skin beyond expectations though so you may think differently.

Estee Lauder Double Wear Zero Smudge Lengthening Mascara
Smudgeproof mascaras are a holy grail item for me and this one is perfect in that respect. The price is on the higher end though and though I did replace it (but with the volume version), I don't think there'll be another replacement after that one! 6/10

& Garnier Ultimate Blends Shampoo for Coloured Hair and a Dove Beauty Blossom Body Cream.


Tony Moly I'm Real Skin Soothing, Elasticity and Moisturising Sheet Masks
I reviewed these masks earlier this month, please see here :)

Emma Hardie Vit C Intense Daily Serum sample
Sometimes, when you use a sample, you don't expect much and that's the expectation I had with this one. However, by the end, I was gutted that I ended up loving the effect it had. It brightened my skin and evened out my complexion, seemingly overnight! With the main active ingredient being vitamin C though, I'm hopefully there'll be a product just as good for a fraction of the price. 8/10

Berrisom My Lip Patch
Very disappointing product. Tastes foul and no visible difference after. Fun to use and only good if you want to spend half an hour or so in silence. 0/10

La Roche-Posay Effaclar Duo [+]
This was one of those products where you don't notice much of an effect when you use it but once you stop, you then see the difference it made. Just that. I'm too scared to stop using it for that reason. 9/10

Mizon All In One Snail Repair Cream
I'm going to lay this down straight: I love snails. Snails have done wonders for my skin - from preventing break outs to decreasing redness - and this is the product that started it all. It lasted forever (ok, maybe more like eight months) and was great as part of a multi-step routine. I'm currently trying out the Black Snail version and it's not given me the same results unfortunately. 9/10 for this version.

& Arm and Hammer Enamel Pro Repair Toothpaste


Rilakkuma x A'pieu Sheet Mask Patches
This was a weird sheet mask - it came in patches shaped as the two bears: Rilakkuma and Korilakkuma. It was good at moisturising and had an instant brightening effect but the weird sheet mask style wasn't for me. 6/10

Fix & Tox S.Pore Unit Programming Sheet Mask
A steady sheet mask that didn't do anything special for me. 5/10

A'pieu Facial Cleansing Tissue
Good for removing make up and even the most stubborn eyeliner. 8/10!

The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%
This is a wonder product for my skin and I've mentioned it previously here in this post and here too! Not a bad word from me but others have reported pilling when using this serum under other layers.  9/10

Holy Snails Snowbang sample
The key product in this sample were ceramides and Snowbang did wonders for my skin. When I started using it, I did wonder why I hadn't thought of adding in this key ingredient sooner. It was the product that confirmed just how dehydrated I suspected my skin to be. Due to the price and lack of availability in the UK, I won't be repurchasing but have since found an adequate replacement. 9/10

Caudalie Reservatrol Lift Night Infusion Cream
A bit of a 'meh' product. Didn't do anything for me. 1/10

Benefit Professional sample
On the days where I don't feel like wearing a base layer, I sometimes just use a primer. Porefessional did a decent job of blurring my pores but was awful under my Missha Perfect Cover BB cream. It also didn't make my make-up last for longer but I did purchase the full size for those days where I don't feel like wearing make up. 7/10

Missha Time Revolution Borabit Ampoule
Again, one of those products that didn't make a difference. 1/10

Banila Co White Wedding Night Cream (two samples)
Another that made no impact. 2/10 (because I liked the consistency!)

& Garnier Ultimate Blends Shampoo for Coloured Hair and The Body Shop's Passionfruit Body Butter.

A P R I L - a month of samples!

Banila Co Miss Water and Mr Oil SLM Gel Cream (two samples)
No visible difference but I did like the texture and smell. 2/10

Tony Moly Cherry Blossom Whitening Cream (four samples)
Again, no impact. 1/10

Soap and Glory Scrub Your Nose In It
Ended up using this as a gentle body scrub instead. It has a refreshing minty smell to it... and that's as much as my review goes. It doesn't really do anything (at least not for me). 2/10

Fix and Tox Derma Clear System Mask x 2
A middle of the road sheet mask (not dissimilar to the other Fix and Tox sheet mask mentioned in the previous month. 5/10

Estee Lauder Re-Nutriv Ultimate Diamond Eye Cream (three samples)
This cream seemed to brighten my skin (I used it all over my face instead of just under my eyes). I did end up liking it but I don't purchase eye creams as (in my opinion) they are overpriced for what they are. 6/10

Neutrogena Hydro Boost sample
I loved this sample! It was the last step to my evening routine and when I woke up the next morning, my skin was so much plumper and fresher. It is on my wishlist for once I finish my other sleeping packs! I hope they don't reformulate or discontinue by the time that comes around. 9/10

Tony Moly Intense Care Dual Effect Sleeping Pack sample
Meh. No difference. 1/10

Cosrx Ultimate Moisturising Honey Overnight Mask sample
Seemed to have a good effect overnight but not as good as the Neutrogena Hydro Boost. 6/10

The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% and Zinc 1%
This was my second finished bottle and I know the first one is in the month of March so it looks like it doesn't last long! However, it didn't take me a month to get through this; I was using both bottles pretty much simultaneously since October so it probably takes me closer to three months to finish a bottle.

Mario Badescu Drying Lotion
Used as spot treatment, one bottle of this can take me months or even years in this case to finish. Because it has alcohol in it, I'm not too worried about keeping it for years. I talk more about it here. 9/10

Garnier Micellar Cleansing Water for sensitive skin
Pretty good as a first step to take off make up. I follow it up with Banila Co's Clean It Zero (up next!) and then a foam cleanser. 8/10

Banila Co Clean It Zero
An excellent sherbet oil cleanser for dissolving make-up. I love the faint soapy smell and how it just melts on my skin. The tub lasted me for a good six months of near daily use and though it is on the pricier side, I'm too scared to try other oil cleansers in case they break me out. 8/10

& Jergens Daily Moisture Body Cream and Garnier Ultimate Blends Shampoo for fragile hair prone to breakage

* * *

My goal this year was to use up things before buying replacements and so far so good! I usually have one, maximum two, samples open at any time. I'm lucky that a bad reaction to something new is quite rare for me (touch wood this continues!) and using up my samples are a good way to add things to my wishlist. Saying that though, I still patch test each sample before slathering it all over my face. This gives me time to see if it really assess if it's something I want to try next or if it was a transient lust.

So far, I've noted that one bottle of shampoo and one tube of toothpaste lasts me for a month or so, sheet masks make an appearance once or twice a month and that buying back ups is something I need to stop because I just don't go through things as quickly as initially thought. I'm already excited to see what the next four months of empties will look like!

27 Jun 2017

beauty review: Benton Cacao Moist and Mild Cream

Benton are a Korean beauty brand; pretty well-known for their snail and bee products. The name 'Benton' is inspired and named after The Curious Case of Benjamin Button where Benjamin Button grows younger with time; and that is the premise of the Benton brand.

Today, we have the Cacao Moist and Mild Cream. It claims to be a lightweight, natural cream whilst still providing moisture to the skin to keep it smooth. The key ingredients are Cacao extract and hyaluronic acid. Both ingredients are already well known in the beauty and skincare world for being good skin hydrators. I currently use Palmer's Cocoa Butter as my body moisturiser so was excited to try this on my face (though I did have a fear of it clogging pores...).

The cream comes in a cute pink bottle and is the size of a hand cream. The box is also a cute pale pink colour and as much as we shouldn't be seduced by the aesthetics of packaging, I can't help but feel an affinity towards this bottle design.

So, how did this cream fare?

Well, there were many positives: it is a light, white-coloured fluid and does not feel greasy. It is easy to apply (so not too runny or too thick) and there was no strong fragrance to it. I half-expected it to smell like the cocoa butter I slather over my body after a shower but nope, nothing with this one.

It claims to be suitable for all skin types and with my oily-dehydrated skin, I was skeptical. Cacao butter for greasy skin? Sounds like a recipe for disaster but I was pleasantly surprised. Benton claims the cacao extract gives the complexion a dewy glow and I can't confirm this. My current routine does a good job of making my skin appear dewy so I'm not sure how much this cream contributed to that.

It didn't clog my pores or cause a breakout and it did a good job of keeping my skin moisturised. However, it was tested during a spate of hot, summery weather - a climate which usually means I don't need much in the way of an intense moisturiser.

Overall, this is a promising moisturiser, given how it has performed so far. It has a pleasant texture with no fragrance, did not clog pores and appeared to give my skin the moisture it needed. Did it outperform my current holy grail moisturiser (Dr Jart's Ceramidin cream - only used when my skin needs some heavy-duty moisture)? I'm not sure it did and probably won't know until the colder months, though I'm sure this will definitely serve me well during the summer months.

Note: This product was provided for review. I have reviewed it as honestly as possible and as if I had purchased it myself.

25 Jun 2017

my week #271

With just over a month to go until I can no longer say 'sorry, I'm only a medical student', I spent this week making the most of the sunshine and fitting in as much downtime as possible. On Wednesday, I took my mum out to the London Eye and then we spent the rest of the day as tourists. It was blistering hot though and we didn't last that long in the heat. All I'm saying is that I'm glad it got cooler towards the end of the week.

How has your week been?

22 Jun 2017

preparing for life after university: feat. a rhodia notebook

Now that my time as a student is definitely coming to an end in just over a month, it felt like a good time to start some proper future planning. What better place to plan for the future than a Rhodia notebook?

In it, it features things related to housing (from mortgages to the basic furnishings required for a flat/house) to lists of simple meals for a packed lunch or an easy dinner when shattered after a day of work. Each list has an estimated cost too so that I can see how much I'd need to save for a fully furnished property. Cue selling of all unwanted/barely used items on eBay...!

In a bid to be more grown up, I made a custom budget spreadsheet on Microsoft Excel. I've over-estimated all outgoings to try and account for as little surprise as possible. Whilst I've accounted for a mortgage, etc, that's how much I expect to pay for rent anyway so it is still equally applicable even if I were not to buy a property so soon. The total outgoings is a little scary and, if I'm honest, I'm not even sure if my salary will cover it all... This'll mean that I have to potentially have to cut down on non-essential spends. I'm going to see how things go over the first two months before reassessing my budget.

So this is my attempt at adulting, a little later than planned! Though there is still a lot to learn, this'll hopefully get me off on the right foot :) 

20 Jun 2017

my study week #24: an old pre-clinicals notebook part I

When I was tidying all of my university stuff last month, I found this notebook (and one other which'll be next month's feature). It is a pre-clinical notebook from my second year where it was split between clinical placement and lectures/problem-based learning.

I used it mainly for the twice a week problem-based learning sessions where each week, we had a new case. For those who don't know, problem-based learning (or PBL for short) is where you have a patient and you follow their journey whilst making learning objectives. These learning objectives can be to do with anatomy, physiology, clinical management, etc and can be as simple as 'define chronic kidney disease' to a more complex one such as 'understand Starling's Law in heart failure'.

As you can see, most of the notes are taken using a gel pen with some highlighting from Zebra Mildliners.

18 Jun 2017

my week #270

This week has been crazy on various fronts. I had a whole load of life admin to do at the beginning of the week (stuff that I had put off for quite some time!), capped off by a great weekend.

I gave blood for the first time on Friday. Originally, an appointment was booked for last Friday but when I logged into my account the night before, the appointment was gone so I rebooked for this week. It's been a long time coming! So emotional story time: a few decades ago, my mum needed two blood transfusions to save her life and as a result, she can't donate. Hearing this inspired me to give blood in her place and I'm glad I took the plunge. Though I'm not scared of needles/blood/anything gory, it's a different ball game when a huge needle is winging its way towards you! A friend told me to man up and the rest is history...

Yesterday, the Scotland rugby team played Australia in Sydney. Last November, my sister and I saw the same game but at Murrayfield in Edinburgh, only to witness a one point loss. Thankfully, the outcome was different this time: a five point win to Scotland. I've been grinning ear to ear since...

How has your week been?

15 Jun 2017

korean make-up mini reviews: eyes and lips

A while back, I did a few mini reviews about some Korean face and cheek products and today, here are a few more mini reviews about some eye and lip products.

VDL x Pantone Eye Book 6.4 - No. 5

My sister returned from Korea with this palette and isn't it beautiful on the outside and the inside? The mirror is huge and the hinge is sturdy enough for it to stay open, regardless of the angle. The shadows are buildable and that's what I personally prefer. It's not the most portable of palettes though!

Heimish Dailism Eyeshadow Palette in Lovesome Brink

Another palette with buildable shadows and this one is ideal for travelling. It is lightweight, small and has a decent sized mirror. The colours are also nice and neutral; so ideal for everyday wear and also for going out too.

Tony Moly Panda's Dream Mascara

This is my Holy Grail mascara. Cheap, smudge-proof and comes off easily without any scrubbing - what's not to love? If I use curlers before applying two coats of this mascara, I get a decent curl that opens up my eyes and a full day of wear with no smudging. Perfect.

As an aside, my sister bought me this as a surprise gift (it wasn't a request from me unlike some of the other items she returned with) and it was a pleasant surprise to the both of us when we realised how well it performed. I've since re-ordered it because it really is that good!

Shu Uemura Eyelash Curlers

My sister returned with a pair of these from Korea again - she snagged both in Duty Free while at the airport. They come with a replacement pad each too so are pretty good value for money when bought over there. They do a pretty good job - they fit my eye shape well and I have no complaints.

Etude House Drawing Eye Brow 

Have to confess - I'm still yet to use this as I've been using Anastasia Beverley Hills' Dip Brow Promade. I'll crack it out soon though as I want to test it out before my holiday - with the test determining if it comes with me on my jaunt or if my trusty Dip Brow does. It has good reviews all over the internet though!

Holika Holika Pro Beauty Foxy Eyeliners

Usually, I stick to dark brown or black eyeliner (on the days where I can be bothered!) but I wanted to branch out a bit so I ordered a purple one from Holika Holika. The other one is in dark brown as my Estee Lauder one needed replacing. They seem to stay put during the day and have a decent amount of pigmentation. Not too bad considering how cheap they are.

RiRe Luxe Gel Eyeliner

Again, a cheap eyeliner which seems to do its job. Good if you want to try out alternative colours to the normal black or dark brown!

Tony Moly Easy Touch Gel Eyeliner

These gel eyeliners were pretty disappointing. They had poor staying power (I got four hours out of one before it disappeared completely). The formula is decent and goes on easily with the use of a slanted brush but it just didn't give me a day's wear.

Mamonde Creamy Tint Color Balm Intense Crayons

These crayons come in too many shades for me to count. I opted for three of them but my favourite is number 16 - Velvet Red. They have good staying power and add a bit of colour to your lips at the same time.

Too Cool For School Dinoplatz Lost Identity Lip Crayon

I love these! Creamy, good staying power and don't dry my lips out. The sketchy design on the tube is also pretty cute!

Tony Moly Bunny Lip Gloss Bar

A gift from my sister (she was such a gem) from her (you guessed it) Seoul trip. This lip gloss is good if your lips are moisturised and exfoliated. If they are even a little bit chapped, this gloss won't look good!

So there you have it - a brief run through of all my Korean make-up products in my collection. It's unlikely anything will be added to it as I'm on a mission to finish everything before buying more (so far so good). My usual goal is as natural looking a face as possible so this is more than enough to help me achieve that.

Do you have any recommendations? :)

13 Jun 2017

what's in my bag #20 - elective edition

The hospital I'm doing my elective at didn't give me a locker or anywhere safe to put my bag and coat so I've taken to packing non-valuable items only, carrying anything of value on my person. As a result, here is what I end up packing on a daily basis:

From top left, clockwise: toothbrush, toothpaste and flannel, two small bags, a tote bag, a book for the journey, my ID card, an umbrella, my glasses, a 1L bottle of water and my travel card holder.
During week two of my elective, I left my bag in the changing room in an unlocked locker (as the electronic locks are dodgy and I was advised to not use them) with the above belongings. There is nothing of value to anyone else in there (the travel card and my ID were in my scrub pockets) and yet someone rifled through my bag and took my phone charger (out of all things). I came back to find my bag open with all of my belongings in disarray. It's awful to have this happen - I felt so violated after!

Not seen in the photo above is my lunchbox which sits within a cool bag. As for what's in the other two bags, see below!

From top left, clockwise: Paul and Joe make up bag, Benefit Dandelion blusher, feminine hygiene pieces, a face brush, some crackers, eye drops, contact lens case, Bobbi Brown face powder.
In this bag, I have a few beauty essentials. My contact lens stuff are in here along with some make up. I have a random packet of crackers just in case I need some sustenance in between surgeries/during a brief break.

Not shown are some painkillers just in case.

From top left, clockwise: Paul and Joe make up bag, facial tissues, my keys, a ginger sweet, some mints, Burt's Bees lip balm, Nuxe hand cream, a few pens, phone charger cable.
This small bag has some other essentials in too. It used to be my pencil case but it now holds some other stuff in it too. This is another phone charger cable that replaced my stolen one. Hand cream is something I always carry now due to the constant alcohol gelling and hand washing.

Do you adapt your bags to certain situations, i.e. knowing that there isn't a safe place to put your stuff? Looking at how much I pack on a daily basis, it's made me think more ruthlessly about what I really need and not need every day.

11 Jun 2017

my week #269

This week, I received some job-related documents and it's all beginning to feel very real! I know how many hours per week I'll be working on average, have deduced how many night shifts I'll have each month and also how many weekends will be sacrificed. It's not looking too bad! Fingers crossed my rota (when I get it) reflects this initial gut feeling.

I've spent the week doing a load of life admin and just taking things a bit easier. My holiday is booked for next month and it's all getting quite exciting. My plan this weekend is to draw up a list of things I want to visit during my holiday and then an itinerary for each day. I did this for my Stockholm trip last summer and it worked out quite well!

How was your week?

8 Jun 2017

tony moly i'm real sheet masks part II

Welcome to the second half of my Tony Moly I'm Real sheet mask reviews blog post :) You can see part I here. In this half, these are the masks that are reviewed:

- Nutrition: I'm Real Avocado Mask Sheet
- Elasticity: I'm Real Pomegranate Mask Sheet
- Radiance: I'm Real Tomato Mask Sheet
- Skin Soothing: I'm Real Tea Tree Mask Sheet
- Moisturising: I'm Real Aloe Mask Sheet

Followed by a brief overview of all of the masks. Enjoy!

Nutrition: I'm Real Avocado Mask Sheet - 10/10

This mask was left on for an hour and it was pretty much completely dry by this time. It smells super fresh and the result it left was pretty good too! My skin looked a lot brighter, there was a decrease in redness and it felt moisturising without being oily. Any scars after blemishes appeared faded too!

The claim that it makes dull skin look radiant and glowing is definitely true in this case. This was my favourite mask of the lot and one I wouldn't hesitate to re-purchase once I've finished my stash of sheet masks. I can see myself using this mask before an important event or a night out where I want to look my best.

Elasticity: I'm Real Pomegranate Mask Sheet - 7/10

In all honesty, I'm not entirely sure how one single sheet mask is meant to help with elasticity...! Either way, the things this mask did do were brighten up my complexion (my skin was glowing for the next 24-48 hours), dampen down redness and add some much needed moisture due to the weird winter weather at the time. Though not touted as a brightening mask, it was the one that made my skin glow the most!

Radiance: I'm Real Tomato Mask Sheet - 7/10

In the past, the word 'radiant' would not have been one used to describe my skin but lately, it has looked a lot more glow-y than ever before. On a duller day, I decided to try this sheet mask and it's 'radiant' effects were a little... Underwhelming. The smell was pleasant and the mask didn't irritate my skin, leaving it dewy and soft. It definitely felt moisturising but at the expense of it leaving behind a sticky residue, more so than the other masks in this range.

Skin Soothing: I'm Real Tea Tree Mask Sheet - 9/10

Just before one of my exams, I had a particularly bad breakout because I went through a week of eating poorly, sleeping badly and just neglecting my skincare routine. To try and rescue my skin, I whacked this mask on and it actually worked pretty well!

It had a slight tea tree fragrance and there was no stinging during the forty minutes I left this on for. There was a decrease in redness, my skin felt a lot softer and my existing blemishes all looked much less obvious. It was also one of the least sticky masks in the range. Comparing this one to one of my other favourites (the rice mask sheet from part I), it wasn't as good, hence the score being just shy of a perfect 10.

Moisturising: I'm Real Aloe Mask Sheet - 5/10

This one was used during the month of January when the weather was all over the place (super cold one week and then much milder the next) and it definitely lived up to its moisturising name without leaving a film of grease. However, with aloe mentioned as the main theme to it, I was hoping it would help with a breakout I had at the time. This, it did not. It didn't even decrease any of the redness from blemishes! Not impressed with this one at all.


Some things these masks all have in common are that they all fit poorly on my face. I think I have a larger than average sized face and even that, there is a little bit of misalignment where my mouth is. The sheet doesn't quite cover the sides of my cheeks though it does a bit too much of my jawline (to the point where I can fold it down and have it on the top part of my neck!). Maybe I just have a wider face than the target market!

The smell of all of these masks are pleasant enough and the only ones where I felt had a smell that matched their description were the Tea Tree one and the lemon one. The effects of the masks never seem to last longer than a day or two but that's true of most sheet masks so this isn't a negative specific to these masks; just something to be aware of! It also means that sheet masks are perfect as part of a pre-event pamper.

What I found was that most of these masks decreased redness but my reasoning for this is the cooling effect of the liquid on my skin. I don't think it is something unique to these masks so just something to bear in mind.

Although the instructions say to keep them on for 20-40 minutes, I usually kept them on for longer. Some people say this shouldn't be done as when the mask dries, it ends up taking moisture from your skin but I've yet to have that issue. However, this might not be the case with all skin types and skincare is so awfully objective that if you have any worries about sensitivity or leaching of moisture, it might be worth following the instructions for the first few times at least.

Finally, I think the illustrations on the packaging of these masks are just adorable and I love the fruit and vegetable theme to most of them. These masks weren't that expensive - for the set of eleven, I think I paid around £12 on Amazon.co.uk (including postage and packing) so they are pretty affordable if you are new to the concept of sheet masking!

4 Jun 2017

my week #268

This is officially my last week on elective and I've had such a good time. I've loved every moment and have learnt a lot more about paediatric surgery. However, with two months free until I start work, the team have allowed me to continue going in if I get bored/have a day off, etc. As someone who struggles to sit still and hates not feeling productive, this is something I really appreciate!

We've had some sweltering weather recently too and the commute has been a sweaty and disgusting mess. Any ideas for how to keep cool in humid conditions?!

How has your week been?

1 Jun 2017

book: the roanoke girls by amy edelman

I went through a phase of reading some twisted and messed up books (Gillian Flynn's Sharp Objects, Dark Places and Gone Girl are particular favourites, as hyped as they are) so I had high hopes for The Roanoke Girls by Amy Edelman.

The blurb looked promising (from Amazon.co.uk):


The Roanoke girls seem to have it all. But there's a dark truth about them which is never spoken. Every girl either runs away, or dies. 

Lane is one of the lucky ones. When she was fifteen, over one long, hot summer at her grandparents' estate in rural Kansas, she found out what it really means to be a Roanoke girl. Lane ran, far and fast. Until eleven years later, when her cousin Allegra goes missing - and Lane has no choice but to go back. 

She is a Roanoke girl. 

Is she strong enough to escape a second time?"

The Roanoke Girls is a book about a dysfunctional family set on a rural farm in Kansas. The characters are all a bit mysterious - Charlie, the old man who helps out at the farm and Sharon, the house maid who can't seem to cook an edible meal despite all of her years of service. I would have liked to have learnt a bit more about these two characters as the author alludes to them all having a creepy side with a past full of skeletons but does not elaborate on any of these hints!

Honestly, I found the plot a bit predictable and guessed what was going to happen at most of the major twists. Some parts felt a bit forced - as if they were written in to shock the reader. There were so many shady characters, it felt a bit wasteful to not use them as potential suspects in more depth during the investigation of Allegra's disappearance.

Overall, I found this book really underwhelming. I only finished it to see if my theory was right (and it was) but other than that, I would have happily left this book half read. Gone Girl, this book is not, but it does have a decent plot. Just one that isn't at its full potential. 5/10.