Friday, 21 August 2015

Censorship and Reviews

I wanted to put a pause on the book reviews and writing posts to talk about something that is very dear to me. Censorship is something that is a constant struggle throughout the world either with books, movies, websites, etc. But something I experienced this past week was censorship with a review.

My family and extended family went up to Blue Mountain this past week to have a family vacation. We rented these condos (because that's basically all that's up there) and hoped for the best. When we got there our condo was a disaster with a curtain railing about to fall out of the wall and a kicked in screen door just some of the many issues. I immediately posted a review on TripAdvisor stating at the beginning that this was a "first impressions review" and at the end that we were waiting to hear from management about what was going to happen.

When the review finally posted we were in a different room that had downgraded the second bed for my brother and I to a futon where you could feel every spring. The condo was clean and in a lot better shape than the other one so that was good.

Then, something happened. My dad and I went off for a walk while everyone else went to the pool and I got a phone call from my mom. "You need to get back here right now." Apparently management saw the review and were not at all pleased. They had confronted her about it and upset her so much that she wanted it taken down. I did it because she was so upset about it, but it also made me upset. What right did they have to confront her about something I had written? This bothered me even more because it was completely factual (including pictures) and I had only written what was true. When we looked up other reviews on TripAdvisor they hadn't received very many good reviews and many people said to stay away due to deception on the company website.

We were told that earlier a group of university kids had whipped through there but that is no excuse to allow those rooms to be rented out until safe. what if that curtain rod had fallen and hit one of us as we went to bed? They should have taken the extra time to make sure that the room was safe and rentable.

I will not say who this company is as I don't want to upset my mom further, but I think it's a sad day when we post true reviews and are harassed by the company simply because they don't like what they hear. Reviews are meant to be opportunities for consumers to find the best places and share their experiences, while companies can learn what to do better.

Next time I will wait until I have left to leave a review, but I will still leave honest reviews about places I have been.

Quote of the day: The only lies for which we are truly punished are those we tell ourselves.

Thursday, 23 July 2015

The Invasion of the Tearling by Erika Johansen

From Goodreads: With each passing day, Kelsea Glynn is growing into her new responsibilities as Queen of the Tearling. By stopping the shipments of slaves to the neighboring kingdom of Mortmesne, she crossed the Red Queen, a brutal ruler whose power derives from dark magic, who is sending her fearsome army into the Tearling to take what is hers. And nothing can stop the invasion.

But as the Mort army draws ever closer, Kelsea develops a mysterious connection to a time before the Crossing, and she finds herself relying on a strange and possibly dangerous ally: a woman named Lily, fighting for her life in a world where being female can feel like a crime. The fate of the Tearling —and that of Kelsea’s own soul—may rest with Lily and her story, but Kelsea may not have enough time to find out.

Ahhhh this book! The Invasion of the Tearling, start to finish, was amazing. Just, amazing. I loved the dual narrative, although it was kind of confusing as to why this connection to Lily had only started now and not earlier when she had received both the sapphires. BUT it was still great to get the backstory on the Crossing. 

It was kind of sad to see Kelsea becoming something darker than the young innocent she was when she first became queen. It was good to see her struggle though and try to figure out what type of queen she would be. I think that this made her a much more relatable main character and a much more likeable one as well.

I loved her relationship with Pen. They are so perfect for each other and I totally called this when I read The Queen of the Tearling, but I don't mind at all! It's a slow relationship and you can see Kelsea trying to experience love and life as a regular woman of her time. It was great to see her experimenting, but also beginning to fall for Pen. I'm really excited to see where this relationship will lead in the next book!

Lily's narrative was intense. Like, scary/dark intense. It really makes you hope the world doesn't come to that in thirty or forty years, but then I don't live in America so I don't think the America of The Invasion of the Tearling would affect Canada. I like that Johansen made spousal rape and the dark secretive world of the rich so blatant. Stuff like that happens now, and the world that Lily lives in would definitely have those actions as the norm. It was great to see how far, technologically, we could come in Johansen's mind, but it also showed how far we regressed as a society. The Crossing became something that I cheered for and wanted Lily to be a part of because her life was just getting to be so terrible. 

It was also good to see the potential for how Lily and Kelsea's lives could be linked. It really makes me excited for the next book! I seriously hope they reveal who Kelsea's father is because it's getting to be something important.

Overall this book was amazing and I would recommend it to anyone who likes fantasy/historical novels. I definitely give it a five out of five stars!

Quote of the day: And Kelsea wondered suddenly whether humanity ever actually changed. Did people grow and learn at all as the centuries past? Or was humanity merely like the tide, enlightenment advancing and then retreating as circumstances shifted? The most defining characteristic of the species might be lapse. - Erika Johansen, The Invasion of the Tearling

Saturday, 4 July 2015

Deep Blue by Jennifer Donnelly

Goodreads:Serefina, daughter of Isabella, Queen of Miromara, has been raised with the expectation - and burden - that she will someday become ruler of the oldest civilization of the merfolk. On the eve of the Dokimí ceremony, which will determine if she is worthy of the crown, Sera is haunted by a strange dream that foretells the return of an ancient evil. But her nightmare is forgotten the next day as she diligently practices her songspell; eagerly anticipates a reunion with her best friend, Neela; and anxiously worries about Mahdi, the crown prince of Matali, and whether his feelings toward her and their future betrothal have changed. Most of all, she worries about not living up to her mother's hopes.

The Dokimí proceeds, a dazzling display of majesty and might, until a shocking turn of events interrupts it: an assassin's arrow wounds Isabella. The realm falls into chaos, and Serafina's darkest premonitions are confirmed. Now she and Neela must embark on a quest to find the assassin's master and prevent a war between the mer nations. Their search will lead them to other mermaid heriones scattered across the six seas. Together they will form an unbreakable bond of sisterhood as they uncover a conspiracy that threatens their world's very existence.

I'm not quite sure what I expected from Deep Blue, but this wasn't it. I did expect lots of action and mermaids (obviously) but this wasn't quite what I was looking for. You definitely get the cliché main character ruler who doesn't want to disappoint her parent, parent dies in battle, and she must rise up. You get lots of mythology (which is cool) and it's modern day so you also get the struggles of what is going on with the ocean with fishing and pollution (which is also cool).

Serafina is an interesting character that I want to love so much, but she is just the ultimate cliché. There is the cliché that I mentioned above, as well as the added fact that she is a princess who chafes against court, rivalry with one of the ladies-in-waiting, feels like she doesn't belong, duties of a ruler, etc, etc. The romance I feel like is going to be very predictable as well. I'm going to put out my theory here so *SPOILER ALERT*. I think that Blue is Mahdi in disguise. Serafina is totally falling for Blu and he confessed to hiding his true self as well as describing his "ex-girlfriend" which could definitely be Serafina. This is definitely a set up that can be seen a mile away. *END OF SPOILER ALERT*.

The plot of trying to save the oceans from a major monster who could destroy the world is very intense but I feel like Donnelly could pull it off if she does the rest of the series right, with significantly fewer clichés. The fact that Serafina and five other mermaids have to come together to do this also sets up the series for one that will be long (very clever marketing strategy), especially since they all separated at the end of the book. I'm not sure if I'm going to follow the rest of the series, but I feel like there's a lot of potential here and I want to see where it goes.

Quote of the day: "Whatever you do or dream you can do - begin it. Boldness has genius and power and magic in it." - Jennifer Donnelly, Deep Blue

Friday, 3 July 2015

The Blood of Olympus by Rick Riordan

Goodreads: Though the Greek and Roman crewmembers of the Argo II have made progress in their many quests, they still seem no closer to defeating the earth mother, Gaea. Her giants have risen—all of them—and they're stronger than ever. They must be stopped before the Feast of Spes, when Gaea plans to have two demigods sacrificed in Athens. She needs their blood—the blood of Olympus—in order to wake.

The demigods are having more frequent visions of a terrible battle at Camp Half-Blood. The Roman legion from Camp Jupiter, led by Octavian, is almost within striking distance. Though it is tempting to take the Athena Parthenos to Athens to use as a secret weapon, the friends know that the huge statue belongs back on Long Island, where it "might" be able to stop a war between the two camps.

The Athena Parthenos will go west; the Argo II will go east. The gods, still suffering from multiple personality disorder, are useless. How can a handful of young demigods hope to persevere against Gaea's army of powerful giants? As dangerous as it is to head to Athens, they have no other option. They have sacrificed too much already. And if Gaea wakes, it is game over.

Wow. I was really lucky that I bought this book so I could continue it immediately after The House of Hades. This was also a really intense follow up. The end was near and I really wanted to know what was going to happen. 

I must say, I was disappointed with the amount of Percy and Annabeth. I know there was a lot of them in the last book, but I wanted that to continue on in The Blood of Olympus. I must say though that all of the characters that were focused on were necessary to have that focus so I suppose there is that. I was excited to see more Nico and Reyna too. It was good to see Nico come to terms with himself and grow to accept who he is and it was also good to see Reyna come to terms with her past. These two characters needed each other so I was really happy they got to spend a lot of time together.

Leo's plot line was sad, and also very much needed. I felt like he had been stuck as the odd man out for so long that it was good to see him get his happy ending, and Calypso as well. He got his act together, knew what he had to do, and did it!

Again, so much love for those Greek settings, but it was also great to see the series come to an end at Camp Half-Blood. The series came full circle, which I'm hoping was planned by Riordan because he did a really good job of it. 

All the characters seemed to pull together and grew in all sorts of ways. After following Percy Jackson for so long, it was like watching my babies grow up to defeat even bigger and badder monsters than last time!

The ending was very intense, but seemed slightly anti-climactic somehow. It wasn't quite as insane as I was hoping for it to be, but it was still a very good final fight. I was happy to see everyone settle and it was also exciting to see the Roman and Greek demigods put aside their differences. I think it would be cool to see how Percy handles college and I want another series, but I also don't because I feel like poor Percy and everyone has had enough troubles to last a lifetime!

Overall I was very content with this as the final book in the series. Everything got wrapped up quite nicely.

Quote of the day: "Hey, I'm a Poseidon kid," he said. "I can't drown. And neither can my pancakes." - Rick Riordan, The Blood of Olympus

Thursday, 2 July 2015

The House of Hades by Rick Riordan

Goodreads: At the conclusion of The Mark of Athena, Annabeth and Percy tumble into a pit leading straight to the Underworld. The other five demigods have to put aside their grief and follow Percy’s instructions to find the mortal side of the Doors of Death. If they can fight their way through the Gaea’s forces, and Percy and Annabeth can survive the House of Hades, then the Seven will be able to seal the Doors both sides and prevent the giants from raising Gaea. But, Leo wonders, if the Doors are sealed, how will Percy and Annabeth be able to escape?

They have no choice. If the demigods don’t succeed, Gaea’s armies will never die. They have no time. In about a month, the Romans will march on Camp Half-Blood. The stakes are higher than ever in this adventure that dives into the depths of Tartarus.

I'm just plowing through all of these books! I have two more books to review after this from my recent book haul, and two more to read. I have just been on a reading rampage!

The House of Hades was a really intense book. I was so happy to see more of Annabeth and Percy because they are just perfect. It was also great to see Leo kind of mature on this trip and grow. Rick Riordan definitely knows how to make a character grow. The plot was really intense because you could feel the pressure of all the demigods trying to get to the Doors of Death in time. The last battle was also crazy because you didn't know if Hazel would be able to step up or not (she was fighting against an immortal sorceress after all). So much was happening in this novel that I don't know if I could cover everything.

Plot. This was amazing. It carried you along without rushing but not dragging either. It really made you get into the story and not want to stop. I think I finished this novel in three days (darn work) because I just couldn't put it down!

Characters. Obviously the characters are amazing. I would have to say that I really like the new cast of Greek demigods as well as the addition of Roman demigods. My favourites are definitely Percy and Annabeth so I was really happy to see more of what was happening to them and what they were going through. Their journey coincided well with the others' so it all came together quite nicely at the end.

Setting. The setting was so phenomenal! And I'm not saying that because I went to Greece little over a month ago. Okay, maybe I am. It was just so cool to see Riordan incorporate real Greek landmarks where the Greek gods had left their mark. He also did that with Rome/Italy in The Mark of Athena, but it was neat to see places where I had been incorporated into the text (as it always is!).

Overall this was a really intense novel in the Heroes of Olympus series. I think Riordan did a really good job with keeping the story going and maintaining interest in what happened to these characters. Definitely a must read if you're keeping up with Percy Jackson!

Quote of the day: "Yeah, well," Nico said, "not giving people a second thought  . . . that can be dangerous." - Rick Riordan, House of Hades

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black

This book is so fantastic! There is almost nothing more to say. This novel instantly drew me in and kept me fascinated the whole time. There was no moment where I found myself wondering if I should start a new book. The characters were amazing, the plot was amazing, the setting was amazing. I don't have enough good things to say here.

First, let's start with plot. I found it interesting that this was almost like a modern fairy tale and was concerned at first as to how they would mix, but Holly Black melded the two wonderfully. There isn't an overwhelming amount of modern day stuff, but there's enough that you know what era you're in. And there's lots of fairy tale creatures, but not so much that you're overwhelmed. The plot moved quickly enough, but you didn't feel like you were being rushed through.

The characters were all amazing! So. Much. Realism. Everyone was very well-rounded and there was lots of character development, which is great! I love when characters are both well-rounded and have great development. The Darkest Part of the Forest was interesting because there was so much of the characters that you had to try to figure out yourself. It was kind of like a mystery/thriller thing, which was intense because it's all from first person perspective so the fact that Black was able to keep certain things hidden while throwing out a bunch of clues and hints was very skillfully done. I absolutely love Hazel and Jack and Ben and just everyone. There is no character that I hate. Even the villain was well done. And the love stories! They are very realistic and not forced at all, which is good. I hate when authors set up love stories just because they feel the need and force it to fit what everyone else is doing with their love stories. Black's love story between Hazel and Jack was very much expected by me from this genre (mortal/fey thing) but it was artfully written. And the beginnings of Ben and Severin's love story was also well written as well, and also unexpected (in a good way), but it fits, and that's what matters.

Setting was interesting because the story takes place in modern day with the fairy tale aspects. The modern day town that also has so many old-timey traditions to keep the fey happy was very interesting. It's great because people can still be that scared and superstitious and suspicious, so it was cool to see all of those feelings directed toward fey.

All in all, I would definitely give this book a five out of five. It's from a girl's perspective, but it's not super mushy or chic lit by any means. It has a darkness to it that makes it very interesting to read but isn't too scary to read before going to bed.

Quote of the day: "We weren't - I mean, not really -" Jack started, making gestures toward the bed that Ben thought meant "I am not trying to dishonour your sister, although it is possible that I am hoping to have sex with her," at the same time Hazel began apologizing for ditching Ben. - Holly Black, The Darkest Part of the Forest

Thursday, 11 June 2015

The Skystone by Jack Whyte

It's been a long time since I've done a book review but since I am officially done school (forever!!) I will definitely be reading more so you guys can look out for more reviews.

Today's review is The Skystone by Jack Whyte. This is the first book in the A Dream of Eagles series. It's basically a retelling of the legend of King Arthur from before Camelot even existed. The first book begins with Publius Varrus, a Roman soldier, looking back on his life and telling the reader events that happened when he was younger.

The beginning was slightly confusing because it kept jumping back and forth in time, and not to Publius' present but to different times within his timeline. This really set up his relationship with Caius Brittanicus, but it would have been easier to follow if it had been more straightforward. Now saying that, I think Whyte really imitated the way the human mind truly works with this narrative telling. The human mind doesn't necessarily follow any linear patterns and moves in its own way. This is how the plot moves in the novel.

The characters were really well-rounded. Publius was set up as a model Roman soldier, but also as someone who has his own flaws as well. This can be seen at the end when he does something out of pure vengeance against a bad man, but isn't particularly proud of it. Caius was also really well done and didn't seem too perfect. Luceiia felt a little set up however. Her love story with Publius seemed a little too improbable, even though I liked that they ended up together. I felt like Whyte wanted them to end up together and wanted it to happen as quickly as possible.

The novel itself takes place over a span of many years. It covers a lot within 620 pages, so be prepared for a lot to happen. It's great that the plot has a lot of intense things that happen, while there are also periods of peace; again, imitating real life since it covers so many years.

There's also a lot that doesn't happen in this novel that I expected to happen. I feel like this is almost an extended prologue to the real story, which would happen in the later novels.

Overall, I would give this book a three out of five stars. It was very interesting to read since there is a lot of Roman history involved and King Arthur stories are always intriguing, but I felt that there wasn't enough to draw me in to continue reading for the rest of the series.

Have you guys read any of the books in the A Dream of Eagles series? What did you think? Let me know in the comments below!

Quote of the day: Magic, after all, is no more than the product of knowledge others don't share. - Jack Whyte

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Spring/Summer Beauty Must Haves 2015

The warmer months are upon us so I thought I would share some things that would be great for the summer time.

Magnitone Pulsar Eclipse: This is a body brush that you can use all over your body. It comes with three different brushes, the SilkBliss, StimSoft, and Body Cleanse. This would be so great to use before self-tanning and/or shaving! It also comes with a travel case so you could take this with you wherever you go while keeping it protected.

Clarins Radiance-Plus Golden Glow Booster: This looks so amazing! This is a liquid that you add to
your morning and/or evening moisturizer to add a sun kissed glow to your skin. This is great because you can determine how dark you want your face to look so you can a lot of it or a little, it's totally up to you.

Caudalie Beauty Elixir: The Caudalie Beauty Elixir is amazing. This is one that I have actually used
before and I loved it. It's essentially a toning water. I like to use this after washing my face and then I also like to tie my face a spritz after I've done my makeup so it doesn't look too powdery. It's so refreshing in the summer and has a slight minty fragrance that just helps wake you up.

Josie Maran Argan Liquid Gold Self-Tanning Oil: This is pretty self-explanatory. Rather than a fake
tan in the form of a mousse or lotion, this is an oil. This looks so amazing and beautiful. It's a self-tan (obviously) but the oil means that it's also very hydrating, which I find not a lot of self-tanners are. Self-tans are great because they provide you with the colour you want for the summer, but it's a lot safer than lying out in the sun for hours on end with SPF 4 on. The fact that this self-tan comes with a mitt is also pretty nice; you wouldn't have to go out and purchase one separately which would mean more money! You can apply this after using the Magnitone to scrub away all those dead skin cells.

Natural Beauty Alchemy: Make Your Own Organic Cleansers, Creams, Serums, Shampoos, Balms, and More by Fifi M. Maacaron: Being mainly a book blog, I couldn't resist adding this beauty book to the list. This is a book full of DIY beauty products for anything you could ever imagine. This would be such a fun thing to have at a sleepover or if you're doing a spa day or anything like that. Plus it's all natural so you would know what you're putting on your skin. Bonus!

Those are all of my beauty must haves for this summer! Let me know what your beauty must haves are in the comments below.

Quote of the day: I am not pretty. I am not beautiful. I am as radiant as the sun. - Suzanne Collins

Monday, 1 June 2015

Greece Day 1

Greece Day 1, Sunday

Hello everyone! Long time no post. I have finally (FINALLY) graduated from university so as a treat for ourselves, two of my friends and I decided to go to Greece for two weeks to celebrate. We booked a package through Transat (which is a Montreal based travel company). The plan was Athens for two nights, Mykonos for three nights, Santorini for three nights, Crete for three nights, and Rhodes for three nights. I think was great for our first time travelling Europe sans parents because Transat took care of travel to and from the islands/hotels and helped us book tours at each of the destinations. This was my first time leaving North America so I was very excited, but also very nervous. I definitely overpacked, but I feel like it's better to be safe than sorry. If you guys want me to do a post on packing for a long trip like that, then let me know in the comments. I definitely learned some things from this trip about packing and travelling!

So our first day of our trip was Sunday May 10th. Our flight was at 2:40pm so we had some time in the morning to make sure we were all packed. My parents volunteered to drive the three of us to the airport because we were flying out of Toronto and the city I live in is two hours away from there.

It was a quick ride because we were all anxious and talking about the trip.

We got to the airport in decent time and got through security easily enough. We discovered a David's Tea at Pearson International Airport, which was awesome! I tried out an iced Pink Flamingo tea and it was delicious.

The airline we flew with was Air Transat since that's who we booked through, and the plane was so cool! They had mood lighting that changed when it was morning and evening so you weren't thrown off too much. The dinner was pretty gross (I had a chicken and rice curry) and the breakfast was just a slice of banana bread (also pretty gross). They had non-stop movies though so I watched The Theory of Everything, which was amazing, and The Imitation Game, which was also amazing, as well as reading some Lord of the Rings. I only got two hours of sleep, but it was better than nothing!

Quote of the day: I would rather walk with a friend in the dark, than alone in the light. - Helen Keller

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Spring Sephora VIB Sale and ABA Hair Show 2015

I recently took part in the Sephora VIB 15% off sale and went to the ABA Hair Show in Toronto. I filmed a haul (my first video in what seems like forever!). Let me know what stuff you got if you also did some shopping at Sephora or what you would get. The sale ends tonight!

Quote of the day: Life appears to me too short to be spent in nursing animosity or registering wrongs. - Charlotte Brontë

Sunday, 1 March 2015

Good Bye Winter!

Am I the only one who's tired of winter?? Where I am we have about three-four feet of snow and it's positively freezing. We've been breaking records all over the place the past two months, and it's making it difficult to dress even remotely cute. Sweaters and leggings are the new uniform if I want to stay warm and cozy.

Since I've been getting stir crazy and we're all lacking in the vitamin D department I thought I would share some things I've been doing to make me feel a bit better.

1. Plan a trip. I'm actually planning a trip to Greece for May, which is so exciting! It'll be my first time leaving North America and it's going to be pretty awesome! But, you guys don't need to actually plan anything. Just wanderlusting makes dealing with the winter a bit more bearable. You can find so many interesting places to visit on Pinterest (you can check out my travel board here) or you can also go on actual travel websites.

2. Do something new. Last year my boyfriend introduced me to snowboarding. This helped me get out of the house, plus it's something fun for the two of us to do together. The other day he also got me to go rock climbing. Anyone who knows me knows I'm scared of heights, but this was so fun! There's a rock climbing gym in my city that we went to and you don't have to use a harness. There are smaller walls that you can climb and jump off or climb back down. I was actually jumping off of the top of these walls, which is something I didn't think I'd be doing. Trying something new is a great distraction from the fact that there's no grass and it's -30 degrees out. It doesn't have to be anything physical either. It can be going to a museum or visiting another city, anything at all!

3. Treat yourself. Two words. Spa. Day. It's such a great idea to treat yourself when you're feeling blah. There are so many different face/hair masks you can try out on Pinterest (you can see my beauty board here) or on beauty blogs. Take a bubble bath. I'm not much of a bath person (I'd rather have a shower) but when I know I have the time to, I like to have a nice bubble bath to relax. Lush has some amazing bath products that help make a bath fun and relaxing! Watch a movie that you really love. Eat some popcorn or have any treat you like. This is the time to throw away your cares and do what you want.

4. Read. This is a great way to travel without leaving the comfort of your armchair. Books are such a great way to relax and get away from all the freezing snow. Any book can do this! I'm stuck reading textbooks and novels for my classes right now, but when I have a chance I love to read some fantasy (you can check out my Goodreads page here).

I hope you guys are having a great day! Let me know what you like to do to distract from all of the yucky weather.

Quote of the day: Believe in life! Always human beings will progress to greater, broader, and fuller life. - W. E. B. Du Bois

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Writing Playlist

I thought I would break up all of the review posts with something different. I had been experiencing some serious writer's block for about the past year. I just had zero motivation to write and almost completely forgot about my WIP. Thankfully, Jennifer Lawrence changed that. I was driving home from my boyfriend's house one night when her song, The Hanging Tree by James Newton Howard, came on the radio. I was immediately hit with inspiration and when I got home I started writing.

It's crazy how music can affect our writing and inspire writing. So, I thought I would give you guys a playlist of songs I've been listening to for my WIP. Try to see if you can figure out what's happening based on the songs. Let me know your ideas in the comments below!

The Hanging Tree by James Newton Howard
If I Had a Heart by Fever Ray
Iron by Woodkid
Everybody Wants to Rule the World by Lorde 
Burning Gold by Christina Perri 
Last Agni Kai from the ATLA Soundtrack
Requiem for a Dream
Crann Na Beatha by Adrian von Ziegler 
Wild Child by Enya
I Won't Back Down by Tom Petty
Let Her Go by Passenger
What if the Storm Ends by Snow Patrol

There are plenty of other songs, but these are the ones that have inspired me the most right now. Let me know what you listen to while writing, or what your favourite songs are.

Quote of the day: It takes a lot of time to be a genius. You have to sit around so much, doing nothing, really doing nothing. - Gertrude Stein

Friday, 30 January 2015

Nudestix: Review

I haven't posted a makeup review on here in a while, so I thought I'd break up the book reviews with one. I just received a package from Sephora in the mail containing, amongst the pile of freebies and testers, some Nudestix products! I read a blog post on Sephora and thought that using pencils/crayons was such a cool way to apply makeup. There are already eye pencils and lip products, but Ally and Taylor (shoutout to these Canadian girls!) have taken it to a whole new level. There are eye pencils, contour pencils, lip and cheek pencils, coverup, and lip gloss pens.

I was very intrigued (especially since it's a Canadian brand) and thought I'd give them a go! Unfortunately, they're not available at my local Sephora so I had to order them. They are available at certain Sephora locations, Amazon, Beautylish, Cult Beauty, Lipstick Republic, Space.NK, Urban Outfitters, Veer and Wander, and 27 Pinkx. There's also a map on the website so you can find a store near you that carries the product.

First of all, let's talk about the packaging. I think these black matte tins are such a cool idea. There's a massive mirror in there and lots of room so you can use them to carry your makeup around with you or travel with. I also really enjoy the little slip of paper that tells you about the product and gives you little tips and tricks on using them. I think that for one product the tin is a bit wasteful, but so long as you reuse it it's great.

Eye Pencil in Pewter; Sculpting Pencil in Light/Medium
The packaging of the product is so sleek and simple. I love how streamlined and simple the pencils look. There's nothing crazy fancy about them or anything which is great. I like how the eye pencils have a little smudger on the other end, and the sculpting stick has the highlight on one end and the contour on the other.

Eye Pencil in Pewter, Sculpting Pencil in Light/Medium

Eyes: Pewter and Sculpting Pencil in Light; Cheeks: Hourglass blush in Incandescent Electra and Sculpting Pencil in Light/Medium
Now let's get to the product! The eye pencil is fabulous. It goes on really nice and smooth and has really great colour payoff. It's really easy to smudge out, which is one of the reasons I bought it, but dries and sticks on your eyelid after. I found that applying a primer works best to minimalize creasing. I've seen people complaining about the amount of creasing of this eye colour, but I found that there was next to none with the primer. A little bit of creasing is fine by me, so long as the colour isn't pooling in my crease and smudging off the lid. I think the fact that it's a pencil is great because it's really easy to smoke out and get that effortless wash of colour. I also like to line my bottom lash line and smudge it out for a wearable everyday smokey look. Pewter is a greyish-brown kind of colour with a very slight shimmer, which I really like. It reminds me of MAC paint pot in Groundwork. It works with pretty much everything, making it a great everyday colour.

The sculpting pencil in light/medium is also really neat. I like how the highlight and contour colour are in one pencil, making it really easy. The light is a good highlight for me. It's nice and creamy, but not shimmery. I like to pair this with my Hourglass blushes because the blushes are already shimmery. Now, here's where I have to give a bit of criticism. The contour colour is my exact skin tone, which makes it great as a cover up, but not that great as a contour. I'm wearing it in the picture and, as you can see, it's not obvious. I do like it as it's still nice and creamy and I'll definitely be using it as a concealer, but not a contour. The concealer sticks provide better options so that you can mix and match for contouring and highlighting, but I do like how the sculpting pencils have both in one. It would be great if there was a way to mix and match and snap them together so you could create your own sculpting pencil. Just a thought.

Over all, I love these products. They're fabulous. Price-wise? It's a bargain at $28 Cdn. You would find similar products of similar quality for higher prices in Laura Mercier and other brands. I would highly recommend these to anyone trying out makeup for the first time, or even someone who is already a veteran makeup user.

Quote of the day: Pull up a chair. Take a taste. Come join us. Life is so endlessly delicious. - Ruth Reichl

Friday, 23 January 2015

Seraphina by Rachel Hartman

Four decades of peace have done little to ease the mistrust between humans and dragons in the kingdom of Goredd. Folding themselves into human shape, dragons attend court as ambassadors, and lend their rational, mathematical minds to universities as scholars and teachers. As the treaty's anniversary draws near, however, tensions are high.

Seraphina Dombegh has reason to fear both sides. An unusually gifted musician, she joins the court just as a member of the royal family is murdered—in suspiciously draconian fashion. Seraphina is drawn into the investigation, partnering with the captain of the Queen's Guard, the dangerously perceptive Prince Lucian Kiggs. While they begin to uncover hints of a sinister plot to destroy the peace, Seraphina struggles to protect her own secret, the secret behind her musical gift, one so terrible that its discovery could mean her very life.

Here is yet another book review! Let me know if you guys want a bit more variety in posts, I've just been loving some good books recently and want to post my reviews while I remember what happened still. Today, I'm reviewing Seraphina by Rachel Hartman. This is another book that I picked up on Boxing Day at Chapters. I started reading this and wasn't really taken in right away. It took some time and I would pick it up and put it down. However, like The Mark of Athena by Rick Riordan, I was sucked in as soon as it started to get good (about 1/4 of the way through the novel). Not that that first quarter was uninteresting, it was just a slow start setting everything up. It was interesting how you didn't find out everything at once, but slowly eased into things through "memory pearls". I also liked that you learned things as Seraphina learned them, there was very little dramatic irony going on here. The love story is nothing spectacular. It's the most predictive thing ever, but it's still sweet to see how Seraphina and Kiggs deal with it at the end of the novel, especially since a princess is involved.

I found this to be very reminiscent of Kristin Cashore's work. I was very much reminded of Graceling with the whole "am I a monster, am I not" argument. The writing was very similar too. Maybe a mix of Graceling and Fire regarding the monster aspect and mental stuff that goes on.

I really enjoyed how Seraphina was someone who went from hiding all the time to becoming more accepting of what she was and her role. I also really liked the father-daughter relationship and how it resolved itself at the end of the novel, it was a nice touch.

The characters in general are really great in this novel. They're very well-rounded and their development is really well done.

I also really liked how independent Seraphina was. She went through this huge thing thinking she was alone and came to understand so many things about herself and those around her. It's definitely a coming-of-age novel, or bildungsroman if you're a literature person (have to use my school for something!), but it's done so well that you're not getting hit over the head with it or wondering when it's going to happen.

All in all, this was an amazing novel and I can't wait for the sequel! For those wondering, it comes out this March.

Quote of the day: We were all monsters and bastards, and we were all beautiful. - Rachel Hartman, Seraphina

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Sora's Quest by T. L. Shreffler

Sora Fallcrest always dreamed of adventure, but as a member of the nobility, she learned the ways of a Lady instead. Now seventeen, she is expected to choose a husband and marry. She plots to run away, but just as she is stepping out the door, she runs into a mysterious man--and is kidnapped.

Abducted from her manor, Sora is plunged into a world of magical races, arcane jewelry and forgotten lore. She finds herself at the mercy of a dangerous assassin, haunted by an even darker past. She yearns for freedom, but he won't let her go--not when her Cat's Eye necklace is the only thing that can save his life.
But the necklace itself presents a problem. It is an ancient device from the long forgotten War of the Races, and its magic has the ability to steal souls. Can Sora learn to wield its power -- or will the power wield her? 

Hello hello! I thought I would post another book review for you guys here. I have been reading so many good books recently so be prepared for a storm of reviews. Today, I'm reviewing Sora's Quest by T. L. Shreffler. I found this book on the Kobo store for free and thought I'd give it a read as it sounded interesting. For anyone wondering, yes, this book is free in all ebook online stores. Boy was that an understatement! This book is incredible. I read through it so quickly that I was sad it ended (always a sign that you've just finished a good book).

First off, the characters are amazing. They're so well fleshed out that they feel like real people you could connect with. I really liked Sora and Dorian, and I also really liked Burn. He just seemed like a big teddy bear. Crash is also a very interesting character. He's dark, but also has a soft side which is shown at the end. These characters become like friends, they're that great. Even Volcrian, the antagonist, is relatable. I really liked the Preface, so that we can understand his motives a little better.

AND THAT ENDING. I love how the love story wasn't the focus of the plot, but rather a subplot. Sora's quest was the main focus, and her development and connection with the cat's eye necklace. I found this so refreshing. Sometimes a love story can just take over and it can be so annoying. This was more a friendship-type beginning. You can see the beginning of a romance, but it's not blatant. It's nice and subtle. Sora's relationship with all the characters is very important, and I feel like this sets up the rest of the series with a really good set of characters with really good relationships.

I liked how facts were kind of revealed as the story went on. The backstory of Burn, Dorian, and Crash is slowly revealed to the reader, not blatant or right at the beginning. It was like you were learning things as Sora found them out so you weren't being hit over the head with dramatic irony every page. I cannot wait to get a hold of the next book, Viper's Creed.

Have you guys read Sora's Quest? What do you think of ebooks vs. hard copies? Let me know in the comments below!

Quote of the day: "I'm not fooled, assassin. You may think you are removed from us - that you have come to terms with your own mortality - but I still had to drag Sora out of your arms." - T. L. Shreffler

Thursday, 1 January 2015

New Years Resolutions

Happy New Year everyone! It is officially 2015 and I can't wait to see what this year will bring. I spent last night ringing in the new year with friends, and random drunkards, as is typical in one's twenties. I think next year I'll do something at home, where I can actually hear what my friends are saying and not worry about anyone spiking my drink.

Of course, with the new year come the New Year Resolutions. I am determined to pick a few resolutions and really focus on making them come true.

1. Stay active. I'm doing pretty well right now following Cassey Ho's Blogilates videos 5 days a week, which is easy since she puts out a calendar for each month. I would recommend this if anyone is looking to get into working out but doesn't necessarily want to pay to go to the gym. It's a great way to work out at home and stick to resolutions. This month I'm going to follow Adriene's 30 Days of Yoga and do Cassey's 30 Day Ab Challenge to get into fitness again after all those holiday meals.

2. Write more. This is something I really want to dedicate myself to. I have a WIP that I've been working on for three years now. This year and last year I really got out of the writing groove. I just haven't been in the mood and I seem to be stuck. But I really want to finish it by the end of the year by working on it a little at a time.

3. Work at Disney. This has become such a huge goal of mine since discovering the Walt Disney Company on Linkedin and seeing all the job opportunities available. They have internships and seasonal jobs so I'm just going to apply to everything. This is something that I'm not going to kill myself over because I know there's so much competition and I'm still trying to finish school.

4. Graduate. This is something that will inevitably happen since this is my last year. The struggle will be really trying and making sure I keep up my grades for my last four months. I'm so ready to be done school, so this is something I'll be so happy to finish.

5. Blog more. This needs to happen. Whenever I get an idea for something, pick up products, or finish a book, I'm going to try to blog about it and maintain my presence here.

What are your New Years Resolutions? Do you think you'll be able to keep them? Are there any steps you're taking to keep them? Let me know in the comments below!

Quote of the day: You have everything needed for the extravagant journey that is your life. - Carlos Castenada