Book Review: The Favorite Daughter By Kaira Rouda

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The perfect home. The perfect family. The perfect lie.

Release date: May 21, 2019

Pre-Order on Amazon

Price: $26.99

Publisher: Graydon House

Plot Summary:

Jane Harris lives in a sparkling home in an oceanfront gated community in Orange County. It’s a place that seems too beautiful to be touched by sadness. But exactly one year ago, Jane’s oldest daughter, Mary, died in a tragic accident and Jane has been grief-stricken ever since. Lost in a haze of anti-depressants, she’s barely even left the house. Now that’s all about to change.

It’s time for Jane to reclaim her life and her family. Jane’s husband, David, has planned a memorial service for Mary and three days later, their youngest daughter, Betsy, graduates high school. Yet as Jane reemerges into the world, it’s clear her family has changed without her. Her husband has been working long days—and nights—at the office. Her daughter seems distant, even secretive. And her beloved Mary was always such a good girl—dutiful and loving. But does someone know more about Mary, and about her last day, than they’ve revealed?

The bonds between mothers and daughters, and husbands and wives should never be broken. But you never know how far someone will go to keep a family together…

Grade: B-

Review:

I’ll admit that I really struggled reading this book for the first 45 pages or so. The main reason is that I really couldn’t stand the protagonist of the novel, Jane. She was the typical vapid bitch that one would imagine a rich Orange County housewife to be. I know that the author was trying to vividly depict a narcissist who’s also an unreliable narrator, but I suppose I like my narcissists to be more charming than annoying.

Jane is a total control freak who can’t stand that her daughters don’t follow her rules, especially her biological daughter Betsy, whom she keeps referring to being the lesser daughter, and going on about how her deceased daughter Mary was her favourite because she was beautiful, smart, talented, and above all popular.

Maybe it’s a personal pet peeve but I really dislike protagonists (especially those that are written in the first person) who are prone to criticize other women and pretty much be the sort of mean girl you try to avoid in real life. Honestly, there’s a reason why I avoid those reality shows like the Real Lives of (insert city) Housewives, cause all those women are shallow, manipulative, and just plain horrid human beings.

Now you’re wondering, what made you continue to read if you hated the protagonist so much? Well, the writing itself was flowing and easy going (although it lacked the descriptive writing I’m more of a fan of) and I did want to find out if my hunch on what had really happened was true.

Spoiler alert: I was right, so the grand twist was no true twist. I don’t know if this book was the best representation of a psychological thriller, but it was entertaining. I just wish that the other characters in the book were a bit more likable, as I would’ve actually felt some compassion for the terrible things that were happening to them. But ironically, as much as I disliked Jane, I kinda sided with her, cause her family members truly treated her poorly that they kinda deserved her ire.

I think women’s book clubs and fans of cozy mysteries would actually be the best fans for this novel. There’s not much gore or thrill, so fans of thrillers seeking a chilling tale won’t find it in this book, but if you’re hoping to be entertained and spend the afternoon with a delusional rich housewife and laugh at her expense, then you’re at the right place.

 

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Follow Kaira Rouda on Instagram!

*Thank you so much to NetGalley and Graydon House for the digital ARC of this novel in exchange for an honest review!

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5 Essential Beauty Products I Always Keep in my Handbag!

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We live in a fast-paced world and sometimes we can’t bring ten million things along with you everywhere. That’s why my list of essential beauty products is very small and succinct. With these items in your bag you’ll be looking your best any time of day!

FLOSS. You can have the most impeccable makeup going for you, but if you have a stray salad leaf stuck between your teeth then you won’t look that appealing. Not to mention the potential cavities! So to keep both my teeth healthy and looking their best I always carry floss in my handbag.

MIRROR. This is a no-brainer, but honestly, sometimes you go to bathrooms that don’t have mirrors (travesty!) or since I’m nearsighted, it’s harder for me to notice lipstick smudges from far away, so this is an item I’ve always kept in my handbag.

LIPSTICK/LIP BALM. You never know when you’ll need a touch-up, or if your lipstick disappeared during dinner (or in most cases after kisses!) and merely left a stain, you can always apply lip balm on top and it’ll still look like you’ve got some color in your lips.

ROLLERBALL FRAGRANCE. Nothing freshens you up more than a so-called “whore bath,” or in less vulgar terms, a spritz of perfume on your pulse points to leave you smelling like you’ve just stepped out of the shower (nevermind that you’ve actually been sweltering for the past 8 hours!).

HAIRBANDS/BOBBY PINS. You never know when you’ll get caught in a windstorm or your hairdo begins to fall in the middle of the day, but with extra hairbands and bobby pins at your disposal you can always keep your hair looking hip and not resembling the crazy cat lady from two doors down.

What beauty items do you always carry with you?

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5 Horror Movies I’m Looking Forward to in 2019

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It: Chapter 2 – 27 years later, the Loser’s Club have grown up and moved away, until a devastating phone call brings them back. The biggest question that I have for the sequel is, I hope they give the movie a better ending than the novel actually did.

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Pet Sematary – Another Stephen King novel adaptation, I truly loved the original and was iffy about them doing a remake, however, after viewing the trailer, I’m quite excited now. Louis Creed, his wife Rachel and their two children Gage and Ellie move to a rural home where they are welcomed and enlightened about the eerie ‘Pet Sematary’ located near their home. After the tragedy of their cat, Church, being killed by a truck, Louis resorts to burying it in the mysterious pet cemetery, which is definitely not as it seems, as it proves to the Creeds that sometimes, dead if better. I just need three things for this remake to work for me, Gage needs to be incredibly adorable as the original, Zelda has to be crazily terrifying as the original, and Stephen King needs to make an appearance in the film as he did in the original.

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The Curse of La Llorona – Ignoring the eerie warning of a troubled mother suspected of child endangerment, a social worker and her own small kids soon drawn into the frightening supernatural realm. Their only hope to survive La Llorona’s deadly wrath may be a disillusioned priest and the mysticism he practices to keep evil at bay, on the fringes where fear and faith collide. I’ve been looking forward to seeing this because the original legend of La Llorona is quite creepy and I’m curious to see how the director will pull this off.

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The Turning – A young governess is hired by a man who has become responsible for his young nephew and niece after the deaths of their parents. This is a modern take on Henry James’ creepy novella “The Turn of the Screw.” This movie stars It’s and Stranger Things young talent, Finn Wolfhard and is Floria Sigismondi’s second feature film (her first being The Runaways). If you think that name sounds familiar, it’s because in the early 90’s Floria directed the majority of Marilyn Manson’s music videos, so if her gothic, creepy videos were any indication of her style, I’m certain that this movie will be just as chilling and haunting.

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US – This is Jordan Peele’s second horror movie, and although the plot to this movie is yet unknown, simply being described as a “social horror-thriller,” on IMDb, I’m intrigued since I really enjoyed Peele’s Get Out. Besides, with Elisabeth Moss and Lupita Nyong’o in the cast, I know that the movie promises some top-notch performances.

What movies are you looking forward to seeing in 2019?

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Comic-Con L.A. – Comic Book Nerds Rejoice!

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Formerly known as Comikaze Expo, Comic-Con L.A. is a three-day event that brings comic books lovers, writers, and cosplayers alike in one place to celebrate the ever-changing and expansive world that is the comic universe.

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I’ve always been an avid comic book reader since the age of six, in particular of horror comics and Archie comics (so yes, I DO love Riverdale, don’t judge me).

This event usually brings 90,000 people to share their communal love for comics. I met a lot of people that had come all the way from Italy and the U.K. to be at this event, and many east coasters found their way to Los Angeles too.

Of course, everyone goes to Comic-Con for the comics, but you can’t help but also go there to see all the cosplayers or to dress up yourself. This was my first time going and I decided not dress up (or at least I semi-did by wearing a Sabrina The Teenage Witch shirt and kinda selecting the rest of the outfit and makeup based on what the character of Sabrina would wear). But I had a blast getting to see everyone else dressed up (and I’ll admit that I veered on taking photos of people that were more of the goth realm than any other subculture).

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It was also very cool to see some iconic movie props and costumes being displayed at the event. From the Ghostbusters car to the suit Winona Ryder wore in Stranger Things when her character went to the Upside Down world. But one of my absolute favourites was being able to see the armor that Gary Oldman wore in Francis Ford Coppola’s Dracula.

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I also had a chance to meet the co-writers Jim Krueger and Samantha Levenshus when I was given a free copy of the new comic Neon Future (co-created by Emmy-nominated producer and global DJ sensation Steve Aoki in partnership with Impact Theory Studios). Not only were the writers kind enough to sign my copy of the comic but I had a pleasant chat with Jim Krueger who loved my Sabrina The Teenage Witch tee and we discussed our communal love for The Afterlife with Archie comic series and The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina series and how much we’re looking forward to the new Archie horror series that has the Blossom twins as protagonist called 666. Taking a look at the comic Neon Future, I was delighted to see that the comic explored the idea of how it isn’t technology that brings about the evil of the world in a futuristic dystopian society, but rather it’s the human use and feelings towards that technology that brings about the downfall of man, making it thus so that the world can be taken by cyborgs. The idea is utterly compelling and I highly recommend to check it out if you have the chance!

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And lastly…I was in comic book heaven when I saw all of the retro Archie Comics that the event had to offer. Sadly, some of the very awesome retro ones from the 50’s were out of my price range (a rare Sabrina comic was up for sale for $200) but I found many from the 70’s that were in good condition and not crazily expensive. One of the most interesting crossovers was one Archie meets Batman comic that I had to get just because it was THAT out in the left field. While I was there I also picked up a horror comic too that explores the themes in the Grimms Faerytales. I would’ve loved to purchase some retro Tales from the Crypt, but alas, the price range for those were out of this world ($500!).

For any 80’s fans, the con also had a ton of 80’s toys (from Teddy Ruxpin to Popples) it pretty much looked like someone had cleared out their attic and brought these toys to sell, which left me wishing I could clear out my own garage of 80’s toys so that I too could slap a $100 price tag on a Cabbage Patch Kids or $50 on a Pound Puppies plush. Are there any takers?

Comic-Con L.A. was a truly fun experience, and if you wish to immerse yourself in comic world memorabilia and unleash your inner child, then this event is truly for you.

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Short Story: Errors of Grievance

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“I warned you!”

The old priestess pounded a weathered fist on the small dining table, her dingy blouse falling off of a dark, bony shoulder. “But you know more than Miss Beaulieu, eh?”
Across the small table, Momma dried a rivulet of shame from her cheek.
“I didn’t mean no harm,” her voice quivered. “I swear.”
From her cold, moonlight-washed perch atop the old bayou house, Adelaide shifted her attention to the agitated women below. Rolling her skinny frame onto her belly, she shivered under her thread-bear dress, setting her little doll beside her. He balanced on his round torso, head draped in a dry tangle of Spanish moss. Yellow lamplight sliced across his black button eyes and together they peered through a crack near the chimney overlooking the kitchen.
“I never took it out the house.” Momma insisted. “Someone done stole it.”
Miss Beaulieu planted a hand on her hip and took a long draw on a short cigar.
“Who done the spell? That jinx, Laronde?” Syllables of dark smoke puffed out of her mouth. Momma stroked her arm and looked away.
“Stupid girl.” Beaded bracelets criticized and chided on Miss Beaulieu’s thin wrist. “His bad voodoo gon’ come back to him and everyone he cast for.”
“You’ve cast for love before.” Momma’s eyes pleaded.
Miss Beaulieu jabbed a finger. “You know this ain’t the same.”
Adelaide’s heart ached. She didn’t like seeing Momma so upset, but she also didn’t like being only one in the house when Momma fell into one of her dark moods. So when her brothers escaped to the river to hunt gators, Adelaide took refuge on the rooftop. In a cigar box, tucked under a missing brick in the chimney top, was her trove of knick-knacks. Her new doll, dressed in cotton pants and a burlap overcoat, was her most valuable addition. It was bad to spoil surprises but Adelaide knew Momma had made this Christmas doll just for her.
“‘Sides,” Miss Beaulieu paced, “he got himself a faithful wife and a good job in Baton Rouge. You think all the Magick in the world gon’ make that man wanna leave that to take up wit’ you out here? Wit’ your five kids?”
Adelaide gave the little man a kiss to ease his troubled expression, the scent of cloves and musk wafting up from the crude stitching down his chest. She would replace him in his hiding spot under the floorboard tomorrow.
“Can you make him a gris-gris bag for protection?” Momma wiped her apron across her cheeks. “In case something happen to the doll?”
Adelaide froze.
“A good Christian like him won’t be caught dead with a necklace full of chicken’s feet and dove’s blood.”
Adelaide’s eyes fell upon the little man beside her. Dried grass protruded out of his stiff arms and legs. He suddenly appeared feeble and indisposed, like a paralyzed prisoner.
“Ain’t no spell on your lover can be reversed without that doll.” Miss Beaulieu dropped a large dollop of ash onto the floor. “Only the One Most High can help him if something happens to it.”
Nausea swallowed up Adelaide like the cold, wet mouth of a whale.
Miss Beaulieu leaned in. “Who you think done stole it?”
“Adelaide?”
Below, Adelaide’s brothers eased their rowboat up to the, rotting, crooked pier. The eldest, Francois, shielded his eyes from the bow lantern to see her better.
“Why you up there?”
Flushed from hiding, Adelaide leapt to her frozen bare feet, accidentally kicking her treasures down the slanted roof. The doll bounced over the ledge. Vertigo struck her numb. Her footing slipped and she tumbled down the sharp slats.
“Adelaide!” Francois’s voice broke as her footing slipped.
A screech leapt from her throat before she plunged into the river. Frigid water hit like glass on her stomach. It rushed up her nose, burning the brain lobes behind her eyes. Sound muted, heavy and low in her ears. Her mind jolted with panic. Adelaide’s eyes popped open but there was no light. Her heart pounded. Only the flash of a brass shoe buckle glittered as it somersaulted down into the watery shadows. She grasped but only caught emptiness. Lungs aching for air, she pulled her way up through the cold void and burst to the surface.
“Sweet Jesus!”
“Grab her!”
“The doll! The do—!” A wave of river water sloshed into Adelaide’s mouth.
“Adelaide, stop! Settle down!”
“No, no, no!” she cried. Strong hands gripped under her arms and slid her into the tiny boat. Violent coughs rattled her little bones. She gagged from a bellyful of the Mississippi and tried to writhe free a final time.
“I…I…didn’t know!” Adelaide sobbed. Warm arms wrapped around her and pinned her to the seat of the small wooden rowboat. “Momma, I didn’t know!”
“Adelaide?” Momma’s voice carried from the house.
“Settle yourself, girl.” Francois held her firm. “What are you carryin’ on about?”
Adelaide’s eyes darted beyond the bucking bow, searching for the voodoo, but it had sunk all the way to the bottom of the bayou.

By: Erica Ruhe

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Review: Maybelline Super Stay Matte Ink

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I love liquid lipsticks and since I was running out my Jeffree Star liquid velour shades, I was looking to find a much cheaper substitute. I know this is dumb, but the couple of years I spent working as a makeup artist had me acquire an elitist outlook on cosmetics that I didn’t have before. Suddenly, using drugstore brands seemed beneath me. But the past year I’ve decided to throw out that idea since prior to being a makeup I used to use drugstore brands all the time!

So when my local beauty shop was running a deal of selling these Maybelline liquid lipsticks for $5 a pop, I decided to give them a shot. After being impressed with the first shade I got I decided to purchase three more. I was impressed with all the shades and longevity!

Packaging: Not the best packaging, they’re kinda chunky and blocky, but it comes with a tapered doe-foot applicator with a small reservoir in the center that helps with the application.

What It Is: Matte Liquid Lipstick

Pros: Long-lasting, transfer resistant, and non-drying

Cons: Can take some minutes to dry down after initial application

Shades: Dreamer, Pioneer, Seductress, and Ruler

Verdict: I didn’t think I was going to love these liquid lipsticks, cause I’ve tried so many but haven’t been enamored by any of them, except for the Jeffree Star Lipvelours. Having said that, this lipsticks ALMOST are better than those in regards to being transfer resistant (meaning not even major makeout sessions can smear your lips) and they’re incredibly long-lasting (I literally partied my heart out, wore it for over sixteen hours, ate, drank, kissed, and fell asleep and the morning after my lips still looked amazing!). The third thing that I love about these liquid lipsticks is how PIGMENTED they are! These lipsticks aren’t wimps when it comes to their shade power. Do yourself a favour and pick up a shade or three!

Price: 7.99

Where To Buy It: Ulta, CVS, Target

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From top: DREAMER, PIONEER, SEDUCTRESS, & RULER 

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Top Ten Halloween Songs

Hosting a Halloween party and need to find the perfect tunes, or maybe you just want to get into the festive mood? Whatever your reason, the music world has lots to offer in regards to scary songs. So use this playlist as a guide to help you infuse your nights with some major creep factor.

I Put A Spell On You – Marilyn Manson

The shock-rocker gave this cult classic his own creepy vibe to it with his unique Mansonesque ways (dark vocals, death drums).

Welcome To My Nightmare – Alice Cooper

There no way that a Halloween playlist could be complete without the master of shock rock himself, Alice Cooper, named after the ghost of a woman he spoke to through the ouija board, it can’t possibly get creepier than that.

Astro Zombies – The Misfits

The Misfits are those goth friends of yours that wished they could celebrate Halloween everyday, and with their undead looks and spooky lyrics, these fellows are living the goth dream.

Pet Sematary – Ramones

After being inspired by Stephen King’s novel by the same name, about using an ancient Indian burial ground to bring loved ones back (always a mistake!), they explored why sometimes dead is better.

Nightmare On My Street – DJ Jazzy – Fresh Prince

As a HUGE Freddy Krueger fan, I just had to choose a song that was written inspired by the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise. Too bad that Wes Craven wasn’t too keen on the rappers using references to the movies, suing them for copyright infringement.

(Don’t Fear) The Reaper – Blue Oyster Cult

This strangely seductive song has been a staple of the horror culture and suicidal teen goths of all ages. It’s been used in Halloween and Scream, and although the band’s leadsinger assures that the song isn’t about a romantic suicide pact, it’s hard to decipher the lyrics, “Romeo and Juliet are together in eternity, we can be like they are,” as anything else.

Red Right Hand – Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds

Nick Cave is one creepy dude, and his whole Murder Ballads album could pretty much be the defacto go to album for Halloween. This song was inspired by John Milton’s Paradise Lost and the vengeful hand of God. This song is considered so creepy that it’s been used in all three Scream movies, so you know you can’t go wrong with Cave when it comes to dark and twisted.

Helena – My Chemical Romance

In the early aughts, Gerard Way had perfected the living dead boy look to a T. The song is inspired by the death of his grandmother, whilst the video shows the band during a funeral and at the song’s climax, the lady of the hour, Helena, herself gets up from the coffin and shows that the after life can be as much of a dance party as the living.

The Devil’s Rejects – Rob Zombie

Named after the movie he directed of the same name, Rob Zombie has been creeping kids out since 1995. He’s a huge horror fan and nothing goes better with rock than dark lyrics.

Thriller – Michael Jackson

No proper Halloween playlist is complete without Michael’s iconic single that catapulted him to stardom. Bonus perks to this track: The king of horror himself, Vincent Price recorded the spoken word section. You can’t get any more horror-infused than that!

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No More Acne Detox Tea!

 

Who doesn’t want clear skin? For many people hormones, stress, and lack of sleep can do a number on your skin. So what can one do when you’ve tried all sorts of over the counter acne medications but still don’t see the clear skin you covet? Clear skin, unfortunately, is something that isn’t linked to the surface, and goes deeper, meaning that what you put into your body can certainly affect the health of your skin. This detox tea is amazingly easy to make AND it works in combating acne!

SKIN CLEARING TEA DETOX

Ingredients:

1 cup green tea (such as Twinings green tea)

Lemon Juice

1 teaspoon Ginger Honey (such as Greenbow Organic Honey with Ginger)

Drink this tea first thing in the morning for best results OR right before you go to sleep. This tea helps skin to release toxins and keep any inflammations at bay.

Let me know if you try this and how it works for you!

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Beauty: Spooky Spiders Manicure

I was at Shriekfest last weekend and since October always prove to be an incredibly busy month for me due to work and events, I knew that I needed to find both fast and cost-effective way to have awesome nails stat! So when I came upon these nail stickers in September I just KNEW that I needed to grab two. I’ve used this company before and my previous experience with these kinds of stickers at that time wasn’t so positive, but I decided to give it another go a second time.

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I LOVE how these stickers provide an easy no-dry time solution for some of us that have problems with sitting still for a full hour (cause no matter what the nail polish bottles claim, it still takes a FULL HOUR for any of them to truly dry and not get indentations).

Plus, how can you go wrong when your nails look this fabulous? Nail art like this could easily cost over $40 or $50 at a salon, not to mention the time required to sit there for it. I stuck these babies on in less than ten minutes and literally went on a date afterward! Yes, it’s THAT EASY AND QUICK! Plus, who doesn’t want amazing nails under $10?

So grab yourself a pair or two, and don’t worry if you mess up, the Halloween packs come with six extra stickers in case you do or need to replace one later on if it comes off. (So far it has been over a week and it hasn’t popped off, which was a major issue with the ones I had tried earlier this year, so maybe that pack was just faulty).

You check out more options on their website.

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Poetry: Mourning Glorie

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Photo courtesy of parisapartment.wordpress.com

These frigid sheets mourn your soul.

This barren bed cries your name.

There’s nothing left of you in me.

You tore every particle that belonged

To you away.

This pale white pillow misses the weight of your head.

These useless rose petals wait to fall upon you.

Loneliness wraps its icy claws around me.

Devouring me without mercy.

You’re no longer here to cling to.

You’re no longer here to move closer to.

This bed never seemed so vast—so endless—

Without you—it’s infinite.

I hide beneath the covers but still no warmth I feel.

This room is in eternal winter

Ever since you left.

These fragile sheets yearn for your body.

This immense bed bleeds your essence.

I’m waiting here for you.

I shall always remain here—

Waiting for your return.

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