Book Review: And We Call It Love by Amanda Vink

andwecallitlove

Release Date: June 1, 2019

Pre-Order on Amazon

Price: $19.95

Publisher: West 44 Books

Plot Summary:

Clare and Zari are best friends. They write music together, go everywhere together, and they know everything about the other. At least they did before Zari started dating Dion. The more Zari falls for Dion, the less she has time for anything else. At first, Clare chalks it up to a new and exciting relationship, and she tries to be happy for her friend despite her loneliness. When Zari starts to show up to school with half-hidden bruises, Clare knows there’s something darker about this relationship that has to be stopped.

Grade: C –

Review:

I usually love poetry and verse, however, this book just didn’t hit the mark for me. I think my biggest issue with it, despite the fact that it was written as poetic verse, was that the writing just wasn’t that poetic. I was expecting more lyrical writing with this type of writing format. Sadly, this wasn’t the case. Another issue that I had with this book is that it was told in alternating perspectives, and I usually love the dual points of views, however, the way it was written, there was no clear definition between who was Clare or who was Zari. So it made it a little confusing to keep up with the plot because of that.

It saddens me that the execution of the story wasn’t done well because the book explored some very important topics like friendship, self-discovery, and abusive relationships. And I think those are some compelling topics for teens to read about if done well. The characters in this book weren’t very well-developed and this book just fell short.

As a writer, I honestly despise being too critical when it comes to debut authors so I won’t delve too much on the negatives. Also, since I’m not the intended audience, the writing may not resonate with me so much, however, middle-grade readers or tweens may find this books interesting.

*Thank you so much to NetGalley and West 44 Books for the digital ARC of this novel in exchange for an honest review!

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Review: Kocostar Rose Lip Mask

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Sheet and face masks have been all the rage lately, and it’s no different with lips masks. In the age of Instagram and selfies, lip masks are one of the most coveted masks there are, but this lip mask is more than a mere photo prop. This mask truly leaves your lips feeling smooth and ultra-hydrated, and the best part of it all is that it smells like you’ve got a bed of roses resting upon your lips. Some say that this lip mask forces you to lie down, but it actually didn’t slip off on me, so sitting up was possible.

What It Is: Hydrating Lip Mask

What It Does: Smooth, hydrates, and plumps lips

Verdict: To say I loved this lip mask is an understatement. This lip mask was utterly amazing! Not only does this lip mask smell like you’re walking in Marie Antoinette’s rose garden, but it truly hydrated and plumped my lips in ways no other lip mask has ever done before! Another bonus is that this lip mask is free of parabens and pthalates (chemicals you probably shouldn’t have near your mouth anyhow). This mask can be used any time of day, even before a night going out, since the serum doesn’t leave your lips drenched, however, it sinks into your lips and once the mask is off, there’s no sticky residue, meaning that you can easily wear lipstick on top without wiping off any excess beforehand. Out of the many lip masks, I’ve tried, this is hands down my favourite one.

Price: $38 for 20

Where To Buy It: www.anthropologie.com

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Poetry: Mephistopheles with Scabbed Wings

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It was a blue February night

When I first stumbled in your dream.

I felt awkward swaying to your song

As you pulled off my bruised wings.

You were as persuasive as Mephistopheles,

Digging your nail in the pit of my heart.

But I wanted you to plunge into my heart

Where you could hide your ethereal song,

So that I could become your dream

And would no longer need my wings

To soar into you every night,

Like a devious Mephistopheles.

I’ve been yearning to hear your song

Because it makes the blue night

Seem less long, as I dream

Of a raging Mephistopheles,

Who craves to clip my wings

And shatter my bloody heart.

Recently I feel that the night

Passes by slowly, as I lick my wings

Alone. Because Stupidbitch has now become your song.

I now invade you in your dream.

I’m like a horny Mephistopheles

Who wants to fuck your heart.

I know you feel invulnerable when you dream

Because it’s the only place where you can break my wings.

For I’ve got an asphalt heart

Gained from a previous lover with a tainted song

Who used to beat his pain into me every night

Until I began to perceive him as Mephistopheles.

Yes, I know that I’m your dream

But I’m afraid that you’ll want to chew my wings.

You love the taste of the jasmine night

Found within their enchanted song.

You need to run before your heart

Gets devoured by Mephistopheles.

I should’ve confessed in your dream that night

That your song cannot burn my wings

Because I am Mephistopheles ready to claw my way into your heart.

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Book Review: Nick and June Were Here By Shalanda Stanley

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How far can they get on love alone?

Girl in Pieces meets All the Bright Places in this heartbreaking story of two teens who are determined to stay together in a world tearing them apart.

Release Date: February 19, 2019

Pre-Order On Amazon

Price: $17.99

Publisher: Knopf Books For Young Readers

Plot Summary:

Nick and June were best friends for years until their relationship suddenly turned into something more. Now, June is coping with a new diagnosis of schizophrenia, a secret she asked Nick to keep for too long. Between managing her symptoms and her parents, June is just trying to keep it together. Nick is a reluctant car thief, supporting his aunt with the money and focusing on his art whenever he can. But when June’s condition sends her to the hospital and Nick’s latest crime threatens to land him in prison, the two decide to run away. When the world is trying to tear them apart, can Nick and June find a way to stay together?

This emotional lyrical novel will tug at your heartstrings and make you think twice about what you would give up for love, even if it’s a piece of yourself.

Grade: A

Review:

I really felt bad for these star-crossed lovers. Unlike Romeo and Juliet, Nick and June’s relationship was an enduring one, as they were best friends since fifth grade, and sometime in high school, the two decide to become a couple. I always felt like whenever Nick and June were together, the best of them came through, it was when they were apart that the worst of them came out.

The two characters had a strong and passionate bond, and when you’re a teenager you truly believe that true love is forever. But Nick and June have so many things going against them, from Nick’s car thievery occupation to June’s recent schizophrenia, it’s almost a bad idea for these two to even be together. However, the two truly believe that love can be all for them, although at times June acknowledges that forever doesn’t have to mean forever in a physical sense, but that her love for Nick will live forever in her heart.

Despite the odds, the reader can’t help but cheer for these two. You truly want their love to endure and hope that nothing will break them up. The fact that these two characters are likable and relatable makes you wish that somehow, in the end, they can have their happy ending.

This is definitely a journey you won’t want to miss and one that will surely pull on your heartstrings.

Author-Photo-Shalanda-Stanley

Follow Shalanda Stanley on Twitter!

*Thank you so much to NetGalley and Knopf Books for Young Readers for the digital ARC of this novel in exchange for an honest review!

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Recipe: Maple Glazed Brussel Sprouts

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Photo courtesy of hotdinnerhappyhome.blogspot.com

Happy Thanksgiving, Peeps!

Are you one of those people who never know what to bring to a Thanksgiving gathering? This year, bring something that is both a crowd pleaser and doesn’t pack on the calories. I actually made this dish for a Friendsgiving gathering and it wasn’t long before it was all gone! This recipe is super easy as it doesn’t have that many ingredients and once it’s put together, the oven does the rest of the work!

Ingredients:

1 – pound Brussels Sprouts, trimmed and cut in half

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

3 Tablespoons Pure Maple Syrup

4 Slices bacon, cut into ½ inch pieces

½ Teaspoon Salt

¼ Teaspoon freshly ground Black Pepper

Prep Time: 10-minutes

Cook Time: 35-minutes

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (200 degrees C)

Place the Brussels Sprouts in a single layer into a baking dish (preferably glass).

Drizzle with olive oil and maple syrup, toss the sprouts to coat.

Sprinkle with bacon and season with salt and black pepper.

Roast in the preheated oven for about 35-minutes, or until the bacon is crispy and the sprouts are caramelized. Every so often, stir so they don’t get stuck or burned.

Calories:175 per 1-cup serving

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HAUL: TonyMoly Korean Beauty

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Korean beauty products have become the biggest trend in the U.S. lately. One of the biggest Korean beauty brands is TonyMoly, who has everything you can imagine from face masks, peels, sheet masks, lip balms, creams, makeup, etc. They have skincare products for every skincare concern be it wrinkles, acne, dryness, redness, or sensitive skin. This brand recently launched in Sephora when the Korean beauty products became a popular thing. I hadn’t tried this brand till now. The packaging is obviously ultra adorable (it’ll make you feel like you’re thirteen all over again).

Egg Pore Care Set

Price: $28

Key Factors: Egg-powered ingredients such as Egg Yolk (lots of Vitamin A!) and clarifying Egg Shell Powder.

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I’m Red Wine – Gel Eye Patch

Price: $6

Key Factors: Helps tighten and purify skin.

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Mini Fruit Lipbalm Peach

Price: $10

Key Factors: Shea Butter and Witch hazel, helps lock in moisture and hydration.

I’m Hand Cream – Cherry Blossom

Price: $6

Key Factors: Rejuvenates skin.

Where To Buy It: https://tonymoly.us

Are you a fan of Korean beauty products? Which ones are your faves?

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Review: Medusa’s Makeup Witch Lash Mascara Bebe Travel Size

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It’s no secret that mascara is one of my fave beauty products and also one where I’m willing to try out any new one that comes out (reason why you’ll notice way more mascara reviews on this blog than any other beauty product). One of my favourite mascara products is Medusa’s Makeup Witch Lash Mascara, so when they included a travel size in November’s Beauty Box, I was thrilled.

What It Is: Super thickening waterproof mascara with a fuller bristle brush

What It Does: This mascara helps thicken and define lashes.

Verdict: If you’re looking for a mascara that can offer lift and volume in one easy swipe, then this isn’t the one, purely because it takes multiple swipes to achieve the look. That’s not saying that the mascara isn’t good, quite the contrary. Just like the other Witch Lash, this version’s brush is simply smaller meaning that it won’t fit your whole eye in one sweep, BUT the small size allows it to reach the usually difficult nooks and crannies (such as the inner corner and outer corner of the eye). But unlike the previous Witch Lash, these bristles differ (the others are more rigid which helps separate lashes, whilst these create more of a feathery lash look). One of the major pros of this product though is the size. You can pop this small mascara in your handbag, pocket, or even phone carrier! You’ll never have an excuse to not have amazing lashes with this product on your hands! It’s a mini-miracle worker (step aside ), creating length and volume on even the thinnest and smallest lashes. I absolutely recommend this product if you’re into the whole lash extension look (without the damaging effects that actual extensions cause). And for just $10, it’s definitely worth a try!

Price: $10

Where To Buy It: https://medusasmakeup.com

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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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