Review: Etude House Zero Sebum Drying Powder

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Oily skin has been the bane of existence since I hit puberty, and although many people assure me that having oily skin means that my skin will age slower (since essentially your skin is hydrated 24/7 and thus means fewer wrinkles will appear), trying to battle acne due to oily skin well into adulthood can be rather annoying. Not to mention that without any primers, any makeup I wear essentially melts off within three hours or so and if someone craves glowy skin, mine is like J.Lo’s glow phase times ten (meaning more an oil-slick than glow). So I’ve always been on the search for powder or cream that could help me keep my oily skin under control.

What It Is: Oil Control Sebum Powder

What It Does: Controls the production of oil on your skin.

Verdict: This product is what Urban Decay’s DeSlick wish it were. The thing is this powder WORKS. Even on uber oily skin as my own. The downfall? Well, apparently keeping the oil in check also means that my skin doesn’t breathe, so it actually broke me out more in areas of my face where I don’t usually breakout at. However, I may have used too much of the product, so I stopped using it for a week till my skin stopped freaking out and reused it again afterward using only a tiny amount and no breaking out occurred AND it kept my oil in check. So essentially if you’re looking for a powder that will help you curb your oiliness, then this is the way to go. Prior to this, I haven’t found one that actually works and I’ve used a billion others from various brands that provided no true results on the oil spill that is my skin. So, I’d recommend this product, however, use sparingly as it may break you out, but it DOES work on keeping oily skin at bay.

Price: $6.85

Where To Buy It: Amazon

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Book Review: The Dreamers by Karen Thompson Walker

dreamers

To sleep, perchance to dream….

Release Date: January 15, 2019

Pre-Order On Amazon

Price: $17.70 (hardcover)

Publisher: Random House

Plot Summary:

One night in an isolated college town in the hills of Southern California, a first-year student stumbles into her dorm room, falls asleep—and doesn’t wake up. She sleeps through the morning, into the evening. Her roommate, Mei, cannot rouse her. Neither can the paramedics, nor the perplexed doctors at the hospital. When a second girl falls asleep, and then a third, Mei finds herself thrust together with an eccentric classmate as panic takes hold of the college and spreads to the town. A young couple tries to protect their newborn baby as the once-quiet streets descend into chaos. Two sisters turn to each other for comfort as their survivalist father prepares for disaster.

Those affected by the illness, doctors discover, are displaying unusual levels of brain activity, higher than has ever been recorded before. They are dreaming heightened dreams—but of what?

Written in luminous prose, The Dreamers is a breathtaking and beautiful novel, startling and provocative, about the possibilities contained within a human life—if only we are awakened to them.

Grade: A –

Review:

I’m not a fantasy or sci-fi genre reader, but nonetheless, when I read the blurb for this book about a whole town being plagued by a mysterious deep sleep, I was irrevocably intrigued and requested for an ARC. The writing in this book was lyrically beautiful and I did like the characters that were presented, although I wish that we were allowed to get to know some of them more on a personal level rather than only ever seeing them from a bird’s view perspective.

My only gripe with the book is that although many people got infected by the sleep disease, they eventually woke up, and we never understood what had caused them to wake up or if there was an inkling to a cure. My second issue was that it was alluded to that some of the sleepers spoke of how their dreams were visions of the future, and I would’ve enjoyed the book more if we could’ve known more about people’s dreams and how this sleep disease affected their brains, since some of the other sleepers didn’t have these same prophetic dreams.

I really enjoyed following the perspective of college Freshman Mei the most, probably because to me she was the most relatable in the sense of a girl trying to fit in but finding out that she didn’t fit in anywhere, not even in a time of crisis. I wished that she could’ve had a better story-arc as hers was the saddest, but I guess someone had to be the tragic heroine in the novel, and poor Mei was the one for this one.

I recommend this book if you’re interested in dystopian novels or are fascinated by dreams or comas and how that affects people, as that’s what had drawn me into the book. The writing as I mentioned above is top-notch, and it reads like a fairytale of sorts. It has a dreamy quality to it and maybe in that way the author managed to have the reader feel that blissful-balmy sleep that befell the college town of Santa Lora.

The Dreamers is essentially A Mid-Summer’s Night Dream with a twist, and if you enjoy mesmerizing writing, then this book is for you.

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

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Book Review: Witchcraft and Monsters by Kala Godin

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“We may be good at burying things. But we aren’t gravediggers.”

Release Date: January 21, 2019

Pre-Order on Amazon

Price: $4

Publisher: Patchwork Press

Plot Summary:

If there’s anything Kala knows, it’s monsters.
Witchcraft and Monsters is a debut poetry collection by Kala Godin.

Kala understands that the human body can be its own kind of monster. She knows the way strangers both see her and don’t.
There is magic in everything we do.
And there are monsters in each of us.

This collection is broken into five parts.
Witchcraft.
Fairytales.
Bodies.
Bad ideas.
Endings.

Grade: A

Review:

Ever since Rupi Kaur and Lang Leav came to the scene, they’ve officially made poetry cool and the rise of poetry collections that can be found today are astounding. Poetry is having a golden age again, mostly thanks to Instagram where people share and repost bite-size poems. Since so many poetry collections have adopted the simplicity that made both Kaur and Leav famous, I was expecting to get relatively short poems in Kala Godin’s Witchcraft and Monsters poetry collection, but that wasn’t the case at all. These poems are a bit lengthier than what the Instagram crowd is used to, but they’re way more up my alley than the tiny four sentence poems that are being vastly shared today over social media.

The book itself is relatively short (roughly 54 pages) but the poems contained within those pages are powerful and thought-provoking. Godin has broken down the collection in five parts: Witchcraft, Fairytales, Bodies, Bad Ideas, and Endings. Many of the poems found within this collection are dark (again a plus for me as I enjoy darker literature) and very relatable and well-written. I have a soft spot for Fairytales and Myths, and in Part 2, Godin explores certain Greek myths and popular fairytales. In The Big Book of Mythology, the poet questions Hera’s decision on remaining with Zeus when he’s a serial cheater and it all boils down to loyalty.

Another section that I enjoyed a lot was Part 3 that dealt with how we see ourselves (our bodies) and how that relates to how we relate with others. One poem in this section explored how someone in a wheelchair likens herself to Medusa because many avoid eye contact with her, just like people did with the Greek monster.

This was a very solid poetry collection, and I actually look forward to reading more poems or any other writing from this author in the future. If you’re into dark and sinister literature, mythology, or feminist-themed poetry, then this collection is simply perfect to add to your collection.

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

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Happy New Year & 2019 Goals

2019

Happy New Year, peeps! I hope that 2019 has begun with a bang and that you were able to achieve all (or at least most) of the things you wished to accomplished in 2018. I made a goals list last year and I was very surprised by how much I actually got done.

2018 Writing Goals & What I Accomplished

  • Publish a poetry collection (DONE, you can pre-order BLEED LIKE ME here).
  • Complete my novel Wicked Game (DONE, just need to edit now)
  • Write a screenplay (Didn’t Do)
  • Participate in Pitch Wars (which I DID do)
  • Stick to a consistent posting schedule for my blog (DONE, my blog is now updated on Tuesdays and Thursdays)

Beauty

  • Sleep more (sadly this didn’t happen)
  • Try new eyeshadows or eyeliner colours (didn’t experiment as much as I wished I could have)

Reading

  • I had set a goal of 40 books to read in a year, and actually read 47!

2019 Goals

Writing

  • Edit Wicked Game
  • Finish writing my book Girl That You Fear
  • Finish writing my short story Pink Rabbits
  • Write a screenplay

Beauty

  • Sleep more
  • Been contemplating on cutting my hair short like Lucy Hale, will 2019 be the year of my big chop? We shall see.
  • Try out more cream formulas makeup, like cream blush and cream highlighters

Reading

  • Read 50 books for the year 2019

Blog

  • Since I’ve paired up with NetGalley and received a bunch of ARCs, so you’ll be seeing more Book Reviews & Author Interviews on the blog in the coming year
  • Since I’ve covered some events in 2018 such as Scare LA, Comic-Con LA, and Shriekfest Film Festival, I plan to try to cover more events in the new year

What are some of your goals for the new year?

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Coming Soon! Bleed Like Me: Poems for the Broken

This is how you draw a broken heart:
Dip your fingers in blood and don’t
Hesitate to botch the final project.

Synopsis: 

This is a book about love and the wounds that it can bring. It explores the exhilaration of first love, the damage of unrequited love, and the distress of abandonment. The poems are little memories that come alive, a journey between reality and fantasy, often mingling as one. Fragments of life depicted in words. This is a collection of poems both cruel and sweet. The poems depict the difference between how we perceive ourselves and how others perceive us. But most of all, this is a kaleidoscope of emotions that are multiplied and amplified as the reader looks into the window of a young woman’s heart.

Bleed - High Resolution

 

This poetry collection is probably the closest anyone will ever get to reading my diary. Many of the poems were written between the ages of 14-24, although there are about two or three that were written more recently.

Some of these poems have been featured elsewhere. Such as:

The Enchanted Forest (honorable mention from Amherst Society in 1997) & featured in a European anthology in 1998

The Love Song (the Illiad Press 1997)

Betrayed With a Kiss for Wildsound Festival

Paper Monsters for Booksie

The book is up for pre-order on Amazon but will be available on FEBRUARY 12, 2019.

This collection is perfect for those who are fans of dark poetry, gothic lit, and love poems. Some of the topics explored in this book are: relationships, first love, body image, unrequited love, eating disorders, toxic relationships, death, abandonment, addiction, obsessive-compulsive disorder, depression, and suicide.

If any book bloggers are interested in an ARC just hit me up at: azzurranox[@]yahoo.com

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Book Review: Hanna Who Fell From The Sky by Christopher Meades

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“A powerful meditation on how we define ourselves… A gorgeous blend of dreamy folklore and gritty reality.”

Release Date: December 4, 2018

Order on Amazon

Price: $15.99

Publisher: Harlequin

Plot Summary:

Hanna has never been outside her secluded community of Clearhaven, nor has she ever questioned why her father has four wives. And in only one week, on her eighteenth birthday, Hanna will follow tradition and become the fifth wife of a man more than twice her age. But just days before the wedding, an enigmatic stranger challenges Hanna to question her fate and to follow her own will, causing her world to begin unraveling around her.

When her mother reveals a secret, Hanna is forced to decide whether she was really meant for something greater than the claustrophobic world of Clearhaven. But can she abandon her beloved younger sister and the only home she’s ever known? With lush, evocative prose, award-winning author Christopher Meades takes readers on an emotional journey into a fascinating, unknown world—and along the way brilliantly illuminates complexities of faith, identity and how our origins shape who we are.

Grade: A

Review:

The premise enthralled me right away. The idea of a secluded community that lived like a cross between Mormons and a bit Puritan both fascinated and interested me. Something about people in modern times CHOOSING to live in such a backward and misogynistic society (especially for the women) really had me thinking. I can understand the girls who were born into the community and didn’t really know much about the outside world, but a lot of the older women (like Hanna’s mum) chose to live there (although we later find out WHY Hanna’s mum chose that life and it was plausible for her to choose it given the circumstances).

I really liked Hanna because although she was born into that community as she got older and was forced to become the fiance’ an older man she began to question the community’s rules and regulations. The men in Clearhaven fit into two categories: noble and heroic or rapist and violent. The men in this community had a ton of women and the only way this was possible was because the eldest in the community would send the younger men out of town and so they’d accumulate young teenage brides whose sole purpose in life was to please their men, be a meek housewife, and be knocked up most of their lives. Truly terrifying but I guess it’s paradise for the men.

I liked the bond Hanna had with her siblings, although towards the end I was getting a bit too frustrated with Hanna due to the choices she was making because of those bonds. I guess in her place, especially after all she had been through I would’ve been a bit more selfish. Overall, I really enjoyed reading this book and it had a magical element that wasn’t too ludicrous and fit well with the theme of the book.

Bonus: Usually author afterwords aren’t that reflective, but I found Christopher Meades’ afterword to the novel to be very inspiring. He detailed how his idea of Hanna was born and how many years it took him to actually put his idea unto paper after a hastily written rough draft. His journey was an author was truly inspiring and being a writer myself it kind of gave me hope that if he could persevere through a concussion, then any one of us can manage to jump through all the book writing hurdles there are.

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

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Review: Patchology Flashpatch Rejuvenating Eye Gels

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Not only do these under-eye masks look extremely glamorous (they’re glittery) but they actually work in terms of hydrating your under-eyes. I know many people have claimed that it has also eliminated their dark circles, but since I’ve been cursed with hereditary dark circles, I didn’t see much difference there. But maybe if your dark circles are due to late nights, then maybe it can help you out.

What It Is: Hydrating Under-Eye Mask

What It Does: Hydrates, smooths fine lines and helps diminish the look of dark circles

Verdict: These gels were truly very comfortable and fast working. I kept them on for twenty minutes or so because they just radiated a relaxing, soothing feeling. Once I removed them my skin felt very hydrated and soft. I like that these gel masks didn’t slide off your face so you weren’t obligated to lie down whilst having them on. You could easily attach these under your eyes and pass the time doing something else. I’ve heard that some people have used these as sleep masks for the eye, and maybe they work if left overnight, but I’m unsure about falling asleep with masks on (it seems like it would be a bit difficult if you’re someone who moves around, which sometimes I do).

Price: $15 for five pairs

Where To Buy It: http://www.anthropologie.com

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Book Review: The Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager

lied

In the latest thriller from the bestselling author of Final Girls, a young woman returns to her childhood summer camp to uncover the truth about a tragedy that happened there fifteen years ago.

Release Date: July 3, 2018

Order On Amazon

Price: $14.32

Publisher: Dutton

Plot Summary:

Two Truths and a Lie. The girls played it all the time in their cabin at Camp Nightingale. Vivian, Natalie, Allison, and first-time camper Emma Davis, the youngest of the group. But the games ended the night Emma sleepily watched the others sneak out of the cabin into the darkness. The last she–or anyone–saw of them was Vivian closing the cabin door behind her, hushing Emma with a finger pressed to her lips.

Now a rising star in the New York art scene, Emma turns her past into paintings–massive canvases filled with dark leaves and gnarled branches that cover ghostly shapes in white dresses. When the paintings catch the attention of Francesca Harris-White, the wealthy owner of Camp Nightingale, she implores Emma to return to the newly reopened camp as a painting instructor. Seeing an opportunity to find out what really happened to her friends all those years ago, Emma agrees.

Familiar faces, unchanged cabins, and the same dark lake haunt Nightingale, even though the camp is opening its doors for the first time since the disappearances. Emma is even assigned to the same cabin she slept in as a teenager but soon discovers a security camera–the only one on the property–pointed directly at its door. Then cryptic clues that Vivian left behind about the camp’s twisted origins begin surfacing. As she digs deeper, Emma finds herself sorting through lies from the past while facing mysterious threats in the present. And the closer she gets to the truth about Camp Nightingale and what really happened to those girls, the more she realizes that closure could come at a deadly price.

Grade: A+

Review:

This was one of my favourite books that I’ve read this year (and I’ve read over forty books so far!). This book was simply a tour de force. I love that the book alternated between past and present, as I like being able to take a glimpse into the past and see how that affects the present. I love mysteries about missing girls because it always fascinates me how people simply disappear into thin air and what happens to the people who are missing.

The writing was superb. It’s deceptively simple, yet it compels in a way that cannot be described. It’s descriptive but not overly so, and very atmospheric. This book is full of twists that actually make sense and are plausible and aren’t far-fetched (cause a lot of times ever since Gone Girl became famous every author and their mum is trying to force plot twists that simply do not work, the plot twists found within this book not only work but are true to the characters).

I’ve never been to summer camp, so the location was an interesting one for me, as my only notion of summer camp is from watching Friday the 13th (in other words it’s very limited). So it was fun for me to kinda vicariously live through the characters and experience a summer camp, albeit it is more on the murderous side!

This book was thrilling, fascinating, and had one of the best endings I’ve read all year. So if you’re into thrillers and whodunit novels, then this book is the right choice for you!

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

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How to Choose Healthy Yogurt

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Photo courtesy of http://www.medicaldaily.com

Are you one of those people who go for yogurt when trying to lose weight or just trying to be healthy? Well, not all yogurts are made equal, meaning that a lot of times your good intentions of being healthy might actually backfire when you’re consuming yogurt that is high in sugars.

Sometimes even yogurts low in calories are still high in sugars, which end up not being that healthy at all or contributing to inflammation for acne-prone skin.

So how can one not fall into the trap of consuming the wrong yogurt?

Have no fear, as I will let you in on a little secret.

When choosing yogurt you need to see the amount of sugar it contains (it doesn’t matter if on the front they advertise it as being Light or ‘Only 80 calories!’), what matters the most is the amount of sugars found within. Where can you check that? Usually, that is found in the back of the yogurt or in the small print at the bottom.

The healthy choice for yogurt that is to aim for yogurt that contains between 8-14-grams maximum of sugars.

The second thing you need to aim for is to select yogurts that are high in protein as they’re likely to contain less sugar as well.

The best choice overall for yogurt is plain Greek yogurt as that doesn’t contain any sugars. You can try to sweeten it up with fresh fruit such as raspberries or blueberries.

Yogurt can be a healthy meal option when trying to lose weight, but choosing the right one will make all the difference.

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Book Review: The Fade by Demitria Lunetta

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The Others meets The Cellar in this scary ghost story thriller from the author of BAD BLOOD.

Release Date: December 11, 2018

Order On Amazon

Price: $12.32

Publisher: Delacorte Press

Plot Summary:

We don’t want to disappear.
We want to be found.

Something terrible happened in her basement. Haley can feel it.

Four girls went missing several years ago, and the police never solved the case. But Haley knows the missing girls were murdered. How else can she explain the hostile presence in her house?

The ghostly girls need something from her. And unless Haley can figure out what they want…she might be next.

Grade: A

Review:

Creepy haunted house in a small town? Check. Missing girls that are possibly dead and haunting said house? Check. Creepy little boy, that sees dead people? Check. Basically, this book has all the things that a good ghost story murder mystery should have. I liked that the book started right off the bat with creepy events, it wasn’t a slow burn. And I like that some of the minor characters were right on board with the belief of ghosts, cause sometimes it gets kinda taxing to have characters go back and forth about whether or not the existence of ghosts is possible.

The mystery of what happened to the missing girls is what had me hooked, to be honest. I really wanted to know what happened to the girls, how they were murdered, where, and why. I also wanted to know who had murdered them. That mystery was the most interesting aspect of the book. I also enjoyed that the book didn’t try to force romantic relationships, or rather they were more casual, rather than insta-love. There are some events that take you by surprise, so it isn’t one of those predictable books, instead it keeps you wanting to read because I really had no idea where it was going to take me. But it was a fun, yet creepy ride!

The writing flowed very well, and if you’re a fan of YA and ghost stories, then this book will be right up your alley.

Short Q & A With the Author:

Why do you think that books about missing girls are so popular?

I think that the mystery is what really gets people. WHAT HAPPENED?! Then when it’s a young person, when there’s an expectation of care, it’s even more important to figure out WHAT HAPPENED?!

What inspired you to write your current book?

I moved into a new house and was at the top of the basement stairs thinking, “This is such a murder basement.” And the idea for THE FADE was born!

The Fade isn’t only a thriller mystery but it has a paranormal twist to it with the ghosts. What makes ghost stories and haunted homes so frightening?

Ghost stories are terrifying because they’re all about the unknown. Unexplainable phenomenon is terrifying! When reading/watching ghost stories I always think about the point of when I would leave the haunted house. It’s usually pretty soon. I could get a new house. And new stuff. And a new husband. I’d be so gone at the first spine prickle of a ghost.

Your book kind of reminded me of The Sixth Sense in the way that Haley is tasked with trying to help the ghosts she encounters. What movies do you think influenced or inspired you with the writing of this book?

Yes! Haley’s name is inspired by Haley Joel Osment from the Sixth Sense! I loved the creepiness of that movie but also the revelation that the ghosts just want help.

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

ENTER FOR A CHANCE TO WIN A SIGNED ARC OF THE FADE BY CLICKING THIS LINK!
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