Book Review: And We Call It Love by Amanda Vink

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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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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 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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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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Shriekfest 2018 Horror Film Festival

Shriekfest is a bi-annual horror film festival that takes place in both Los Angeles and Orlando. The event is organized by actress Denise Gossett (best known for appearing in Tom Hiddeleston’s movie I Saw The Light and Mel’s Gibson’s Get The Gringo). She founded Shriekfest 2001 and it’s been the 18th year for Los Angeles. It’s one of the most influential horror film festivals and definitely one with the best horror film screenings.

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Red Carpet at Shriekfest 2018 Photo taken by David Hanger – Dress by Dolls Kill

I was graciously given a Press Pass for the event by Denise and was able to attend the third day of the festival (it’s a four-day fest). I opted to go on Saturday because it was screening the most films that day and had several shorts listed that I was thrilled to check out.

The films were screened at the Raleigh Studios on Melrose Avenue, at the Chaplin Theatre. The inside of the theatre had that old Hollywood glamour to it with comfy velvet cushioned seats that made viewing a marathon of movies (we stayed nine hours with short fifteen interruptions between each session) fairly easy.

Out of the shorts I viewed, one of my absolute favourites was “Snaggletooth,” which was about an unconventional dentist visit. The film had a good mixture of humor and creepiness to it that I enjoyed. Another really excellent short was a British one entitled “The Moor,” that centered around a father and daughter who go the moor to celebrate May Day but find out that sometimes the pagan gods may take something from us that we’re not ready to give up. “A Doll Distorted,” explored mental illness and how obsessive love can lead to dire consequences. “Avulsion,” was another of my favourites as it followed a blue collar worker who visits an escort that is capable of fulfilling her clients unusual and twisted fetish desires.

I really enjoyed the music video for Medicine from Peter Bibby. It had a bunch of kid doctors performing an autopsy on Peter Bibby’s body who’s begging for pills, hallucinogens, or some other form of medication rather than being told to get some sun or some sleep.

The first feature film I saw was Ashes by director Barry Jay. Ashes was about a family who begins to be haunted by their dead aunt once her ashes arrive at their home. What I truly loved about this movie was that there was the perfect blend of humor and horror. Plus, the performances by the actors were truly top-notch, I particularly loved Elaine Partnow in the role of the sassy grandmother, Caroline, who livened the movie up anytime she was in a scene. The first half of the movie delivered more laughs (in a good comedic way), but the second half of the movie focused on the horror elements (I’ll never be able to look at an egg slicer in the same way again!). It was also my first time watching a movie whilst being seated next to the cast and crew that worked on the film, so that added a bit of a surreal feeling to the experience.

The second feature film I saw was Chimera by Maurice Haeems. This movie was less horror and far more sci-fi. The movie centered around a brilliant scientist who chooses to freeze his children alive whilst he tries to find a cure for the deadly genetic disease that seems to have befallen them. The movie was good and full of surprises and twists (some that I had anticipated and others I hadn’t). But the gut-wrenching end left one with the belief that maybe trying to uncover immortality is far more dangerous than death.

Overall, the film festival was a complete success and I loved the fact that food and snacks were provided on location for sale if you needed to grab something quick to eat in between your viewing sessions. I truly enjoyed watching all the movies I had the opportunity to see and would totally recommend this festival to horror film buffs, you won’t be disappointed!

Thanks again to the fabulous Denise who gave the Inkblotters the opportunity to be there! I had a blast!

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Entrace to Raleigh Studios

Photos taken by David Hanger

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Recipe: Pumpkin Pie Parfait

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Photo courtesy of weelicious.com

October is the month where we all put our summer clothes away and eagerly take out our sweaters, boots, and apply earth-toned lipstick to our lips, holding an infamous pumpkin spice latte in our hands. Nothing says Autumn like pumpkin and pumpkin spice. To celebrate Autumn’s arrival why not try out this super easy no-bake dessert? It’s one of my favourites and a total crowd pleaser.

Makes 6-cups

Ingredients:

1 ¾ Cups Cold Milk (you can substitute it with lactose-free milk or coconut milk if you prefer)

1 Box (4-serving size) Vanilla Instant Pudding

1 Cup Canned Pumpkin

½ teaspoon Pumpkin Spice

1 Package (8-oz.) cream cheese, softened

¾ Cup Powdered Sugar

1 ½ Cups Whipping Cream

1 Box of Keebler’s Sandies

½/ stick of butter (melted)

Directions:

In a medium bowl, stir milk and pudding mix with whisk for 2 minutes. Stir in pumpkin and pumpkin spice. Refrigerate until ready to assemble parfaits.

In a blender put in the Sandies till they’re blended to crumbs. Then take a medium bowl and mix the crumbs with the melted butter. Once the two ingredients are assembled, place these at the bottom of the cups.

Now take another medium bowl, beat cream cheese and powdered sugar with an electric mixer on low speed until blended smooth. In a chilled large bowl, beat heavy cream on high till the whipping cream stiff peaks form. Fold whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture.

In each of the 6 parfait glasses, spoon ¼ cup pumpkin pudding, top each with 6 tablespoons cream cheese mousse mixture. Repeat layers. Refrigerate for 2 hours or until serving time. Just before serving, top each parfait with a Sandies’ cookie.

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10 Things You Don’t Know About Me

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A candid photo from when I got talked into modeling for Back to School attire (P.S. that’s vegan leather so no worries!) 

  1. I’m bilingual. I’m fluent in Italian and English.
  2. I was born on a Thursday, January 8, just like David Bowie.
  3. I drink every beverage with a straw, and yes, this also includes hot tea and coffee. (Method to my madness, drinking from straws lowers your chances of damaging your teeth and staining them).
  4. I studied piano for close to ten years. I had a love/hate relationship with it, as I love music and loved playing it, but hated the long practice time (over an hour every single day) of it and being forced to study Bach by my teachers (when I preferred Beethoven, I actually decided to learn to play the piano because I was obsessed with his music).
  5. If you only know me through blogging, then you may not know that I’m a writer, and have several books up for sale on Amazon including a paranormal urban fantasy: CUT HERE, a collection of short stories: DOLL PARTS – Tales of Twisted Love, and an anthology I edited: MY AMERICAN NIGHTMARE – Women In Horror Anthology.
  6. My first celebrity crush was Leonard Nimoy who played Spock on Star Trek when I was two, and yes, I did prefer him because of his quirky ears and thus began my path of crushing on odd dark-haired men.
  7. My favourite city in the whole world is London, England. I love it so much that I have a whole Pinterest board dedicated to it.
  8. My love for lipstick started at the tender age of three when I begged my aunt to leave me one of her lipstick tubes. I haven’t stopped wearing lipstick since.
  9. The historical figure I’ve been obsessed with since I was three is the last French Queen Marie Antoinette. Watching the anime Lady Oscar – The Rose of Versailles for the majority of my childhood did have a hand in that.
  10. My four favourite novels are novels I’ve read more than once (which I often don’t re-read novels as I have a good memory and find it hard to reread something I already know everything that’s going to happen) are: The Picture of Dorian Gray (Oscar Wilde), Interview With the Vampire (Anne Rice), 1984 (George Orwell), and A Tale of Two Cities (Charles Dickens).                                                                                         White and Pink Strikeout Cosmetics Beauty LogoDid you enjoy what you just read? If yes, then FOLLOW THE BLOG, give the post a like, or leave a comment! New posts are up every Tuesday & Thursday!

6 Skincare Secrets to Beautiful Skin!

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Photo courtesy of advanceantiagingskincare.wordpress.com

Exfoliate lips using a toothbrush.

One sure-fire way to keep chapped lips at bay is to exfoliate lips using a toothbrush. I usually do it in the morning, you can use either a lip scrub with it or a pinch of Vaseline and gently scrub your lips. You can either scrub in circular motions or horizontal.

Use a Peel to brighten your skin tone.

Peels are extremely easy to use and can remove dull skin cells from the surface, which in turn helps brighten up your skin tone. Since most peels have acid, I’d suggest once a week usage. I suggest my fave here.

Invest in a good eye cream.

Most people will say that you can use regular moisturizer around your eye area, but they are wrong. The skin around your eyes is thinner and absorbs product much faster, so I recommend using a cream specifically made for the eye area, as it’s easier to cause irritation if you use ingredients that are too harsh for the delicate skin. Need ideas? Here’s a list of some of my favourite eye creams.

Use ice to reduce a pimple.

If you have to go out and have a huge raging red pimple, here’s a quick-trick. Hold an ice cube wrapped in a washcloth against your pimple for fifteen minutes. The ice will help reduce the inflammation and redness, allowing you to apply concealer much more easily. For added benefits, make ice cubes out of rose water for an extra skin-soothing treatment!

Don’t remove eye makeup with a makeup wipe.

Makeup wipes are too harsh when trying to get rid of mascara (especially if you’re scrubbing your eyes, a major no-no since it promotes premature wrinkles and wreaks havoc at the delicate skin). What I do is break up the makeup using Johnson’s Baby Lotion by placing it on a cotton ball and gently applying it to my closed eyes. I let the lotion soak in for a few seconds and then wash it off with lukewarm water. Not only will your eyelashes be moisturized, but it’ll also cause less breakage. Added bonus: this method removes all of your eye makeup in less than ten seconds!

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Concert Review: She Wants Revenge at the Discovery Ventura

she wants revengeThe last time I saw Justin Warfield on stage was with Placebo when he rendered his rapping skills for the song Spite & Malice. I never had a chance to see Justin with his band She Wants Revenge till recently. It was said that the duo (the other member being Adam Bravin) hadn’t done a gig in years, but you wouldn’t be able to tell that as the band opened the show with Red Flags and Long Nights, demonstrating an energy and verve that few bands have live nowadays. Everything about the performance was raw energy and even the audience could detect it as they danced with abandon.

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She Wants Revenge Live at the Discovery in Ventura, California

As the night progressed with These Things, Out of Control, and True Romance, the audience got wild. The energy was palpable, and you couldn’t help but dance. Just like a lover, Warfield teased the crowd with his music, growing to a slow crescendo until the explosive finale was inevitable. The band closed with the always sexy Tear You Apart (its popularity sparked again when American Horror Story used the song in an opening scene for the premiere of Hotel). By that time, the audience was in Warfield’s hands, willingly subjecting to his every whim, and although sweaty and breathless, we couldn’t help but long for an encore.

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