Books and Beauty Haul

Posted on Thursday, December 18th 2014 in Books and Beauty

Books

Diamonds in the Rough by Michelle Madow: Goodreads | Review
Waterfall by Lauren Kate: Goodreads
*Suspicion by Alexandra Monir: Goodreads
*Ignite by Sara B. Larson: Goodreads
*Twisted Fate by Norah Olson: Goodreads
*A Cold Legacy by Megan Shepherd: Goodreads
*Playlist for the Dead by Michelle Falkoff: Goodreads
*Geek Girl: Model Misfit by Holly Smale: Goodreads
*Letting Go by Molly McAdams: Goodreads
*Wild by Sophie Jordan: Goodreads

Beauty

Naked Basics: Sephora
It Cosmetics brushes: Ulta
Tarte Energy Cheek Stain: Sephora
YSL point perk: no longer available
Glam Glow gift set: Sephora
Kate Somerville Nourish Daily Moisturizer: Sephora
Bite Beauty lipstick in Suede: Sephora
Sephora Smoky Eye Brush Set: Sephora
Marc Jacobs The Sky-Liner Seven Piece Highliner Collection: Sephora

Thank you to the publishers who have sent me review copies for consideration. *All gifted items are marked with an asterix. Everything else in this video was purchased by me.

City of Ashes

Posted on Tuesday, December 16th 2014 in Review

City of AshesTitle: City of Ashes
Author: Cassandra Clare
Series: The Mortal Instruments #2
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Date: March 25, 2008
Pages: 453
Format: Paperback
Source: For Review
Description: "Clary Fray just wishes that her life would go back to normal. But what's normal when you're a demon-slaying Shadowhunter, your mother is in a magically induced coma, and you can suddenly see Downworlders like werewolves, vampires, and faeries? If Clary left the world of the Shadowhunters behind, it would mean more time with her best friend, Simon, who's becoming more than a friend. But the Shadowhunting world isn't ready to let her go — especially her handsome, infuriating, newfound brother, Jace. And Clary's only chance to help her mother is to track down rogue Shadowhunter Valentine, who is probably insane, certainly evil — and also her father.

To complicate matters, someone in New York City is murdering Downworlder children. Is Valentine behind the killings — and if he is, what is he trying to do? When the second of the Mortal Instruments, the Soul-Sword, is stolen, the terrifying Inquisitor arrives to investigate and zooms right in on Jace. How can Clary stop Valentine if Jace is willing to betray everything he believes in to help their father?

In this breathtaking sequel to City of Bones, Cassandra Clare lures her readers back into the dark grip of New York City's Downworld, where love is never safe and power becomes the deadliest temptation. "

Goodreads | Amazon.com | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository 

***

Cassandra Clare never fails to disappoint (based on the two books I’ve read from her). I was in a reading slump and I just needed something that I knew would suck me in. City of Ashes was the perfect book for that. It’s just so suspenseful and I absolutely love the series.

Now in my City of Bones review, I mentioned that I do not understand why everyone is so obsessed with Jace. I still don’t really see his appeal, but I am glad that he grew a bit in this book. He’s still cocky, but he didn’t strike me as quite as much of an ass. That could be just because I was more sympathetic towards his situation in City of Ashes, but I am happy that he wasn’t as bad in this one.

I was really happy to see some growth from Clary and Alec as well. Clary is becoming a much stronger character and I’m happy to see Alec start to accept himself. Alec still has a long way to go – a very, very long way – but I do think he is making progress and I really want to see him be happy with himself and who he is.

The plot continues to be fantastic in City of Ashes. I think it’s the combination of Clare’s writing and just a genuinely good story that keeps you flipping the pages and blocking out everything around you because it just pulls you in. I really don’t want to compare it to Harry Potter, but I can’t help it.

This did start out as fan fiction (which I found out after reading City of Bones), so it’s natural that there are a lot of similarities, and I’ve found that I’m having a bit of difficulty completely separating the two. So often when reading City of Bones or City of Ashes I find myself thinking “that is so Harry Potter.” Regardless of the similarities, the two are different enough that I don’t feel like I’m reading a retelling. And it’s just genuinely a really good, engaging read.

There is a large part of me that wishes I had jumped on the Cassandra Clare bandwagon earlier, but I am really enjoying reading it now and not having to wait for an entire year between books. City of Ashes was a great follow up to City of Bones and I really want to see what happens next. I have a feeling that things are going to get a lot more intense as the story continues, although I have been told to brace myself for boredom in books 4 and 5.

4 Stars

Fairytale Fashions: Alice in Wonderland Pillows

Posted on Friday, December 5th 2014 in Fairytale Fashions

I have wanted a few bookish pillows for my library forever. Here are a few I found on Etsy that I am in love with! Click the pictures for links.

 

 

The Boy with the Hidden Name

Posted on Wednesday, December 3rd 2014 in Review

The Boy with the Hidden NameTitle: The Boy with the Hidden Name
Author: Skylar Dorset
Series: Otherworld #2
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Date: December 2, 2014
Pages: 320
Format: eARC
Source: For Review
Description: "This is not your average trip to Fairyland...

Selkie Stewart has just saved her quasi-boyfriend, Ben, from a fairy prison run by the Seelie Court. If they weren't the two most-wanted individuals in the Otherworld before, they definitely are now. Along with Ben and the rest of their ragtag group of allies-Selkie's ogre aunts; a wizard named Will; Ben's cousin Safford; and Kelsey, Selkie's best friend-Selkie is ready to embrace her destiny and bring the Court down. Until she hears the rest of her prophecy: Benedict le Fay will betray you, and then he will die. "

Goodreads | Amazon.com | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

***

I really, really enjoyed The Boy with the Hidden Name. It was exactly the action-packed adventure I expected with zero of the things that bothered me in the first novel (The Girl Who Never Was). The plot was good, but the pacing, characters and love story were what stood out the most.

Now when comparing awesome fey stories, it’s hard not to bring up Julie Kagawa. Her books are simply amazing. That said, there are little things about Kagawa’s books that sometimes irritate me. First and foremost on that list is Ash and Meghan…not a huge fan. Which is why it was so refreshing for me to read about Ben and Selkie. They were everything I wanted from Ash and Meghan, but didn’t get.

I complained a bit about the insta-lovey feeling I got from book 1, but that is all gone here. Ben and Meghan have that perfect amount of swooning and antagonizing each other. If you recall from book 1, Ben deserted Meghan and she was not very happy about it. The very last thing I would have wanted would’ve been Selkie instantly forgiving Ben and having everything back to hugs and kisses. Even if Selkie has feelings for Ben, she’s hurt and that complicates things.

Selkie is also a much stronger character than she was at the beginning of The Girl Who Never Was. While she was always courageous and resourceful, she’s more sure of herself now. She still has doubts about her abilities, but she also has a much stronger grasp of what she is capable of.

As much as I love Ben and Selkie, I would be remiss if I left out the supporting charters who are also really well developed. The Erlking was my favorite, but I also really enjoyed reading about Will and Kelsey. Aside from all of them being brave and caring individuals, they all had their own fascinating back stories.

And since that isn’t enough awesome-ness for one book, it’s also well-written and perfectly paced. From the very beginning, we’re thrown into an action packed story that makes it difficult to step away from the book – you just want to know what happens next!

The Boy with the Hidden Name was an awesome follow-up to The Girl Who Never Was. Lots of action and adventure, a wonderful cast of characters, and a great love story. If you like faerie stories, this one is a must!

5 Stars

Fairytale Fashions: Secret Diamond Sisters Jewelry

Posted on Friday, November 28th 2014 in Fairytale Fashions

By now you guys know that I adore The Secret Diamonds Sisters by Michelle Madow (and Diamonds in the Rough – Book 2). So this week, we’ve got a few Secret Diamond Sisters-esque pieces from an Etsy shop called Apple Latte – which I’ve actually featured before. Love looking at their stuff!

Screen Shot 2014-11-28 at 8.53.19 AM Screen Shot 2014-11-28 at 9.09.59 AM Screen Shot 2014-11-28 at 9.10.08 AM

I love how these pieces match the diamond from the book covers! What do you think of them?

Chasing Power

Posted on Wednesday, November 26th 2014 in Review

Chasing PowerTitle: Chasing Power
Author: Sarah Beth Durst
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Date: October 14, 2014
Pages: 368
Format: ARC
Source: For Review
Description: "Lies, secrets, and magic — three things that define Kayla's life.

Sixteen-year-old Kayla plans to spend her summer hanging out on the beach in Santa Barbara and stealing whatever she wants, whenever she wants it. Born with the ability to move things with her mind — things like credit cards, diamond rings, and buttons on cash registers — she has become a master shoplifter. She steals to build up a safety net, enough money for her and her mom to be able to flee if her dad finds them again. Well, that, and the thrill of using her secret talents.

But her summer plans change when she's caught stealing by a boy named Daniel — a boy who needs her help and is willing to blackmail her to get it. Daniel has a talent of his own. He can teleport, appearing anywhere in the world in an instant, but he lies as easily as he travels. Together, they embark on a quest to find and steal an ancient incantation, written on three indestructible stones and hidden millennia ago, all to rescue Daniel's kidnapped mother. But Kayla has no idea that this rescue mission will lead back to her own family — and to betrayals that she may not be able to forgive... or survive. "

Goodreads | Amazon.com | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

***

This is the first novel I’ve ever read from Sarah Beth Durst and I had pretty high expectations going into it because every time I’ve mentioned how much I was looking forward to Chasing Power, I’ve received a ton of comments from people saying how much they love Durst’s books. The verdict? I really liked it! I didn’t love it as much as I expected based on all of the author fanfare, but it was a solid 4-star read nonetheless.

There are a few things I look for in a good novel: good plot, engaging writing, a solid romance, and great characters. Chasing Power has an awesome plot and some very good writing. It was very suspenseful and just had this way of drawing you in. Whenever I’d sit down to read this one, I’d find myself turning pages anxiously waiting to see what happened next. In fact the plot really makes me want to bump this up to 5 stars. So what kept me from doing so? The characters and romance.

I liked both the characters and the romance – truly. BUT I just didn’t love them. There were plenty of times when Kayla or Daniel got on my nerves a bit, as did Selena (although she was probably my favorite character). Some of the interactions between Kayla and Daniel just came off as a bit forced to me and at times juvenile. And yes, I do realize that they are teenagers, but there aren’t many times where a YA romance will cause me to literally roll my eyes. In fact, I usually do more eye rolling with adult love stories than YA since they have a tendency to be about a rich guy and a poor, insecure girl who just doesn’t realize how pretty she is.

Even though my love for this novel was tempered by my feelings for the characters and their relationships, it was still a really good book. I’d definitely like to check out more of Durst’s work based on how suspenseful I found Chasing Power. If you like your books fast based and mysterious, this one is worth checking out!

4 Stars

Tale of Treats: A Fairytale Feast

Posted on Thursday, November 20th 2014 in Tale of Treats

afairytalefeast

I have wanted to start a feature called Tale of Treats on my blog for over a year! The only thing that stopped me was I wouldn’t be able to do it regularly. How silly! I’ve decided to go ahead and do it anyway, but this will be a sporadic feature.

Since Thanksgiving is coming up, I wanted to put a bookish spin on one of my favorite holidays. I cooked up a Cinderella Pumpkin Risotto, Kimber’s hot posset (which you may remember from the Faeriewalker series), and a seriously pretty Beauty and the Beast Apple Pie Rose.

I’ll leave links below to the original recipes, but I modified them all a bit. Some of the recipes just weren’t working quite right or needed a little something extra to enhance the flavor. Here’s my take on them:

 

 

CINDERELLA’S PUMPKIN RISOTTO

I based this recipe off go Giada’s pumpkin and goat cheese risotto. I added in onion and garlic and left out the goat cheese and nutmeg. Also used vegetable stock instead of chicken stock and decided to serve it a pumpkin. Because Cinderella obviously needs a real pumpkin!
 

KIMBER’S HOT POSSET

This is the original recipe from an interview I did with Jenna Black a while back. & I didn’t really make any modifications in the video (just used agave instead of honey and vanilla almond milk instead of whole milk).
 

BEAUTY AND THE BEAST APPLE PIE ROSE

I got this idea from Pinterest, but the recipe they had on there just didn’t work at all. YouTube helped me figure it out though. My recipe and process is actually very similar to the one I found in this YouTube video. The pie crust recipe I used is absolutely delicious! Highly recommend it if you’re up for making it yourself.

 

I hope you guys like this post! Making a cooking video is really tough – I have a whole new appreciation for everyone that does cooking videos on YouTube. If you recreate any of these, send me a link because I would love to see pictures! What are you’re favorite foods for Thanksgiving? Mine are pumpkin pie, stuffing, and green bean casserole. Can’t wait until next week :)

 

Glamour in Glass

Posted on Tuesday, November 18th 2014 in Review

Glamour in GlassTitle: Glamour in Glass
Author: Mary Robinette Kowal
Series: Glamourist Histories #2
Publisher: Tor Books
Date: April 10, 2012
Pages: 336
Format: ARC
Source: For Review
Description: "Mary Robinette Kowal stunned readers with her charming first novel Shades of Milk and Honey , a loving tribute to the works of Jane Austen in a world where magic is an everyday occurrence. This magic comes in the form of glamour, which allows talented users to form practically any illusion they can imagine. Shades debuted to great acclaim and left readers eagerly awaiting its sequel. Glamour in Glass continues following the lives of beloved main characters Jane and Vincent, with a much deeper vein of drama and intrigue.In the tumultuous months after Napoleon abdicates his throne, Jane and Vincent go to Belgium for their honeymoon. While there, the deposed emperor escapes his exile in Elba, throwing the continent into turmoil. With no easy way back to England, Jane and Vincent’s concerns turn from enjoying their honeymoon...to escaping it. Left with no outward salvation, Jane must persevere over her trying personal circumstances and use her glamour to rescue her husband from prison...and hopefully prevent her newly built marriage from getting stranded on the shoals of another country's war. "

Goodreads | Amazon.com | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

***

Mary Robinette Kowal really impressed me with Shades of Milk and Honey – a very Pride & Prejudice-esque novel with a magical twist. Needless to say, I was very excited to continue the series with Glamour in Glass. While it was quite different, I’m happy to say I wasn’t disappointed!

Whereas Shades of Milk and Honey had a plot focused around societal pressures, family issues, and finding a husband, Glamour in Glass has themes of gender equality and political intrigue. While I wasn’t expecting such a dramatic shift, I have to say I really enjoyed it! It actually reminded me a bit of Sharon Cameron’s The Dark Unwinding (which I really enjoyed).

Now that Jane and Vincent are married, the two are under a bit of pressure to have a child. I’m sure other newly weds can relate to this! I’ve started telling people I’m not having children until I’m 50 so that they stop. asking. me. Sheesh! Jane’s sentiments toward children strike me as very modern, and therefore much more relatable than I would have expected. A pregnancy would mean she can’t practice glamour. She loves glamour so much that the idea of being cut off from it (and her work with Vincent) terrifies her. As much as I enjoyed this element of the story though, Jane’s inner dialogue did get a bit frustrating at times as she is still fairly insecure of Vincent’s feelings…even though they’re married.

There is a ton of political intrigue in this story since it takes place in Belgium just after Napoleon has abdicated his thrown. The setting actually helps Jane grow a lot as a character as she finds she prefers the way women are treated in Belgium a bit more than she does in Britain (after the culture shock wears off of course). There is a great deal of talk among the characters of whether or not Napoleon might return to power, and quite a few shocking events that stem from the Bonapartist movement in Belgium.

Glamour in Glass is a stunning sequel to Shades of Milk and Honey. It takes the characters from the first book and really expands upon them and lets them grow in new situations. While the characters have a special place in my heart, the plot was absolutely fantastic and well beyond what I was expecting. Mary Robinette Kowal has clearly grown a lot as an author after her first book and I am so excited to see how her writing, as well as Jane and Vincent, grow as the story continues.

4.5 Stars

Fairytale Fashions: Greek Gods Inspired Jewelry

Posted on Friday, November 14th 2014 in Fairytale Fashions

I’ve been at it again – browsing Etsy. I always find the coolest things on that site! I don’t end up purchasing many things because sometimes the shipping costs can be quite high, but it’s definitely fun to look. Here are a few pieces I found that bring to mind Greek mythology from ModsTheMost and applelatte.

 

Laurel Leaves

Aphrodite Necklace

The Jewel

Posted on Thursday, November 13th 2014 in Review

The JewelTitle: The Jewel
Author: Amy Ewing
Series: The Lone City #1
Publisher: HarperTeen
Date: September 2, 2014
Pages: 358
Format: ARC
Source: For Review
Description: "The Jewel means wealth. The Jewel means beauty. The Jewel means royalty. But for girls like Violet, the Jewel means servitude. Not just any kind of servitude. Violet, born and raised in the Marsh, has been trained as a surrogate for the royalty—because in the Jewel the only thing more important than opulence is offspring.

Purchased at the surrogacy auction by the Duchess of the Lake and greeted with a slap to the face, Violet (now known only as #197) quickly learns of the brutal truths that lie beneath the Jewel’s glittering facade: the cruelty, backstabbing, and hidden violence that have become the royal way of life.

Violet must accept the ugly realities of her existence... and try to stay alive. But then a forbidden romance erupts between Violet and a handsome gentleman hired as a companion to the Duchess’s petulant niece. Though his presence makes life in the Jewel a bit brighter, the consequences of their illicit relationship will cost them both more than they bargained for. "

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

***

The Jewel is one of the more gritty dystopians I’ve ever read because it deals with forced surrogacy and slavery. While the novel started off a bit slowly for me, I found myself being very curious about the magical abilities the surrogates had and wanted to learn more about the world Ewing had created.

It was a pretty disturbing world, actually. While dystopians are never pleasant per se, there are varying degrees of horror when it comes to the conditions people are living in. I happen to find slavery one of the most appalling. Our main character, Violet, and several of the supporting characters are treated like pets – to the point where they are put on leashes when they go out in public. Disgusting.

I liked several of the character well enough, but didn’t love them. For the most part, we’re treated to some strong-willed, defiant individuals who want to stand up from themselves. There were certain points though where Violet, in particular, drove me a little insane with her carelessness. I have to give points for the types of characters created, but they’re actions were detractors at times.

Even though I didn’t fall in love with The Jewel, I liked it a lot and I’m really curious to see where the story goes. I feel like we’ve only started to scratch the surface on the world building and I’m expecting the following books to filled with plotting and rebellion. Now that Violet has discovered much more about the society she lives in, we can delve into some action since she’s already discovered things aren’t always how they seem. Really looking forward to book 2!

3.5 Stars