Book Review 013: Blood and Ash Series

Hey guys! Today I will be reviewing the first two books in the Blood and Ash series. It’s been a while since I’ve heard a series that isn’t complete, but I got convinced by my favourite booktoker (@literarylibra) to read it so here we are. I decided to post my review of the series so far because I know it’s pretty popular right now. So once I’ll probably write a review for each book and then once the series is over (whenever that will be) I’ll do a full wrap-up. Okay, let’s get into it.

From Blood and Ash by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Jennifer L. Armentrout is a pretty prolific author, but this is her first fantasy series. The book follows Poppy, who was chosen to be the Maiden and usher in a new era for her kingdom. While waiting for her Ascension, where she receives immortality, she must hide away from other people. Everything changes when she receives a new guard, Hawke, who makes her question everything. At the same time, unrest is rising in the kingdom and Poppy’s life is about to be changed forever.

I loved the plot and the characters in the novel but had issues with the writing. I found the first 50 pages to be confusing with all the world-building going out. Since the novel is from Poppy’s perspective, there was quite a bit at monologuing in the beginning, which I found annoying. Like there would be paragraphs of thoughts during a conversation. I found around the middle of the book it was also starting to get repetitive. Poppy would have a conversation with someone and then repeat the conversation in her head after. By the end of the novel, the writing finally improved and the plot engaged me again.

I found the world while confusing at the beginning to be very interested. I like the world of the Ascended and it’s quite different from any other vampire book I’ve ever read. There are quite a few plot twists, some I predicted and others I didn’t predict. And the ending was amazing and made me excited to read the next book.

I like Poppy as a character. She’s quite naive, but it’s somewhat understandable given her situation. I also love Hawke. I found the banter between the two was overall good, but sometimes it would happen at times which I thought didn’t make sense.

This book is pretty spicy – aka there are some great sex scenes in the book. Within the first 50 pages, there was a great spicy scene. I thought they were well written and also nicely spaced out.

Now, this doesn’t have to do with the author, but whoever did the typesetting of this book did a horrible job. There were sentence breaks and punctuation that was all over the place. I found it to be very distracting. I’m not sure if that’s because I bought these books off of Amazon or it’s that the publisher but something to just note because it bugged me.

Overall I gave this book a 4/5. The writing issues took away some of my enjoyment of the novel, but the plot and characters were strong enough to keep me going.

A Kingdom of Flesh and Fire by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Now I’m not going to give a plot summary because it’s going to spoil the first book. But I liked this book more than the first one.

I found that there was less writing issues and more character issues. I liked Poppy in the first book but found her annoying in the first half of this book. She was not letting people explain their point of view and that’s just something that bugs me. I hate when characters don’t let people explain! Poppy also has a habit of saying she hates people when she clearly doesn’t and I find that to be quite childish. By the second half of the novel she grows out of this and I like the book more once she does.

I love the other characters that JLA introduces and develops like Alastair, Vonetta and Kieran. I love the friendship between Kieran and Poppy, I enjoy reading the banter between the two of them.

Poppy feels a lot of guilt throughout the novel. There is a discussion of ignorance and being willfully ignorant and therefore being apart of the problem. While Poppy’s situation is fictional, the concept of ignorance and willful ignorance can be applied to what’s happening in the world today with racism, xenophobia, homophobia, etc. I love fantasy books that touch on important subjects.

Also, the spiciness just increased in this novel. If you aren’t into reading erotic fiction then maybe pass on this series because it’s got some great sex scenes.

I gave this novel a 4.5/5. The writing had improved but I still had some issues with the character development. But I am still very excited for the rest of the series and would recommend it to any fantasy lovers.

So those are my thoughts on the Blood and Ash series. Let me know if you’ve read the series in the comments below. And if you have any book recommendations or books you would like to see my review please leave them in the comments as well.

xoxo

Lea

Product Empties December 2020

Hey guys! I realized I haven’t done a product empties post since September! It has been a while, so today’s post is pretty long. We have twelve products so I will try to keep my thoughts short and concise.

The first product is my DUO Eyelash Adhesive, specifically the white/clear and NOT the brush tip one. This is my favourite lash glue. It’s inexpensive and does the job. I tried the brush on one thinking it would be easier to apply and it sucked. I like this DUO glue because it keeps my lashes in place and it’s easy to remove. I have already repurchased another one because it’s the only thing I use.

The next product is the Tarte SEA Quench Lip Rescue Balm. The combination of cold weather and talking while wearing a mask has made my lips super chapped and this lip balm has been a godsend. It’s super hydrating but also feels thin on my lips at the same time. I prefer a wetter, almost glossy, lip balm so this one is perfect for me. The balm has a sheer tint of colour as well. I had the shade Rose which was a nice red. I decided to repurchase the shade Nude which has a slight pink to it. This lip balm is also vegan!

I finished my favourite cleanser 😞. I loved using the OLEHENRIKSEN Truth Juice Daily Cleanser. This cleanser is a gel formula that is meant to deeply cleanse and refresh the skin. I felt my skin feel clean without being stripped. And it has orange fruit water that gives it a beautiful citrusy scent that is so nice in the morning. I currently have a few other cleansers open that I want to finish, but I will purchase this again in the future and would recommend it.

The next product was one of my November products of the month – the Milani Make It Last Setting Spray. I won’t go into too much detail because you could just read that post. But basically, I like this setting spray but decided to purchase something else that I’ve been wanting to try.

Another skincare product that I finished is the Saturday Skin Waterfall Glacier Water Cream. I got this moisturizer in my Boxycharm and I liked it. It’s a gel consistency, which is what I prefer with my oily, acne-prone skin. It goes a good job of moisturizing my skin. I think even people with sensitive skin would like this because it’s very soothing. I would recommend this moisturizer, but I won’t be repurchasing right now because I have other moisturizers that I need to finish.

I am sad to finally throw out my favourite Colourpop Blotted Lip. It’s been discontinued for a while but I continued to use it because I love it. It’s very similar in formula to the Glossier Generation G lipsticks. I’m only getting rid of it because the lipstick fell out of the tube and got covered in cat hair so it wasn’t salvageable. This is a very sad day for me okay. 😭

The next product was a deluxe sample of the Farmacy Honey Potion Renewing Antioxidant Hydration Mask. You might remember I picked up a full size of this mask during the Sephora VIB sale. I love using this mask whenever my face is feeling yucky and dry. The name renewing is so accurate. My face just feels so smooth and hydrated after using it. I would recommend this mask to everyone!

The next product is the Garnier Micellar Water. You guys know I love this micellar water, but I haven’t been using it at much just because I haven’t been wearing makeup as much. I find this micellar water is so gentle but does a great job of removing face makeup. It’s also good for getting any leftover mascara as well. I would have repurchased this micellar water, but they were sold out at my store so I decided to try the Bioderma one instead. I’ll report back and let you know which one I like more.

The first of two Lush products is the Sleepy Body Lotion. This is my favourite lotion to apply at night after having a shower or bath. The lavender and tonka scent is just so soothing and it well makes me sleepy. The body lotion absorbs into my skin easily as well and leaves me feeling soft. I have already purchased another one.

The last makeup product is a deluxe sample of the Make Up For Ever Ultra HD Microfinishing Pressed Powder. This powder is very fine so it’s great for setting under the eyes for a very smooth and flawless look. It’s also good for touch-ups to help reduce oiliness. I would repurchase this powder except for the fact that my powder collection is excessively large so I don’t need any more ahaha.

My new favourite mousse is the Herbal Essences Totally Twisted Curl Boosting Mousse. I’ve been following the Curly Girl Method, so I use products without silicones and sulphates. This mousse has neither. I use this on my damp hair and it helps define my curls. I use this and then a gel to help solidify the curls into place. I’ve noticed a huge difference in the definition of my curls since starting to using this mousse. Highly recommend.

The final product is the Lush Mask of Magnaminty. I do like this mask, it does an amazing job of helping deep clean my skin when it feels gross. But I can’t stand out quickly it dries out. I even got the one that has preservatives and I still found it dried out before I got halfway through it. Maybe if this is the only mask you own and you use it once a week it would be fine, but I have so many that I just can get through it fast enough. I will not be repurchasing it because I don’t think it’s worth my money if I only get to use half of it.

And those are my product empties! Let me know if you’ve tried any of these products, I like discussing things with you guys in the comments. 🙂

xoxo

Lea

December Products of the Month

Hey guys! Today I am sharing my thoughts on my November products of the month and picking my December products of the month. I can’t believe it’s already December. It somehow feels like 2020 has been the slowest but also the fastest year. Anyways, let’s get into the products.

The first product is the Milani Make It Last Setting Spray. I did finish their setting spray, which was the goal for the month. It’s not necessarily mattifying but it does help get rid of that powdery look to the face. This is a really good long-lasting setting spray. I do notice a difference in my makeup’s ability to stay put while using this setting spray. I would recommend this if you are looking for a good long-lasting setting spray. Now that I’ve finished this spray I am going to purchase a new one, the Charlotte Tilbury Airbrush Airbrush Flawless Setting Spray. I feel better about buying a new one now that I’ve finished one.

The second product I picked was the Glossier Wowder. My biggest complaint the first time I reviewed it was the fact that barely any powder comes out. And I have to agree that I had the same issue. I thought maybe because there was too much powder in it but I’ve used it all month and I still have the same issue. The packaging is a mesh that I find to be too tight to let out much powder. I struggle to get enough out and therefore find that I can’t powder as much as I want. For example, The Becca Hydra-Mist Set & Refresh Powder is also a mesh but it lets the product out. I think I need to cut the mesh or something but this is just aggravating me. Not a fan.

Now for my December products. The first is the Ace Beaute Bronzed in Paradise Palette. Bronzed is something I wear all the time, even when wearing a mask. There is also a range of shades in here, so I can also use it on the eyes. I also haven’t used this palette in a while so I thought it would be nice to get some use out of it. And then the second product is the Colourpop Jelly Much Shadow in Whistlin’ Pixie. It’s almost dried out, so I thought I would use it a few more times before throwing it out.

And those are the products of the month. As always, let me know if you have any suggestions on products that you would like to see me test out!

xoxo

Lea

Lights Lacquer Nail Polish Review

Hey guys! So today I am doing a review on Lights Lacquer. The brand is owned by Kathleen Lights, one of my favourite YouTubers. I’ve purchased some polish from her previous brand, KL Polish. I would buy every single one of her nail polishes if the shipping to Canada wasn’t so expensive. But when I saw the fall collection I decided I needed some of those polishes in my life and purchased some!

I purchased three from her fall collection and two from other collections. The three from the fall collection are Mia, At Last, and We’ll Always Have Paris. The other two are Amethyst and Ruby.

I must say that all the shades are gorgeous. I don’t own anything in my collection like these five. There is a nice variety in the formulas as well. Mia and At Last are creme finishes, Amethyst is a shimmer, We’ll Always Have Paris is a micro-shimmer, and Ruby is like a jelly with shimmer. I love all the shades.

They were all easy to apply. We’ll Always Have Paris was the easiest because it’s a light colour so if I were to make any mistakes it didn’t show up. Ruby was a little more difficult because it’s a jelly with glitter so it’s easy to accidentally apply too much, but I didn’t find it too difficult.

The longevity of the nail polish varies. Keep in mind that I am not gentle with my nails. I don’t wear gloves while I do the dishes and I’m pretty careless when it comes to opening things. So obviously if you are gentler with your nails they will last longer. Also, the top and case coat you use can make a difference, and both of mine are pretty old. Mia lasted about two days before it started to chip. About a week later it was pretty badly chipped and needed to be redone. At Last was pretty similar timing. I don’t have any pictures of that one though because I just painted over the chips to extend the wear time. We’ll Always Have Paris has the best wear time so far. The combination of it being a glitter and a light colour meant that it’s last five days so far with minimal chipping.

So my overall thoughts on Lights Lacquer. I think if you want some unique shades, then it’s a good place to shop. If you want something that lasts long, either go for the glitters or shop somewhere else. These are gel so they aren’t supposed to last forever without chipping. I don’t mind that they chip because I love the colours so much. I will continue to wear these and would consider shopping from there again in the future.

Let me know in the comments below if you’ve ever tried Lights Lacquer or KL Polish before. As well, let me know what your favourite nail polish brand is, I would love to test it out!

xoxo

Lea

November Boxycharm 2020

Hey guys! Today’ post is my November Boxycharm. I would recommend watching my unboxing on Youtube if you haven’t already to see these products in action. I’ve tested the products a bit more and I’m ready to give you guys a more in-depth review.

Up first is the Natasha Denona Peak Palette. This palette is exclusive to Boxycharm, but the brand does have other five-pan eyeshadow palettes. I like the layout because it gives everything I need to great a warm-toned eyeshadow look. Natasha Denona’s eyeshadow formula is amazing – the mattes and pigmented but easy to blend and the shimmers are so gorgeous on the lid. Trying out the mini palettes is a great way to try out the formula before investing in a large eyeshadow palette as well. I definitely see myself using this more in the future. Price: $48 US (but also the mini palettes sell for $33 CAD on the Sephora website).

The next product is actually a new launch – the Dr. Brandt Antioxidant Spray Toner. I love a good toner, but I’ve never tried a hydrating toner before. This is supposed to tone, sooth and purify the skin to leave it feeling soft, hydrated and revitalized. Now I still need to test this out more because I find that it takes awhile to see results with skincare. The toner absorbs into the skin so quickly. The first time I used it I didn’t think I got anything on my face because when I went to rub it in the toner had already absorbed into the skin. What I’ve noticed so far it that the toner takes away that tightness in my skin after using a cleanser. I still need to go in with a moisturizer. This would be great for anyone with dry skin who don’t like oil controlling toners. Price: $40 US

The next product is the Benefit Cosmetics Gimme Brow+ Tinted Volumizing Gel. I rarely wear brow gel. My brows are naturally decent. There are a few bald spots that I fill in with a pencil but they stay in place pretty well. If you are someone who likes feathery brows or don’t have a lot of brows to begin with, this is the brow gel for you. It has some colour and volume to the existing brow hairs. It’s really easy to get the feathery look as well. Once it sets the brow gel stay put pretty well, unless you aggressively rub it (but why would you be rubbing your brows lol). If you are looking for a brow gel this is a good option. Price: $24 US, $32 CAD

I think my favourite product in this box is the Moda Ultimate Eye Sculptors. I love Moda brushes, I just find they are such good quality at a good price point. These two are unique in shape but work so well. The crease brush is tapered and oval in shape instead of round. This allows the brush to really get in the crease and blend out shadows while keeping the colour the most concentrated in the deep part of the crease. I don’t own anything like the triad eye brush. It’s triangular and cut at an angle that allows the brush to perfectly get into the outer crease. This is perfect for darkening up the outer v of the eye. I’m in love with these brushes and I see myself using the all the time in the future. Price: $15 US (currently on sale for $9!!)

And the final product is the Half Caked Game Changer Lip Fondant Trio. I absolutely love the branding of this makeup company, it’s just so girly and fun. That being said, I wish I had received something else because a liquid lipstick trio. I don’t wear lip products that much right now (because of masks and not leaving the house) and when I do it’s either a lip balm or a lip gloss. So I don’t see myself getting much use out of it. But I do like the fact that it’s a trio, so there are three shades. On the website you can choose any three shades within their range, but I received Theme Song, Low Key and 82′ Bordeaux. I think my favourite is 82′ Bordeaux, which is a deep red wine. The formula is easy to apply and transfer-proof at least. Price: $36 for trio (currently on sale for $32) or $12 for one lipstick

The overall total of my box is $159 US. I think this box is pretty good! Benefit and Natasha Denona are both really known brands. I also know Dr Brandt and Moda from having a Boxycharm subscritpion for awhile. The only brand I haven’t heard of before is Half Caked and I’m really into their branding. Sure I would have preferred maybe a gloss from Half Caked, but I don’t think there were any bad products in this box.

Let me know if you guys have tried any products in my box. And if you guys get Boxycharm, let me know in the comments what products you got in your box!

xoxo

Lea

Book Lover Gift Guide

Hey guys! Today is the last part of my gift guide series, and we are finishing strong with book lovers. If you guys follow my blog, you will know that my love of reading has come back stronger than ever this year. So I thought it was only fitting to do a book lover gift guide. I understand that buying books for someone can be hard. You might not know what books they already own or what they like to read. I’m here to help you out. I will be giving both book recommendations and a list of things that aren’t books that any book lover would love.

First, if you can take a look at their bookshelf. That way you don’t get a book they already have. Another option is looking at their wish list, whether it is on Goodreads or Amazon. If it’s on their wish list, a good chance is that they want to read it. A safe option is to buy them a gift card to a bookstore, that way they can pick out what books they want. But if you have an idea of what they like, then I would recommend getting a recent book launch. If the book came out recently then they are probably less likely to own it. All the books that I will be featuring on my list are all books that have come out this year and have good reviews. I haven’t read any of them so I can’t personally vouch if they are good books. But I have planning to post the best and worst books I’ve read this year sometime in mid-December, so you can also wait and check out that post. Okay, let’s get into the books.

Also just a note, I will be linking the Goodreads page for all the books for two reasons. First that way you can review the description of the book and some reviews to help you decide what to pick. Second I know most of you guys aren’t Canadian so it didn’t make sense to link to Indigo (our book store). So just order the books wherever you shop for books – but I recommend trying to buy from local stores if possible this holiday season 🙂

Mystery and Thriller

  1. Guest List by Lucy Foley. My mom has this book and I’ll probably read it eventually as well. This is a murder mystery set during a wedding on a small island off the coast of Ireland.
  2. One by One by Ruth Ware. A suspenseful thriller set at a mountain chalet. Perfect to read during winter – and I’m sure you’ll be excited to go to a chalet after reading this haha.
  3. The Searcher by Tana French. Another book set in Ireland, this one follows a retired detective who helps a boy find his missing brother.

Historical Fiction

  1. The Henna Artist by Alka Joshi. My mom read this book and loved it – she passed it along for me to read. The story follows Lakshmi who runs away from an arranged marriage and becomes a famous henna artist. This book is set in 1950s Jaipur.
  2. The Book of Lost Names by Kristin Hamel. Based on a true story of a woman who uses forgery to help hundreds of Jewish children flee the Nazis.
  3. The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett. I have heard so many good things about this book and I have it on my wish list. The story follows two twins, one who moves away and secretly passes for white. It’s set in the Deep South from the 1950s to 1990s.

Fantasy and Sci-fi

  1. Crescent City by Sarah J Maas. This is Sarah J Maas’s newest series and it’s one of Goodread’s top fantasy books of the year.
  2. The House in the Cerulean Sea. This book is highly rated and is described as a heartwarming tale about finding your family but make it ✨ fantasy ✨. It has great LGBT representation as well.
  3. The City We Became by N.K. Jeminsin. This is the first book is a new series by Jeminsin, that follows five people must come together and defend the city of New York.
  4. The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab. I have heard SO many good things about this book and want to read it. It’s about a girl who haves a deal that she lives forever but is forgotten by everyone she meets, that is until someone does remember her name.
  5. To Sleep in a Sea of Stars by Christopher Paolini. For anyone Eragon fans, check out Paolini’s new adult sci-fi that is a first-contact-with-aliens tale.

Romance

  1. One to Watch by Kate Stayman-London. Bea, who is a plus-sized fashion blogger, gest to be the next star on Main Squeeze (a fictional version of the Bachelor/Bachelorette).
  2. Take a Hint, Dani Brown by Talia Hibbert. This is a fake-dating-to-lovers between a Black, bi-sexual PhD student and a Muslim Pakistani-British ex-rugby player. Great diversity but also a super cute and fun book.
  3. Something to Talk About by Meryl Wilsner. This sapphic romance is between Jo and her assistant Emma after they are photographed together on the red carpet.

Non-Fiction

  1. Untamed by Glennon Doyle. This was on top of the bestseller list for weeks. It’s about female empowerment and finding your true self.
  2. Hood Feminism: Notes from the Women That a Movement Forget by Mikki Kendall. I think the title is pretty self-explanatory, but this is a book about intersectionality and feminism.
  3. A Promised Land by Barack Obama. This is Obama’s first memoir, starting at his political education through his first time as president.
  4. The Answer Is…: Reflections on My Life by Alex Trebek. This autobiography is of Alex Trebek, the host of Jeopardy!
  5. Extraordinary Canadians by Peter Mansbridge with Mark Bulgutch. I had to include at least one Canadian book on this list. This book is a collection of stories of Canadians who embody kindness, compassion, courage and freedom.

Cookbooks

  1. Modern Comfort Food by Ina Garten. I looked at this book in store. This is perfect for someone pretty new to cooking because it goes through all the basics. Comfort food is also perfect for this time of year and also with everything that is going on in the world.
  2. Antoni in the Kitchen by Antoni Porowski. If you know anyone who is a Queer Eye fan you have to get them this book. And even if they aren’t, there are some cool dishes in this book. They’re all elevated by simple to do.
  3. Outlander Kitchen: To the New World and Back Again: The Second Official Outlander Companion Cookbook by Theresa Carle-Sanders. If you know anyone in your life who is an Outlander fan and like to cook, get them this book. It’s full of recipes inspired by the places they go and the people in the books. They decided to do a second cookbook since the first one was so successful. If I hadn’t already bought my mom a cookbook for Christmas I would get her this one (I’ll probably get it for her birthday).

YA Novels

I could probably do a whole post on YA books but here are a few.

  1. A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson. Who doesn’t love a good murder mystery? The sequel also came out this year, so you can always give them both books as well.
  2. Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas. I have seen this all over booktok. It’s about a trans boy who summons a ghost to help him prove his gender to his traditional Latinx family.
  3. Cinderella is Dead by Kalynn Bayron. A spin on the classic Cinderella story, it’s been summarized as black queer girls overthrowing the patriarchy.
  4. Legendborn by Tracy Deonn. This is the perfect book for anyone who is a fan of City of Bones. This is a contemporary fantasy that puts a twist on King Arthur but with Southern Black Girl Magic.
  5. Chain of Gold by Cassandra Clare. This one follows the story of Cordelia Carstairs, so anyone who’s favourite series is The Infernal Devices then will love this book.

Other Gifts

  1. Getting someone to store their book is always a good idea. If they have a small space a cart is a good idea. If they have more space then a bookshelf can be a good idea.
  2. If you have a friend that you always borrow books from, get them a library stamp or library embosser. This way the person can make their books and feel better about giving them out. There are so many cute customizable ones on Etsy.
  3. Getting someone book-themed art. It could be a print of their favourite book cover, it could be a college of classics, a stack of banned books, a book genre poster, or maybe some fanart or the map from their favourite series.
  4. If you know someone who loves to read in the bath, getting them a bath tray will help them not drop the book in the water.
  5. A book subscription service. There are so many out there, but most will send a book with some goodies every single month. The goodies range from merch to coffee or treats. I would recommend Googling it to find the best ones in your country.

And there you go guys! My super long list of recommendations for the book lover in your life. Let me know if you have any recommendations, whether it be books or book-related items in the comments down below!

xoxo

Lea

Beauty Lover Gift Guide

Hey guys! Today is the first of a few gift guides! I know it’s only November, but I wanted to get these gift guides up early for two reasons. First is next week is Black Friday, so there will be lots of deals (aka perfect time to shop). A second, with COVID-19 I’m sure lots of people will be shopping online so it’ll be best to do your shopping earlier if you want your packages to get delivered on time. So I have this post going up today, a general gift guide going up on Youtube on Sunday, and a book lover post going up on Tuesday. So let’s get into this beauty specific gift guide!

The first thing I’m going to recommend is a gift card. I know that might seem like a cop-out, but let me convince you otherwise. If you are reading this to figure out to get someone who likes makeup and skincare, they probably have a large collection. It could be hard to pick something out that they don’t already have in their collection. My mom doesn’t buy me makeup for Christmas anymore unless I specifically ask for a certain product. So by giving someone a gift card, they can get want they want! As well, the person could pool together other gift cards and money to get a more expensive product that someone might not be able to afford individually. So when in doubt, get a gift card! Okay now into specific products.

The first is the Revlon One-Step Hair Dryer. I got a similar one for Christmas last year and it’s pretty good. I know that some higher end brands have their own version, but I’ve seen so many reviews saying that the Revlon one is just as good so might as well get the cheaper one. This is perfect for someone who wants to do their hair but doesn’t know how to do a blowout. I think this is a great present.

One of the best kits when it comes to value is the First Aid Beauty All That Fab set. It’s a $167 value for only $64!! First Aid Beauty has some great skincare products and this set contains all of the best. The brand is also known for being great for people with sensitive skin, so you don’t have to worry about the products irritating someone’s skin.

If you know someone who has been eyeing Charlotte Tilbury products, then the Pillow Talk Lip Secrets Lip Set is the perfect gift. It comes with a full-size of their matte lipstick in the iconic shade Pillow Talk. It also comes with a mini of the matching lip liner. Finally, it comes with two lip glosses – one shimmery and one clear. Listen, if I didn’t already have this lipstick I would pick up this set.

Up next are two gifts for someone who can’t live without doing their eyebrows. Both Anastasia Beverly Hills and Benefit Cosmetics have sets that include both a brow pencil and a brow gel. Brow products are a great gift because it’s something people go through quickly. Also, it can be pretty easy to pick someone’s shade if you know their hair colour. ABH has four shade options and Benefit has three shade options.

The Fenty Beauty gloss sets have now become a staple for the brand. This year’s set includes four new shades – so you don’t have to worry if someone already has these shades. They come in a variety of shades so it matches a variety of tones. A great tip, you can also buy the set and spilt up the lipglosses. So if you are doing stocking stuffers or little gifts for your friends, you can give two to someone, or one each to four people (or to three people and keep one for yourself 😉).

A great skincare set is the Origins Mask Delights Mask Essentials Set. I’ve gotten myself this set in the past (hehe) and I loved it. Even though they are deluxe samples, there is a decent amount of product so I got many masks out of the tubes. This is a great way to try and test out a bunch of masks. I ended up getting the full size of the Out of Trouble mask, and I also loved the Retexturizing mask. This set is great if you don’t know someone’s skin type because there is a range of mask (but I will say it leans more oily). It’s also a pretty affordable gift at $25.

Similar to the Origins set is the Peter Thomas Roth Mix, Mask & Hydrate mask set. The jars are bigger than the Origins set (50 ml compared to 15 ml), but still smaller than a full-size mask (50 ml to 150 ml). This also someone to test and try out different masks. But just based on the size they will probably have these samples for a while. And I find this set more hydrating compared to the Origins set. I have the Irish Moor Mud mask and it’s pretty good, and my mom swears by the Rose Stem Cell mask.

When in doubt, getting a makeup lover a brush set is a great way to go. I picked out this Sephora Collection one because it looks pretty but there are so many great options out there. Brushes are a great option because it’s something that people don’t necessarily purchase for something, but it’s something they can always use more of. Having multiple brushes means I can extend the amount of time I can go in between washing my makeup brushes!

Now I don’t normally recommend perfume because it’s so personal. Everyone likes different scents and how a perfume interacts with someone’s body chemistry can change the scent as well. So I wouldn’t recommend a perfume unless you know exactly what they want. BUT if you know a perfume lover, getting them a sampler is a great option. I found this REPLICA Mini Discover Set. It has different scents so people can test out and see what they like. A bonus is you can offer you purchase the full size of their favourite scent for their birthday!

If you don’t have a lot of money, then getting a couple of Sephora face masks is a great option. This Skincare Surprise Set comes with a nose strip, an eye mask, a face mask and a lip scrub. At $14, this is perfect for a Secret Santa gift. Or you could also divide this up and use it for stocking stuffers as well.

I started with a blow dryer brush and I’m finishing with a legit blow dryer. The Drybar Buttercup Blow Dryer Set is the perfect gift for someone who is looking for a blow dryer. It comes with a brush, clips and three of Drybar’s hair products – a serum, a dry shampoo and a heat protector. This set is the same price as the normal blow dryer, so you might as well get all the goodies that come with it! If I wasn’t looking for a diffuser attachment I would ask for this for Christmas.

And that is my beauty lover gift guide! Let me know in the comments down below what is on your holiday wish list this year guys!

xoxo

Lea

Book Review 012

Hey guys! I am back with another book review. These are the books that I’ve read since finished the Throne of Glass series in mid-October. I’ve started a book journal recently so I’m hoping that it will be easier for me to write my reviews now. So let’s get into the books.

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

So if you guys didn’t watch my Vlogtober videos, you might have missed that I recently purchased a bunch of classic novels. I was drawn by the beautiful covers, but I also haven’t read many classics so I decided to purchase 11 lol. I choose Frankenstein as the first one to read since it was October and I wanted something for the spooky season.

I’ve heard of Frankenstein is passing but I didn’t know the actual story. For those who also don’t know, Frankenstein is a Swiss scientist who creates this creature who wreaks havoc on Frankenstein’s life (Frankenstein was the scientist, not the monster). So I enjoyed learning the actual story. There are so great lessons to learn from the novel, and I also liked how the story ended. But that’s where my positives end.

I wasn’t very engaged while reading Frankenstein. I often found myself taking phone breaks, something I don’t normally do. I also fell asleep once while reading the novel. I found that they were too many descriptive passage and long monologues that didn’t add anything to the storyline.

When reading a horror, thriller, or mystery, predictable is an important aspect. I don’t mind if I can predict the plot twists, but I prefer it when I don’t. I predicted some things and other things I didn’t. So if you are someone who hates predictability, this book was 50/50.

Frankenstein is supposed to be one of the most famous gothic horrors. Now I don’t know much about the genre, but I expected to be scared. Overall I don’t think this is scary by modern standards, but I understand that at the time it could have been radical. Overall though I didn’t satisfy my wish for something scary during the Halloween season.

I give this book a 3/5. I can see why it’s a classic and why people like it. But I wasn’t engaged or scared, two things that I wanted from this book. Fingers crossed that some of my other classics are better than this one.

Gimme a Call by Sarah Mlynowski

I have a very large physical to be read list, with books that I’ve purchased back in middle school on my shelf. This is one of them. I kept this book because I’ve read quite a few other Mlynowski books, with the Bra and Broomsticks series being one of my tween faves. So I decided to give this book a chance.

The story follows Devi, a high school senior who drops her phone in a fountain and can only talk to her freshman self. Devi gives her younger self advice, such as staying away from her ex-boyfriend and how to get good grades. I loved the concept of this novel. Mlynowski took the simple idea of what would you say to your past self and developed into a story. I liked that whenever Devi tried to change the past it had ramifications for her current self, and they were both positive and negative.

I think there are great themes and lessons in this novel. I think they are great for younger readers to read and learn about. I think if I was 14 I would love this book, but a lot of the lessons I’ve just learned myself growing up.

There was also a lot of second-hand embarrassment that is common in younger YA novels. I’m not a huge fan of it. Sure it’s fine in small doses but too much is just too cringy for me. But maybe that’s just my age showing.

This book is also set in the late 2000s/early 2010s, so it was so fun to reach about fashion and technology back then. I grew up during this time so it was fun to reminisce.

I give this book a 3.5/5. I loved this concept and it’s something I will think about in the future. I would recommend this to younger readers, maybe 12-16. If I was younger I think I would enjoy this book more. But at 23 I just couldn’t handle the second-hand embarrassment.

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari

A nonfiction book for once! I don’t read a ton of nonfiction but I had read amazing things about this book. I also love history so I thought this would be a good read for me. Sapiens is an overview of humankind from our creation to our current times (published in 2014) and also looking at future possibilities.

Now I took a break reading this book when I was about halfway through. I started it back in August, trying to read nonfiction and fiction at the same time. Then I started Throne of Glass and that went out the window. After Gimme a Call I decided to dedicate myself to finishing this book.

First, let’s breakdown the content. I picked up this novel hoping to learn a lot and I honestly knew a lot of what he talked about already. I’ve taken a few anthropology and history courses at university as well as learning many different ideological theories during my studies. Because Harari is covering such a large timespan, he just skims the surface on many different things. I wish he would have dived deeper into certain subjects more. But he does have an in-depth reference list, so I could look at his sources if I want to learn more about a certain subject.

What stands out though is that Harari has a different point of view compared to what I learned in school. So it was interesting because some of what he says is contrary to popular opinion. I also enjoyed his section on happiness because it was one of the few areas I didn’t know anything about it. The only thing is I don’t remember much of what he said. I almost needed to have taken notes to help me absorb some of what he said.

Now let’s breakdown the writing, because I think that’s just as important as the content for nonfiction. I found his writing style to be very straight forward and simple. The times that I didn’t know about something already, it was easy for me to get because it explained it well. I did find it a bit dry though. So the combination of me knowing information and a dry style meant that I wasn’t very excited to read the novel. I set myself daily page goals to get through this book. Nonfiction books can be engaging, but this one just wasn’t it.

So overall I give this book a 3/5. I would say it’s not the most exciting but it is easy to read. I would recommend this to anyone who is interested in history but doesn’t know much about it. If you have a moderate knowledge of history and anthropology, then you’ll be like me and be bored.

So guys those are the novels I’ve heard recently. Three very average books. Let me know if the comments what you have read recently and if you have any recommendations. I have a pretty long TBR, but I can always bump books up if you want me to read them sooner. 🙂

xoxo

Lea

Sephora VIB Sale Haul + Announcement

Hey guys! So let’s start with the announcement because that’s the exciting part. So I’ve mentioned on both my Instagram and Youtube that I got a part-time job that’s not in PR for the time being. So today I have my first in-store shift at SEPHORA! I know, super exciting! The position is only a seasonal cashier for now. Since it’s only part-time I am still planning to be posting twice a week. But I do want to make it clear that all opinions on my blog, Instagram and Youtube are my own and do not reflect those at Sephora.

So let’s get into the haul. Sorry I didn’t get the chance to post this before the sale was over. This isn’t going to be an in-depth review just because I haven’t had the chance to test the products out. I just wanted to let you guys know what I got quickly so you could pick them up while they are still in stock.

The first item is the Briogeo Merry Multi-Masking Kit ft. Don’t Despair Repair Deep Conditioning Honey Bear Mask. I got this set because I’ve heard so many good things about the Honey Bear mask in this kit. Unfortunately, the kit is sold out, and it’s the only way to get the Honey Bear mask. But the other two masks in this kit (the Don’t Despair Repair and Be Gentle, Be Kind masks) are both permanent products so you guys can still pick those up. There are also other kits featuring these masks as well.

The next product I got is the Farmacy Honey Potion Renewing Antioxidant Hydration Mask. I had a sample of this mask before and I loved it so much that I decided to get a full size. It’s different compared to other hydrating masks because it gets warm and tingly. I would describe it more like a restorative mask. It takes my skin from blah to ahhhh. And the packaging is just beautiful.

The final two products are both Hourglass. The first is the Mini Ambient Lighting Edit. This is a limited edition product for the holidays that features a powder, blush, bronzer and highlight. I have heard so many good things about Hourglass face products so I thought it would be a nice way to try multiple of their products. The second Hourglass product is Unlocked Instant Extensions Lengthening Mascara. It’s a tubing mascara, which means that I only need to use water to wash off the mascara. I’ve never tried a tubing mascara so I thought it would be interesting to try!

I am so excited to play and test out all of these products. Let me know in the comments what you picked up in the Sephora VIB sale!

xoxo

Lea

Introducing my Book Journal

Hey guys! So if you haven’t noticed, I’ve gotten into reading recently. I loved reading when I was a teenager, but university and college impacted my reading levels. I was just so tired from studying all day that I wasn’t very motivated to read. But the combination of finishing school and being in a pandemic has increased the amount of reading I’m doing. I decided to start reviewing books on my blog and my Tiktok. But I realized I needed a better way to keep track of everything. That’s where the idea to have a reading journal came in.

Before I had two ways of tracking my reading. I have a page in my bullet journal where I simply rate the books I’ve read. It’s right beside my page for tv shows. Then after I finish book I write on a sticky note some of my thoughts and put it in the book. From there I would write a blog post. But I felt a void in this system. My notes weren’t quite small and simple. I also wasn’t keeping track of the dates. And finally I like to have physical records of thing (case in point my bullet journal), so I wasn’t satisfied with just digital reviews. So that’s why I decided to create a reading journal.

My previous book tracking system

I’ve seen it mentioned on TikTok before so I decided to do some research. And well it was a little overwhelming. There were so many different ones. Some people like to write notes while they read. There are some premade journals on the market as well. And finally some people are creative and do almost bullet journal like spreads for the reading journal. I debated buying a premade journal but I couldn’t find one that I liked exactly.

Then I had the brilliant idea of just creating my own layout in a notebook. As a notebook hoarder I have a few empty ones lying around. So I grabbed one and look at different layouts and pick and choose what I wanted to include in my.

My index page

The first thing I wrote was an index. It’s funny because I don’t use my index in my bullet journal, but I knew it would be important in this reading journal. That way I can look at the index and see what page a book review is, instead of flipping all the pages to find what I’m looking for. It might be easy for me to find what I’m looking for now, but in the future once I have dozens on books in here it might be difficult.

Next I decided to dedicate one page per book/series. I know people have different thoughts on reviewing series. I’m personally team review-series-as-a-whole. I never read one individual book of a series. I prefer to read series all together and will avoid reading a series if all the books aren’t out. And I wouldn’t recommend a series to someone if the last book sucked even if the first book was good. So that’s why in my example Throne of Glass series is one page, similar to how I wrote one book review for the whole series.

So obviously I decided to include the book title and author. Then I included some descriptive information such as genre, length and publication date. That way if I don’t have the physical book with me I can remember certain aspects. This is also helpful to giving recommendations – if someone wants a short fantasy novel I can flip through and find that quickly.

My review of the “Throne of Glass” series

Next I included start and end dates. I have a pretty good memory of when I read books even if I don’t remember the plot lol. My mind works in interesting ways. But I thought the start and end date would be interesting to see how long it took me to get through a book.

Then for ratings I put overall rating as well and excitement and ease. I think that while excitement and ease factor into a book’s overall rating, they can be different. For example I gave Frankenstein a 3/5 for overall but only 2/5 in excitement. A book could be easy to read but not the best book. For example, I read Gimme a Call which is meant for young teens. So it was super easy for me to read, but other factors brought the rating down.

The biggest section is my thoughts. This is where I go in-depth into what I thought. I debated putting in a synopsis section, but then I realized I can easily just Google that if I forget it. Whereas I can’t Google my thoughts about the book if I forget it. So here I just put whatever I think about the book. I talk about plot, character development and relationships, world-building, writing style, themes, etc. This journal is for me so I write whatever I want.

Finally I put a recommend to section. Just because a book is good doesn’t mean it’s for everyone. Lots of people only read certain genres or certain subjects. Some people only read YA or adult books, so it’s good to identify if people outside YA or adult could read the novel. This will be helpful to reference back to as well. If someone is like “Oh I’m looking for a book with romance but doesn’t necessarily need to be just a romance book” I can flip through a find that.

So that is the layout of my reading journal. I currently have three books in here that I filled out this weekend. I am excited to use it more and hopefully stick with it. Maybe in a couple of months I’ll update you guys on how it’s working and if I would change anything. Let me know if you have a reading journal and how you use it in the comments below!

xoxo

Lea