Book Review: The Book of Life (Book 3 of the All Souls Trilogy) by Deborah Harkness

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“It’s one thing to wander in the darkness because you know no different, but it’s quite another to enjoy the light only to have it taken from you,”


Author: Deborah Harkness

Publisher: Penguin Books (Viking Adult)

Publication Date: 2014


Goodreads Summary:

After traveling through time in Shadow of Night, the second book in Deborah Harkness’ enchanting series, historian and witch Diana Bishop and vampire scientist Matthew Clairmont return to the present to face new crises and old enemies. At Matthew’s ancestral home at Sept-Tours, they reunite with the cast of characters from A Discovery of Witches—with one significant exception. But the real threat to their future has yet to be revealed, and when it is, the search for Ashmole 782 and its missing pages takes on even more urgency. In the trilogy’s final volume, Harkness deepens her themes of power and passion, family and caring, past deeds and their present consequences. In ancestral homes and university laboratories, using ancient knowledge and modern science, from the hills of the Auvergne to the palaces of Venice and beyond, the couple at last learn what the witches discovered so many centuries ago.


My Thoughts:

Okay, so for this review, I’m going to sort of bounce back and forth between looking at this book itself and the All Souls Trilogy as a whole.

So this whole series for me was a love-hate relationship. Sometimes I was super into it and couldn’t put it down, but other times I was dragging my feet through it. This last book was again a little bit of both, but to be honest, the last half of the book was fantastic. I kept looking at it going, why couldn’t the rest of the series been like this? These books are pretty intimidating because of the size and the font is super duper small. I was determined to finish it. The second book was mostly me dragging my feet through it, but it was really the plot that kept me going.

It is obvious that Harkness has done her research. There is so much detail written into these books, like so much. So much in fact that it can sometimes bog down the story for me. I cannot determine what is necessary to remember or not. I just found myself at times going, really? Was that necessary to go on for a page? It wasn’t. This is probably due to her background as a professor. I have to admit that it sometimes did read like a textbook. I just wish that more of that energy was focused on witches and had a bit more of a creative spin on it.

The plot was original and appealing, with a mix of sorcery, vampires, alchemy, and history (and even some references to other literary works). I liked the spin she took on witches, like Diana’s abilities and the witch hierarchy. I just wish that there was MORE ABOUT WITCHES. Like vampires are cool and stuff but COME ON. I want to learn more about that! I do feel like this would make an awesome television series though.

The one thing that bothered me a lot (and if you read some of the other reviews it bothered other people a lot), was the relationship between Diana and Matthew. It just did not seem okay or healthy. I know that vampires being predatory and territorial is a part of the plot, but it still didn’t make some of the things he did okay. I just felt like Diana’s identity was lost sometimes throughout the story. She became “Matthew’s husband” instead of “Diana Bishop.” He was so incredibly controlling that I just wanted him to go away. I would be okay with this if Diana stood up for herself from time to time, but mostly she allows herself to be treated in a certain way. I will say that in the last half of the book she won me over a little bit more.


My Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Review: Christie Brinkley Daily Facial Exfoliating Polish

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Hey there everyone! This is one of my first makeup/skincare reviews, so if this seems choppy or just like not good in general. I’m going to go ahead and give it my best shot.

So I received this little bottle here in a Birchbox pretty recently. I’ve been trying to use up most of my little samples just so I can say that I’m not throwing my money away for a cute box and tissue paper. But speaking of which, my latest Birchbox did not have any tissue paper. Is this a new thing they are doing? I liked it when they have tissue paper because it feels more like a little present.

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Okay, okay, back to the actual product. So I’ve used exfoliators before, but not one that has been advertised as being used “daily.” I’ve always been told not to exfoliate everyday because it strips your face of some of those essential oils. I was afraid this product would dry up my face, but again it says that it is “gentle on all skin types.” This little thing lasted me a little more than a week.

 

The formula wasn’t anything special, it had that sandy, yet creamy texture to it that it typical of most exfoliators. A little did go a long way, but this is about how much I would use on my face daily. It felt nice after my morning workout and that scrubbing action made my skin feel so nice. So I would apply it in little circles all on my face and wiped it off with warm water on a washcloth.

Looking back, I should have posted a before and after pictures. I will say that I did not have as much acne using this product every day. The full size product (3 oz.) is around $34. Do I think that it is worth the $34? It might be something to look into if you have sensitive skin that is acne prone, but for me, it’s kind of a toss up. There are so many exfoliator products out there I want to try, but I’ll definitely keep this one in mind if I’m ever in the market for one.

Book Review: Grim Short Stories

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“If good men pretend to be villains, how is anybody supposed to know the difference between them?”


 

Edited by: Christine Johnston

Features short stories from authors: Ellen Hopkins, Amanda Hocking, Julie Kagawa, Claudia Gray, Rachel Hawkins, Kimberly Derting, Myra McEntire, Malinda Lo, Sarah Rees Brennan, Jackson Pearce, Christine Johnston, Jeri Smith-Ready, Shaun David Hutchinson, Saundra Mitchell, Sonia Gensler, Tessa Gratton, and John Skovron

Publisher: Harlequin Teen


 

Summary (Goodreads): 

Inspired by classic fairy tales, but with a dark and sinister twist, Grim contains short stories from some of the best voices in young adult literature today: (lists the authors shown above)


My Thoughts: 

Okay so all I really needed to see was the name Ellen Hopkins and this cover to buy this. It also features some authors I have either heard of or have books that I do eventually want to read, but some of them I have never heard of! Some of the stories, as with any anthology, I felt were better than others. I loved Ellen Hopkins’ retelling of The Snow Queen, but I also fell in love with some that I wasn’t expecting! Claudia Gray’s story brought me to near tears, yes I’m a cry baby.

Some of these were actually retellings with some sort of twist, but some I didn’t even know if they were retellings or not. Maybe I’m just not that versed in fairy tales.

Overall, it was just a fun read! The stories didn’t feel too heavy but they didn’t feel like fluff either (most of the time). If you’re a fan of fairy tales, I would definitely recommend this one, but some do have a modern twist. Also, if you are interested in reading any of these authors, an anthology like this is a great way to get introduced to their writing style and see if you like it or not!

My Rating: 4 Stars

 

Makeup Review: Stila Huge Mascara

Hey everyone! I hope you all are happy and healthy and most of all warm! I don’t know where you all are from but where I’m from is SUPER COLD. Anyways, I’m here to share with you a product I got in a Birchbox maybe a month ago? Somewhere around there. But anyways, my old mascara that I so dearly love (the Rimmel Xtreme mascara- I think that’s what it’s called?). I rummaged through some old samples I received and found this gem.

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So, if I’m going to be perfectly honest, I do like this mascara. I really do, however, I do feel like my go to drugstore mascaras can give me the same effect. I also kind of felt like this was a little bit clumpy (but that might be because of the travel size?). It does thicken pretty well, but my lashes are already pretty thick, and it lengthens. Additionally, this mascara is CRAZY HARD to get off. It took me probably twice as long to take off my makeup because of this mascara.

Overall, it’s nice. But that’s about it for me. I wouldn’t be willing to pay the obscene amount of money for something I can buy at Ulta in the drugstore section.

Review: Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloane

Sorry it’s late!

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“Walking the stacks in a library, dragging your fingers across the spines — it’s hard not to feel the presence of sleeping spirits.”


Author: Robin Sloane

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux


Summary (Goodreads)

The Great Recession has shuffled Clay Jannon away from life as a San Francisco web-design drone and into the aisles of Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore. But after a few days on the job, Clay discovers that the store is more curious than either its name or its gnomic owner might suggest. The bookstore’s secrets extend far beyond its walls.


My Thoughts

I picked this up from the library at my university after hearing only good things about it, and I can see why! It was a fun, quick read that is sure to please! Coming back from class and between classes I was bound to be holding this book trying to get in one more chapter before having to put it away!

It’s one of my favorite types of books…books about books (also combined with adventure)! Each character brings something new and adds something to the mystery of Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore. I’m wishing that Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore actually existed! I thought it was interesting how they combined the physical paper pages off books with the technology we rely on today, even if it is too contemporary. It’s witty and charming, and I honestly wish there were more books out there like it. It also kinda makes me want to work at Google…

My Rating: 5 Stars 

Review: The Archived by Victoria Schwab

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““Because the only way to truly record a person is not in words, not in still frames, but in bone and skin and memory.”


Author: Victoria Schwab

Publisher: Hyperion


Summary (Goodreads)

The dead rest on shelves like books. Each body has a story to tell, a life in pictures only Librarians can read. The dead, called ‘Histories’, rest in the Archive.

Da first brought Mackenzie Bishop here four years ago, when she was twelve years old, frightened but determined to prove herself. Now Da is dead, and Mac has grown into what he once was, a ruthless Keeper, tasked with stopping often—violent Histories from waking up and getting out. Because of her job, she lies to the people she loves, and she knows fear for what it is: a tool for staying alive.

Being a Keeper is dangerous and a constant reminder of those she lost, Da and her little brother. Mac wonders about the boundary between living and dying, sleeping and waking. In the Archive, the dead must never be disturbed. Yet someone is deliberately altering Histories, erasing essential chapters. Unless Mac can piece together what remains, the Archive itself might crumble and fall.


My Thoughts

I have to say that I really enjoyed The Archived! I did not read the description or anything really, so I did not know what to expect!

The beginning was a little slow for me and I sometimes had to force myself to keep going (between her brother’s death, moving, her grandfather, it was just a lot to take in), but once I got into it I began to understand what being a Keeper really was. The plot is original and interesting, and it even gets a little creepy (uh the creepy descriptions of the Narrows?!), but like in a good way. The idea that dead people are shelved is really intriguing. Mackenzie’s narration was believable and appropriate. I liked the majority of the characters. My absolute favorite is Roland, he’s like a complete librarian fighter!

One thing I do have to point out is that the antagonist is pretty easy to figure out (maybe starting towards the middle of the book), I mean it’s not like a bad thing per se, but eh. The pacing was a little off to me, but it did not bother me a whole lot. Sometimes it felt so slow, but other times it felt really rushed.

The bottom line is that The Archived is not your typical sci-fi/paranormal (is that even the right genre?). It is extremely well written with a good balance of humor and mystery.

My Rating: 4 Stars

Review: Twenties Girl by Sophie Kinsella

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“Everyone knows revenge is a dish best served when you’ve had enough time to build up enough vitriol and fury.”


Author: Sophie Kinsella

Publisher: The Dial Press


Summary (Goodreads)

Lara Lington has always had an overactive imagination, but suddenly that imagination seems to be in overdrive. Normal professional twenty-something young women don’t get visited by ghosts. Or do they?

When the spirit of Lara’s great-aunt Sadie-a feisty, demanding girl with firm ideas about fashion, love, and the right way to dance-mysteriously appears, she has one request: Lara must find a missing necklace that had been in Sadie’s possession for more than seventy-five years, because Sadie cannot rest without it.

Lara and Sadie make a hilarious sparring duo, and at first it seems as though they have nothing in common. But as the mission to find Sadie’s necklace leads to intrigue and a new romance for Lara, these very different “twenties” girls learn some surprising truths from and about each other. Written with all the irrepressible charm and humor that have made Sophie Kinsella’s books beloved by millions, Twenties Girl is also a deeply moving testament to the transcendent bonds of friendship and family.


My Thoughts

This book has been on my to read shelf for awhile now (most of my books have), and I saw that it was available at my university library, so naturally, I picked it up. The only thing I really know about Kinsella as an author is that she mainly focuses on chick-lit–right up my alley! I didn’t really know what to expect, chick-lit is either a huge hit or a miss for me.

All of the characters are hilarious in their own ways. At first, I loathed Lara, I thought she was desperate and stupid to be honest. I thought, why is she so desperate to be with this boy? Why can’t she just move on and save me the cringing? But when Sadie comes along, I start to notice the change in Lara and she does become more and more understandable. She learns to love herself and sees that she can help herself, and that’s a theme that I like to see develop in a character. Sadie was my absolute favorite! She’s real, honest (sometimes brutally honest), and hilarious. The nice thing about Sadie is that she learns things from Lara too, and it’s not just her telling Lara how it is all the time, the change is both ways.

This book actually made me laugh loudly in the library and sometimes it made me visibly angry! Kinsella really used her writing to connect you with the characters and make you care about them and feel what they were going through. Some chapters were a little bit too long or hard to get through, but they definitely paid off in the long run. Overall, it was a fun fluffy read that I do recommend.

My Rating: 4 Stars