Monday, September 21, 2015

Monday Musings and what I am reading

Hello everyone!

It's Monday, and honestly, I wish I could be more positive, but the last week was not very productive, so the upcoming week might easily be horrible. The truth is, I was sick for the majority of last week, which in part had to do with the joys of missing a connection and getting to spend extra time in the cold outside when I was already not 100% healthy. It happens, so I just recovered, tried to at least get a bit done every now and then. Everything else I will have to tackle this week.

As I am working on my thesis at the moment, I am somewhat busy as it is, but additionally, I decided to revive my blog and YouTube - I need to do something for myself, after all, so it is a nice way to spend some me time. To be honest, I do like it, but I do not know how much of a proper schedule I can actually make for myself with this. For now, I know that I have 2-3 blog posts planned out in my head, so it's a matter of time until I have written down my thoughts and organized everything. And for YouTube I have a somewhat regular schedule set up that is relatively easily manageable. Nonetheless, both means work to a degree and this takes a back seat to my thesis and my family (unless I really need to unwind).

I am currently working on a number of books and I hope I do not forget about any. For one, I finally picked on older series back up with Jillian Hoffmann's Plea of Insanity. This is a great one and I cannot wait to have more time to read it. The basic premise is that a family was brutally murdered and the prime suspect is the father. It ties in with Hoffmann's Cupido books, but does not have a direct connection.

I am also reading Cassie Alexander's Nightshifted, the first in a series about a nurse who deals with plenty of supernatural beings. I cannot say much more about it yet, but the writing style is quite neat, so I am going with it.

And then I am reading a book which is a bit more unusual. I am talking about Lynda Barry's Syllabus. It is set up pretty much like a series of sketchnotes on Barry's lesson planning and writing exercises. I find it absolutely fascinating, but it is going slower for me simply because I am taking my time to think about it and I am taking notes.

Now, I am sure I forgot something, but we will leave it at that, ok? What are your plans for the upcoming week and what are you reading?

Bi-weekly Makeup Basket (September 21, 2015 through October 4, 2015)

Hi everyone!

I really like sleeping in in the mornings, at least as much as our son allows, so I usually do not have the time to figure out my makeup in the mornings. To make it easier on myself, I have been putting together weekly or bi-weekly makeup baskets to have a small selection each morning without having to dig through my collection. This helps me use certain items more intensely and at the same time it means I can still do my makeup in the mornings without too much of a hassle. Everything is in one place. Above, you can sneak a peek into the makeup basket for the upcoming two weeks. Please note that I certainly do not use all these products at the same time and on any given time! I just like to have a couple items to choose from.

As you may know, I am (ever so!) slowly transitioning over to a cruelty-free makeup collection. I still have plenty of products that are not cruelty-free, so if you are interested in the cruelty-free items, I have marked them with CF. And additionally, I have marked the vegan products as well - with a V.


For face products, I try to keep it very easy. I do not want too much to choose from because for one, they tend to go bad eventually, and secondly I would much rather use up some of these things.

For primer I am using my Smashbox Photofinish Oil-Free Foundation Primer. This is just a deluxe size sample, and it is actually the last primer I own that is not cruelty-free, so I cannot wait to move this out of my collection.

My Revlon Colorstay foundation for Combination & Oily Skin in 110 Ivory is my current go-to foundation. It is a perfect color-match for my skin, and as it is not cruelty-free, I decided to put this into my little seasonal project pan, Finish 5 by Winter (this link leads you to a YouTube video, in case you want to know more about this project pan).

For my dark circles, I use the Maybelline Instant Age Rewind Eraser, which is also in my Finish 5 by Winter as it is also not cruelty-free.

CF For all the other areas on my face where I would like to coneal and even out my skin, I use my Catrice Camouflage Cream in 010 Ivory. This is an amazing concealer that is incredibly creamy and pigmented. It leaves nothing to desire and lasts ages. On top of that, Catrice is cruelty-free, so you get that on top of everything else. Sadly, this little tub is almost empty, but I have been using this for many months now. A backup of this is already waiting to be put to use!

CF As my lips tend to be on the drier side if I do not moisturize them regularly, my LUSH Lip Service Lip Balm is also a big part of my makeup routine. It is a great product that lasts ages as well. Mine technically has expired, so I am using it up in my Project 30 Pan (again, the link leads you to a YouTube video explaining this in detail).


CF I am using my Catrice Color Correcting Mattifying Powder. This is a product that is ok but it does not have holy grail status for me. I definitely think that something better must be out there, but for the most part it does what it says - it color-corrects my skin, but it only keeps me shine-free for a few hours, so I am hoping to find a powder that would last a bit longer.

My current bronzing / contour powder is the Benefit Hoola bronzer in my PowdaWowza box. This was limited edition a couple years back and as it is not cruelty-free I decided that this will also find a place in my Finish 5 by Winter.

For blush, I have a few selections available, just so I can switch it up.

CF For starters, I am using my Catrice Cream to Powder blush in Coral -al -al -al. As it is a creamy texture, I try to use this before my powder actually. It is very pigmented, so applying the powder over it works out fine as I can take away a bit of the color if absolutely necessary. While it is a cruelty-free product, I am trying to move this out of my collection because it is a cream product and those go bad faster than powder products.

For powder blushes I have two options and both are not cruelty-free. The first is my MNY blush in 301. It is a beautiful somewhat shimmery coral shade, but MNY has not been available here for many years, so it is probably time I focus on it to move it out of my collection. I should be done with it in two weeks at the most, as I already had to repress this and there really is not much left. The other blush I have in my makeup basket is my MAC blush in Style. This is a brigher coral-pink shade, but my packaging was broken pretty much from the get go, so I just want to use it a bit for the time being.


I also have quite a few individual eye products going on. I consider them individual because they are not in a palette. If you have an idea for a better description, I would love to hear it!

CF For starters, there is my Catrice Eyeshadow Soufflé in Yes, I Wood!. This is a cream eyeshadow which also works as a base. It is a slightly shimmery champagne shade which I can use as an all-over shade when I am in a rush. As this product has been with me for a few years, I am currently using it up as part of my Project 30 Pan as well.

Next up is a sample of a MAC pigment. Sadly, I do not know which pigment this is, but it is really pretty. As it is a relatively neutral champagne shade, I am sure it is easily dupe-able (in case you do not know: a dupe is a product that resembles the original in shade and usually texture, but is cheaper or more easily available).

I am also working on my BEC pigment in Gossip. This dark teal shade with golden reflects is absolutely beautiful, but I cannot find out whether this is cruelty-free, so I will just use it up and move on. It has been in my makeup basket for a few weeks now and I have not used it enough to have made a decent dent, so I will continue keeping it in my basket until I finish it up.

CF The last pigment for the time being is a P2 Loose Eyeshadow in 010 Miami. This was part of the Sun City Limited Edition and also has not been available in years. I am not stressing myself out about finishing it up, but I do not use pigments often enough, so I am keeping it in to maybe use it ever once in a while.

CF, V Finally, I have my alverde eyeshadow in Warm Vanilla. I use this not only as a subtle brow bone hightlight, but also to clean up my eyeshadow a bit.


CF My NYX Bronze Smokey Look Kit is also part of my Project 30 Pan and I have made quite some progress with it. It is amazing to see how much you can use when you actually focus on a product and this knowledge has helped me not feel too bad about my 17 palettes... It originally contained 9 bronze-y eyeshadows (6 shimmery ones and 3 mattes). This will definitely be in my makeup basket for a few more weeks, but hopefully, I have used it up soon.

And the last palette is my Z palette. This is a magnetic palette I can fill with my own single eyeshadow pans or pigments I pressed myself. It is very convenient as I do not have to worry about the pans falling down. For the time being, I have 3 eyeshadows in it.

The first eyeshadow pan in my Z palette contains a BEC pigment in PYT which I pressed myself. This is a very metallic darker champagne color (do you see the theme here?). I have had this in my makeup basket for weeks if not months and I just do not use it, so it will stay there until I actually pick it up. One reason for my neglect could be the NYX palette...

Next to the BEC pigment is my MAC eyeshadow in Browndown this is a dark brown eyeshadow. It is a Veluxe finish, which means it applies more smooth than traditional matte eyeshadows, but is still matte. The downside is the lack of pigmentation.

Below these I have my MAC eyeshadow in Tete-A-Tint. This is an orange-y brown shade with a Matte Squared finish, meaning it is matte, very pigmented, but not the easiest to blend. I added this to my Finish 5 by Fall to focus on it as it is a great transition color.

Both MAC eyeshadows have been discontinued from what I know, but I like the colors, so I would like to use them up and move on. I am sure they can be duped as well.


From top to bottom we have the following products:

The Manhattan X-Act Eyeliner in True Black is almost gone, but it is a nice, creamy deep black which works great to tightline.

The MAC Eye Kohl in I Get No Kick was also part of a limited edition in 2010 (gasp!) and is now in my Finish 5 by Fall because it is so old and not cruelty-free. All in all, this is a great light champagne shade for my waterline and I cannot wait to use it (up)!

Below this is my Shiseid dual-ended eyepencil in Desert Dusk/Desert Obscur. This was gifted to me and I have been saving it for years, but now it is almost gone. It used to have a medium-brown side which was great for my lash line, but is gone now, and a light champagne shade which is almost gone. I cannot sharpen this anymore.

CF My current brow products are my Catrice Eyebrow Stylist in 020 Date With Ash-ton, a taupe brow pencil, and my Anastasia Beverly Hills Tinted Brow Gel in Blonde, which is in the old, more shimmery formulation.

CF To the side, I placed my NYX Jumbo Eye Pencil in Milk, which is a great color for a more distinct brow highlight (I am pale, so I can pull it off!) and to define the bottom of my brows a bit more.


My three mascaras for the upcoming weeks are all not cruelty-free and they are all in my Project 30 Pan. For starters, we have the MacFactor Clump Defy, which is probably comparable to the Covergirl Clump Crusher. Then there is the Maybelline Lash Sensational Waterproof, which I do not like too much and it is almost dried out. Too fast, if you ask me, because it has only been open for 10 weeks. And the final mascara is my L'Oréal Voluminous Carbon Black, which has an iffy formulation as it either looks awesome or clumps up my lashes.


CF I am working on using up my deluxe size sample of the Urban Decay Lip Junkie in Naked. This has been discontinued for a while now and it has been in my possession even longer - think circa 2010, when I bought my UD Naked 1 palette...

CF My Catrice Beautifying Lip Smoother in 020 Apricot Cream is a great combination of a gloss and a lip treatment. It leaves them hydrated and gives of a nice sheen of color.

CF Finally, I have four samples of the relatively new Urban Decay Revolution Lip Sticks in Liar, Streak, Rush and 69. They are incredibly pigmented, so a little goes a long way and I am not yet sure I can finish all four samples up within the next 2 weeks.


I used to have way too many perfume samples (and full sized products), so I am using them up at the moment. I probably will not need to buy any perfume or scented body mists for another 18 to 24 months, it is that bad!

I am working on a deluxe size sample of Elie Saab's Le Parfum, which is a nice every day scent. I am also working on a sample of Nest Fine Fragrances' White Sandalwood, which is a more earthy, spicy scent. The latter will not appeal to everyone, but I like it.

So, this is what I will be choosing from in the upcoming two weeks. I hope you liked the little peak inside my bathroom!

Sunday, September 13, 2015

On beauty and cruelty-free brands

As I mentioned in my recent blog post on this renewed attempt to start my blog again, I am going to incorporate some more beauty-related blog posts. I have been a bit of a makeup junkie for years now, and it has taken a toll on my makeup collection. I have a ton of beauty-related products, and I would like to actually work on downsizing. As my friends who live close-by do not like makeup as much as I do, I cannot just give them the products that I doubt I will be able to finish in a reasonable amount of time, so this let me to a little bit of a conclusion in around April. I have been doing project pans since then.

If you don't know what a project pan is, let me quickly summarize the idea behind it: You pick out a certain number of items that you want to focus on either finishing or hitting pan (that means you would see the bottom of the product packaging, which for the most part is a metal or aluminium pan). You may set a time limit to make it less stressful and go with whatever progress you made during this time or you keep going until you have reached your goal for all these products in your project.

For me, I have been doing quite well, if I may say so myself. I have managed to set reasonable goals for myself and was never too frustrated with the products I chose to pan. The only tiny disappointment was a project I had started a while ago where I tried to finish a few nail polishes. I love my nail polish, but sadly, I have a lot, and as I found out recently, not taking any breaks in between applications takes a toll on my nails. They began to chip like crazy, which I do not appreciate. But I digress!

Now, in my attempt to learn more about makeup, animal testing came up again and again, and it was frequently linked with somewhat misleading pictures of animals wearing makeup, including nail polish. Sadly, this is so far from the truth, it pains me to think about this. In fact, the procedures to test makeup and ingredients on animals are so cruel I just wanted to throw up. I cannot understand the reasoning behind this, not in the 21st century when there are many more reliable and affordable options are available to companies to make sure a product is safe for the use on a person's skin. For one, animals are different from us, and quite a bit at that. This means that the results gained from animal testing cannot securely guarantee that a product that did not cause harm on an animal in these tests will not cause harm on a person. So for me, I do not see the point. And secondly, I think about which brands use animal testing. The big names pop up as being not cruelty-free - like L'Oréal, Shiseido, and all these companies certainly have revenues that are big. There should not be an argument there really. If you look at companies that do not test on animals, you can find some of the bigger names, that is certain, however, you can also find names of brands such as Flower Beauty (Drew Barrymore's brand, which is a drugstore brand and very affordable), or wet'n'wild, another drugstore brand that is very affordable. Both these companies I named as examples likely do not have revenues as big as L'Oréal and Shiseido, yet they actively chose not to test on animals. Why? Because testing without causing harm to animals is not expensive (which is something people frequently assume)!

For me, this information has led to a simple conclusion. I want to go cruelty-free with my makeup and my makeup collection. As I have mentioned before, I have a larger collection, especially for someone who does not earn a living with makeup. I am also a student, so every money spent is money I earned working on the side, adding hours to my already full schedule. Naturally, I do not want to just trash makeup I have spent money on. That would be wasteful. So my plan in short is the following:

I will use up the products I have already started using. I will do this by doing project pans, but also by just using them as I go along. While doing this, I hope to find good dupes that are in fact cruelty-free to replace these items - be it the color or the consistency.

If a product is new or almost new, I will try to find a good home for it. Just because I have decided to go cruelty-free with my makeup does not mean that others have to. It is up to them.

While I will still be using (up) these products that are not cruelty-free, I will only buy cruelty-free from now on. This does not mean I will not make mistakes. I am, after all, only human, and I know that this is very much a learning curve, just as taking on a healthy lifestyle or learning a new language have learning curves that come with mistakes we make.

If you are looking for sources on cruelty-free beauty products, you can check out the following resources, just keep in mind this is a list for the very first steps and there is much more out there!

Logical Harmony
Taschina Combs is the amazing woman behind this blog. She maintains a very reliable list of cruelty-free - and vegan - brands. She is frequently cited to be the most reliable list, and she talks to each company asking detailed questions before she adds them on her lists and she really stays on top of things.

Leticia of xoLoveLeti
Leticia has a great YouTube channel where she frequently posts about new cruelty-free and vegan beauty products and other areas. She is a very energetic person that just draws you in with her positive attitude. She is also the founder of a Facebook group Bunny Lifestyle: A Cruelty-Free Community, where people from all over the place chat and help each other out.

This blog is run by Phyrra, a colorful (you'll get it when you click the link!), wonderful person. As a fellow pale girl, I appreciate her foundation posts and reviews a lot, and in general her knowledge about all things beauty has quickly made her blog a must read for me.

Like I said, this is really just a short list of places to start. You can find many more resources checking out links you find on these websites or by simply researching the topic some more. Nonetheless, these are the links that were a starting point for me and that I use on a regular basis when I am looking for something before I venture out.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

[Review] Taming Her Navy Doc by Amy Ruttan

Amy Ruttan
Taming Her Navy Doc

You can buy it here:
Taming Her Navy Doc (Amazon hardcover)
Taming Her Navy Doc (Amazon eBook)

FTC: I received an eARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Summary (via Netgalley):
The one woman to tame him…

Finally the injured navy SEAL who had once been brought to surgeon Erica Griffin in the dead of night has a name: Captain Thorne Wilder—her new commanding officer! Five years later he's just as gorgeous as Erica remembers…but now he's totally off-limits!

Thorne has been left damaged, brooding and untamable after the loss of his dreams—and beautiful Erica is an unwanted complication! She might be as wary of relationships as he is, but fighting temptation will be the biggest battle of all…

My thoughts:
Oh wow! This was one swoon-worthy romance novel! I went in not expecting much. I was simply hoping for a pick me up, feel good story in between my sometimes hard to read university literature, and here I am, still unsure as to how to best describe how much I enjoyed this story.

I am still not sure why our heroine, Erica, constantly butchered sayings like "don't judge a book by its cover". Other than that, she did not have any problems with English, and she did not even come from a different country (speaking a number of languages, I can say that yes, frequently those sayings do not translate well). This really distracted and confused me, but it was not so bad that I would not continue reading, it was simply a mild stumble every time it happened.

In general, however, this was one wonderful love story. I liked how Thorne was torn between having Erica, the surgeon who took his leg, as his second in command, while still liking her - even more so once he got to know her than before when she was a mere memory from the hazy minutes or maybe hours he was in her care. It felt very realistic how he did not know what to feel regarding Erica.

And then there is our heroine, Erica. She did not have an easy life, so I understand how she focused on her career. I just wanted to hug her frequently, and I do not often feel like I can relate to a character whose life has nothing in common with mine.

I will definitely check out more of Ruttan's novels when the semester is over and I do not have to deal with a big stack of literature anymore. (Oops, as soon as the semester is over, I should work on my master's thesis, I suppose?!)

I am incredibly happy I chose this romance novel. Amy Ruttan truly delivered here and I am happy I was given the opportunity to review "Taming Her Navy Doc".


Another attempt?

Hi everyone,

So, I am not the best of bloggers these past three years. And I am really sorry about that. It was definitely not intentional, but life just happened and still happens - and when family or university call, they definitely are high up on my list of priorities. During this time I have taken all the classes I still needed to take in order to register for my final exams and my thesis, and this is where I am now. I am in the middle of writing my thesis in a field that is relatively new and on a topic that has not been researched all that much yet. This means I am busy, busy, busy with attaining test subjects, reading up on how to do case studies - which I have never done before - and all the little details this entails. It also means I have a lot of fun doing something I truly enjoy, but in the end, it is still work that needs to be done within a certain time frame, and so I am busy with it for the most part.

For blogging, I have decided that I want to get back into it at least to some degree. However, for me this means I will blog whenever I have read a book, which realistically may not happen regulary. So far for this year I am working on my 24th book of the year. In the past, this would have been nothing for me! I was reading 100 books per year, no doubt about it, but at the moment, this just is not happening. It is sad, but I do realize that I spend so much time doing other things that are also necessary, so I am okay with it. I will post book reviews whenever I have something to actually talk about, but I will also try to keep you in the loop with what I am reading. This means that I will not have a real schedule, but work with what I have. For today, I have a review scheduled, actually. It will go up later today and I can tell you already that it was a book I truly enjoyed!

Also, to get a bit more content on here, I will make my works come true. I have had a crush on beauty-related items for years, and I have kept it under covers because I felt odd talking about it. I learned about makeup relatively late in life and almost everything I know I had to figure out on my own / with the help of the internet. That means I really am doing things how I feel they should work. Nonetheless, I am a bit of a researcher here, so I know what to look out for to work with my skin - and especially my ever so pale skintone! So, I will add in posts about this aspect of my life here and there as well. I hope you bare with me there. It would be nice to go on this journey with you!

Love, Kat

Sunday, January 11, 2015

[Review] The Girl in the Clockwork Collar by Kady Cross

Kady Cross
The Girl in the Clockwork Collar
[Steampunk YA]

You can buy it here:
The Girl in the Clockwork Collar (Amazon paperback)
The Girl in the Clockwork Collar (Amazon eBook)

FTC: I received an eARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Summary: (via Netgalley)
What happens when someone you love becomes a weapon to use against you...

In New York City, 1897, life has never been more thrilling - or dangerous.

Sixteen-year-old Finley Jayne and her “straynge band of mysfits” have journeyed from London to America to rescue their friend Jasper, hauled off by bounty hunters. But Jasper is in the clutches of a devious former friend demanding a trade — the dangerous device Jasper stole from him... for the life of the girl Jasper loves.

One false move from Jasper and the strange clockwork collar around Mei’s neck tightens. And tightens.

From the rough streets of lower Manhattan to elegant Fifth Avenue, the motley crew of teens with supernatural abilities is on Jasper’s elusive trail. And they’re about to discover how far they’ll go for friendship.

More than ever, Finley Jayne will rely on powerful English duke Griffin King to balance her dark magic with her good side. Yet Griffin is at war with himself over his secret attraction to Finley...and will risk his life and reputation to save her. Sam, more machine than man, finds his moody heart tested by Irish lass Emily — whose own special abilities are no match for the darkness she discovers on the streets.

Now, to help those she’s come to care for so deeply, Finley Jayne must infiltrate a criminal gang. Only problem is, she might like the dark side a little too much...

My thoughts:
Let me get one thing out of the way: I love this series! I was reading The Girl in the Clockwork Collar on a university day and boy was I annoyed when my Kindle ran out of battery. I did not have all that many pages left and there the battery dies in the middle of a thrilling and suspenseful part. Oh my! I was very anxious to get home that day!

Finley is such a strong heroine, and this feeling did not let up in the least in this second book. She remains amiable, yet she kicks butt. She does not need the male characters to survive in a hard world, but she also does not push them away. In short, Finley rocks!

Seeing the friends in new waters was very interesting as they had to get used to new sets of rules in New York society. The characters' relationships with each other are ever evolving and kept me entertained. Their interactions remain fun in this installment and you will not be disappointed, however, the end may be a tad bit too obvious. This, however is my only complaint. Young Adult novels need stronger female leads and a broader cast, which Kady Cross sure delivered. As for me, I cannot wait to read The Girl with the Iron Touch, the next installment in this series.


Thursday, January 01, 2015

2014 in review

And here it is, New Year's Eve! Another year is ending and I have been a bit remiss with my reading - and everything really. However, let me review the year, because it has not been bad really. It was just very, very busy.

My year in general was really good. It was also so incredibly busy! I am still studying and I have a toddler who started walking rather early (in May, at 9.5 months).

I spent a good chunk of my time between May and July walking around with a bent back, as he wanted (not necessarily needed) company on all his adventures. My back is now slowly recovering, but I'm still busy chasing him because he loves to run all over the place and make the biggest mess possible. To give you a tiny idea: As I am typing this, he is tearing up a a leaflet and throws each piece on the floor. As fast as the walking came, teeth-wise, we're currently at 5, so there's still a lot waiting to happen. He has been in daycare for four months and loves it a lot. There are days he will come say hello when we get there to pick him up at around noon and then he will disappear again to play some more. It is great to see him interact with other kids and he is in general a happier kid. For him, it is different to play at daycare versus home, where he is the only one under 25 (the cat excluded). At now 17 months, he is slowly learning to speak, but it's just a word here or there, which is quite natural for a child growing up bilingual. What I have noticed, however, is that he will say words either in one or the other language. Hello is the only word he says in both languages, but they are so close to each other, it might just be a coincidence. Much more fun was his first word, the German word for light! It is not an easy word to day with the German "ch" sound. His first English word was kitty. Now, you can guess whom he loves (and maybe, what that poor thing has to endure, as a toddler's affectionate behavior is not always gentle!). As this is mostly a bookish blog, let me end this on a suitable note: My son looooooves books! He hates having his diaper changed (laying down? blech!), but give him a book and most likely he is happy. He also loves to look at books (at his pace, skipping pages, and going back and forth). He received a stack of books (ten, I believe?!) for Christmas and we keep them in a separate stack in the kitchen which is the place where we all get together during the day. He frequently runs up to that stack, pulls out a book and brings it back so one of us reads it to him.

Now, I'm also still a student, even though it's slowly, but certainly coming to an end. After the upcoming summer semester it should be all exams and "big paper" aka masters thesis for me. Yikes! I took a bunch of classes this year and I am slowly but certainly working on finishing everything. The current semester ends in February and I have to finish two papers in January and another one between February and March. Additionally, I have an exam in Spanish, and two (??) presentations. I am having so much fun at the moment. It is not always easy, juggling a toddler and university, but it is well worth it. With all the papers I have to work on getting a good, manageable schedule together, so that I will finish both ideally with some time left.

Luckily, this year I also got acquainted with the broad planner enthusiast and planning community online. I have used books and the likes to write down tasks, appointments etc in the past, but with technology taking over, I moved there and it was a red hot mess for me. I cannot plan using technology and I lose track of appointments and tasks so fast! I am now back using paper and I am happy with it. I did not touch my planner for the past week and a half (I was sick and then, you know, the holidays happened!), but I will be back with it after the upcoming weekend.

Now, on to the main show: Books!
I read a whooping 34 books in 2014! Am I good or what? Pardon the sarcasm here! I used to read over 100 books per year, you know, so...
Broken up by my rating that means nine books received five stars, 19 books received four stars, I read three books that I rated three stars, one book received two stars and two books I did not finish.

The ratings make my Top Ten rather easy..(The following list is in no particular order!)

1) The Inimitable Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse is a great classic, a short story collection and a lough-out-loud read! Some of you may know the TV show starring Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry. This is the original, and I can tell you the show sticks very close to the original. I love those stories and my goal is to read them all by 2016.

2) Exclusively Yours by Shannon Stacey is a sweet romance with lovers who are reunited. I loved how the MCs were thrown in a situation and had to make the best of it. I loved the jokes and I enjoyed how the minor characters were introduced (there are more installments in this series!).

3) Something Like Normal by Trish Doller is a wonderful story with less than perfect characters that are nonetheless loveable! This is not a sweet love story, let me tell you this, but you really want to read this!

4) Pawn by Aimée Carter is a great dystopian novel! Kitty lives in a world where everyone studies to pass one test that determines it all. Their future depends on it as you will have a job based off your score. Unfortuately, she has a learning disability, so her test does not show her results to its fullest. She is offered a way out by standing in for a member of the country's wealthiest family. Along with the latter choice comes intrigue, backstabbing and mystery (and it's the first in a short series)!

5) Rescue my Heart by Jill Shalvis - what can I say? I looooove Jill Shalvis. She is one of the few auto-buy authors for me. Her romance novels are not just adorable, but her writing transports me right to the towns the stories are set in and there are so many laugh out loud moments! (Yes, it can get embarrassing when you read these books on public transport!)

6) Under the Mistletoe by Jill Shalvis is a novella by said favorite author. 'Nuffsaid!

It 7) Double Digit by Annabel Monaghan is the second installment in a series I absolutely love. Digit is the nickname of Farah, a math genius who first stumbled across a conspiracy that left her in the focus of a criminal mastermind (or lunatic - your choice here!). Digit is now in college and everything seems to be quiet. You probably have to suspend some disbelief with some aspects here, but I found this book to be laugh out loud hilarious and action-packed. Oh, and be prepared for some parental headshaking.

8) The Sketchnote Handbook by Mike Rohde is a non-fiction guide-style book that explains what sketchnotes are in detail and a number of sketchnoters all over the world hand out their tipps and advice in the form of sketchnotes. The idea behind a sketchnote is to gather all the information of a class, meeting etc in one sketchnote and to make it visual as most people remember visuals better.

9) Stronger Than You Know by Jolene Perry - oh wow, this was a rollercoaster ride book. Check out my review for the details, I cannot even begin to describe it in two sentences only!

10) Impostor by Susanne Winnacker was not rated all that high, but thinking back I have only fond memories of the book, so I believe it should be on here. And also, who can say no to Veronica Mars meets X-Men? Certainly not this girl here!

So, that's it, that was 2014 in a nutshell! Gee, I'm a tad bit sad it's 2015 already. How do you feel about 2014? Are you excited to leave it behind and have a "brandnew" start?

Happy New Year!

Wow, can you believe it? It is 2015! I'm sitting here after breakfast, my son is playing with the mega bloks he got for Christmas and we already read a Dr. Seuss book. I'm having a tea (a green tea called la dolce vita, the sweet life) and life is good. I hope you also had a sweet beginning for 2015.

Stevie woke up maybe 10, 15 minutes into the new year and he looooooved the fireworks. He was standing at the window with us saying 'boom, boom!' and 'more!' and his face! Oh I wish I could show you! He was so very, very happy and glowed! He is now 17 months old, so he really took it all in. In a way, I'm glad he got to see it as he loves light in all its forms, colors and shapes. (Unfortunately, that includes the small candle that keeps my tea warm - he keeps trying to blow at it...)

Now, it is a valued custom here to watch a short piece of comedy for the new year. You may know that everything here is dubbed, but this is the one exception. It is Dinner for One and you can just click on the link to watch it. I highly recommend it. It is not only a classic, it is a tiny piece of recent history and oh so funny! To give. You a quick backstory, Miss Sophie is celebrating her 90th birthday. She has survived all her dearest friends.

I wish you a wonderful 2015 filled with health, happiness and good books!

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Pages Read Challenge 2015

Whew, it has been a while since I hosted the Pages Read Challenge, but Book Dragon asked if I was hosting it again for 2015 and here we go! It is a fun challenge and I had a lot of fun with this in the past. This challenge was one of the easier ones, in my opinion, as all you had to do was count pages and the rules are not all that difficult.

Now, speaking of rules, here we go:

1) Pick a number of pages you'll be attempting to read in 2015. It doesn't matter whether your goal is 10,000 or 100,000. You can always up your number as we go along, so you don't need to go all up high with your page count.

2) Write a blog post about it in which you will keep track of your page count or come back here and comment with updates when you feel like it.

3) Comment here with your goal number and a link to your blog post (if you have a blog - otherwise, just leave a comment with your name and the goal number). I'll then add you to the list of participants below.

4) The challenge starts January 1, 2015 and ends December 31, 2015. Only pages read after the new year has begun count in for the challenge, but any and every page you read counts for this challenge. I don't care about re-reads, overlaps with other challenges, or e-books! Just count the pages you read, no matter what type of book you're reading :-) See, it's a really easy challenge!

5) As usual: Have fun!

Michelle @ True Book Addict had originally created a wonderful button for the challenge:

Thanks a lot once again, Michelle!

My personal goal will be 15,000 pages for the upcoming year. With a toddler and university, I think this will be challenging enough.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

The Book Riot 2015 Read Harder Challenge

The team of Book Riot has created a challenge I cannot resist: the Book Riot 2015 Read Harder Challenge There are 24 themes that we can spread out over the year whichever way we please and I think most of the themes will be manageable for me. The one theme I may have a real problem with is the collection of poetry. I do not like poetry and I don't have any collections of poetry on my shelves. A particularly hard part for me will the number of books. Twentyfour books for this challenge alone - if I don't find books that fulfill two themes - might end up being the majority of my reads for 2015 if my reading is as slacking as this year's (I only read 32 books so far).

Apart from the occasional check in on the Book Riot website, the hashtag #ReadHarder will connect readers on Social Media websites.

The topics are:

A book written by someone when they were under the age of 25

A book written by someone when they were over the age of 65

A collection of short stories (either by one person or an anthology by many people)

A book published by an indie press

A book by or about someone that identifies as LGBTQ

A book by a person whose gender is different from your own

A book that takes place in Asia

A book by an author from Africa

A book that is by or about someone from an indigenous culture (Native Americans, Aboriginals, etc.)

A microhistory

A YA novel

A sci-fi novel

A romance novel

A National Book Award, Man Booker Prize or Pulitzer Prize winner from the last decade

A book that is a retelling of a classic story (fairytale, Shakespearian play, classic novel, etc.)

An audiobook

A collection of poetry

A book that someone else has recommended to you

A book that was originally published in another language

A graphic novel, a graphic memoir or a collection of comics of any kind (Hi, have you met Panels?)

A book that you would consider a guilty pleasure (Read, and then realize that good entertainment is nothing to feel guilty over)

A book published before 1850

A book published this year

A self-improvement book (can be traditionally or non-traditionally considered “self-improvement”)

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