Monday, April 04, 2016

[Cover Reveal] You Before Anyone Else by Julie Cross & Mark Perini

So, my morning started with lots of fun when my son and the cat played with a necklace - and it tore... And hundreds of tiny beads were on the floor. And they still may be, because they are tiny, and you can hear them when you step on them, but that's it. Hard to see. It was annoying, but you know what? I don't care because - the cover above. It is absolutely beautiful, and I am thrilled to be able to show it to you. Don't you agree that this cover for You Before Anyone Else by Julie Cross and Mark Perini is absolutely gorgeous? Personally, I cannot wait to get my hands on it, but we still have to wait a few months. This gorgeous books will hit the shelf on August 2, 2016. Thanks so much to Sourcebooks!

And yes, Julie Cross and Mark Perini collaborated again, after last year's Halfway Perfect! This might be gold!

I'm so in love with the cover. The fonts used are sleek, but catch my eye, and the photo used. I like the colors, they just make me look at the cover for ever. But now for the story...

Summary (via Goodreads):
Model Finley needs someone to help her shed her "good girl" persona, so she'll try Eddie on for size.
New York City model Finley is fed up with hearing the same feedback at castings: she needs to take some serious action to wipe the "good girl" stamp from her resume if she wants to launch to stardom.
Enter Eddie Wells. He's shallow, predictable…and just as lost as Finley feels. Deep down, Finley is drawn to Eddie's bravado, his intensity. Except Eddie is hiding something. A big something. And when it surfaces, both loving and leaving Finley will become so much harder.

Saturday, April 02, 2016

[Review] Pawn by Aimee Carter

Aimee Carter: Pawn [YA dystopia]

You can buy this here via Amazon:

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

Summary (via Goodreads):
For Kitty Doe, it seems like an easy choice. She can either spend her life as a III in misery, looked down upon by the higher ranks and forced to leave the people she loves, or she can become a VII and join the most powerful family in the country.
If she says yes, Kitty will be Masked—surgically transformed into Lila Hart, the Prime Minister's niece, who died under mysterious circumstances. As a member of the Hart family, she will be famous. She will be adored. And for the first time, she will matter.
There's only one catch. She must also stop the rebellion that Lila secretly fostered, the same one that got her killed …and one Kitty believes in. Faced with threats, conspiracies and a life that's not her own, she must decide which path to choose—and learn how to become more than a pawn in a twisted game she's only beginning to understand.

My thoughts:
This first book in the Blackcoat Rebellion series was absolutely thrilling! Kitty has a choice - live as a III as due to her dyslexia, she did not score well, and live in misery at the bottom of society, or be transformed into the Prime Minister's niece and live at the top of society as part of -the most powerful family. Lila Hart, the Prime Minister's niece died and she needs to be replaced. Due to her physical appearance, Kitty is a good choice to be transformed into Lila. What Kitty does not know is that Lila was at the head of the Blackcoat Rebellion, trying to bring down the class system and toppling her own family off their "throne". Kitty's job as LIla's replacement would not only be to pretend she is Lila, but to also bring down the Blackcoat Rebellion. This novel has some amazing storytelling and character building. The world Aimée Carter built comes to live and Kitty jumps off the pages. Her dilemma is described vividly, and it is wonderful to see how each character changes and reveals their true faces after time. This is certainly a series I need to continue reading. to find out how Kitty and her friends continue on.


Monday, October 19, 2015

Dewey's Readathon - Final update...

Can you believe it is over? I read all day yesterday still to finish up my book - and I made it! Yay! I have not finished a book within 2 days in I don't know how long. Barbara AllaN's Antiques Swap was a great choice, although it was not on my original list. I had fun reading it and once I have recovered, I will post a review. A slight hint: I definitely recommend it! /5

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Dewey's Readathon Check in #3 and late Mid-Event Survey

1. What are you reading right now?
I am still reading Barbara Allan's Antiques Swap and I enjoy it.

2. How many books have you read so far?
I am still working on the first book. Toddler, being sick and all that...

3. What book are you most looking forward to for the second half of the Read-a-thon?
I just want to make a dent into my current book...

4. Have you had many interruptions? How did you deal with those?
Yes, of course! I just live with them and read whenever I can. Honestly, I don't remember when I last read as much on a weekend as I have read during the readathon. I would say I'm doing ok.

5. What surprises you most about the Read-a-thon, so far?
That I actually get some reading done. So far, I am at about an hour...

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Dewey's Readathon Check in #2

Well, we are about half-way through Dewey's Readathon and my eyes just want to fall shut. I will head on over to bed and read a bit before I fall asleep for sure. I will be back tomorrow, however! I am still working on Barbara Allan's Antiques Swap and I still enjoy it very much.

Dewey's 24 Hour Readathon - Check in #1 and Intro Meme

1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today?
I'm reading in Germany, near Frankfurt.

2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to?
Hm, that's a tough one. I chose all books because I kinda want to read them sooner rather than later!

3) Which snack are you most looking forward to?
Nothing in particular. I have had a pizza so far and a slice of bread. Also, I may or may not have made a chocolate chip cookie in a mug...

4) Tell us a little something about yourself!
I'm in my 30s, working on my thesis and both my toddler and I are sick. This will make for a fun readathon, especially because we both napped for like 2+ hours already and some Big Bang Theory was necessary... The reading part is not going too well so far. I have, however, read a good part of Barbara Allan's Antiques Swap, the 9th in her Trash 'n' Treasures series (it's hilarious!). I have read for maybe 30 minutes so far, though, so this will be a relatively uneventful readathon with not a lot of books finished (if any).

5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today? If this is your first read-a-thon, what are you most looking forward to?
I have not participated in the last readathon, but I have participated in the past. The biggest challenge for me really is to take care of the toddler and play with him while getting a bit of reading done. It is tough and I still haven't figured out how to do it. Any tips and tricks are certainly welcome!!!

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Dewey's 24 Hour Readathon - plan of action

It is that time of the year again! I at first did not want to commit to anything, but I am actually going to. I want to at least try and see how far I could get with everything, having a toddler and all that. But wait, what am I talking about ? Dewey's 24 Hour Readathon, of course!

I have participated in the past, I have spent the majority of the night up and awake, and I have read a good number of pages. I doubt it will be anywhere near past experiences this time (in part because I never know for sure if I will actually fall asleep when I take the toddler to bed). But I will try, and no matter what happens, I will be happy...

Naturally, I decided to make a list of books I am putting on a stack specifically for the readathon. It is relatively extensive, but that's just for the sake of having variety. So, without further ado, here it is:

Jane Austen: Pride and Prejudice
William Shakespeare: The Merchant of Venice
Jill Shalvis: It Had To Be You
Jilliane Hoffman: Plea of Insanity
Bill Willingham & Mark Buckingham: Fables 4

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.

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