This past month has been super busy and with Thanksgiving last week, December snuck up on me. Because of that, I don't have the time (or energy really) to get a full favorites post together. I promise I will have a better one next month. Either way, I still wanted to do a bit of a round-up of what books I read in November, as well as which was my favorite read. I am also hoping to get a Black Friday Haul up sometime next week (fingers crossed).

Books I read in November

When All The Girls Have Gone By: Jayne Ann Krentz (Review)
A Million Worlds With You (Firebird 3) By: Claudia Gray
A Gentleman in Moscow By: Amor Towles
The Boys is Back By: Meg Cabot
The Magnolia Story By Chip & Joann Gaines
Love Alice By:
Barbara Davis (Review)

This month was probably my slowest reading month of the year. I wasn't in a slump, but a lot of the books I was reading were a bit slower to read and took me more time. My pace this month slowed down a bit between the types of books I was reading and being super busy.
While I definitely have my favorite (which you will see below) I wanted to take a minute to talk about A Gentleman in Moscow. When I was reading it/shortly after, I didn't think I enjoyed the book that much. It was a slow slow read and I think ti wore me out a bit. However, a few weeks later I feel like the story has really grown on me. I have a lot more fond memories of it and feel more apt to recommend it than I would have immediately after reading it. In short, I'm not counting it as my favorite because it wasn't immediately after reading, but I still highly recommend it.
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Favorite Book I read This Month: A Million Worlds WIth You is the final book in the Firebird Trilogy. I have loved reading this trilogy and was nervous about the final book coming out. So often lately it seems like the third book in a trilogy departs from the original story and what I fell in love with. This one does not and I can't recommend the series as a whole enough. It is so much fun and I am so pleased with it.

 
 
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By: Barbara Davis
Published Year: 2016
Publisher: Berkley
Pages: 432

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I received a copy of this book in exchange for review. This in no way shape or form influenced my opinion.

Summary (Provided by Goodreads): A year ago, Dovie Larkin’s life was shattered when her fiancé committed suicide just weeks before their wedding. Now, plagued by guilt, she has become a fixture at the cemetery where William is buried, visiting his grave daily, waiting for answers she knows will never come.

Then one day, she sees an old woman whose grief mirrors her own. Fascinated, she watches the woman leave a letter on a nearby grave. Dovie ignores her conscience and reads the letter—a mother’s plea for forgiveness to her dead daughter—and immediately needs to know the rest of the story.

As she delves deeper, a collection of letters from the cemetery’s lost and found begins to unravel a decades-old mystery involving one of Charleston’s wealthiest families. But even as Dovie seeks to answer questions about another woman’s past—questions filled with deception, betrayal, and heartbreaking loss—she starts to discover the keys to love, forgiveness, and finally embracing the future…
                       
                                                                 First Impressions


The cover is pretty and I would definitely pick it up off the shelf. The summary held my interest as it sounded like a unique love story. I enjoy stories where the past and the present intertwine in similar ways so I was excited to read this book.

                                                                                            What I thought

I wanted o like this book more but it was a little too predictable.

Alice is a young woman from Cornwall England in the 1960s that is pregnant with a dead man’s baby. Her mother doesn’t want her to deal with the stigma of being an unwed mother and ships her off to a convent where she will have the baby and then the baby will be taken away. Dovie is a woman in 2005 who is grieving the loss of her fiancé who killed himself a few weeks before their wedding. While mourning him at the cemetery, she notices an old woman putting a letter down at a grave. She decides to pick up the letter and read it, and from there becomes involved in Alice’s story.

The journey of Dovie was definitely the strongest aspect of this book. The person who she is at the beginning is vastly different from the person she is at the end and it was done in a very natural way. At the beginning of the story she is broken. Her fiancé William killed himself two weeks before their wedding and left no note. Now it’s a year later and she is still broken and asking herself why he did what he did. As her journey moves, she does eventually get her answer. I think this book does a nice job of showing someone who is grieving and showing that it’s ok to grieve to a certain point. The nuances of her grief and the grief of the other characters was well written and had some very interesting perspectives.

For me, the weakest part of this book was what was supposed to be a love story. It’s obvious from the beginning that Austin and Dovie are meant to get together. However, the only thing that they seem to have in common is that they think the other one is attractive. There is no connection between them and I honestly couldn’t understand what made them be in love. They have maybe one conversation that is deep and meaningful, but immediately they then try to be a couple and then Austin blows up and decides he can’t or else he’ll wreck her. This happens multiple times. It was very hard to get behind a couple who seemed so wrong for each other.

While the ending to Alice’s tory was obvious, it was the most enjoyable storyline. I liked learning about Alice’s journey even though it reminded me of the movie Philomena. She gives up her baby who is then adopted by a rich couple in America and then eventually follows to America in hopes of finding her baby. It was heartbreaking to hear what she went through at the convent and I wished that she had found a happy ending.

The story is well written, and even though it was predictable it was engaging. In fact, if the writing wasn’t so strong, I would not have rated this book so high as the story itself isn’t that unique. I connected to the characters enough that I wanted to see how their stories played out. If you enjoy stories like these, where two people have different lives and yet they intersect, I would recommend this book. It would be an interesting book club choice because there are a lot of choices that need to be made but different characters which would allow for a lot of discussion.

 
 
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By: Jayne Ann Krentz
Published Year: 2016
Publisher: Berkley
Pages: 204

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I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This in no way shape or form influenced my opinion.

Summary (Provided by Goodreads): When Charlotte Sawyer is unable to contact her step-sister, Jocelyn, to tell her that one her closest friends was found dead, she discovers that Jocelyn has vanished.

Beautiful, brilliant—and reckless—Jocelyn has gone off the grid before, but never like this. In a desperate effort to find her, Charlotte joins forces with Max Cutler, a struggling PI who recently moved to Seattle after his previous career as a criminal profiler went down in flames—literally. Burned out, divorced and almost broke, Max needs the job.

After surviving a near-fatal attack, Charlotte and Max turn to Jocelyn’s closest friends, women in a Seattle-based online investment club, for answers. But what they find is chilling…

When her uneasy alliance with Max turns into a full-blown affair, Charlotte has no choice but to trust him with her life. For the shadows of Jocelyn’s past are threatening to consume her—and anyone else who gets in their way...

                                                                          First Impressions

This cover looked interesting. It looked like it would be a creepy mystery which was what I was constantly in the mood to read in October/November. I would've picked it up off the shelves to read it if I had seen it in the library for sure.

                                                                            What I thought

I don’t know if it’s me or what, but I keep getting stuck with what I think is a mystery  but is more of a romance novel based around a mystery. When this is not what you’re expecting, it’s extremely disappointing.

Charlotte works in a retirement home near her step-sister, Jocelyn, who is currently attending a month long tech-free retreat. When Jocelyn’s friend turns up murdered, Charlotte heads to her friend’s apartment after she saw a mysterious letter at Jocelyn’s house from said friend. At the apartment, she runs into Max Cutler, the private investigator hired to look into the murder. From there, they essentially become partners and work together to figure out what is going on.

This book just bored me. It was super predictable and the chemistry between Charlotte and Max was terrible. In their first scene together, Charlotte walks into the lobby and Max’s immediate thoughts are “I can’t allow this woman to hire me because I’m attracted to her and I can’t sleep with a client.” Then immediately, Charlotte, who has issues with men, somehow forgets them and falls in love with Max. it was so unrealistic and frustrating.

I liked Charlotte at first when she was a single girl who was recently dumped by her fiancé and working in a retirement home. This is only Charlotte for the first few chapters of the book. As soon as she meets Max she forgets her past and forgets her job, essentially becoming his partner and solving the crowd. There is no mention of her job until she is back there at least halfway through the book.

There is also a whole subplot about Jocelyn and her friends and I feel like if this had been told from Jocelyn’s point of view, that plot would have been interesting and made this book a bit more intriguing. However, it just ads more confusion and more holes as Charlotte doesn’t understand what her step-sister is a part of or how it is connected to anything. And Max just magically knows what is going to happen because he is good at finding “patterns”, seemingly without evidence.

In the end, neither character was fleshed out well and it seemed like the killer was so random. Like his escalation and how he found who he was going to kill had so many holes and I could not connect. I knew what was going to happen and just kept reading it to get to those points. It was not a page turner in any sense of the word.


Don’t bother with this book. It is neither a good mystery nor a good romance. While it wasn’t horrible (meaning I was able to finish it and was interested at least a part of the time), I would not recommend this book. It was hard for me to write this review because I hate to write negative ones, but I can’t find much else to say.

 
 
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By: Jenny Han & Siobhan Vivian
Published Year: 2012
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Pages: 356

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Summary (Provided by Goodreads): Postcard-perfect Jar Island is home to charming tourist shops, pristine beaches, amazing oceanfront homes—and three girls secretly plotting revenge.

KAT is sick and tired of being bullied by her former best friend.

LILLIA has always looked out for her little sister, so when she discovers that one of her guy friends has been secretly hooking up with her, she’s going to put a stop to it.

MARY is perpetually haunted by a traumatic event from years past, and the boy who’s responsible has yet to get what’s coming to him.

None of the girls can act on their revenge fantasies alone without being suspected. But together…anything is possible.

With an alliance in place, there will be no more “I wish I’d said…” or “If I could go back and do things differently...” These girls will show Jar Island that revenge is a dish best enjoyed together.

                                                                         First Impressions

I heard about this book at BookCon when I went to a discussion with Jenny Han, Siobhan Vivian, and Morgan Matson. One of my friends then saw that the Simon & Schuster booth was giving away the first book, so she grabbed it and gave it to me. The cover is a bit cheesy, but I think if I was in high school I definitely would’ve picked it up at the library based on the cover alone. The description interested me because the story is about three girls getting revenge in high school, which is a little different than the typical main characters I read about.

                                                                          What I thought

I wish I had the next one!

Burn for Burn is the first book in a trilogy about three high school girls, Lillia, Kat, and Mary, who aren’t friends, but become accomplices when they decide to get revenge on some of their classmates. Lillia, is one of the popular girls but finds out that Alex, who she thought was her friend, has been hiding something from her. Kat, used to be best friends with Rennie (the most popular girl in school) until Rennie ditched her and continued to spread lies about Kat throughout high school. Finally, Mary has returned to the island after 5 years to show Reeve that what he did to her in seventh grade didn’t keep her down.

Han and Vivian write some really great mean girl characters. Rennie is so unlikeable and it makes the book a bit easier to handle. She isn’t a mean girl who has many, if any, redeeming qualities that make you feel bad for her. I think that this is important in this type of story because it helps you not hate the main characters but understand where they’re coming from.

Kat, Lillia, and Mary decide to seek revenge on their three classmates, and the revenge goes from pretty innocent to dangerous. I was a bit surprised how quickly things escalated, but I understand that emotions can escalate quickly in high school.

I don’t think I would necessarily say I like any of the characters in the story, but I think Han and Vivian did a great job at making the reader take side of Kat, Lillia, and Mary. It’s always been hard for me to understand why people who hate each other stay friends, so I didn’t quite understand the Lillia and Rennie relationship, but I get that it is a reality of high school so I was able to move past it.

I also appreciated that there was more to these revenge schemes than petty high school issues. If the reasons behind seeking revenge were petty, the story would’ve gotten annoying pretty quickly. However, the issues go a lot deeper than just one girl stealing another girl’s boyfriend or wearing the same outfit on the same day.

The only issue I had was there is kind of some paranormal stuff going on? I was a bit confused and didn’t quite understand it, or why it was a part of the story. For example, towards the beginning of the story, Mary calls out to Reeve, hoping that he will see her but then all the locker doors slam shut at once. Immediately, Mary starts to wonder if she was the one that caused the locker doors to slam. I definitely did not understand the jump in Mary’s mind and this issue was never directly addressed.


This is an interesting contemporary YA with a bit of a twist. Han and Vivian did a great job at making this story a page turner. I finished this book in less than 24 hours because I needed to know what was going to happen next! How were they going to seek revenge on Alex? What about Reeve and Rennie? Were they going to be satisfied? If you enjoy YA, I would definitely recommend checking this book out. I am really excited to read the next two books in the series and find out exactly how everything wraps up.

 
 
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By: Erin L. Schneider
Published Year: 2016
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Pages: 304

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Summary (Provided by Goodreads): Warm Hawaiian sun. Lazy beach days. Flirty texts with her boyfriend back in Seattle.

These are the things seventeen-year-old Sloane McIntyre pictured when she imagined the summer she’d be spending at her mom’s home in Hawaii with her twin brother, Penn. Instead, after learning an unthinkable secret about her boyfriend, Tyler, and best friend, Mick, all she has is a fractured hand and a completely shattered heart.

Once she arrives in Honolulu, though, Sloane hopes that Hawaii might just be the escape she needs. With beach bonfires, old friends, exotic food, and the wonders of a waterproof cast, there’s no reason Sloane shouldn’t enjoy her summer. And when she meets Finn McAllister, the handsome son of a hotel magnate who doesn’t always play by the rules, she knows he’s the perfect distraction from everything that’s so wrong back home.

But it turns out a measly ocean isn’t nearly enough to stop all the emails, texts, and voicemails from her ex-boyfriend and ex-best friend, desperate to explain away their betrayal. And as her casual connection with Finn grows deeper, Sloane’s carefree summer might not be as easy to find as she’d hoped. Weighing years of history with Mick and Tyler against their deception, and the delicate possibility of new love, Sloane must decide when to forgive, and when to live for herself.

                                                                                    First Impressions

How beautifully summery is cover? It screams Hawaii and summer and definitely caught my eye. I also first read the summary on the Debut Author’s Challenge. While I liked the summary, I was definitely persuaded to read it because it would count toward the challenge.

                                                                                      What I thought

Right before summer starts Sloane finds out that her best friend/other half is pregnant. Not only is she pregnant at 17, but the baby’s father is Sloane’s boyfriend. Luckily, Sloane’s mom lives in Hawaii and every summer Sloan and her twin brother Penn spend the summer with her. While in Hawaii, Sloane decides to take this summer to heal herself after the betrayal of the two most important people in her life.

If you are looking for drama, you will find it in this book. It is very drama packed but I didn’t think it was overdone (with the exception of a few events at the end).

Sloane is pretty awesome as a female character. Yes she is heartbroken and falls apart, but she manages to pick herself and find happiness. I think some people will be annoyed that her healing and happiness does seem dependent on having a boyfriend, but at the age of 17 I feel like that is pretty typical. I also enjoyed that in addition to the boyfriend, she had a good relationship with her brother and at least one other friend besides the one who slept with her boyfriend.

While Sloane does “use” a boy to find her happiness, she never completely forgets what happened. I feel like often in YA novels a problem like this can be brushed aside and overcome easily. I liked that throughout the entire book she struggled with her feelings towards her ex-friends. They tried to apologize and she ignored them and every time she did anger would resurface. It felt to me, very realistic and unlike anything I have read in a YA book.

My biggest qualm in this book is that it did read a bit like a debut book. What I mean by that is that there were a lot of ideas that just needed to be trimmed back a bit. I feel like with a lot of debut books the author has so many thoughts and good intentions for storylines but then they get carried away with the story and original storylines get lost. Specifically for Summer of Sloane the beginning of the novel to me had a different feel from the end. I could definitely tell the book brought the story one way, but I wish that then the beginning had been tweaked just a little bit to have the same feel.

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While I did have some issues with this story, I devoured this book! The pacing was wonderful and I found myself invested in Sloane and her story. I think that Schneider is going to get stronger and stronger as an author and I am looking forward to reading more from her! If you enjoy dramatic summer romances, pick up this book! Even though it is no longer summer, you will still enjoy it.

That Artsy Reader Girl
 
 
About 6 months ago, I picked My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry to read for book club. We all really enjoyed it and I felt like I had found a new favorite author. Because of how much we enjoyed that one, Denise picked his first novel A Man Called Ove for this month.

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By: Fredrik Backman
Published Year: 2014
Publisher: Atria Books
Pages: 337

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Summary (Provided by Goodreads): A grumpy yet loveable man finds his solitary world turned on its head when a boisterous young family moves in next door.

Meet Ove. He's a curmudgeon, the kind of man who points at people he dislikes as if they were burglars caught outside his bedroom window. He has staunch principles, strict routines, and a short fuse. People call him the bitter neighbor from hell, but must Ove be bitter just because he doesn't walk around with a smile plastered to his face all the time?

Behind the cranky exterior there is a story and a sadness. So when one November morning a chatty young couple with two chatty young daughters move in next door and accidentally flatten Ove's mailbox, it is the lead-in to a comical and heartwarming tale of unkempt cats, unexpected friendship, and the ancient art of backing up a U-Haul. All of which will change one cranky old man and a local residents' association to their very foundations.

                                                                                 What I thought

Ove is a 59 year old man (although presented as if he is older) who recently lost his wife and is trying to figure out how to live without her. He has never liked people but has always believed in doing what is right. When new neighbors move in, they start to influence his life in ways he never knew he wanted.

Ove is one of my favorite characters I’ve read in a while. He is the grumpiest man ever and it cracked me up. I picture him shuffling along grumbling to himself and then he sees someone not doing something write and just goes “idiot” before grabbing it and doing it himself. He could have ended up being annoying or frustrating, but because he truly has a good heart, he's just endearing. Ove is just a true person and he never has hidden motives to his actions. It was refreshing to read about a character who was unapologetically himself.

I really really enjoyed this book. Yet again, Backman does an amazing job with multiple characters. Even though Ove is the only one who you receive the perspective of, I felt like I got to know all of the secondary characters intimately. Backman writes stories about how lives can influence other lives and he does it so well. These seemingly ordinary moments become influential and life changing. This book was humorous and touching, a balance that Backman manages well in his writing.

                                                                      What Book Club Thought

For the most part everyone enjoyed this book. One topic of discussion that came up was how suicide was incorporated into the story. Ove attempts suicide multiple times throughout the book and it almost becomes a bit of a joke. One of the book club members was uneasy about this choice of storyline. I found it interesting because until she mentioned it, I didn’t realize that I had almost started skimming those parts going “yeah, yeah, how is it going to fail this time?”  I wasn’t offended by the off handed way that suicide was written about or dealt with in this book, but I could see how someone might be. Either way, this whole story made for an interesting discussion and I would highly recommend it for a book club read.

December Book: Talking As Fast As I Can: From Gilmore Girls to Gilmore Girls, and Everything in Between By: Lauren Graham

Book Club Date: December 11 2016


 
 
Books

Little Boy Blue By: M.J Aldridge (Review)

Kids of Appetite By: David Arnold (Review)

Faithful By: Alice Hoffman (Review)

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets By: J.K. Rowling

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban By: J.K. Rowling

A Tragic Kind of Wonderful By: Eric Lindstrom

The Angel’s Share By: J.R. Ward

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire By: J.K. Rowling

What Light By: Jay Asher

A Man Called Ove By: Fredrik Backman

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Favorite Book I Read This Month: Excluding the Harry Potter books which will always be my favorite, I think my favorite read this month was A Man Called Ove. His character is one of my favorites and Backman’s writing is solid yet again in this unique story. If you haven’t read any of Backman’s books yet you need to start!









Beauty


I had a few old favorites that I rediscovered, specifically the Sunday Riley Good Genes serum. I forgot how much my skin likes this product. Considering how expensive it is, it’s one of those products that you feel like you better see results, and this one follows through. I’m still working my way through a sample that I received, but if I continue to see results I might splurge and treat myself for the holidays.


Buys

Harry Potter

This month I bought the illustrated copy of Chamber of Secrets, and as an anniversary present I received the full hardback set of the UK books. All of the new Harry Potter’s that I accumulated this month are beautiful! I love them and I love that I got them in time for my re-read that I’m currently completing.

Miscellaneous

Pitch

I know it’s only a few episodes in, but this show is so good! I would never consider myself a baseball fan, so I was a little apprehensive about giving this show a short. After watching This is Us and knowing that Pitch is written by the same person, I decided to give it a shot and it is great! The writing is so strong and the actors are great. Mark-Paul Gosselaar is so solid in this show. I love absolutely everything.

I know it’s a bit of a short favorites this month, but it’s been a bit busy and with the holiday season coming up, I’ve been trying not to spend much.

 

Faithful

10/28/2016

1 Comment

 
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By: Alice Hoffman
Published Year: 2016
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Pages: 272

This book was given to me in exchange for an honest review. This in no way shape or form influenced my opinion.

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Summary (Provided by Goodreads): Growing up on Long Island, Shelby Richmond is an ordinary girl until one night an extraordinary tragedy changes her fate. Her best friend’s future is destroyed in an accident, while Shelby walks away with the burden of guilt.

What happens when a life is turned inside out? When love is something so distant it may as well be a star in the sky? Faithful is the story of a survivor, filled with emotion—from dark suffering to true happiness—a moving portrait of a young woman finding her way in the modern world. A fan of Chinese food, dogs, bookstores, and men she should stay away from, Shelby has to fight her way back to her own future. In New York City she finds a circle of lost and found souls—including an angel who’s been watching over her ever since that fateful icy night.

                                                                               First Impressions

The cover is beautiful! This book first caught my eye on a list of books to keep your eye out for in 2016. Definitely a judge a book by a cover moment. The summary was intriguing so when I was offered a chance to review this book I took it!

                                                                                What I thought

I’m a bit speechless when it comes to what I thought of this book and maybe not in a good way?

At 17, Shelby got into a tragic car accident which caused her best friend to be in a coma and then practically braindead for years. Shelby got out of the accident physically unscathed but a completely broken person emotionally. Faithful picks up 2 years after the accident and follows Shelby over the next 10 years or so of her life.

I enjoyed the beginning of the book that showed how Shelby was dealing with her survivor’s guilt. I did not like the next portion where she moved out of her home town and was basically just getting by trying to figure out who she was. I then enjoyed the book again after that section of her life where she started to find who she was and who she wanted to be and come to terms with what happened. However, it was an extremely hard timeline to follow because there were times when I felt like years had passed but apparently it had only been a few months.

One of the biggest issues I had with this story was Helene, her friend who was in the accident with her. For some reason Hoffman decided to keep her alive instead of just having her die in the accident. Helene is then kept in her childhood bedroom as a vegetable. To make things worse, it somehow becomes believed that she can perform miracles which cause a constant parade of strangers through their home to see her. What??? I mean, really? This has no impact on the story that her death would not have been able to accomplish. The only reason I could see to keeping her alive is to have Helene’s body physically taunting Shelby.

For the most part I enjoyed watching Shelby’s progression from a broken 19 year old to a not quite as broken 29 year old. I wish we had gotten to see more of her as whole and happy, but maybe that’s not reality? It was hard to read about her not valuing herself, but I think that her journey could be beneficial to some readers. 

I also am so torn about the relationships that she has. I understand some of them but the final one then just seemed so unrealistic. I don’t want to say much because it would ruin it, but how they meet and who the guy ends up being just made me sigh and roll my eyes. For a book that felt like it was trying to be realistic, this moment absolutely wasn’t and it annoyed me.


Parts of this book were interesting and I was intrigued enough to keep reading and find out what happened to Shelby. She is not a likeable character and I didn’t agree with so many of her choices which made it a bit more difficult at times. I think this is one of those books that the longer it sits with me the more issues I find with it, but while I read it I didn’t find it to be terrible. In fact, I rated it three star upon finishing it. While it wasn’t a terrible story, I don’t think I’d recommend it. There’s nothing revelatory about it and there are a lot of other books who I think could do this story better.

 
 
Play! By Sephora is a monthly subscription box by Sephora. It costs $10 a month and you received 5 beauty and skincare samples plus a perfume sample each month. Previously, you needed to put yourself onto a wait-list and wait to receive an email before you could subscribe, as they were rolling it out to limited quantities.

In addition to the products, Sephora includes a booklet that includes information about the product, the brand, and then tips of how to use the products. Also at the back of the book is a Play! PASS. This Pass gives you a complimentary one-on-one session with a Sephora artist as well as an extra 50 Beauty Insider points when you scan the pass at the register with any purchase. If you have the Sephora app, you can also scan the images of the products to learn more about them.

Previously, everyone received the same exact box. They had a few months where they had two different boxes that went out, and this month it seems like they have a variety of different boxes that went out following their theme of The Cool Cut.

As a heads up, the boxes are a little bit larger and will not fit into a small apartment sized mailbox. For reference, a Birchbox box is able to fit almost perfectly into my mailbox, but this one has no chance. Therefore, I’ve had to go to the post office both months to pick up my box.
This month the products I received were as follows:

Smashbox Always on Matte Liquid Lipstick in Driver’s Seat (Full-size $24)

The first lip product in this box is a matte liquid lipstick by Smashbox. Smashbox is one of my favoties brands so I was really excited about this product. I was a bit nervous that since it was a matte liquid lipstick that it would be drying as a lot of them are. When I first applied it, it took a minute or two to get used to and I was worried that it was drying, but after having it on for a few minutes I completely forgot about it. I also like that the applicator is meant to be used as both a liner and an applicator. They state that you should use the pointy part to line your lips and then the larger part to fill in. I did as they stated and I worked really nicely. I also love this color! It’s perfect for fall and not at all one that I would have picked for myself.

The Estee Edit Flash Photo Gloss (Full-size $20)

The second gloss is from the nest Estee Edit line by Estee Lauder. Estee Lauder is my favorite skin care line but I’m not typically crazy about their makeup. This gloss is an iridescent blue that is meant to highlight the blue tones in your teeth to make them appear brighter in photos. I tried it on over the Smashbox product and it didn’t seem to do anything. I don’t mind the smell which is usually something I can’t stand from Estee Lauder lip products, but I think this might be a gimmick product that doesn’t really live up to what it promises.

Derek Lam 10 Crosby Silent St
(Full-size $95)

Each box contains a perfume and this month’s is by Derek Lam. The notes are just stated as white musks. It’s an interesting scent but it reminds me more of something that my mother would choose than I would. I will probably pass this to her and see if she likes it.

Farmacy Skin Dew Hydrating Essence Mist (Full-size  $44)

This hydrating mist is meant to tone skin and restore radiance while also hydrating the skin. The scent is spa-like and includes Echinacea, which is known to promote healthy looking skin. I’ve always wanted to have a refreshing mist similar to this in the summer or when I travel, so I will probably hold on tothis. It might come in handy in the winter with our dry weather, so we’ll see! I will warn you tha the sprayer is not great as it gives a bit of an intense burst as opposed to a light, even, mist.

Drunk Elephant T.L.C Framboos Glycolic Night Serum (Full-size $90)

I love serums! I didn’t use them for a very long time, but when I discovered them and started to use them I was amazed by everything they did for my skin. This particular serum is a glycolic serum that is meant to refine and resurface the skin. Glycolic acid is a chemical exfoliant that is known to brighten skin and get rid of dark spots. Apparently, Drunk Elephant is cruelty-free, vegan, gluten-free, and noncomedogenic as well as a supporter of the International Elephant Foundation. It’s always fun to find products that work well and are ethical. I’ve been using the Sundae Riley Good Genes serum at night and love it, but it’s a bit expensive. I’m hoping this one might be jus as good because its slightly less expensive.

Madam C.J. Walker Scent & Shine Coconut Oil
(Full-size $26)

Coconut oil has been a holy grail product in the beauty world for a while now. I haven’t ever used it, but I’ve been hearing about how well it works on both hair and skin for a while now. This specific product claims to help to decrease frizz, define curls, and enhance shine. The scent isn’t just coconut, but has a floral aspect to it as well. It’s a bit interesting, but it’s not strong which is nice.  I’ve found in the past that a lot of oils make my hair shiny without controlling anything else. As a result, it just makes my hair look greasy.

 
 
As a massive Harry Potter fan, I have been wanting to complete a re-read of the series for a while. I have, of course, read the series multiple times but haven’t completed a compete re-read since I was an undergrad in college. During my honeymoon I fell in love with the illustrated version of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s/Philosopher’s Stone. I read my copy in March and immediately wanted to finish re-reading the series. Due to time and a large list of other books I needed/wanted to read, I did not continue my re-read. I then found out that the illustrated version of Chamber of Secrets was coming out in October and immediately pre-ordered it. At the same time, my friends had discussed starting a group re-read in September!

The minute that the illustrated version of Chamber of Secrets showed up on my door, I dove in. Immediately after that I jumped into Prisoner of Azkaban and shortly after that, Goblet of Fire. I am completely sucked back into the world of Harry Potter and it is wonderful.

As I mentioned before, I have not re-read this series in at least 5 years. I was curious to see if anything would change for me during this re-read. I’m older, have lived more, and it has been a long time since I’ve read the books. I have to say, it is every bit as magical as the first, second, third, etc time I’ve read them.

One of the fun parts about this re-read is that I’m reading different versions of the series. The first two books I read were the illustrated versions. If you are a Harry Potter fan I HIGHLY recommend these. Not only are they pieces of art work, but they add a sense of fun to reading a story you know and love. I have found the experience of reading the illustrated versions enjoyable and having a bit of that anticipation from when I read each book the first time. I love reading through it and not knowing what pictures are going to come up next.

The other version that I’ve been reading is the new hardcover collection from the UK. For our one year anniversary (paper anniversary) my husband purchased the full set for me. So far, I have only read Goblet of Fire in this edition, as I didn’t have it in time for book three and did not have the patience to wait.

This re-read has solidified the fact that these books are my absolute favorite books of all time. Of course there are things here or there I could criticize, but it’s always due to personal feelings and never to do with the actual stories or the writing.

Harry Potter is perfection and I cannot wait to continue my re-read. I will check back in with you all after book 7, and then I think I will finally read The Cursed Child (I was lucky enough to see the play and loved it so I’ve been waiting to read the actual script). I'm also curious to see if what I say is my favorite book in the series is still going to come out as my favorite!

Have you completed a re-read of Harry Potter? When was the last time you read them? Is there a book/series you can read over and over and still love just as much the first time?