By: David Arnold
Published Year: 2016
Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers
Pages: 352

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Summary (Provided by Goodreads): Victor Benucci and Madeline Falco have a story to tell.
It begins with the death of Vic’s father.
It ends with the murder of Mad’s uncle.
The Hackensack Police Department would very much like to hear it.
But in order to tell their story, Vic and Mad must focus on all the chapters in between.

This is a story about:

1. A coded mission to scatter ashes across New Jersey.
2. The momentous nature of the Palisades in winter.
3. One dormant submarine.
4. Two songs about flowers.
5. Being cool in the traditional sense.
6. Sunsets & ice cream & orchards & graveyards.
7. Simultaneous extreme opposites.
8. A narrow escape from a war-torn country.
9. A story collector.
10. How to listen to someone who does not talk.
11. Falling in love with a painting.
12. Falling in love with a song.
13. Falling in love.

                                                                            First Impressions

I was so excited when I found out David Arnold was coming out with his second novel. I absolutely loved Mosquitoland and was beyond excited that he had written another novel. Then I saw the cover and it was love at first sight. Between loving Arnold’s debut novel and seeing the cover it was automatically added to my to-read list.

                                                                               What I thought

Have you ever read a book and immediately thought “This needs to become a classic”? That’s the feeling I was left with after this book. It is everything.

Vic is 17 and has run away from home. He finds himself taken in by a band of kids made up of Baz, Zuz, Mad, and Coco. They take him in and not only help him with his mission, but help him find himself.

This is going to be a hard review for me to write. I want to rave about it and tell you everything but at the same time I don’t want to tell you anything so that you can experience it all yourself! I didn’t know anything about this book other than it was a bit of a coming of age story about a group of teenagers and I think that not knowing much about it made it even better.

The story is told through multiple perspectives, but mostly through Vic and Mad. It alternates between them but switched multiple times between a chapter. I enjoyed the switch between perspectives but sometimes it took me a while to realize that the perspective had switched. I think that’s because Vic and Mad are similar, even though they are completely different. Oh goodness, I think the book has made more of an impact on my thoughts than I thought it did. A similarity that is also different is something that Vic would talk about.

Arnold’s writing in this book, again, is magical. It seems to say everything that I have ever thought and felt and not know how to put into words or maybe didn’t even know I thought it. While it could have gone a little far and become pretentious it works so well.

I know this is a short review. I wish I could find a way to rave about every aspect of this book without saying too much but I just can’t. I love it so much that I want to pick it for a book club book so that I can read it again and discuss it with people. Like I mentioned, this book needs to become a classic. There is so much to discuss and it is so relatable and wonderful and will make so many people feel they are not alone. I recommend this book to EVERYONE. No matter the type of book you typically read, you need to pick this up and enjoy it.

By: Brittany Cavallaro
Published Year: 2016
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Pages: 321

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Summary (Provided by Goodreads): The last thing Jamie Watson wants is a rugby scholarship to Sherringford, a Connecticut prep school just an hour away from his estranged father. But that’s not the only complication: Sherringford is also home to Charlotte Holmes, the famous detective’s great-great-great-granddaughter, who has inherited not only Sherlock’s genius but also his volatile temperament. From everything Jamie has heard about Charlotte, it seems safer to admire her from afar.

From the moment they meet, there’s a tense energy between them, and they seem more destined to be rivals than anything else. But when a Sherringford student dies under suspicious circumstances, ripped straight from the most terrifying of the Sherlock Holmes stories, Jamie can no longer afford to keep his distance. Jamie and Charlotte are being framed for murder, and only Charlotte can clear their names. But danger is mounting and nowhere is safe—and the only people they can trust are each other.

                                                                               First Impressions

I first heard about this book through the Debut Author Challenge hosted by Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl. The cover is gorgeous and immediately caught my eye. Then when I found out it’s about Sherlock Holmes and John Watson’s great great (great?) grandchildren? I was sold!

                                                                                 What I thought

Charlotte Holmes and James (Jamie) Watson meet at a boarding school in Connecticut in their Sophomore and Junior years respectively. Watson was given a full scholarship for his rugby skills to attend the school and was moved there from London by his mom. Charlotte was sent to the same school a year earlier due to family reasons. In this version of Holmeses and Watsons the families are not in touch. Therefore, Jamie and Charlotte have never met and have not been encouraged to meet. Charlotte, as expected, helps Scotland Yard with cases. Shortly after Jamie arrives at the new school a student gets murdered. Jamie and Charlotte are the main suspects, so they take it upon themselves to find the murderer.

For the most part I enjoyed the story. I feel like this is one of those stories that I enjoyed it while I was reading it, but a few days out I look back and don’t feel as positive about it as I did while reading it or even shortly after. That’s not o ay I didn’t enjoy the story, I definitely did. But I think initially, I was excited to read the next one when it came out and now I feel very meh about reading a second one.

It’s a cute story and I enjoyed the mystery aspect of it. I think one of my issues is that it’s a bit immature and predictable. I didn’t really like Charlotte or Jamie and their relationship together is a bit odd. I thought the murder was a bit quick in that the murder happened and immediately Charlotte went into Sherlock mode. I wish she was a little more different than the stereotypical Sherlock.

I did enjoy the environment that the story took place in. I also liked the take on the history of the Watson family and the Holmes family. I thought it was fun that Sherlock and Watson were real people and that their families didn’t get along because of that relationship and other issues they had.  I also enjoyed the references to original Sherlock stories. It was fun to include hat and I enjoyed the playfulness of it.

I think that my biggest issue is that Charlotte is so unlikeable. Maybe if I had read Sherlock when it came out I would’ve felt the same way about him? I just couldn’t connect with her and as a result couldn’t understand why Jamie was so taken with her. Considering that they are the two main characters, it definitely impacts the overall likability of the story.

While reading the book, I enjoyed myself. I finished it in about a day or two and I never felt like I was slugging my way through it. If you are younger or know someone younger I would recommend this book to you. I think I would’ve enjoyed it much more at a younger age. It’s not a complex mystery novel and considering that’s more what I enjoy now, I think that was a bit of my issue. I wouldn’t re-read this and I may or may not pick up the second one. I would definitely check out another book by AUTHOR, but maybe a different story.

That Artsy Reader Girl
By: M.J Aldridge
Published Year: 2016
Publisher: Penguin
Pages: 380

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

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Summary (Provided by Goodreads): In the darkest corners of the city, there is a thriving nightlife where people can let loose and cross the lines of work and play, of pleasure and pain. But now that sanctuary has been breached. A killer has struck and a man is dead.

In a world where disguises and discretion are the norm, one admission could unravel a life. No one wants to come forward to say what they saw or what they know—including the woman heading the investigation: Detective Helen Grace.

Helen knew the victim. And the victim knew her—better than anyone else. And when the murderer strikes again, Helen must decide how many more lines she’s willing to cross to bring in a devious and elusive serial killer...

                                                                            First Impressions

Admittedly, the title piqued my interest but the cover did not. When I first read the summary I was still a bit iffy about the story. Maybe it was because it’s the fifth in a series, but I wasn’t immediately excited by this book.

                                                                              What I thought

Warning: This post may contain spoilers for earlier books in the series.

This book definitely took me by surprise!

Helen Grace is a senior homicide detective with secrets, one of which is their latest victim. Helen struggles to work towards solving the case while keeping her connection with the victim quiet.

It’s always hard to review mysteries such as these without giving away too much of the story, so I apologize if everything is vague. I also have not read the previous novels, so I think the way that I read this book might be different than someone who has read the series from the beginning. I don’t think that it is necessary to have read the other novels, but I do find myself wanting to go back and read them to understand more of the backstory.

 Detective Helen Grace has a dark history and has taken part in the BDSM community to help cope. Her first dominator is the first victim. What I liked about this story is that while Detective Helen is technically the main character, it really is a story told across multiple perspectives. The reader gets chapters from two of the other detectives (who are also female!), a head of the department, the victims, and even some of the suspects. Because of this, it read very much like a TV show crime drama as opposed to your typical mystery story. I also liked that since it wasn’t only from Detective Helen’s perspective, I didn’t feel like I was missing backstory or a connection that I would have had from previous novels.

The chapters are extremely short and therefore the story is really fast paced. It starts high energy right away and then continues to move that way. Two annoying aspects are some obvious misdirection on the part of the author and some stupidity on the part of the characters. The reason the misdirection is annoying is because the author uses the same style of misleading the reader twice. It was ok the first time but then the second time I got annoyed because I felt it was lazy and unnecessary. The stupidity bothered me just because it felt very obvious at one point that an experienced detective should have noticed something, but didn’t.

In regards to predictability (as that is an important factor to me in mystery novels), I was able to predict half of it. I don’t know if I had read the previous novels if it would have been completely predictable, but it still kept my curiosity piqued enough to keep the pages turning. Every page was filled with action and drama and intrigue ad it kept everything very exciting. And the ending! It was such a cliff hanger that I stared at the book for a while wondering if I was missing pages!

Is this mystery story going to blow the socks off of anybody? Probably not. Is it a fast paced, captivating story that makes me want to immediately grab the next one? Definitely. I felt like I was reading an episode of Castle, one of my favorite shows, minus the humor. I’m also tempted to go back and read the series from the beginning which says something about the writing. If you enjoy watching crime dramas, I would recommend checking out this series. Overall, this is a fun read and I can’t wait to check out the next novel.


Letters From Paris By: Juliet Blackwell (Review)

Sunshine on a Rainy Day By: Bryony Fraser (Review)

One True Loves By: Taylor Jenkins Reid

Billy & Me By: Giovanna Fletcher

Here’s to Us By: Elin Hilderbrand (Book Club)

Nemesis By: Anna Banks (Review)

On the Other Side By: Carrie Hope Fletcher

The Pocket Wife By: Susan H. Crawford (Book Club)

26 Kisses By: Anna Michels

A Most Extraordinary Pursuit By: Juliana Gray (Review)

Summer of Sloane By: Erin L. Schneider

Favorite Book I Read This Month:  One True Loves! Taylor Jenkins Reid always writes amazing, thought provoking love stories and this is no different. Her latest novel is so wonderful and I really enjoyed it. I would highly recommend checking it out!

Nemesis is definitely a close second!


I don’t have any beauty favorites this month. I didn’t try anything new this month so I’ve been using my old standbys.


Old Navy Plaid Shirts

I am such a white girl cliché when it comes to fall (with the exception of pumpkin spice). I absolutely love my plaid and my books. Old Navy has amazingly comfortable plaid shirts for not a lot of money. I purchased one last year (pictured above) and as soon as they came out again this year I knew I needed more in my closet. Not only are they soft, but they’re a looser fit so they actually button over my chest without pulling! If you like plaid and are looking for a fun option that doesn’t cost a lot of money, look into Old Navy!


Chef’s Table

This is a Netflix original docuseries. Each episode follows one world renowned chef and their current restaurant. The shots are so beautiful and in addition to talking with the chef the episodes explore the region in which the restaurant is. So in addition to getting a show about food you get a show on travel. I have been obsessed with this show and can’t recommend it enough.

My Crock Pot

I have made a challenge to myself to try to use my Crock Pot once a week. I have gotten a bit lazy with my cooking, and this is the easiest way I can get myself back into the swing of cooking actual meals. I have made a few that have come out very delicious and it’s nice to be reminded just how easy it is to use. It’s going to be fun trying out new recipes.

By: Juliana Gray
Published Year: 2016
Publisher: Berkley
Pages: 416

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

Summary (Provided by Goodreads): As the personal secretary of the recently departed Duke of Olympia—and a woman of good character—Miss Emmeline Rose Truelove never expected to be steaming through the Mediterranean on a luxuriously appointed yacht under the watchful and jovial eye of one Lord Silverton. But here they are, as improper as it is, on a quest to find the duke’s heir, whereabouts unknown.

An expert on anachronisms, the adventurous Maximilian Haywood was last seen at an archaeological dig on the island of Crete. And when Truelove and Silverton disembark, they are met with incidents of a violent nature: a ransacked flat, a murdered government employee, an assassination attempt. And as they steam from port to port on Max’s trail, dodging danger at every turn, Truelove will discover the folly of her misconceptions—about the whims of the heart, the desires of men, and the nature of time itself..

                                                                                   First Impressions

I’m a little torn on the cover. It is eye catching because of the bright colors and I love that, but I also feel like it’s a bit cheesy and I might have put it back down after picking it up. The summary wasn’t immediately convincing either, but I decided to give it a shot.

                                                                                   What I thought

I’m a bit confused by this book. For the majority of the book it was going one way and then it changed towards the end and I don’t know how I feel about it.

After the Duke of Olympia dies, Emmaline Truelove, his personal secretary is sent on a mission to find his nephew and heir. Accompanying her is Lord Silverton, who we later find out has been on missions like this before. The nephew of the Duke of Olympia has been missing for two months and no one has heard from him, so the dowager duchess arranges the mission to find him in Athens.

Truelove is an interesting character as she is your typical lady of the 1900s with most of her attitudes, but she dabbles in being a bit of a renaissance woman. I liked that she wasn’t written as overly progressive like I feel a lot of female characters are written from the 1900s. It was refreshing to have a character from the early 1900s who seemed to act like a person from the 1900s.

The confusing part of this book is that Truelove has visions of the Queen and her father who appear in full form and talk to her. She understands that they are hallucinations and that they are just telling her what he subconscious already knows, but she has full conversations with them and they somehow know things that she doesn’t. For example, at the very beginning the Queen tells her she is going to be asked to go on a trip and she should say no because it will be dangerous. How would she know this? There is no reason that she should know that is going to happen, so how would her subconscious know?

Lord Silverton accompanies Truelove on the adventure as her protector/guide. He has been on missions similar to this before, so he is more knowledgeable about what they need to do and how to get the information they need. He also speaks Greek which is helpful. He is a bit of a rascal who often uses his wiles and good looks to get the information he wants. However, he is quite charming and enjoyable to read about. Definitely borders on being a bit annoying, but I enjoyed him overall.

My biggest issue with this book is that it seems to be a supernatural story in disguise. For the vast majority of the book it is a mystery adventure in which two people are searching for their lost companion. I enjoyed that part of the book greatly and looked forward to other adventures with Truelove and Silverton. However, towards the end there’s some time travel thrown in and people coming back from the dead and it’s just a mess. It honestly feels like the author was writing a story and then the editor said “there are a lot of books like this, we need something to make it stand out” so she threw in supernatural elements at the end. It was disappointing because it wasn’t fleshed out at all and I felt very taken aback by it. It didn’t fit and it is so completely unnecessary to the story.

Up until all of the random and nonsensical supernatural I was really enjoying this book. Unfortunately, those parts confused me so much that I almost didn’t understand the ending of the book and couldn’t get myself back into the story. The characters are fun and interesting and I did enjoy reading (most) of this book. If you like historical fiction (weighted heavily on the fiction) then you might enjoy this book, but be prepared for some supernatural twists.

In honor of October and it being my favorite month as well as the month of Halloween, I picked The Pocket Wife which is a psychological thriller! I wanted to do something a bit more horror related, but I knew my audience so I went with a thriller.

By: Susan H. Crawford
Published Year: 2015
Publisher: William Morrow
Pages: 350

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Summary (Provided by Goodreads): Dana Catrell is horrified to learn she was the last person to see her neighbor Celia alive. Suffering from a devastating mania, a result of her bipolar disorder, Dana finds that there are troubling holes in her memory, including what happened on the afternoon of Celia's death. As evidence starts to point in her direction, Dana struggles to clear her name before her own demons win out.

Is murder on her mind—or is it all in her head?

The closer she comes to piecing together shards of her broken memory, the more Dana falls apart. Is there a murderer lurking inside her... or is there one out there in the shadows of reality, waiting to strike again? A story of marriage, murder and madness, The Pocket Wife explores the world through the foggy lens of a woman on the edge.

                                                                             What I thought

Dana wakes up from a drunken stupor to ambulances at her neighbor’s house. When she walks over she finds the woman who she was drinking with just hours before murdered on the living room floor. Dana has no memory of what happened shortly after arriving at her neighbor’s house after she started drinking. She finds she was the last one to see her alive and is concerned that she might have had something to do with it. Dana is dealing with bipolar disorder and finds herself slowly slipping into a manic phase. She can’t remember what happened that day and she starts questioning whether or not clues that she’s found were created by her. Her husband doesn’t help matters by convincing her that most of what she is looking into is due to her madness.

I flew through this book. It is very fast paced and keeps you interested through every part of the story. I liked that the narrator is a bit unreliable because of the bipolar disorder and her descent into a mania. It’s not completely unpredictable, but what was most fascinating was watching how it unfolded as opposed to the mystery of figure out whodunit.

Dana is a unique narrator in that you aren’t sure what you can and cannot trust from her point of view. I felt myself wanting to believe everything that she did, but once she started doubting herself I started to doubt her as well. I appreciated that we also received a perspective from the detective, Jack, as well.

 What Book Club Thought
Everyone enjoyed the book but the narration was a big point of discussion. While some of us enjoyed the unreliability of the narrator, others found it irritating and almost too difficult to read. There were two book club members who didn't finish the book completely, and so it was fun to see what their guess was for who the killer was! The other interesting discussion point was Peter and how terrible of a person he was. If you are looking for a book club pick, I would recommend this one. We had a lot of discussion with it and it brought up some interesting opinions.

I have been using the Redken Real Control Creama Care leave-in conditioner on my hair for at least 4 years. It was one of my Holy Grail products that I repurchased every time it ran out without every feeling the need to try a new product. I knew it worked wonderfully and my hair still loved it after years of use. Flashback to about 3 months ago when I went to Ulta to replenish my stock and found out that *gasp* it had been discontinued!!!!!

I immediately went on Amazon to see if I could purchase it through there and found out it was selling for $36 a bottle. For reference, it sold in stores or about $16. Now, my curly hair NEEDS a leave-in conditioner, so I wandered to the Marc Anthony aisle, the same line I use for shampoo and conditioner, and found that they had a spray leave-in conditioner. Knowing that my hair likes their other products, I bought it to give it a shot. Long story short, thumbs down. It’s not that it’s a bad product, it just didn’t do what I need it to do.

Back to Ulta I went, this time with my old Redken bottle in tow, deciding to ask the hair salon experts to recommend the closes thing to that product. They recommended the Redken Frizz Dismiss Leave-in Conditioner. Again, I tried it and this time it literally did nothing. At least the Marc Anthony product made a difference on my hair. This one was double or triple thumbs down.

So here I am, without a hair product that I need, trying to figure out what I’m going to do. As a daughter naturally does, I complained to my mother. Recently, her salon started carrying the Living Proof line and her beautician had used the Curl line on her hair and she loved it. Now, I tried the No Frizz Living Proof line a few years ago and thought it was decent, but didn’t love it (especially for the price) so I was a bit skeptical. However, mother always knows best, so back to Ulta I went for the third time, and I purchased the Living Proof Curl Leave-in Conditioner ($26).

I am excited (and relieved) to say that I have finally found my replacement!

Living Proof is a brand that is based on science. They were determined to make a brand that used different ingredients than other brands you see on the shelf that prove that you can make your hair look beautiful. Their products are made without sulfates and parabens. The Curl line is a more recent line that is specifically formulated for all types of curly hair. They have a wide range of products in this line, including my beloved leave-in conditioner.

This product is a cream leave-in conditioner that you can use on wet hair before drying and before other products. What I love about this product is that, unlike curl creams, it is not sticky. While I do like curl creams for when I want super defined curls, they are definitely a bit sticky and you definitely feel product in your hair. The company does say that you can also use it on dry hair to spot treat frizz.

What I love the most about this product is the frizz control. Because it hydrates my hair, I don’t find that I need to add any extra products. That’s how I felt with the Redken product and it’s lovely. Not only does it not feel good to pile on products, but it’s not good for your hair. It leaves my hair soft and defined without frizz and it’s beautiful. The smell is a light and pleasant, though I can’t describe exactly what it is.

I honestly can’t say enough about this product! If you need a cream leave-in conditioner I highly recommend checking this out. It’s thick enough to do its job, but not so heavy that it weighs your hair down. It is a bit pricey, but considering how many less expensive products I tried with lesser results, it is completely worth the money.

Here’s to Us
By: Elin Hilderbrand
Published Year: 2016
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Pages: 416

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Summary (Provided by Goodreads): Laurel Thorpe, Belinda Rowe, and Scarlett Oliver share only two things; a love for the man they all married, Deacon Thorpe--a celebrity chef with an insatiable appetite for life--and a passionate dislike of one another. All three are remarkable, spirited women, but they couldn't be more different. Laurel: Deacon's high school sweetheart and an effortlessly beautiful social worker; Belinda: a high-maintenance Hollywood diva; and Scarlett: a sexy southern belle floating by on her family money and her fabulous looks. They've established a delicate understanding over the years--they avoid each other at all costs.

But their fragile detente threatens to come crashing down after Deacon's tragic death on his favorite place on earth: a ramshackle Nantucket summer cottage. Deacon's final wish was for his makeshift family to assemble on his beloved Nantucket to say good-bye. Begrudgingly, Laurel, Belinda, and Scarlett gather on the island as once again, as in each of their marriages, they're left to pick up Deacon's mess. Now they're trapped in the crowded cottage where they all made their own memories--a house that they now share in more ways than one--along with the children they raised with Deacon, and his best friend. Laurel, Belinda, and Scarlett each had an unbreakable bond with Deacon--and they all have secrets to hide.

Before the weekend is over, there are enough accusations, lies, tears, and drama to turn even the best of friends--let alone three women who married the same man--into adversaries. As his unlikely family says good-bye to the man who brought them together--for better or worse--will they be able to put aside their differences long enough to raise a glass in Deacon's honor?

                                                                                     What I thought

I have previously read two books by Hilderbrand, both of which were a part of her Winter series. I was curious to read this novel as I have enjoyed the ones I read.

Deacon Thorpe is a world famous chef. When he suddenly dies, his two ex-wives and current wife are required to come together to mourn his death and discuss his assets. Deacon has left behind their Nantucket summer home to be divided equally amongst his three wives. As a send-off, all of his families come together at the Nantucket home for one last time.

I have to admit, I was a bit apprehensive based on the summary. I thought it was going to be a lot of cattiness and drama that would end up being more annoying than enjoyable. Luckily, I was wrong.

When I read Hilderbrand’s previous novels, I thought that style of writing was specific to that story, however, it seems as though that is they style of her writing. Hilderbrand uses a band of characters and switches between their points of view to tell a story. I enjoy the unique type of storytelling as it gives a very in depth view into all of the problems. It also stops the reader from being able to form negative opinions quickly on negative characters. For example, Belinda is the second wife who stole Deacon from Laurel. As a mistress who stole broke up a family, a reader would be naturally inclined to hate Belinda. With the benefit of reading from Belinda’s perspective, you don’t necessarily like her, but I couldn’t find myself hating her as much as  would have without knowing her through her perspective.

Angie, Deacon’s eldest daughter, was by far my favorite character. I liked that she was a good person (or at least seemed the best of the bunch), but wasn’t without faults. While I enjoyed Laurel, Deacon’s first wife, she was almost a little too perfect. I found it fun to read Angie’s perspective because she was connected to everyone. She grew up with both Belinda (her mother), Laurel, and Hayes (her half-brother), and Scarlett (Deacon’s final wife) was her nanny growing up. It was interesting because unlike the wives, she actually communicated with everyone.

The story itself brings up some interesting points, but I didn’t find anything earth shattering. To me, it seemed pretty realistic in that nothing magically got fixed and nobody ended up singing Kumbaya and becoming best friends. It was an interesting book, but I don’t find myself completely in love with it. It was very middle of the road for me. I liked it, I enjoyed it, but I didn’t love it.

                                                                       What Book Club Thought

Everyone enjoyed this book! Our biggest discussion points were the personalities of the wives and the multiple points of view. Everyone also agreed that Scarlett is the absolute worst, but I did ask if anyone else felt like that might have changed if we had received her perspective. Another discussion point was on Deacon’s part in the story and how the parts from his perspective influenced our opinions overall. It was interesting that we heard about how his relationship started with each wife from his perspective told in a present tense and not through the wives through flashbacks. While this book may not have the most discussion points in terms of morals or dramatic events, the writing itself posed a lot of interesting questions.

This book review is going to be a bit different from my typical reviews. In addition to reading and reviewing the book, I was asked by the publisher to create a makeup look inspired by the novel. There will also be a giveaway at the end!

By: Anna Banks
Published Year: 2016
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Pages: 368

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

Summary (Provided by Goodreads): Princess Sepora of Serubel is the last Forger in all the five kingdoms. The spectorium she creates provides energy for all, but now her father has found a way to weaponize it, and his intentions to incite war force her to flee from his grasp. She escapes across enemy lines into the kingdom of Theoria, but her plans to hide are thwarted when she is captured and placed in the young king's servitude.

Tarik has just taken over rulership of Theoria, and must now face a new plague sweeping through his kingdom and killing his citizens. The last thing he needs is a troublesome servant vying for his attention. But mistress Sepora will not be ignored. When the two finally meet face-to-face, they form an unlikely bond that complicates life in ways neither of them could have imagined.

Sepora's gift could save Tarik's kingdom from the Quiet Plague. But should she trust her growing feelings for her nemesis, or should she hide her gifts at all costs?

                                                                               What I thought

Nemesis follows Princess Sepora and King Tarik through alternating chapter. Sepora is the princess of the Kingdom of Serubel while King Tarik is the new boy king of the Kingdom of Theoria. There are an additional 3 kingdoms in this Egyptian inspired universe that the reader hears about through the main characters, but are not visited in this story. At the beginning of the story, Tarik has lost his father and is newly made King while Sepora has fled her kingdom for freedom from her father. In addition to their family troubles, Tarik has to deal with a new plague taking over his kingdom with no cure on the horizion while Sepora has to deal with her tyrant father and his desire for war with Theoria.

I know this all sounds completely confusing. To be honest, after reading the first chapter I was completely confused and very put-off. The unique names of everything made finding my footing in this fantasy world very difficult. However, after Tarik’s first chapter (the second chapter in the novel) pieces started falling into place. It was definitely a bit like being dropped into the middle of an unknown world and having to learn your surroundings, but that little bit of disorientation at the beginning is completely worth it.

In addition to the initial confusion with the worlds, the character have powers that are referred to as Favors. Sepora is a Forger, meaning that her body produces an element that is living and full of energy called spectorum. Tarik is a Lingot, meaning that he can tell when someone is lying as well as speak and understand any language instantly. I imagined spectorum to be similar to oil in that it is used to power everything and has become essential to a lot of the kingdoms for survival. Because Sepora is the only Forger, Serubel is the only kingdom that is able to trade spectorum. Her father abuses this power and prompts her to run away. When she leaves, she leaves his kingdom without their greatest trade. As a result, Theoria, who relies heavily on the power of spectorum, starts to experience a shortage. Not only is King Tarik concerned with regaining more to keep his people happy, but it turns out it could hold the cure to the plague ravishing his city.

Still with me? This is easily one of the best fantasy novels I’ve read in a while. The world is unique but familiar without being too familiar. I also greatly appreciated how Banks created and molded the relationship between Tarik and Sepora. There is no instalove and there is no love triangle. It is a realistic relationship of two people who meet, have their differences, but also find what they have in common. The slow burn is done so wonderfully.

Sepora is a strong female character who makes decisions based on what is best for her. She doesn’t whine and she doesn’t waffle. She knows what she needs to do and she does it. I also appreciated that Tarik is a strong male, but he has a bit of a sensitive side.

After the initial confusion, this book sucked me in. I feel immediately back into the world and loved each of the characters.

                                                                        What Inspired My Look

From the moment that Sepora’s eyes were described as silver (something that is a result of her being a Forger), I knew I wanted to create a look with silver eyeshadow. Her makeup is also described (and shown on the cover) as being artistic and elaborate. Since the fun eyeliner shapes were also common in ancient Egypt, I was inspired to incorporate those elements into my look. I also added just a hint of blue in my eyeliner on the bottom lash line as blue is the color of Theoria. For my hair, I made a crown braid as the Sepora is always wearing braids.

My look is definitely a toned down version of what Sepora is wearing on the cover. I wanted to do something that was a bit easier to recreate. I also didn't want to create a copy-cat look, but you can build on what I did as much as you like! I also picked a red-orange lip because if I were to be a princess I would pick a red as my power color. It is also the color of the Serubelan country, so I thought it was a fun way to tie it in.

I created my look with Maybelline Color Tattoo Concentrated Crayon in Charcoal Chrome, L’oreal Infallible Eyeshadow in Silver Sky, NARS Larger Than Life Eyeliner in Black (for my eyebrows), Eyeko London Fat Liquid Eyeliner in Black, Sumita Beauty Eyeliner in Midnight Blue, and Top Shop Lipstick in Rio Rio.

The beauty style of the characters in this book is very ornate. The King is always mentioned as being decorated in gold paint while Sepora is decorated in silver. If you are looking to create a Nemesis inspired look, I recommend using those colors. Have fun with your designs around your eye! They are meant to be unique to your personality. I really ended up loving this look! If I end up with a reason to pull it back out for Halloween I definitely will be!

I cannot wait until book two comes out! I will admit I was a bit hesitant to read this book as I was a bit put off by the cover and the description, but it blew me away! The characters are wonderfully thought out and so three dimensional. The story is complex but still easy to follow along. I have some ideas as to where it’s going to go, but I can’t wait to see what actually happens. I would recommend this book to (obviously) fans of fantasy, but also to those who have only ever dabbled in fantasy or are looking to try it for the first time. It doesn’t come across as over the top fantasy, which I think is why I enjoyed it so much. I am not personally a huge fantasy reader, but this was just the perfect balance.

                                                           Giveaway time!

The publisher is generously offering a giveaway of a $25 Ulta gift card and a finished copy of Nemesis! If you are a book and beauty lover like me, this is one not to pass up.

You must be 18 years or older to enter and reside in the US in order to enter this giveaway. The giveaway will be closed at 12 AM CST on Saturday October 1st 2016.

In addition to the above giveaway, the winner will be entered to win one of two book tour-wide prizes including an Egyptian bib collar necklace and a silver Serpen (a snake like creature with wings) armband.

Good luck everyone!

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.

The past couple of months, the boxes were not personalized and everyone who signed up for the subscription received the same products. This is the second month, they sent out two different boxes which had similar products but for different skin and hair types. The theme for this month was The Unbasic Basics

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:

Sephora Collection Rouge Shine Lipstick in Love Spell (Full-size $12.50)
This lipstick is a moisturizing formula made with shea butter. The color is absolutely beautiful and felt really smooth on my hand. Unfortunately, this color is way too pale for me so I didn’t even bother trying it on my lips. It doesn’t feel as though it would have a lot of staying power as it is a glossy formula, but it feels like it would be nice to reapply.
Anastasia Clear Brow Gel (Full-price $22)
From everything that I’ve heard, Anastasia Brow products are the holy grail of all brow products. I’m terrible about my brows and I literally do nothing with them. However, I’m a little curious to try this out and see how it works. It’s meant to hold you brows in place without adding any color. Supposedly, it also includes chamomile that is said to condition your eyebrow hairs.

Kat Von D Tattoo Liner in Trooper (Full-size $20)
This is another product I have heard so much about! Everyone that has mentioned this liner has raved about it. I’ve only recently gotten into liquid liners, so I think this will take some practice. It has a soft brush tip but the color is super dark and is waterproof.

Dr. Jart+ Water Drop Hydrating Moisturizer (Full-size $36)
This is a moisturizer meant for all skin types. It is water-based but also includes hyaluronic acid which is meant to even complexion. It says that is bursts into liquid droplets while rubbing it in and that you pat those into the skin to absorb. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to test it because I’ve already misplaced it! I swear I put it right back into the bag after taking my pictures, but it’s not there. So weird. I’ll definitely have to go on the hunt because this is the product I’m most excited about trying.

Living Proof Perfect Hair Day Night Cap Overnight Perfector (Full-size $28)
Another overnight hair mask. This particular one is meant to enhance shine and manageability and claims that results will last all week. It also says that you don’t HAVE to wash is out the next morning. This means it might be one of the few overnight hair masks I actually try. I am a night time shower person, so I’ve never actually tried any of the other masks. I’ve had some good luck recently with Living Proof products, so I’m curious about how this works. I will see if it leaves my hair heavy and greasy the next morning.

Tory Burch Jolie Fleur Verte (Full-size $95)
The Tory Burch fragrance has notes of Lilly of the Valley, Jasmine, Mandarin, Neroli Oil, Green Accord, Cedarwood, Sandalwood, and Musk.  I love the balance of the sweet and floral with the musky scents. It’s a really pleasant scent and I enjoy it a lot. Unfortunately, I didn’t find it to have much staying power. I currently own the Tory Buch Absolu and I find similar results with that. I love the scent, but I wish the staying power was a bit longer, especially for the price.