Friday, August 9, 2013

Beauty Review: Philosophy Purity Made Simple gel cleanser


So I've been on a quest to find a cleanser that doesn't turn my skin into a dry, flaky, over-sensitive mess. I've tried and reviewed Neutrogena Naturals and  Fresh Soy, and I was disappointed in both. My third (and thankfully final!) product has won me over.

Purity is described as a gel cleanser, a facial makeup remover, and an eye makeup remover.  While my mascara (not a waterproof one) stubbornly stays put after trying to gently remove it with the cleanser, Purity removes my face makeup just fine. I don't wear eye makeup very often so this doesn't really matter to me. What makes me love this product is the fact that it doesn't dry the life out of my skin after using it. It doesn't smell like herbs or flowers or harsh soapy chemicals. And best of all, no breakouts! I use about a dime size amount and that's enough for my face/neck. The gel spreads nicely, and although there's no exfoliation, I use a rubber gentle exfoliating cleanser pad which does the job just fine :)

I've been using this cleanser for weeks with zero complaints, and I think that Purity has found yet another lifetime supporter. I'd recommend this to anyone, but mascara and liquid liner might not be satisfied with having to use eye makeup remover after a "3-in-1" product.

Lia's Rating: Love it! (downgraded because it did not remove eye makeup as advertised)


Thursday, July 18, 2013

Beauty Review: BareMinerals Original Foundation


It's powder, it's foundation - no, it's miracle makeup! Now I know that there are literally thousands and thousands of reviews on this product out there already, but I need to at least write a quick post about my own experience with it. I've always had issues with foundation, between the oompa-loompa orange tones and the breakouts and the weird mask-like textures... I wanted a foundation that not only looked good and felt good, but treated my skin right. While my liquid foundation does the first two, BareMinerals does all three of those things :)

*****THE ACTUAL REVIEW*****

Let me start by saying that the only thing that really stopped me from buying this a year ago (when I first learned about it) was the price. I'd never paid close to $30 for foundation before. So when I discovered a try-me kit for much less, I was super excited. The 30-day supply kit contained both the "original" and "matte" bareMinerals foundations (along with a cute travel-size brush and mineral veil.) I already had an excellent primer, MUFE hd microperfecting (which you can read my rave review about it here.)

After applying moisturizer & primer, I read the little application info card that came with the kit, and followed the steps for a natural finish: tap a small amount of powder into the cap, swirl some powder into the brush, tap off the excess, and buff in circular motions starting from the jawline. (That little card was a BIG help, because I'd never ever applied powder foundation before.) I was so pleased with how my face looked! Natural, so natural, it didn't even look like I was wearing makeup. And I didn't need to smear gobs of it all over the place for an even look, like I did with my liquid foundation. Of course, I only applied a light amount, so the coverage wasn't 100%, but I could either spot conceal where necessary, or just apply another layer if I felt like it.

After wearing it for both short lengths of time and a full day, I have not broken out or had any weird reactions to it. It even seems like it's helping to even out my natural skin tone.(Although that could also be from my sampling of Marula oil moisturizer... I'll have to review that too!)

The shade I got was slightly darker than my natural skin tone (it looked like I had applied a bit of bronzer lol) so I purchased a lighter colored full-size foundation and I have no complaints :) This is a two-thumbs up product that I would certainly recommend to anyone looking for a new foundation.

Lia's Rating: Remarkable Product!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Blind Sight Blog Tour - Guest Post by Eliabeth Hawthorne, author of Blind Sight: Through the Eyes of Aniela Dawson


This is the second part of my Blind Sight blog post. Please check out my first post here for an excerpt from Aniela's volume.

Summary: While Aniela tries to escape a lifestyle where obligations take priority over friendships, she befriends Odette, a blind girl with the ability to draw. Almost immediately, concerns and questions arise as Aniela suspects that Odette’s gift is far stronger than any seen before. In the middle of family turmoil and a complicated romantic relationship with Odette’s brother, Aniela faces the realization that helping her comatose friend means disobeying her mother, something she has never done before.

Here is a guest post from author Eliabeth Hawthorne!


 
The Inspiration for Blind Sight? Literature and Bad Table Manners
 
Blind-Sight-Ana-Book-Cover

There are two sides to every story. That's the major premise behind how Blind Sight is written. Anyone who has ever listened to grandparents talk to each other without their hearing aids knows how funny those conversations can be. What one of them says is not always what the other one hears. Or trying to understand someone when their mouth is full, I wanted to capture the misunderstandings that occur when the perspective is limited to a single point of view, but I couldn't do it alone.
 
I was first inspired by Tom Stoppard who turned Shakespeare's tragedy, Hamlet into the comedy Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead. Tom Stoppard's play follows the plot of Hamlet through the point of view of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, giving them their own voice and own plot so that even though it is the same plot, it is a very different story. It was exactly what I expected out of Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West. I made a few futile attempts to write the same story from different perspectives and eventually let the idea drop. I couldn't get the two sides different enough to where it felt like two different voices, but then I met Ermisenda on an RP site of all places. She was a brilliant writer, but more than that, she made me a better writer. We played off each other in a way that I just can't explain unless you've ever found that other RPer with whom you just click. It was a true partnership, making Blind Sight a superior novel to anything we could have put together individually. It wasn't working from an already written manuscript and trying to put a new spin on it, we worked together every step of the way, literally RPing scenes over MSN and Skype since we live half a world apart.
 
-Eliabeth Hawthorne
 
This post is part of the Blind Sight Blog Tour. Blind Sight is an urban fantasy novel written in two volumes, each telling the story through a different character's perspective.
 
preview on Barnes and Noble preview on Amazon
 
Thanks for stopping by my blog!

Blind Sight Blog Tour - Excerpt from Aniela's volume

 
 
 
Blind Sight is not a book. Rather, it's a story that's told through two very different perspectives, in separate volumes. This is what drew me to reading it when I was contacted by the authors (a big thanks to Ermisenda and Eliabeth!) How often have you read a good book and wondered what the story would have been like if it had been told from the POV of another character? Plenty of times, I'm sure. One volume is about Aniela (Ana) Dawson, a resident of the magical island of Edaion: where residents never leave, and newcomers are summoned by the island itself. Ana is one of the princesses of the island; her parents are the king and queen, and they are descendants of the original residents of the island. Although she has royal status, royal family members are not treated as though they are so high-and-mighty above the "common" residents. So while Ana's family is certainly privileged, they are still subject to many of the everyday issues that are faced by the other residents and newcomers of the island. The other volume of Blind Sight is told from the pov of Leocardo Reyes, a young man living in Spain with his blind sister Odette. He and his sister are summoned to the island after Odette has some sort of seizure, when she enters a trance-like state and begins drawing a picture of a lake (impossible for a blind person, right?) The lake turns out to be one in Edaion, which is now their new home. He and his sister have to adjust to new magical abilities, a different form of government, and living on an island that never lets you leave,

I first read Leocardo's story, then Aniela's. Out of the two volumes, I connected better with Aniela's POV (maybe because I'm a girl? lol.) I enjoyed having knowledge about the setting of Edaion and the abilities of its residents from the beginning of the story, and I loved getting some insight on Ana's relationships with her family members. There were things that confused me and questions I had when reading Leocardo's volume that Ana's volume cleared up. Here is the summary of Ana's POV: 
 
While Aniela tries to escape a lifestyle where obligations take priority over friendships, she befriends Odette, a blind girl with the ability to draw. Almost immediately, concerns and questions arise as Aniela suspects that Odette’s gift is far stronger than any seen before. In the middle of family turmoil and a complicated romantic relationship with Odette’s brother, Aniela faces the realization that helping her comatose friend means disobeying her mother, something she has never done before.

Eliabeth has kindly provided an excerpt from Ana's story!

 
Blind-Sight-Ana-Book-Cover


Blind Sight tells the story of Odette Reyes, a blind girl who develops the ability to draw. In one volume, the story is told through the eyes of her brother Leocardo who thinks she's having premonitions. The other volume tells the same story through the eyes of her best friend Aniela who thinks she's a medium channeling voiceless spirits. Who is right? Whose eyes will you read through? This is the prologue to Aniela's volume. A bundle of joy wrapped in a white feather boa streaked down the hall. Her long blonde hair flowed out behind her. Dressed in a vintage dress several sizes too large, Edaion’s youngest princess had just come out from playing dress up in her mother’s closet. Aniela wore oversized tortoise-shell aviator sunglasses and a necklace of pearls that dragged on the floor, threatening to trip her as she ran barefoot toward her sister’s room. The energetic four-year-old girl pushed open the bedroom door without knocking, still learning appropriate boundaries. Seven-year-old Tatiana sat on her bed, her dark hair and dark eyes a stark contrast to Aniela’s baby blues. One of their mother’s favorite lamps levitated up and down; it moved slowly through the air. Tatiana never let it exceed six inches from the ground while she practiced her magic. All three of the Dawson children had inherited telekinesis from their mother. Tatiana specialized in large, heavy objects. Her twin, Theodore, who sat at Tatiana’s desk playing solitaire in the air, specialized in multiple small objects. Aniela had yet to develop a specialty. “Hi Ana,” Theodore said. The door swung shut without any help from his sister. “Hi Teo,” Aniela replied, sometimes still struggling with her t-h sounds. Aniela tried to jump on her sister’s bed, but it was too high, causing her to miss and slide down until her feet once again touched the soft rug. She backed up and took a running leap. Aniela’s forehead smacked into Tatiana’s palm and she toppled backward onto to floor. Theodore frowned. His brow furrowed as he shook his head, but he did not comment as Aniela crawled up onto his lap instead. Much like his role in life, his looks fell somewhere between the two girls’. He had Tatiana’s intelligent brown eyes and Aniela’s light blonde hair. While he lacked Aniela’s innocence, he also lacked Tatiana’s smugness. He was the middle; one they could both enjoy. “What do you want?” Tatiana droned in her ever present annoyed tone. “Where does magic come from?” Aniela watched the lamp travel fluidly through the air as Tatiana moved it to the floor before answering. “Everyone knows that a boat shipwrecked on the island and that one of our ancestors was the captain.” “They were cursed for hunting on the island.” Theodore took up the story. Aniela looked back and forth between her siblings, watching them trade off the conversation like a ball in a tennis match and quickly lost interest. “I want to go to the park,” she announced. “I’ll see if Marcus can drive us,” Theodore offered. Rarely did the king or queen have time to chaperone their children. Simultaneously, and with practiced ease, the cards moved into a neat pile on Tatiana’s desk as Theodore picked Aniela off his lap and set her on the floor. Tatiana’s eyes flickered with new-found mischievousness as her twin closed the door behind him and waved Aniela over. Excited to be included, Aniela scrambled over, but Tatiana stopped her before she could climb onto the bed. She leaned in close, Tatiana’s voice barely more than a whisper. Something in her voice made Aniela feel the way she did before she snuck into their mother’s closet without permission. Tatiana’s eyes glistened. “You know what we should do?” “What?” Aniela bounced as she failed to contain her enthusiasm. “We should play hide and seek at the park, but you know how Theo always finds you so quick?” She paused, lowering her voice. “So when we get there, you go hide, and I’ll give you a head start before I tell Theo it’s time to look for you.” If Aniela had known about Alice in Wonderland, she would have compared Tatiana’s smile to that of the Cheshire Cat’s. “Okay!” Aniela agreed enthusiastically. She put her fingers to her lips and turned an invisible key, offering it to Tatiana for safekeeping. Tatiana did not play along, letting the would-be key fall onto the bed untouched. “And no telling Theo,” Tatiana emphasized. “I’ll tell him, but before we go you had better put Mum’s clothes back where you found them.” “Okay.” Aniela sprinted out of the room and back down the hall. She placed the clothes back in the trunk at the back of her mother’s closet, pearls and all. She then returned to Tatiana’s room to find Theodore waiting and Tatiana ready to go. They piled into a waiting car; Theodore placed himself between the two girls. The driver would stay with them in place of a bodyguard, for while no one had expanded on the subject, Aniela knew there was some kind of protection in place that made them unnecessary. Aniela pressed her face to glass as she watched the houses go by. “We here! We here!” she celebrated. Theodore helped Aniela as she fumbled to get out of the car. “You’ll want to chew some gum after you smoke or Mum will smell it on your breath,” Tatiana told Marcus as she climbed out. He coughed and Theodore’s eyes narrowed. “What? It’s true!” Once Aniela was freed from her booster seat, she shot out of the car and went to find a suitable hiding place. She looked around and chose the jungle gym. Hiding in one of the many colorful tunnels, she listened for either of her siblings to start counting. When she did not hear any, she assumed she was safely hidden. Excited about the game, she was determined to stay put, at least until her short attention span got the better of her. Her gaze fell on two boys sitting in the gravel near the swing set; one was holding a vehemently protesting cat while the other pulled its whiskers. “Stop it! Stop being mean!” her voice echoed through the tunnel. She crawled out and ran back to the twins. She pulled on the hem of Theodore’s shirt with one hand and pointed with the other. “Mean boys are being mean to a kitty!” she screamed and turned to Tatiana. “Fix it!” Aniela’s anger elevated once Tatiana’s eyes fell on the boys, able to read her sibling’s mood whether she wanted to or not. She moved behind Theodore, pushing on his lower back and keeping directly behind him as if he were an impenetrable wall. Tatiana walked over with an intimidating gait, so quiet in her movements that despite Aniela’s yelling, the boys did not look up until her shadow was upon them. One look at her and they both shot off in the opposite direction, leaving the cat to run off as well. “Awe!” Aniela yelled, “Kitty! Kitty come back! I wanna take you home! Tia get it!” “Ana, don’t be silly. The cat is not going to want to be caught after that.” “But I wanna make it feel better. Tia use your ma-muh…” she was muffled by Theodore’s hand cupping her mouth. She huffed at him, but his hand remained firm as he began forcibly walking her back to the car. “Not a word until we get home,” he hissed. Confused, she looked up at him, unable to understand why he was angry now that the cat was free, but he remained silent. “Marcus, gum please.” Tatiana shot out a demanding hand between the front seats once she joined them. He handed her two pieces and she passed one to Theodore. “I want gum,” Aniela whined. The first and only time she had been given gum, she had swallowed it. “You’re too young,” Tatiana gloated, blowing a large bubble and popping it with her teeth. “Am not!” Aniela puffed out her bottom lip and made sad puppy dog eyes at her brother who she no longer felt was mad at her. Tatiana reached across Theodore and pulled one of Aniela’s shoestrings, untying it in one fluid motion. “You’re too young until you can tie your shoe.” “I can,” Aniela shot, bringing her foot up close and playing with the laces. Her tongue wiggled around, poking out of the corner of her mouth in determination. It kept her busy the whole way home until eventually, Theodore reached over and helped. “Ana, you still want gum?” Tatiana asked once they were home. “Yes please!” she held out her hand expectantly. “Here.” Tatiana took the piece of gum out of her mouth and placed it in Aniela’s hand. A familiar grin spread across Tatiana’s face. Aniela’s jaw dropped and her nose wrinkled in mortified disgust. Saliva pooled in the palm of her hand as it slid off the damp wad while she stared at it until Theodore took it from her. Aniela wiped her hand on Theodore’s shirt and he made no signs of minding, but as soon as Tatiana started to do the same, he gave her a dark glare and she wiped her fingers on her own shirt instead. Theodore took Aniela by the hand and walked her to her room. “Stay. I will be right back and we can talk about why I had to cut you off in the park,” he commanded. He closed the door behind him. She waited for his footsteps to fade down the marble hallway before tiptoeing out of her room and back into her sister’s. “What now?” Tatiana groaned. “Why can’t we use magic outside?” Tatiana had been lying on her back but rolled over on the bed before she answered. The same grin she had worn that morning pulled at the corners of her lips. “If you use magic, or mention it outside the house, in the middle of the night, when the lights are out and you’re sound asleep…” “You just don’t!” Theodore interjected firmly. The door to Tatiana’s room had swung open so forcefully it collided with the wall, cutting Tatiana off mid-sentence. “Inside is one thing, but outside it is forbidden.” Theodore informed Aniela before Tatiana could continue. Tatiana pouted and rolled back over, but Aniela could not help but worry where the story had been going. All sorts of terrible scenarios played through her vivid imagination involving monsters in the closet or bugs that came and carried people away in their sleep, but she did not want to know badly enough to ask Tatiana to continue. Theodore took her by the hand, this time more gently, and led her back to her room. “Ana, don’t let Tia scare you. Magic is not scary; it is a gift. You will understand when you are older. For now, you do not want to get in trouble, do you?” Aniela shook her head.



This post is part of the Blind Sight Blog Tour. Blind Sight is an urban fantasy novel written in two volumes, each telling the story through a different character's perspective.

preview on Barnes and Noble preview on Amazon
 

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Review of Eve by Anna Carey

                                                                                                                                                                                   
Sum it up: YA Dystopian Romance

The year is 2032, sixteen years after a deadly virus—and the vaccine intended to protect against it—wiped out most of the earth’s population. The night before eighteen-year-old Eve’s graduation from her all-girls school she discovers what really happens to new graduates, and the horrifying fate that awaits her.

Fleeing the only home she’s ever known, Eve sets off on a long, treacherous journey, searching for a place she can survive. Along the way she encounters Caleb, a rough, rebellious boy living in the wild. Separated from men her whole life, Eve has been taught to fear them, but Caleb slowly wins her trust...and her heart. He promises to protect her, but when soldiers begin hunting them, Eve must choose between true love and her life.




I haven't read a YA novel in a lonnnng time, and I actually didn't even pick this one. My sister was reading it and thought it would be nice to have someone to discuss with, so I said why the heck not and started it. Eve was a relatively quick read...it took me two days to finish it, in between errands. While it definitely wasn't a bad YA novel, it  could have been much better.

Basically, Eve is an orphan like many other children in this post-apocalyptic-plague era. Girls are sent to "schools" where they are educated, well-fed, athletic, and trained in areas of expertise and the humanities, like history or music or art. They graduate at 18 and move from the general housing area to a "graduate study building" on the other side of a lake that, conveniently, can't be crossed without a drawbridge (lol medieval times) because these poor girls don't know how to swim. They are taught that all men are vulgar evil sex addict pigs that should be avoided at all costs, except for the middle-aged King of The New America who is apparently the most kindhearted gentleman in the country (...yeah. You're not the only one shaking your head right now.) Men, as far as the girls know, live mostly "in the wild" (which means not in the City of Sand, where civilized people are rebuilding after the plague) and simply raise themselves like packs of animals, to hunt meat and hunt women. As for boy orphans, the girls have no idea what they live like but they assume they're all cavemen or whatever. One of the girls at Eve's school can actually swim, and she crossed the lake to discover that the "graduate building" is actually a breeding compound where all graduates are tied down, medicated, and forcefed while pregnant with literally litters of babies.

(Seriously it's okay if you're creeped out now.) 

She tells Eve about it blahblahblah they escape from the school, on the run from not only the School officials but the government as well because guess what? The King is coming to pick someone to provide him with an heir, and that someone is Eve! (If you're not facepalming at this point, you should be. But don't worry...the rest of the book is filled with uncomfortable weirdness so you'll have plenty more opportunities to smack yourself in frustration.)  

The beginning is really rushed, with barely any background info before you're thrown into Eve's escape trip (which is pretty much what the whole book is about.) You get a few scarce details about Eve's life, like how she ended up at the School (yes, capitalized. *cue moaning about overused literary techniques*) and some of the brainwashing things that the girls at the School are taught. I really would have appreciated more of a backstory, especially about the actual plague that occurred!

The romance is cute and awkward, especially due to Eve's years of brainwashing. It follows the sort-of typical path where the love interest is pretty much perfect, has a tragic past, is considerably more handsome and caring than other dudes around him, and wants nothing more than to spend every waking minute with his equally twitterpated OTL. Eve and Caleb meet, they disagree, they hash out a bunch of stereotypes they've held about each other, and then the reader is attacked by an invasion of the WarmNFuzzies as the two main characters stare dreamily into each other's eyes and realize that they're soulmates. I'm so so so very very very done with these "perfect" guys and obsessive relationships in YA fic. The romance is really what has driven me farther and farther away from YA in general. I've found my recent New Adult reads to be much more realistic, yet still sweet and romantic.

The plot is pretty sound, with a healthy dose of suspense and action to balance the annoying romantic scenes.  The scenery was described awesomely, and I loved the world that Anna Carey created. So desolate and dark, almost depressing. The main characters had their distinct personalities and flaws (well, except for perfect Caleb) but the minor characters, like Eve's friends left behind at the school, could have been written better IMO. The other School escapee, Arden, was a great contrast to Eve's obliviousness and her wilderness incompetence :) She helped to keep the story grounded, and was definitely a necessary character. 

The ending is strong, with a couple of surprise twists and events that lured me into reading the second book. Eve had come a long way from the naïve teacher's pet she was in the beginning of the book, and while she still irritated me and at times made me want to slap her, I was proud of her and (most of) her choices, and of the strong person she'd become.

While I was satisfied at the end of the book, I wasn't happy after reading it. No "OMG MUST READ THE NEXT BOOK ASAP OR I'M GONNA DIE" or positive vibes or emotional reaction, just irritation at the way the author used a cliché move to end it. On the other hand, I didn't hate it enough to drop the series altogether, so I'll be dragging myself through the next book soon. Overall, I'd recommend this book to a teen reader who enjoys/tolerates a typical tragic YA romance, and is looking for a fresh take on post-plague dystopia.

Lia's Rating: Okay Read/Liked It 

Friday, June 21, 2013

Blog Tour Post! Review, Excerpt, and Giveaway of Lightning Rider by Jen Greyson


Synopsis: For Evy Rivera, thunderstorms have always caused her physical pain, but she's never known why. When a record-setting storm arrives on the same night her father finds ancient ancestral documents, Evy is set aglow with mysterious tiny lightnings she can command. Even worse, she alerts some people in the universe who've been looking for her family for a very long time.Thrown back into ancient Spain and tasked with killing a Spanish legend, she must train alongside Constantine, a sexy yet obstinate Roman warrior.
Ilif Rotiart, her quasi-mentor, is appalled at Evy's skill. He would prefer to train her father and keep Evy on the sidelines—where women belong. 

 Penya Sepadas claims she's Evy's rightful trainer, and she has the prophecy to prove it. Penya doesn't share Ilif's misogynistic attitude, but she does have her own agenda...and her own secrets.

Evy must sort through the lies and find the truth behind her family's time-traveling past before the wrong history obliterates the future. She’s spent her whole life fighting for her place. Now, as the first female lightning rider, she'll dedicate her existence to fighting to save the world.

But will Evy learn to manage her lightning and find the truth before it's too late?
 
(You can read the full description here on Goodreads.)
 
Let me start by saying that I'm so happy that I get to help promote one of my favorite books of this year, Lightning Rider. This is my first time participating in a blog tour, and I can't think of a better book to start my tour experience :)  

WOW... yes, the capitals are necessary. Lightning Rider was an absolute thrill to read, and I couldn't be more satisfied after finishing it. I'll start with a quick summary: Evy, the main character, finds out she has the power to time travel using lightning. This ability has been in her family for generations, and only men have wielded it in the past. She's the first female "Lightning Rider" as these time travelers are called, and she also has the power to use lightning as a weapon. Ilif is the man who has guided the past generations of Rivera lightning riders through their journeys and travels, and once Evy and her father travel for the first time, he shows up to "train" her father. He's either a male chauvinist, or he has some other issues with women, and he refuses to acknowledge Evy's obvious potential. Evy does some time traveling on her own and gets involved in a battle that happened approximately 2000 years ago. It's during this battle that she meets Constantine, the warrior soldier with a tragic past. Evy and Constantine must work together to win the battle not just for the era in the past, but for the sake of the future as well.

I really liked that the plot was complicated enough to keep me curious, but still easy to understand. Just when I thought that I'd (mostly) figured things out, the author would introduce a new obstacle or piece of information that would shake things up for all of the characters. Evy was kept in the dark about many things related to her time traveling, but as the story progressed she kept fighting for more information, and she got it. This made for an even-paced book, and there was no point where I felt uninterested in what was happening.

Evy was an awesome narrator/main character. She didn't take crap from anyone, and she refused to let people control or manipulate her. (Except for her scumbag ex-boyfriend. Apparently, she was terrible at picking the "right" guys, but that really wasn't visible during Lightning Rider except for the very beginning. Unless you have something against broken-hearted, muscular Roman warriors...more on that later :D)  Her biggest flaw was her hot-headedness. She not only recognized her personal obstacle, she tried to work on fixing it as the book progressed, and it was clear by the end of the story that she had really improved and gained more control over her actions and words. There were no clichéd supporting characters; even sexist Ilif didn't act in a ridiculously unreasonable manner. I mean, he was unreasonable, but not manically-cackling-evil-professor unreasonable. Each character, even the minor ones, had real strengths and flaws. (Honestly, my biggest pet peeve with many of the books I've recently read is the stereotypical characters.)

Finally, I HAVE to talk about the romance. I was really happy that the romance didn't overpower the book, and that the author didn't use dozens of love scenes. I think that they would have cheapened the book (I can't really think of a better phrase) and I was able to stay focused on the plot of the story. Constantine is the love interest, but he's much more than that. He's in charge of training Evy for the battle. More specifically, he helps her learn to control her lightning powers and use them as a weapon. By training with Constantine, Evy was able to focus on her inner self and use her emotions to her advantage with the lightning. (I have some theories about his importance to her that I'm hoping will be confirmed in the future ;D ) From the moment Evy first sees him, there's an obvious attraction, but while she definitely acknowledges it, she doesn't let it cloud her judgment. Constantine is what you might call "perfect" physically. Lean, muscular, in shape, luscious locks, etc but his personality is far from perfect. He's damaged from events in his past and he uses his warrior status to help numb the pain, to turn off his emotions. He, too, was hot-headed, but he had a bit more control over his tongue. Their romance was real, with arguments and disagreements and heated moments of passion ;) No insta-love...yay! They really improved each other, which is the best kind of relationship in my opinion.

Overall, I would recommend this book to anyone looking to read a series with action, realistic fantasy, a strong female lead, and a bit of romance. Anyone, that is, who doesn't mind a sprinkling of adult content ;)

And now for an exclusive excerpt *drumroll*... This is in the beginning of the story, when Evy's trying to make it home during a storm. You know how authors can just trap you in a book within the span of a few paragraphs? Yeah, this is the part that trapped me.
 
*********************************************

A brilliant flash washes the night away as a sizzling bolt of electricity pounds a forty-foot pine on my left. Sparks rain down as the entire canyon lights up like it’s noon.
The shockwave nearly tears me from the bike, and my guts twist as if I’ve just slammed a pint of Jack Daniels. I gasp. Pain sears me, locking my muscles. My fingers clamp down on the throttle, and I can’t pull them free. Dash instruments illuminate like they’re powered by a thousand volts, and the engine races. For a millisecond, the bike tries to die and time freezes.

Blackness surrounds me.

How the hell does the power go out on a mountain?

Another blinding light bombards me. I flinch and tuck my cheek against my shoulder, waiting for the lightning strike.

The intense white fades into a sandy color stretching in every direction. An older woman stands at a completely different roadside. My bike is gone.

"Abuelita?" I ask, stunned this is what death looks like.

She steps closer, and as she does, I realize it’s not her. Profound sadness tugs the wrinkles around this stranger’s eyes until they almost melt into her leathery cheeks. A mournful wail in the opposite direction spins me around. Amid a pile of bodies, a small child clings to a limp hand. I choke back a cry and raise my hand to my mouth.

Crumbled buildings lean on each other for support. Bodies, some alive and most not, clutter the doorways. The stench of decay and forgotten life overwhelms me.

"You’re too late," she says.

"Where am I?" My words are barely a whisper. Please don’t let this be hell.

"Spain."

I blanch. "No. No this is . . . somewhere else. This is a war zone. Why does Spain look like this?"

"Because she never fell to Rome. Start at the beginning, rider."

Another flash of lightning.

I’m yanked away with the snap of a slingshot and plunged into darkness.


**********************************

(If that didn't just pique your curiosity, I don't know what else could.)


I'm giving away one ebook copy of Lightning Rider! Just enter through the Rafflecopter widget below. Good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway



Author Bio:
From the moment she decided on a degree in Equestrian Studies, Jen Greyson’s life has been one unscripted adventure after another. Leaving the cowboy state of Wyoming to train show horses in France, Switzerland, and Germany, she’s lived life without much of a plan, but always a book in her suitcase. Now a wife and mom to two young boys, she relies on her adventurous, passionate characters to be the risk- takers.
Jen also writes university courses and corporate training material when she’s not enjoying the wilds of the west via wakeboard or snowmobile.

You can check out Jen's website at http://jengreyson.com/
Follow Jen on Facebook and Twitter!

Check out Lightning Rider on Amazon, or Barnes and Noble, or here on The Writer's Coffee Shop.
 

Friday, June 14, 2013

Beauty Review: Revlon Crazy Shine Nail Buffer

Wow, I can't believe how fast the last few weeks have gone by! So much has happened in my personal life (and professional life, too) that I lost track of the days, gosh. Ending the year at the program where I tutor fulltime was crazy fun, and I am so glad to finally be on summer break :)

I've been wanting to review this buffer for a while, but it got put on the back burner behind some bigger reviews. While I may not have ten paragraphs to say about this one, it definitely deserves a place on my blog.

I first learned about the Crazy Shine buffer from a previous acquaintance, and I was impressed with her results. She had used the buffer before I saw her, and I would have sworn she had a topcoat of nail polish on if she hadn't then literally grabbed me by the hand and buffed one of my fingernails before I could even protest. (I was kind of scared because I had never before in my life buffed my nails, and it seemed so weird to be scrubbing them like that!) After buffing, she shined my nail...and that was when I was completely amazed. 

The buffer pad itself is pretty easy to hold onto, but the smooth side can get a bit slippery (especially if your hands are sweaty or wet when holding it.) I use the rough green side to buff for about ten seconds, and then I rub the white shiny side on my nail for about 5 seconds or until I see a satisfactory shine :)  It's really amazing how shiny it makes my nails!  I rarely, if ever, wear nail polish because I am a hands-on activities kinda person, and nail polish would just be a hassle. This buffer lets me have a manicured look without spending more than five dollars. Best of all, no chemicals on my nails and no chipping!

The edges of the buffer wear out quickly, which stinks because the edges are the easiest part of the buff pad to use, but it's not difficult to position my nail over the center of the pad. Revlon sells these in regular sizes and to-go sizes, and I personally like one of the smaller pads (the flower shape one) because the petals are so conveniently sized for my nails, with extra edges to use. I'm not a religious buffer (once every few weeks and on special occasions) so my pad lasts a few months. Of course, more frequent buffing = more frequent pad replacement :)

I recommend this to pretty much everybody! If you want smooth, shiny nails without the hassle of nail polish or salon prices, this is THE product for you.

Lia's Rating: Remarkable!
 

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Snack time review! Nabisco Birthday Cake Golden Oreos

This is a cookie only wielded in the most desperate of times. Times when people like me who maybe used to eat vanilla frosting by the spoonful for dessert need something mindblowingly sweet to get rid of one helluva craving. This week has been a desperate time for me. I'm less than two weeks away from wrapping up the school year at my tutoring program, and life has been one big pile of paperwork. These cookies just showed up in my snack cabinet a few days ago (thanks, family, for the weird and awesome foodz I always find in there!) and I needed to try one, if only to hate on them like almost everyone else I know. 

They taste so. Flipping. Sweet. And they really rock that fake-birthday-cake-borderline-bubblegum flavor, which I found worked strangely well with the golden cookie. I think this is one of those snacks where you really like it, or you really don't. You can practically feel the sugar attacking your teeth as you chew them. (12 grams of sugar for two cookies...I was surprised!) But sometimes...sometimes I just really need a junk processed cookie. These were so bad and yet so good. I mean, they obviously tasted nothing like real vanilla icing OR a proper birthday cake, but seriously if my taste buds could smile they would have resembled toothpaste commercial actors. All I needed were two of these golden beauties to satisfy my super craving. T-t-t-t-t-tasty ;)



Would I buy these again? Well, I didn't buy them in the first place, so wrong question! Ahem, as delicious as they are, I don't think I would buy them myself, because no one else in my house would eat them and I wouldn't buy a package of oreos to polish off on my own. I WOULD, however, recommend them to anyone with a serious vanilla sweet tooth.

Lia's Rating: Loved it! 

I do have to mention that I also tried the birthday cake chocolate oreos. The flavor combo of fake bday cake and the not-so-sweet chocolate cookie was, in my humble opinion, absolutely disgusting. Against the chocolate, the "icing cream" or whatever you want to call it was completely plastic-y. They didn't work well together. Blegh, I say! BLEGH!
 

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Not my usual review!

I've been reviewing books and beauty products for a few months now. While I love reading, and testing out makeup & moisturizers, I also like trying new food! And maybe it sounds silly, but if I find a really good recipe or snack or chocolate bar, I want to spread the word about it. :) (And if I try something disgusting, I want to send out a warning post about that too lol.) So today's review is going to be of a snack I just tried.

I'm a HUGE fan of cheddar cheese, and the many (healthy and unhealthy) snacks coated in it. A family friend who is hopelessly in love with Veggie Straws recommended the Sensible Portions Smooth Cheddar Potato Straws. And of course, I tried them.




You can get them in a pack of 1 oz servings, or in a 7 oz bag (that has seven servings, if you eat your portion according to the convenient serving size info on the back. 38 Straws!) On the front of the bag, the straws appear coated in that pretty orange cheese powder. Alas, this is not the case. The straws have almost NO cheese flavor whatsoever. You're lucky if you can actually see the stingy sprinkling of cheddar on any of them. All you can taste is the potato! It's like a bland form of pringles. And I'd deal with the texture (like very crunchy styrofoam) if these straws actually had an appealing flavor, but unfortunately for me they don't.

I love what the company does with the portion info on the back, but the product just isn't tasty enough for me. If I'm going to taste potatoes, I'd rather eat a potato chip. But I'll give other veggie straw flavors a chance... I'm kind of excited about trying the ranch flavor!

Lia's Rating: Okay (will not be buying again!)

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Review of Nothing More, Nothing Less by Ashley Dukart

 
Note: This is an older YA/New Adult novel. This book contains mature content.


*I received this book in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to Ashley Dukart for providing me with a copy!*
 
 When Brandon finds that his mother committed suicide, he blames himself for her decision. His guilt drives his young life into a downward spiral of drugs, drug dealing, and violent repercussions when his “business partners” don't get what they want. Haunted by the past memories he often relives, his brothers, who don't always seem to understand him and what he's going through, desperately try to help, but as life becomes further entangled, will Brandon find the escape he so desperately needs before it's too late?
 
    This was quite an intense story for me to read. I mean, I've read some pretty dark and/or emotional novels, but this one affected me differently. I'm pretty sure it's because those other emotional reads have been paranormal or fantasy books, and this was...well, it was much more real. The way that addiction destroyed so many lives and ruined so many opportunities struck a chord with me, and caused me to reflect on events in my own life.
    The main character, Brandon, is one of those people who has you shaking your head with disapproval one minute, then shaking your head with sympathy the next. The story really revolves around the life choices he's made and their miserable aftermath. You just want to grab his drugs and get rid of them forever. Brandon starts out as a self-medicator with an appetite for drugs, alcohol, and ladies. Mostly drugs, though.They free him from the burden of having to feel, which is apparently a heavy burden on him. (I really disliked him in the beginning because of this. His apathy, his lack of caring about, well, anything.) He has two brothers who are honestly concerned about him, and they try to get him to stop using, with no success. They let him live in their home, where he spends most of his time recuperating from crazy nights out. You soon find out that Brandon not only uses drugs, he deals them too. Many issues he faces in the novel are due to his poor choice of a "career."
    As the story progressed and pieces of his tragic past were revealed, I felt more sympathetic towards Brandon. One bad decision led to another horrible consequence, which led to another bad decision, which led to another consequence... it was a vicious cycle of sorrow, anger, and apathy. Sometimes he really did try to make the right choice, but a previous decision or consequence ruined it and he was dragged back into the world of drugs. There was no miracle rehab, no "love conquers all - even addiction" romance, no religious enlightenments to draw Brandon out of his dire situation. He had to realize, on his own, that life was not better because of drugs...it was worse.
    I appreciated the reality of this novel. Brandon's story did not have a perfect happy ending. (I mean, just as a forewarning, this author was not afraid to kill off characters!) As much as I enjoyed the story, however, I had a few issues with the writing. There was some irritating repetition of certain phrases or ideas. For example, every time Brandon was with a girl, the author would say that the characters "claim" each other's mouths/bodies etc. over and over. Another issue I had is that every time a new character was introduced, even if they were just a really minor character, Brandon would describe what they looked like. It made me think that these characters would return later in the book, or had some unknown importance, but that wasn't the case. 
    Overall, the issues didn't detract from what was a riveting story. You may be blown away by the ending, but it leaves you with a sliver of hope...not just for Brandon, but for anyone else in the real world using drugs. I would recommend this book to older readers willing to read about the harsh realities of heavier drug use, from a user's point of view.

Lia's Rating: Liked It

Check it out on Goodreads here! (There's currently a giveaway happening, ends May 31st)
Check it out on Amazon here!
 
 
 
 






Sunday, May 5, 2013

Beauty Review: Vaseline Total Moisture Clean Feeling Lotion


   As I've continued my search for the HG dry skin relief, I've been testing out some fancy shmancy products and some drugstore products. Vaseline lotions were on sale and so I figured, why the heck not? I grabbed three that sounded like moisturizers I might like. Total Moisture Clean Feeling was the first one I tried, and unfortunately, I'm not impressed.
   There are a few different lotions in the "Total Moisture" line. This one is supposed to leave your skin with a fresh-not-greasy feeling. It boasts about a "stratys-3" formula and pure oat extract, but I don't really care about special ingredients. It's more important to me that my moisturizer is a) non-greasy and b) long lasting.
   It's definitely a lightweight lotion. It smells like oats, I guess, but there's also some other fragrance in there. Not my preference, but hey, it says "fragrance" right there in the ingredients list, so that's my own fault. It takes about 30 seconds for it to absorb into my hands (roughly the same for body.) My skin felt moisturized for about 10 hours. Not too shabby for a drugstore product, methinks! On the bottle, it says that this stratys-3 formula is supposed to hydrate down to the deep layers of your skin, but I didn't get that "my skin's thirst is quenched!" feeling. Total Moisture feels nice for the first few minutes... then I have some issues with it.
   My biggest problem was with its non-greasy formula. It's true, I didn't have that continuously slimy feeling on my hands, long after applying it. That's because I had a continuously powdery feeling on my hands. When this lotion dries, it leaves this sort of film on top of my skin. You know how as a kid, you play around with liquid glue and let it dry on your fingers, then peel it off? No? Oh, well that was basically my childhood. It felt like I had a very thin layer of glue all over my hands. It also felt that way on my body. Gross!
   My other issue was that about 3 minutes after applying, my skin started to feel itchy, and scratching didn't help. At all. Looking at reviews, it seems like the same thing has happened to some other unfortunate people, so it's obviously not a rare reaction. Thankfully the itchiness was only temporary, so I wasn't suffering or anything. Just mildly annoyed.


Overall, I would not recommend this lotion to anyone because of my not-so-great experience with it. Try at your own risk!


Lia's Rating: Horrible/DNF


  

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Quick Review: The First Rule of Swimming by Courtney Angela Brkic


"Magdalena does not panic when she learns that her younger sister has disappeared. A free-spirit, Jadranka has always been prone to mysterious absences. But when weeks pass with no word, Magdalena leaves the isolated Croatian island where their family has always lived and sets off to New York to find her sister. Her search begins to unspool the dark history of their family, reaching back three generations to a country torn by war.

A haunting and sure-footed debut by an award-winning writer, The First Rule of Swimming explores the legacy of betrayal and loss in a place where beauty is fused inextricably with hardship, and where individuals are forced to make wrenching choices as they are swept up in the tides of history."


For some reason, I just couldn't emotionally attach myself to this story. Don't get me wrong; I feel that the plot and the characters were well written. The themes of family ties, immigration, and dealing with horrors past really hit home.  I loved the setting, a tucked away island in Croatia with an everyone-knows-everyone-else population.  BUT. I think my issue with this book was that there were so many different storylines and memories all included in one book...just when I thought I was getting to really know one of the characters, the storyline would switch to another POV (and maybe another era!) and I'd have to refocus myself and try to remember what had been happening to so-and-so during their previous chapter. The timing of the book was all over the place... sometimes two consecutive chapters were happening at the same time, sometimes they'd have weeks or more of time difference between them. Basically, I spent a lot of reading time feeling confused. I think that readers will either enjoy the complexity of the novel, or get tired of trying to connect the dots.

Lia's Overall Rating: Okay Read

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Beauty Review: Fresh Soy Face Cleanser


As I mentioned here, I ran out of my usual cleanser and had to switch to a new one. I decided to try Neutrogena Naturals... it was SO unpleasant to put it mildly and I realized it was time to try a certain sample that had been hiding in my room for quite some time.

The cute little packet of Fresh Soy Face Cleanser lasted for about 4 or 5 uses. It had a mild, herb-y smell to it, not too unpleasant. It doesn't get foamy, and the clear gel formula spread nicely over my face. (My face felt cool and refreshed after using it.) It removes face makeup, but my Stay Don't Stray undereye primer stubbornly remained. I haven't tested it on heavier eye makeup, but I'd assume that it would work fine with most products that aren't waterproof.

Unfortunately, after a good ol' pat-n-dry, my face felt tight and dehydrated. I mean, it wasn't as bad as the Neutrogena Face Cleanser From Hell...but I was not happy with the flaky feeling I got after washing. It's my face, not a biscuit!



(Yummm.) Anyway, overall this face cleanser was good, not great. The smell was a teensy bit strong, and I wasn't satisfied with the results, so another one bites the dust! of the garbage bin.

Lia's Rating: Liked It

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Review of Tiger's Destiny by Colleen Houck (Book 4 in the Tiger's Curse series)



From Goodreads: With three of the goddess Durga's quests behind them, only one prophecy now stands in the way of Kelsey, Ren, and Kishan breaking the tiger's curse. But the trio's greatest challenge awaits them: A life-endangering pursuit in search of Durga's final gift, the Rope of Fire, on the Andaman Islands in the Bay of Bengal.  It's a race against time--and the evil sorcerer Lokesh--in this eagerly anticipated fourth volume in the bestselling Tiger's Curse series, which pits good against evil, tests the bonds of love and loyalty, and finally reveals the tigers' true destinies once and for all.

If I was to write alllll of my feelings about this book, I'd just be regurgitating what lots of other reviewers have already said. So I'll stick to the basics, and write this with the hopes that you've either read all of the other books in this series already or don't care about the other books. Because I just can't bring myself to type more about this idiocy than I have to.

This book was DISAPPOINTING in so many ways. Plot, characters/characterization, romance, and that ending.  I mean, there were enjoyable parts, but I don't even remember them because the disappointing parts make me so frustrated. I really was in love with this series, until the dumb romantic drama started, but Destiny made me eager to finish the book just to be done with it. The storyline kept switching between the beating-a-dead-horse love triangle and grocery-list steps of the quest. There's a new plot twist, but instead of helping the plot, it just made it more confusing. The characters, for the most part, were just idiotic. (And the author killed off one of two characters I could still bear to read about!) Ren and Kishan lost ALL traces of their personalities, all of those traits that made them interesting, and all they cared about was pleasing Kelsey. Kishan became a freaking mushy teddy bear, and Ren was playing the tragic "I'll love you from afar but not really because I'm hanging out with you all of the time" card. They were both wrapped around Kelsey's little finger, and she strung them along for the entire book. Not cool, Kelsey, not cool.  The ending was like the straw that broke the proverbial camel's back. One week after the end of the quest, when they've (mostly) returned home for good, Kelsey makes this absolutely ridiculous decision. A decision that should have been emotionally impossible, IF SHE ACTUALLY HAD FEELINGS throughout the book. It made me want to attempt violence towards fictional characters. (That's usually a bad sign...)



And now there's going to be a fifth book? ...Why?!?! The fourth book wrapped things up pretty absurdly neatly. And I don't like some of the theories floating around the internet. Anyway, I recommend this book to anyone wanting to know how NOT to stretch out a love triangle or destroy the individuality of main characters and love interests.

Lia's Rating: Okay Read (upgraded from Horrible/DNF because the mythology and scenery was well written.)

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Review of Lightning Rider by Jen Greyson


*A copy of this book was given to me in exchange for an honest review.*
 
Click here for the full description.
 
For Evy Rivera, thunderstorms have always caused her physical pain, but she's never known why. When a record-setting storm arrives on the same night her father finds ancient ancestral documents, Evy is set aglow with mysterious tiny lightnings she can command.
Even worse, she alerts some people in the universe who've been looking for her family for a very long time.

Evy must sort through the lies and find the truth behind her family's time-traveling past before the wrong history obliterates the future. She’s spent her whole life fighting for her place. Now, as the first female lightning rider, she'll dedicate her existence to fighting to save the world.

But will Evy learn to manage her lightning and find the truth before it's too late?


WOW... yes, the capitals are necessary. Lightning Rider was an absolute thrill to read, and I couldn't be more satisfied after finishing it. I'll start with a quick summary: Evy, the main character, finds out she has the power to time travel using lightning. This ability has been in her family for generations, and only men have wielded it in the past. She's the first female "Lightning Rider" as these time travelers are called, and she also has the power to use lightning as a weapon. Ilif is the man who has guided the past generations of Rivera lightning riders through their journeys and travels, and once Evy and her father travel for the first time, he shows up to "train" her father. He's either a male chauvanist, or he has some other issues with women, and he refuses to acknowledge Evy's obvious potential. Evy does some time traveling on her own and gets involved in a battle that happened approximately 2000 years ago. It's during this battle that she meets Constantine, the warrior soldier with a tragic past. Evy and Constantine must work together to win the battle not just for the era in the past, but for the sake of the future as well.

I really liked that the plot was complicated enough to keep me curious, but still easy to understand. Just when I thought that I'd (mostly) figured things out, the author would introduce a new obstacle or piece of information that would shake things up for all of the characters. Evy was kept in the dark about many things related to her time traveling, but as the story progressed she kept fighting for more information, and she got it. This made for an even-paced book, and there was no point where I felt uninterested in what was happening.

Evy was an awesome narrator/main character. She didn't take crap from anyone, and she refused to let people control or manipulate her. (Except for her scumbag ex-boyfriend. Apparently, she was terrible at picking the "right" guys, but that really wasn't visible during Lightning Rider except for the very beginning. Unless you have something against broken-hearted, muscular Roman warriors...more on that later :D)  Her biggest flaw was her hot-headedness. She not only recognized her personal obstacle, she tried to work on fixing it as the book progressed, and it was clear by the end of the story that she had really improved and gained more control over her actions and words. There were no cliched supporting characters; even sexist Ilif didn't act in a ridiculously unreasonable manner. I mean, he was unreasonable, but not manically-cackling-evil-professor unreasonable. Each character, even the minor ones, had real strengths and flaws. (Honestly, my biggest pet peeve with many of the books I've recently read is the stereotypical characters.)

Finally, I HAVE to talk about the romance. I was really happy that the romance didn't overpower the book, and that the author didn't use dozens of love scenes. I think that they would have cheapened the book (I can't really think of a better phrase) and I was able to stay focused on the plot of the story. Constantine is the love interest, but he's much more than that. He's in charge of training Evy for the battle. More specifically, he helps her learn to control her lightning powers and use them as a weapon. By training with Constantine, Evy was able to focus on her inner self and use her emotions to her advantage with the lightning. (I have some theories about his importance to her that I'm hoping will be confirmed in the future ;D ) From the moment Evy first sees him, there's an obvious attraction, but while she definitely acknowledges it, she doesn't let it cloud her judgement. Constantine is what you might call "perfect" physically. Lean, muscular, in shape, luscious locks, etc but his personality is far from perfect. He's damaged from events in his past and he uses his warrior status to help numb the pain, to turn off his emotions. He, too, was hot-headed, but he had a bit more control over his tongue. Their romance was real, with arguments and disagreements and heated moments of passion ;) No insta-love...yay! They really improved each other, which is the best kind of relationship in my opinion.

Overall, I would recommend this book to anyone looking to read a series with action, realistic fantasy, a strong female lead, and a bit of romance. Anyone, that is, who doesn't mind a sprinkling of adult content ;)

Lia's rating: a Remarkable Read!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Beauty Review: Neutrogena Naturals Purifying Facial Cleanser

 
 I recently ran out of what had been my favorite cleanser, Biore 4-in-1 detoxifying, and needed to find a new "good ol' reliable" product. Either my skin became way more sensitive between the "old" version and the "new" version, or they also changed the formula when they changed the look and bottle style, but my skin became severely dried out after using it. Damn you, sodium laureth sulfate, and your dehydrating foam power! Anyway, I needed something new. I didn't bother reading reviews, just went to my local drugstore and picked up whatever sounded good... yes I know bad bad idea, I'm not sure WHAT I was thinking. The Neutrogena purifying cleanser sounded harmless enough, with those lovely words I look for in a cleanser: "gentle" "natural" "improves complexion." And more importantly, it cost under $10 which made my wallet me very happy :) Unfortunately, I learned that hard way that a) reading cleanser reviews is really important, and b) I might need to spend more than $10 on a facial cleanser if I want positive results.
 
The first time I used this cleanser, it felt nice on my skin. It's a gel, with a smell that I call "soapy coconut." I used a small amount, maybe a dime-sized pump of it, and it created a decent lather. My skin felt tingly, even more after I rinsed my face. About a minute after I dried my face, it started to feel really tight and dry, and I had to apply more moisturizer than usual to quench my parched skin's thirst. No immediate "complexion improvement" but I hadn't expected any yet. The next night, I used the cleanser, and again my face felt tight and dry. Also, I didn't get that "clean" feeling after using it; my pores were NOT deep-cleaned like the bottle said they would be. Then I looked in the mirror, and a concerned, tomato-colored face looked back at me.

 
To put it mildly, I was unhappy with the product. But I hadn't faced the full wrath of Purifying Cleanser yet. No, the worst was yet to come, and it arrived the next morning. A patch of cystic acne greeted me when I woke up, and it stubbornly clung to life for the next TWO WEEKS. I read some reviews, and it looks like I'm definitely not the only one to have a bad reaction to this product. Luckily, I have a sample of Fresh Soy Face Cleanser to test out, and hopefully my skin won't go haywire after using it :)
 
Lia's Rating: Horrible! It turned my face red and dry, and exacerbated my acne. WILL NOT PURCHASE AGAIN.