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.)