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 :)


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

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 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 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