Monday, August 31, 2015

Monday Funday

It’s time for Monday Funday, a weekly collection of the things which have been distracting, delighting, or diverting me both online and offline.  Why not join in and link up over at CM Claire.

This week I watched the first season of Odd Mom Out.  I really enjoyed it, probably because I could relate to it just a little bit.  I felt like Jill was over-acting through most of it, but it is still a fun show and at only 10 episodes it’s easy to binge watch.  

Because my to be read pile isn’t long enough, I love quizzes that help you find more books.  What New Book Should You Read This Fall from Buzzfeed gave me Gold Fame Citrus by Claire Vaye Watkins, and I hadn’t heard of it but I think I will pick it up based on the description. Thanks Buzzfeed!

I’ve decided it’s time to get a new cellphone, so this week I spent a lot of time on YouTube watching review videos of the different phones my provider has.  How on earth did we ever make purchasing decisions before YouTube.  I’ve got to give a shoutout to Marques Brownlee of MKBHD - his videos are what helped me make my decision.

blogTO published an article on The 10 Weirdest Toronto Kid’s Shows of All Time.  You say weird, I say genius.  My favourites from this list - Today’s Special and Just Like Mom (my brother in law was on the show!)  My favourites not on the list - Dear Aunt Agnes and You Can’t Do That on Television (ok, that’s an Ottawa show but every Canadian 80’s kid loves that show.)

Speaking of the 80’s, Buzzfeed has a great collection of memes that will make you nostalgic for the good old days - 29 Memes That Are Too Real for 80’s Kids.  I had totally forgotten about the hamburger you played in at McDonald’s and the hoverboard urban legend.

And if reminiscing about awesome 80’s childhoods doesn’t make you feel old, Buzzfeed has another article - 33 Facts About the Class of 2019 That Will Hurt Your Soul - that may just drive you to despair.

On a serious note, I came across this article from The Atlantic, published in April, titled Ferguson’s Fortune 500 Company and I was floored by what we don’t know about the background of the city and how we really don’t have the full picture.

Friday, August 28, 2015

August Birchbox Review

This month I received my first Birchbox make-up subscription box.  I’m a pretty low maintenance girl but I do love make-up and new products so this is a fun way to try things I might not otherwise pick out for myself.  I thought I would add something new to my blog, where I share my favourite products as well as test-drive some new products.  So here is my first Birchbox review!
(I desperately need a new phone with a better camera.)

amika Un.Done Texture Spray
 Styling spray that gives hair effortless, tousled volume, loads of shine and a dreamy scent 

I really liked this product.  I tend to do a wash and go thing with my hair and rarely blow-dry my hair in the summer but I had a few places to go that my hair needed to be looking good so I used this product.  I do love the scent and there was definitely some added shine.  I tried this a few different ways (straight blow-dried hair, wavy air-dried, wavy blow-dried) but liked the product best after I had blow-dried my hair straight.

LAQA & Co. Cheeky Lip
 This creamy crayon delivers a rich, easy-to-apply colour for both lips and cheeks

I love a lip crayon.  My lips get pretty dry and lipstick never stays on for me so I’ve always used crayons.  I like this one, however I found that if I used just the crayon, it came off quick and flaky and didn’t look good.  But when I combined it with my L’oréal Colour Riche Balm in Rose Elixir (a very light pink gloss) it looked and felt fantastic.  I also really liked using this on my cheeks, however I’d rather use it on my lips.

Skyn Iceland Hydro Cool Firming Eye Gels 
Peptide-packed, easy-to-use cooling treatments to hydrate and refresh stressed skin under the eyes

I’ve never tried something like this before.  Little patches you put under your eyes, they feel funny and awesome at the same time.  Did I notice life-changing results after just one use? Nope, but boy did they feel absolutely amazing when I knew my face could use a little pick-me-up.  I’m sure that with regular use, I'd notice a difference.

Temple Spa Peace Be Still Calming Face & Body Balm 
Part skin-care, part aromatherapy, this botanical-packed cream nourishes the skin and calms the mind

I used this exclusively on my face as it came in a trial size package.  I did not care for the scent of it.  It says it is a blend of essential oils including lemon, nutmeg, orange, and lavender.  I just felt like the lavender over-powered the rest.  If the scent wasn’t so strong it wouldn’t bother me, but it was just too much.  It’s a nice light lotion and I liked it for my face in the summer.

Whish Shave Crave Shaving Cream 
A shea butter-packed shaving cream in a pick-me-up pomegranate scent

I loved the results of this product.  I got a great close shave on my legs and my legs felt so soft and moisturized after.  The pomegranate scent is surprising.  I also liked that the cream didn’t clog up the razor the way other similar creams I have used do.  

What I Would Buy: The LAQA & Co. crayon, the Whish Shaving Cream, the amika Spray, the Skyn Iceland Eye Gels

What I Would Pass On But Look for Other Products From This Company: Temple Spa Face & Body Balm

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

"What a Girl Wants" by Lindsey Kelk

The last time we saw Tess Brookes she was in Hawaii, pretending to be her flatmate, working as a photographer, and finding herself in way over her head in all aspects of her life.  And now, she has a major decision to make.  Charlie, her best friend and the guy she has been lusting after for years is finally starting to feel the same way.  He wants her to stay in London, start a new advertising agency with him, and more importantly, start a relationship.  But she also has the opportunity to head to Milan and start a new career in photography.  And waiting for her there is Nick, the frustrating but extremely sexy man she met in Hawaii.  For once, Tess has to choose between two lives she could only have dreamed of before.  It’s time for Tess to decide exactly what she wants out of life.

What a Girl Wants, by Lindsey Kelk, picks up right where About A Girl left off and is a fun, breezy follow-up.  While the first book was about escaping from real-life, this one is about figuring out what real life will be when you return.

In the first book, I mentioned that Tess was a character that I fell for right away and absolutely enjoyed.  This book, not as much.  She’s still a great main character but this time around I wasn’t impressed with some of her actions or decisions.  I was starting to wonder if there was too much time between reading the books because she just didn’t seem like the Tess I remembered.  I was, however, thrilled to see that her best friend Amy got a lot more time in this book.  She was a great laugh in the first book and continued to be, even more, in this one.

I liked the plot of this book and I liked the way it played out.  Girl lusts after best friend for years then finally best friend notices her is something we see often in books and movies.  But this time, it’s not such an easy, happy ending.  There is someone else in Tess’ life and it makes it hard for her to decide what to do.  What makes this story stand out from others like it is the other guy, well he’s just not that likeable.  But you can see why he is sending Tess into a tailspin.  This should be a very easy decision but it’s not.  

Lindsey Kelk is a great writer.  Her characters always find themselves in unique situations, ones that she writes with great humour.  The excitement and drama always continues right to the last page, making it an enjoyable experience for the reader.  This book is no different.  Yes, there were moments where I really didn’t like the main characters much but I quickly found myself warming up to them again.  Even when you’re not a fan of some of the characters, Kelk’s writing is so great that it doesn’t take away from enjoying the book.  Another great book and another great series from Lindsey Kelk.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Monday Funday

It’s time for Monday Funday, a weekly collection of the things which have been distracting, delighting, or diverting me both online and offline.  Why not join in and link up over at CM Claire.

I was so excited to see that The Delivery Man is on Netflix.  It’s a British sitcom about a man that leaves the police force to become a midwife. The show picks up as he starts his new job at the hospital.  I’m such a fan of Aisling Bea who stars in the show.

Staying on the topic of British television shows I like, I’m patiently waiting for the 4th season of Fresh Meat to start so I was excited to see the quiz over at Buzzfeed UK that helps you find out which Fresh Meat housemate you are.  I got Oregon which slightly annoyed me, but I guess with me studying History at university and being a teacher’s assistant, it kind of makes sense.  But that is all we have in common.

Canada is in the midst of a national election and I tend not to pay too much attention as I’m fully committed to a party. However, I came across this article written by Margaret Atwood after she tweeted out that the website took down the article shortly after posting it.  It’s back up now and it’s a great read, even if you’ve already made up your mind about voting.
I love reading magazines and this time of year is the best time - September Issues! 

Thursday night, I found myself caught up in a serious YouTube loop.  It lasted three hours, probably because I should have been working. It started out very innocently, watching a few really good X Factor auditions and then next thing I know I ended up watching late 90’s/early 00’s pop music videos which is where my loops always end up.  Somehow I ended up back at X Factor auditions but this time, it was the really bad ones.  By the end of it, I felt like this:

What has been keeping you distracted this week?

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

"It's Not Me, It's You" by Mhairi McFarlane

Delia Moss thought everything was going pretty well in her life.  So when she planned a lovely, romantic marriage proposal for her boyfriend of ten years and he said yes, she was on top of the world.

Until only a few minutes later, her new fiancé Paul sends her a text that was meant for someone else.  A text that says “She’s proposed. Don’t know what to do” and is meant for the twenty four year old Paul has been seeing on the side.  

Delia is devastated.  She realizes that the only way she’ll truly be happy is to find out where the old Delia went and get her back.  She quits the job that has been causing her so much stress and hightails it out of Newcastle to stay with her best friend in London.  It’s not easy starting over in your thirties but Delia is determined to do it.  She takes a job at a small, brand-new PR company and goes back to one of her first loves - the comic strip she created in her teens.

But London proves to be more than she bargained for.  Her boss is horrible, she’s being blackmailed by a sleazy journalist, and Paul is making a play to win Delia back.  Will Delia ever be able to get back to her true self and face what life has to throw at her with ease?

It’s Not Me It’s You, by Mhairi McFarlane, is a lovely novel about losing your way and finding your way back to your true self.  I was seeing this book mentioned on a few different blogs so I thought I would give it a read, I always love reading new (to me) chick lit authors.  This book is a long one, so long that I had to take out my e-copy from the library twice just to finish it (well, 531 pages, but I didn’t realize that with only a few days left before I had to return it.) 

I really liked the character of Delia.  I think a lot of women will be able to relate to her and find a friend in her.  You can’t help but want to comfort her when she goes through all the pain of the heartbreak with Paul.  It takes a lot to start your life over so you’re cheering on Delia the entire way.

The supporting cast of characters were great.  I loved Delia’s best friend Emma and her brother Ralph is such a sweet character.  Delia’s internet friend, Peshwari Naan, was a great idea despite my initial reluctance to him having such a role in the book.  I did not care at all for her boss Kurt, but that’s the point.  And Paul, well there is much to be said about Paul.  I’ll let readers discover that for themselves.

Unfortunately for me, despite the great cast of characters, the plot fell a bit flat.  I really enjoyed the story while Delia was still in Newcastle but once she arrived in London I felt as though the book could have been a lot shorter.  Reading it felt as though the book needed to be fit into a certain number of pages but there just wasn’t enough to the plot so what was there was drawn out.  It doesn’t mean that the story wasn’t good, it means it should have been shorter.

I think from reading what others have to say about the book, that it just wasn’t a great fit for me.  Saying that, I enjoyed reading the book and I don’t hesitate to recommend it to anyone who enjoys the genre.  

Monday, August 17, 2015

Monday Funday

Monday Funday is a fun idea that lifestyle blogger and my awesome internet friend Claire has been doing over on her blog CM Claire.  I love seeing what fun stuff has caught her eye online and thought “I wanna do one too!”  So she told me she’d do a link up each week and here I am posting my first one!

Monday Funday is a weekly collection of the things which have been distracting, delighting, or diverting me all week long!

One of the few shows I actually look forward to each year is Project Runway.  Now, I can’t sew nor can I even draw something resembling a design, but I love fashion so that is why I’m obsessed with this show.  Plus, you get great etiquette tips from Tim Gunn.

When I work, I need to have some sort of noise going on in the background so I usually put on the UK Top 40 Chart on YouTube.  Which ends up distracting me from my work because while I should just be listening, I end up watching all the videos.  My favourite song this week:

Actually I've been obsessed with this song since it came out a few weeks ago.  Honourable mentions go to "Not Letting Go" - Tinie Tempah ft. Jess Glynne (YouTube wouldn't let me embed the video) and "Pony (Jump On It)" - Tough Love ft. Ginuwine (oh my goodness, high school me got way too excited over this one.)

Everything in this Buzzfeed article about Book Nerds is me.  Except for the Harry Potter stuff.  I tried people, I really did.  I even read the first three, but that’s where it ended.  But the rest of this list - me.  Especially #1,2,3, get the picture.

My kids love collecting Amiibo’s for the Wii and apparently they unlock levels of classic Nintendo games.  Watching them play not only took me back to my childhood but made me want to grab a controller and show my kids how a real boss defeats Bowser.  So this week, I’ve been playing a lot of Dr. Mario and Super Mario - and throwing a lot of side-eye at my 6 year old who thinks he can tell me where all the secret coins are.

You know what else distracts this girl from all the work she should be doing?  Another 11 game win streak (and a series sweep of the Yankees) by her Toronto Blue Jays.  FYI - I’ve been live-tweeting the games all season long from my personal twitter account, I’m not jumping on the bandwagon.  This girl’s been warming seats in the 500-level since 1996 (prior to that, warming seats at Stade Olympique since birth!)  And how can I not be obsessed with the Blue Jays when this is our third baseman.

Ok, this was definitely fun.  Thanks Claire for the awesome inspiration!

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

"The Face That Changed It All" by Beverly Johnson

This book will be released on August 25, 2015. It is available for pre-order now.

With her face on over five hundred magazine covers, Beverly Johnson is one of the worlds most successful supermodels ever.  But it is one cover that helped her make her mark in the industry and the history books.  In 1974, Beverly became the first Black model to be on the cover of American Vogue.  That cover opened the doors for many more young black women to enter the modelling profession.

In The Face That Changed It All, Beverly Johnson shares the story of her childhood, her rise to supermodel status, and the troubles behind the glamour.  Johnson is brutally honest in this memoir, sharing her heartaches and redemption while also sharing juicy tidbits from backstage.

I really enjoy reading autobiographies, though lately I’ve found I haven’t been reading much of them.  Which is why I grabbed this book, even though I didn’t know very much about Beverly Johnson before.  I knew of her as a stunningly beautiful model but I was unaware of how successful her career was and also what happened in her personal life.  I am amazed at how much I learned from reading this book, not just about her life but about the modelling industry, Hollywood in the 70’s and 80’s, and the strength with which Johnson has taken on all that life has thrown at her.

From drug addiction, divorces, and custody battles in her personal life to racism and jealousy in her work life, Beverly Johnson has had a lot of demons to wrestle.  But she has also had a lot to celebrate, especially the way she fought for equal rights in the modelling industry and always stood up for herself and others.  She covers it all with openness and honesty, not with shame but with the hope that others will learn from her mistakes.

This book also reads like a who’s who of Hollywood in the 70’s and 80’s.  From friends like Jackie Kennedy, Calvin Klein and Andy Warhol to dates (and sometimes relationships) with men like Arthur Ashe, Eddie Murphy, and Mike Tyson, she dishes on the glitz and glamour of the time with very little inhibition.  She also talks about her friendships/rivalries with models Pat Cleveland and Iman in a time when there was very little work for one Black model.  And she also addresses her encounters with the man that everyone has been talking about for months - Bill Cosby.

I really enjoyed reading this book and I think it comes down to with how much she is willing to share about her life.  She looks back at her troubled marriages with complete honesty and accountability. At no point do you feel guilty about poking around in her business, rather you feel as though you are sharing life lessons amongst girlfriends.  Wherever she shares juicy information about other people, she does so with respect and also with an understanding of who people are and why they do what they do.

My wish for this book?  Pictures!  I was reading an advance copy e-book and there were no pictures in it.  But the description of the print book says that there are beautiful colour copies.  I hope that it’s not the case that the final e-book is missing the photos as well.  

With a foreword written by André Leon Talley, this book takes you inside the modelling world and gives you a behind the scenes look at a life that broke barriers.  This isn’t just about celebrity or fashion, it’s about a woman who has battled her entire life and come out stronger because of it.  It’s about pushing yourself, owning your mistakes, and living life always looking forward.  It’s an inspiring read.

I received a copy of this book courtesy of the publisher through Netgalley.  The opinions expressed above are my own.

Monday, August 3, 2015

"Villa America" by Liza Klaussmann

When Sara and Gerald Murphy opened their home in the Cap D’Antibes in the 1920’s it became a place of legend.  A place where expat Americans - artists, and writers - gathered for parties, glamour, and love.  The champagne flowed as did the ideas, and the Murphy’s loved the charmed life they were living.

But when a tragic accident brings a man named Owen into their lives, the Murphys find their world upended.  An American aviator who fought in the Great War, Owen is a private man whose presence unsettles the Murphy’s.  And as the strength of their home is put at risk, their marriage is put to the test.  

Villa America, by Liza Klaussman, is a beautiful and stunning story about a golden age and the glamour of the French Riviera that became the stuff of legend.  The story of the real life couple who inspired F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Tender is The Night, readers will instantly be drawn into this gorgeous novel.

Following in the footsteps of other novels about the stories of real-life inspirations of some of the great 20th century artists, this is a wonderful novel that drew me right in.  It is a story of a world filled with vibrancy and fun, yearning and wanderlust, ideas and artistry.  And yet, it is a world full of secrets, ones that expose the humanity beneath all of the glitter.  Klaussman captures this perfectly, making these characters worth our adoration and sympathy at the same time.

This is a genre that is sort of hit or miss for me, as the time period is one that I haven’t really had much interest in.  But this book, starting in 1898 and continuing through 1935, changed all of that for me. Klaussman’s beautiful writing and elegant descriptions made me absorb everything I could of this time and place.

One of my favourite parts of this book was the letters written between Gerald and Sara leading up to, and during, their marriage.  What a lost art those letters are, the love and longing jumping off the page at the reader.  The letters in this book may not all be the real ones, but that does not matter, it is the tone and the romance of them that were so lovely to me.

I can’t speak to what is truth and what is created for this book but that does not matter to me. Others may be interested in that or have intense feelings about it but for me, it was about the story, the world that is inside the pages and that all worked very well in this book.  I felt it started a bit slow, setting up the story of Sara and Gerald as well as Owen, but once the book moved to the French Riviera I was fully caught up in it all.  There is a large, and great, cast of characters in this book, all with their stories that both captivate and pull at your emotions. 

Romance, glamour, art, and history, this is what summer reads are all about.  Haven’t read F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Tender is the Night? Neither have I, but this won’t stop you from thoroughly enjoying this book.  And it will make you want to go out and read Fitzgerald right after you finish it.

I received a copy of this book courtesy of Penguin Random House of Canada. The opinions expressed above are my own.