Sunday, January 31, 2021

Book Review - Death of an American Beauty by Mariah Fredericks

 

 

 



In 1913, Jane Prescott is a lady's maid but, she is taking a break to visit the opening of an art exhibition. The cubist exhibition is shocking and scandalous in New York City. This is also the fiftieth anniversary of Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation speech. The wealthy society women are determined to celebrate the occasion in style. 

Dolly Rutherford, the heiress to the glamorous Rutherford's department store, has gathered her friends to put on a play. Louise Tyler, Jane's employer, is scheduled to play the role of Lincoln. Jane is torn between helping Louise and enjoying her vacation. However, the decision is made for her when a murdered outside Jane's childhood home. The house is used as a refuge for working women who want to leave the profession. 

Her uncle runs the shelter and he falls under suspicion. Jane fears for him because he is keeping his whereabouts a secret. Jane decides to enlist help from her friends to help solve the murder. Will Jane be able to solve the murder before she is next?

This was my first book by the author. It seems that each book could be read as a standalone.  I thought the book was an interesting read but, sparse with twists and turns. I was able to guess the murderer halfway into the book. I did like that the author including tidbits of history in the novel. I look forward to reading more books by the author.

  **Disclosure -  This post may contain affiliate links which means I earn advertising and/or referral fees if you purchase an item through my link. Please note, there will be no extra charges to you. Thank you for your support.**

Friday, January 29, 2021

Book Review - Leave No Trace by Mindy Mejia

 

In Minnesota, there are hundreds of miles of glacial lakes and forests that are known as the Boundary Waters. Ten years ago, a man and his son went into the wilderness to camp and was never heard from again. People and search teams searched desperately for the pair because their campsite looks like it was ravaged by a bear. 

Everyone assumed that they were dead until a decade later, the son, Lucas, returns. He was found ransacking an outfitter store during the middle of the night. When the police arrived, Lucas became violent and uncommunicative. He was sent to a psychiatric facility to help him. 

Maya Stark is an assistant language therapist that is assigned to help Lucas. Maya tries to help Lucas answer what happened to his father and the last ten years of his life. Maya was abandoned by her mother at a young age. As she tries to help Lucas, her own secrets start to bubble up to the surface. She finds herself drawn to Lucas and she is willing to risk everything to reunite him with his father.

I found the novel to be an interesting and entertaining read. I found some parts of the novel to be unbelievable and predictable. I thought that the novel progressed very slowly during some parts with Maya and Lucas. I liked the backstory of Sarah and Josiah and enjoyed reading his narration. Personally, I didn't understand his need to be outside all the time but, I felt his story was poignant. I am a bit torn over the ending. The ending wrapped everything up neatly but, I felt like I needed something more.


Thursday, January 28, 2021

Book Spotlight - Ballet Orphans: A Prequel by Terez Mertes Rose + Giveaway

 


 

About The Book:

Title: BALLET ORPHANS : A Prequel (Ballet Theatre Chronicles Book 3)

Author: Terez Mertes Rose

Pub. Date: January 2, 2021

Publisher: Classical Girl Press

Formats: Paperback, eBook

Pages: 372

Find it:  GoodreadsAmazon, KindleB&N, TBD, Bookshop.org

Read For FREE With A Kindle Unlimited Membership!

It's 1990, and New York soloist April Manning is trying to rebalance her world in the aftermath of her parents’ deaths. An offer to join the struggling West Coast Ballet Theatre as a principal dancer seems like the perfect opportunity for a fresh start—a new life in San Francisco, an exciting step up in her career, and the hope of a redefined sense of family. But the other dancers are wary, clannish and tight-lipped, particularly about an incident that hastened the departure of their beloved artistic director, leading to the arrival of his replacement, the young, inexperienced Anders Gunst. And no one wants to talk about Jana, a former company member who defiantly walked out rather than work under Anders. It is Jana herself who offers April hints, and even friendship, where she reveals a loneliness and hunger to belong that newly orphaned April well understands. But there is something troubling about Jana, and what April doesn’t know could prove deadly.

A prequel to the Ballet Theatre Chronicles, BALLET ORPHANS explores the work and sacrifices required to arrive at the highest tiers of the professional ballet world, coupled with the primal, universal desire to belong, to love and be loved, and the lengths we’ll go to protect those we call family.

“A stimulating and entertaining tale in which passion and art intermingle.” — Kirkus Reviews

 


About Terez: 

Terez Mertes Rose is a writer and former ballet dancer whose work has appeared in the Crab Orchard Review, Literary Mama, Women Who Eat (Seal Press), A Woman’s Europe (Travelers’ Tales), the Philadelphia Inquirer and the San Jose Mercury News. She reviews dance performances for Bachtrack.com and blogs about ballet and classical music at The Classical Girl. The author of the Ballet Theatre Chronicles and A Dancer's Guide to Africa, she makes her home with family in the Santa Cruz Mountains. She loves good food, good wine, great books, and a good (but not too hard) adult ballet class. She's proud to announce that Outside the Limelight, Book 2 of the Ballet Theatre Chronicles, was named a Best Book of 2017 by Kirkus Reviews.

Website | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads | Amazon

 

Giveaway Details:


1 winner will win a tote bag of Ballet Theatre Chronicles, a finished copy of BALLET ORPHANS, a $25 gift card to Bookshop Santa Cruz, US Only.

1 winner will win a  tote bag of Ballet Theatre Chronicles, a finished copy of BALLET ORPHANS, US Only.

2 winners will receive a $5 Amazon Gift Card and an eBook of BALLET ORPHANS, International.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tour Schedule:

Week One:

1/4/2021

JaimeRockstarBookTours

Instagram Post

1/5/2021

BookHounds

Excerpt

1/6/2021

Jaime's World

Excerpt

1/7/2021

Two Chicks on Books

Excerpt

1/8/2021

I'm Shelf-ish

Excerpt

 

Week Two:

1/11/2021

She Just Loves Books

Review

1/12/2021

Pick a good book

Review

1/13/2021

Hurn Publications

Excerpt

1/14/2021

Fire and Ice

Review

1/15/2021

Lisa Loves Literature

Excerpt

 

Week Three:

1/18/2021

Books and Zebras @jypsylynn

Review

1/19/2021

The Obsessed Reader

Excerpt

1/20/2021

Books a Plenty Book Reviews

Review

1/21/2021

Books A-Brewin'

Excerpt

1/22/2021

@more_books_yes_please_

Review

 

Week Four:

1/25/2021

Three gals and plenty of books

Excerpt

1/26/2021

@minnesota_mailer

Review

1/27/2021

Jotted by Jena

Excerpt

1/28/2021

Pine Enshrined Reviews

Review

1/29/2021

Two Points of Interest

Review

 


Wednesday, January 27, 2021

January 2021 Empties Part 2!

 


 

I am really proud of myself for finishing so many things. I have consistently finished quite a few facial sheet masks and full sized products. I finished three nail polishes which is the most I ever finished in one season! Although, I buy at least 20.... I am little sad that some of these indie brands nail polishes tend to dry up when they are about half way finished.  I noticed a lot of times the brushes don't even met halfway to the bottle so there is a lot of product that can't be used which is very wasteful.

I used to love Black Dahlia Lacquers but, I found that their formulas are a bit chunky and they become dried up after a few uses. This was my first nail polish by LynB Designs and  I loved the cheery yellow color but, when the bottle was half way finished, the formula became unstable and chunky. It completely dried up and the brush that was provided didn't reach the bottom so I could try to use it up.

I been doing a lot of scrubs lately and I am not crazy over the dp Hue ACV salt scrub. It was kind of underwhelming and it didn't lather. Although, I like that I wasn't stuck with bits of salt in my hair after washing. I loved the Pistache body butter, it left my skin so soft and hydrated without the greasy feeling. It was such a treat to apply, I found myself applying it throughout the day and it left my skin feeling amazing and delicately scented.

Here is everything I finished -

Burt's Bees Baby Bee Buttermilk Bath
23 Years Old Seaweed Silky Mask
Huangjisoo Tea-Tree Soothing Mask
Dewytree Cica 100 Mask
Aroh This Mask Pack Brightens Your Skin in a Twinkle
Facetory Be Bright Be You
Pistache Skincare Pistachio Oil Pistacho Body Butter
Klorane Smoothing and Relaxing Patches
Facetory Everday Olive Squalane
Facetory Sun Bae Soothing Mask
HaruHaru Maqui Berry AntiOxidant Wonder Mask
Feelxo Firming Camellia Mask Floral Skincare Recipe
Cosmetea Black Tea Nourishing Moisture Mask
Grace & Stella Anti-Wrinkle Face Mask
Black Dahlia Lacquer - Moonlight Daisy
Doctor Babor Derma Cellular Collagen Booster Cream
Golden Door Soothing Cleansing Foam
LYNB Designs Nail Polish - Trying Very Hard Not to Connect With People Right Now
Julep Nail Polish - Hana
Dove Dermacare Scalp Anti-Dandruff 2 in 1 Shampoo and Conditioner
BBW Love Luxury Bath
Generation Clay Urban Defence Purifying Pink Clay Mask
Ode Orchard Alchemy Antioxidant Face Oil
Glamglow GravityMud Firming Treatment
OUAI Scalp & Body Scrub
Sunday Riley Luna Retional Oil
Laneige Lip Sleeping Mask
H2O+ Hydration Sensitive Gel Cream Moisturizer
Dermalogica Multivitamin Power Firm AGE Smart
dp Hue ACV Apple Cider Vinegar Scalp Scrub

Monday, January 25, 2021

Book Review - The Red Lotus by Chris Bohjalian


When Alexis met her boyfriend, Austin, it was on a Saturday night. They didn't meet at a bar but, in an emergency room where Alexis treated a bullet wound in Austin's arm. Six months later, the pair decided to travel to Vietnam on a bike tour. Alexis feels that Austin might be the one and decides to accompany Austin to Vietnam. Austin wanted to pay his respects to the place where his father and uncle fought in the war. 

Alexis is back at their hotel room waiting for him to return from his solo ride. She becomes worried as the night progresses and she hears nothing from Austin. The police arrive to the hotel and tells Alexis that Austin has disappeared. The only thing they have found is a yellow energy gel pack that he dropped on the side of the road. As Alexis tries to deal with her loss, she faces new uncertainties while dealing with the FBI, Austin's parents, and his colleagues at work. She uncovers a strange series of seemingly benign lies that forces her to wonder if she even knew Austin at all.

I usually read books during my lunch break and I found this book to be quite disgusting and off putting. One of the characters was obsessed with rats and went into too much detail than I felt was necessary. I found the plot to be boring, slow moving, and predictable while, the characters to be very dull. This was my first book by the author and probably the last.


Saturday, January 23, 2021

Book Review - A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay

 

The Barrett family lives in suburban area of New England. They were like any other "normal" family until their fourteen-year-old daughter, Marjorie starts displaying signs of acute schizophrenia. Her parents try to help Marjorie as best as they can. They take her to a therapist but, it doesn't seem to be working. Instead, Marjorie progresses further into madness, and their entire household is turned into chaos. The desperate family turns to a local Catholic priest for help.

Father Wanderly suggests that the family perform an exorcism because Marjorie might be a victim of demonic possession. He also contacts a production company who will document the Barretts' plight. John, Marjorie's father, has been out of work for more than a year and Marjorie's doctor bills are rapidly growing. The family agrees to be filmed, and they find themselves to be stars of a hit reality show, "The Possession". However, as the show's popularity increases, a tragedy occurs and the show and the Barrett family become known as an urban legend.

Fifteen years later, Merry, Marjorie's younger sister, is being interviewed by a bestselling writer. Merry tries to recall the events that happened when she was just eight years old. Merry discloses secrets that were forgotten and painful memories that clash with what was filmed on television.

I am not sure I was a fan of this novel. I found parts of the novel interesting and entertaining. However, I hated the blog posts that began each section. I found then irritating and redundant to read. I actually ended up skipping them but, I feel like that causes me to miss part of the story. However, I didn't care enough to actually go back to read it to find the missing parts. I didn't care for any of the characters in the book and found some parts of the book to be boring filler. This book was a complete miss for me as I kept expecting more and it didn't deliver.

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Book Review - The Lying Room by Nicci French

 

Neve Connolly is having an affair with her boss, Saul. She thought it was just a fling and something she could have just weathered. It was an escape from her marriage of twenty years. She is tired of the same married routine with her husband and her distant children. One morning, Neve receives a text and decides to visit Saul. When she enters the apartment, she sees Saul has been brutally murdered. She realizes that the apartment is filled of traces of their affair and all the lies she carefully constructed is about to come apart.

Neve decides to scrub every trace of her existence from the apartment. She feels everything can return to normal. However, she feels that she is missing something.

An investigation into Saul's death is opened. This brings Detective Chief Inspector Alastair Hitching to Neve's doorstep. Neve tries to stay on step ahead of the police but, she finds herself caught in her own web of deception and going down a darker path.  As Neve tries to stay ahead of Hitching, she realizes that he isn't the only one watching her.

I had really high hopes for this book but, it was dreadfully boring. It was so slow and didn't really care for any of the characters, especially, her annoying daughter. I didn't like they included so many mundane details that it just made the book boring. They included all these details but, important details appeared out of nowhere. It made me feel like I was missing something. I had hard time believing in the cops, it felt like they were always one step behind. The story didn't feel believable at all. I think I might skip their books the next time.

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Book Review - The Transatlantic Book Club by Felicity Hayes-McCoy

 


Cassie Fitzgerald decides to follow her recently widowed grandmother home to Ireland. Cassie hopes to find a way to cheer her grandmother over her recent loss. She decided to persuades her friend, Hanna, at the local library to set up a book club. The book club will allow readers from Ireland's Finfarran Peninsula and the US town of Resolve, to connect with each other.

After much back and forth between the club members, they finally decide to read a detective novel. However, the book club pick ends up exposing buried secrets, old conflicts, and hidden love affairs to light. As the secrets are being exposed, Cassie worries that she might have caused more harm than intended.

I had a hard time following some portions of this book when I initially started reading it. I wasn't used to the writing style and the way the characters spoke. I found that I had to re-read the same sentences a few times. I am not sure why the book is named after the book club when it seems that the book club was more of an after note. I felt like the novel moved very slowly. However, if you are a fan of cozy reads, then you might enjoy this book.

 **Disclosure - I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest opinion. This post may contain affiliate links which means I earn advertising and/or referral fees if you purchase an item through my link. Please note, there will be no extra charges to you. Thank you for your support.**

Sunday, January 17, 2021

January 2021 Haul Part 2!

 

 


Ahhh, January is almost done and gone! I can't believe how fast the days go but, when I am working the hours and minutes move by so slowly. I been trying to keep my makeup spending to a minimum but, honestly, I have no self control. I have no idea why I buy so many palettes and use the same one over and over. I really can't refuse a good sale. I am trying not to buy everything on sale but, limiting myself to only a few sale items so that I can have more in my spending account for the "good" end of the year sales.

I bought a boatload of new facial masks. I got this oatmeal mask from Purenskin that I am really excited to try. I have tried a basic oatmeal mask and it really soothe my skin. I hoping this one has similar or even better results. I got a few Facetory branded masks from their new lines and I am really excited to try them. I got the chamomile and artemisia ones that look pretty awesome.

I got two new bar soaps that I found from TJ Maxx. I got one Peony scent and another Bourbon and Pine scent that has a nice winter-y scent. I love trying new bar soaps because it can make an ordinary moment more special.

I got a few more lip products that I am excited to try them...at home. I got the beloved Ruby Woo MAC lipstick that heard has a cult following. I love lip products and the color red. I got a new Juice Beauty lip product in Gwyneth and NYX lip oil in Sheer Blush. I heard of people liking both of these products and I can't wait  to try them.

I got a few new Korean facial care products that I am excited to try. I got this clay ampoule cleasner by Lala Chuu that looks interesting.  The cream version of the Facetory's Artemisia line and a few facial oils from Keep Cool, Pixi beauty and Akar Skin.

Did you get anything new that you are excited to try?


Thursday, January 14, 2021

Book Review - Matriarch by Adam Wing + Giveaway

 

 

About The Book:

Title: MATRIARCH

Author: Adam Wing

Pub. Date: December 1, 2019

Publisher: Adam Wing

Formats: Paperback, eBook

Pages: 124

Find it:  GoodreadsAmazon, KindleB&N, TBDBookshop.org

Read For FREE With A Kindle Unlimited Membership!

The story is over. It’s already too late.

At the end of the Turkish War of Independence, a British soldier disobeys orders to return home. Setting out to explore a country he had only known as trespasser, he uncovers danger, mysteries, and magic—adventure, obsession, and true love.

One hundred years later, the soldier’s great-granddaughter sits at her great-grandmother’s deathbed while the old woman recounts this very tale; it is the last she will ever tell.

Secrets are revealed as past and present collide, and as one woman’s future draws toward its inevitable close, another finds hers thrown into uncertainty.

MY REVIEW:

During the end of the Turkish War of Independence, a British solider decides to disobey his orders to return home. He wants to stay in Turkey longer because he feels that his soul is searching for something.  He decides to explore the country as as visitor instead of an invader. As he begins his journey, he discovers secrets about magic and mysterious adventures. 

One hundred years later, the soldier's wife is lying in a hospital bed. She is dying and she decides that she will share the tale of how they met. This was the first time she ever spoke about their meeting and it might be the last time she could share it. However, as the she begins her story, secrets of the past start to collide with the future. As one woman's life is at the end, another finds herself in peril.

The author weaved an intricate and interesting story of two people meeting. I thought the story could use a bit of editing but, it was an entertaining read. I felt like the novella had a lot of promise to become something more. I wasn't fond of the ending as I don't like stories where the reader has to guess what will happen next. Overall, this was a good read and I look forward to reading other stories by the author.

About Adam: 

Man of many hats: teacher, engineer, editor, scholar, mountain climber, bar tender, student, world traveller, and through and above it all, writer, Wing has dedicated most his life to the craft of writing fiction.

Wing's published works include the novel, Icarus, and a book of short stories, Apoca Lypse Sink Ships, and he has fantasy work on the way.

Website | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads | Amazon

 

Giveaway Details:

2 winners will win a finished copy of MATRIARCH, US/Canada Only.

2 winners will win an eBook of MATRIARCH, International.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tour Schedule:

Week One:

1/4/2021

Two Chicks on Books

Guest Post

1/4/2021

Rockstar Book Tours

Excerpt

1/5/2021

Jaime's World

Excerpt

1/5/2021

JaimeRockstarBookTours

Instagram Post

1/6/2021

BookHounds

Excerpt

1/6/2021

BookHounds

Instagram Post

1/7/2021

Books A-Brewin'

Excerpt

1/7/2021

Books A-Brewin'

Instagram Post

1/8/2021

Fire and Ice

Review

1/8/2021

Fire and Ice

Instagram Post

 

Week Two:

1/11/2021

I'm Shelf-ish

Excerpt

1/11/2021

Three gals and plenty of books

Excerpt

1/12/2021

@minnesota_mailer

Review

1/12/2021

100 Pages A Day

Review

1/13/2021

Westveil Publishing / @thewestveilarchives

Guest Post

1/13/2021

Westveil Publishing / @thewestveilarchives

Instagram Post

1/14/2021

Adrienne Woods Books and Reviews

Excerpt

1/14/2021

Books and Zebras @jypsylynn

Review

1/15/2021

She Just Loves Books

Review

1/15/2021

Two Points of Interest

Review