Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Book Review: The Lunar Chronicles

Hey guys! You may remember my review of the first book in this series, Cinder, from February. (If you haven't read that one yet, you might want to click here.) Since I finally finished all of the four main books, I'm going to review the series as a whole.

I really loved this series, and it's definitely now on my to-buy list! It was so good that it's left me in one of those book hangovers, where I don't want to read anything at the moment except more of that series.

(Thankfully, there's still two more minor books I haven't read yet, Fairest and Stars Above, so the series isn't quite over yet.
 UPDATE: I've read them now, so, unfortunately, it is over.)

Let me just say, Marissa Meyer is a writing genius. Her ability to remain remarkably accurate to the original Grimm fairy tales while also maintaining a dystopian, sci-fi plotline perfectly woven through all four books and all main characters is simply amazing. I honestly have not found anything like it.

The first book, Cinder, quite obviously focuses on the fairy tale Cinderella. I won't go into much detail since I've already reviewed this book individually, but Meyer did a wonderful job of transplanting all of the traditional Cinderella elements into a new setting. Again, if you haven't read the review on this one, you should really go read that first. I go into a lot more detail about this book there!

The second book is Scarlet, and this is a twist on Little Red Riding Hood. This one is, of all of them, probably the least accurate to the original fairy tale, but fantastic nonetheless. I was extremely glad when Cinder showed up again, because I was afraid this was going to be one of those series that doesn't connect between books. Boy, was I wrong! The books definitely connect, in more ways than you even realize to begin with.

Thirdly, there's Cress, based on the story of Rapunzel. After going back and reading the original fairy tale when I got my new copy of Grimm's complete fairy tales, I found so many little connections to the original story that it just blew me away. I can't actually list them all without giving you way too many spoilers, but seriously, I mean it when I say Meyer is a genius. I can't imagine how much time she spent studying the original stories and planning and editing her novel to get all of those little tie-ins in there.

I really should have stopped and read Fairest here, since it expands upon the main antagonist's backstory, which would have been good information to know before I read the last book. But I haven't actually found a copy at the library yet, so I'll read it whenever I get a chance. UPDATE: I just downloaded this on iBooks and read it in one night. Literally could not put it down! This was a fantastic addition to the series that really helps give a lot of backstory and understanding to the story.

Skipping ahead to the last major book in the series, Winter. I'm sure you can take one look at the cover and know what story this book is based on. That's right, Snow White. It may have been missing a few small things from the original (i.e. seven dwarves... unless I missed a reference somewhere), but it was definitely full of action. And, if you pay attention, there's plenty of other clever references to the Grimm version.

I really have no idea what Stars Above is about. Sorry about that, but I will definitely be reading it as soon as I can.
ALSO UPDATE: I downloaded this book as well, and read it in about a day and a half. It's a collection of short strories in the Lunar Chronicles universe. It was awesome to have more backstory for the main characters, as well as an epilogue to Winter and a new short story based on a different fairy tale!

Overall, I would highly highly recommend this series. It really has got everything: science fiction, fantasy, action, and romance, and I feel like most everyone could find something about the books that they like. They have definitely become some of my new favorites, and I'll be adding them to my collection as soon as I can.

Have you read these books? Do you want to? Let me know what you think in comments below!

Friday, April 8, 2016

6 Of My New Favorite Beauty Products!

Hey guys!

Like I mentioned a few days ago, I've recently bought several new makeup products, and I've really liked them! The most expensive thing I bought was $12 on sale, usually $20, but other than that, most everything was in the $5- $10 range. I bought these products from Target, Walmart, and Ulta, so they're affordable and pretty easy to find!

Starting off with the least expensive item, I bought the Ulta Super Blender for $4.99. Looking back at the website now, not all of the reviews are positive for this sponge. People complained that it was stiff, didn't blend well, and soaked up too much product. However, I haven't really had these problems. To be fair, I don't have much to compare it to, and it did take me a few uses to figure out the best way to use it. But now that I've figured it out, I've found it works really well for me, especially with certain foundations.

For the same price, I also bought the Rimmel Kate Moss Lasting Finish lipstick in the shade 08. I ended up getting this one at Walmart, but I had to look for it at all three stores before I found it. This color must be fairly popular, because it was always out of stock! I was looking for this shade in particular because it's such a nice pink that isn't too coral or too purple in tone. I've worn it a few times, including prom, and I've really liked the way it looks and feels on my lips!

For $6.49, I bought the Rimmel Stay Matte primer at Target. I was looking for an affordable primer for prom makeup, and this is the one that I found that was the cheapest with best reviews. There were some complaints about how thick it was, and I will agree that it is definitely pretty thick. It looks and feels kind of like a moisturizer, but goes on matte. Again, this was a product that took me several uses to get used to, but now that I've figured it out, I do really like it. It doesn't make my makeup feel caked on, and it does help control oil for me.

For $6.69, also at Target, I bought the Rimmel Lasting Finish foundation. I'd seen a lot of good reviews of it on YouTube, and I thought it would be worth a try. This is a heavier coverage than the Almay foundation I reviewed a while back, and it claims to last 25 hours. Although I doubt that part is true, it did have nice coverage and it lasted pretty well for me, especially with the primer.

I found that the beauty blender was the best way to apply this for me, because it is a little thicker than my other liquid foundations. The brush didn't blend it as well for me as just using light motions with the sponge.

I will say, if you're not quite pale, then this probably isn't a good foundation for you. There is a small range of shades, and they're mostly pretty light. I'm fairly pale, and I bought the third shade down, whereas I'm used to buying one of the palest shades. I did notice that some shades were a little more pink tones and others a little more yellow, but they're still all quite light.

Also because I'd seen a lot of good reviews for it, I bought the Real Techniques Expert Face Brush. I was disappointed not to find Real Techniques at Target, but I did find it at both Walmart and Ulta for $8-$9, varying a little based on where you buy it. This brush has a rounded, fluffy top, and I think it works really well to blend in liquid foundation seamlessly. I also used it with some mineral powder foundation, and it worked fine for that as well. I'm hoping to try some more Real Techniques brushes soon!

Lastly, and possibly my favorite of the bunch, I bought the Ulta Rose Gold eyeshadow pallet. I really like rose gold, and when it comes to eyeshadow, I also really love pinks, golds, and purples. So of course, this pallet and I were a perfect match. I got it on sale for $12, but it normally retails for $20. I really loved the colors in it, and there were a nice mix of matte and shimmery shades. I also thought the colors had nice texture and pigmentation, and it came with a nice eyeshadow brush as well. (I did also end up getting a few individual Ulta eyeshadows, but since I haven't used them yet I'll have to review them later!)

I used this pallet to create a pink and purple toned smoky eye for my prom makeup. I thought it turned out really nicely. Since my dress was pink, the colors matched well, and they lasted all night without creasing. I'll be writing more about my prom makeup look soon, so keep an eye out for that as well!

If you have used any of these products (or want to try them!) let me know what you thought in comments!

Monday, April 4, 2016

Guest Post: Bullet Journal

Good morning Shannon, it’s Monday.

First off, thank you for giving me this opportunity to post on your blog. I don’t typically have much to say, but I have plenty to say on this particular topic.

For the rest of you, hi, I’m Jessica, one of Shannon’s really close friends and ideally a future neuroscientist. I usually have a lot on my plate when it comes to school, and like most other people I need to write things down in order to remember everything I have to do. Throughout my school career I’ve tried keeping track of using several different planners and random notebooks, but I’ve found that none of them really worked for me. I’d still find myself forgetting assignments, missing important meetings, and having to go searching through the four notebooks I always have on hand just to find one idea I wrote down earlier that day. Basically, I was a mess.

Then last summer, I discovered the Bullet Journal.

The Bullet Journal is, simply put, a journal full of lists. The original idea was developed by Ryder Carroll as an alternative to normal planners and journals, because it’s a system that the user creates themselves. Think of it as a DIY planner. All you need is a notebook!

Okay, you’re thinking, why is this any different than any other planner?

Well hypothetical questioner, it’s different because you can do literally whatever you want with it. You can go strictly by Ryder’s method (link here), or you can mix it around like many Bullet Journalists on the Internet do. It gives you the ability to use what you want and only what you want, unlike with store-bought planners.

For one thing, Bullet Journals typically have an index and a key at the beginning so you can keep track of what all the bullets and other markings mean as well as where all of your important pages are. It’s also an ever-changing thing; if you decide to tweak something, like add color or a tracker for developing habits, then you can do that at any time you like. There’s no pressure for you to use the same system for a year straight. You can even add extra stuff around your daily planning pages, like random grocery lists or sketches. 

Really, the Bullet Journal is more than just a DIY planner. It’s a companion for the whole year. You’ll carry it around all the time so that you can copy down assignments, cool sayings, book ideas, a new book for your to-read list – the possibilities are endless. And you’ll never have to worry about running out of space.

If you want to know more about the Bullet Journal system, check out Ryder Carrol’s website at http://bulletjournal.com/get-started/, and follow me on Tumblr at http://butterflywingsit.tumblr.com/. I highly recommend it if you’re tired of store-bought planners too. And Shannon, I’ll see you the next time you post.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

March Updates

Hey guys!

Sorry I haven't been able to post much this week! I've just been super busy with SGA and prom and my AP classes! But I promise I do have some cool things coming up, so stay tuned!


I know I didn't get a book review written for March, but I'll be writing one really soon. I reviewed Cinder last month, but I enjoyed it so much I went ahead and got the rest of the series to read! I'm currently about halfway through the last book, and so a review on the full Lunar Chronicles will be going up soon! Make sure you've read my last review here!

Also on my to-be-read list is the book version of Disney's 2015 Cinderella film, which if you've been here for very long you will know I'm obsessed with! I got this book for my birthday, and it's adorable. It's written by Brittany Candau, illustrated (yes, illustrated!) by Cory Godbrey, and based on the screenplay by Chris Weitz. As soon as I finish reading it, I'll have a full review up on it as well!

I also got a copy of The Selection by Kiera Cass from by best friend, and I'm looking forward to reading and reviewing that for you guys too! If you've already read it, let me know what you thought of it in comments! (No spoilers please!)

Last but not least, I just picked up a beautiful copy of the Grimm Brother's complete fairy tales at Barnes and Noble the other day, and I can't wait to read that either! I may not review it, or at least not all in one post, but let me know if you're interested!


I just went to prom this week, and it was a lot of fun! I did get my hair done professionally, but I did my makeup myself. I bought several new products recently, and I'm hoping to review some of those for you soon!

Also, if you're interested, I may go into more detail about my prom makeup look and the products I used specifically for that!


I'm really excited about the guest post I have coming up soon for you! My best friend is hoping to be a future med student, and she's been inspiring to me with her organized journaling and studying methods. So, I've asked her to write a post about it, and honestly it's as much for me as it is for you!
I hope to have that post up soon, mostly because I'm excited to read it!

I've also been trying to convince her to start a blog of her own, but she's worried she doesn't have enough to stay. But really, if any of you have ever thought of starting a blog, don't sell yourself short! I never thought I would have this much to say either, so you really might as well just start writing and see where it goes.

This past month has had my biggest number of page views so far, at over double my previous record! So thank you to everyone who has been reading this blog and helping to grow!