August 16, 2017

Mini-reviews: You Don't Know Me But I Know You + Wicked Like A Wildfire

pub 8/29/17 by HarperTeen
Young Adult - Contemporary
Received from pub via Edelweiss
You Don’t Know Me But I Know You is about Audrey who gets two huge unexpected bombs dropped on her: she’s pregnant and she received a letter from the birth mom she's never met for the first time ever. It’s impossible not to connect the feelings she has on each. She’s faced with the same choice her then 17-year old mother was faced with—should she keep this baby or not? The author does a great job of giving Audrey the entire book to weigh her options. To some, it may seem like the choice is obvious but regardless, it is a big decision to make and one that shouldn’t be taken lightly. We see Audrey go through a gamut of emotions as she wonders which option is truly best for her and if the choice is something she can live with. I loved that she had a wonderful mother (and pseudo-stepdad) to stand behind her and a very un-stereotypical boyfriend in Julian, who was nothing but supportive despite his own fears. My main reservation was a side storyline that honestly took far too much away from what I felt to be the heart of the book and hence affected my overall feeling on it. It had to do with her best friend’s personal drama, rocky love life and inability to look past her own problems (I know this type of friend very well). I think if the author had done away with that completely or let it play a much smaller role I would’ve enjoyed the book much more.

Do I recommend? If you’re interested in it, I think it’s worth checking out from the library.

pub 8/15/17 by Katherine Tegen Books
YA - Magical Realism
Received from pub via Edelweiss
Wicked Like a Wildfire caught me by surprise! To be fair, while it does start off a bit slow and I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel initially, I made the decision to keep going and I am so glad I did! It totally paid off because it does find its pacing. But most of all, the world is just so unique and fascinating. I couldn’t help but want to learn more. Iris and Malina are twin sisters and all the women in their family have this magical ability to “gleam” beauty. Iris sees flowers as fractals and interprets that in her glasswork. Malina interprets moods as music, which is then heard in her beautiful violin-playing. But aside from their mother, they’ve never met anyone else in their family and they have to keep their abilities secret. But most importantly of all, they can’t fall in love ever. Then their mother is attacked and it’s up to the sisters (and their friends) to discover the truth of their origins and what else has been hidden from them. We see everything unfold through Iris’ eyes, which may be why I connected to her the most. But her mix of unapologetic attitude, tough but vulnerable girl vibe and just the immense love she feels for people (even though she tries to hide it) struck a chord with me. In comparison, Malina is much more sheltered and cast as the “good girl” but as with everyone in this book, there’s always more than meets the eye. But aside from the magical aspect, I loved the focus on mother-daughter and sister-sister relationships and the huge role it played throughout. The combination of the magic, family, romance (I really like the guy in this one!) and mystery made it a very good read.

Do I recommend? Yes! If you enjoy magical realism, I’d definitely recommend this.

August 14, 2017

Table for Two #8

Alexa of Alexa Loves Books and I have teamed up to bring you a collaboration that involves two of our favorite things - New York City and food. We're proud to introduce Table for Two, where the two of us will be highlighting restaurants and dessert spots in New York City. You'll be hearing our personal opinions on the place and the food, as well as where you can go to try it out for yourself.

For this month's Table for Two, I'll be chatting about Hometown Hotpot & BBQ and Alexa is featuring Milk & Cream Cereal Bar.

For Alexa's birthday we went to Hometown Hotpot & BBQ and we both loved it! It's much bigger than it appears to be on the outside (two floors of seating!) and has a wide variety of food. It was actually a bit overwhelming at first since we didn't know what to expect but we quickly figured out what we wanted. Everything is all you can eat but there are different options and we went with
sharing the hotpot & BBQ combo since we wanted to try both. For the hotpot, we got the original soup base with squid, fishballs, bok choy and instant noodles and cooked that ourselves. For BBQ, we got filled beef and lamb which they cooked for us. They told us there was a fee if we had a ton of leftovers but luckily for us that wasn't the case! We surprisingly ate everything (it was that good!) and I certainly would want to go back again. 

You can find Hometown Hotpot & BBQ at 194 Grand Street. Let us know if you check it out!

August 11, 2017

Style Essentials: Makeup

At the beginning of the year, Estelle did a guest post about her new makeup routine made up of all drugstore products. I knew I wanted to do my own soon after because mine is basically the opposite. "Soon" turned out to be six months but better late than never, right? It ended up working out though because after I randomly got a makeover at BlueMercury back in April, I also redid my routine (although I did a keep a couple staples I've used for years!).

It's always been hard for me to find the right foundation, either because of the color or the consistency not meshing well with my combination/oily skin (which is really my #1 issue). So I've tried a lot of different foundations and BB creams, a lot of which I stuck with it a good amount of time. But no matter what there's one foundation that I've gone back to for years and years so maybe I should just accept that it's the one for me!

Hourglass Veil Mineral Primer • No other primer has made my skin so silky smooth (or waterproof!).
bareSkin Pure Brightening Serum foundation - The color just matches and I love how even though it's a very light coverage, it gives my skin the overall pick me up it needs. (Now if I could only get it to not look oily 4 hours later.)
MAC Cosmetics Pro Longwear Concealer • another one of my go-to's for years!
NARS Soft Velvet Loose Powder • I use this to set my makeup and the color is very sheer and subtle.

NARS All Day Luminous Weightless Foundation • More coverage but a little goes a long way on my face. I may go back to this when I'm winter pale again!
NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer • Same as above.

I tend to be overly light-handed with my blush and used to be totally against bronzer but I've become better about both! (I think.)

NARS blush (in Deep Throat) or Glossier Cloud Paint (in Puff) • I'm more likely to use the former because I find powder to be faster, but on the weekends I'll use liquid if I want a rosier glow.
NARS Sun Wash Diffusing Bronzer • the one and only bronzer that's ever looked natural on me and I feel comfortable wearing.

I will admit to one little cheat here: I have eyelash extensions! I love not having to curl my eyelashes in the morning (especially since it doesn't work) or using mascara so I keep things super simple. Most of the time it's just brows, very light eyeshadow and I'm good to go.

NARS Duo Eyeshadow (in Alhambra) or MAC Cosmetics Eyeshadow (in Jest) • My go-to's for eyeshadow when I feel like wearing it.
Stila Stay All Day® Waterproof Liquid Eye Liner • I've been using this eyeliner for YEARS. It's the best.
Glossier Boy Brow • So natural looking and easy to use.

I'm such a sucker for lipgloss and lipstick. There was a time when I was going way overboard (like when I discovered ColourPop!) but I've gotten much better lately. Plus no matter how many I buy, there are three I always go back to.

NARS Satin Lip Pencil (in Rikugien)
MAC Cosmetics Lipstick (in Brave)
Chanel Rouge Coco Shine (in Reveuse)

Now you know how much of a NARS fangirl I am and 
what products I have in my makeup drawer! 
What are your staples?