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Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Tis the season!


 It’s in the air: the nostalgic sound of carolers & jingle bells; the familiar scent of gingerbread & evergreens; and the feeling of crisp, snow filled air. The pleasant thoughts of what’s to come leaves us in anticipation. Many of us are stressed this time of year though. We’ve got long lists of things to check off, and we can’t wait to hurry up and relax on the couple of days we have off. Along with the glossy magazines that show us how to achieve the “perfect” Christmas in every way, there are oh so helpful articles suggesting we take time to really enjoy the holidays, which includes not putting so much pressure on yourself. I’ve always liked the image of curling up on a snowy December afternoon with a cup of hot chocolate and a Christmas novel. But with so many things to do, starting a full length book isn’t realistic. Luckily I discovered short Christmas novellas, which are a nice little thing you too can give yourself this season. You can escape for just 15 minutes a day with a sweet Christmas story.
A Christmas Kiss is part of author Susan Hatler’s Kissed by the Bay series. Busy divorce attorney Harper Avery spends all her energy on her clients, and has no time for romance herself, due to her cynical nature. Last minute Christmas plans find her snowed in at a cozy cabin in Lake Tahoe.  She planned to be alone, but discovers also there is her worst nightmare – or is it her secret fantasy?

Christmas in Kissinger by Misty Simon is a look at the lives of several friends in a small Pennsylvania town. There are three stories featuring independent women who aren’t looking for love, but find themselves swept away by captivating men. The narratives are told from both the women’s and the men’s point of view, which is refreshing. And, what’s this? A couple even get raunchy, which was an unexpected spicy surprise for a Christmas novelette!

These books are ideal for the holiday – under 150 pages, easy, feel good reads that can put you into a cheery Christmas spirit. I received both books from NetGalley.

Until next time,

Kara

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Washing up with e.l.f.





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I treated myself by ordering something different, e.l.f.’s new Hydrating Bubble Mask.  I was intrigued by the description of a gel that transforms to a bubble mask, with bubbling foam cleansing the skin. My curiosity won, I just had to try it! So did it deliver?

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Luckily, dispensing the gel is easy, and that small amount of gel produced all these bubbles for my face and neck.

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These are the bubbles while foaming. For the first application, I kept it on for 10 minutes, and the second time, the bubbles were long gone after 5 minutes, and my skin was left with the gel remaining, which I massaged in and rinsed off. The results are a sleek, smooth feeling face.

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At a cost of $18 CAD, the Hydrating Bubble Mask is more of a mini luxury for me. I use it once a week and anticipate it coming in handy for the dry winter months ahead.

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The Daily Face Cleanser was part of our surprise Halloween Treat. It gives me a light refreshing wash, and the clean scent is pleasant, not perfumed. My face isn’t left tight or dry, but soft and a bit moisturized. I don’t need to use much either, and it lathers up nicely. This would be a great cleanser for those with sensitive skin.

These cleansers have delivered on what the details stated for me, and I would easily recommend them.

Until next time,

Kara

Monday, November 21, 2016

Tasty lips with e.l.f. Berry Bordeaux and Plumper

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Couldn’t wait to get my hands, or should I say lips, on e.l.f.’s Velvet Matte Lipstick  and Primer & Plumper.  I applied the primer, then the lipstick, and finished it off with the plumper. The cinnamony flavour of the plumper is something I like, and I was pleasantly surprised that the lipstick has a slight cinnamon taste too. The strongly pigmented colour goes on well and looks good on my pale complexion. I’ve worn it also without the plumper, for more of a matte look. Some touch up’s were needed after eating. Colour remained at the end of the day, which comes off with makeup remover.

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Berry Bordeaux is a perfect autumn colour. Nice to see that the bottom of the lipstick isn’t just the colour being displayed. The bottom of the lipstick tube pops off to reveal a secret lip balm! Kudos to e.l.f. for adding this extra feature!

Overall, even when converted to Canadian dollars, these e.l.f. lip products are a great value.


Until next time,

Kara

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Excited over e.l.f.!

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If there’s one thing I’ve always loved is a good bargain. So when I saw ads for e.l.f., I was curious and had to check them out. Their very reasonably priced lipsticks is what got me.


I easily have 10 lip products on rotation each season. I enjoy trying everything; matte, glosses, stain and liners. Different types of face cleansers are another goodie I collect. My Mr. has asked many times why I need to have so many in the shower? (He doesn’t understand my need for variety.) For my sister Wanda, it’s all about the eyes. She likes to experiment with all kinds of eye shadows, liners, and creams. So we easily found many options on e.l.f.’s user friendly site. They included mystery gifts with purchase, and I do like surprises.  Plus, everyone’s favourite, free shipping, so really, we couldn’t go wrong!

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This is the Halloween Treat that came with our order, which we were pleased to open. We divided the treats and began using everything right away. Reviews are next up…

Until next time,

Kara

Friday, November 11, 2016

Fearless Flavia is back to find who done it



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Full disclosure: I don’t read murder mysteries. Perhaps it’s because the typical format of a mystery doesn’t keep my interest. Many twists and turns, and characters to keep straight. It’s the same with mystery tv series or movies with plots that are difficult to follow. I don’t like to press pause too often to get a recap from my Mr.  I like escape while I’m reading, not to have to work hard, you know?

So I wasn’t sure how the latest in the Flavia de Luce Novels, Thrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mew’d, would work with my short attention span. This was the type of read I did have to give my full attention to if I really wanted to grasp the story line & characters. Once I set aside all distractions and focused on the unraveling story, what I most enjoyed was Flavia’s flare. The unique voice of 11 year old Falvia is wise beyond her young years. She reminds me of a curious cat. Fearless, keen and silly. She makes for a quick witted amusing protagonist.  As well, Alan Bradley is my kind of author. He is a highly descriptive writer. I appreciate when an author creates a piece of art through generous detail. There are many clever comparisons, and humorous situations and dialogue. I found myself smiling a lot, which is a wonderful feeling to receive from a book.

Thrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mew’d is the kind of story directors and producers would be itching to bring to the big screen. I could easily imagine Flavia bicycling all over town and the hi-jinks she gets herself into. So I wasn’t surprised when I learned there is a Flavia de Luce British series, which I will be checking out.

Mystery lovers will adore Thrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mew’d, but I wouldn’t limit it to only those who read that genre, as it sure passed the “test” for me.

I received Thrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mew’d in a GoodReads giveaway.

Until next time,

Kara

Monday, October 24, 2016

How I Became Free

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I have long heard about the deplorable conditions many North Koreans live in, and Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un’s twisted nuke loving attitude. But North Korean itself has remained elusive, because we are shown only carefully chosen images of “real” life in that country. Krys Lee’s How I Became a North Korean gave me an inside look at three people trying at all costs to get to the safety of South Korea through China.


The trials of characters Yongju, Jangmi and Danny are compelling and heart wrenching. This trio’s shared quest for escape & freedom fortunately finds them together. Of particular interest to me was Jangmi who had to use her good looks to get by in her sad, desperate life in North Korea. The double edged sword that is her beauty lead her to be in the lowest, most victimizing situation she could be in. The emotional and physical chaos she goes through is painful to read, but it kept me hoping for her eventual escape.  

Lee’s fluid writing style is a joy to read, and she is able to depict three very different points of view with ease. For a truly unique and educational read told by distinct perspectives, How I Became a North Korean is surely it.

I received How I Became a North Korean in a Goodreads Giveaway.

Until next time,

Kara

Friday, September 30, 2016

When one can’t be monogamous

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From the rather ominous beginning where we read a mother left her story behind for her daughters, to the very last chapter with the revealing twist, Serial Monogamy captivated me.


Sharon’s story is a sad cliché- her middle aged professor husband has an affair with his student. To add to her devastation, she has cancer. Al comes across as a typical spoiled, inconsiderate, selfish cheater. He doesn’t deserve Sharon’s forgiveness or his family life. But it’s not about Al. It’s not a look into why someone is unfaithful. This novel delves into the mind of mistresses and a wife being cheated on.

I enjoyed the Nelly Ternan (Charles Dickens mistress) chapters as much as the modern day story of Sharon. Perhaps even a bit more. It was a good lesson to hear why Nelly gave up having a regular life and became a mistress instead. In the 21st century, we question why anyone would chose being a mistress, but it made sense in the Victorian era. Nelly’s story wasn’t a happy one, but I came away thinking wasn’t Shay’s equally as sad? Something to consider.

Kate Taylor’s pleasant, easy writing style made this a quick book to read. Serial Monogamy kept my interest throughout, and I would recommend it if you’re looking for not an ordinary read about relationships.

I happily received Serial Monogamy in a Goodreads giveaway.

Until next time,

Kara

Friday, August 19, 2016

Intensity & inspiration from this incredible young woman’s story

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Maria Toorpakai’s life story is unique, and one that should be read by all, particularly in these racially charged times. Growing up in a progressive, non traditional family in a fundamentalist tribal area of Pakistan, it was constantly a wonder that she and her family weren’t killed. I held my breath many times when Maria described whenever she left her home as a young girl. Posing as a boy was the only way she could live in their oppressive world.


The most heartbreaking depiction to read was the stoning of a 16 year old, told from her mother’s point of view after she got married. The unjust treatment of women in Pakistan was a predominant theme for me throughout A Different Kind of Daughter, and I was always expecting the worst for Maria, and her educated sister and mother. Her discovery of squash was her savior. You don’t have to be a sports enthusiast in order to follow her journey with the game. It’s not about squash, it’s about how playing it makes her feel. She also devotes several chapters to her interesting family, whom she describes in lovingly details.

The writing style of Maria’s “scribe” Katherine Holstein was very pleasing. Dialogue and narrative alike were well done, and made this book not easy to put down. You can’t help but root for Maria and cheer when she got out of Pakistan. This will make a compelling intense movie, which I’m sure is in the works.
I was very pleased to receive A Different Kind of Daughter in a Goodreads giveaway.

Until next time,

Kara

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Ooh, what have we here…?



My birthday ring revealed in my Charmed Aroma Sweet Pea Valley Candle! Happy birthday to me!
 Ring Reveal on YouTube!
I was very pleased with the style and fit, I wear it all the time. Check out my

What did you uncover from a Charmed Aroma candle, bath bomb, or hand cream? Share your experience in the comments.

Until next time,

Kara

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Humour and Family Drama Dominate in ‘Before the Wind’



I was concerned at first, not being a sailing enthusiast, if I would be able to get into this book. The Johannssen family lives and breathes sailboats to what I thought was an extreme level. There’s the boat designer grandfather, builder father, scientific mother, competitive brother, wind whisperer sister, and the protagonist himself a fixer, both of boats and his family. They all play their own unique part in this unusual family dynamic.


It is when Lynch takes the family out of the water that I found this novel to be the most fascinating. I was interested in getting to know the characters, and found Joshua’s siblings (Ruby and Bernard) lives curious. Before the Wind contains some of the most compelling writing I’ve ever read. Fortunately this wasn’t a book that I had to “get through”. I looked forward to what would happen next. The Johannssen’s aren’t a close fairy tale family that gets along famously. Each character is imperfect in their relationships, and several exiled the family, forced or not. All of their crazy issues makes them real.


It’s also refreshing to read dialogue done well, not forced, but very natural. There are many humourous situations, including Josh’s retelling of his dates, which he refers to not by their names, but their number (He gets to 35). Before the Wind is a case of don’t judge a book by it’s cover. If you’re not the nautical type, not to worry, because Before the Wind isn’t really about sailing.

I received BEFORE THE WIND in a Goodreads giveaway.


Until next time,

Kara

Friday, April 15, 2016

‘Heart Of A Champion’ Captured My Heart


The story of what happened to a community of Japanese Canadians in Vancouver in 1941 is a story every Canadian should hear.
‘Heart of a Champion’ is told from the voice of 9 year old Kenny, whose family is all about baseball. When essential things like rights & freedom started to be taken away from them, I got a sick feeling, and eventually became appalled, because in my lifetime I can’t imagine that this occurred. The fact that many boys and men formed Asahi baseball teams in their camps shows their strength of character in such devastating circumstances.
This is a sensitive topic for sure, the way Japanese Canadians were treated in WWII, after Pearl Harbor, and is part of Canada’s shameful past. I was very glad to read ‘Heart of a Champion’, and I will be sharing this book with young readers and encourage they pass it around to friends. Although meant for young adult readers, ‘Heart of a Champion’ is for everyone.
I received this in a Goodreads giveaway, not realizing it was a YA reader, but was pleased to read it.
Until next time,
Kara