2017 Books Review



Happy new year guys! All is well on my end. I hope the same goes for you. Last year with the help of   Goodreads I set a goal to read thirty books. The covers of all the books I read in 2017 are pictured above. I use my Goodreads account to read book reviews, rate books and track how well I'm doing with my reading goals.

According to Goodreads the longest book I read last year was The Angel's Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafón which had 522 pages. The book I gave the highest rating of 5 stars was A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman.  I gave the following books four stars: 
  • The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafón  ( Reviewed here)
  • The Fire Next Time- James Baldwin 
  • Somewhere Towards the End- Diana Athill 
  • Eleanor & Park- Rainbow Rowell
  • The Story of a Brief Marriage - Anuk Arudpragasam  (Reviewed here
  • The Mothers- Brit Bennett  (Reviewed here)
  • Lincoln in the Bardo- George Saunders  (This was the 2017 Man Booker prize winner!)
  • Celine - Peter Heller  (Reviewed here)
  • City of Saints and Thieves- Natalie C. Anderson  ( Reviewed here )
  • Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them J.K. Rowling
The books I liked the least were The Fig Eater by Jody Shields and The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway. I know The Old Man and the Sea is considered a classic but it just didn't do it for me. Maybe I'll read it again later in life and be moved profoundly. Or maybe not.

My goal this year is to read 45 books(eek!) and include some non-fiction authors.  I very rarely read non-fiction but I enjoyed the memoir Somewhere Toward the End by Diana Athill last year.

What are your reading goals for 2018?


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What's In the Bag?

Bag: Coach Crosstown Crossbody in Canyon Quilt Leather (I've had this bag a couple years now. See a similar style here. )

1. Hand cream- Supergoop! (review coming soon)
2. Sunglasses- Prada (here)
3. Lipstick- Lipstick Queen Berry Sinner
4. I Phone 6 phone case - (here)
5. Smith's Tropical Ambrosia Balm (here)
6. Uni-ball Signo RT .7 black gel pen
7. Ginger essence sensuous skin scent/1.7 oz (reviewed here)
8. Small notebook JFK airport Muji store



Hi there. It's time for another fun edition of What's In the Bag? The bag today is an oldie but goodie from Coach. I don't think my bag is still around so I linked a similar style above. Tis the season for trips to the airport and nights out at restaurants with family and friends so I've switched from my well loved tote bags to a small cross body one. A smaller bag really forces you to edit what you lug around. I managed to fit what I consider my basics into this one.

The sunglasses are a new purchase. I finally had to retire my old ones. I think I've had them since I started the blog. I like a simple large black frame which is very difficult to find. When I find a pair that works I keep them for a long time. I've been testing out the Supergoop! line and so far I'm quite pleased. The hand cream pictured above is the perfect size for when you're on the go. The Origins Ginger Essence Skin Scent is almost finished because I've been spritzing it every chance I get. I plan to go back for a full sized bottle and a back up travel sized one soon. I must have a lip balm on me. If I forget  to bring one I'm going home. I'd give the Smith's balm a B-. It has a gel/ointment like consistency which gives you a nice sheen but I think it could be a little more emollient. The Berry Sinner lipstick from Lipstick Queen is probably my most reached for shade. You can tell from the wear and tear on the bullet in the bag shot how loved it is. Berry Sinner is a reddish brown creamy lipstick that works when I'm dressing down or dressing up. 

So there you have it. My last What's in The Bag post of 2017. What's closing out the year in your bag? 

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Diptyque, L'Occitane & Antica 2017 Advent Calendars


I remember waiting all year for Christmas when I was a kid. I'd cross off the days on the calendar leading up to the big day. As an adult Christmas seems to come and go in the blink of an eye but I still look forward to it. Advent Calendars are a great way for me to combine my love of beauty and the holidays. This year I picked up three calendars. I was pretty good at not peeking ahead to see what was in all of the boxes. But in true adult fashion there were days where I forgot to open the box for the day. This meant that when I did remember I was opening the boxes for two or three days at one time. 

Diptyque 2017 Advent Calendar/$390



First up we have the Diptyque Advent Calendar. This year Diptyque offered 15 mini candles,  1 standard size candle, 7 travel sized spray eau de toilettes, a mini body polish and body oil. I think their Advent Calendar is great for Diptyque collectors.  The first box was a mini Baies candle. The last box was a standard size of the Frosted Forest(Unicorn) candle. See my review of the 2017 Diptyque holiday candles here.  I think the mini candles(35g) are adorable.  They're not sold separately so you can only get the mini candles when they have a promotion. They are a great way to travel with your favorite scents and they make very cute gifts. 

L'Occitane 2017 Luxury Advent Calendar/$124






The L'Occitane Luxury Advent Calendar has the cutest packaging.  Their calendar had 24 days of creams, gels and perfumes. This calendar would be a great introduction for those new to L'Occitane. For those already familiar with the brand it offered enough of L'Occitane favorites like the shea butter hand cream and products from their almond line to make it worthwhile.

Antica 2017 Advent Calendar/ $175






Antica is a new to me brand. I loved that their advent calendar had full sizes of products. They even had a full size wick trimmer.  The Antica prosecco room spray has been a hit with my holiday guests. I also burned the Vanilla, Bourbon & Mandarin scented candle for a bit and was very pleased. I'm looking forward to trying everything else. I thought all three Advent Calendars were great but I would give Antica's a slight edge due to the size of the products.  Let me know which one is your favorite.

I hope you guys have a great day. Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!


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Origins Ginger Greats Gift Set Review





Ginger Essence Sensuous Skin Scent 1.7/oz




Origins is a brand I've been using off and on for years. I've used their mushroom line and I am a fan of their masks. I was leaving Sephora with a friend a couple of weeks ago when we passed an Origins store and decided to go in for a quick browse. About an hour later I left the store with the goodies pictured above.

The Ginzing Mist caught my eye first.  I always liked the idea of a facial mist but never actually bought one for myself.  The sales associate saw me checking out the bottle so he misted my friend and I, and we were sold. If you've never been professionally misted I highly recommend it 😊.  My friend was wearing light make up. I was bare faced. I loved the light, slightly citrus scent and how I instantly looked and felt refreshed.  My friend felt the same way and she also loved that her make up wasn't affected. I've been reaching for it after workouts, as a finishing spray before I head out the door and as a pick me up throughout the day. I give the Ginzing Mist a big thumbs up. 

The next things to catch my eye were the Origins candles. You know I love a good candle. A candle with ginger, bergamot and clove sounded like a great idea. They were offering a holiday gift set with a ginger body wash, body creme and the smaller version of the Ginger Essence Skin Scent. That set has since sold out but all of the items are still available individually. I ended up loving everything in the set except the candle which had a very weak throw. I get an aromatherapy experience every time I shower with the body wash. The body creme was surprisingly moisturizing for a light creme. The Ginger Skin Scent is amazing! It's such a unique blend of spicy and fresh that lasts about several hours on me. The 1.7oz is so sleek and portable I've been keeping it in my bag and spritzing throughout the day. 

We only have a few shopping days left. If you're still gift buying pop in to your nearest Origins for a quick browse and check out their Ginger and Ginzing lines. Don't forget to get misted!  


Stardate:170021.12

City of Saints & Thieves - Book Review





**Trigger warning: rape and descriptions of warfare 

"Rule 17: Let them fall on their spears. 
You have to know your enemies' weaknesses, Bug Eye says. That much is obvious. What he also taught me, though, and what thieves and thugs and kings have figured out-the good ones, anyway is that your enemies' strengths can also be their weaknesses. " pg. 350

I started this book on a Saturday and about three page in it became clear that my plans for the weekend were going to be shot. At 432 pages City of Saints & Thieves was a fast and enjoyable read. Most of the story is set in a fictional city in Kenya but there are also some scenes in the Congo. Christina the sixteen year old protagonist was displaced after the death of her mother. Alone on the streets of Kenya she is taken in by the Goondas gang where despite here age and gender she rises through the ranks to become a virtuoso thief.  The gang becomes her family but Tina is a lone wolf at heart. And her heart is heavy with plans to avenge the death of her mother. So she bides her time, trusting few while she watches and learns and waits. The long awaited opportunity finally comes for Tina and without giving too much away I'll say that even the best laid plans sometimes go awry. 

City of Saints & Thieves has some memorable characters. One of my favorites was Boyboy. He is Tina's best friend who also just happens to be a technology wizard. Their banter(think of a typical roasting session between you and your bestie) during the book provided some laugh out loud moments. I read that Universal has optioned the story, and that Kerry Washington's production company is in negotiations to produce it. As with all book to movie projects casting will be key. I'm telling you now that if they don't get the casting for Boyboy right throw the whole thing away. Remember I told you that. 

I might have mentioned this before but most of the books I read I get from the library. If I like the book I will then buy a copy for myself which is what happened in the case of City of Saints & Thieves. I gave the copy I bought to my mother to read and she said she enjoyed it. If you are interested in a fast paced, character driven, modern day whodunit with a Kenyan and Congolese backdrop I would recommend City of Saints & Thieves. 

What are you reading now? 


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Dose of Colors: Brick, Kiss of Fire & Berry Me 2




















Hello.

I was minding my business enjoying the Internet when all of a sudden I saw this post about Dose of Color's Berry Me 2 by Mango and Fudge.  The color was so beautiful I went straight to the Dose of Color's website and ordered a Berry Me 2 for myself. I don't remember if they were having a promotion or if I needed to spend a certain amount to get free shipping but I also picked up Fiery Red and Brick. I apologize for the memory lapse but this was back in May. I remember that the shipping was very fast and they gave me a cool sticker. (I love stickers. Do you?) I started wearing two of the three colors. I took pictures of all three colors because I planned to do a blog post and here is that post...  two seasons later. 

Dose of Colors per their website(here) was founded in 2013 by a freelance make up artist.  Fun fact they were the lipstick of choice for Beyonce's pregnancy/goddess Grammys performance this year (here). Brick, Kiss of Fire and Berry Me 2 are liquid matte lipsticks($18/.16 oz). All three are listed as vegan and cruelty free on the Dose of Color's website.  

Brick is my least favorite of the three. I can't really describe what it looks like on me but it's not the rust like reddish brown I had in mind when I bought it.  I think it looks more like clay. I'm sure you savvy shoppers are saying well clay<->brick and I hear you, but at the end of the day it turned out that it was not the look I was going for.  Kiss of Fire is a classic true red that can do no wrong. I've worn this one quite a bit and it's a crowd pleaser. It was in my What's In the Bag post (here). Last but not least is the song of my heart when it comes to the three colors- Berry Me 2. I love this color. I think it's just such a beautiful shade of berry/purple/fuchsia that would be flattering on just about every skin tone. 

Like most of the liquid lipsticks I've tried before I've found that I have to be very careful with my application of these so that they don't end up more on my teeth than my lips. But that's probably user error on my part. All three colors have a slight toasted sugar smell to me. I've only worn Kiss of Fire and Berry Me 2 regularly. Kiss of Fire wears like iron. I usually still have traces of it even after using a make up remover. Berry Me 2 lasts a full work day with minimal touch up needed after meals. It's a lot easier to remove at the end of the day than Kiss of Fire though and I can't figure out why. I'm not a big fan of liquid lipsticks. I was simply bewitched by Mango and Fudge's post. It turned out well though because I found two great colors to add to my lipstick wardrobe. 

What are your thoughts on liquid lipsticks? Have you tried anything from Dose of Colors? 



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Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden - Cape Town, South Africa





















I love a nice garden and Kirstenbosch Garden in Cape Town did not disappoint. Established in 1913 Kirstenbosch has been called the most beautiful garden in Africa. It is part of the Cape Floral Kingdom that was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2004. The first time we went to Kirstenbosch we were caught in the rain so we ducked into the on site restaurant Moyo and had a great meal by the fireplace. We returned a day or two later and took our time enjoying the grounds. The garden is nestled below the majestic Table Mountains and is a little under 90 acres. In addition to the beautiful flowers and fauna you can enjoy great views of the city.  I would have loved a third visit but I was already pushing it by coming back a second time. If you make it to Cape Town I would highly recommend a visit to Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens. 

Have a great weekend!

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