Thursday, January 30, 2014

Win Jojo Moyes 2 books: Me Before You and Last Letter From Your Lover: enter by February 13, 2014

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sorry!  US only!!

I loved Jojo Moyes Me Before You.  The book was the touching story of a quadriplegic and his caregiver who fall in love…or do they? What is that wonderful relationship they have?  Read and find out.  To be clear, I often find stories like this veer too quickly into cliche.  This book was perfect.

Now, the publisher is offering to give one lucky reader Me Before You and Last Letter From Your Lover as a Valentine's Day prize!

I haven't yet read Last Letter!  My copy is coming soon and I'll do a review once I do.  I am a big fan of the author so am looking forward to it!

The publisher's description:

A sophisticated, page-turning double love story spanning forty years-an unforgettable Brief Encounter for our times. 

It is 1960. When Jennifer Stirling wakes up in the hospital, she can remember nothing-not the tragic car accident that put her there, not her husband, not even who she is. She feels like a stranger in her own life until she stumbles upon an impassioned letter, signed simply "B", asking her to leave her husband.

Years later, in 2003, a journalist named Ellie discovers the same enigmatic letter in a forgotten file in her newspaper's archives. She becomes obsessed by the story and hopeful that it can resurrect her faltering career. Perhaps if these lovers had a happy ending she will find one to her own complicated love life, too. Ellie's search will rewrite history and help her see the truth about her own modern romance.

A spellbinding, intoxicating love story with a knockout ending, The Last Letter from Your Lover will appeal to the readers who have made One Day and The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society bestsellers.

Lydia's Party by Margaret Hawkins Book Review

Lydia’s Party, by Margaret Hawkins, drops us into an annual ladies’ party with a group of old friends.  But we start with the afternoon preparations and realize that the hostess is likely dying from cancer.  And, indeed, she might not have long to live.  Each character is facing her own internal questions and external conflicts.

What I really enjoyed about the book was how insightful Hawkins was in sharing the complexities of long-term relationships, both male and female.  We all do need to make compromises if we’re to be intimate as all individuals are deeply flawed.  Over time, as our compromises get larger, we begin to find the right justifications for those we love.

The characters in the book are richly drawn and believable.  Mostly, they do fall into very narrow categories, which can work as they’re all friends.  Even the success of the lot is conflicted and not sold completely on her own choices and character.  I was at that party while reading.

What didn’t work for me is the book’s end.  I still think the book is a worthwhile read but I do want to point out the flaw.  The book gets, frankly, silly and a little too touchy feely for me as the story comes to a close.  A shame…as the book before then is fabulous.

So I do recommend it.  To reflect on life, death, friendship, aging and the choices and compromises we all make in life.  Just suspend disbelief at the end.  Perhaps life is like that anyway.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Hourglass Ambient Lighting Blush in Mood Exposure

Super pretty soft plum with cool to neutral undertones.  The highlighter is pink but matching the blush to lipstick I had to veer more plum/purple than pink.  Great natural or to compliment a bold lip.  I use it as a stunning eye shadow too (highlight and blush!  Yes!).

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Hourglass Ambient Lighting Blush in Luminous Flush and Dim Infusion

Luminous Flush is a champagne rose.

Dim Infusion is a subdued coral.

Gorgeous on.  Incandescent and soft.  More pigmented than I expected but they blend beautifully.  Should I buy another shade…?

My Favorite Beauty Products of January 2104

Mac Metallic Nude Mineralize Skinfinish in Superb, Magnetic Appeal and Fairly Precious
Mac Metallic Nude Lipglass in Steel Kiss
Nars Final Cut Blush in Love
Dior Trianon Blush
YSL Beauty Flower Crush Rouge Volupte Lipstick in 32 and 33`
Revlon Colorburst Matte Balm in 240
Inglot Freedom System Eye Shadow palette in s2 and s6
MAC In Extreme Dimension lash

What I tried in January 2014 and am loving!

Nars Final Cut Descanso Satin Lip Pencil and Love Blush One Minute Makeup and Review

Absolutely beautiful matte blush and matching lip pencil from Nars.  Among my favorite quick and natural looks.  Easy one minute makeup (that flatters!).

Nars Na Pali Coast Multiple from the High Seize Collection and One Minute Makeup

Nars Na Pali Coast Multiple is a shimmery rosy peach.  Great portable one product serves all.  I rarely can use Multiples as a lip color but this one works!  See it on in the video.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Make Up Fore Ever Acqua Rouge Liquid Lip Color in 10 Raspberry, 16 Fuchsia and 18 Coral

Stunning matte formula.  I prefer it without the gloss, meant to make it last even longer, over it.  The coral is the toughest to work with but so beautiful I can't describe it.  These are great.

The photo is the Acqua Rouge next to the matching MUFE lip pencil.

Make Up For Ever Liquid Acqua Rouge Lip Color in 2 Rosewood, 8 Iconic Red and 14 Light Rosewood

Great formula but the colors vary.  I fell asleep in the red and it looked lovely in the morning.  The swatches above are the Acqua Rouge next to the MUFE matching lip pencil!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Elizabeth of York by Allison Weir

This book is a meticulous narrative based on few concrete facts and much speculation.  That doesn't make it a bad or even unlikable book.  I really enjoyed reading the details of the time and the related speculation.  This time period fascinated me when I was growing up  I've read many related books, fiction and non-fiction, including Philippa Gregory's more creative fiction series.

But, I must conclude after reading Weir's meticulously researched biography that we don't know so very much about Elizabeth of York.  Was she merely swept up in a marriage with Henry VII and flirtation with Richard III as brutal battles for the throne of England swirled around her or did she take an active role?

After reading this book I still don't have an opinion.  For fans of the time period this book is a great read.  Weir writes beautifully and I enjoyed every page.  But this book is more history than engaging story.  And that's where Weir's choice of subject falls apart.

Solid but not inspired.  I liked it but didn't love it.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Masks A YouTube Novel Chapter 2

Should I add the full text in these postings...or have people just watch the videos....?  Hm...still figuring it out....but comments are welcome!

As per request....the text...

Chapter 2

            I reach out, running my fingers across the milky creamsicle eye shadow.  A stark contrasting glare from the skylight directly above highlights the depth in the color and I spread a thin swatch on my inner wrist.  The actual pan is almost pristine, the powder so soft I can run my finger through it and leave it like a virgin, to quote Madonna.  The orange is a warm shade, perfect for those with a likewise warm undertone to their skin.  But it’s also pastel enough to work on those with cool undertones.  A perfect shade.  I need them.
            I turn on a Lily Allen playlist.  It’s hard to be a bitch…  Yes, it is.
            Muse, my cosmetics company, is housed in a restored auto repair shop just off Main Street in Santa Monica.  Main Street is the hip and trendy commercial drag of this reluctant tourist town.  My Muse is Estee Lauder who drove my childhood dreams forward to this very hip locale and into top retail spots in Sephora and Nordstrom.
            I’m glad to be alone in my office as I look at the final options for my new and vastly expanded makeup line.  Except for Trotsky, of course, our chocolate lab two-month-old puppy and company mascot.  She sleeps quietly at my feet, brown eyes closed and dreaming, as I contemplate my future and hope fate will be kind.  Saying I bet the farm is understating the risks I’ve taken in so aggressively adding to my offerings.  I did it anyway.
            And the evidence is littered before me on the bronzed aluminum oversized table that serves as my desk. For now I need my own impressions of the merchandise, independent of outside influence.  Rainbow stacks of brights, blushes and eye shadows.  Tubes of mascara and eye liner.  Bottle with foundation and piles of powders.  Lipstick tubes in rows.  It’s a fortune in research and manufacturing.  A hope that someone likes the new shades and will embrace them on a daily basis.
My gut built this company, from my sophomore year at UCLA to this dubious semi headquarters 12 years later and finally growing fast.  I even managed to graduate with a joint degree in literature and economics.  Everything around me reeks of Estee but with a twist.  She was so elegant, as befit her start in the 1940s, but my settings and offerings are edgier.
            The building is a gift from a friend’s parents.  They transformed what was an auto repair shop into an airy and bright office space.  My small offices are separated with a wall from my cosmetics warehouse, products all in steel bins and in rows.  The floors are still a cool brisk grey cement but the walls are Robin’s egg blue, more true blue than Estee’s slightly greenish shade, but still a part of its family.  The ceilings are a deep cerulean which is the exact coloring of my packaging.  Again, following Estee but not Estee. I used silver not her gold for my text.  Besides, blue is my favorite color.  I’d considered having clouds painted, but then began to also consider unicorns, and that all became too overwhelmingly silly and I’m not a girly girl.  So I kept things stark.
            We brought in cool steel or aluminum furniture, and scattered it sparingly through the empty space.  Adding fake fur white beanbag chairs and a shaggy white couch in the entry-way for guests, in the end the feel of clouds won over my first instincts.  Now we hold our small company meetings on the plush couch when the sun begins to set, casting shadows like diamonds through our many slanted glass sky roofs.  The glass is blue, the exact color of water in my imagination.  Chinese takeout or vegan burritos and sometimes a bottle of champagne spread before us, we debate how to market beauty and the freedom it brings.
            Lana Del Rey begins to sing of video games and how everything she does is for “you”.  I likewise sing to a sleeping Trotsky and wonder if someday I’ll do all for someone other than a chocolate lab puppy rescued from a local shelter.  Outside is the hum of cars and I hear my neighbor shouting something.  We have businesses to the west and a residential neighborhood to the east.  My employees are mostly quiet, working, but the phone doesn’t stop its constant rings. 
            For now I drag my oversized remains of a leather armchair to the edge of my table desk.  I have more appropriate seating options but I like to kneel on the familiar chair and focus on my samples.  The leather is worn to the point of butter softness and the brown has faded unevenly.  This chair and this office, like much of my life, is a favor granted.  I grew up on charity, my brother and I both smart and lucky enough to be the token poor scholarship students at one of the city’s most prestigious and competitive private schools.   Here, cheap rent provided by my best friend’s parents and Muse’s first investors literally has made my success possible.  They looked out for me and gave me enough lucky breaks to get my company off the ground and soaring.  The chair came from another friend’s mother when she redid her library.  She’d always seen how I loved it and gifted the monstrosity to me when I was sixteen.  I did what all poor kids do when granted such luxuries: I said thank you and continued loving her to this day.  When you have little such a precious object takes on great importance.
            At first I couldn’t believe I owned such a marvelous chair.  My mom had looked on in silence as I sat down in its depths upon its arrival, massaging the lush armrests.  One of my first eye shadows was the exact brown it was at that moment.  It reigned like a queen in our Brentwood apartment until I moved it here, into my office. 
            Before me is my next challenge.  The makeup samples are my own hard work, though many others have touched them in different ways to get them to this almost final stage.  The beauty industry is a grind and I fell into it when running away from an ex-boyfriend.  I needed a distraction after a breakup and created a line of 10 lipsticks.  Next, a “sporty girl” complete set that UCLA decided to carry in their bookstore as an add on purchase.  Now it’s a real business unless I mess it up.
            For me the colors are a passion.  I love how a slight change in formula or undertones changes their look completely.  And how each shade reacts with every different woman fascinates me.  Perfect beauty is an unattainable ideal for most, but all women can glow with the right mix of shades done just so.  The planes of every face are like a canvas and should be treated with respect.  All women are beautiful in their own way.   
I first began mixing colors in high school as an escape, before the boyfriend and breakup it was just beauty.  My moods are dependent on outside influences, too much so.  Scents, weather, what people say, or even the shifting landscape around me as I rush through my day can leave me reeling or exhilarated.  I hate that aspect of my personality and have had to learn how to center and refocus so I don’t go insane.  Do I possess crazy genes that leave me destabilized too easily?  
            My office door is closed and it’s almost 10:00 in the morning.  I need to hole up and visualize what women want over the next year.  Sure, they want to be beautiful but what does that mean?  I can make them clean, clear their skin and brighten their face.  But while I can modify features I can’t change them.  A woman at her best is confident and that I can do: make a woman feel good about herself.  It only takes a few steps and I’ve prepackaged them.
            Now I’m adding to my basic line and the evidence is before me. 
            More importantly, the scents are before me.  I’ve never done perfume before.  I glance down at my baggy faded jeans and a very old James Perse T-shirt worn to its last shreds.  Black.  I need the comfort to be creative but as I look at my final product choices all I feel is fear. What if I pick the wrong ones and the new lines don’t fly?  Every year I’m introducing something new and every choice could fall flat.
            But I glance down at Trotsky and listen to the ever confident Beyonce begin her song and keep going.  She knows that all can be replaced and that no decision is ever permanent.  How I wish for her utter confidence.
So I pick up another eye shadow and finger the cerulean package.  After the creamsicle I’ve chosen a subtle purple, full of sparkles in a mix of reds and browns.  Gold dances in the mix and ultimately seems to take charge.  This shade is so sultry and attention seeking.  I grab a mirror and rub some above my upper lash line.   I love how it shimmers yet also simmers.
 Eventually I’ll show my final choices to others but for now I revel in being
able to play and visualize who will wear these shades.  Does a young girl wear this Mata Hari purple or a more mature woman, sexy versus seductive?  I can imagine both as I smell the local scents of exhaust and salt.  Bread from a nearby restaurant warms up the air.  And my phone rings.
            My assistant only answers if I don’t pick up by the third ring.  I grab for the phone but something inside me, an instinct, warns me away.  I ignore it.
            “Hello,” I start, trying to juggle my mirror, eye shadow, imagination and trepidation.
            “Lise, I won’t make it tonight,” Brad, my boyfriend begins, as always skipping a courtesy at the start of any call.  A master of the universe, he doesn’t believe in pleasantries.  Does he believe in manners?  When having them helps him.  Yes, the bloom is off this rose.  I love him, I love him not?  Lately less so.  But I’m dependent on him.  And he’s helping me get financing to expand my line.  In private equity, he buys companies and doesn’t fund them.  He has friends who fund and they’re working on the final paperwork to make my dreams a reality.
            Feel free to judge me but I’ve been with him for almost five years now.  Eleven years my senior and much more savvy than I am in business, he, like my office space and chair, has been a gift that I’m not always sure how to manage.
            “Okay,” I respond, having learned to let him keep speaking before jumping to conclusions.  He likes to hear himself talk and I’m always curious to hear what bullshit he’ll come up with before I cut him off.
            “Work crisis.  Fucking CEO has been faking his numbers and the media is about to go public with it.  I need to talk to the key reporters and get them to write more sympathetic stories.  Too late to shut it down completely.”
            “Okay,” I repeat myself.  We were to be having a nice sushi dinner tonight but, honestly, I’m better off finishing my work here.  It isn’t like I’m not betting my whole company on these new collections and perfumes.  
            I picture him, slightly tall and very hard from his workouts.  His eyes fade to brown and his hair is just a flush of almost black.  And while he can look me in the eye when delivering a tough message for the most part his eyes are always shifting around, maximizing his options.  His shirts always have collars unless he’s exercising.
            “Ted is happy with most of the terms of your financing but…,” Brad continues and I take a deep in-breath, picturing my yoga teacher as I do so.  Brad’s buts are legendary.  He never speaks about anything directly, preferring a lethal sideswipe to the gut.  How did I end up here?
            I don’t respond, deciding that not showing desperation is always the best course of action.  And I need that money.  Desperately.  The phones are ringing outside my personal office and in the main company.  People like and want us.  We’re in People magazine this week.
            “But nothing.  I told him just to sign it or I’ll fund you personally.  Of course, I’d put you on a diet as a term of the deal.”  He laughs and I’m glad he isn’t here or I’d kill him.  My jeans have been feeling a little tight but I’ve been under so much pressure I really haven’t been paying attention.  He’s saying I’m getting fat?  I look down.  He might be right.
            I struggle to find my voice.  As if doing so is easy in the best of circumstances and this is hardly that.  Is he seriously saying that he’d risk my financing and my company to force me to lose weight?
            “Fuck you,” I hear myself say and hang up on him.   What have I done? 

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The Time Regulation Institute by Ahmet Hamdi Tanpinar Review

The Time Regulation Institute by Ahmet Hamdi Tanpinar is a magical and engaging book.  Like many writers, past and present, Tanpinar uses satire to make larger political points.  The story works read straight but the meanings behind the simple words are so much more compelling.

Tanpinar wrote early in the 20th Century in Turkey as the country was undergoing it's forced modernization and westernization.  That rush into a new culture can't and doesn't ever happen seamlessly and Tanpinar was not in support of the process.  He's widely respected in his homeland (and called the greatest Turkish writer by Orhan Pamuk, a favorite of mine) but suffered during his life due to his politics.

For some reason this book made me think of Joe Saramago's Blindness in which political criticism is also hidden under satire.  In Saramago's book a form of blindness stands for so much more.  Tanpinar regulates time, the ultimate thing over which man has absolutely no control.  Futile to pretend government can do all, ignoring the dictates of nature.  His main character, Hayri, aptly labeled an anti-hero, is part of an effort by the government to fine all those whose clocks and watches aren't exactly on time.  Through an odd scheme by which repeat offenders pay less, the punitive government action becomes a highly coveted fine and tourists even yearn to interview and meet those who put it in place and pay their own fine.

The Time Regulation Institute founders are heralded and admired until they aren't.  And the government and society turns opinion wise as people struggle to find values in a world modernized too quickly and in ignorance of how people really are.

Magical, compelling and beautifully written, I absolutely loved this book.

The translation is both lyrical and a bit awkward at the same time.  I also really enjoyed the introduction that describes the steps Turkey took to modernize, including those that relate how the language was forced into a new set of symbols and rules that couldn't capture the original.

Recommended so highly to all those who want to read something distinctive, original and meaningful.

Monday, January 13, 2014

YSL Beauty Pure Colour Satiny Radiance in 33 Rouge Narcisse

Pretty color.

Red falling into the berry family.  Great formula with SPF 15!  I got long wear but a little bleeding.  Please see the video to learn more.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Nars Loves Los Angeles Set Review, Swatches and Day Look

Beautiful colors…especially the four eye shadows…the blues smokier than in your face bright.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Deborah Harkness The Book of Life Excerpt and Cover Revealed

The Book of Life is the third book in Deborah Harkness's trilogy.  Not a witch book reader myself I thoroughly loved the first two books in the series.  And I wrote a review of the second, Shadow of Night, on this blog (I didn't read them in order; and might still do a review on the second, which I've now finished and loved).

Unfortunately for all of us, the next book doesn't come out until July 15.  But it is coming out!  The publisher, Penguin,  kindly sent the below excerpt to whet our appetite.  Can't wait!

Ghosts didn’t have much substance; they were composed only of memories and heart. Atop one of Sept-Tours’ round towers, Emily Mather pressed a diaphanous hand against the spot in the center of her chest that even now was heavy with dread.

            It had been her witch’s sixth sense that someone was in mortal peril that had steered Emily down the path leading to this moment. But the death she had foreseen was her own.  

            Does it ever get easier? Her voice, like the rest of her, was almost imperceptible. The watching? The waiting? The knowing?

            Not that I’ve noticed, Philippe de Clermont replied shortly. He was perched nearby, studying his own transparent fingers.        

Emily’s face fell, and Philippe silently cursed himself. Since she’d died, the witch had been his constant companion, cutting his loneliness in two.

Perhaps it will be easier when they don’t need us anymore, Philippe said more gently. He might be the more experienced ghost, but it was Emily who understood the metaphysics of their situation. What the witch had told him went against everything Philippe believed about the Afterworld.

            Diana’s warm alto floated up to the battlements. Diana and Matthew, Emily and Philippe said in unison, peering down on the cobbled courtyard that surrounded the ch√Ęteau.

            There, Philippe said, pointing at the drive. Even dead, his vampire sight was sharper than any human’s. He was also still more handsome than any man had a right to be, with his broad shoulders and devilish grin. He turned the latter on Emily, who couldn’t help grinning back. They are a fine couple, are they not? Look how much my son has changed.

            Vampires weren’t supposed to be altered by the passing of time, and so Emily expected to see the same black hair, so dark it glinted blue; the same celadon eyes, cool and remote as a winter sea; the same pale skin and wide mouth. There were a few subtle differences though, as Philippe suggested. Matthew’s hair was shorter, and he had a beard that made him look even more dangerous, like a pirate. She gasped.

            Is Matthew—bigger? . . . Diana looks different, too. More like her mother, with that long coppery hair.    

Diana stumbled on a cobblestone and Matthew’s hand shot out to steady her.

            It’s not just Diana’s hair that has changed. Philippe’s face had a look of wonder. Diana is with child—Matthew’s child.

            Emily examined her niece more carefully, using the supernatural grasp of truth that death afforded.

What will happen now, Philippe? Emily asked, her heart growing heavier.
            Endings. Beginnings, Philippe said with deliberate vagueness. Change.
            Diana has always resisted change, Emily said.
            That is because she is afraid of what she must become, replied Philippe.

From The Book of Life by Deborah Harkness. Reprinted by arrangement with Viking, a member of Penguin Group (USA) LLC, a Penguin Random House company. Copyright © Deborah Harkness, 2014.