Sunday, June 29, 2014

Lorac Pro Palette 2 Review and Swatches

Smokier and with more color than the original.  Same great quality.

Product rating: A+.  So many looks and all work so well….

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Lancome Lip Lover Gloss in Rose Des Nymphes and Casse-Noisette Review and Swatches

I much prefer Rose Des Nymphes…  A light and very pretty gloss.

Product rating:  A-

James Madison by Lynne Cheney Book Review

I love reading history but find choosing a book in the genre difficult. Honestly, some of the recent books that humanize great figures of history by telling some sordid, only perhaps true tale leave me yawning.  If I want fiction or guess work I've got plenty of celebrity magazines with more credibility available.

History, especially biography, also requires a delicate balance between including enough detail while still making the story interesting.

Lynne Cheney does an excellent job in James Madison, and I really enjoyed the book.  Cheney is more than just a successful man's wife she's also a highly educated woman and this book isn't her first.

The research included is impressive but Cheney also moves the story along and makes it compelling.  I didn't know much about Madison before reading the book and based my understanding on long ago history classes.  I now not only understand him better but also got a great refresher in the founding of our country.

Book grade:  A

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Maybelline Color Tattoo Leather Eye Shadow in Vintage Plum 90 Review and Swatches

A soft smoky plum…that wears for an amazingly long time.  Builds up…but to a light color.

Product grade: B+.  Super useful and pretty but I wasn't wowed.

New Rimmel Lipsticks To Nude or Not To Nude 125 All You Want Victoria 360 and Summer Angel 640 Review and Swatches

Soft sheen…great formula…love these…

Product grade: A.  Remind me of D&G and I love the colors...

Book Giveaway: Good Morning Mr. Mandela by Zelda la Grange

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Ends July 9, 2014. US only, sorry.

Masks, A Youtube Novel by Megan Lisa Jones Chapter 6


Chapter 6
            My mom looks like my mom, but she isn’t awake.  Rather, she’s sleeping and I can’t see if she has any paralysis or loss of motor function or slurred speech.  As I watch her stir, but not as if under her own conscious control, I can only remember my yoga instructor’s direction to breathe.  Always focus on the breathe, feeling the rise and fall of your chest and listening for that rustle going in and out.  It means hope and perhaps tomorrow or at least another moment.  Passing but still here. 
I’m broken and feel more tears welling up in the corners of my eyes, like a bad cliché in a dime novel.  I’ve been a fucking faucet today and can’t even call my boyfriend to cry on his shoulders since we’re in a cold war.  Not a good relationship.  So I succumb to the water as it flows.
            Mom was never that sturdy to begin with, despite what life has demanded of her.  For now, she’s breathing.  And I see the gentle rise and fall of her chest.  She’s alive but I knew that already.  My mom looks tiny curled up on her hospital bed, her form twisted sideways with wires and whatnot jutting out of her.  I see machines and don’t want to imagine what they mean. 
            Her body is smaller now as she’s wasted away recently and I’ve ignored her slight frame fading, more involved in my own daily stress and pressure.  Sure, I know its all been so hard for her and she hurts.  But I’m so self focused that I choose to ignore the pain in the world, including hers.  I will her to retain the parental role whether she can still carry that cross or is instead falling under such a heavy burden.  Children can be selfish. 
I need to get back to my office and hate myself for thinking that way.  But I still have a company to keep solvent and my mom will live or die without me.  I just need to show that I came and demonstrate my love?  I do love her and can’t fully express the pain I feel in seeing this prostate form, weak and battered before me.  Perhaps I yearn to just escape this truism, that my mom isn’t young the way she once was.  How come parents are allowed to age and get weaker, losing their health in the process?  Shouldn’t they always be there for us, when we need them?  I still need her. 
Resigned, I make a decision.
I’ll wait until she wakes up and my staff will handle the manufacturing meeting.  While she might have entered this place without either of her children by her side, she shouldn’t wake up here the first time alone.  Hospitals are too frightening for the sick.  Sterile and burdened with those in pain or scared, ill and desperate, the surroundings only magnify the oppression of an “institution”.  A hospital isn’t our home and the flimsy beds are about saving lives not comfort.
I stifle another sob and try not to break down as I watch her sleeping, peaceful, but how am I to really know?  Her body has been rebelling more often now as her health continues a steady decline.  Last year it was pneumonia and the year before she broke her hip.  Life kept her busy and I suspect she never really took care of herself.  Working long hours on her feet, having little cash for doctor visits and the best food, she wore down.  The life of a single parent is never easy.
Another tear falls on my jeans and I wonder at how it travelled so far before I noticed I was crying.  I pat my eyes, trying to dry the wetness without spreading black mascara across my face.  I hear the noises of a busy place around me, with chatter mingling into footsteps and an occasional laugh. 
            My mom can’t break apart and disappear, I think, panicking.  The universe just shouldn’t allow such a reality to occur.  My whole life she’s been such a constant and there for me.  Now?  Now I know nothing except that my world is falling apart and my company needs me too.  The chattering voice in my head keeps talking me into a frenzy of “no” and “this can’t be happening” and I will that stupid voice to just shut up.  Next thing I know it will be reminding I’m fat, as if that matters now.
I’ve turned my phone off and not bothered to check if I have messages, desperate or not.  Frankie can juggle things for a few hours.  People today are so used to instant responses they seemingly forget that patience was once a virtue.  I watch my mom, trying to focus on her not the crazy world from outside that I’ve brought into this room.
Still, I’d do anything to protect the company I’ve built; but perhaps I’d do just slightly more for my mother.  She’s the one who gave me confidence to follow my dream, when I was struggling trying to decide between Muse and law school.   I sigh and study her form, curled and covered, as I ponder my conflict.
“Follow your passion, “ she told me then.  “I never did and every day regret not taking that one risk extra.  Law school will always be there but your company has real orders today,” she’d continued, dumping some new Lauder products on our kitchen table, not dissimilar to my earlier activities at my office today.  “You can do better,” she’d finished, with a half smile.  I still remember the rose floral dress she was wearing as she proved her devotion to me.  Again.  That was the only day she ever hinted that Estee Lauder wasn’t the best possible product.  Loyal to a fault, she picked my product first.
I’d kissed her cheek then ran to my room, basically a small and dark closet.   Curled up on my bed I’d crafted a shade of lipstick similar to the undertones of her dress.  It was my first huge success.
For my mom is my muse, and Muse is also my muse.  We draw inspiration from what we love.  My mom is so pretty in a soft and feminine way.   Meanwhile, the company lives its own life too, but with a harder edge to its femininity.  Now, it needs to have a production meeting in an hour, regardless of traffic or life and death matters.  I text Frankie and tell her I’ll likely miss the meeting and others need to handle the manufacturing issues without me.  That is what I have a COO for, right?
            I sit in the chair next to the bed and take mom’s hand in mine.  I feel all hope seeping out, dissipating into air, and tears welling up again, and again and again.  They don’t ever seem to stop today.  I’m usually upbeat but once and a while things really get to me.  Usually, when I lose control of something.  My whole life I’ve been fighting the odds, with few resources on my side.  Alone unless a friend or their parents came in to help.  I’ve always been the underdog and sometimes I just get tired.
            Mom stirs and I wonder at what she thought while I was growing up.  She rarely said, preferring to remain a resolute mystery.  Perhaps now I’ll never have a chance to find out.  My phone beeps and I see Frankie’s agreement come through via text.  “We’re set to take the meeting without you.  NO problem!!!”  Another tear falls.
            We all get stripped bare at some point in life, don’t we?  Then we need to rise from our own ashes, resurrected, and begin to fight again.  Or so mom taught me and now I’m scared that I’ll need to get by without her.  Will she wake up with a fully functioning brain or will I now be talking to a woman who can’t remember me?
            And Ron texts me telling me that he’ll be here soon.  But what can I respond until the doctors tell me more?  Mom’s hand is limp and I kiss her palm, whispering promises in the wind.  
            I text Ron back and we arrange to meet for dinner.  I stand, stretching, waiting.  Then I see movement on the bed and mom opens her bright blue eyes, staring straight at me.  She lifts the hand I’d just returned to its resting place on her white bed, nestled in a thigh.
            “Cora!” I exclaim and pray that I like her answer.     

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Maybelline the Nudes Eye Shadow Palette 2014 Review and Swatches

This gets an A from me…some powdery and inconsistent shadows but I love the colors and price point.  Used with a primer I get great wear.  And the super light colors work to give a natural look.  I love this at this price point!  I paid $11.

But an eye shadow primer is essential or some colors lack pigmentation and fade fast!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Asia's Cauldron: The South China Sea and the End of a Stable Pacific by Robert D. Kaplan Book Review

I'm a huge Robert Kaplan fan.  Yes, he''s been named one of the world's top 100 global thinkers but he also can take that knowledge and share it in engaging and interesting prose.  This book is a great example of a dense subject turned entertaining but still educationa.  Asia's Cauldron delves into the countries that make up Asia and the specific dynamics that are defining them today (and in the past as those interactions continue to haunt the world).

This book is an overview, with some interesting predictions and educated guesses as to how China's increased overreach (or perhaps they'd say diplomacy) continues to become more militant.  Today we're reading more about Iraq in our news sources yet China has gotten more aggressive over the past few months regarding islands in dispute with Japan.  Kaplan gives us insight into these situations and many more.

However, the book discusses the region itself - a broad area - thus can only go into so much detail on any one situation or country.  China discussion dominates, but I learned a lot about all of the countries about which Kaplan writes.  And he's visited them as well, so can add local color.  But this book won't prime you for an ambassadorship.

Kaplan rarely disappoints and this book is no exception.  I find his viewpoint balanced and mostly fair.

Is he right?  Time will tell - but few will dispute that Asia, and China in particular, is becoming a more dominant region.

I highly recommend this book.

Josie Maran Argan Beautiful Eyes in Beautiful Blue Review and Swatches

Lovely soft blue palette without all the chemicals…

Product rating: A-.  I love it…soft and shimmery…but it does need an eye shadow primer to apply and wear well.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Becca Ultimate Matte Lip Color in Claudine and Josephine Review and Swatches

These are lovely.  Like softly patted on color…I much prefer Josephine.  A standout!

Product rating: A-.  They're pricey and the packaging is a little malfunctioning.  Love Josephine with a passion….so it's a close minus.

Becca Shadow & Light Bronze/Contour Perfector Review and Swatches

Cooler in undertone, with no yellow or orange, these shades will work for more than will most bronzers.  Great for contour and highlight…if you like natural looks….

Product rating:  A.  Softly natural and pretty looking, great undertones, useful product…love!

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Becca Ultimate Creme Eye Liner in Neo Classic Review Swatches and On

I bought this because I liked the color (smoky green) so much.  Lovely but not waterproof.

Product rating: A-.  I took off for the small container opening and because while the wear is very good it isn't amazing.  Still, the color is stunning.

A Year with Minecraft: Behind the Scenes at Mojong by Thomas Arnroth

I don't play Minecraft but my son does.  He also watches Minecraft related videos on YouTube and I'm fascinated by the community built around this game!  Millions of Youtube channel (related views) and channels are built around the game.  Minecraft has also sold over 33 million units since 2011 and the founder, Markus "Notch" Perrson supports pirating of the game.

In the book, Arnroth, a journalist spends a year with Minecraft.  Meeting with the founders in the Sweden studio he gets to know them and really understand the company culture.  Minecraft, for those who don't play, really is like legos in a game.  I'm amazed at the how such graphics can be such a hit but the game itself inspires amazing loyalty and great game play.

The game also encourages thought and creativity among players.  It's built a loyal and vast global community.  Releasing a mobile app was debated within the company but ended up being a huge hit (among the collaborative and so supportive fan base).

I will never fully understand why my son and his friends (and so many others) are as enthusiastic about Minecraft as they are.  But this book is amazing at offering insight into how the game was made and continues to evolve.  Delving into the creators and their lives makes for a fascinating story.  Going into their thought processes and development style is even more insightful.

A must read for gamers, parents of gamers or those just looking for a great story about a cult creating company.  How many companies can create so much in so little time?  The best marketing in the world won't get another company where Minecraft is today.  There is some secret in the founders and how they view games.

Harlequin Teen's Grim

Authors in this anthology include Ellen Hopkins, Julie Kagawa, Amanda Hocking, Claudia Gray and  Rachel Hawkins,  with Christine Johnson as editor.  These YA authors take on the Grim fairy tales and use vast imagination in doing so.

I'm a huge Brothers Grim fan and loved the Grimm Fairy Tales book growing up.  I love all the new renditions of these stories, even the darker ones.  For, as someone who writes (and reads) the classic story lines do repeat (well) in countless ways.

Getting a group of talented writers together and asking them to come up with some new tales is just plain fun!

The tales aren't only based on the obvious Cinderellas of the Grim world.  Does anyone remember the 12 dancing princesses before Barbie created a Christmas line based on the story?  The Robber Bride Groom, Cat Skin and The Shroud are more obscure stories used as well.

With different authors the quality and styles of the stories vary widely.  Reading them was such fun!

And I do understand that some of these stories were originally free on Amazon.

The Road To Global Prosperity by Michael Mandelbaum Book Review

Michael Mandelbaum has yet again written an important book.  A professor at John Hopkins School of 
Advanced International Studies, he knows a lot about the world today and the complex and ongoing shifts in 
power.  This book focuses on the complex challenges our world faces in the context of globalization.  Professor
Mandelbaum is an optimist, more so than I am, but I forgive him that because he supports his discussions 
so well.

The book focuses on the four major "fault lines" today.  

The first are the global public goods that an economy needs to function smoothly.  The US military might has provided
the necessary security needed for cross border trade and inter-investment.  Our stepping increasingly out of that
role does create world security (and prosperity) issues.

The second fault line relates to the comparative advantage of trade flows. I'm not sure I agree with all of Mandelbaum's
points here but he does support them.

The third fault line deals with politics in the "developed" world, those countries in the west, Japan and the like.  The
challenges they face include slower growth and an aging population.

The last fault line is the developing or less western world and the challenges they face, many of which come
from their political systems.  The BRICS are definitely outgrowing more "established" countries yet each has their
challenges.  Russia is corrupt and energy dependent, China pushes unstable growth and doesn't protect property
rights, Brazil struggles with populism and (currently) increase dissatisfaction and India is a poorly organized

So, while I don't always agree with Professor Mandelbaum, his book is a good read and made me view issues
from a different angle.  And his optimism is inspiring.  I hope he's right.

Friday, June 20, 2014

L'Oreal Glossy Balm in 220 Innocent Coral, 230 My Baby Doll and 240 Pink Me Up

I love these!  A balm that moisturizes, has true color and lasts…

Innocent coral, My Baby Doll and Pink Me Up

Dose of Colors Lipstick in Angelic, Karma, Love Potion, Playdate, Soft Touch and Sorbet

Fun colors…on trend but more wearable than some…

Angelic, Karma and Love Potion

Playdate, Soft Touch and Sorbet

Dolce & Gabbana Bellissima 515 Classic Cream Lipstick Spring 2014

Perfect lipstick.  Period.  Great formula and a vibrant pink that isn't too bright.

Armani and YSL Friends and Family Sale! Code and my wish list

Two of my favorite brands have friends and family sales right now!

Giorgio Armani has 20% off everything with the code:  FAMILY14 at Armani and YSL Beauty has 20% of with the same code at YSL .

So I decided to put my wish list online.


1.  Maestro Blush Blush I tried this at a local Nordstrom and was blown away by how lovely, natural and pigmented it is.  I'm still pondering color…

2.  Maestro liquid bronzer Bronzer Not too yellow, this can be mixed into foundation or worn as a bronzer or contour.

3.  Maestro eraser concealer Concealer I need a concealer and love Armani face products finish.

4.  CC Cream CC Cream I absolutely love how luminous this product is.  Light coverage but better than many products with heavier coverage.

5.  Eyes to kill solo eye shadow Eye shadow I love these but couldn't decide which to get!  In my basket now are 10, 6, 17, 13 and 16 but we shall see.

Maybe I'll get a lip sheer or two from the Bright Ribbon Collection Ribbon

Other products I love but already have are the Cheek fabric blush and different lipsticks (I love all formulas).


I recently stocked up on this brand so will be getting less.

I love the Rouge Volupte Shine lipstick Shine , Rouge Per Couture Rebels (and regular) Rebel, the whole summer look collection Summer .

I'll be getting:

1.  Another Kiss & Blush Kiss

2.  A Couture palette though I haven't decided color Couture

3.  A Golden Lustre lipstick color still undecided Golden

I've done reviews for many of these products on YouTube and this blog:

Youtube link

Happy shopping!  Let me know what you get….  The sale goes through end of June but some things will sell out.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Sephora Marc Jacobs 1000 Point Vib Reward Lip Gel in Cabaret and Lust for Lacquer in Shooting Star

Pretty!  Worth 1,000 VIB points?  Watch and find out.

Raising Boys and Raising Girls, Revised, by Steve Biddulph Book Reviews

I'm reviewing both these books together because I think doing so makes sense.  I have an old copy of Steve Biddulph's Raising Boys and view it as an essential must read for parents.  I was thus delighted to see an updated and revised edition plus Raising Girls.

First, boys and girls are both different and the same.  We need to view children as both distinct but also as part of a larger whole.  And the world has changed a lot since we as parents faced the challenges all children navigate when growing up.

Being female I'm more comfortable and knowledgable about mean girl issues than I am with how teen boys navigate pornography and sex.  Biddulph offers both common sense and more nuanced answers.  And he writes in an easy to read and enjoyable style.  I love how easy navigating his books is.

These books also break down the different stages boys and girls individually face (5 for girls and 3 for boys).

What I didn't like in the books were the authors "stories from the heart" that sometimes I felt were more there as filler and to support his points and not actual facts.

Must have reads for parents…and having written an education book myself I've read many.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

The Future of the Mind by Michio Kaku Book Review

This book is beyond brilliant.  But, to confess, I'm a fan of Michio Kaku and The Future of the Mind doesn't disappoint.  What is in store for the mind as science continues to progress?  Kaku is a theoretical  physicist who understands the difference between real science, that which is theoretical but practical, and that which is pushing the boundaries.  He explains it all…not simply because this is physics…but simply enough.

I loved hearing about how my mind will continue to expand and just get better as science does the same.

This book is amazing as is all of what the author writes.  Read it because you want to understand how humanity is progressing.  Kaku will have you fascinated from the start.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

How To Apply Bronzer Basics with Too Faced Little Black Book of Bronzers and Other Products

Products used:
Too Faced The Little Black Book of Bronzers
Dolce & Gabbana The Bronzer in Cashmere
Becca Bronzing Skin Perfector
Laura Mercier Golden Mosaic
MAC Bronzing Powder in Refined Golden
Chanel Cheeky Cream Blush
Hourglass Ambient Lighting Blush in Luminous Flush
Lorac Body Bronzing Luminizer

On lips, D&G Traviata

Monday, June 16, 2014

The Tyrant's Daughter by J.C. Carleson Book Review

The Tyrant's Daughter by J.C. Carleson is a delightful trip into an improbable life that for some is actually real.  The story is of a young girl whose father is murdered, set up by his brother and her uncle.  Sounds complicated?  That's the least of it.  The girl's father was a dictator and she, her lovely but struggling now single mother and her brother (the king, really) are in America and trying to make a new life.

Which isn't easy as rebel factions, government agencies and their uncle, currently ruling, don't leave them alone.  And her mother wants to be involved as she wants her life back, quickly tired of poverty and completely unsuited to it.

Our heroine struggles with local customs, divided loyalties, making new friends, having her first boyfriend and looking out for her brother, who gets in trouble at school for claiming to be royalty.  Meanwhile, her mother begins to drink and they all live on little food.

How does the story get resolved?  Not as you'd expect.  What fun it is!  When I was in college I had a friend who likewise was the daughter of a deposed third world leader.  Her father was in jail with no end to his ordeal in sight.  Such stories really do happen.

The Ways of the Dead by Neely Tucker Book Review

I love this book.

Neely Tucker is a reporter for the Washington Post and writes about Washington DC.  So he's writing about what he knows and adding a lot of personality and color.  This book is a take off from the Princeton Place murders that happened in DC years ago.  From Mississippi originally, Tucker also adds a few Southern touches to his hero, Sully Carter.

Carter is a former foreign correspondent returned to his DC paper after being wounded in a war zone (while reporting).  Haunted by a lost love (killed in the same conflict) among many other demons, Carter is tasked with reporting about the recent murder of a top judge's fifteen year old daughter after her dance class in a local ghetto.

But Carter stumbles on more murders of young women in the area.  Are they related?  No one cares about poor working girls like they do a judge's daughter so little related investigation has been done.

The father, and judge, will likely be the next Supreme Court justice.  Was his daughter's death a political message or part of a serial killer's rampage?

The book is just plain fun and throws in some surprising twists.  Many of the characters are quirky and conniving and we get lost with Carter as he tries to figure out what's really going on between the lies and omissions.  Tucker wrote a book that lives up to the best of its genre.  I highly recommend it.  Among the better of its type I've read in the past year or two.

Saturday, June 14, 2014