Friday, July 31, 2015

Book Giveaway A World Elsewhere by Sigrid MacRae

a Rafflecopter giveaway

US only...sorry..enter by August 8, 2015

100% Pure Fruit Pigmented Lip Glaze in Cabernet Review and Swatches

Gorgeous red.  Doesn't wear as well as less natural products but it's so pretty.  No staining but it bleeds a little.

Dr Jart+ Dermaclear Micro Water Review

A great quick way to clean your face.  This cleansing water also has galactomyces and other fermented products to increase absorption and perfect skin.  A must have.  On

Asian and Natural Skin Care Secrets Vegetables for Flawless Skin

Vegetables for flawless skin...

Book Review: Nagasaki Life After Nuclear War by Susan Southard

Nagasaki Life After Nuclear War by Susan Southard is a riveting, horrific and graphic book.  The author goes to Japan and interviews survivors of the US nuclear bombing mission against Nagasaki and the results are hard to read.  But the individual narratives are very well written

The message is important and the personal stories are gripping.  Reading about the horrors of having flesh burned off, the destruction, the pain while healing and the complete devastation can be overwhelming though important.

The book is not dispassionate and objective, and gripping thought it is, that lack of distance is its one flaw.  While we can all agree that nuclear war is a horrible thing we need also to put actions into a context, one in which Japan absolutely refused to surrender.

But these issues aside, this book is a valuable one.  Did I enjoy it?  I'm not sure.  It's very well written but also very painful.  Given the likely nuclear acceleration about to speed up in our world today, it's a book very worth reading.  If more people read books like this perhaps we wouldn't need to worry about the increasingly more likely next nuclear bomb.

Book Review: Kitchens of the Great Midwest by J. Ryan Stradal

Eva has quite an interesting life.  Orphaned and then raised by her uncle and his wife (not realizing initially that they aren't her real parents) she never feels fully at home growing up.  Her parents are good people but not excited by food, as is Eva and as was her father.

Eva grows into a lovely and talented woman and chef.  She becomes renowned for her amazing dishes and instinctive grasp of food.  Characters come and go, sometimes not gracefully, but the narrative reads like your best friend telling you a story.

There are recipes, but for the most part they're simple ones.

What I love about this book is that it created a world and characters and they work.  I found myself lost in them.  I don't know much about the mid-west and reading this book I felt like I was learning more.  And that is what a good book and author are supposed to do.

I recommend this book!

Book Review: The Ambassador's Wife by Jennifer Steil

Jennifer Steil is an ambassador's wife.  In the book, she writes about one in a fictional country that closely mirrors Yemen, where she lived with her ambassador husband.  They're now in Bolivia.

Miranda, an American artist in Mazrooz, falls in love with the British ambassador (newly posted) after she and her lesbian lover part ways.  They quickly marry and have a daughter.  Miranda teaches local girls art, including subversive art, while acting our her marital duties as well.

Miranda is kidnapped by an extremist terrorist group when out hiking with friends.  She is then put in charge of suckling a very important girl baby, having left her own nursing child behind.  Predictably, she is rescued but then her and her husband need to deal with the aftermath of the kidnapping.

This book is vivid and has a real grasp of a time and place - that of an ambassador's wife in a Muslim, Arab country.  That part of it is lovely.  I enjoyed the story but must admit that the viewpoint at times did turn entitled and judgmental.  Steil seems conflicted by both her own place, and Miranda's, in this world.

This book can be lovely.  It won't be loved by all.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Rimmel Nude Lipstick by Kate Moss Collection 2015: 40, 42, 43, 45 and 48

These are newly released in the UK (only for now, I think) but for some reason I "had" to have them.
40:  white base very light peach
42: white base light pink nude
43: no white base but slightly more orange and brown than 40
45:  cooler pink than 42 with no white base: a nude so brown/pink
48: a darker nude, but with a slight red or plum undertone (depending on your lip shade I think) so not super brown thus more wearable.

These are mostly but not fully opaque.  I like all but 40 which is too light on me for most looks.  Same great Rimmel formula that I love but not everyone does.  These will be making it the the US.

40, 42, 43, 45 and 48

Tom Ford Runway Color AW15 Cream Eye Shadow Review and Swatches

Lovely reddish brown.  This cream eye shadow is limited edition and on the Tom Ford Site right now.  It's a different texture than the regular formula but I really like it....though it can be hard to build up...

100% Pure Naked Strawberry Gift Set of Natural Makeup

Maybe a little too natural looking for me but I really do like this set any way.  A really solid collection for those who want to apply fewer chemicals to your face (about 60% soak through your skin).

Monday, July 20, 2015

Besame 1940s Eau De Parfum Review

Top notes:  bergamot, cognac, davana

Heart notes:  rose, clove, labdanum

Base notes: sandalwood, amber benzoin

A sultry but not super complex scent.  Like curling up next to a burning fireplace.

Asian Skin Essences SK II, Secret Key Missha and Monique Labs Review and Thoughts

A top Japanese (SK-II) fermented essence and three popular Korean ones (Secret Key, Missha and Monique Labs).   These all use fermented rice products, all but Missha using galactomyces fermate filtrate.  Which do I like best and why?

Also, what are the benefits to skin?  In short, they refine and even skin tone, deal with both dryness and acne, reduce visible pores and minimize the effects of aging.  I love them.

Another I like, NoTS Aqua Softener, also uses fermenting ingredients but not fermented rice.  So while it's mentioned in the video it isn't discussed in as much detail.

Most are available for sale at:

Missha Time Revoultion First Treatment Essence
SK-II Facial Treatment Essence
Secret Key Starting Treatment Essence
Monique Lab The First Skin Essence

Bite Beauty Opal Creme Lipstick Review and Swatches

An iridescent semi sheer lilac with pink and blue undertones.

My Current Skin Care Routine July 2015 With Korean 10 Step Ritual

What I'm currently using...and mostly on

NoTs Comfort Cleansing Oil
Tony Moly Soft Cleansing Egg Pore Foam
Dr Jart+Dermaclear Micro Water
Label Young Shocking Toner
Secret Key Aloe Toner
Secret Key Starting Treatment Essence
Missha Time Revolution The First Treatment Essence
Monique Labs The First Skin Essence
SK II Facial Treatment Essence
Ecossia Camellia Watery Serum
Finco AndJ White Wrinkle Serum
Original Raw Black Jam Cream
MeganLisa Simple Face Cream
Realite Jeju The Marine Sea Grape Anti-Wrinkle Eye Cream
Besame Sweetheart Balm
Flower Signature Face Oil in Lily
Megan Lisa Face Oils (a number)
Sunday Riley Luna Oil
Dr Jart+ Premium BB Cream
NoTS 28 Remedy Aqua Brightening Peeling Gel
Various Black Sugar Scrubs

Charlotte Tilbury Norman Parkinson Filmstar Bronze & Glow Sun Tan & Sun Light Review

Gorgeous!  I love the light and delicate texture.  The bronze isn't too orange or yellow; the highlight is the most elegant of shimmer.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Bite Opal Lipstick Over Browns....

I don't have many browns...

It makes them a little cooler, sheer and adds a pink/purple (slight) shimmer.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Book Review Murder D.C. by Neely Tucker

I loved Neely Tucker's first Sully Carter book last year, The Ways of the Dead.  So I was very excited to get Murder D.C.  And Tucker doesn't disappoint this time around, with another tale of intrigue and corruption in our nation's capital.

Sully is such a broken mess of a reporter and it's impossible not to love him.  Formerly a war journalist stationed in the world's hot spots, he got blown up in Bosnia and lost the love of his life.  Broken, he now favors bourbon and works as a crime reporter in DC (a low for someone with his journalistic past).  His camera woman friend and lover hounds him, while helping him investigate a new murder.

Billy Ellison, a college aged gay son of the city's most affluent and influential families, has been murdered in a ghetto area known for drugs and formerly being a slave market.  But the story lines don't make sense and Sully knows he isn't getting straight answers, even from his drug lord source (of information).  Someone is trying to hide the real story and Sully fights his boss and seemingly half the city to get the facts.

Tucker creates such a mess in his books, and poor Sully just wades his way, fearless, through them.

I can't wait for the next book in the series and recommend this one.

Book Review: The Redeemers by Ace Atkins

Ace Atkins in the best selling author of seventeen books and has been nominated for every major award in crime fiction.  That's a quick way of saying that he knows his way around a story and crafts compelling ones.

I had a hard time putting The Redeemers down.  This book is one in a series about Quinn Colson and it's the first one I've read.  So, having been dropped into a story in the midst I still didn't feel at all lost but rather quickly grasped the characters and setting.

Army Ranger Quinn Colson has been voted out of his sheriff's job.  But the complications are only compounding.  He must try to battle corruption in his Mississippi town (why he lost his job) while also dealing with a million dollar heist in which a local safe is cracked.

His friend has taken over the Sheriff's job and she, but even more compelling, the woman he loves (and the reason he came back to town) both beg him to help solve the case.  Family troubles, including a sister battling a severe drug problem, all muddle things up.  I love these Southern settings as well, and I can see the town in question as I'm reading.

What a great read!

Book Review: Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

Celeste Ng has written a beautiful, lyrical book in Everything I Never Told You.  Her style weaves a vivid sense of the family at the heart of the book, starting from when the parents met and then bringing us to the present.

Lydia is the high school age of Marilyn and James Lee in a small town in Ohio during the 1970s.  Her father is ethnic Chinese while her mother is blonde.  As we begin the book, Lydia has gone missing.  At first, her parents falter at how to cope but they, as we, begin to realize how little they knew about their daughter.  The parents met at Harvard and we fall into the midst of this together family suddenly unhinged.

Family secrets and words unspoken begin to weave into the narrative.  What do we really know about those we love?  What secrets do we keep even from ourselves.

I absolutely adore this book!

Book Review: Music for Wartime by Rebecca Makkai

Rebecca Makkai mixes music and tragedy in this collection of short stories. Music for Wartime.  The stories range widely in topic but mix conflict with hope, as befits quality fiction.  She does a lovely job of creating both vivid imagery and just as vivid emotions.

I was touched by many of the stories, saddened but also reflective.  The opening story is barely above a page long, yet I still perhaps love it best of all.  To make an emotional impact in so few words and to craft such a believable time and place with such, shows true talent.  A composer walks into what's left of a village destroyed by war.  He listens to the last women singing some cultural songs, the past wiped about by a dictatorship.  He makes a record and the dictator kills the women, wiping out the very last visages of the culture he's destroyed.  Wow!

Talented musicians, and those touched by music, war or tragedy works, perhaps because music reaches people at a different and more instinctive level.  It also works based on familiar patterns and touches on memories.

I really enjoyed this book.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Simple Oil and Simple Clay Pore Mask

Now on Essentielle Beauty ( )

As I get ever more into natural beauty products I've started mixing up my own and putting them up (for sale) on Essentielle Beauty.  We really don't know the impact of products that we use on our face or whether the harsher ones are harming us in the long run.

The simple oil, unlike the other oils I've mixed and put on the site, has no essential oils so is gentler.  It has hazelnut, jojoba, kukui nut and avocado.  This oil is powerful, and so full of amazing skin healers, savers, age fighters and the like.  It works on all skin types.

The clay mask is a mix of French and Moroccan clays, plus rose, that clears out pores and absorbs excess oils, naturally.  It is mildly exfoliating.  The rose is one of the most potent skin care ingredients out there.

Try them out!

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Book Review The Billion Dollar Spy by David E. Hoffman

The Billion Dollar Spy, by David Hoffman, is a riveting story from the late Cold War.   Hoffman has worked for years at both the Washington Post and PBS, and is also a Pulitzer Prize winning author of several previous histories of the Cold War and Russia.  

During the 1970s and early 1980s the United States and the Soviet Union were stuck in a seemingly permanent deadlock in which neither could gain a decisive advantage. Then one evening in Moscow a man knocked on the window of an American diplomat's car and handed him an envelope. This encounter led to a years long, productive relationship which gave the US detailed access to Soviet planning and technological developments. Finally, the US was able to gain the upper hand in this delicate ongoing balancing act.

Adolf Tolkachev was an engineer with high security clearances who provided these vast amounts of information over an ongoing period.  Dissatisfied, he was the first real access the US had to information of this caliber, for a variety of reasons.

Tolkachev's story is the focus of the book.  But Hoffman weaves in the narratives of other spies and those involved in this grand game for advantage, with the world's future hinging on their success.  I felt riveted and totally present in the stress and tensions these brave souls faced on an ongoing basis.

This book is beautifully detailed and meticulously researched.  Hoffman has used previously classified government documents and mixed in interviews.  I'm in awe and highly recommend The Billion Dollar Spy.

Book Review: Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari

Oh the travails of dating in today's world!

Aziz Ansari, a comedian whose work I don't know, has written a charming book in which he actually includes a lot of research to help those looking for love.  Modern Romance takes a look at how people used to find love (local, people who knew those you knew) compared to now (anyone from any place).

He also addresses how our expectations have changed.  We no longer want to marry just for economic and family reasons.  Now, we want a soul mate.

Much of the book is common sense or to be expected.  He also includes case studies of love in Japan and Argentina.  But I was impressed with how practical much of the advice is.  For example, Ansari details what sorts of pictures and texts get the best feedback related to online dating sites.  He also shares some of his own steps in finding love.

The book is a quick read and really does a good job of describing modern romance.

Book Review Ana of California by Andi Teran

I really enjoyed this book!

A modern re-telling of Anne of Green Gables, with a little darkness but a lot of hope.  The book's structure follows that of the original to a degree, but the story itself confronts the challenges of a young woman foster child, struggling to find her place in the world.

And fifteen year old Ana Cortez is in a tough spot.  She went into the foster care system after losing her parents and grandmother.  After essentially ten years bouncing around and getting kicked out of many foster homes it's a group home for her.  Until her case worker, who has a soft spot for her, decides to send her to a farm to work as an intern in a small agricultural town in Northern California.  If she does well, she can be emancipated and will be able to live independently.

Emmett Garber owns a small family farm and his sister Abbie lives with him.  At first, the transition is tough but of course all works out in the end.  We watch all of the characters open up and learn to trust.

And the book is just lovely, and it's targeted at teens.

GRWM Summer Beach or Pool Makeup Look

How to glow but not melt in the summer sun.
1.  Start with an illuminating face primer not a colored base.
2.  Use mostly creams on your face, cream blush and highlighter when possible.
3.  Waterproof always helps!  Mascara, eye liner (Stila, Shu Uemura, MUFE) and liquid lipstick.
4.  I favor lip gloss because it looks lighter and can be reapplied without a mirror.
5.  A dusting of a shimmer powder on your eyes brightens them…but won’t get sticky.
6.  Secret trick, use a black eye liner on your upper water line.  This trick keeps eyes defined but works when matched with water.

Loreal Red Lipsticks 2015 Julianne's, Freida's and Liya's Review and Swatches

These are all beautiful.  A lighter formula than many of the newer releases…but lovely on.

Maybelline 100 Year Lipstick in Strike A Rose and Purposeful Mauve Swatches and Review

Sorry, these are just okay…they collect in lip lines.  I know others love them but not me…

Label Young Shocking Toners and Essence 1, 2 and 3 Review

One is berry, two is honey and three is mineral rich water.

I love them all…and they're on .  A toner and essence in one, to give you a lovely glow, fight aging and skin discoloration and also trouble spots.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Book Giveaway Neely Tucker's DC Murder and The Ways of the Dead

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I loved The Ways of the Dead…a murder mystery with a little DC political intrigue.  Now I get to give away it and the author's new book, which I haven't read yet: DC Murder.  Can't wait to break mine open…just arrived.

Contest open July 2 to 9 and US only.  Good luck!!!

Charlotte Tilbury Norman Parkinson Colour of Youth and Dreamy Glow Highlighter

Some of my favorite Charlotte Tilbury products…especially the illuminator (a soft rose peach gold…a little metallic).  The lip/cheek color works a lot better on cheeks but is a warm and lovely pink. These reminded me of the Tom Ford summer collection.

Dolce & Gabbana Desire 643 Matte Lipstick Review and Swatches

Stunning formula and shade…not fully matte though…

VDL105 Pink Positive Lip Cube Lipstick Review and Swatches

Gorgeous…the formula reminds me of the Givenchy.

To buy:  lipstick