Lärabar Peanut Butter Cookie Review

Happy Food Friday! Today I’m excited to bring you a review of another new-to-me vegan product. I recently traveled on a quick road trip, and wanted to pick up a snack to bring with me just in case I found myself in a situation where vegan food wasn’t readily available. I found the Lärabar Peanut Butter Cookie bars at my local grocery store, and decided to pick up a box since they sounded delicious, but also seemed like they could tide me over between meals if necessary. Luckily, I didn’t need to eat any bars during my trip as it was easy to find vegan options, but I’ve certainly enjoyed them at home.

I picked out the Peanut Butter Cookie variety of Lärabar not only because it sounded delicious, but because each bar contains 7g of protein. I think that is a good amount for one small bar, and knew it would be a nice item to have on hand should I need it during my road trip. I’ve never tried any Lärabar products before, so I was really amazed when I looked at the ingredients list on this product and saw only three things: dates, peanuts, and sea salt. Talk about simple ingredients! I also love that the packaging is very clear for those who are looking for a food product for a specific diet. This bar is gluten free, dairy free, soy free, vegan, and kosher.

Here is a look at the bar itself. It doesn’t look amazing, but it really tastes delicious! I love dates and peanut butter, so I’m honestly not surprised that I like the bar. The texture is quite like a cookie, too. The bar is quite filling, but it is definitely a snack and not a meal replacement. I think this is a great bar to keep in your purse or at your desk in case you need a quick pick-me-up throughout the day. While it’s not as amazing as eating an actual cookie, of course, this Lärabar is quite yummy, and I love the simple ingredients.

All in all, I am a big fan of the Peanut Butter Cookie bars from Lärabar. They are a bit on the expensive side, so I do not plan to buy them regularly. However, I do see myself getting these for future trips, or for those times where I want to make sure I have food on me when there might be slim pickings on vegan options. I also look forward to trying other products from Lärabar! Please let me know in the comments if you have any favorites from this brand.

 

Beauty Empties | Winter 2017

Happy Wednesday! Today I am excited to share with you all of the products I used up in the first three months of 2017. Last year I began the #365DaysofEmpties project, and this year I am continuing to focus on using the products in my collection before purchasing anything new. While I do have a goal to empty 120 products in 2017, my true objective is to own less products and spend less money. I’ll be sharing mini reviews of each product I use up with you every season! Let’s jump into all of the beauty products I’ve emptied so far this year.

If you are new to my blog, I wanted to quickly share with you a bit more about me and how that relates to my beauty stash. I went vegan this past June, and although I immediately changed my diet, I decided to use up many of the non-vegan products I owned so as to not waste them. Thus, although my empties posts do contain non-vegan products, I only purchase vegan items now. I will share mini-reviews on the non-vegan products, but won’t mention if I will repurchase them, and instead mark each one with an asterisk.

MAKEUP

Urban Decay De-Slick Makeup Setting Spray [BUY]

  • Mini Review: This makeup setting spray is one of my holy grail beauty products. It truly makes a huge difference in how my makeup wears throughout the day, and I continue to buy it despite the high price. I love that it controls my oily skin, and if I ever forget to wear it I can tell.
  • Repurchase? Yes!

*Rimmel Stay Matte Pressed Powder [BUY]

  • Mini Review: I finally finished up my last Rimmel Stay Matte powder. I am sad to see this go, as this was my favorite setting powder. However, I’m currently using an option from e.l.f. that is getting the job done.

Kat Von D Tattoo Liner in Trooper [BUY]

  • Mini Review: I really liked using this sample of eyeliner from Kat Von D. I found it to be very pigmented, and it has a nice brush applicator. I don’t wear eyeliner often, so I can’t say if it is better than other brands.
  • Repurchase? Maybe. I would prefer to buy an affordable eyeliner to keep in my stash for the few times a year I do wear it.

SKINCARE

*Clinique Pep-Start Eye Cream [BUY]

  • Mini Review: I got this eye cream in a subscription box, and I found it to be just okay. I’ve never found an eye cream that I really love, and this one falls into that same category of being fine but not bringing me any results.

*Fresh Soy Face Cleanser [BUY]

  • Mini Review: I really enjoyed the way this cleanser made my skin feel after use, which was soft and very clean. However, it smelled really weird. This was a nice cleanser to use up, but the smell definitely put me off a bit.

*Yes to Coconut Ultra Hydrating Melting Cleanser [BUY]

  • Mini Review: I really loved this cleanser when I first started using it, but I definitely got sick of it towards the end. This cleanser feels really nice, but sometimes the texture was too thick and high maintenance for me. It smells amazing, though!

*The Body Shop Vitamin C Daily Moisturizer  

  • Mini Review: This moisturizer was great for my skin! It was definitely the perfect weight for my skin, which gets oily very easily. This product is not available for purchase any longer, but it was a nice option at the time.

Yes to Blueberries Intensive Skin Repair Serum [BUY]

  • Mini Review: I have very mixed thoughts about this serum. When I first used it, my skin broke out like crazy, so I stopped using it for a while. Once I picked it back up, my skin really enjoyed it! My only real issue is that my foundation didn’t cooperate well with this serum.
  • Repurchase? Probably not. I’m sure there are better options!

Yes to Cucumber Facial Wipes [BUY] 

  • Mini Review: These are now my go to makeup remover wipes! I regularly buy them, and look for them during sale events. I find they do a great job at removing all my makeup without being too harsh. The cucumber is also very refreshing.
  • Repurchase? Yes!

HAIR CARE

*Living Proof No Frizz Styling Spray [BUY]

  • Mini Review: A friend gave me this product a couple years ago, and I finally finished it! This is one of the best anti-frizz sprays I’ve ever used. My hair always came out nice and sleek when I used this product, but it also didn’t get weighed down or oily. The only drawback would be the chemically smell.

*CVS Therapeutic Dandruff Shampoo [BUY]

  • Mini Review: Unfortunately, this is the one non-vegan product I continue to buy because I need it for medical reasons. You’ve probably heard me talk about how I have a very sensitive scalp. This is especially true in the winter months when the atmosphere is much drier. This is the only shampoo I’ve tried that I can count on to clear up the itchiness and patchy scales. If I don’t use it, my scalp will feel irritated all day long. Not fun!

*Briogeo Don’t Despair, Repair! Deep Conditioning Mask [BUY]

  • Mini Review: I used this mask as my regular conditioner by only applying it from the ear down and letting it sit for about a minute. This was a nice product, but I used it every now and then because it is very heavy for my fine hair. If you have dry and thick hair, this might be a great choice!

BODY CARE

*Bath and Body Works Vanilla Bean Noel Shower Gel

  • Mini Review: I got this shower gel for free during the Christmas 2015 season. I only used it in the winter, so that’s why it took me so long to use the whole bottle! I’m glad I’m all done with my Bath & Body Works stash now. These shower gels are just too drying!

*The Body Shop Aloe Body Butter [BUY]

  • Mini Review: I got this lotion because it was the only unscented option from The Body Shop at the time. This was definitely a great body butter, and it is perfect for someone who is sensitive to smells. I am glad to use this up, though, because it is too thick to use in the upcoming summer months for me.

*Dove Advanced Care Deodorant [BUY]

  • Mini Review: This Dove deodorant has been my go to for a few years now, and I bought a pack at a box store to save money. I’m nearly through that pack, and will then be moving on to a natural option that is also vegan. I’ve heard that these mainstream deodorants are really bad for our bodies, but I haven’t done accurate research to know all the science behind this claim. It is a shame because this deodorant works really well!

ORAL CARE

*Colgate Total Advanced Fresh + Whitening [BUY]

  • Mini Review: I’m beyond excited that I’ve used up the last non-vegan oral care item in my beauty stash. This toothpaste was nice, but I don’t feel like it did anything to whiten my teeth. The only reason I bought this one in particular was because I had a coupon and it was on sale at the time.

WINTER EMPTIES: 17

TOTAL 2017 EMPTIES: 17

All in all, while I am behind in my goal of reaching 120 empty products this year, I’m so happy to be using products in my stash and clearing out a lot of old products. I’m especially glad to be using many new skincare products, but it’s overall a great feeling to empty my cupboards and purchase just the vegan products I really need. Let me know if you are interested in a blog post about backup products and stock piles. My views have really changed in the past few years!

What products have you used up recently? Let me know in a comment!

Some of the products in this post were originally provided for my unbiased review. Affiliate links used. All opinions are my own. Please see my Disclosure Policy for more information.

Book Review | Beautiful Broken Girls by Kim Savage

Beautiful Broken Girls by Kim Savage

Published by Farrar, Straus, & Giroux Inc. on February 23, 2017

Genres: Young Adult, Mystery, Contemporary

Format: eARC

Pages: 336

Source: NetGalley

Goodreads★ 

Remember the places you touched me.

The parts of Mira Cillo that Ben touched are etched on his soul.

Palm. Hair. Chest. Cheek. Lips. Throat. Heart.

It was the last one that broke her. After her death, Mira sends Ben on a quest for notes she left in the seven places where they touched—notes that explain why she and her sister, Francesca, drowned themselves in the quarry. How Ben interprets those notes has everything to do with the way he was touched by a bad coach years before. But the truth behind the girls’ suicides is far more complicated, involving a dangerous infatuation, a deadly miracle, and a crushing lie.

REVIEW

Beautiful Broken Girls by Kim Savage is a young adult mystery novel surrounding the horrifying death of the Cillo sisters after they were found at the bottom of the quarry. No one knows why Mira and Francesca drowned – was it an accident or a suicide? Shortly after their bodies are discovered, Mira’s boyfriend Ben receives a letter from her in the mail. This letter is the first in a series of notes that Mira left in all of the places Ben touched her during their relationship. Ben must hunt down these letters to solve the mystery of the Cillos’s death. What follows is an extremely creepy and captivating novel that I absolutely loved.

I was instantly hooked by Savage’s writing style, and flew through this book in a few short days. The story is extremely fast-paced, and I really enjoyed the treasure hunt aspect of this story with Ben trying to find Mira’s letters as soon as possible. Savage does an excellent job at creating a mysterious and ominous vibe. Even the letters that Ben finds are written so cleverly! I could never predict where the story was going, and that added to my enjoyment of the book.

I will say that I know this story is not for everyone. If you like books with a solid conclusion, Beautiful Broken Girls is not for you. In fact, I read many negative reviews of this book, and nearly every one mentions the open ending. For me, this ending was absolutely perfect for the novel. Not only does it add to the mystery, but it allows the reader to think of all the possible outcomes. What really happened? What didn’t? These loose ends only made me think about this book more and appreciate the rereadability of the story.

Moreover, I do question why it was necessary for Ben to be a survivor of sexual abuse. While this does play into the plot a bit, the story would still hold up without this storyline. Plus, the details surrounding this event are quite iffy. Ben mentions more than once that he never remembers the sexual assault happening, and that his name was just on a list. Thus, while I appreciate the author’s attempt to show the lasting effects of this trauma and how the survivor is treated in society, this storyline felt a bit out of place in the book for me.

Similarly, even though I loved the open-ending, I do wish we got more information about a couple things. Namely, the youth pastor, Mr. Falso, who plays a very important role in Beautiful Broken Girls. He is talked about less and less as the book goes on, and readers never get to find out what he does with the information he collects. I would also love an epilogue with the printing of a certain article, but I will leave out the details so as to not mention spoilers.

My only other critique is that I did find a plot hole in the book. In one scene, Ben mentions that he hasn’t seen his friend since a fight broke out earlier in the book. However, this friend was in another scene after that fight. I did not consider this minor plot hole when rating this novel, as I read an advanced copy and do not know if it was fixed in later editing.

Otherwise, I think Beautiful Broken Girls is a great mystery story that deals with interesting topics I don’t read a lot about in young adult literature. I could relate to the Italian family heritage discussed in the book, and perhaps that is why I felt a strong bond with the characters. This book is unbelievably sad, and my heart especially goes out to Mr. Cillo. I can’t imagine what he is feeling as this book comes to a close.

In the end, I absolutely loved Beautiful Broken Girls, and I definitely recommend it if you are looking for a creepy mystery. Keep in mind that this book deals with serious topics, including sexual abuse, self harm, suicide, and more. However, this story provided me with a lot to think about, and the fast-pace kept me hooked from beginning to end. I am very interested to pick up Kim Savage’s other books, and hope to do so in the future!

BUY THE BOOK

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

Affiliate links used. All opinions are my own. See my Disclosure Policy for more information. 

Breyers Non-Dairy Oreo Cookies & Cream Review | Vegan Ice Cream!

Happy Food Friday! Now that I’ve been vegan for eight months, I’ve started to get a bit more adventurous with food. I’m trying a lot more vegan products from the grocery store, and I’ve also tried more recipes this past year than I have in my entire life (seriously). I thought it would be fun to share my thoughts on the food I’m currently trying with all of you here on the blog! Whenever I have a food post, it will go live on a Friday. I’m sure I won’t post a Food Friday every week, but I will keep my food related posts to Fridays from now on so you’ll know when to expect them. I recently found the new Breyers vegan ice cream at my local grocery store and scooped it up right away (pun intended). Let me share my thoughts on the Breyers Non-Dairy Oreo Cookies & Cream!

Breyers recently released two vegan ice cream flavors, which are technically called Frozen Almond Milk Dessert – Vanilla Peanut Butter and Oreo Cookies & Cream. While I do love peanut butter, I had to try the cookies and cream flavor first. This ice cream is almond milk based, similar to what is offered by Ben & Jerry’s. I have tried a few of the vegan options from Ben & Jerry’s, but unfortunately that ice cream is very expensive and, while delicious, does not mimic traditional ice cream’s taste perfectly. I just had to see if Breyers could do better, especially since this 1.5 Quart container costs only $3.49 regular price!

Here is a quick photo of the helpful icon on the side of the carton that mentions this is suitable for vegans. I always appreciate when products either have a vegan label or clearly state that the product is vegan. I’ve actually spotted some non-dairy ice cream products at the grocery store that still contain other animal ingredients, so I’m really glad Breyers is appealing to vegans directly!

Without further ado, let’s talk about the ice cream! I am absolutely in love with it! Breyers has so closely mimicked the taste of cow’s milk ice cream that I bet if you gave this to a non-vegan he/she wouldn’t be able to tell the difference. This Oreo Cookies & Cream is very creamy and sweet, and I can really taste the Oreos whilst eating it. I have nothing negative to say about it at all! I’m in love with this delicious treat, and I’m going to need to force myself not to pick it up every time I go grocery shopping. Huge thanks to Breyers for doing such an amazing job with this vegan ice cream!

If you’re able to find the new Breyers vegan ice cream at your local grocery store, I definitely recommend giving it a try. I hope Breyers will continue to release even more flavors in this line of products. It’s always really exciting to me when a non-vegan company begins producing vegan items. It shows that vegans have a big impact on the market! Additionally, I hope you enjoyed my first Food Friday post. I’m excited to share more about what I’m eating here on the blog, but I will, of course, keep the beauty posts coming as well.

Have you tried vegan ice cream? Let me know in the comments!

Wet ‘n Wild Crease Brush Review | Dollar Tree Find

Happy Wednesday! I recently spotted a bunch of Wet ‘n Wild makeup brushes at Dollar Tree, and decided to pick one up to try. All of the brushes in this line are cruelty free, gluten free, and vegan. I figured even if I didn’t love the brush, it was worth it for just $1.00! I picked up the Crease Brush, as I tend to always need a clean crease brush whenever I’m doing an eyeshadow look. Let me share my thoughts on this Wet ‘n Wild Crease Brush, and let you know if it’s worth the dollar.

Here is a quick look at the Crease Brush in the packaging. It comes in a reusable plastic sleeve, and has a white handle with white and pink bristles. All of the makeup brushes in this line have the same coloring, so it’s easy to spot them in the store. My Dollar Tree had a display of these brushes on the end of the makeup aisle, but if you don’t find them right away definitely do a search of the full store. Sometimes items are placed randomly at dollar stores!

The first thing I noticed about the brush is that it has a bigger head than the other crease brushes in my collection. The bristles do feel very soft to the touch, and there are a good amount of bristles on this one brush. While the Wet ‘n Wild Crease Brush does not do a great job at picking up shadows, it does nicely blend them. This is definitely a great brush to have on hand purely for blending. If you are looking for a brush that will apply a lot of shadow, this is not the brush for you. However, I’m very glad I own this for blending purposes. It is a great find for just $1.00!

All in all, I’m happy I grabbed the Wet ‘n Wild Crease Brush. It is definitely worth the money, and I am interested in trying out the other brushes in the line. Next time I go to Dollar Tree I will be sure to purchase one of the eyeshadow brushes designed to apply shadow to the lid. I’m interested to see if they will pick up a lot of shadow. I recommend visiting your local Dollar Tree and seeing what makeup products you can find for $1.00!

Have you tried any Wet ‘n Wild makeup brushes? Let me know in the comments!

Lauren B. Beauty Nail Care Reviews | Nourishing Hand Crème, Polishing Hand Scrub, & Cuticle Oil

Happy Monday! Today I am excited to share with you my thoughts on some nail care products from the brand Lauren B. Beauty. This is my first time trying out products from this brand, which sells all vegan friendly products that are made in the USA. Lauren B. Beauty recently teamed up with Skyy Hadley, the owner of As U Wish Nail Salon, to share helpful nail care tips in time for the spring season. Thus, as I review the Nourishing Hand Crème, Polishing Hand Scrub, and Cuticle Oil, I will share Skyy’s tips with you as well!

Nourishing Hand Crème – $24 [BUY]

First up is the Nourishing Hand Crème with Orchid and Peony. This crème is formulated to provide long-lasting moisture to the hands with a non-greasy feel. It is heavily fragranced, so if you don’t like floral scents this is not the product for you. However, I am very impressed with this hand crème! It does sink into the skin within a couple minutes of application, and is not greasy at all. I could use my touchscreen devices without leaving behind any smears, and that doesn’t happen often! I love how soft and smooth my hands felt all day after applying this crème in the morning. Plus, the fragrance lasts all day as well, even after washing my hands several times! If you are looking for a hydrating hand crème that has a floral scent for the spring, this is a great option for you!

Polishing Hand Scrub – $20.00 [BUY]

Next up is the Polishing Hand Scrub. I’ve never used a dedicated hand scrub before, and I am absolutely loving this one! Skyy Hadley mentions that having dry, scraggly cuticles can lead to a bacterial infection, as we are more likely to pick at them. Thus, having a product like a scrub that can remove that dead skin is really helpful. The Polishing Hand Scrub is amazing because it is designed to exfoliate, fight aging, and hydrate the hands all in one. I am really surprised how moisturizing this scrub is. It is a scented product, but it smells a bit richer and deeper than the crème. This is definitely my go-to product now, as I love how the scrub is gentle enough to use daily, but strong enough to provide hydration.

Lauren B. Beauty Cuticle Oil – $20.00 [BUY]

The last product is the Cuticle Oil, which I think deserves high praise for its packaging alone. I absolutely love that the oil comes in a nail polish bottle so I can apply it with a brush. This makes it really easy to get the oil just on my cuticles, and my hands don’t turn into an oily mess. This Cuticle Oil contains a blend of 12 ultra-pure plant, nut, and flower oils to really nourish the cuticles. Skyy recommends an oil not only for hydration, but for locking in any manicure color. She even says adding an oil to an older manicure can revamp the color! I think the Lauren B. Beauty Cuticle Oil is a great option. It does have a slight fragrance, so if you are sensitive to smells keep that in mind.

All in all, I am really loving the Lauren B. Beauty Nail Care line. While the products are definitely higher end, they feel very luxurious and make a great gift for yourself or a loved one. My personal favorite is the Polishing Hand Scrub, as it truly is an all-in-one product that takes care of all my nail care needs. I highly recommend checking out the Lauren B. Beauty website HERE to learn more about the brand and the other products it offers. I definitely want to try the nail polishes at some point soon!

What are your nail care must haves? Let me know in the comments!

The products in this post were provided for my unbiased review. This post includes affiliate links. All opinions are my own. See my Disclosure Policy for more information. 

5 Secrets to Successful Clearance Sale Shopping!

Happy Friday! Today I am excited to share with you five of my best tips for scoring big at clearance sales. I was recently scouring the racks at the mall looking for some new pieces for my spring wardrobe, and I realized that some of the tricks I implement when shopping can be helpful to others. Not only do I always buy things on sale, but I also worked in retail clothing stores during high school and college, so I learned my way around the clearance racks from the inside! Let me share with you my top five secrets to successful clearance sale shopping!

 

All of the tips I’m sharing with you today are based on shopping for clothing on clearance. However, feel free to adapt them to whatever product you are hoping to buy!

SECRET 1: Look through ALL of the clothing racks no matter the size!

Clearance racks get very disorganized at clothing stores no matter how many times the associates organize them, and items get put back in the wrong place all the time. I’ve gotten in the habit of looking through the entire clearance section of every store so I don’t miss out on amazing pieces that are just stuffed into the wrong place. Plus, sizes range dramatically from brand to brand, and sometimes even within the same brand. Make sure you don’t limit yourself by just looking through one size rack!

SECRET 2: Use a coupon to save even more money! 

Many stores allow customers to use coupons on clearance items. I like to plan out my shopping trips, and try to search for coupons at home before I go to the store. That allows me to read through the fine print on the coupon and see if there are any exclusions. However, if I end up in a store unplanned, I simply whip out my iPhone while shopping and do a quick search for coupons online. You can easily show the cashier the coupon right on your phone without needing to print it. This saves paper, too!

SECRET 3: Only buy items you will actually wear! 

I know first hand how tempting it is to buy clothing just because it’s cheap. This is especially true if it’s from a name brand I really like. Always make sure the item you are buying is in good condition, and that you will actually wear it. If you can’t visualize yourself wearing the item regularly (or for a specific event if it is a fancy dress, for example), don’t buy it. It’s better to buy an $80 blouse that you wear every week than ten $10 blouses you don’t really like and end up living in your closet.

SECRET 4: Try items on in the store! 

I always try on clothes in the store, but this is even more important when you are buying clearance items, as some stores do not allow returns or exchanges on discounted merchandise. You do not want to be stuck with ill-fitting jeans even if you did spend just $20 on them! Of course, some items can look very different on your body than they do on the hanger, so it’s always helpful to see how it fits your shape, too.

SECRET 5: Look at each item of clothing! 

In addition to looking through the entire clearance section, I recommend looking at each individual item of clothing. This is going to be a time consuming process, but I always find more hidden gems when I go through the clearance racks carefully. At my first retail job, my manager taught me how to tidy the hangers by pushing all of the clothing down to the end of the rack, and then moving each item to the other side to neaten it. This is now the technique I use when shopping! You never know what is hidden between bulky sweaters, or falling off a hanger in the middle of a stuffed rack.

That wraps up my five secrets to successful clearance sale shopping! While these tips do require you to take your time looking through the clearance racks, I think it is worth it in the end. You won’t find a hidden gem every time you shop, but I know when I implement these tricks I usually find much more! I hope that you found my shopping secrets helpful, and that you can use them the next time you go shopping! Feel free to share your finds with me on social media using the hashtag #PolishlandSaves!

What are your shopping secrets?! Share with me in a comment!

Zoya Naturel Lipsticks | Cameron, Paisley, & Maxwell

Happy Wednesday! Today I wanted to share a quick look at the three lipsticks that coordinate with Zoya’s newest Naturel Collection. This spring, Zoya released the Naturel 3 nail polish collection, which contains six neutral shades of polish (see my full review HERE). Along with the new nail polishes, Zoya is marketing three of its lipstick shades from the Perfect Lipstick line that coordinate well with the polishes. While I’ve already posted a full review of these lipsticks in THIS blog post, I thought it would be helpful to share a closer look at the three Naturel lipsticks in a dedicated post. Let me show you Cameron, Paisley, and Maxwell!

First up is Cameron, a light beige lipstick with a cream formula. Cameron has a great pigmentation for a lipstick that is so light in shade. It makes me look a bit washed out because of my very fair skin tone, but I otherwise really like how it wears. I can see this being an everyday color for many people! Plus, this lipstick shade is extremely trendy this spring.

My favorite of the three Naturel lipsticks is Paisley, a purple-toned mauve with a cream finish. Paisley does require about two coats for opacity on the lips, and it is a bit messier to apply. Otherwise, the shade is beyond gorgeous, and I can see myself reaching for this lipstick regularly.

Last but not least is Maxwell, a deep plum shade with fuchsia glitter that has a matte finish. Maxwell has a great formula, and it is surprisingly comfortable to wear despite containing glitter. However, it is one of my least favorite lipsticks in the collection simply because I don’t like wearing glittery lip colors. Maxwell is also a bit troublesome to remove, as the glitter gets all over the place without coming off my face. That being said, if glitter lipstick is your thing, Maxwell is a nice option.

I hope this quick roundup of the three Zoya Naturel Lipsticks was helpful if you are interested in purchasing them! All three have great formulas and are comfortable to wear. Plus, I love that they are vegan friendly! You can buy the Zoya Lipsticks on the brand’s website HERE for $12.00 each.

Which Zoya Naturel Lipstick do you like best? Let me know in the comments!

The products in this post were provided for my unbiased review. All opinions are my own. See my Disclosure Policy for more information. 

e.l.f. Beautifully Bare Lightweight Concealer Stick Review

Happy Monday! I recently made a purchase from e.l.f.’s website to stock up on a bunch of makeup products, and I decided to purchase the new Beautifully Bare Lightweight Concealer Stick in the shade Fair/Light. I really like using stick concealers for days when I’m not doing a full face of makeup, so I thought I would give this product a try since it retails for just $4.00. Let me share more information about this product with you, as well as my review.

The Beautifully Bare Lightweight Concealer Stick is a cream concealer with a formula designed to be buildable and blendable. It is enriched with Vitamin E to help nourish and hydrate the skin, which I find it typical of many e.l.f. products. The directions on the product say to apply the concealer on top of foundation. I did try this method, but I much prefer to use the concealer on its own or under foundation.

I really like the packaging of the Beautifully Bare Lightweight Concealer Stick. It is in jumbo pencil form, so it easily applies to the skin, and can definitely be used in contouring if you are looking for a precise application. The pencil is retractable as well, which I really like.

I purchased the concealer in the shade Fair/Light, and I find it matches my skin tone really well. When I first began using this concealer, I was really disappointed. I found that it highlighted my pores and it was very difficult to blend. However, once I used it a bit more, I found that the formula improved. Sometimes products, especially from the drugstore, have an outside coating that is a bit different from the true formula, so perhaps that is the case with this concealer. Nonetheless, I find that now the concealer blends out well and doesn’t look cakey.

I prefer to use this stick concealer on days when I am not doing a full face of makeup. I will apply the concealer to any blemishes or red patches, and blend it out with a damp BeautyBlender. Then I finish the look with a translucent setting powder. I really like how the concealer works in this way. It provides a natural coverage, and it is buildable as the brand claims. I do not typically use this concealer with foundation, but it works well under my foundation, and not on top as the directions recommend.

All in all, I am very happy with the e.l.f. Beautifully Bare Lightweight Concealer Stick! While this is not the best cream concealer I’ve ever tried, I think it is good quality for the money, and I will probably repurchase it again in the future. If you are looking for an affordable cream concealer, I recommend giving this product a try! You can shop for e.l.f. products at your local drugstore or department store, or directly on the brand’s website. If you would like $5.00 off your first e.l.f. online purchase, please use my referral link HERE. You can also earn cash back through Ebates – sign up HERE with my referral link.

What is your favorite cream concealer? Let me know in the comments!

 

Book Review | Roseblood by A.G. Howard

Roseblood by A.G. Howard

Published by Amulet Books on January 10, 2017

Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance

Format: eARC

Pages: 432

Source: NetGalley

Goodreads

This YA novel from New York Times bestselling author A. G. Howard marks the beginning of a new era for fans of the Splintered series. Rune Germaine moves to a boarding school outside of Paris, only to discover that at this opera-house-turned-music-conservatory, phantoms really do exist. RoseBlood is a Phantom of the Opera–inspired retelling in which Rune’s biggest talent—her voice—is also her biggest curse. Fans of Daughter of Smoke and Bone and the Splintered series will find themselves captivated by this pulse-pounding spin on a classic tale.

Rune, whose voice has been compared to that of an angel, has a mysterious affliction linked to her talent that leaves her sick and drained at the end of every performance. Convinced creative direction will cure her, her mother ships her off to a French boarding school for the arts, rumored to have a haunted past.

Shortly after arriving at RoseBlood conservatory, Rune starts to believe something otherworldly is indeed afoot. The mystery boy she’s seen frequenting the graveyard beside the opera house doesn’t have any classes at the school, and vanishes almost as quickly as he appears. When Rune begins to develop a secret friendship with the elusive Thorn, who dresses in clothing straight out of the 19th century, she realizes that in his presence she feels cured. Thorn may be falling for Rune, but the phantom haunting RoseBlood wants her for a very specific and dangerous purpose. As their love continues to grow, Thorn is faced with an impossible choice: lead Rune to her destruction, or save her and face the wrath of the phantom, the only father he’s ever known.

A. G. Howard brings the romantic storytelling that Splintered fans adore to France—and an entirely new world filled with lavish romance and intrigue—in a retelling inspired by a story that has captivated generations. Fans of both The Phantom of the Opera musical and novel, as well as YA retellings such as Marissa Meyer’s Cinder, will devour RoseBlood.

BOOK REVIEW

I was so excited to read Roseblood after hearing that it is a retelling of The Phantom of the Opera, and gratefully received an Ebook copy to review from the publisher. I loved the story concept behind Roseblood, in which a teenager named Rune attends an opera school in France where she meets a mysterious man who is helping her control her singing voice. Unfortunately, the book is executed all wrong for me, and I found it challenging to read to the end.

If you are going to read Roseblood, I definitely recommend being familiar with the original story. I saw both the stage and film adaptations of The Phantom of the Opera, but it has been years since I saw either, and I think I would catch on more to the little details in this novel if the story was fresh in my mind. I think watching the film before picking up Roseblood will help you understand more of what’s going on, and also increase your enjoyment of the book.

Moreover, my biggest issue with Roseblood is the book’s pacing. The story is very slow from start to finish, and it took me twice as long to read this than a normal young adult book typically does. Not only did it take a very long time for anything exciting to happen, but because there was such a long build-up, I kept putting the book down because there was nothing interesting to hold my attention.

Similarly, I found that the author missed many opportunities in the book. There were multiple times in the novel for a big and exciting reveal, but then the “Aha!” moment is answered quickly in passing. For example, readers know early on in Roseblood that Rune is some sort of paranormal creature. When we finally find out what kind of creature she is, it’s dropped into a sentence and never explained. These missed opportunities happen at other points in the story, making the moments where I expected big reveals very anticlimactic.

As I mentioned earlier, I absolutely loved the story idea behind Roseblood. However, the plot feels like it is reaching a bit to fit together. I appreciate all the research the author did to fit in a lot of historical details, but I felt like the building blocks holding the book in place were quite weak and could tumble at any moment. I’m disappointed that the plot felt so contrived.

Additionally, I was a bit put off by the romance. Although I really liked who Rune’s love interest is, and their history together, the love scenes felt too much like a cheesy romance novel. I fully recognize that this is a personal preference, and if you enjoy reading traditional romance books, you will probably adore the romance in Roseblood. When I couple the love scenes with the way the book ended, I feel a bit uncomfortable about the way things leave off, and disappointed that an awesome fantasy could end in such a way.

Finally, I want to talk a bit about Rune as a protagonist. She is a likable enough character, and I definitely empathize with her for all that she’s gone through in her life. Unfortunately, she has a huge character flaw in that she trusts people way too much. Rune will wholeheartedly trust whomever she is speaking with at that moment in time, but when the next person comes along with a contradictory opinion, she immediately changes her mind and trusts the new person. I wish Rune would use her own mind and intelligence more instead of blindly following others.

I also really did not like how Rune is so concerned with her love interest’s physical features. Although she does mention she would still love him if he were disfigured, Rune is beyond relieved when he has the perfect face and the amazing body that readers hear about far too often. When I contrast how much the book focuses on the beautiful person being good and the disfigured person being evil, I get a very bad taste in my mouth.

In the end, I am very disappointed with Roseblood, and would only recommend this to those who are Phantom super fans or those who really like romance novels. The slow pace, contrived plot, and lackluster protagonist just didn’t work for me.

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