The Trouble with a Highland Bride (Campbell Sisters, #3) by Amanda Forester-4/5 Star Review

Gwyn is a fiercely independent sibling of the large Campbell family that inconveniently ends up in the wrong place at the wrong time far too often.  Her older brother David rules the castle that was part of the marriage agreement to his English wife Isabelle.  A castle that the English king wants back.

Jack is an English Captain who was given the title when his father passed away.  His uncles have harbored jealousy and bitter rage at his sudden rank despite the obligation to care for Jack as a nephew.  On the brink of war, Jack sets off on his own to prove to his uncles that he is worthy of his title.  Instead, he ends up needing to prove his character worthy to a certain lady when he ends up caught in a trap.

I must admit: If this book had been on a shelf in a bookstore, I might not have even had the interest to pick it up.  Highlander romances are not books that I am very familiar with but I may be more optimistic in the future.  I really enjoyed the fast pace and character development.  I also enjoyed the family interactions on Gwyn’s side and how it starkly contrasted with Jack’s uncles.  Lastly, I appreciated that this book read as a standalone despite it being the third book in a series.

Points of concern: there was mild violence and sexually suggestive scenarios.

Please note: an electronic copy of this book was provided for free from Sourcebooks Casablanca via daily e-mails containing excerpts. You can sign up for these e-mails by going to http://books.sourcebooks.com/casablanca-stay-in-touch/ and clicking on the Free Romance Reads Daily Email.

 

The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett by Chelsea Sodeti-5/5 Star Review

Lizzie Lovett has it all: good looks, popularity, and plenty of boys lining up for her.  Hawthorn Creely believes Lizzie was born with good luck and her whole life has been handed to her.  Hawthorn fixates on her resentment for Lizzie as she tries to survive high school.  But when Lizzie Lovett goes camping with her boyfriend and doesn’t come back, everything, and everyone, changes.

The story is told from Hawthorn Creely’s perspective and the reader becomes very intimate with her every thought.  Hawthorn is guarded, insecure, self-centered, immature, and jealous.  These attributes are generally unpleasant, however, in this YA it is perfection.  As an adult, I can look back on my teenage years and realize that I had these attributes sometimes in high school.

Negative attributes aside, she also has a thirst for knowledge, wild imagination, a fierce independence, and a naivete that often gets the best of her.  When Lizzie Lovett goes missing, Hawthorn is initially dry and arrogant.  However, her fixation changes from resenting her to wanting to become more like her.  She finds ways to assimilate into Lizzie Lovett’s life in limbo.

What I liked most about this book is the authentic nature of Hawthorn’s experience.  It is realistically honest and raw.  She is not the hero.  Everything does not go according to plan.  Friends do not stay the same.  People are not always what they seem. Life is not always sunshine and fairy tales.  Disappointment will come, even when you work hard and try your best.

I highly recommend this book for anyone who has gone through high school.  Those in high school and younger may not understand (or believe) that people often change drastically after high school.  High school is a time to grow into who you will be and that process is different for everyone.

To whom it may concern: there is some foul language, sexually suggestive scenarios, and suicidal themes.

Please note: An electronic copy of this book was generously provided for free by the Publisher via Netgalley.

ipsy November 2016 Glam Bag Review

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November 2016 ipsy Bag
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I love the constellation design! It was out of this world 🙂
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In October, I loved that the ipsy bag had the ghost heart-eyed emoji as the zipper. This month I am a big fan of the star as a zipper. In the past ipsy zippers tended to be a circle with “ipsy” in the middle. This definitely seems like an upgrade and makes it more fun!
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OFRA Cosmetic (or cosmic if you want to stick to the stellar bag design theme) Laboratories Banana Highlighting Powder. It can be used as a highlighter, a concealer, or as a setting powder for concealer. Light, durable, and versatile!
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Skone Cosmetics Brow Wand Eyebrow Pencil in Chocolate. I have dark, thick eyebrows as it is and do not find myself reaching for eyebrow products. The only product that I really use is a tweezer. I ended up throwing this into my swap pile which is why it was not swatched.
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theBalm Mad Lash Black Mascara. I seem to have gotten theBalm brand recently (Hot Mama! Blush, Mary Lou-Manizer, and Nude Dude) either in bags or through swaps. I don’t mind! Their products have been durable the eyeshadows have been well pigmented, in my experience. However, I will end up swapping this one out too simply because I have too many mascaras as it is (beauty probs, amirite?) but it does appear to have a bold black formula and the brush alone was tempting.
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Freematic Blusch Doucce in Zen Orange #49. Although I really liked the packaging for this blush, it was not enough for me to want to keep it. I am also adding this to my swap pile because orange is not my color. I prefer a light pink touch of blush.
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hey honey Open Your Eyes Eye Contour Lifting Fluid. hey honey is a brand that I have recently come to love. I got their 24Seven: Day and Night Revitalizing Cream in a previous glam bag and fell in love with how well it worked with my face. It smoothed my face overnight and I remember it having a light lovely scent. I have complete faith that this formula will help my puffy, slightly baggy eyes look refreshed.

It was not the most successful bag that I have received but I do want to do a quick shout-out to the ipsyCare team.  I just got this bag a week ago (December 7) because of some shipping issues.

Long story short: the mailperson scanned in my package but it never made it to my mailbox.

Silver lining: I got the bag eventually.  I should have contacted ipsyCare at first because I would have gotten it much faster.  I battled with the mail service for about 2 weeks before they finally declared that it was officially “lost”.  I then went to ipsy’s website and contacted “@ipsyCare” and filled out the form.  About 3 hours later (only 3 HOURS!) a replacement bag was already issued! Not only was the problem resolved quickly by the time I got to ipsyCare, but I got the EXACT same items in my bag that I was originally promised would be in my lost bag.  Since ipsy is a sample service and because it had been a few weeks since my bag was put together, I expected to get whatever they had left.  It was a fun surprise to see the exact items I had been originally expecting.  (P.S. Melody at ipsyCare, you rock!)

 

Dear Mr. M by Herman Koch-

Mr. M is a famed author who is struggling with coming up with new best-seller books as he ages.  He has a significantly younger wife and enjoys having her on his arm at events.  His best-selling book, Payback, is based loosely on a true story of a vanishing of teacher Jan Landzaat.  Landzaat had an affair with a student (Laura) who moved on with a fellow student (Herman) and left him behind with his marriage, career, and ego on the rocks.

 

Herman is a tall, gangly, teen who is obsessed with making videos based on the human reaction to startling scenarios.  For example: the reaction of a teacher when a student has a seizure at her desk.  He also is patiently manipulative when he has a girlfriend in order to get closer to his heart’s true interest, Laura, which everyone in school knows is having an affair with Mr. Landzaat.  Years later, he lives in an apartment above Mr. M, who based a best-selling novel on his and Laura’s story,  and slowly sneaks into his life.

 

Dear Mr. M is a novel heralded as a psychological thriller and it started off in that manner.  This was the first novel by Herman Koch that I have had the opportunity to read.  I have been familiar with his name and I had already learned that he is known for creating detestable characters.  He did not disappoint in that aspect, nor did he disappoint with the surprising ending.  The main characters (Herman and Mr. M) are both narcissistic, as is revealed through each of their narrations that switch several times throughout the book.  Unfortunately, the speed from the launch of the book stalls as soon as the first perspective changes from “H” to “M”.  The only time that it moved fairly quickly was in H’s perspective.  The switching perspectives are further complicated by flashbacks.  There were several times that I had to go back to previous chapters to be reminded of events or characters.

The characters do have depth and the way in which all of the story lines finally connect is impressive.  It would have been a 5-star book, in my opinion, had it not been for the slow and verbose pace when it is in M’s perspective.

 

Items of potential sensitivity: there is foul language, stalking, and mild violence. 

 

Please note: an Advanced Reader Copy was generously provided for free from LibraryThing in exchange for an honest review.