Beauty Review: Clinique Pop Lacquer Lip Colour and Primer – Sweetie Pop

I got this as a free sample from Sephora, and at first I was intimated by how bright this color looks, but I still won’t say no to free lip lacquer! The Clinique Pop Lacquer Lip Colour and Primer is described as a high-shine lip color that provides a full coverage with one application. “Sweetie Pop” is listed as a bright pink color (and it certainly is!).

Here are the comparisons:

Basic makeup – foundation, mascara & blush
Basic makeup + Clinique Pop Lacquer Lip Colour and Primer – Sweetie Pop










And for the closeups:

Make-up free lips
Clinique Pop Lacquer Lip Colour and Primer – Sweetie Pop







Three hours after drinking & eating



This is a bright color that definitely has high shine. There’s a decent amount of transfer at first, but it’s sticky enough that it mostly stays put for awhile. As you can see by the above pictures, there’s still a decent amount of pigment even after 3 hours of drinking and eating. The pigment itself stays on evenly and doesn’t just stay on the edges, which is a downfall of many other lip colors. I tend to like lip lacquers more than glosses or lipsticks, and this holds true for this Clinique brand as well.

The color itself is very pretty. I’d be interested in trying other colors. It’s only $18.50 at Sephora, which is cheaper than my favorite Smashbox brand, but it’s also a lot tackier than Smashbox is, so there is a tradeoff. Not quite ready to put it on my “loves” list just yet, but it is a contender.

Best of 2016 Giveaway Hop – ARC of Seven Days of You by Cecilia Vinesse

Welcome, all! This is a hop hosted by BookHounds and allows us all to share what we loved in 2016. I’m giving away an ARC copy of Seven Days of You by Cecilia Vinesse! (US only, I’m afraid, sorry, guys.)

This was one of my favorite reads last year, and I’m excited to pass it along! Just use the Rafflecopter form to enter and jump to the next blog on the linky list. Thanks for entering!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Book Review: Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco

Title: Stalking Jack the Ripper
Author: Kerri Maniscalco
Series: Stalking Jack the Ripper, Book 1
Publisher: Jimmy Patterson
Hardcover: 326 pages
Source: BEA 2016
Summary: (taken from Goodreads)

Seventeen-year-old Audrey Rose Wadsworth was born a lord’s daughter, with a life of wealth and privilege stretched out before her. But between the social teas and silk dress fittings, she leads a forbidden secret life.

Against her stern father’s wishes and society’s expectations, Audrey often slips away to her uncle’s laboratory to study the gruesome practice of forensic medicine. When her work on a string of savagely killed corpses drags Audrey into the investigation of a serial murderer, her search for answers brings her close to her own sheltered world.

*I received a free copy of this book from the publisher from BEA 2016.*

Overall Rating: 5 out of 5

I brought ARCs to my classroom after we attended Book Expo last year.  I have an extensive classroom library, but rarely do students ever take up my offer to borrow books to read independently.  I pitched having these ARCs in the class as a really cool insider opportunity to read books before many other people were able to and even would tell students about how they would get in trouble if they borrowed one and then sold it (which most students laughed at, but I think did emphasize the specialness about them I was trying to create).  Most of the students who borrowed books were pretty strong readers.  However, I had one student who I would have pegged as a reluctant reader.  He looked through the books after class one day and grabbed this book.  He told me he was interested in serial killers and asked if he could borrow it.  Of course I let him, and several months later he returned saying he really liked it.

This is one of the main reasons I decided to pick the book up myself (I had also heard some decent buzz about it as well since it came out) and some of the things that delighted me about the book, I must be honest, impacted me more through the lens of thinking about my students reading the book.  I feel I would be remiss if I did not start with my favorite element of the book, which is how Audrey Rose, the main character, is developed.  She starts off seeming to be another run-of-the-mill example of a female character interested in non-feminine topics.  What I think is done so well though is that her disgust is not directed at these feminine pursuits (and indeed even shows some interest and admiration towards some elements of it), but rather the way society pigeonholes girls and women into them.  I thought this was a nice balance and one that usually tips one way or the other far too often.  I must note here that I think this being such a large part of the story is something that made me smile a lot thinking about my student reading it.

The one criticism I have with the book is Audrey Rose’s relationship with Thomas Cresswell.  I do not want to overstate this point, since I think both characters were well written and interesting, but I do think that some of their exchanges were the few moments I found myself wanting to skim rather than poring over the words in front of me.

Finally, I have a huge issue with television, movies, books, or any other form of media that has a mystery that would be impossible to solve until it is resolved within the story.  I think that what this book does, which many great mysteries do, is that looking back on the story you can pick out moments that could have allowed you to guess at the big reveal, but along the way (unless you are really taking the time to ponder it) you might miss.  I will admit that I figured it out only a few pages before the reveal and found that to be thoroughly satisfying.  Overall, I was pleasantly surprised by this book and tore through it on my winter break.  I definitely think it is worth checking out.

Beauty Review: Make Up For Ever Artist Plexi-Gloss – Sweet Pink

Sephora was doing some sort of promotion, and I was able to get a free deluxe sample for the Make Up For Ever Artist Plexi-Gloss in Color 202 – Sweet Pink. It is a sheer lip gloss that provides high shine. The Plexi-Gloss in general is advertised as having high-shine with buildable color and lasts for 5 hours. First, the pictures.


Full face side-by-sides:

Basic makeup – foundation, blush & mascara
Basic makeup + Make Up For Ever Artist Plexi-Gloss – Sweet Pink











Make-up Free Lips
Make Up For Ever Artist Plexi-Gloss Sweet Pink on lips








This gloss does provide a high shine and I admit is incredibly pretty. This shade in particular is very sheer and while the gloss claims “buildable color,” it doesn’t really work for this shade at least, because of its sheerness. It’s nice to add a little bit of glam and a lot of shine.

The one thing I cannot stand about this gloss, however, is how sticky it is. It feels like glue going on and staying on, so yes, it does last a long time, but that’s only because of how tacky it is. I don’t feel comfortable drinking or eating with this on (let alone sharing even a quick kiss with my husband), because I feel like I have glue on my lips when I’m wearing it.

Overall, I’m happy I didn’t pay for this. It looks great, so if you need something to just look great in a picture, I’d recommend it for that, but I wouldn’t recommend it for everyday wear if you’re expecting to eat a meal or have a night out with your special someone.


Podcast Review: The Worst Idea of All Time

Podcast: The Worst Idea of All Time
Hosts: Guy Montgomery and Tim Batt
Summary: (taken from Worst Idea of All Time)

The Worst Idea of All Time is a podcast hosted by Guy Montgomery and Tim Batt, two New Zealand comedians who watched Grown Ups 2 once a week, every week for a year. The duo then watched Sex and the City 2 52 times. They are currently watching We Are Your Friends. 52 times.

What started as a simply stupid idea, quickly turned into a public mental unraveling of two grown men, week by week. The podcast has been downloaded over 5 million times since it began in Feb 2014. They hope you enjoy the show and recommend you join their Facebook page.


4.5 out of 5 stars

I have a confession.  I really wanted to give this podcast 5 stars but just couldn’t do it.  The only reason it does not get 5 stars is that the backlog is impressively long (and I will get into below I think necessary to knock out).  I almost created two separate categories (Quality and Ability to Jump In) but that seemed overly complex so here we are.  Sorry.

The Worst Idea of All Time is hosted by Tim Batt and Guy Montgomery, two New Zealand based comedians.  About three years ago now they conceived this terrible idea to watch the movie Grown Ups 2 once a week every week for a year and record a podcast “reviewing” the film immediately after.  This led to one of the funniest, weirdest, most wonderful experiments in podcasting.  Both Tim and Guy are hilarious and start off having some fun with the idea.  They have some interesting theories in the first few weeks such as the film being sort of money making scheme like in The Producers.  This quickly devolves into more and more ludicrous theories and approaches being needed to be taken in order for them to just get through the movie each week.  Listening to them simultaneously devolve into madness and become closer friends in the process is just amazing.  Episode to episode the experience is both wildly different yet incredibly familiar.  Sometimes both are just in a  goofy mood and sometimes one or both of them is just angry that they are being “forced” to watch the film again.  It occasionally feels like they are having existential breakdowns, but the whole time they are both incredibly endearing and humorous.

They finished their first year and for some reason decided to repeat this experiment twice more with two other movies (which I will not spoil if you are interested in checking out the podcast).  And this is where the only criticism I have with the podcast comes in for new listeners.  So much of the podcast is built on the inside jokes that develop through the course of these repeated viewings and even from year to year with new movies.  It really feels like you are along for the journey with Tim and Guy so even when there is the occasional episode that seems like utter nonsense (“Prawn Salad” from season one I believe still has the distinction of being the best example of this) you at least are able to enjoy it and be there for the journey.  If you were to start in the middle of a season or I would even argue with the beginning of one for the second or third movie the full enjoyment of the podcast would be very much mitigated.  This is even more of a bummer since season 1 is now only available through  The length of these episodes are every inconsistent, most being between twenty minutes and about an hour, however, there is one glaring outlier in an episode that is almost five hours long.  This is all very much in the free form style the podcast creates for itself.  Overall, I would absolutely say if you have the time this is an incredibly charming podcast that is well worth the investment.

Manga Series Review: Naruto by Masashi Kishimoto

Title: Naruto, Volumes 1-72
Author: Masashi Kishimoto
Publisher: VIZ Media
Source: Chicago Public Library – Overdrive
Summary: (taken from Goodreads)

In another world, ninja are the ultimate power—and in the village of Konohagakure live the stealthiest ninja in the world. But twelve years ago Konohagakure was attacked by a fearsome threat—a nine-tailed fox demon which claimed the life of the Hokage, the village champion. Today, peace has returned, and a troublemaking orphan named Uzumaki Naruto is struggling to graduate from the Ninja Academy. His goal: to become the next Hokage. But unknown to Naruto and his classmates, within him is a terrifying force…

Overall Rating: 5 out of 5

I started watching the Naruto anime years and years ago, but it went on for so long that I was never able to finish, let alone get into Shippuden. Then, Andrew started getting into more anime and manga stuff and agreed to watch the series with me. We just barely made it to the Shippuden anime series before the wonderful Chicago Public Library released the entire manga series on Overdrive. My local branch of the library doesn’t have a lot of manga, so I requested a volume or two once in a while, but didn’t get very far into the manga series, so this release was HUGE. I could read it on my computer and not have to deal with waiting a week for it to ship to my branch. At the same time, Andrew and I cancelled our CrunchyRoll subscription, so we didn’t have access to Shippuden anymore. So, he started reading the manga as well.

Without giving spoilers, I’m going to sum up my feelings of the series as a whole — all 72 volumes. It starts off as a bit of a fun story, with Naruto trying to become a ninja and being loudmouthed about how he’s going to be Hokage someday, but quickly takes a bit of a darker turn. They are, after all, ninja and are very often in real danger when they take on their missions. Kishimoto doesn’t hold back when he crafts the story — the battles and dangers are high-stakes and even at 11 years old, the characters fight for their lives. I enjoyed this, because being a ninja would be dangerous, so I appreciated that this series had that level of honesty and genuineness.

My favorite parts, however, are the characters. You can tell that Kishimoto loves what he does, because there’s a wonderful playfulness to the characters that drew me in and made me fall in love with them. Each character has their own flaws and personalities, but you see that they are generally good people who care about their friends and their families. They work hard to protect them and when there’s danger, they all come together to fight against it. The series shines when the characters are given a chance to go above and beyond for their comrades, and this series is, in the end, a series about what it means to be friends.

Though it’s a long series, I would say it’s worth it. It’s almost bittersweet that we’ve finished it. We spent the better part of the year reading the manga together, talking about new developments and following the characters in their journey. Unlike the anime, which dragged on with filler episodes, the manga is perfect. Some things drag on, but the pacing is overall great for the story. It’s made me laugh out loud and cry, sometimes both at once. And while everything isn’t over-explained in the final volume, all my questions were answered satisfactorily. I loved reading about Naruto’s story and his journey to becoming an adult. There’s a reason why this is such a popular series — it’s really, really good. If anything about it at all interests you even in the slightest, I’d highly recommend getting started on it.

2017 Beat the Backlist Challenge

The one thing I’m always complaining about is how long my TBR list is and how I just keep adding to it, so it’s really hard for me to take book recommendations, because I’m so backlogged. So, this challenge is perfect, because I want to focus on getting to those books I keep meaning to read and keep putting off for other books.

This challenge is hosted by Austine from NovelKnight, and she has a fun twist to gamify the challenge as well. Because I love playing games and participating in friendly competition, I’m also going to join the Hogwarts House Cup mini-challenge and read for Slytherin.

My goal at the moment is going to be 15 books — I feel I already do a good job trying to read at least 1 TBR book a month, so I’m going to raise the bar and see if I can do better than that. I may update this if I’m breezing through it, but we’ll see!

If you want to sign up yourself, go ahead and head over to NovelKnight and sign up!

I’ll keep track of my progress on this post:


Beauty Review: Sephora Rouge Shine Lipstick – Honeymoon

I got this on sale at Sephora and thought that I’d give it a shot. I love collecting different color lipsticks so I can have something for every occasion, and I tend to be drawn more towards corals, pinks, and reds, so I thought I’d do something different. Honeymoon is listed as a glossy, semi-sheer toasted taupe.

Here are the comparisons:

Basic makeup – foundation, mascara & blush
Basic makeup + Sephora Rouge Shine Honeymoon










And for the closeups:

Make-up free lips
Sephora Rouge Shine – Honeymoon







It’s definitely a sheerer lipstick and has a very neutral color. While it is highly moisturizing, it doesn’t really have any staying power. I would never use this for a night out, because the second I drank or ate anything, it’d completely rub off. I use it as a step up from chapstick, basically. Someone decides to take pictures during a day of hanging out, and I don’t want to look completely washed out? This lipstick comes out. It’s good for a quick fix to add a little color and shine to your lips. Be prepared for lots of transferring and rubbing off. I don’t think I’d buy this again, to be honest. I’d use a tinted chapstick instead.

Library Love Challenge Sign-Up

2017 Library Love Challenge

With moving into a pretty small apartment with another person who also desperately loves books, I’ve found myself in very serious lack of shelf space, so the library has been a huge help for me being able to read books while also not accumulating so much stuff (and helping us save money so we can buy a house that has more room for our books!). So, when I saw that Bea’s Book Nook and Angel’s Guilty Pleasures were teaming up to do a challenge specifically aimed at reading books from the library, I knew it was the perfect challenge for me this year.

Basically, here are the rules:

  1. Runs: January 1, 2017 – December 31, 2017. You can join any time.
  2. Put a sign up post on your blog or (dedicate a Goodreads shelf or LibraryThing) and link it below. Make sure it’s public.
  3. The goal is to read at least twelve (12) books from the library, but you can read more. While twelve is the minimum, there is no maximum limit. See the different levels below and pick the one that works best for you.
  4. Any format will work for this challenge (print, ebook, or audio); as long as you checked it out from the library, it counts.
  5. Books can be any genre (fiction, nonfiction, romance, fantasy, mystery, thriller, horror, etc.).
  6. Crossovers from other reading challenges are allowed, including re-reads. The goal is to support your local library and save money.
  7. Write a review – 2 sentences or an essay, whatever works for you, but there is a minimum of 2 sentences. Not sure what to write? How about something like, “The plot was a delight, but the characters didn’t capture me.”

Not too bad, right? And there’s a giveaway involved if you join, so overall, a pretty cool challenge!

The level I’m aiming for is: Overdrive Junkie – Read 36 books.

I would do the highest level (50 books), but I’m trying to be better at balancing real life and reading, so my goal for the year is only 52 and I want to read some of the books I own and haven’t read as well.

I will track my progress here and link to reviews as well. Want to join me? Head over to Bea’s Book Nook and sign up!

Podcast Review: Crimetown

Before I get into this review, I should probably explain how podcasts have taken over my life over the last few years.  My first year teaching, I used to listen to sports talk radio on the way to work.  I would occasionally listen to music, but found that I got more out of people talking.  This wore on me very quickly.  I then started listening to NPR (which I now joke is my obligation as a teacher).  One thing quickly led to another and I found myself subscribed to NPR podcasts of segments I liked and suddenly realized I could listen to “talk shows” of just things I was interested in, as opposed to whatever happened to be on the radio, and off I went.  I tend to alternate between subject matters. I usually alternate between episodes of a “serious” podcast and then to a goofier one.  This both reflects my interests and is also a direct result to my over-saturation of politics earlier this year when I was at one time listening to exclusively six or seven different politics podcasts, several of which were releasing daily episodes which super bummed me out. So, you will probably see a similar pattern as these reviews roll out.

Podcast: Crimetown
Producer: Gimlet Media
Hosts: Marc Smerling and Zac Stuart-Pontier
Summary: (taken from

Welcome to Crimetown, a new series from Gimlet Media and the creators of HBO’s The Jinx. Every season, we’ll investigate the culture of crime in a different American city. First up: Providence, Rhode Island, where organized crime and corruption infected every aspect of public life. This is a story of alliances and betrayals, of heists and stings, of crooked cops and honest mobsters—a story where it’s hard to tell the good guys from the bad guys. Hosted by Marc Smerling and Zac Stuart-Pontier.

5 out of 5 stars

Crimetown is produced by Gimlet Media and hosted by Marc Smerling and Zac Stuart-Pontier.  It has been mentioned before that I have an outrageous fascination with non-fiction books and that love extends to other form of non-fiction as well.  I often find myself watching documentaries as often as traditional TV and movies.  I have a vague interest in the genre of “true crime” although I was never really sucked into it all that much until I read The Lufthansa Heist by Henry Hill and Daniel Simone.  I must have missed the period of fascination most people (or at least males I grew up with) had with the mob, but I hit a period last year after reading that book and seeing other documentaries and of course the classic Goodfellas that got me supremely interested in all the different angles around Henry Hill.  It passed.  Or so I thought.

A friend and I will often drop into conversations if we’ve started listening to a podcast we think is worth checking out.  He led me along on a string a little for this one.  He said it was a podcast that was in the style of a documentary about organized crime.  They were going to spend each season focusing on a different city.  At this point I was already pretty interested and figured I would chuck it onto the backlog of podcasts to check out.  Then he reeled me in.  “It’s just started it’s first season and that season just happens to be about Providence.”  A podcast that sounded interesting, I would only have to listen to a couple episodes to catch up to, and was about my home state?  How could I not at least give it a chance?

True to the description, Crimetown is an incredible undertaking.  The podcast uses archived audio as well as interviews with several people intimately involved with the politics, law enforcement, and mafia starting in the 1970s.  It uses several people of interest to drive the story, however, it is fair to say that the infamous Vincent “Buddy” Cianci, the former mayor of Providence, is the focal point of the podcast.  Each episode or chapter runs about 30 to 45 minutes and are packed with stories and interviews.  They do a great job telling just a couple specific stories each chapter that drive the overall plot forward.  At the time I am writing this, six chapters have come out and each chapter has a companion page at their website where they put up pictures of the people involved and occasionally archived documents and videos.  It really is quite amazing how well they paint each of stories and it has become a must listen for me as soon as it is released.  If you are at all interested in true crime or even just someone who finds the style of documentaries to be interesting this podcast is completely worth checking out.  I look forward to the rest of the season and any/all of the future seasons to come.