Book Review #7 – Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Hey there,

finally finished reading Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo. It wasn’t a difficult novel to read but it was quite dense, it had a lot of detail, and wasn’t a book you could read in broken one-chapter-at-a-time pieces because there was a lot to keep up with.

I didn’t read the Grisha Trilogy prior to getting to this book, so I’ll be honest, the world and terminology were a little confusing at  first. I wouldn’t say that reading the Grisha Trilogy is a necessity to understand and love this book but I definitely feel like it would make the universe (and the characters) a bit more clear for the reader.

Six of Crows was immensely detailed, packed with quality dialogue, outstanding characters that I fell in love with, and captivating chapters. I found myself swooning over so many different aspects of the characters which were revealed to me as I read. This is also the first time I looked at fandom art of a YA novel! The official poster of the characters and the fan art that followed were exactly as I imagined the characters in my mind! I loved the full-figured, never satisfied character of Nina. I loved the mysterious, fast-fingered Kaz. I loved, loved, loved all things about the Wraith, Inje. I could go on – that being said, this is a book with a WHOLE LOT of characters. If you don’t like books with a lot of storylines and a lot of perspectives, this book won’t be for you. Those kinds of books are not usually up my alley, but this one was different.

What I liked about this book, in particular, is the flawlessness of the author to link all these characters and stories together. They all exist individually but all work together SO beautifully. No character feels like an “outcast” in this crew. No perspective seems out of place or unnecessary to the story.

But that’s not to say that I wasn’t overwhelmed at times. I was. There were some chapters where I felt I had to re-read previous chapters in order to refresh my mind on terminology or secondary or tertiary characters. That may have been because I didn’t read the Grisha Trilogy, but these books are advertised as being separate reads from the GT so that shouldn’t have been a requirement to my understanding of the books.

There were definitely parts throughout the book where I wanted to know more, I wanted to read on, I was on the edge of my seat. But then there were also parts in the book where I just wanted to get the book over with so I could move on to the next book in my TBR pile. But let me make this clear: I LOVED the book.

Overall…
Rating: 4/5
Pros: 
amazing characters, amazing universe, amazing dialogue, fantastic plot
Cons: I was eager to end it and not overly-excited about continuing onto the next book

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November Ipsy – Review & Comments

Hey there,

Last month I ordered my first – and only – Ipsy bag. Right off the bat you may be asking why I stopped my subscription. It was worth the money (it’s very cheap) for the surprise of products and the cute accessory, but I don’t see getting enough use out of it to make it worth it.

For $14.95 Canadian, including shipping (I believe? I don’t remember now…), Ipsy will deliver you a “tailor-made” bag of beauty products. I say “tailored” because that’s what they advertise, based on your hair colour, eye colour, and the preferences you list. But I got two products in my bag that I had emphasized in my profile that I would have no use for. So I’m not sure how honest that feature is.

Here’s what was inside:
– A cute makeup bag with “beauty constellations”
– Too Faced ‘Better Than Sex’ mascara
– When in Doubt Wing it Out eyeliner
– Brit Velvet Red Lipstick
– Pur-Lisse moisturizer
– Luxie brush

I’ve already tried everything, so here is my quick and easy low-down on the products:

  • The bag is a light, cheap quality but the design is awesome. I don’t know that it’s big enough for a lot of travel but it would make a really cute purse makeup bag.
  • The Too Faced mascara is awesome. It’s light, feathery, the brush is a bit ridiculous looking but there were no clumps and it glides on so smooth. I might have to make a full-sized purchase of this, eventually.
  • The Wing it Out eyeliner had a bit of a harder precision brush than I’m used to but it made for a crisper line on my wing (which is my go-to eye makeup, if I wear any at all). I really like the pigment. I’m a fan, but it’s not so good that I’d consider leaving other makeup companies behind for it.
  • The lipstick is AWESOME. This red totally matches my olive/light skin tone and I love the way it glides on SO smooth and becomes matte right away without drying out. It transfers a lot, though, and I still haven’t worn it all day, so I don’t know if it bleeds.
  • The moisturizer is nothing to rave about. I’ll stick with Kiehl’s, as I like the way it feels on my skin more.
  • The brush… I don’t know how to use brushes. I don’t even know the specific purpose of this specific brush! All I know is that it’s super smooth and put on my blush really nicely. (Is it even a blush brush!?) I’m more of a ‘use your fingers to apply minimal makeup’ kind of person, so this brush business is new to me.

Would I get Ipsy again? Sure! I love trying new products!
Was it worth the cost? Yes, if you keep in mind that these are deluxe samples but quality ones at that.
Overall, I would give this subscription pack a 7.5/10 – nothing mindblowing, worth the money, great products.

Do you subscribe to Ipsy? Let me know in the products below.

xo
C

OuiPlease Review – A Francophile’s Subscription Box! Is it Worth the Cost?

Hey there,

It’s been a while since I reviewed anything other than books, but a big mail day finally arrived: OuiPlease arrived at my doorstep (as did my first – and only – Ipsy subscription, but I’ll review that another day!).

OuiPlease is a “Luxury subscription box … delivering the finest full-sized French beauty, jewelry, accessories, apparel, home and epicure to US & Canada”. This subscription box can be purchased monthly (it delivers bi-monthly) or yearly, and it’s in the higher range of subscription boxes, priced at about $150 USD per month, or $640 for a 6-time subscription for the year. I say “about” because you will often find that OuiPlease promotes a discount code on their social media. Because shipping is costly (Nearly a quarter the price of the subscription box, itself), I reached out to OuiPlease and they provided me with a 30% off discount code for my first purchase.

I bought this for myself only a day after my grandmother died (September 22nd). I was sad and wanted a taste of something Parisian and something “unexpected” to cheer me up. Unfortunately, despite being scheduled to ship in early October, I just got this today – on November 14th – so needless to say, delivery time sure isn’t quick.

Now, the products in this subscription box are randomized. Not everyone gets the same thing and you can’t be sure of what exactly your box will contain. If there is something you really like, you can contact Ashley@OuiPlease and she will make sure your box gets that product. While this makes the box exciting, this also can lead to a lot of FOMO.

OuiPlease advertises their “partners” for the month on Instagram, giving you clues into what you can expect in your box. I found these posts to be immensely misleading. Not only are the products not as advertised on the partner websites or in the images shared, but more often than not, they’re just not in the box at all! Out of the 15 different brands of products that you could find in the box (some had more than one possible product from their line) I had seven. It may sound like a lot, but it’s actually only eight products out of a possible ~30 items that they advertise through Instagram and in their OuiPlease magazine. So while I was getting my hopes up and getting all excited for this box with each Instagram photo I saw, I wasn’t even getting the majority of what I was seeing.

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Maybe it’s because I requested the Wall Hanging that I only got a little in my box. The wall-hanging is handmade with 24 karat gold plating and it’s advertised as being a retail value of $130. I do believe that this “retail price” is similar to those “compare to” prices that Winners has – it’s never actually sold at that price, but items of a greater quality which are a comparable design ARE sold at that price. It’s really delicate and beautiful, but would I ever pay $130 for it? No. Absolutely not. I love that it’s handmade and comes with a certificate of authenticity and it’s totally up my alley when it comes to a minimalist art piece, but it’s definitely not worth $169 Canadian! Fooey! There’s no way.

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Speaking of items that are misleading and priced absurdly – I got a really lovely AMOUR handmade bracelet by Padam Padam Paris (a jewelry company). It says it retails at about $40 USD. Firstly, when Padam Padam Paris was being advertised as a partner through Instagram, OuiPlease showed their absolutely GORGEOUS gold and silver jewelry pieces. Delicate, feminine, and captivating pieces of art. The bracelet I got is made from rubber plated wire. Don’t get me wrong – I love things that have French words, but I’m so unimpressed. This looks like it could have been made by one of my students. I will wear it. I do love it. But it wasn’t at all what I was expecting, and definitely isn’t worth what it “retails” for (according to OuiPlease).

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Next item in my box was a poncho. Now, I wish you could see the poncho they showed on Instagram; it was fall-coloured, argyle, gorgeous… I’m not sure if there was a mix-up in my box but the poncho I got (as you can see above) has Spring colours. What?! This was an Autumn themed box and I got stuck with a light, spring-feeling and looking poncho that I won’t even be able to wear this season!? What the hell!? It’s a great quality product, but again, wasn’t as advertised.

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The next product is one I am very pleased with; a perfume by the company Maison Louis Marie. The packaging of this perfume is beautiful, and it comes with an old fashioned spray bottle. I got the scent – No. 09 Vallee de Farney. It’s so beautiful. It’s a masculine, musky grapefruit scent. Very unique, very French. This one is advertised at $85 USD and I believe it. It smells and looks like a really high-quality perfume. This was probably my favourite product in the subscription box.

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The next products in my subscription box were Honey Nougat (delicious), a Parisian Confiture (tiny, but delicious), and a honey lip chap. Not featured in my photos was a very soft eye mask (valued at $25 which I don’t believe for a moment). Also, the box it comes in is really beautiful and I’m not sure how I’ll be using mine, just yet.

Overall, was I pleased? Yes, and no. While the products are lovely, I found the box to be immensely misleading (due the the advertising of the company), and for the cost of it + shipping in Canadian dollars, it doesn’t seem completely worth it. I feel like I got “shafted” with the amount of products in my box, and one of the products being so “Spring” focused when it was Autumn themed was very disappointing.

Will I get it again? I’m not sure – perhaps if there is a big sale going on, and I know exactly what to expect in the box, and truly feel that makes it worth it. Would I recommend it to someone else? Only if you have the money to waste. It would make a nice gift for someone, but Canadians, be aware that the price you pay may not really translate as you expect when you open the box.

What I truly realized after all this, was that no purchase can really fill the void that the death of someone you love so deeply leaves in your heart. I know that’s an obvious lesson, but I felt it was worth sharing.

So, what do you think? Will you give OuiPlease a try? Let me know in the comments below!

xo
C

Take a Step Into a Bibliophile’s Paradise: James Street Bookseller is a Wonder to Behold!

Hey there,

If you’re a reader/book lover from Hamilton Ontario, let me tell you about this gem I just discovered.

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The James Street Bookseller. Now, me having just discovered it doesn’t mean it’s new by any means! Monique, the lovely owner of the shop, told me that they’ve been there for six years!

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Where has it been hiding!? I have spent so many days walking that street (James Street South, to be a little bit more specific) and I never noticed this absolute slice of heaven before?! Blasphemy! I drove by today (while heading to park for my doctor’s appointment) and had to do a double-take. I literally ran to check it out from the parking lot and, sticking my head against the window with my jaw dropped, made the vow to visit when it opened (it opens at 1pm from Tues-Friday).

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As soon as you walk in, it’s an overload to a bibliophile’s senses. I was literally shaking, my heart pounding like a woman in love, as my wide eyes took in all the beauty that surrounded me. Walls, floor to ceiling, packed with books. The most gorgeous library ladder I’ve ever seen.  Beautiful vintage details, all around. Antique books with such exquisite character. Slightly used books with life, with an eagerness that draws you to pull them off the shelves, to dive right in. I. Was. In. HEAVEN!

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Not only was the environment warm, inviting, and beyond stunning, but Monique, the book seller who was there to greet me (and who asked if I wanted my picture taken on the library stares – UM, YES PLEASE!) was beyond lovely, and clearly shared a passion for this amazing space she created for fellow bibliophiles.

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This bookstore also supports local artists. The basement – which is gorgeous in and of itself – is an “art space” where art shows happen on special evenings at the shop. I love supporting local businesses, and I love supporting them, even more, when they support the local arts scene as it plays an important role in my life since Mr. J is an actor. Perhaps when I’ve finally completed my sexual assault survivor project, maybe I will reach out to Monique for using the space for spreading project word and having a fundraising event…

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I wish I wandered into this bookshop without an appointment to attend to. If I didn’t have to run off to an appointment, I would have spent hours and hours there, overwhelmed and so in love with all that surrounded me. I was in my happy place.

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I left with an amazing vintage book to add to my collection: a 1950s edition of Lord of the Rings! Can you believe it?!

I can’t wait to head back and spend more glorious moments in this wonderful little bookstore! It is, without question, the most beautiful little bookstore in the GTA. And take my word on that! I’m one to frequent bookshops wherever I go, and the close second for me is a bookshop in Stratford (and it’s WAY behind this one!).

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If you live anywhere close to downtown Hamilton and you’re a bibliophile, this shop is not to be missed! Make the trip. But check hours online, first! Trust me when I say that you’ll be standing on the outside, looking in, and disappointed beyond belief if you can’t get in!

Oh — and these pictures do NO JUSTICE to the James Street Bookseller!

xo
C

Book Review #2 – The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton

Hey there,

It’s time for another book review!
I finally finished The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton,  which wasn’t by any means a long book, but just goes to show the difference in time I can dedicate to reading on a weekend versus a weekday.

I will not divulge any spoilers in this review, but there will be a few vague details in order to emphasize my opinion; this is simply a forewarning!

The Miniaturist was an easy read. The story is written in a logical and enjoyable format that allows you to slide through chapters without difficulty and makes you want to continue reading. It’s about a woman named Nella (Petronella) who is married off to a man in Amsterdam. In her loneliness in a new city (a religious one, at that) with a new family, her husband gifts her a cabinet which is a replica of her house. She then proceeds to reach out to a miniaturist to start furnishing this house, and many secrets about the family are revealed in the process.

Firstly, this book was one  that I wanted to finish. Each chapter had me interested enough that I desired continuing the story. Burton didn’t have me gripped, but certainly had my attention. But there were too many issues I had with this book to say that I loved it or would recommend it to someone else.

Firstly, we are living in a mega-Calvinist Amsterdam in 1665 and a woman is allowed to walk around, converse and do business on her own? Poppycock.

Secondly, this plot was so  predictable! At no point was I like, “Oh my gosh!” by the least. I knew exactly what was coming, I knew exactly what to expect, and nothing surprised me. I was really disappointed by that. In my opinion, that’s poor character development, which is so sad considering how interesting each of the characters were.

Third (and a slight spoiler), why should I care about the Miniaturist’s name? Why is that important? What is the significance? Yeah, wow, I get the “coincidence”, but truly, who cares? How does it add to the plot? I really didn’t understand the Miniaturists’ “deal” and don’t truly understand why they know what they know, by the end of the book. It’s like Burton didn’t know how to explain it either, so “poof”… let’s just forget it and say goodbye. What? WHY!?

Not to mention, each of the “big things” in the book were so anti-climactic. I found the writing was poor when it came to preparing the reader for something exciting. It would start with a character screaming, “Come quick!” and then roll slowly into an unexciting description that has the reader going, “Oh, that happened, okay…”

Also, the description of the baby being born made me want to vomit. No thanks! Let’s give a trigger warning before that nonsense!

I was so excited to read this book because, firstly, the cover is all kinds of beautiful, and secondly, so many Instagrammers raved about it. I’m starting to think that me and Bookstagrammers aren’t reading the same books. I’m going to go by gut-reads from now on, and maybe avoid these suggestions… haha!

Rating: 2.5/5
Pros: Easy to read, keeps the reader’s attention, interesting characters
Cons: Inaccurate for the time period, predictable, anti-climactic, no real resolution

I wouldn’t tell people not to read the book, it just wouldn’t be my first recommendation to them. It would be one of those books that I suggest if they have nothing else to read.

Did you read the Miniaturist? What are your thoughts about it? Let me know in the comments!

xo
C