Saturday, August 30, 2014

Book Review: Stolen Songbird

Recently I read Stolen Songbird, and I honestly wasn't expecting that much. I just got it because I thought it would be a quick read that would be entertaining enough for the time being, since I'm waiting to buy some books online.  
Boy was I wrong. 
I absolutely loved  this book! It had everything and more that a great book should: a strong main character, a plot that wasn't just about a girl slowly falling in love with a boy, and issues that really make you think.

Stolen Songbird  is about a girl, Cecile, who lives with her father, brother, and sister in a small countryside town (probably around the 17th century-ish time period, there isn't a specific era given, but horses and horse-drawn carriages are the main modes of transportation). She is an aspiring singer and has a very beautiful voice which has been carefully trained by vocal instructors her mother, who lives in the city and is a singer herself, has sent to teach her; however, Cecile's mother finally feels she is ready to be trained in the city, since she is seventeen.
The book starts out when Cecile is on her way to the main part of town, by herself, in order to get eggs for her last dinner at home, when she is kidnapped by a boy named Luc. He ties Cecile up and throws her on his horse and takes her to the mountain, called Forsaken Mountain, near their town. There, he takes her into mysterious tunnels in order to get to the elusive city of Trollus, a city full of, you guessed it, trolls. 
These trolls aren't the ones of fairy-tales with hunched backs (although the royal family does seem to have many birth defects due to inbreeding) and green skin, but creatures that look like normal humans, other than their silver eyes. Trollus is under the Forsaken Mountain, and was cursed by a witch centuries ago, causing no troll to be able to escape past the city limits. Humans are free to come and go, many of whom the trolls depend upon to deliver goods and foods, but anyone with a drop of troll blood is not able to get out.
The whole reason Cecile is brought to Trollus is to be bonded and wed to the prince, Tristan. His aunt is known to tell prophecies, and she predicted that the curse will be broken once the prince is bonded to "one of the sun", meaning a human girl. Cecile has stunning red hair and green eyes, which is a big difference to the trolls' darker looks. The trolls believe Cecile's bond (and marriage) with Tristan will break the curse, and are very disappointed when it doesn't immediately happen. However, Tristan is relieved, which Cecile feels since their bond also bound their emotions together, enabling them to know what the other is feeling.
Cecile goes through the next couple of weeks with Tristan treating her horribly, and soon finds out there is a large group of rebels fighting for half-human half-troll rights. She joins the cause, and also begins to learn more about the curse, and the witch that cursed Trollus.
I loved this book so much, because it was more than a simple cliche "she hates him but loves him" love story; it had depth in the issues within Trollus and showed how corrupt any society can be. The way the halflings are treated is a direct mirror to how minorities in our world have been treated throughout history, and it really shows the courage rebel leaders have, and what it takes to achieve equality for everyone. Danielle L. Jensen really created a world that was believable and complex, and I love her writing style. There was always something interesting going on, and I found myself not being able to put this book down, and would read it for hours each time I picked it up. There are also some really funny and lighthearted moments that weren't forced at all. 
Overall, I highly  recommend this book to everyone! It's a great read that entertains you and makes you think at the same time. 

What have you read recently that you have really liked?

Thank you so much for reading, and have a great day! :)

Friday, August 22, 2014

New Hair!

I've been thinking about changing up my hair for a while now, and I thought now would be the perfect time since I'll be going to college in about a month! I want to have a fresh start this fall, so this is a great start! 
Two of my dogs (Miki on the left and Z on the right). They love sneaking into pictures!

I really wanted to get auburn in my hair, but I didn't want the change to be too drastic or look really unnatural, so I asked for a balyage look but with red instead of a blonder shade. I'm super happy with the result! I think it adds a little more depth to my hair and I love all the different shades and how gradual it is. 

I really like the front as well - my hair stylist put a couple of red strands higher up to frame my face so I feel like that really finishes off my hair. I feel like the color change isn't too drastic from the front either, which I really love!

Overall, I'm so happy with how it turned out and I'm really glad I decided to put some red in my hair! I was pretty nervous about it, and it took me so long to finally decide to color it. I'm a super indecisive person and change really scares me, but I thought what the heck, I'm only 18 and I'm going to college so I might as well change my hair - it just makes me even more excited to start this new chapter in my life!

What would you do to your hair if you knew you would have no regrets afterwards?

Thank you so much for reading and I hope you have a great day! :)

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

OOTD + VloggerFair!

This last weekend I went to Seattle and went to VloggerFair! It was such a great experience and it was so fun meeting vloggers who make such great videos and daily vlogs! The YouTube community is so unique and is so great in that it allows people to be super creative and individualistic with creating videos. Every YouTuber I met this weekend was so genuinely nice and down to earth - it was really refreshing to see they are almost exactly how they are in their videos! There isn't too much else to say without just rambling about how good it was, so I thought I would share some pictures with you guys!

 Me and Tyler Oakley! He is such a nice person - he stayed an hour and a half longer than he was supposed to in order to meet everyone in line! He even had a flight that he had to catch that night, so it was really nice of him to make sure everyone got to meet him (the line went all the way around the convention center room!).

 These are the Daily Bumps! They have a daily vlogging channel and they are so sweet! Their son, Oliver, is the cutest little boy ever! He's such a happy little baby, and they are the cutest little family.

 This is Marie from Bits and Clips and her family! She was kind enough to walk through Shay Carl's meet and greet line (which my friends and I waited in line for three and half hours in! Some people waited four to five hours!!) since people had to wait so long. They are really nice people and their kids are adorable!

 Austin Null from the Nive Nulls! He is such a cool guy, and really nice! Unfortunately his wife and kids couldn't make it to VloggerFair, but it was great meeting him! 
 Judy from ItsJudyTime! She is so nice, it's incredible! She really spent time with everyone and genuinely cared about everyone in her line! It was so great to meet her.

 Shay Carl from the Shaytards! He is such a funny guy and super nice! He met everyone in his line as well, and his meet and greet went way longer than it was supposed to as well! He talked to everyone in line for at least a couple of minutes and seemed really grateful for each person who watched his videos! His wife, Collette, and their youngest son who's not even a year old yet, were there as well, but he got pretty fussy so Collette had to go back to their hotel so we didn't get to meet her :( But hopefully she'll be back next year!

 Me and Krsitina Horner! She is so sweet as well, and does a lot of book reviews on her channel. It was so cool to meet her because I tend to like a lot of the same books as she does!


Cardigan: Aeropostal
Tank Top: Nordstrom Rack
Shorts: Nordstrom
Shoes: Birkenstocks
Temporary Tattoos: Flash Tattoos

 I had such a great time this weekend, and I hope to go back next year!

Thank you so much for reading and I hope you have a great day! :)

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

My Current Obsession: Maxi Skirts

Hey guys!
So lately I have been obsessed with maxi skirts - they are so pretty and perfect for any weather, and can easily be dressed up or down. I especially love them for summer nights because they aren't too heavy that they will make you super warm, but they also provide a little extra something if it gets chillier once the sun goes down.

I have especially been lusting over this one (which you can find here)! It is absolutely gorgeous and looks really comfortable.

This one is pretty similar, just with a cute pattern over it which I love as well. It looks so classy with it's vintage-y pattern! You can find it here.

I love the lace cutouts on the side! The pattern is really pretty, but the cut outs add a really cool look to it, as well as the slit on the side. Find it here!

I have always loved this color - you can easily wear it in any season! The material is also so gorgeous and looks really soft. You can take a closer look here.

I love the flowers on this one! They look really nice against the black background, and are able to really pop. You can find it here. I also found a similar one to this one for a lot cheaper, which can be seen here.

This pattern is really cute as well; it is quite busy, but the colors help it tone down. You can find it here,

Well those are some skirts I have found lately that I have been wanting! I've actually been throwing around the idea of ordering the first or second one, I just wish they would go on sale!

Anyway, thank you so much for reading, and have a great day!

Would you spend a lot of money on a clothing item if you had been wanting it for a while?

Monday, August 4, 2014

Top Ten Beauty Hacks

Hey guys!
So today I thought I would share with you some of the "beauty secrets" that I use on a daily and weekly basis that I feel really help keep my skin clear and soft!

1. Drink lots of water and get plenty of rest! This is my number one tip, because if these basic needs are not met for your body, your skin will suffer! Your skin really reflects what is inside of your body, so make sure you drink enough water, and sleep enough in order for your body to be at it's best! Remember that eight is the magic number: try to drink at least eight glasses of water a day and get at least eight hours of sleep each night.

2. Use a face mask once a week. You can either buy one from the store, or make one at home with simple ingredients in your kitchen already (I'm a huge fan of milk and honey masks). I find that when I put on my face mask every Sunday after a nice hot shower, I can relax so much and my skin feels so great afterwards. It helps you wind down after a long week, and helps your skin out at the same time! I also like to use a mask that is meant for deep cleaning so my pores can "breath".

3.  Use Vaseline to get longer lashes. Every night I put Vaseline on my eyelashes and right at the base to make them longer. I don't quite know how it works, but it really does! As a bonus, it also helps my skin at the base of my eyelashes which sometimes gets really dry.

4. Coconut oil can be used for anything and everything. There are  so many great uses for coconut oil - hydration for your hair, mixed with sugar for an exfoliant, and you can also cook with it! It can be used for virtually anything, so it's worth buying and having around!

5. Exfoliate a couple of times a week. I use the exfoliating face wash from Simple, and the Buffy bar from Lush on the rest of my body to exfoliate. I find that exfoliating a couple of times a week (don't go too overboard - three times a week should be the max) really helps your skin "glow", as it gets rid of a lot of dead skin cells. It also makes your skin feel really soft!

6. Use vitamin E oil to get rid of scars. My mom has always done this, and it works really well. We get the vitamin E capsules and poke them open with a needle and use the oil inside to put on scars. Doing this every night for a little while really helps to get rid of unwanted scars.

7. If you have eczema or extremely dry skin patches, use cortisone creme to get rid of them. I get little flare ups of eczema in the form of dry, flaky patches, so I rub some Cortisone 10 cream on it, and within one or two days, it is completely gone. It also helps get rid of stubborn dry patches that just won't go away.

8. Take your makeup off every night before you go to sleep. I cannot stress the importance of this! It is so  bad for your skin to go to sleep with your makeup still on - it clogs your pores which leads to bad breakouts. If you like not having to do a whole lot before going to sleep, buy some make-up removing wipes to quickly remove your make-up and cleanse your skin.

9. Try and have one make-up-less day a week. I don't know if this helps a whole lot, but I like to have one day a week at least that I don't wear any make-up at all. I just wake up, put on some lotion, and wash it at the end of the day, followed by more lotion. I feel that it just gives my skin a nice break, and allows it to "breath" for a whole day.

10. Rub toothpaste on pimples to get them to dry up and go away quickly. I have been doing this for years, and it always works like a charm! Just dab some toothpaste onto the center of the pimple, rub it in, and when you wake up in the morning, it should be smaller and easier to conceal! Sometimes the pimple goes away in a day, but other times I have to do this for another night to get it to completely go away.

What are some beauty tips/hacks that you swear by? 
Thank you so much for reading, and as always, have a great rest of your day! :)

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Dream it, Believe it, Achieve it

So today I just wanted to write about something that has really inspired me lately: believing in yourself.
I was watching a video the other day (one of the Shaytards video, if anyone watches YouTube videos - you should check them out if you don't! They are a great family who vlogs their daily life) and Shay was saying how important self-belief is. It basically breaks down to this: if you are trying to achieve something but you think to yourself "Oh, I could never do that" then you never will. If you are giving up right as you begin something, then you will never get far enough to actually achieve it. You have to stay positive and keep telling yourself that you will be successful, and that all of your hard work will pay off in the long run. People like Bill Gates and J.K. Rowling did not become extremely successful by constantly putting themselves down and not believing in themselves; at some point they had to have said to themselves "You know what, I am going to work as hard as I can and make  myself become successful." I guarantee you they didn't just sit around and wait for their success - they went out and achieved it themselves, with the help of self-belief and positive thinking.
 I know all of this sounds so cheesy, but the power of positive energy and thinking is extremely important to success. Your mind is a very powerful thing, and can oftentimes be the only thing holding you back. In many cases, you are the person who limits yourself the most with self-doubt, and the belief that you truly cannot do something. If you want to be a doctor, then great, go for it! If that isn't your cup of tea and you would rather be an artist, hats off to you! Just make sure you don't doubt yourself, and constantly put yourself down. When you tell yourself that you can't do something you instantly put a road block in your mind, and in your life. With thoughts like that, you won't be able to achieve anything because you will start to truly believe you can't. Your negative thoughts eventually turn into your beliefs, so if you keep limiting yourself with "I cannot's" then you will never achieve "I did's." You have to act as if you know  what you are trying to achieve is going to come true. However, just because you unabashedly believe you will succeed, doesn't mean there won't be any hardships. The road to success isn't a smooth one, but the power of positivity helps make it a little bit easier.
The well known saying "never say never" (ugh, insert Justin Bieber reference here) is known throughout the world because of its truth; you will truly not learn the outcome of all the "what if's" if you say "never" to all of them. Who knows what you could achieve if you stopped doubting yourself?
I think the reason why this stuck with me so much is because I will be starting college soon, and I'm anxious about my future and what I will do with my life. I still don't have a solid plan about what I want to study, major in, or even make a career out of. It's also exciting, though, because I feel as though I am finally beginning my life, and I want to have a positive start. I am one of those people who can't be negative all the time or I will give myself a heart attack! I am much more productive when I am surrounded with positivity, and I think that is true about most people. Allowing yourself to be positive and have a great outlook on life truly goes a long way. Positive energy attracts positive energy when it comes to the ways of the world, so it is a great practice to always look on the brighter side of things.

What do you think about self-belief? Have you ever struggled with it?

Thank you so much for reading, and as always, have a wonderful day! :)

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Favorite Books Lately

Hey guys!
So as some of you might know, I have an obsession with reading. Okay, maybe even a slight addiction. I go through books like crazy, and tend to just buy books when my friends and I go shopping; they get bags of clothes, and I get bags of books. If I could have a job as a professional reader, I would be the happiest person on the planet...
Anyway, I have been wanting to do more posts about reading and the books that I'm currently reading and/or enjoying, so I thought now would be the perfect time since I have fallen in love with quite a few new books (don't worry, Harry Potter, you will always be my favorite - bad joke, I know).

I am a huge fan of reading actual physical books, and I refuse to get an e-reader of any sort (I might regret saying this in the future, as I might get one for college textbooks, but that will be for strictly academic purposes only...I hope).

So this series is a spinoff from Richelle Mead's other series, Vampire Academy, and I know some of you might be thinking "seriously, vampires?" but trust me on this one, these series are so much more than the lives of vampires. They are written so well and have such great character developments that all of the characters feel like real people. The issues that they face are not strictly about love, but rather loyalty and the question of whether the truths that you have grown up with are always completely right or not. There is romance in the books, of course, but it isn't the stereotypical "oh my gosh I have just met you and now we are soul-mates" kind of love, but the fact that sometimes you can't deny it when chemistry is just there between people, and that some people are worth breaking the rules for.
The series is primarily about an alchemist (a human who knows about vampires and helps them cover up their existence) who has to pose as a high school student along with another group of vampires in order to protect the newly found princess from rebels who wish to hurt her. Sydney, the alchemist, is a very practical person who hates vampires, but is slowly starting to become close friends with her little "family", and begins to question where her loyalty should truly lie.
I can't get enough of Richelle Mead's books, and I could go on and on about how much I love this series and her other one, so just at least give this series a try, because trust me, you will love it!

Before I decided to read this book, I had been seeing it for so long and heard a lot of positive reviews of it. I really enjoyed The Hunger Games and more books like it, so I decided to give this one a try, and was pleasantly surprised about how much I ended up liking it. I wasn't sure if I would like it as much as The Hunger Games, but I really did! The book was written really well, and has a great plot.
It is about a sleepy beach town in California that suddenly has an invisible dome around it, and when this dome appears, all of the adults and teenagers aged 14 and over disappear. The town is left with a bunch of kids struggling to survive through power struggles, the emergence of mysterious powers, and mutating animals. It sounds absolutely crazy, but it was a really great book! I will definitely be reading the series.

I absolutely love this book, and series. This is the third one in The Lunar Chronicles, which is basically a modern take on classic fairy tales, like Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast, and in the third book, Rapunzel. However, all of the portrayals of the "princesses" meet in various ways and all end up fighting for the same cause, which is basically overthrowing an evil queen (go figure since it's based on classic fairy tales). This book is so wonderfully round - it is filled with humor, sadness, adventure, and even a little romance that balances out so well. Each of the characters are so interesting and they are all tied together in the most ingenious ways. The books are also connected really well, which I was worried about since each one has a different main character.
I cannot wait for the fourth book in the series!

This book, and the whole Selection  series, is so good. The whole premise behind the story is very similar to the television show, The Bachelor; however, these girls are vying for the heart of the Prince of their country. This has been the way princes have found their princesses in their nation, and now it is time for Prince Maxon to have his own Selection to find his wife, since ultimately the decision is his.
 The main character is named America, and she didn't even want to sign up for the Selection in the first place, (girls across the nation have to apply to be a part of the selection, and then the king "randomly" chooses who is to be a part) because she doesn't want to be a princess. She is a number six on the "social scale", with the royals being a one, the king's guard two, and so on and so forth until number eight which is basically way below the poverty line. Throughout the series she has mixed feelings about Maxon because she is finding it difficult getting over her previous love. She also wants to see changes in her country, and is seen as very controversial due to her courage to speak out against the way things are run in public events.
It is a dystopian  story along with a love story that explains the aftermath of a horrible war and how their nation came to be. This nation, however, is still corrupt and has many rebels trying to harm the royal family in order to claim the power for themselves.
Overall, it is one of the best series I have read and loved so much in a little while, and it is a very big emotional roller coaster! The characters are so believable, and surprisingly, the whole series is not, in fact, about love and romance. There is a lot of questions about society, the way the law works, and why sometimes change is really for the better. I could not recommend this book more!

I have heard a lot about this book, so finally I broke down and read it. I was afraid it would be really similar to Before I Fall, (which I did not like at all despite it being quite popular and well received), but boy was I wrong. I ended up finishing this in about three hours because I could. Not. Put. It. Down.
The book is about a girl who is in a car accident while in the car with her family, but she is the only survivor. Her body is in a coma, but her mind is very awake, and she is in a ghost like state because she is able to walk around and listen to all of her loved ones, but they cannot see her. In order to escape this state, she has to decide whether or not she wants to wake up and continue living without her parents and little brother, or if she wants to join them in death. I found myself being so sucked into her life and love of her family and friends, that I could see such a great ending with either choice she made. If she decided to live, she would have a bright future filled with the remaining family she had, and wonderful friends who loved her very much. However if she decided to die, she would be with her parents and little brother whom she loves very much, and would be at peace and would not have to go through the pain of losing them.
I laughed and cried while reading this, but oh my gosh was it good. I honestly was not expecting the book to be so great, but it more than exceeded my expectations! They are coming out with a movie based on the book, which I'm excited but nervous to see, since the movies are never as great as the books.

Well, that's it for my favorite books as of late! I'm always open to suggestions, so if you have any good recommendations, just leave a comment! :)

What are some of your favorite books lately?

Thank you so much for reading, and have a great day!  :)