A Few Drugstore Beauty Goodies

Once again, I found myself in the drug store on a mission to find some essentials and ended up getting sidetracked in the makeup aisle. There were so many clearance and sale tags that I selected only a few items that I really wanted to try, and at bargain prices to boot.

One of my weaknesses is rewards programs. I don’t know what it is about them, but I feel compelled to register for every reward card, points system or coupon mailing list, even for stores that I don’t often visit. I think part of it is that, if I’m going to be shopping there anyways, I might as well be able to score 10% off, points to spend on items in-store, or coupons on everyday products. I mention this because I scored some serious points on this shopping spree and I am already so close to $5 in savings. But, I digress.

Maybelline The NudesMaybelline The Nudes Eyeshadow Palette $13.99 from 18.99 

I had been eyeing this palette for awhile but $18.99 was a bit pricy so when I saw it was marked down I scooped it up. They have three different palettes, The Nudes, The Rock Nudes, and The Blushed Nudes. The Rock Nudes has a lot of cool-toned browns and greys that are great for smoky eyes but not for everyday wear. The Blushed Nudes are gorgeous shades with pink undertones but I typically go for the more golden and shimmery nudes, so this palette was perfect.

Revlon Illuminance Crème Shadow 730 Skinlights Revlon Illuminance Crème Shadow 730 Skinlights $6.49

I have never tried a cream eyeshadow before but I was feeling a little adventurous and for $6.49 it seemed like a good time to try it. There were other quads with different shades but I felt like I would get much more use out of these ones, plus I love the shimmer in them.

Revlon Colourburst Lip Butter in 080 Strawberry ShortcakeRevlon Colourburst Lip Butter in 080 Strawberry Shortcake $5.79 from 11.49

Before I start writing about the lip butter, I just want to have a mini rant about sales tags. If a store puts a sale or clearance tag underneath a product that says $11.49 $5.79, that indicates to me that there is a sale afoot. But apparently some of these sales tags have little letter codes or shade abbreviations that limit the sale to only certain shades of the product. WHO WOULD EVER READ THAT?!? I get looking at the sign in a department store to see if the sale excludes items with a 97¢ ending, but squinting to read the fine print shade coding for certain products??? Just no. So when I had two of these lip butters in my basket, I left the store with only one because apparently the other shade I selected was not the shade in the particular row that was on sale. -sigh- However, I do love the shade of this lip butter and how it gives a hint of colour and shine without being super bright or sticky.

Essie nail polish in shade She's Pampered
Essie Nail Lacquer in She’s Pampered $7.99 from $11.99

Three factors led me to purchase this nail polish: 1) I have been on the hunt for a gorgeous red polish and fell in love with this shade. 2) It was 4 dollars off, which seemed like a bloomin’ good deal to me, especially since I rarely ever fine Essie products on sale. And 3) I got bonus reward points with the purchase of any Essie nail product. With this trifecta of good reasons, I purchased this shade and I tried it out a few days later. Essie nail polishes go on really smoothly and evenly with no clumping and minimal bubbling while drying. I did manage to get a cat hair painted onto my thumb nail but that just comes with the territory of living with a cat.  I did, however, take my grandmother’s advice this go-around and put the nail polish in the fridge for awhile before I applied it. She claims that cold polish goes on better than room temperature polish. At the time I thought she was just making it up, but it actually works.

NYX Liquid Suede Cream LipsticksNYX Liquid Suede Cream Lipsticks 

I have heard so many good things about these lipsticks in YouTubers’ favourites videos so when I saw them in my local drugstore, I swatched a bunch of them on my arm and picked out three that I felt I would wear the most: Tea and Cookies, Cherry Skies, and Vintage. Tea and Cookies is a lovely rose pink, perfect for everyday wear, especially in early autumn and spring. Cherry Skies is a gorgeous deep wine red that would be beautiful for autumn and winter wear. Finally,Vintage is a plum shade with mauve undertones that I think would pair so well with a some winged eyeliner and a little black dress. These go on wet but dry matte, and I couldn’t get the swatches off my arm all night, so that definitely speaks to their lasting power.

CoverGirl Clean Sensitive Skin Powder FoundationCoverGirl Clean Sensitive Skin Pressed Powder in 210 Classic Ivory

This has been my go-to drugstore powder foundation for years, and every time I see it on sale I scoop one up. I actually reviewed this powder and the corresponding liquid foundation last year, which you can read here if you’d like. The powder is really light so it doesn’t feel like I’m wearing any but it is one of the few I have found that actually matches my skin tone.

Maybelline Lash Sensational Mascara in Blackest BlackMaybelline Lash Sensational Mascara in Blackest Black

This is another product that has been be mentioned in several people’s favourites videos and blog posts, so I wanted to see if the hype surrounding it was worth it. I will definitely be posting a review of this product in the near future, so stay tuned.
What drugstore products have you been using lately???

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Back-To-School Supply Haul

back to school 2016Good afternoon all!!!

Today is my first day of my fourth year of university. One of my favourite parts about getting ready to head back to school is shopping for supplies. I don’t know why, but I am weirdly at peace in stationary and office supplies stores. I think it has something to do with how all the products are nicely stacked on shelves according to size and colour, appealing to my need to have everything just so.

Something that I learned about myself while shopping for school supplies is just how picky I can be. For instance, if someone hands me a pen, I write with it, regardless of the brand, ink colour, ink type, or grip configuration, but when it comes to picking out pens for my exclusive personal use, I know exactly what I want and cast aside all other pens as inferior writing utensils.

While perusing my school supplies drawer, I noticed that some of my favourites were dwindling, so I hit up a Walmart to replenish my stock, and I wanted to share the supplies that I love using.

school supplies 2016 pencilsMy writing utensil of choice is a Dixon HB pencil. Yes, it must be a Dixon brand pencil. They are easy to distinguish from other pencils because the eraser islight pink, as opposed to white or dark pink both of which smudge the pencil when erasing. I do use mechanical pencils on occasion though, particularly during a multiple-choice exam where the professor uses those Scantron sheets that necessitate a completely filled-in bubble to recognize the correct answer. Each have their own pros and cons: regular pencils require sharpening and the shavings can be messy; mechanical pencils need to be refilled with graphite of a certain size. Personally, I like to stick to regular pencils as much as possible.

school supplies 2016 pensLast year I strayed from my classic pen choice (Pentel R.S.V.P. medium line) and gave erasable pens a try Well I fell in love. The only trouble is that they run out of ink so quickly, so I picked up the ones that come with a refill. They write really smoothly and evenly, and have that gel pen quality to the lines. However, the ink does not always dry instantly and, for a left-hander like me, this means that I may end up smearing the ink with the side of my hand. The savings on white out tape though neutralize that con, and the smears can easily be erased away.

school supplies 2016 splurgeEach year I treat myself to one splurge purchase and this year it was the Bic Marking Permanent Ultra Fine 8 pack. I love using permanent markers for labelling and all through concept maps, and these colours are just so lovely and diverse. I hope they don’t bleed through to the other side of paper too much but I am really looking forward to using these. I didn’t notice until I got home but my package contains two green pens, so I wonder if it is just a coincidence or if all packages come with two greens.

school supplies 2016 highlightersAlso, I picked up a ton of highlighters because I go through them like nobody’s business. I have a strict system: yellow for words that are defined, pink for headings, blue for information, green for names, orange for processes, and purple for stats. The purple rarely gets used but the blue is always out halfway through teterm so I am planning ahead. These are also great for sectioning parts of concept maps into related topics.

school supplies 2016All the school supply goodies:

  •  Pilot FriXion Point 0.5mm Extra-Fine needle point Erasable Gel Ink Pens in blue and black
  • Bic Brite Liner Grip highlighters 
  • Post-it Notes in Rio de Janeiro colours (3 in x 3in) and Miami colours
  • Post-it Notes Cube (1 7/8 in x 1 7/8 in) in pink, blue, and sea foam green
  • Bic Marking Permanent Ultra Fine 8 pack (pink, blue, green, yellow, orange, red, black)
  • Bic Gel-osity Retractable Gel Pens 
  • PaperMate Replay PREMIUM Vibrant Gel Ink Pens (Pink, turquoise, orange, purple)
  • Bic Wite-Out Correction Tape 
  • Dixon HB/2 Pencils 
  • Bic Extra Precision Mechanical Pencils

What school supplies are you using this year???

Seattle, Washington | Travel Diary

Hello there all!!!

I have missed blogging these past few weeks but work has been über busy and I have started to prep for back-to-school and seeing friends before they head back to university so free time has been scarce.  However, before school starts back up on September 7th my mother and I wanted to go on a little trip somewhere. I have never been to Seattle but it is home to so many incredible landmarks (The Space Needle, for instance) and hasbeenthe setting of so many well-known and loved movies and TV shows (50 Shades of Grey, Sleepless in Seattle, Grey’s Anatomy, Frasier).  Fairmont Olympic Hotel sign

We left home on Monday, August 22nd, taking a local ferry down to Seattle Pier. I live near Vancouver, BC, and Seattle is so close but strangely enough I have never been there. We arrived and explored the hotel for a good hour or so because it was so gorgeous. We stayed in the Fairmont Olympic Hotel because of my mother’s love of Fairmont Hotels, and because of her amazing internet sleuthing skills when it comes to finding great hotel prices. We then headed into The Terrance, a nice little lounge and bar, for a drink. And this is when I learned, much to both my mother’s and my horror that, at 20, unlike in Canada, I am not of legal drinking age in the US. Thank goodness the server recognized the error and chalked it up to a simple mistake. Just imagine the headline “Tiny Canadian Girl Shuts Down Renowned Lounge and Bar for Serving Alcohol to Underage Minors.” That would have been bad. For dinner, we went to Shuckers, a well-known seafood restaurant attached to the hotel, and I had some of the tastiest fish and chips and THE BEST chocolate cake. Like ever. Ever ever.

On Tuesday, I got us very lost in downtown Seattle when I took a wrong turn. We ended up down near the courthouse but eventually we found our way back to the hotel, and then set out for Pike Place Market. The market was unlike anything I had ever seen, so many stores selling anything you could think of and all the walkways clogged with people. We also checked out the Gum Wall, which was an equally cool and gross sight. The Pike Place Market is also home to the first Starbucks so, of course, we went inside and picked up some drinks and a commemorative mug. For lunch, we stopped into Beecher’s, a local cheese maker, and had the best freshly made macaroni and cheese I have ever tried. I don’t know what import laws say about bringing American cheese across the Canadian border but I didn’t want to test it so I unfortunately did not fill my suitcase with the Beecher’s Flagship cheese. After lunch, we walked to Macy’s and had a quick browse before purchasing some incredibly warm and foldable down coats and heading off to Zara. Tuesday night my mother and I both checked an item off our bucket list: I got to see a National Baseball League game, the Seattle Mariners against the New York Yankees, and my mother got to see the Yankees play. The game started out slow but then the Yankees pulled way ahead of the Mariners, eventually beating them 5-1. A minor item on my bucket list was also checked off: eat a stadium hot dog and scoot by people to get to my seat while holding it. I have seen so many characters in movies do it that I just had to do it once. And I did. The hotdog was pretty tasty too.

We kicked off Wednesday morning with an early trip out to see the Space Needle. Apparently it completes one rotation every 47 minutes and, though I don’t want to sound like one of those people who claim to have superhuman perception, I feel like my sensitivity to motion was enough to feel it actually move so I got a little queasy. It was hands-down the best aerial view of the city and well worth the admission. We then made our way back to the hotel for Afternoon Tea, a lovely tradition we indulge in on our all trips together. The 1907 blend was classic and flavourful, and the first course of berries was divine. There were some strange flavour combinations in items on the tea tier though, such as a beet macaroon. Full of tea and goodies, we headed out to Nordstrom, an American department store I have always wanted to see because luxury brands like Louboutin and Prada are next to Highstreet brands like Guess and Vince Camuto. I fell in love with a $1000 pair of Vêtements platform boots and kept trying them on but there was no way I could afford them (now on the hunt for a dupe). We also visited Barnes & Noble, a bookstore I have heard so much about but never seen. It surpassed all my expectations and I picked up the September issue of Vogue. We then explored Pacific Place which turned out to be less exciting than I had hoped but it had a Kate Spade store and I spent a good hour in there talking to the lovely sales associate about Kate Spade’s retirement and the sale of the company, and how awesome some of the styles are (a cruise ship purse, for instance). To finish off the day we ordered macaroni and cheese, French fries, and cake from room service as a meal bundle. (I ended up keeping the cake in the fridge overnight and eating it at the pier the following morning because I know what a balanced breakfast is).

We left Seattle Thursday afternoon, but not before enjoying an amazing breakfast at The Georgian, yet another restaurant in the hotel. I had the to-die-for eggs benedict, which kept me going for the whole day (until the chocolate cake, that is, but I couldn’t bear to throw it out).

All in all, this was a fun and exciting little getaway before my mother and I go back to school and work, but I will definitely be hitting up the gym in my first week of classes to work off all the food I consumed. No idea why, but I always eat way more on vacation than I ever would at home.

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Summer Wool Haul

The last major shopping spree I went on for knitting supplies was way back in December during Blogmas. Since then, I have been working on several knitting projects and found myself in need of some more wool to add to my now dwindling collection.

In the centre are Drops Design circular knitting needles in sizes 5.5mm, 6mm, and 6.5mm. They are all 40cm long and are absolutely adorable and coloured pastel pink, green, and blue, respectively. Plus they were 50% off so I couldn’t resist adding them to my needle collection. Besides, small circular needles can come in handy.

The Patons Decor in Oceanside Variegated 100g was a bit of a treat to myself because I loved the blend of dark blue, light blue, and gray but then, lo and behold, a girl I work with is having a baby, and this will make the perfect baby sweater of blanket (not sure what to make out of it yet).

The Filatura Di Crosa Charly Print Melange 50g balls were also on sale and with autumn just around the corner (yikes!!!) I wanted to infuse some rich dark colours into my wool selection. They are a little on the small size, but I am hoping to use three of them to make an infinity scarf or some mittens.

reversible cable knit scarf
shameless picture to show off my most recently completed project
revesible cable knit scarf close-up
Just look at how cozy and soft this wool scarf looks!!!

Finally, I purchased the Berroco Ultra Alpaca Chunky 100g in the colour 7245, which is one of my favourite wools to work with. I love how thick it is yet it is also easy to work with. I have made toques, mittens and, most recently, a scarf out of this wool and I am so happy with how my projects turned out. This wool works equally well with small and big needles, and the final product is a cozy and luscious garment. One day I would love to knit a sweater out of it but then I wouldn’t want to wear anything else during the winter because it would keep me all warm.

What have you been knitting lately???

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Canon EOS Rebel T6 DSLR Camera Unboxing 

Happy August all!!!

On Sunday, I popped into the post office and picked up a giant package that I had been expecting. If you follow me on Twitter, you will have seen my tweet about ordering the new Canon EOS Rebel T6 DSLR camera. I have wanted to get into photography for years now and, after comparing lots of different cameras and saving up money, I finally took the plunge and ordered one (plus it was $100 off!!!). This DSLR package came with an 18-55mm lens, a UV filter, and a tripod.  I am so excited to start taking pictures with this, and perhaps even filming some videos (still not enough courage to put anything up on YouTube yet). My mother and I are planning a mini getaway at the end of August so this will be a lovely way to document the trip. I have wanted one of these for so long and I am elated that I now have a camera that can do so much more than my little old faithful Canon PowerShot SX230 HS. I still love the little camera though because it has been everywhere with me, is much more transportable than this new Canon, and still takes a great picture.  Blog logo

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me (And Other Concerns) by Mindy KalingI blogged about this book in my September book haul and had planned to read it during school but surprise, surprise (not surprising at all), I didn’t read it during little study breaks between classes and on the bus ride to and from university. I mean, I read a few of the essays that way, but definitely not the whole book. I’m not sure why I was so ambitious with the amount of pleasure reading I thought I would do during the school term, but I think it was largely due to the fact that I needed to justify the book shopping I did after my August book buying ban last summer was lifted.

If you haven’t heard of Mindy Kaling, she is a hilarious comedian, writer, and actor. She wrote for the remake of the classic BBC show The Office, and then began her own tv show The Mindy Project, along with voicing characters like Disgust in the adorable movie Inside Out, Taffyta Muttonfudge in Wreck-It Ralph, and the Tourist Mom in Despicable Me.

Also, Mindy Kaling predicted the future in this book. In her essay, “Franchises I Would Like To Reboot” she mentions how awesome it would be if the next Ghostbusters film had four female leads, but notes the unlikelihood of this given the demographic is teenage boys. Well lo and behold that the recently released ghostbusters stars Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones, and Kristen Wiig. Mind you, Kaling did share an office with Kristen Wiig during her time as a guest writer for Saturday Night Live, so maybe the idea got tossed around.

This book is sectioned into different parts of her life, covering her childhood as the daughter of immigrant professionals, her time in New York in an off-Broadway play with one of her best friends about Ben Affleck and Matt Damon, her time in Hollywood as a writer and actor, her love life, her appearance, and her legacy in which she lays out her funeral plans and proposed eulogy.

A few of my favourite essays include Don’t Peak in High School, Best Friend Rights and Responsibilities, Types of Women in Romantic Comedies Who Are Not Real, Someone Explain One-Night Stands To Me, “Hooking Up” Is Confusing, I Love Irish Exits, and Revenge Fantasies While Jogging.

I love Kaling’s unique and witty narrative voice, and how relatable she is as a character in her essays and as a person. Plus it helps that we seem to share the same sense of humour and opinions concerning what makes a guy great, a best friend great, or what is just not a cool thing to say to someone about their appearance.

This little tour through Kaling’s life is riddled with funny, slightly inappropriate, and oh-so-true observations about people and life, and is such a light and easy read, making it the perfect book to take down to the beach or on a plane ride. The essays do not have to be read in the order they appear in the book, so readers have much more freedom regarding the topic of their reading.

On a final note, in response to the title of this book, who wouldn’t want to hang out with Mindy Kaling??? I definitely would.

Do you like Mindy Kaling, either as a comedy writer for The Office, an author, or as an actor???

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July Sephora Haul Unboxing

Sephora July Haul Good evening everyone!!!

The title of this blog post is a bit of a cheat since I only purchased two different shades of the same product and then scored a whole bunch of free samples, but I still wanted to do a little unboxing haul to show how nicely Sephora ships out their products and how adorable and incredible some of the samples are. 

Make Up For Ever multi-use powder foundationSo the two products I purchased were the Make Up For Ever Pro Finish Multi-Use Powder Foundation in shades 110 Pink Porcelain and 113 Nude Porcelain. 113 is available in Sephora stores and I have been using and loving it ever since I first tried it way back in June 2015, and reviewed it here on my blog. However, I have been wondering if maybe it is a bit too yellowish for my skin tone and I wanted to try out the lightest shade, 110, but 110 is only available online, or maybe in some stores but not in the Sephora near me. I couldn’t judge the shades very well online so I ordered both, thinking I would immediately be able to tell which shade would be best for me when they arrived. Well, no such luck because I unpacked them only to find I could see a difference but still couldn’t decide which would be best. 

Just a little shout-out to Sephora here because I love their product return policy because you can actually try out the product and then return it if it doesn’t work for you. So, I tried out both shades and I have decided to stick with the nude porcelain, partly for ease of purchasing because I don’t necessarily want to order online all the time and partly because the pink tones would be nice for a summery pink look but might not be as versatile as the nude porcelain in the autumn and winter. 

And now for all the samples:

Fresh deluxe samples
From left to right: Sugar Advanced Therapy Lip Treatment, Sugar Face Polish, Seaberry Moisturizing Face Oil

At the time that I placed my order, Sephora was offering a promotion where I could pick three deluxe samples of Fresh products for free. I love the brand Fresh, so I went with an old favourite and two products I have been dying to try. My favourite Fresh product is the Sugar Advanced Therapy Lip Treatment. I started using this way back in high school and it is the most hydrating and sweet-smelling lip balm I have ever used. I get very chapped lips in the winter and this just makes my lips kissably soft. The two new products are the Sugar Face Polish (125 g $62), which is a nourishing natural exfoliant made with real strawberries (including the seeds!!!) and brown sugar that polishes away dry, dull skin, and the Seaberry Moisturizing Face Oil (full size 50mL $52) that contains omegas 3, 6, 7, and 9 and pure oils to preserve youthful skin. Because of how expensive Fresh products are, I am so happy I was able to get some deluxe size samples so I can try them out and see if they are worth purchasing.  

Then, as my three free samples that come with every Sephora order, I selected Benefit’s Goof Proof Brow Pencil, NARS Orgasm Blush, and Tatcha Balanced pore perfecting water gel moisturizer.    

Benefit Goof Proof Brow PencilThe Benefit Goof Proof Brow Pencil (full size $30) is a product I have been hearing a lot about recently, and something that I am in desperate need of. My brows do not have that sought-after arch, which is fine, but when I get all dolled up for a night out or something, they just look a little bit sad. The nice thing about this product is that it has a wide tip to fill in brows and a pointed end to define the tail of your brows. This has made my brows stand out so much more and have given them the little helping hand they needed. I was sent shade 03 Medium. 

NARS Orgasm BlushThe NARS Orgasm blush (full size $38) is a product people have been raving about for years now, and I have actually never tried it. I love blush palettes more than getting just one shade in a pan, but this is a shade has been hailed as a cult beauty product so I felt I should give it a go. It is a gorgeous warm pink shade with golden shimmer highlights. What I really like about it is that it is really hard to over-apply it because the pink hue does not build up but the shimmer does, leaving a nice golden glow.

Tatcha Balanced Pore Perfecting Water Gel Moisturizer    Tatcha is a brand I had not heard of before but I am always game to try international beauty brands. This japanese skin care and beauty brand combines the ancient wisdom of geisha beauty with the modern skin care regimen. The Balanced Pore Perfecting Water Gel Moisturizer (full size 50mL $68) offers oil-balancing hydration, making it great for oily skin, a rare find. Also, this moisturizer includes a dust of 23k gold. That’s right, gold, delivering a shine-free glow. After trying this, I found that my pores looked a lot smaller and tighter, and it wore really well under my makeup. 

What beauty products have you purchased lately???

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Mosquitoland by David Arnold

Image from Goodreads.com

I picked up this book last year at Chapters during one of their summer book sales, and it marked the end of my book buying sprees until I actually read some of the books in my TBR piles that were precariously stacked in front of my bookshelf and wobbled every time I walked by. 

After reading The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand, which I reviewed here, I wanted a book that was lighter in both writing style and plot, and this book was perfect.

Mosquitoland is a novel written from the perspective of Mim Malone, a 16-year-old girl who, upon learning that her mother is sick, hops on a greyhound bus in Mississippi and heads to Ohio to be with her, leaving behind her father and new step-mother.  Along the way, Mim meets a host of quirky characters, such as Bus Driver Carl, Arlene, Poncho Man, Walt, Caleb, and Beck, to name a few. 

The witty narration is on-point, and really resonated with me. I don’t know if David Arnold and I just have the same sense of humour or what but I actually laughed out loud several times hole reading this book, and most of these instances were on a public transit bus and received their fair share of stranger glances berating me for displaying any kind of joviality in the presence of strangers. I feel like David Arnold would be a really cool friend, and apparently he likes pesto, Middle-Earth, Christmastime, Arcade Fire, and indie bookstores so, really, what’s not to like about him???

I really liked how the chapters were grouped into different sections according to the location they took place in, with a page noting the location and the number of miles to go starting from Jackson, Mississippi (947 miles to go), to Yalobusha County, Mississippi (818 miles to go), to Nashville, Tennessee (526 miles to go), to Independence, Kentucky (278 miles to go), to Cincinnati, Ohio (249 miles to go), to Ashland, Ohio (61 miles to go), and ending in Cleveland, Ohio (947 miles from Mosquitoland).

At the beginning of every few chapters, there is a letter written by Mim to someone named Isabel. As the reader learns early on in the novel, Isabel is the name of her father’s sister, an aunt who displayed similar mental health symptoms in her childhood as Mim exhibits, which alarms her father into booking appointments with doctors and seeking out medical help for Mim early on. However, it is not until the closing chapters that the reader learns to whom Mim is actually writing, and this was a welcome and heartwarming plot twist. 

I am loving this surge of YA novels that incorporate mental health, particularly this novel that shows that, while one might be quick to judge strange or “irrational behaviours” as symptoms of a mental illness that needs to be helped through therapy sessions or medication, such behaviours can simply be personality quirks and that medication may do more harm than good if it is prescribed to treat a mental illness that is not present in the patient.

mosquitoland mapAlso, the cover illustration is adorable and perfectly encapsulates Mim in a drawing. I know it’s not good to judge a book by its cover but, between the cover and the description of the book on the inside of the jacket, there is no way I was leaving the bookstore without this in my bag. There is also a really cool map on the endpaper at the beginning and end of the book that shows Mim’s journey through a series of drawings of people or items that are particularly significant for each part of the story. 

The one negative aspect I do want to address is the backlash that David Arnold received for referencing Mim’s application of her mother’s lipstick to her face as ‘war paint.’ Apparently this plays into Native American stereotypes of being on the warpath. I respect the views of others and, as someone who is no part Native American, I cannot fully appreciate the implications that Mim using lipstick war paint as a means to face adversity may have. However, Mim is described as 1/16 Cherokee,and I did not see her use of the lipstick as any reflection of how a Cherokee or any other Native American individual would use lipstick, and certainly not as war paint. Mim is indeed ignorant about her Cherokee heritage and uses the “war paint” as a way to feel close to her mother and to feel empowered when her life feels out of control. In one of the last chapters of the book, Mim learns that her life is ok and the lipstick does not mean what she thought it did, choosing to leave it behind with her mother. 

Among his previous jobs, David Arnold was a freelance musician and producer, and actually created an original soundtrack for this debut YA novel while writing it, which you can listen to here. There were even rumours floating around that this book was going to be adapted into a movie, but I can’t seem to find the trailer online anywhere. I love a good movie soundtrack and I find it so cool that the author actually created a companion soundtrack for the novel. The soundtrack, available on BandCamp under David Arnold’s music moniker Cinema Cycle, consists of 9 songs that have incredible music, and insertions of lyrics here and there. My favourite thus far is the first song, Say It Out Loud, which I have been listening to on repeat for the last week or so. I am no music blogger so I don’t know the right technical things to say, but I love how all the songs have such great beats to them, making them perfect for listening to while taking a stroll through the city during the day or at night. 

David Arnold’s second novel, Kids of Appetite, is scheduled to have a fall 2016 release, and I am extremely excited for it to be published so I can have it in my hot little hands and read it in one sitting. I am debating re-reading Mosquitoland and doing so in one sitting because I love Arnold’s way of writing a tragicomedy, and his characters are unique, complex, and lovable. 

And now for the bookish tidbits:

Opening Paragraph: 

I am Mary Iris Malone, and I am not okay. 

What I Loved Most: Definitely Mim’s sense of humour and witty observations.  

What I Loved Least: No spoilers, but I found the ending to be quite anti-climactic. The reader follows Mim for 324 pages from Mississippi to Ohio, during which she meets a host of quirky but mostly loveable characters, but when Ashe finally arrives to see her mother, the plot just sort of peters out like a soft sigh. There was so much build up that I felt let down when we finally arrived in Ohio. 

Memorable Line: 

It’s impossible to wonder when your heart will stop beating without wondering if that time is now (148). 

All my life, I’ve been searching for my people, and all my life, I’ve come up empty. At some point and I don’t know when, I accepted isolation. I curled into a ball and settled for a life of observations and theories, which really isn’t a life at all (249).

What if . . . what if . . . what if . . . I play the What If? game all the time. But it’s rigged, is the thing. Impossible to win. Asking What If? Can only lead to Maybe Things Could Have Been Different, via Was It My Fault? (259). 

Life, it seems, delivers the best punch lines only after we’ve forgotten we were part of a joke (276). 

Closing Paragraph:

Because sometimes a thing’s not a thing until you say it out loud. 

Final Thoughts: This is definitely a great summer read. It is funny and whimsical while also being profound and heartbreaking. It is a real page turner and I would recommend it to anyone looking for an incredible YA novel. 

Have you read this book before??? What did you think of it??? Blog logo

25 Facts About Me

I always like reading these posts because I get to learn random little facts about people, but it is much harder than I expected to come up with facts off the cuff. Nevertheless, I give you 25 random facts about myself:

  1. I have to read the entire menu at a restaurant before I can order, even if I already know what I would like. 
  2. I love mailing and receiving handwritten letters. 
  3. I have a typewriter collection. 
  4. My first stuffed animal was a teddy bear named Duffy. I still have him to this day, and he has the VIP seat on my bed. 
  5. I enjoy fancy social gatherings wherein I am required to dress accordingly.
  6. I almost never answer the phone. I don’t know how to deal with phone calls.
  7.  My hands and feet are always cold.
  8. I dressed up as Elmo for my first Halloween. 
  9. I prefer Macs to PCs. 
  10. I am a Scorpio, and I read my horoscope almost every morning, if not every morning, just to see what it says the day holds. 
  11. I am an only child. 
  12. I always seem to be years behind on trends. 
  13. Beauty and the Beast is my favourite Disney movie. 
  14. I like ketchup, but not tomato soup. 
  15. My perfect day would be sitting in a comfy chair next to a fireplace reading a book aloud to my best friend, with my cat curled up in my lap and a cup of hot chocolate on a nearby table. 
  16. I don’t drink alcohol all that often; only sometimes at holidays or out with friends. 
  17. I did not learn how to drive until I was 19 years old. 
  18. I want to take classes for so many different things: sign language, spoken languages, Braille, art, and yoga teacher training to name a few. 
  19. I love buying new and used books whenever I travel somewhere new. 
  20. I want to go on a road trip through the US, hitting up states like Ohio, Oklahoma, Wyoming, Kansas, Texas, Tennessee, New York, and so many more. 
  21. I have a box for each one of my friends, inside which I keep little items from my time spent with them like movie tickets, wrappers, rocks, etc. 
  22. I always organize my shopping cart at the grocery store. I detest a haphazardly loaded cart. 
  23. My phone is an iPhone 4, and I have had it for over 6 years now. It still works most of the time, except on occasion the home button gets stuck. 
  24. I can’t have different foods touch on my plate. 
  25. I am left-handed. 

I’d like to get to know you better too. Tell me a random fact about yourself in the comments 🙂 🙂 

The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand

I first heard about this book last summer when my then-boyfriend was complaining about how bookstores never had it in stock, but always had her other well-known book Atlas Shrugged. Because of this, I was so happy when I found it tucked away in a little used bookstore for $2.50. I had planned to give it to him, but kept forgetting it at home, and then things fell apart between us. I saw it on my shelf a few months ago and got reminiscing about all he meant to me, and I tucked the book into my purse for an hour-long bus ride. Since then, I have been reading a chapter or two every day before going to work and when I get home, and the other week I finally finished it, so I wanted to share my thoughts on this remarkable book. 

I find this novel so difficult to review because, while I can discuss the philosophy behind it, any mention of the plot makes me feel like I have to preface each sentence with *SPOILERS*. However, this is one of the few novels that can be reviewed with minimal discussion of the characters, as each serves as an extreme personality crafted to support the overall theme of her writing. 

Rand came from an upper-middle-class family in Russia and, after the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917, her family’s fortune was considerably reduced as a result of nationalism. This sparked Rand’s objections to communism, socialism, and collectivism. However, she did not want her beliefs to be confused with either the libertarian or conservative political movements in the United States, so she started her own movement titled Objectivism. In its simplest terms, objectivism advocates rational selfishness and condemns selflessness, i.e. altruism. 

Along the spectrum of good and evil, each character represents a different level. At one end is Howard Roark as the ideal man whose talent and courage we are to admire throughout his struggle to act independently from society and its imposing traditions and norms. At the other end of the spectrum is Ellsworth M. Toohey as the overall antagonist, who promotes altruism as the ultimate virtue of mankind. It is important to note that Rand’s characters are deliberately extreme and one-dimensional, one of the many critiques of her writing. 

My favourite line of this novel explains the title, as Roark argues that individual creators are the fountainhead of civilization, while second-handers promote altruism and selflessness, which is just that, a lack of self in the face of society’s herd mentality. To this end, Rand explains that people must act selfishly to be free.

This novel advocates that all things worth thinking or feeling should be the result of objective logic and reason, not subjective emotion or sentimentality. Sentimentality and other illogical beliefs confuse the mind and compromise individualism in society by advocating selflessness. 

Most importantly, the fountainhead sees love as something worth fighting for and protecting, despite the argument that the emotion of love is a direct contradiction to the novel’s commitment to logic and reason. Rand believes that personal relationships can exist within the virtue of logic as long as they help the individual maximize their potential. 

Rand is one of those “love-them-or-hate-them” authors, and I fall on the left of that binary because I absolutely love her writing. While I can’t see myself becoming a devoted follower of Objectivism, I believe it is a worthwhile philosophy to understand, particularly in the context of when it was formed. 

And now for the usual bookish facts:

Opening Paragraph: 

Howard Roark laughed. He stood naked at the edge of a cliff. The lake lay far below him. A frozen explosion of granite burst in flight to the sky over motionless water. The water seemed immovable, the stone–flowing. The stone had the stillness of one brief moment in battle when thrust meets thrust and the currents are held in a pause more dynamic than motion. The stone glowed, wet with sunrays. 

What I Loved Most: I honestly don’t know if I can pick just one thing about this book that I loved above anything else. I went into this book knowing nothing of Ayn Rand or her philosophy, knowing only that my former boyfriend had loved the book and was irked that bookstores did not often carry it with its sequel Atlas Shrugged. What I found as I read this book is that I couldn’t put it down. I would almost make myself miss the bus or be late for work because I wanted to finish a chapter. I think perhaps what I love most is that Rand did not write this book expecting to garner fame and fortune from it; rather, she wrote it because it was a book that ought to live, and it did, and continued to be published 25 years later when my edition was published. 

What I Loved Least: I can definitely understand why 12 publishers rejected this book, citing it was “too intellectual” because it is just that. This is not a book that you can sit down and read with a cup of tea. Each sentence commands the reader’s full attention, each word needing to be read at least once for the entirety of the book’s message to be understood. But once committed to reading this book, it is incredible.

Memorable Line: For me, the most memorable lines of this novel are in Howard Roark’s testimony in his second trial. For 8 pages in the 18th chapter, Roark’s testimony perfectly encapsulates Rand’s philosophy of Objectivism. While I was very tempted to type out all 8 pages and quote them as my memorable line, economy of time and space in this blog post motivated me to select to main excerpts from these pages that I loved. 

The creators were not selfless. It is the whole secret of their power–that it was self-sufficient, self-motivated, self-generated. A first cause, a fount of energy, a life force, a Prime Mover. The creator served nothing and no one. He lived for himself. And only by living for himself was he able to achieve the things which are the glory of mankind. Such is the nature of achievement. Man cannot survive except through his mind. He comes on earth unarmed. His brain is his only weapon… From [the] simplest necessity to the highest religious abstraction, from the wheel to the skyscraper, everything we are and everything we have comes from a single attribute of man–the function of his reasoning mind. But the mind is an attribute of the individual. There is no such thing as a collective brain. There is no such thing as a collective thought. An agreement reached by a group of men is only a compromise or an average drawn upon many individual thoughts. It is a secondary consequence. The primary act–the process of reason–must be performed by each man alone. We can divide a meal among many men. We cannot digest it in a collective stomach. No man can use his lungs to breathe for another man. No man can use his brain to think for another. All the functions of body and spirit are private. They cannot be shared or transferred. We inherit the products of the thought of other men (680).

Altruism is the doctrine which demands that man live for others and place others above self. No man can live for another. He cannot share his spirit just as he cannot share his body. But the second-hander has used altruism as a weapon of exploitation and reversed the base of mankind’s moral principles. Men have been taught every precept that destroys the creator. Men have been taught dependence as a virtue…Men have been taught that the highest virtue is not to achieve, but to give. Yet one cannot give that which has not been created. Creation comes before distribution–or there will be nothing to distribute. The need of the creator comes before the need of any possible beneficiary. Yet we are taught to admire the second-hander who dispenses gifts he has not produced above the man who made the gifts possible. We praise an act of charity. We shrug at an act of achievement (682).

Closing Paragraph:

Then there was only the ocean and the sky and the figure of Howard Roark. 

Final Thoughts: This book is far more than a published story; it is the manifesto of Rand’s philosophy of Objectivism, by which 

Have you read this book before??? What did you think of it, or its sequel Atlas Shrugged???