Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Two things I love to heal winter skin!

Okay, so today I'm going to escape from the book world to tell you about two of my favorite products for this time of year.

If you're anything like me, you've known the struggle of dry, chapped lips and skin. I confess, a lot of my struggles are self-inflicted (i.e., I forget to moisturize), but the battle is real nonetheless.

Regardless if you're a lotion-junkie or not, this time of year is rough if you live in a cooler climate in the Northern Hemisphere like I do (lucky Australians and the rest of those Down Under). Between the continuous hand-washing, bitter winds, and dry heated indoors, my hands and lips get horribly chapped and dry.
So if you're also in the thick of the battle between rough and soft skin, maybe these weapons will help you as well as they have me.

 HURRAW! Lip Balm

It's pricey. I've tried several others, but it's still my favorite. Especially the mint flavor. Nothing soothes my lips and keeps them hydrated and soft like this balm does.

Check out their website for more flavors, but if you're a mint fan, just go ahead and get it. It's my favorite of the flavors I've tried (although their orange isn't bad either).

You can find it on  Amazon* as well, where it's a little more pricey, but most flavors appear to get free shipping, so it works out cheaper if you only want to get one tube to try it.

DermaSens Skin Repair Moisturizer

I bought this on a whim because I was intrigued by the concept. I mean, if you read the ingredients, you'll see it contains dead sea salt. I never thought you could put salt on your skin and actually have it be moisturizing, no matter what kind it was. 

Well, something in this lotion, whether it's the salt or not, works its magic. I've put this on severely chapped hands at night, only to wake up the next morning with my hands almost completely back to normal. (I do not recommend doing that, though, as it does Burn. Like. Crazy.) 

The best way to use this, as with most things, is just to be consistent. Putting it on every night before bed works wonders for me, and honestly I don't need to moisturize any more than that, so I suggest experimenting and seeing what's your golden number of lotionings.

You can find the lotion on their website or Amazon*.

What are your secrets to beating winter skin? Let me know in the comments!

Thanks for reading, and have an awesome last day of 2014 tomorrow. Here's to an amazing 2015!

*These are associate links, meaning if you purchase through them I get a referral fee but they cost the same as if you had just gone and ordered them through Amazon.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Last minute gift ideas for readers

It's hard to believe tomorrow is Christmas. Where did those four weeks between now and Black Friday go? Fortunately, I got all my shopping done already (very unusual for me), but if you're still scrambling around trying to find a gift for the bookworms in your life, here's a few ideas that any reader (or at least I) would love to receive:

1. Kindle books

Instant gift. You can buy it and have it delivered right to your reader. Just go to the page of the Kindle book you want to order, and click on the button that says "Give as a Gift." It will direct you to a page where you can enter his or her email address and complete the order. The cool thing about it is, you can even set up when you want the book to be delivered. So you could buy it tonight, but set it up so it doesn't show up in the inbox until tomorrow morning. Or you can have it delivered to you in order to pass it on yourself. You can even add your own message. Pretty neat, huh?

Some books I suggest considering are:

Let Them Eat Cake* by Sandra Byrd

Aurora Abroad* by Karen Kiefer

The Clockwork Scarab* by Colleen Gleason

DragonSpell* by Donita K. Paul

2. A subscription to Oyster

I confess, I haven't tried it out myself yet, but Oyster is a subscription service that allows you to read as many books as you want (including many new releases) for about $10 a month. You can check it out HERE.

3. An Amazon or Barnes and Noble Gift Card

You can pick one of these up at your local CVS (and most grocery stores sell them as well). While some people don't like the idea of giving gift cards, it does allow your reader to choose what books he or she wants. Gift cards work well for those who have very selective tastes when it comes to books. 

4. A bookmark

For those who still love the feel of a book in their hands (or who refuse to join the e-book world entirely), bookmarks are a beautiful (and sometimes quirky) way of marking where they are without creasing the pages or ripping off part of a napkin. Most stationary stores (think Hallmark) are sure to have a selection with either beautiful pictures or fun sayings on them.

5. A fuzzy blanket

I don't know about you, but I love snuggling under a warm, soft blanket when I'm getting ready to delve into the pages of a book. And many stores, including Walmart and JCPenney, sell the 50''x60'' ones which are the perfect size (well, unless you're really tall).

What other gifts would you suggest for book lovers?

 *These are associate links, meaning if you purchase through them I get a referral fee but they cost the same as if you had just gone and ordered them through Amazon.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Review: The Clockwork Scarab

This was another book I picked up in my library haul.

I was pretty sure I'd like this book. I heard about it from a Booktuber, though I can't remember which one it was now, and the concept really intrigued me.

Basically, this book tells about the adventures of the fictitious female relatives of Sherlock Holmes and Bram Stoker. Alvermina Holmes (Mina for short) and Evaline Stoker, from vastly different backgrounds and family situations, form an uneasy alliance when  Princess Alix asks them to search out why so many young women of London society are turning up dead.

Having inherited her famous uncle's skills of deduction, Mina is cautious and analytical, detail-oriented and logical, believing there is always a reasonable explanation for anything that appears to be supernatural. Whereas fiery and impetuous Evaline, descended from a famous line of vampire hunters, knows the stuff of her brother's book is more than just merely fiction.

The girls must learn to work together if they are going to figure out what's happening to these young ladies and bring the villain to justice, all while trying to figure out what the scarab has to do with both the murders and the strange appearance of Dylan Eckhert, a young man who claims to be from the future. But all this might prove difficult if the one responsible is a certain member of society...

I really enjoyed this book. In fact, the only negative thing I have to say about it was that there was some swearing in it, which as I've mentioned before I don't like. I didn't expect it to be a steampunk type book, but it worked well with the storyline.

I loved the characters of Mina and Evaline. The novel switches between each of the girls' point of views, and Ms. Gleason did a wonderful job keeping the plot moving while keeping the suspense up the whole time. And the addition of Inspector Grayling and Pix as both antagonists and allies for Mina and Evaline kept things interesting. 

If you like fantasy/history/mystery type books and have some time over the Christmas holidays for reading, I recommend either finding it in your library or book store and giving it a go. I already read the second book, and I'll get the review up for it soon.

You can get The Clockwork Scarab* on Amazon in print, audiobook, or Kindle format.

 *This is an associate link, meaning if you purchase through it I get a referral fee but it costs the same as if you had just gone and ordered it through Amazon.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Review: Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children

If you've read my library haul post, you'll remember me talking about this book. In fact, I actually finished this book before I even posted my library haul.

When I first got it out, I almost returned it because, to be honest, the cover kind of creeped me out, and I wasn't sure I was going to like it. I thought it was going to be a horror story, and I do not like horror. But I decided to try the first couple of chapters, and it turned out to be a very interesting book.

Miss Peregrine is about a boy named Jacob. All of his life, Jacob's grandfather Abe Portman, a survivor of the Holocaust, has told him these incredible stories about the children who lived in the safe house with Abe in Wales, children with extraordinary gifts. Abe has even shown Jacob pictures of these children.

As Jacob grows into a teenager, he begins to doubt his grandfather's stories, believing the pictures to be fakes. But when Abe is murdered one night, Jacob comes face-to-face with one of those monsters. Doubting his sanity, he finally decides to visit Wales, find the house his grandfather stayed at, and put this whole thing behind him once and for all. But when he arrives, Jacob finds that there may be some truth to Abe's old stories after all...

This book was amazing. I finished it in a couple of days, grabbing it up when I had a few minutes. The characters were so believable, and the way the author worked in the vintage photos to illustrate parts of the story made it seem real. Instead of being creeped out, the pictures held my fascination, blending with the prose to make one fascinating tale. I had never seen something done like this before, but writing the story from the pictures is really cool.

The one thing I didn't like about the book was the fair amount of swearing. But other than that, I thoroughly enjoyed it, and would definitely recommend it.

I'd never read anything by Ransom Riggs before, but I really like his writing style. I thought his idea for this book, using the vintage photos and telling a story with them, was so creative and unusual, and he pulled it together very nicely. I'm excited to see it when it becomes a movie next year. And I've just learned he's written a sequel, which I can't wait to check out!

You can get Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children* on Amazon in print, audiobook, or Kindle format.

 *This is an associate link, meaning if you purchase through it I get a referral fee but it costs the same as if you had just gone and ordered it through Amazon.