Skin Care Routine Autumn 2016

Over the years, I’ve tried to take care of my skin. I stay out of the sun and I moisturize. I do no wear any makeup except lipstick. A couple months ago, I began a journey to delve into better skin care. This is both for health and as a hobby. I have followed and tried Asian beauty products in the past, but this was the first time when I really researched and took it to the next level.

This is a new series in posts as I explore this beauty and health regime and hobby. Warning: this is a long post with mini reviews of several products.

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Stiletto by Daniel O’Malley

This is a long overdue review. The blog being down and me being generally busy with life and other things means that I cobbled this review from notes and other postings.

This was an eagerly anticipated sequel to The Rook. I read Stiletto without rereading The Rook so I forgot a lot, but you can really read it as a standalone.

All in all, I liked it and found it almost as addictive as the first. I liked the new characters and the new arc featuring the merger. This novel has a ton of world building which is fun and as a fatansy/sci-fi series should. There’s a little of side stories and tidbits. My favourite was Marcel’s story which read like a mini WWII novel (and there are many of those on the market). I found The Roock was not British or English enough; the editing and writing for that part of the world and those characters were lacking. This one was better that way. I believed the characters were British and European.

There was not enough Myfanwy. She continues to grow and I missed her POV in this novel. I do like that this series seems focused on interesting and distinct female protagonists and characters. All three central characters come from different backgrounds and experiences.

Finally, this book is squickier than the last book and in general compared to many other books I read. I’m generally fine these kind of details in books (less so in movies and TV), but this will bother more readers.

To avoid spoiling the book, I will say that there is a villain in this series and Myfawny has a true nemesis. Personally, they are one of the creepiest and darkest villains in a series I’ve read in awhile. I kinda wish the author would introduce a new nemesis for Myfanwny. Hopefully when the take down happens, it will be sweet and worthwhile.

Read September 6-8, 2016.

This was my 42nd book of the year. In 2015, I only managed 42 books. While I will read more books for the rest of the year; the autumn is much busier than I anticipated. As I get older, I still read as fast and love books. They are one of my constant pleasures and hobbies; however, life does get in the way. I have more responsibilities in all areas of my life. Most days, I wish I could forget it all and read and read.

Short Book Reviews of Summer 2016

The following are three books I read in the summer which warranted some mini reviews.

Spark Joy by Marie Kondo

Love KonMari’s philosophy about tidiness and stuff. I find it spiritual and from a good place not of judgment or feeding into consumerism.

Living Alone & Loving It by Barbara Feldon

I love to live alone. This book has avice which i already apply to my life which is to create a space for myself. I am lucky to have my family near by, but I love my own space. This book has practical advice for those who want to love their single and solo life more.

A Beginner’s Guide to Paradise by Alex Sheshunoff

A funny memoirs about time in the South and West Pacific Islands. Made me laugh out loud a couple of times and really captured the early aughts.

The New Yorker: August 2016

For awhile now, I have wanted a subscription to Thew New Yorker. I’ve read books from the regular contributors, often find these articles I like from the Best American Travel Writing series, and love New York. I like a couple of periodicals and wish I could find the time and money to read them. When I passed my PMP in August, I rewarded myself with a trial subscription of $12 for 12 weeks of the magazine so I will have this subscription until November 7, 2016.

I read about 75% each magazine; it varies because sometimes I will have at long articles which I don’t even want to skim read for whatever reason. I skip all the local New York arts news and what’s happening. I thoroughly read or skim-read most of the long features. I skim read most of the pop culture reviews depending on the subject matter.

Considering this magazine is low on advertisements, it’s a lot of reading. Each magazine is basically a small non-fiction book in length and breadth. One of the things that I like about The New Yorker is how high brow it is both in vocabulary, topics, and its comics allusions. I love when I see something in this magazine then have to really think about the meaning of a cartoon. I also really appreciate high diction in the media.

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Monthly Movies – Summer 2016

JUNE 2016

The Decoy Bride (09 06 2016) – In attempt to watch something after Jessica Jones where David Tennant is not a psycho, I had this in the queue. Tennant and Kelly Macdonald in Scotland can’t go wrong? Well, the script is not great. This is he kind of romantic comedy that could have made more money ten or twenty years ago, but is very much out of favour. There were trite and cliche situations. I really like the actors, but my mind wandered. My favourite moment was when an older deaf couple dance. That made me tear up. At least Tennant did use his soft romance eyes rather than his psycho ones.

JULY 2016

I can’t remember if I watched any movies. It was the summer of sports with Euros and the Olympics.


Sophie’s Choice – I can’t remember when I watched this, but it was one of the most depressing movies I have seen in a long time. It took me two days to finish because I was bored during most of it. I did know the ending, but it took forever to get to that point. All the while, you have to watch some very unhealthy relationships. It was miserable. I like Meryl Streep and she was great in it, but I also get the criticisms of the book and the movie.

The Martian (30 08 2016) – Reviewed here.

Captain America: Civil War (30 08 2016) – When this movie first came out, I thoroughly spoiled myself. Usually this does not bother me, but it did feel like I had already watched the movie when I saw this one. Entertaining enough. Villain was largely forgettable again. Looking forward to Black Panther, Spider Man and Infinity Wars.

Back Online!

Hello! If you visited this blog and website for the last month, you may have found it unreachable. Now, I have returned and my posts are still here! Yay!

I am generously hosted by a friend of mine who has a reseller account for an web host called A Small Orange. We’ve been with this host for over a decade. I was unable to use FTP or my CPanel and had NO access to my domain at all. A Small Orange did not reply to our emails, twitter, etc. It was acquired by another company not too long ago and since then, it’s gone downhill. As a result, I lost access to all my original files which is sad since some of my files on the domain go back to 2001 including my teenage blog! I may have those files saved elsewhere, but I am generally not that maudlin anymore.

In any case, I did have a couple of backup plugins and one of them did save most of my WordPress files including the SQL data file with all my 900+ posts. We moved to a new webhost, but it was NOT a smooth journey to reinstall everything. In the end, with some help from someone on WordPress Support forums, I am back!

September has been a busy month for me and I did not read as many books as I would have liked. I am continuing to read the New Yorker. I have drafted some posts on it and skin care while this domain was offline. New posts will be coming soon and I hope to have better news to share with you all in October.

All the best! Happy autumn!

The Martian by Andy Weir

This was a fun and exciting page turner. There is something about this novel that does feel different to recent novels I’ve read. Part of it was the focus on space and the excitement from the extreme plot of being stranded on Mars.

The book has urgency and suspense. It pulls the reader in even though after disaster and bad news #4566, it gets a little tiresome watching everyone be able to make it through. There is no way this book could be popular without a happy ending. There were too many catastrophes along the way for that to happen. It had to have somewhat of a good ending.

Mark is likeable though sometimes a little too snarky to be true. I liked almost all the characters, but few of them got thorough development. There were many notable characters. I liked the dialogue in the book. I wish we more on the characters. It does feel more like a plot book rather than a character book which is alright in some ways.

Read August 29-30, 2016.

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Dog on it by Spencer Quinn

I read this for a book club. We have not met for it yet.

This is a mystery novel narrated by a dog. I did not realize this until I started the novel. It’s rather cute actually. There are lots of moments of silliness and adorableness especially if you love dog. I even laughed out lout whenever Chet the dog would narrate how he barked to another dog: “I barked. She barked. I barked. She barked.”

Other than the Chet’s narration, the rest of the novel is not particularly noteworthy. Bernie the private detective is a nice enough guy, but there does not seem to be a lot of depth to all these characters. Part of it is probably because it is narrated by a non-human. However, it does limit things for character development.

The plot was very predictable even for a mystery reader as myself. I was a bit disappointed how basic it was. I think this is a small quibble because this book is a light read. It’s easy writing and if you like desert settings, even better. I will not read on this series. It’s not for me, but I did not dislike the experience.

Read August 21-23, 2016.

Uprooted by Naomi Novik

This book has been winning awards and receiving hype. I have read all of the Termeraire books by the same author so I knew I could not go wrong.

I did not know the plot in advance, and in many ways, this actually feels really different than the Termeraire books. The writing is denser and the world building is much more complex. The tone is darker too. There’s even some romance.

I like the female protagonist and I like her relationship to her best friend Kasia. I enjoyed the focus on female characters. The plot moved at a good pace and there is a certain nuance to the evil in the story. The idea of a living forest and the various magic associated with it. Until I got to that part, I had kept waiting for the big hit of this novel.

On reflection, I can see why it’s acclaimed, but I do not love this book as much as some others. The romance could have been omitted and the man acts too much like a “Jerk with a Heart of Gold” trope. Maybe I was expecting something bigger, but the book did not move or excite me as much as some readers.

I still recommend it to those who like fantasy and I will continue to read Novik’s other works.

Read Aug 4-5, 2016.

The Year of Living Danishly by Helen Russell

This was a nice and fun book about Denmark. I am writing the review for it rather late as I spent about 9 days after it studying for and passing a work examination. I never studied for something so hard in my life.

In any case, the weekend before, I read this little gem about Denmark. I really enjoyed the author’s humor and candidness. It is indeed laid out as a year with each month having a theme about life in Denmark.

As with many Europhiles people and especially one who reads books on happiness, I was interested in Denmark. I have not been and would like to go. It sounds idyllic in many ways; it’s progressive, the capital has a world-renowned food scene, and it scores well on many tests on human happiness. I also find myself really into a lot of Danish life described in the book. I can understand what “hygge” means. I love cycling, baking, and knitting too.

Of course, Denmark is not heaven on Earth, and I don’t even mean the taxes. I did find it interesting to know how violent it was and how the people did like to test the system of their health. I am fascinated by aspects of the culture and country. I don’t think all countries or most can achieve what they have, but there are definitely lessons one can take on the communal or municipal levels. It’s clear supporting the arts, encouraging clubs and physical activity, and community events make people happier.

All in all, I really enjoyed reading the author and her family’s first year in Denmark. In fact, I’d read another book about it.

Read July 22-23, 2016

Citizen: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine

It is always a bit difficult to review a book of poetry and personal essays. The work is subjective and this one in particular has a singular voice.

Not being American or black, I can not fully understand or empathize with all the experiences in this book. As a visible minority and as a human being with feelings, I can sympathize in more ways than one.

The prose and words are powerful in this book. Rankine uses images and second personal narrative to put yourself in her shoes and others who have been marginalized. It is raw. The words are unencumbered. They are emotional in their simplicity.

I found the works in this book disturbing and provocative in the best way. I was at times angry, sad, upset, and uncomfortable while reading this book. That is not often. I also loved how much it made me feel and think.

I highly recommend this work.

Read July 13, 2016.