Fall Fashion Must-Haves and Where to Find Them

Fall is here!  Bring on the cool nights, creative Halloween costumes and makeup, the apple picking, the spooky attractions, and of course pumpkin everything! (Oh and I mean EVERYTHING!)

Although you may be ready for fall, is your wardrobe prepared? Here are some staple pieces for the new season – and shopping destination suggestions that won’t break the bank!

Ankle Boots

The past few weeks, I’ve been sooo busy hunting for the perfect pair of riding boots with absolutely no luck. Then, I thought about what other shoes are ideal for transitioning into fall, and pretty much every season…

Booties. There are soo many available right now, in a variety of styles and colors – and this falls trendiest shades include muted grays, taupes and browns. Some have high heels, while others are made with a low heel for every-day wear.

Let’s shop: For under $40, there is a wide selection of name brand booties available at Off Broadway Shoes. A selection of Sam Edelman booties are available at T,J. Maxx and Marshall’s. For online shoppers, I recommend checking out Zulily or Zappos.

The Cold Shoulder Sweater

The Cold Shoulder puts a little spin on your basic sweater – and makes all the difference. Pair a white cold shoulder sweater with a pair of dark jeans, brown booties, and a patterned scarf for a simple every-day look. Or, amp up your style with this cold-shoulder sweater dress – this piece is so cute and pairs especially well with tall boots and tights!

Layered Necklaces

Minimalist jewlery is in – these pieces are simple and chic. Layered necklaces are cute and easy to pair with just about any outfit you can imagine!

Shopping tips: The LC Lauren Conrad jewelry collection sold at Kohl’s is my go-to source for simple pieces. I also really like Stargaze jewelry, which sells really unique necklaces and chokers you can layer together yourself for a one-of a kind look!

The Perfect Utility Jacket

A jacket that isn’t too heavy is totally necessary for fall. That’s why military/utility jackets are perfect – and they come in a variety of colors this season including green, navy blue, tan, and maroon.

They pair well with just about any outfit. Wear a feminine lace-trim top underneath, light wash denim, and brown booties. On cooler days, pair with your favorite sweater or flannel, thick leggings, and tall boots. Top it off with a patterned scarf, and you’re good to go!

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The great thing about this jacket is that it will see you through multiple seasons – I’ll wear mine during fall and spring.

Let’s shop: For a wide selection, Macy’s. Gap and Old Navy are your best bets. Also take a look at Revolve, NastyGal, and Free People.

The Everyday Tote

You can’t go wrong with a bag that does it all – and has room for your every-day essentials whether you are going to class or work. I’m obsessed with the look and quality of everything sold by Michael Kors.

Let’s shop : For high-quality designer bags that won’t break your budget, shop off-brand retailers such as Marshall’s and Nordstrom Rack. Outlet stores such as Kate Spade are another great option. Online bargain shoppers will love the selection at BeyondtheRack , Gilt, and Tradesy.

What fashion statement do you hope to make this season? Drop your comments below.

September Ipsy Glam Bag Reveal – Mac Cosmetics, Tarte, and more!

Happy Fall everyone!

With the arrival of fall, get ready to welcome some new and exciting beauty trends – and no, I am not talking about the ‘wavy brow’ trend. I’m talking about the really awesome shades of the fall eye shadow looks – burgundy, rose golds, and metallics. This season, long lashes are an absolute must, and bold lips and glowy skin are all the rage.

Luckily, with my beauty subscription to Ipsy , these trends are effortless to achieve. And it’s a great way for me to experiment with new products – I don’t want to get stuck in just one boring every-day makeup routine.

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I used my Mac Cosmetics Strobe Cream from my Ipsy bag to create a subtle glow that is noticeably visible in all lighting.

Makeup is fun – let’s keep it that way. As the heat of the summer cools down into cozy fall weather, you don’t have to put as much time and effort into constantly setting and re-applying your makeup. So, this season, I challenge each of you to spend a little of that extra time experimenting with new looks.

What is Ipsy?  Every month, I receive five sample and full-sized products from high-end, luxurious brands as well as independent emerging beauty brands!

This month, I received a product from one of my favorite beauty brands – MAC Cosmetics ! Keep reading for a full review of this product, as well as the other items I received. 🙂

Teez Cosmetics -Eve’s Ready to Wear Lipstick in Romantic Red

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This particular brand is sold by luxury fashion retailer Lord & Taylor, and this particular item retails for $22.

The lipstick I received is full-size, and comes in super cute packaging. I was a bit wary of the shade – it’s been a while since I rocked a bold red lip.

But a red lip will always be in style – its classic and elegant. This shade is stunning, and the formula is super hydrating. It’s a nice change from my usual matte lipstick!

Pixi by Petra – Fresh Face Blush in BeachRose 

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I’m picky about blushes – many just don’t appear natural and look too bright or pink for my moderately fair skin.

I love this shade ! BeachRose is a  really pretty nude peach shade that can almost work as a bronze for lighter skin tones. For darker skin tones, this is a very subtle blush.  I honestly have been using this every day since I got it.

Note: This is an Ipsy-exclusive product so you cannot purchase it by itself online except possibly through reseller sites.

MAC Strobe Cream in Pinklite

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I used this product to apply a soft, glowy highlight across my cheekbones. It looked so pretty – Pinklite looks even more amazing in the  sunlight!

I thought this product was just a highlighter, but upon doing some further research, I learned that its really so much more! It can be used as a primer to hydrate, moisturize and prep your skin for makeup application. It can be mixed with your foundation to create a natural glowing affect. And, it can be worn alone to awaken dull skin and create a natural glow.

I really just love the versatility of this product – and how how the product felt on my skin and how truly subtle it looked. I honestly cannot recommend this product more, and I will definitely be purchasing a full-sized version ASAP.

 

Tarte Lights, Camera, Lashes Mascara

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This is one of the mascaras I always go back to – time and time again. And it’s as though Ipsy read my mind – I’m definitely due for a new tube of this mascara!

In combination with Tarte’s eyelash curler, this mascara is a show-stopper. Seriously, it adds the perfect amount of volume and length to my lashes. I curl my lashes, and then apply mascara, and repeat until I have achieved the desired affect.

Skin Food Black Sugar Mask

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I’m a huge fan of naturally made, dye free cleansers, masks, scrubs, and basically anything sold by LUSH Handmade Cosmetics. But I am always down to test out beauty brands that I’ve never before used – especially when they are made with some of the same, all-natural ingredients as the skincare items I love most.

This product has a simple, no-nonse packaging and delivers some serious skin results. The scrub left my skin feeling refreshed and smooth to the touch. Best of all, it smells amazing!

I really don’t have anything bad to say about my Ipsy bag this month – I am truly happy with each of the products I received. Can’t wait to see what’s in store for next month!

To my fellow Ipsy subscribers, what kinds of goodies did you get this month? What are your favorites? Comment your thoughts – I would love to hear what you think!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

August Ipsy Glam Bag Reveal

I can’t believe it’s already the end of August! I’m sad that the warm weather will be coming to an end soon, but I am looking forward to fall weather – and fall fashion, hair and makeup trends!

Anyway, here’s what I got this month in my Ipsy subscription.

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Aurora Pro Color Corrector in Pistachio

I never really understood the point of using green color correctors to eliminate redness – I am sure it may work for some people, but it typically doesn’t do too much for my skin. even though my skin is  prone to redness!

I noticed that this color corrector was very thin – and had very minimal coverage. Can’t say I would recommend this product – but if you are into color correcting, I would recommend the Naked Skin Correcting Fluid by Urban Decay  – I use the pink one to lighten dark spots, but they also have green, purple, and peach tones for all of your color correcting needs.

Make Up Forever Excessive Lash Arresting Mascara

I had high hopes for this mascara and was hoping it would add some serious volume to my lashes. However, it really doesn’t do much as far as adding volume or length – unless you feel like layering it on over and over again. So this mascara was just okay for me. It’s a mascara I will keep in my purse and use on the go. The full-size product retails for $25.00 so I wouldn’t purchase it. I’ll stick to my go-to, Doucce Maxlash Volumizer Mascara, $22 – this product I also discovered through Ipsy!

TheBalm Cosmetics Voyage Vol. 2 Eyeshadow in Kuwakaribisha

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I LOVE TheBalm Cosmetics and I am always happy to receive any of their products in my Ipsy bag! This product can be used as both an eyeshadow and highlighter – and it seriously looks bomb in any lighting.

This product alone is available exclusive to Ipsy! However, it is one of the many shades in the Balm Voyage Vol. 2 palette! If you are looking to buy a new full-sized highlighter, I would also recommend their Mary-Lou Manizer highlighter . 

Hikari Cosmetics Shimmer Bronzer in Flush

This product consists of a bronzer, two blushes, and a gold-shimmery bronzer/eyeshadow. All beautiful shades, but..

Super confused by the entire concept of this product. Each square of product is so small that you cannot possibly dip your bronzing brush into it. Which means you can either apply the product with your finger or an eye shadow brush – totally not ideal.

So I ended up using each shade as an eyeshadow. I really loved the two blush shades and feel as though they work better as eyeshadows – one is a pretty pale pink that looks great on the lid. All shades blend pretty easily.

The second time I went to use this product, I opened up my makeup bag to find that the all of the shadows had somehow broken. So while the product itself is decent, the packaging is extremely cheap.

Cliv Max Hyaluronic Mask

I usually stay far away from sheet masks – I just think the product doesn’t usually absorb into my skin. Also they are kind of creepy looking.

I received two of these sheet masks, which contain tea callus extract, rose water, and witch hazel. Rose water is an ingredient I seek out in any skincare product – it helps to eliminate redness and irritation and even helps heal acne scars.

I was pleasantly surprised at just how hydrated my skin felt after using this face mask. And once you have left the mask on for 15 minutes, there’s product left on your skin that you don’t need to wash off – you can actually rub into your skin for added moisture.

For the most part, I really enjoyed this month’s Ipsy bag – I can’t wait to see what I receive next month.

If you’re looking to subscribe to this fabulous beauty subscription service, click here.

(This link will access you immediate referral and will help ou avoid being put on the wait list !)

What are some of your favorite Ipsy beauty goodies?

Brand Spotlight : Wet N’ Wild Cosmetics

All of the beauty influencers have been talking about the popular drugstore brand Wet N’ Wild. Jeffree Star – one of my absolute favorite makeup artists – is known for being brutally honest in all of his beauty reviews.  Jeffree raves about Wet N’ Wild cosmetics.  His recent video on their upcoming fall product line really inspired me and made me want to go out and purchase a few of their products.

I went to CVS and was pleased to find that they had a good selection of Wet N’ Wild products . I  purchased nine products and spent about $35. CVS had a buy one get one half off special, and Rite Aid now has a buy one get one free for all Wet N Wild Products.

I  honestly haven’t ever tried anything from Wet N’ Wild and always assumed their products couldn’t possibly be good since they were so cheap.  I am, however, glad I put these thoughts aside and took a chance purchasing their makeup! They are very affordable – and cruelty-free!

I put each of these items to the test and wore them on two separate occasions – one for an afternoon outside and another during a night out with friends.

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Here is a full listing of all the products I bought, their price, and my thoughts.

Photofocus Face Primer, $4.99

This primer is a great base for applying your foundation and it helped to even out the texture of my skin. The formula itself is very thin and feels like a lotion with an instant smoothing affect.

Au Naturel Eyeshadow Palette in Nude Awakening, $6.99

I was excited to use this palette because many have called it a “dupe” for the Naked 3 palette by Urban Decay – one of my favorite every-day eye shadow palettes.

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While the two palettes share some similar shades, the Nude Awakening palette has a matte shade of deep mauve that I was really drawn to. In total, there are 10 shades – 5 shimmers and 5 mattes.

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I dug right into the mauve shade and was surprised to find how pigmented it was , and how difficult it was to blend into my crease. I spent a lot of time blending these matte shades, which was frustrating. It didn’t help that the mauve shade was even darker than it appeared in the palette.

The shimmer shades in the palette were easier to use and blend with. I really liked the gold shades, and I did find that the shadows – in combination with the Urban Decay Potion Primer – were crease-free and long-lasting.

This product is definitely not a “dupe” for the Naked 3. Quality and ease of blending just do not compare.  😦

Photofocus Foundation in Buff Bisque, $5.99

I applied this foundation with my Beau Gachis Pro Series Applicator Sponge and I was shocked at just how well it performed on my skin. Although the formula is lightweight – and has minimal coverage with one application – it is extremely buildable. You can use 2-3 layers of this foundation without it appearing cakey.

I usually use foundations that have a matte finish as my skin tends to get oily in the summer. However, this foundation really worked for my skin – and stayed put throughout the day.

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If you have spent hours doing your makeup, and prepared for the perfect photo only to find that the flash has given your complexion a strange white overcast, then you too have fallen victim to photo flashback.

This foundation, however is formulated to look great in photographs and has been tested in seven different light conditions. I can honestly say that this foundation photographs extremely well – and even better than my favorite high-end foundations. LOVE this product!

Conceal Makeup Stick in Follow Your Bisque, $3.99

After applying the foundation, I used this conceal stick to contour on my forehead, nose, cheeks, and chin. I then blended it out with my beauty sponge and this was pretty easy – but my makeup looked pretty cakey and dry on my nose area so I had to reapply. I notice that this happens with a lot of concealers. The coverage is fair. Overall, I think this product is good for contouring purposes.

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Contour Makeup Stick in Where’s Walnut?, $3.99

Contour sticks are all the rave, so I was excited to try this one out. First thing I noticed after opening the package was the scent of the product – and it wasn’t pleasant.

Fortunately, once you have blended out the product on your skin, the smell doesn’t linger on your skin. It blends pretty easily with a makeup brush or sponge, and the shade worked well with my fair complexion.

And unlike KKW Beauty’s new line of contour sticks, there’s actually a decent amount of product – so you can make use of this contour stick as often as you like.

Illuminator Stick in When the Nude Strikes,$3.99

This pink, shimmery highlight is a cream to powder formula that can add an insane amount of glow to your cheekbones. It looks amazing from every angle.

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I did, however, try to highlight my nose with this product and it unfortunately made my makeup look cakey – I had to reapply my foundation.

Illuminating Palette in Catwalk Pink, $4.99

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This palette has three highlights – a pale yellow gold, a pink, and a copper gold. It also has a shade of blush. These shades can be used separately or mixed together. Unlike the illuminator stick, this one really works well on top of a foundation without looking cakey. It’s also easy to blend and can be used as an eye shadow too. Would definitley purchase again!

Liquid Catsuit Matte Lipstick in Rebel Rose,  $4.99

This is such a pretty matte lip – and for a drug store product, the quality really isn’t too bad. I noticed the wear of this lipstick wasn’t as long as my Kylie Cosmetics lip kits or the Kat Von D Everlasting lipsticks – but it lasted longer than ColourPop without getting super dry and flaky. Definitley worth the $5 if you are looking for a decent matte lipstick.

PhotoFocus Setting Spray Seal the Deal, $4.99

To set my makeup, I used this setting spray and I fell in love. Seriously, it really helps my makeup stay put throughout the day and it works better than almost all of the high-end setting sprays I have purchased in the past.

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Overall, I am pretty impressed with the wear and quality of these products.

This blog post is the first of my brand Spotlight series – I will be testing out new brands, do a full face using their products, and review each! What brand should I do next?

July Ipsy Glam Bag Reveal

Every month, I look forward to receiving my monthly bag from Ipsy.  I’ve decided to start sharing my reviews on each of the bags I’ve received – and ways to incorporate each of these items into your every-day beauty routine! I also hope that these reviews can be helpful in deciding if this subscription service is right for you.

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Each Ipsy bag contains five full-sized and sample-sized products.

  1. WINKY LUX Double Matte Lip – Angel Food

This nude matte lip is hydrating and minimally drying.  The color is great and the lipstick lasts for a fair amount of time – I would say three hours maximum. It could definitely last longer, but I would definitely purchase a full-size version of this product because it is a good value for the price – it retails for $13.

2. Ciaté London Wonderwand Gel-Kohl Eyeliner

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This eyeliner pencil features a built-in angled brush for blending. Personally, I think eyeliner pencils are elementary and impractical for my specific beauty routine – I always use liquid liners for creating a perfect winged eye. I can, however, use this eyeliner on my upper waterline. The formula itself is creamy and bendable, so if you do use gel eyeliners you will probably like this product.

3.  OFRA Cosmetics – Gold Rush Eyeshadow

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I am always happy to receive any product from OFRA Cosmetics. The brand has highly pigmented shadows that are comparable to those sold by Morphe. This particular eye shadow is a shimmery gold – and I used it to create my eye shadow look in combination with deep red and purple shades including both Love Letter and Venetian Red from the Anastasia Beverly Hills Modern Renaissance palette

4. Jersey Shore Cosmetics Mongongo Lip Conditioner

This lip balm is extremely moisturizing – and great for nourishing your lips after wearing matte lip stick all day. All of Jersey Shore Cosmetics’ products are all-natural and cruelty-free, so I will definitely be purchasing from them in the future.

5. Lychee + Gold Healthy Glow Rose-Gold Blush

I am pretty picky about blush – it’s hard to find one that actually looks natural! I found this blush added the perfect peachy glow to my complexion.

Overall, I really enjoyed my Ipsy bag. The main reason I’ve stuck with Ipsy is because it truly is the best way to discover new and emerging beauty brands that I otherwise would have no idea existed. Recently, the Ipsy website has become a great resource for beauty news and trends, which is a huge advantage to beauty junkies like me. If you’d like to join, please visit https://www.ipsy.com/new?cid=ppage_ref&sid=link&refer=1307p

 

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I used all of my products in the July Ipsy bag to create this look! I also used other products such as : The Ordinary High-Adherence Silicone Primer, Kat Von D Tattoo Lock-It foundation in Light 44, Too Faced Chocolate Soleil medium/deep matte bronzer, Brow Art23 Professional Eyebrow Powder in Dark Blonde, Doucce Maxlash Volumizer mascara, Kylie Cosmetics Lip Liner in Candy K, Colourpop Highlighter in Smoke N’ Whistles, Anastasia Beverly Hills Modern Renaissance palette.

 

 

Beau Gâchis Paris : Luxe & Affordable Beauty

Beau Gâchis Cosmetics just might be my new favorite beauty obsession.

“Beau gâchis” is French and translates to Beautiful Mess”. Anyone who knows me knows that I love anything and everything French – and anything related to beauty. Sure enough, this brand delivers high-quality, professional makeup brushes, beauty sponges and other beauty tools and accessories have become an essential part of my every-day beauty routine.

These products are super affordable already, but with my coupon code LISA, you can save an additional 20% off of your purchase!

Of course, I would not recommend these products to my readers without testing these products and sharing my full, honest opinion first. Here are the various products i received, along with my review of each.

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  1. Limited Edition Highlight & Contour Set 

There is nothing cuter than this little clutch that opens up to reveal some of the softest, most high-precision brushes I have ever used. These include the Flat Contour brush, Contour brush, Tapered Highlighter brush, and a Fan Highlighter brush.

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Each is equally amazing,and I love using the flat contour brush to evenly contour my nose. If II had to pick a favorite out of all of these brushes, I would choose the fan brush – it s perfect for applying highlighter to your nose, cheekbones, and eyebrow bone area.

Keep in mind that each brush in this kit can be purchased individually if desired.

  1. 7 Piece Makeup Brush Set with Leather Storage Case

How you choose to store your makeup brushes matters. If you leave your brushes out in the open on your vanity or bathroom mirror,  they can collect dust, dirt, and other bacteria that will transfer to your skin – yuck!

This storage case is perfect for keeping your makeup brushes clean and dust-free at all times. This little set comes with two eye-shadow brushes – one for applying shadow and the other for blending. It also comes with an eyebrow brush, an eyebrow brush and comb, foundation brush, contour brush, and powder brush.

I found that the powder brush was great for applying my RCMA Makeup No Color Powder when setting my makeup. I also loved the eyebrow brush, which I used to fill in my eyebrows with Anastasia Beverly Hills Dipbrow Pomade in Taupe.

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  1. 5 Piece Eye Essentials Brush Set

This set includes a cute cloth cosmetics bag with the brands logo on one side and the words “Beautiful Mess” on the other, as well as an eyeliner brush, eye shader brush, definer brush, tapered blending brush, and sponge shader brush. The sponge shader brush is essentially a tiny beauty blender – and I loved using it to blend not only my eyeshadow, but my under-eye concealer. For this look, I used Naked Skin Color Correcting Fluid in Pink.

The eyeliner brush was perfect for adding eyeshadow to my lower lash line. I wet the brush just a tiny bit and applied my Mac Pigment in Blue-Brown.

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  1. PRO Series Applicator Sponge Duo

I am super picky about my blending sponges, which is why, for years, I swore I would never use anything other than the Original BeautyBlender that sells at Sephora for $20. because cheaper sponges just could not compare.

But I LOVE these sponges . One is a tear drop shape similar to the Original Beauty Blender and the other is a pear shape. Much to my surprise, however,  these sponges blend my makeup much more smoothly, thoroughly and efficiently than the Original BeautyBlender. They use less product and retain more water which helps you attain the most even coverage possible. These sponges are also incredibly easy to wash with just soap and water. For this look, I used the pear shaped beauty blender to apply my Lock-It Foundation in Light 44. 

  1. Concealer Brush

Like all of the other brushes I received, this one is soft and durable. You will not find any uneven bristles or fall-out. This brush is perfect for applying and blending makeup on small imperfections. I used my concealer brush to apply my Lock-It Concealer Cream in Cool.

The Final Verdict:

I spend a lot of time researching before purchasing my beauty tools and investing a lot of money into these products. I find that cheap makeup brushes aren’t very durable, feel rough against my skin, and do not distribute product evenly enough.

These brushes, however, are the best of both worlds. Each brush is high-quality, easy to use, and easy to wash. Best of all, they are extremely affordable.

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While i genuinely loved all of these products, my favorite has to be the Limited Edition Highlight and Contour Set. These brushes look and feel especially luxurious and high-end.

If you have thought about purchasing a new beauty sponge, I can honestly say that these ones are even better than the Original BeautyBlender – and much more affordable!

If you are in need of some new beauty tools – or just feel like treating yourself! – head on over to beaugachiscosmetics.com. You won’t regret it!

Use my code LISA for $$$ off your purchase – Shop now!

Lang Leav’s Debut Novel Shines with Breathtaking Detail and Poetic Brilliance

 

Lang Leav is the author of several bestselling books of prose and poetry – Love & Misadventures, Lullabies, Memories, and The Universe of Us. The literary world fell for her beautiful words – as did the hearts of millions of readers worldwide. Leav has announced the publication of her very first debut novel, Sad Girls, which will be released on May 30th online and in bookstores. (You can pre-order it now on Amazon).

Lang Leav’s poetry is insightful, beautiful, and distinct. I was extremely eager to find out how her detailed usage of language and sentimental style of prose would translate into a novel. I also wondered if her words – when written in a novel – would resonate with me the same way her poetry did. I wasn’t sure quite what to expect, but I knew I had to find out.

“Ana was the original sad girl. She held the unofficial title long before her death. We all
became sad girls after that.”sad girls

When high-school senior Ana commits suicide, her death leaves an impact on the entire community, particularly one group of her classmates – Audrey, Lucy and Candela. Because Audrey had spread a terrible rumor about Ana, Audrey feels guilty, and ultimately, responsible for Ana’s death.

Stricken with feelings of grief and severe panic, Audrey experiences anxiety-driven symptoms and behavior. Nobody knows her secret, and she knows she must never make it known – not to her family, not to her best friends, and not to her sweet but terribly boring boyfriend, Duck.

When Audrey begins spending time with Ana’s ex boyfriend, Rad, everyone in town has something to say. As their friendship grows, Audrey latches on to the strong connection and the ease it brings to her seemingly out-of-control life. While Ana’s death always lingers in the back of Audrey’s mind, her worries are easily forgotten when she’s with Rad. They spend hours simply engaging in conversation, and Audrey is inspired by him, his mysteriousness, his passion for writing, and his way of seeing the world.

Despite these feelings, Audrey cannot bear the thought of being responsible for hurting her boyfriend. After they have both graduated high school, she cuts ties with Rad and they agree to never speak to one another again. Audrey finishes school and begins working for a magazine, and soon crosses path with Rad, who has become a bestselling author. To Audrey, their encounter doesn’t feel coincidental – it feels like fate.

Sad Girls is a beautiful and heartbreaking coming-of-age story about experiencing love.

“Your first love isn’t the first person you give your heart to – it’s the person that breaks it,” Leav writes. Audrey’s love for Rad is strong, but she deals with many conflicting emotions, including her desire to explore and live life on her own.

Beneath the surface, the novel has a deeper message. Audrey soon realizes that she isn’t the only one hiding a dark secret, and that nothing is what it seems. Everyone has a different way of coping with life in light of Ana’s death – some characters in the novel struggling with drug and alcohol abuse.

Sad Girls was everything I had hoped it would be – and so much more. Lang’s writing shines in a way that is beautifully vivid and poetic without being overly descriptive. The plot is fast-paced and engaging. At the end of the novel, Leav presents one extremely shocking twist that left me speechless.

I found Audrey’s character likable, and her struggles very relatable. Each of the characters are anything but perfect, and that’s what made this novel so real to me. Dealing with topics such as anxiety, depression, and suicide, the novel is especially relevant in this day and age.

For years, I have enjoyed her poetry, and I am pleased that she has taken her writing one step further with the publication of her first novel.  I cannot wait to see what she releases next!
langLang Leav
is an international best-selling author and social media sensation. She is the winner of a Qantas Spirit of Youth Award and coveted Churchill Fellowship. Her books continue to top bestseller charts in bookstores worldwide and Lullabies, was the 2014 winner of the Goodreads Choice award for poetry.

Lang has been featured in various publications including The Sydney Morning Herald, The Straits Times, The Guardian and The New York Times. She currently resides in New Zealand with her partner and fellow author Michael Faudet.

 

Beauty that Gives Back : GLOW for a Cause

Being able to make conscious decisions about the products you buy is important. I continuously seek out brands that have a positive social impact on communities around the world.

Brand integrity matters – especially in industries such as fashion and beauty, where even some of the most successful companies partake in unethical business practices . GLOW for a Cause, however, is a beauty brand that everyone should be proud to support. 

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The brand sells U.S. made vegan and cruelty-free lotions, perfumes,  face masks and skincare products.

Artist, teacher, and skincare productista, Johanna Querry Smith founded GLOW for a Cause as a passion project. A portion of the sales from each product is given to a partner non-profit. These non-profits include :

  • PRANA Run animal protection nonprofit aims to advocate and protect all animal life through awareness, promotion, and outreach as well as endorsing and encouraging pet adoptions for companion animals.  http://pranarun.org
  • Love, Vincent is a nonprofit organization that supplies care packages for dogs and cats who have been faced with a cancer diagnosis. Their mission is to provide love, support, and comfort to these animals and their families during this difficult time in their lives.  http://lovevincent.org
  • MaxFund Animal Adoption Center is a true no kill animal shelter in Colorado, giving animals, including the injured, abandoned and abused, a second chance at life.  http://maxfund.org
  • Berni’s Journey is a cinematic quest that serves as a mirror for us to reflect on universal themes of happiness, hope, and living authentically.  Answer the call of adventure and become the hero of your own story.  http://www.bernisjourney.com

I was sent a solid perfume in the scent “Wish” in exchange for an honest review. On the website, the perfume scent is described as  “a magical blend of sparkling light florals, white tea, and bergamot grounded by light musks. “

INGREDIENTS : coconut oil, beeswax, organic shea butter, organic cocoa butter, vitamin E and GLOW’s signature perfume blends

( There is also a vegan blend option available !)

I own a collection of spray and rollerball perfumes, but none of them are solids. So I was very excited to try this out.  Like any perfume, you can apply it to your wrists and behind the ears, but you apply the perfume using your finger. Pretty simple.

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Pros :

I love the scent of the perfume and I was surprised at how long it lasted throughout the day. There have been many times where I found that scented lotions were more long-lasting than my favorite perfumes. The long-wear of this product reminded me of these scented lotions. 

I really enjoyed the convenience of this product – it’s SOO much easier to put in your purse than a clunky, breakable bottle of perfume. I have extremely sensitive skin and did not experience any skin reaction after using this product several times.

Cons: The only mild issue I had with this product is the size of the packaging container, which isn’t very wide. It’s harder to pick up the product if you have long nails.

Final Verdict: If you are looking for a new signature perfume, I highly recommend Wish. This scent is perfect – and it’s definitely going to become one of my summertime travel must-haves! 

GLOW for a Cause ‘s products are made of natural, high-quality ingredients and are very affordable. You can purchase a solid perfume and a rollerball scent of Wish for only $16. Click here to browse through all of their products. 

 

Exit West Imparts a Beautiful Truth : “We Are All Migrants Through Time”

“In a city swollen by refugees but still mostly at peace, or at least not openly at war, a young man met a young woman in a classroom and did not speak to her. For many days.”

Exit West explores the difficulties a country and its inhabitants face when confronted with conflict. The novel takes place in present day in an unidentified city – its name is never revealed to the reader. What the reader does know is that this city  has been taken over by anti-government militants, and acts of violence are being committed each and every day. At the beginning of the story, residents are, for the most part, still able to go about their day. And that’s exactly how Nadia meets Saaed – while attending an evening class for business school.

9780735212176Nadia is bold and independent which contrasts Saeed’s subdued demeanor. Despite their differences, the two are inexplicably drawn to one another. 

“Saaed was certain he was in love. Nadia was not certain what exactly she was feeling, but she knew it had force.” The two spend more time together even as the city around them falls apart – food is rationed, neighborhoods are bombed, and airstrikes are launched. Curfews are enforced and phone service and internet connection are suspended. These circumstances place significant barriers on Nadia and Saaed’s relationship, but they continue to see each other as much as they can. 

As conditions worsen, Saeed and Nadia search for ways to flee their city. Rumors circulate about mysterious doors that are able to transport people to faraway places where they can seek safety, shelter, and new lives. It soon becomes clear that these doors do exist, and Saeed and Nadia make arrangements prepare for their departure. 

Nadia and Saeed exit their city through one of the doors, leaving everything that they know behind and looking forward to new opportunity, frightened but hopeful. They find themselves on a Greek island with many other refugees. In time, they grow restless and seek a new location.  They go door-to-door throughout Europe and North America until they have found the place they can finally call home. Throughout this journey, Nadia and Saeed learn more about each other, but mainly make discoveries about themselves.

Through his beautifully crafted words, Hamid makes a relevant statement about our current world,  reflecting the harsh realities of a country in conflict and inhabitants that are desperate to escape. As Donald Trump reveals his plan to ban refugee admission into the U.S., this novel emulates the struggles people face when they make the decision to leave their home country. Last year, 10,000 Syrians fled to the US in order to escape the civil war in their country. These refugees are human beings with hopes, fears, dreams, and potential. Exit West challenges the way many people think regarding immigration policies and emphasizes the value of human life.

Hamid’s decision to leave Nadia and Saeed’s home country unnamed makes the story even more powerful and shows that any town, city, or country can be suddenly disrupted and torn apart by war.

The magical realism of the doors was not overbearing so the story still felt mostly real, but it was an important part of the story that was so vaguely described. Many aspects of the story lacked substance and could have benefited from greater lengths of detail, characterization and dialogue. 

Hamid’s style of writing is vague in detail at times but remains extremely poetic and symbolic. As he writes about the changes in the world around them, he also displays the changes in Nadia and Saeed’s relationship. “All over the world people were slipping away from where they had been, from once fertile plains cracking with dryness, from seaside villages gasping beneath tidal surges, from overcrowded cities and murderous battlefields, and slipping away from other people too, people they had in some cases loved, as Nadia was slipping away from Saeed, and Saeed from Nadia.”

Exit West wasn’t exactly what I was expecting, but it was something more. Hamid’s novel is sad, honest, hopeful, but most of all, relevant to our time. This book is extremely powerful, forcing readers to reexamine the state of the world we live in and the  issues that impact us the most, while reminding us that we are all connected as members of the human race.

mohsin-hamid-c-jillian-edelstein-jpg-20170227Mohsin Hamid is the author of four novels, Moth Smoke, The Reluctant Fundamentalist, How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia, and Exit West, and a book of essays, Discontent and Its Civilizations.His writing has been featured on bestseller lists, adapted for the cinema, shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, selected as winner or finalist of twenty awards, and translated into thirty-five languages.Born in Lahore, he has spent about half his life there and much of the rest in London, New York, and California.

 

Benjamin Ludwig’s Debut Novel Stuns with Authenticity & Purpose

On May 2nd, New Hampshire author Benjamin Ludwig will be releasing his very first novel, Ginny Moon. Selected as a B&N Summer 2017 Discover Great New Writers book, this highly anticipated read is about to take the literary world by storm in more ways than one.

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The story is told from the entertaining and captivating perspective of an autistic teenage girl. Taken away from her abusive mother at the age of nine, Ginny is now a foster child. She has finally found her “forever home” – a place where she is safe and taken care of properly by Brian and Maura, her “forever mom and dad.”

Much to this dismay of her foster parents, Ginny makes continuous efforts to contact her birth mother. She is concerned about “Baby Doll”, her baby sister that she left behind. Because if she isn’t, then who is taking care of her baby doll? In order to save her baby doll, Ginny devises a heroic plan of escape. She will do whatever it takes to see to the well-being of her sister, even if it means leaving her forever family behind.

“It’s like I left the original me behind when I came to live with my new Forever Parents. With Brian and Maura Moon. My name is Ginny Moon now but there are still parts of the original me left.” Ginny’s adjustment to her new life reflects her struggle for acceptance and understanding ; a battle that readers can truly resonate and emphasize with.

In Ginny Moon, Ludwig makes a statement about the longevity of family and the power of love. The novel carefully portrays some of the challenges involved with raising an autistic child. In this experience, Brian and Maura certainly made some mistakes. But they were able to grow from these mistakes, taking the time to better understand Ginny’s world and the heartbreaking childhood that shaped her.

The protagonist’s literal mindset as well as the motivations behind her actions are often difficult for her parents, teachers, and peers to decipher and can lead to moments of frustration. However, it is clear that Ginny has nothing but pure intentions in her heart. As the novel progressed, I was able to better understand her character and what caused her to think and act in certain ways. It was an incredibly eye-opening experience.

Ludwig has crafted a truly authentic voice that demands to be heard. Despite the saddening circumstances, Ginny’s perspective is not at all despairing or overly emotional but uplifting, humorous, and beautiful. I found myself completely engaged throughout the novel and pleasantly surprised with how much I enjoyed the experience. There’s no doubt about it, Ginny Moon will become your favorite literary character.

Ginny Moon is a novel that I continue to reflect upon. Extraordinarily unforgettable, you will remember Ginny’s story long after you have finished reading.

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A life-long teacher of English and writing, Benjamin Ludwig lives in New Hampshire with his family. He holds an MAT in English Education and an MFA in Writing.  Shortly after he and his wife married they became foster parents and adopted a teenager with autism. Ginny Moon is his first novel, which was inspired in part by his conversations with other parents at Special Olympics basketball practices. Please visit Benjamin Ludwig’s website for more information.

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