Thriller Tuesday: Verity

Thriller Tuesday: Verity

Rating: 5 Spice rating: 4

I worked hard to try and lower my expectations for this one, because often when books get too much hype I end up disappointed. However, I could not contain my excitement and it STILL did blew my expectations out of the water. I kept thinking, “I know where this is going!”

Narrator: “She did not know where this was going”.

Verity is my first Colleen Hoover book, and she has already shot to the top of my favorite authors list. That’s how much I enjoyed this story. The two main character’s inital meeting, (if I had to describe that scene by the way, I would describe it as a meet-NOT-cute) felt a little too forced, but the following scenes and the way that they gradually opened up to each other seemed more natural. Once Lowen had moved into the Crawford home it was only a matter of time before her and Jeremy started to get close, since they immediately trauma bonded and the law of proximity was on their side. Despite how nice he seemed, I was already muttering “nope nope nope get the hell out of there” by the time she had unpacked her bags. In Lowen’s defense, she had nowhere else to go, but honestly anywhere would have been better than that spooky ass house. Any other female author would have read Jane Eyre already and known to get the hell out of dodge. Not Lowen… she was determined to continue reading Verity’s horrible autobiography and finish writing her books. I can’t blame her too much though, those chapters are like a horrifying train wreck you can’t look away from.

Hoover’s mind is a treasure, seriously. She had me hooked from the beginning and masterfully tugged me around like a plaything, simultaneously weaving horrible twists to unravel at the end. Even though I had no investment in the romance between Lowen and Jeremy, I still was riveted by the story due to the nature of the Crawford tragedies. Of course, I also had to know what was going on with Verity’s son. Everything to do with him had me on edge, and I felt so bad for everything he had to go through. The way that this story was structured was interesting too. By switching back and forth between Lowen’s point of view and Verity’s chapters, Hoover was able to raise anticipation and present more questions than answers with each section. It was unnerving and a way of storytelling that I haven’t often read. She definitely knows how to write a mystery and I am looking forward to hopefully reading more books like these from her in the future.

As I touched on before, I didn’t care if Lowen and Jeremy ended up together. I was too busy counting red flags to have vested much interest. I would be remiss, however, if I didn’t give a nod to the spice in this. Some of it was explicit, but not sexy, due to the unsettling context and motivation. There is one section that gets steamy though, and since it’s written by a woman who knows how to write smut well, it gets 4 chili peppers. Enjoy that short reprieve in the midst of an unsettling story, heathens.

Overall, I thought this book was fantastic. It packs a punch for a story that isn’t actually that long and I think it would make an intriguing mini-series. I also would not be surprised if this is in the running for my top reads of 2022, and it’s only April. If you’re a fan of romantic suspense or mysteries I highly recommend you snag a copy of Verity.

Q&A Monday: Part Two

Q&A Monday: Part Two

From my ‘Get to Know Me Asks’ Post on Tumblr

Last summer I made a post on Tumblr of 100 questions for bloggers to ask in order to get to know each other. Since then it’s gotten over 5,000 notes and it’s been awesome getting to read people’s answers. In hopes of getting to know more people on WordPress I’ve started answering them here in a series, and you can find Part 1 here and the original Tumblr post here. I’d love if you guys answered the questions either on your blog (tag me and the original post) or respond in the comments so I can get to know you guys better!

11. What song has the most relatable song lyrics to you?

Ooo. There’s so many I could say. There are two that come to mind first. The first is Last Hope by Paramore.

And the salt in my wounds isn't burning any more than it used to
It's not that I don't feel the pain, it's just I'm not afraid of hurting anymore
And the blood in these veins isn't pumping any less than it ever has
And that's the hope I have, the only thing I know that's keeping me alive

The second is Peace by Taylor Swift. She committed an act of violence with this song.

Our coming-of-age has come and gone
Suddenly the summer, it's clear
I never had the courage of my convictions
As long as danger is near
And it's just around the corner, darling
'Cause it lives in me
No, I could never give you peace

So, yeah Taylor if you would like to pay what you owe me for emotional damages then DM me here, thank you.

12. Iced drinks or hot drinks?

Hot, definitely. If I don’t have a hot drink (preferably coffee first thing in the morning) my day doesn’t feel complete. I would hate to choose though, because I drink iced coffee all year long.

13. Bright colors or neutral tones?

Generally neutral tones. I tend to gravitate toward calming colors and I wear a lot of black, navy, and gray. However, I love to decorate with splashes of color with a neutral and light backdrop.

14. Breakfast for dinner or pizza for breakfast?

Breakfast all day, every day! I love breakfast food. I can’t eat things like pizza first thing in the morning. It doesn’t matter what time it is, my first meal of the day will be breakfast if I can help it.

15. Do you have a green thumb or a black thumb?

I can’t tell lol half of the plants I grow thrive and the other half are fighting for their lives. I love plants though and enjoy having a lot of them in the windowsill. My orchid just bloomed for the season yesterday and I’m obsessed with it.

16. What’s your favorite feature of yours?

My eye color. I was born with chocolate brown eyes and they’ve gotten greener as I’ve gotten older, just like my mom’s. Now they are definitely hazel and one has a small black dot in it.

17. Would you rather be a lawyer or a doctor?

Oh heavens, definitely a doctor. My trauma response to arguing could never. I would be a terrible lawyer as I would just break down and cry. However, I would also fail as a doctor since I can’t do math to save my life.

18. What type do you tend to go for physically?

My type has always been tall, dark, and handsome for men and looks-like-she-can-kill-me for women.

19. Power of invisibility or flight?

Invisibility, no question. I have always wished I had that power, since I am a hardcore introvert with terrible self-esteem.

20. Would you rather wake up with your makeup magically done or your hair?

My hair, PLEASE. I have thick, curly hair that you could potentially do anything with, but I absolutely hate styling hair and love doing makeup.

There we have it! Next Monday I will post the next ten. Do you have any of the same answers as me? I know there’s a few of you who would vehemently disagree with my opinion on pizza for breakfast. I accept that I am probably in the minority on that. Tomorrow I’ll be posting another book review for Thriller Tuesday, so check back in for that update if you’re interested. I hope you guys have an amazing start to your week! (❁´◡`❁)

Advice I’d Give to Little Me

Advice I’d Give to Little Me

Sorry I’m so late to post this week! I’ll write more about some of this later, but I had a gig out of town working as a backstage manager/FOH at a dance competition this weekend and then when I returned home I was struggling pretty bad mentally. I’m happy to be feeling a little better today and I have some fun posts planned for the next several days. Hope you guys are doing well and enjoy today’s post!

I’ve spent a lot of time lately thinking about the things I wish I could say to my younger self. There’s so many things that I got wrong, and now at 26 I’m still dealing with a lot of the same things. Or dealing with the consequences of what I messed up on. I’m 1000% sure that 10, 20, 30 years down the road I’ll come up with a lot more of these. I’m trying to remember that this is how we grow, and what is wisdom if not the collection of “yikes” we say when we think about our past mistakes? It doesn’t grow on trees-we have to live and learn. So, here are a few tips I wish someone had given me years ago (or that I wish I had actually listened to when they told me!) They are in no particular order.

Don’t believe everything your parents tell you. Later they may even admit that they were wrong.

Your parents view on the world is influenced by their experiences and upbringing. In some way they have a biased viewpoint or are just plain wrong. People tend to look for sources that tell them what they want to hear, and a lot of them are unreliable. I know it’s tempting to follow their faith, politics, and habits. They may even seem to have it right. Don’t trust that though, because you need to find out for yourself. I’m not saying they are wrong about everything, but if you read diverse books and pay attention to the world around you then you will find that they are missing some things. Try to see as much of the world as you can, and don’t be afraid to ask questions.

Don’t pluck, bleach.

PUT THOSE TWEEZERS DOWN. I’M SERIOUS. Unless you are cleaning up your eyebrows you need to put them away. You don’t know this yet, but you have PCOS, which means that you have hirsutism. This combined with naturally dark hair and light skin means that you are feeling self conscious about being hairer than a lot of your friends. Don’t worry-you’re actually not alone. You need to go to the store, buy Sally Hansen’s face and body bleach and just use that. PLEASE read the instructions on the box carefully. You will thank me later.

Move your body and eat healthy so you feel better, not to lose weight.

Before I expand on this let me add: fuck gym class. Those P.E. teachers are mean and are using ridiculous tests to judge whether you’re healthy or not. Ignore them. You developed faster than a lot of your peers, but you are NOT overweight! You do need to move and get some fresh air, but don’t do it because you feel like you need to exercise for the sake of losing weight. You don’t even need to run a mile as fast as your peers. The sports they do in class are not the only way to be healthy amd their way of measuring your health is limited and outdated. Listening to music while you walk around the neighborhood, dancing to your favorite songs, and practicing yoga are all great ways to gain strength and help you feel better.

One bad experience with a therapist doesn’t mean they’re all bad.

Your first experience with a therapist will be horrible. She will tell your Dad things you said in therapy that she absolutely did not need to tell him for any reason. Dump her, but don’t let that turn you off from counseling completely. It takes time to find the right person, but there is someone out there who is the right fit to help you. Keep trying and try to find one good outcome from each person you see. Even the therapists who aren’t the best have some wisdom to offer.

Moisturize, apply sunscreen, and use an eye cream.

You’re so focused on your cystic acne (it’s okay I know it sucks, just hang in there) that you are forgetting to tend to your skin. Stop using Clean and Clear and harsh alcohol on your face! Your entire body needs moisture every day. AND YOUR LILY WHITE ASS NEEDS SUNSCREEN. EVERY. DAY. (Well maybe not your ass… but definitely your face!!! The sunscreen in your moisturizer or foundation doesn’t count. Also, eye cream isn’t just for your Mom. You see those dark circles your Dad has? And the lines on your parent’s faces around their eyes? Yeah, those are coming for you too so you need to start fighting back now. *smacks you over the head with a rolled up newspaper* HYDRATE!


Focus more on your studies and less on trying to make people like you.

I cannot say this enough: doing well in school will do more for your life than trying to make people like you. First of all, you LIKE learning. And you’re smarter than you give yourself credit for. Get help in math (I’m so sorry sweetie, but numbers are never going to be your friend either) and focus on doing your best in every class. You so desperately want people to like you, but how much do you even like them??? They aren’t good friends to you, and they don’t share your interests. Focus on learning as much as you can and getting good grades and that will take you farther in life. The two or three real friends you have now aren’t going anywhere, and the true fun will begin in college. Your people will find you there. Just be patient, study hard, and enjoy your real interests.


You don’t have to be good at your hobbies.

Speaking of interests: You do not have to be good at your hobbies. I know. This is a wild idea. I didn’t even learn this until recently. Hobbies are just interests! You don’t have to be the best and not every after school activity needs to be a potential ticket to college (or to popularity). You also aren’t going to be talented at things right away. It takes practice to get better, and the point of being young is to grow and figure out the things that you enjoy. Don’t quit things that you find fun just because you aren’t the best at them. You love writing, so just write! Write badly. Write things that you won’t use for school or even show anyone. Write your feelings, incomplete stories, and bad poetry. Play basketball and lose and dance even though you look kind of like a baby deer trying to walk for the first time.


Stop brushing your hair!

YOUR HAIR IS CURLY! STOP. BRUSHING. IT. You need to read up on how to take care of curly hair and start moisturizing it better. Use a wide tooth comb to detangle and stop using heat on it! If you quench your curls thirst they will start looking nice, I promise. Try to find a hairstylist who knows how to give you a curl cut. Humidity may not be your friend, but neither is burning your fragile hair between two plates of hot iron.

I’m sure I will come up with more of these as I post more on here, but these are some of the biggest lessons I’ve learned so far. I would love to know your thoughts. Are any of the above also on your list of things you wish you could say to your younger self? What are some things you would include? Are any of these lessons you only learned recently? I’d love to hear from you guys!

Q&A Monday: From my ‘Get to Know Me Asks’ Post on Tumblr

Q&A Monday: From my ‘Get to Know Me Asks’ Post on Tumblr

Hello friends!

Last May my boyfriend Craig (who at the time was just a friend) and I spent a bunch of time trading lists of questions that we would answer and send back to get to know each other better. It was kind of like a 21 questions deal over text message since he lives in The Bahamas and I’m in the States. Since I had around 80 compiled, he helped me come up with enough to make it an even 100. Then I posted the list on Tumblr as a “Get To Know Me Asks” Post. Since then it’s gotten almost 5,000 notes making it by far my most popular post. It’s been really fun to read people’s answers and I thought that I could make it a series on here to answer 10 a week as a way for my followers to get to know me. Even better, I’m hoping that you guys will answer the questions too, either in the comments or in a post of your own. You can reblog my original Tumblr post here! If you do the challenge be sure to tag me and link this post so I can get to know more about you too!

1. What were your summers like as a kid?

I read constantly! When it wasn’t hot I spent a lot of time outside with the neighborhood cat. I also went to summer camp a few times and every year I attended VBS at my church.

2. Do you enjoy thrilling rides like rollercoasters?

Ah, no. I’m super scared of heights! I haven’t been on many but every time I screamed bloody murder.

3. Who was your childhood hero?

Jane Goodall! I wanted to work with animals, but now that I’m older I know that I definitely couldn’t sit in the jungle and watch chimpanzees for hours because I’m scared shitless of spiders. (You, an empath, sensing that I am an anxious person. And you would be correct.)

4. What is your favorite book?

Anything by Sarah J. Maas. If I absolutely had to choose I would say Kingdom of Ash. I also have an emotional attachment to North of Beautiful by Justina Chen. If you ever are looking for book recs you can find some on my Goodreads and of course, I post book reviews on here!

Queen Maas always going to come for your ass

5. What do you find most attractive about your crush?

This one was so difficult. There are so many I could say! I guess I’d have to say Craig’s energy. He gives off such warm and loving vibes and the way he carries himself is just really attractive. I’ve always told him that he embodies sunshine and if you see him smile or hear him laugh you would definitely understand what I mean.

6. What’s your favorite outfit?

My dark wash skinny jeans, my black TWLOHA tee shirt, a black hoodie, and my black dr. martens. No, I don’t often wear bright colors, lol. This is assuming I can’t just be wearing my pajamas.

7. Does seeing people in love make you happy? Sad? Annoyed?

It used to make me annoyed, but now it usually makes me happy. I’ve turned into a sap.

8. Do you sleep with a stuffed animal?

Oh my gosh yes. I sleep in a ridiculous nest made up of 6 pillows, my BT21 RJ plushie, and a stuffed dog named Loki. I can’t get comfortable enough to fall asleep unless I’m holding something and RJ is a perfect size.

Jin definitely loves his BT21 child the most out of all the members

9. What CD did you play to death as a kid?

There are several. Metamorphosis by Hilary Duff, Tapestries by Carole King, Room to Breathe by ZOEgirl, Steady On by Point of Grace, and Simply Nothing by Shawn McDonald. If you were a kid in a Christian household in the late nineties or early 2000s then I may have just unearthed a memory from deep within the recesses of your brain. I’m not sure whether I should say “I’m sorry” or “You’re welcome”… I really don’t.

10. Hike to a mountain top to watch the sunrise or drive out of town to stargaze?

STARGAZIIIIIIING! I’m known for losing my mind over anything celestial-themed because I love the stars. I haven’t even gone on a proper stargazing trip! I will one day though and I may cry. Before I die I want to see the Northern Lights.

Let me know if you feel the same way about any of these and feel free to answer the questions as I said before! I’m hoping to get to know more bloggers 🥰 Also a quick note: I’m not planning on keeping up this posting schedule. I’ve posted several times this week because I’m trying to get this blog off the ground! So, while I have the time I’m going to be more active than normal. It also helps me for testing out what works best for me as a blogger. When I settle on a more permanent posting schedule I’ll let you know. Thanks so much for reading!

Oh no… Valentine’s Day

Oh no… Valentine’s Day

Do you remember that scene in the movie Valentine’s Day where Jennifer Garner beats the shit out of a heart piñata at Jessica Biel’s Anti-Valentine’s party? I loved that scene and it’s definitely the one that sticks out to me the most. In college one year my friend Liv and I decorated my dorm room for the holiday and invited two of our girlfriends to come over to watch a movie and eat junk food. We even got all dressed up just for the hell of it. That short scene was what inspired me to do it, but I didn’t have the hatred for the holiday that Jessica’s character does. I knew that the day made my friends feel down though, especially being on campus surrounded by a ton of couples. It did not help that we attended a Christian university that was a notorious mating ground for girls in purity rings and boys with old fashioned views on women to get married way before they are ready. It seemed like everywhere you turned someone was planning a wedding or going apple picking with their “person”. Even as someone who was planning on remaining single, I lost my patience with it all, so I knew my friends were even more frustrated. It was always my goal to cheer them up on the 14th, and maybe I did somewhat, but it didn’t change the fact that dating was a prime topic of conversation on the dorms. Everyone wanted a partner and knew that college was the most convenient place to meet someone. I’ve secretly always thought it was for the best though, because I was worried about who my friends would end up with on a conservative campus that churned out misogynistic, racist men like butter. However, I digress.

hell yeah, get his ass

What I didn’t realize when it came to all of this was that I was carrying more bitterness than any of my friends. I held an air of indifference toward dating because I felt it was easier to pretend I didn’t care instead of admitting the truth to myself. I carried a different sort of jealousy inside. What I truly envied wasn’t just the relationships that people had, but the hope that the single students around me held of one day finding love themselves. Years before I had survived a trauma that led me to shut the door to my life and my heart to almost everyone. That pain combined with a dysfunctional childhood and some friendships gone sour led me to call it quits on relationships by the time I started my freshman year of college. I had two friends from childhood that I still hold dear, but rarely saw back then, and I was happy to leave it at that. When I moved into my first dorm room in 2015 I was nice to my roommate, Paige, but avoided opening up to anyone if I could help it. The few exceptions were my RA’s, who helped me through a massive panic attack that had put me on the floor of the bathroom one night (throwing up and hyperventilating…fun). Even with them I was only willing to share so much, and I continued to shut people out for months. Even when I made a few friends on the hall, I never shared the whole truth of what I had been through, and wouldn’t for several years. You can imagine that since I wasn’t even open to making friends that I definitely was not about to consider dating. I had already decided that I was too broken to be loved. It was as simple as that. I had been through too much, messed up too many times, and I didn’t trust anyone, particularly not men. *shivers*

I was very lucky to meet three of my best friends in college, and several other close buddies I still keep in contact with. My first roommate Paige and I became really close despite being complete opposites and she is one of my dearest friends to this day. I also hit the jackpot with great RA’s and spiritual leaders on my hall, which I thank God every day for, because I’ve heard all kinds of horror stories about shitty leaders on campus. (If you’re a Christian and bothered by my cussing, I understand. I do. I’m not going to stop though, so please understand this is my blog where I post my thoughts and feelings, and it’s my right to do so. Please spare me the lecture, because from the bottom of my heart: I do not care). The mentors and friends I found and the distance I got from my hometown helped me grow in ways I never imagined, but I still had a long way to go. It wasn’t even until last year that I considered any sort of future for myself that included a romantic relationship. I was so terrified by the prospect of being vulnerable and getting my heart broken-or hurting someone else-that I wouldn’t even consider it. At 25, I was still telling myself I was perfectly content to be single for the rest of my life and focus my attention on making the world a better place, nurturing my friendships, traveling the world, and being the coolest aunt in existence. (I don’t have any nieces or nephews yet, but when I do I am going to love babysitting them and come up with the coolest bedtime stories to tell them). However, why was I so set on that? Was I really being truthful with myself about what I wanted? Being single, living child free, traveling-all these things are amazing and perfectly valid life goals! I love hearing that women are choosing what’s best for them and it bothers me that people have a hard time accepting that that may not include marriage or kids (the church *cough cough*). However, I wasn’t one of those people who actually wanted those things. Deep down I knew I had romantic and maternal love in me that I wanted to give to a partner and children. Due to my childhood and traumatic experience I had convinced myself that I could not be a good partner or mother.

So, this is why every year on Valentine’s day I focused on buying candy and distracting my single friends from feeling lonely. I knew that if I spent the night alone that I would start to admit to myself that I was selling myself short and denying myself the love I deserved. Because I do deserve love. Could I live a happy, fulfilling life single? Absolutely. I just don’t have to because of something that happened to me years ago. The great irony of all of this is that one of those best friends I mentioned who I met in college? He is also the man who fucked up all of my plans by making me fall in love with him. I was in denial for literally years about my feelings for him, and when we found out we had feelings for each other in 2021 I ended up living a whole ass romcom. This week we’ll have been together for 5 months, and this Spring will mark 4 years of being best friends. My, how the turn tables. Sadly due to some visa stuff he had to move back home to The Bahamas in 2019, so we’re doing long distance at the moment. He has come to visit me twice since we got together and I was able to travel to him in December, which was my first time leaving the country! As soon as he can be sure he has access to the covid tests he needs for both coming and going from the states he will come visit me again. I suppose it’s a good thing I’m already used to celebrating Valentine’s day alone 😂 Looks like I’ll be spending the night doing Korean face masks, eating pizza, and watching anime!

There’s so much more I could say about all of this, but for now I’ll leave it at this. If you’ve been abused, live with mental illness, or have poor self-image like me (or just don’t like Valentine’s day) I hope that you can take this holiday and turn it into an opportunity to treat yourself to a nice night. Your feelings are 100% valid, and you deserve to be loved and treated like the King, Queen, or Monarch that you are, even if that means spoiling yourself. Because honestly, who knows you and your desires better? Celebrate the fact that you have survived so much, and give yourself some grace. And if you need to beat up a heart shaped piñata because you know it’ll make you feel better-then go for it! Just don’t forget to send me a picture.

Do you relate to my experience at all? How do you feel about Valentine’s day? What’s your favorite way to practice self-care? Let me know in the comments or reach out to me on Twitter or Tumblr! You can also find me on Goodreads.

Friday Favorites: Min Yoongi’s Instagram update, Sk8 the Infinity, +other things that made me happy this week

Friday Favorites: Min Yoongi’s Instagram update, Sk8 the Infinity, +other things that made me happy this week

Hello again friends!

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I decided that since my last post was more emotional and serious that I would make today’s a bit more fun! It’s a pretty unoriginal title but it fits for the things that have been making me smile lately. Since I’ve been down I’ve been trying to take joy in the little things when I can. I also just really love making lists so why not make a list of things that I find special? Perhaps they will make you smile too!

1. Min Yoongi’s Instagram post

If you know me or follow me on Twitter or Tumblr you know I am a HUGE fan of BTS. As in certified Army and the assigned resident fangirl in my social circle. The members and their music has brought so much freaking joy in my life and their special on Weverse, In the Soop, actually helped me to pull out of a depressive episode in 2020. My bias is undoubtedly Yoongi and has been since I discovered them. I just couldn’t resist his duality with the way he jumps from destroying us with his insane rapping ability to grumpy old man (whose actually the world’s biggest sweetheart). Since the boys are taking a break right now (supposedly… they keep posting pictures of them in the studio though…) they each have opened their own Instagram accounts and it has been an entertaining mess as they’ve gotten used to the platform. Yoongi has obviously gotten the hang of it though because LOOK AT HIM NOW. I can’t even explain what it is about these pictures that I love so much. They’re just so wholesome. Maybe it’s what my friend Kathryn describes as “the Father 2000s” that he’s rocking on his feet in the second picture. What a goddamn delight. Also, if you know nothing about BTS somehow and want to listen to one of Yoongi’s songs you can watch his music video for Daechwita below, which he released under his rap name Agust D.

2. This essential oil diffuser I got on Amazon

Sometimes I find joy from shopping online when I really shouldn’t. I should be saving money. I don’t feel sorry for this one though. When I say the arrival of this package in the mail made my entire day I am not exaggerating. I had been planning on getting a humidifier instead (it says humidifier in the title but it doesn’t really create enough steam to classify as one) I was so enticed by the thought of diffusing essential oils that I caved and bought this instead. I use only half the drops it calls for because I don’t want the scent to be too strong in my room, but it still smells amazing. I really adore the nightlight function of it and I find a stupid amount of joy in matching the color of this thing to the remote control fairy lights on my wall. Sometimes it’s seriously the little things. The essential oils I bought for it are from here.

3. IT Cosmetics CC+ Cream with SPF 50+

Shout out to my friend Paige for recommending this to me! Last time I saw her I couldn’t believe how radiant her skin looked. She has beautiful, clear skin normally but her makeup almost made her look like she was wearing a filter! When she told me she swore by this product I was surprised since CC creams are generally light coverage. However, I ran out and bought it and holy hell is this worth the money. A little bit goes a long way and the coverage is amazing. In the time it would take me to use this entire bottle I would likely spend more re-purchasing my Maybelline foundation than I did for this one. The best part though is how lightweight it is. I don’t even notice I’m wearing it once it sets but it covers my acne so much I only need a little concealer. My only other note about it is that if you have dry skin you may need to double moisturize in the winter before wearing this. I don’t know if it’s because this season has been more intense weather-wise but I have been using a heavier night cream and pairing my daytime moisturizer with a hydrating primer so that dry spots don’t show up when I apply my makeup. I can’t tell if this is an issue unique to using it in the cold weather months since I’ve only been using it for about a month, so I will update you guys when the season changes. I bought mine at Ulta but you can also buy it on the IT Cosmetics website.

4. SK8 the Infinity

Unfortunately, most of my friends don’t live in my state anymore and my boyfriend lives in The Bahamas, so I can’t get together with people to watch stuff very often. Recently three of my friends and I have been watching anime together over Discord and it’s been so so fun. First, we watched Life Lessons with Uramichi Oniisan (so great if you love dark humor) and then this week we watched SK8 the Infinity. My friend Liv had been sending artwork of two characters Joe and Cherry for a while, so I was excited to watch it. I was not disappointed. This show cheered me up, made me laugh, and Reki was super relatable. It’s a great anime to watch if you aren’t super familiar with the genre. Sports anime in general is awesome and if you liked Haikyuu!! or Yuri on Ice (which is what we’re watching now) then you may enjoy this one. Langa is on my favorite character list now (unsurprising) and don’t even get me started on JOE. What a man. I don’t have too much else to say at the moment except go watch it. Oh, and I made you a cute valentine of Reki and Langa to send to your weeb friends. (ノ◕ヮ◕)ノ*:・゚✧

5. Dreamcatcher’s song “Scream”

As far as girl groups go Dreamcatcher is undoubtedly my favorite. They have such a unique sound and aesthetic that just suits me so well. Several of their songs are serious bangers and they have strong vocals and choreography, which is not always a guarantee. This music video is gorgeous and I’m such a sucker for a fantasy theme. Badass women dressed to slay? Say no more. Every time I watch this Dalmi stands out to me and I am 100% certain that she is very popular with queer K-pop stans, because damn. She is SO cool. Maybe I’m projecting though. 🤷‍♀️ If you like this song I highly recommend listening to their other songs, especially “Odd Eye” and “Boca”. I can’t wait to listen to their whole discography and learn more about the members. If history is to repeat itself, I will end up knowing all their names by next week.

Anyway, that’s all I have for today! In the future I will also make designated posts for my favorite makeup, music, shopping finds, TV/movies, and celebrities, but I hope that you enjoyed this Favorites Friday. If you’ve been enjoying my recent book reviews and personal updates subscribe and also please comment or send me messages! Are you a fan of anything on this list? Let me know below! Also, you can find me on Goodreads and Twitter, so get in touch with me there!

“You Look So Good Now”

On spring break my senior year of college after losing 40 pounds

The summer before my senior year of college I found myself in my hometown living with my mom and stepdad and focusing solely on one goal: to lose weight. For as long as I can remember I had understood that the world loves pretty. Not only that, it serves pretty. And at no point in my 26 years has the world ever lost its obsession with weight and weight loss. Sure, in recent years the fashion and entertainment industry has allowed sizes 6-12 to enter the show-but they are still relegated to the back. And although the body positivity movement and fluctuating trends helped create some progress, we still have a long way to go. “Curvy” and “plus-size” are only acceptable categories if the bodies representing them are curvy in all the right places. Big butts and boobs are in! Except not if they have cellulite or sag and not if your boobs are bigger than a size triple D. Even the more inclusive brands like Savage x Fenty or Arie still only carry “standard” bra sizes, and stores catering to plus size women take advantage of our limited options by hiking up prices and claiming it’s necessary for “extra fabric” or better quality. Body positive or plus-size influencers, as well-meaning as they may be, tend to only rack up viewership if they are actually “mid-size”-literally the average size American woman. And even then, those influencers and models often show off small waists and almost entirely flat stomachs. Those are non-negotiable it seems. And it’s discouraging.

Don’t get me wrong I am in no way trying to shame any influencers who match the body types I’ve mentioned above. I’m only pointing out that it’s an issue that societal standards continually ignore or belittle those who don’t match what’s trending. The hope that many of us were holding out after we started to move on from the early 2000s obsession with double zero sizing hasn’t been crushed. It’s just still a ways off. True body positivity can’t be reached until ALL sizes are not only represented but also uplifted. This goes hand in hand with ensuring that it is not a novelty to find all clothes available in plus sizes. Plus size women are sick of being relegated to their own sections where they can only find maternity style or business casual clothes in their size. They should be able to buy trendy items too! This also goes for luxury brands. If a designer or major retailer can’t make clothes that fit normal bodies then how talented are they really?

You can probably hear the frustration in my writing. Recently I’ve felt so defeated. Since we’re still in the midst of a pandemic a lot of people are still using social media to connect to the world and their loved ones, including myself. This is such a double-edged sword for me personally. I find a lot of comfort on sites like Twitter, Instagram, and Tik Tok. However, as someone who struggles with poor body image, I can sometimes have a hard time indulging in content. No matter how hard I try to curate my feeds in a way that is healthier for me, there are always reminders of how intensely our society values beauty. Since this is a personal struggle of mine, (and I can’t just blame social media for my problems) I have been spending less time on it. While that helps, I cannot escape my own brain, and unfortunately, it continues to parrot out shitty takes at me regarding beauty standards.

One of the voices I hear in my head is that of a girl I barely knew in college. She lived on the same hall as me my junior year, so we saw each other in passing a lot. However, I only ever had maybe two conversations with her that entire time. When I went home for the summer before my senior year I decided that I was sick of being fat and I was going to lose a bunch of weight before school started up again. In a few months I lost 30 pounds by going to the gym for 2-3 hours a day 5-6 days a week. Then I had to have double jaw surgery and lost another 10 pounds from being on a liquid diet for weeks. The irony of it is, I had lost 40 pounds by the time I moved back into the dorms, and I still thought I was fat. I looked in the mirror and hardly saw a difference. It wasn’t until I ran into this girl in the student center on north campus one day that I knew I looked different. I’ll never forget how surprised she looked, and her voice as she said, “Oh my gosh Emilie! Did you lose weight? You look so good now!”

Ouch.

A lot of people may think, “Okay? Big deal. It’s a compliment!” Those people don’t understand at all. Her words cut me like a knife. I thought to myself “This is what you wanted isn’t it? To lose weight and come back to school looking beautiful?” I just didn’t realize how painful it would be to have so many people comment about how much better I looked. And she certainly wasn’t the last one to weigh in on my new size. Even five years later I remember what she said because all I heard was “You didn’t look good before”. In fact, recently it hurts even more than it did then because I’ve gained almost all of that weight back. It doesn’t matter that my skin is clearer than it used to be, that I got my braces removed, or that I have a wonderful boyfriend who loves me just the way I am. When I look at pictures of myself from my trip to visit him in December, I will sometimes cry, even though we had an amazing time, because all I see is my body fat. I will get dressed in the morning, see myself in the mirror when I get out of the shower, or go on a jog and I will cry. I will get stuck in an endless loop on social media of looking at weight loss tips and progress videos that people post and I’ll cry again.

I realize that the tone of this post isn’t great. When I started writing I was on a soapbox about how all bodies should be loved and represented and then dissolved into a puddle of emotions writing about how I hate the fat on my body. It’s a ridiculous rollercoaster, and a weird post to write. I can’t bring myself to be bothered right now though. This is the direction my thoughts go. They take a wild path from positive to negative and back again, bouncing all over the place from morning until night. I’ve been trying so hard lately to focus on self-care and trying to be healthy without letting diet culture ruin it. It’s hard though, especially because I am currently unemployed with nothing better to do and I am trying to treat symptoms of my PCOS (more on that later). I suppose I’m hoping that by being honest and vulnerable that perhaps I can help others by giving them something to relate to. I think I’m also desperate to get my thoughts out somehow.

I’ll definitely write more on this later, hopefully with some positive updates, but I’m wondering if anyone out there is feeling the same way. Do you struggle with body image issues? How do you fight off intrusive thoughts? Are you trying to be healthy and having a hard time avoiding the influence of toxic diet culture too? Let me know if you’ve found things that have helped you, and hopefully, I’ll have some healthy suggestions to give you soon.

Thriller Tuesday: The Good Daughter

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Cross-posted on my Goodreads.

I made the fatal mistake of starting this at bedtime and could not put it down until 3 am when my eyes started burning. I finished it in a day and have been thinking about it since. This was my first Karin Slaughter title, but certainly not my last. For the first few pages, I was a little skeptical, because she was descriptive in a distracting way. I don’t know if she cooled it with the adjectives or if I just got used to it, but within a few pages, that was the last thing on my mind. She wastes no time in getting to the action and she manages to thoroughly introduce the characters in a succinct way that leads right into the precipitating event. Even if you are used to reading thrillers, I doubt you will be entirely prepared for the intensity of the content and pacing at the start of this. Fifteen pages in the characters’ entire lives are upended completely when two masked strangers enter their home and the following forty-five pages describe most people’s worst nightmares come to life. Since this book has disturbing content I am going to provide trigger warnings at the end of the review with some page ranges. Also, note that if it is mentioned in the book’s description then I do not consider it a spoiler. If you are sensitive to violence and unsure whether or not you should pick up this book after reading the warnings, I would air on the side of caution and skip it.

This story has two main characters, Samantha and Charlotte Quin, who are 15 and 13-year-old sisters living in a town called Pikeville. At the beginning of the book, their family is adjusting to staying in a janky farmhouse after they lose everything in a house fire, and their father is partly to blame. Rusty is a largely despised defense attorney who is known for taking on the nastiest of clients and winning impossible cases. He’s good at what he does so it’s gained him a lot of enemies, and one of them is responsible for burning down the Quin’s home. In the first fifteen pages of the book, we meet the family through Sam’s eyes. Their mother, Gamma, is an exceptionally intelligent and independent woman whose parenting style could best be described as “no bullshit”. She loves her girls though, and Sam’s admiration for her mother is evident from the start. So when Sam and Charlotte watch as two intruders storm into their home and kill Gamma in cold blood, it is devastating, and the horror that the two of them live through in the aftermath is hard to read. The story picks up again twenty-eight years later with Charlotte working as a lawyer in Pikeville right alongside her dad while also coping with her recent separation from her husband Ben. As quickly as the author jumps from 1989 to 2017, Charlotte finds herself in the middle of another tragic event and reliving the worst day of her life. Vivid memories drag up secrets long since buried, and she is faced with a disturbing case to solve that may turn everything upside down.

There are so many things I liked about this book, but what stuck out to me about it is the way that Slaughter writes about trauma. I’ve read many stories where the main character has survived a traumatic event, but I’ve never seen an author so eloquently describe more than one response to the same experience. Both at the moment of the tragedy and in the years that follow the way that the survivors adapt to and process what has happened to them is quite different. Charlie screams bloody murder, her flight instinct kicks in, and then she goes into a state of shock. Sam is too stunned to scream, gives up any hope of saving herself, and then just as quickly starts to fight for her life. For years Charlie lives with the details of what happened to her that night, while Sam is missing all but bits and pieces of her memory. The moments that were the most devastating are blocked out, leaving just the sound of a scream, the scent in the air, and the desperate feeling she had to keep her sister safe. As adults, the ways that they approach relationships, view revenge, and talk about that night vary as well. I found the way that Slaughter described the events and the character’s experience of them to be strikingly realistic, which is what makes this such a compelling read.

The case that the Quin’s get involved in as adults, while unrelated to what they lived through as children, dregs up a lot of hostility from the town surrounding what happened to them. After the time jump, Charlotte is present at the scene of a violent crime that puts the whole town in an uproar. To her surprise, dear old dad believes that the culprit may actually be innocent, despite all evidence to the contrary. Before she knows it she’s caught up in an investigation that seems to bring about more questions than answers. And of course, it won’t be easy trying to find the truth in her hometown. You would think that the community’s rage would’ve been directed toward the men who attacked the Quin family in 89’, but Rusty’s negative reputation led the citizens of Pikeville to believe that they framed one of the men involved and were responsible for putting him on death row. Even so many years later they are despised and harassed for supposedly lying in court about that night. As if that wasn’t enough to deal with, the local DA’s office and police force are made up of dirty cops who have never had any trouble dealing out justice as they see fit. Slaughter’s description of one of the lawyers in town describes Pikeville’s politics best, “Newton was one of those prototypical old white men who ran most of the small towns in America. Ben had once said that all they had to do was wait for racist, sexist old bastards like Newton to die. What he hadn’t realized was that they kept making new ones” (p. 429). The people who are supposed to be serving their community really just continue to abuse their positions of power. These are things that we as readers know to be true even if we haven’t experienced it ourselves, but when you’ve experienced violence like Charlotte has, you recognize how this culture works in direct opposition to survivors healing and receiving justice. Then you add on the fact that Rusty has represented clients charged (and often guilty of) violent crimes and is adamant that everyone has a right to representation and a fair trial. That is a difficult pill to swallow when you’ve been through something like what the Quin sisters have, and Charlotte isn’t so sure his client is innocent. However, the attorney in her knows that no matter how horrific the crime, every person has the right to legal representation and that if she doesn’t find out the truth, no one else will. It puts her in a bit of a moral dilemma and leaves old wounds aching, but she knows that she won’t stop until she knows what really happened regarding both her present case and the night her mother was murdered.

This book had me hooked the entire time. I love crime novels and darker fiction and this one is definitely one of the best in those categories. I thought that the characters were realistic, the mystery unfolded nicely, and appreciated the few light moments sprinkled in here and there for a rare laugh. Charlotte and Sam had several good lines that made me actually laugh out loud and then immediately wonder if I was going to hell for laughing at such a twisted joke. I know that I’ll think of those quotes in the future and still laugh about them because they were so unexpected in the midst of a dark story. Finally, I enjoyed how Charlotte and Sam’s relationship with each other developed and how Rusty played a significant part in that as well. Normally I read a lot of romantic suspense, so taking a break from that to read one where the focus is on a sibling (and father-daughter) relationship was a cool change. There’s probably a lot more I could say but this is already a long review so I’ll just end this by saying that this could end up being one of my top books of the year and I’ve only read nine so far. A well-deserved five stars!

TRIGGER WARNINGS BELOW

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Pages 17-39, 184-203, 404-418: Blood gore, gun violence, broken bones, bodily fluids, claustrophobia, suffocation, the verbal threat of sexual abuse, mention of sexual assault, mention of suicide, loss of a family member, murder, murder of a child from gun violence, school shooter.

Pages 404-418: ALL of the above with the addition of a graphic description of sexual assault

Page 377: Death (in hospital)

Pages 490-500: Mention of confirmed sexual assault of a minor, mention of infidelity, followed by a completed suicide by gunfire

NOTE: This is NOT an inclusive list of every potential trigger. There is mention of other subjects that readers may find disturbing. There are mentions of a stabbing, suspected child abuse, injuries, and gun violence at various points in the book. If any of the above triggers concern you, it is likely there could be other possible triggers on pages I haven’t mentioned. Read at your own discretion.

Thriller Tuesday: Never Look Back

Rating: ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ½ Spice Rating: 🌶

Cross-posted (a slightly shorter version) on my Goodreads.

I am constantly looking for quality romantic suspense to read. I blame Dee Henderson. She got me hooked on the genre with the wholesome love featured in her cozy mystery Danger in the Shadows and left me with an unfulfilled desire to read more books like it. Luckily, that book was a prequel to the popular O’Malley Series and she has written many other books since then. Although I’ve graduated to books with mature content and more complicated cases, I still revisit the entire series every two to three years and enjoy them every time. My love of romance with a dire backdrop has only intensified over time as I’ve predictably jumped from genre to genre. No matter if what I was reading was YA or adult, Fantasy or Contemporary Fiction, or something else entirely, I always gravitated toward books with love in the midst of danger. I tend to have trouble finding thrillers with well-written romance, but I still enjoy the search because Crime and Mystery novels tend to interest me regardless. For better or for worse I started watching procedural dramas such as CSI, NCIS, and Law and Order: SVU at a young age, and have not lost interest in them as an adult. Although I’ve mostly stopped watching them since I became aware of the controversial impact they can have on society’s perception of law enforcement, particularly in America, I continue to find interest in mystery and true crime content. This interest actually grew after I took a Criminal Justice course in college on juvenile crime. Since then I’ve enjoyed learning more about Criminal Psychology and got the urge to dive back into the world of Romantic Suspense.

     I was excited to find Mary Burton’s book Never Look Back in one of my favorite small bookstores in Virginia in near perfect condition and was excited to see that she is actually a local author. It is listed as the sixth title in her Criminal Profiler series, but can certainly be read as a stand-alone novel. The story follows Melina Shepard, an investigator for the missing person division of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) as she gets caught in the middle of two active cases. The story opens from the perspective of a serial killer as he sets his sights on Melina, unaware that she is an undercover cop posing as a sex worker. She is investigating two women who were abducted off the streets of Nashville while on the job and has taken the initiative to do some fieldwork without approval from her boss or any formal backup. The only person who is watching her back is Reverand Sarah Beckett, who runs a recovery residence for women struggling with addiction or trying to find a different line of work. After Sarah helps Melina thwart the killer’s attempt to grab her, she invokes his wrath and places a target on her back. However, there’s more than just one criminal on the loose, and she quickly finds herself paired with FBI agent Jerrod Ramsey, who finds similarities between her case and several of his own. As they get closer to finding the man who nearly got away with Melina, details of her past begin to come into play, and she is left with no choice but to reopen some old wounds.

     As far as crime novels go I actually thought this one was pretty good. It definitely sparked my interest in the same way a procedural drama or true-crime podcast might. However, if you’re looking for romantic suspense, this isn’t really what you’re looking for. It doesn’t detract from the mystery, but the relationship in this has little development and is pretty dry. Both Melina and Ramsey are work-a-holics, which may give them something in common, but without more detail about their interests and personality traits, they read as rather two-dimensional. They also don’t have much chemistry. The few personal moments that they share are short and still centered on work for the most part. There’s almost no sexual tension and her connection with Ramsey could be easily replicated with any other coworker, including the Reverand. Usually, in these circumstances, I look to a spicy chapter to redeem the romance a little bit, but that fell flat too. If Melina was a real person and a friend of mine I would hold a small memorial service for the death of her libido. Again, is it absolutely necessary for the story to have a sizzling romance? No. Do I personally hope to find it in every single book I read? Yes. But, to each their own.

In regards to the other characters, I don’t have a ton to add. I enjoyed Melina’s parents and their small involvement in the story. Their relationship with one of the witnesses is extremely sweet and I thought it was a nice addition that contributed well to the plot. The witness herself, who is a minor, goes through a lot prior to her introduction to the story and I really felt for her. Melina’s small bond with her was great, and I would’ve enjoyed seeing a bit more of that. I felt that Sarah Beckett’s character was under-utilized in this story. She would have made a great friend for Melina and a relationship like that would’ve made her more lifelike. Whenever I read a story where the main character has no friends I think it limits the world-building a great deal. While there are many lone wolves out there, I personally think making both main characters loners limited their growth and made it harder to connect to them as a reader.

A lot of crime novel fans may read this and think, “Who cares as long as the mystery is written well?”. I understand that. I am in no way trying to knock this book. I gave it 3.5 stars for a reason, which on GoodReads falls between “I liked it” and “I really liked it”. The killers were frightening and they had clear motivations for their crimes. The way they executed their plans was pretty realistic and the details provided by the medical examiner and forensic pathologists were often disturbing but contributed to how Melina and Ramsey solved the case. Although mild, the tension grew as the killer faced obstacles and lost some of their restraint, which had previously helped them stay hidden for so long. The pace picks up toward the end and as the threat starts to feel more personal to Melina, I found myself getting more engaged in the story, which was great. It did seem to rush to a conclusion just a bit but it didn’t feel unfinished in any way. I also think the mystery would’ve benefited from more suspects and witnesses. More appearances from Sarah and the women from the Mission would’ve worked well for this. Overall though I thought the cases were intriguing, the antagonists were well written, and the end held a few thrilling twists.

While I wouldn’t rank Never Look Back as one of my favorite suspense novels, I enjoyed reading it a lot and will definitely keep an eye out for more of Mary Burton’s books in the future. She has a few different series, including one set in Richmond, Virginia, so I look forward to reading one of those in the future. This story helped satisfied my craving for a solid mystery and got me excited to search for more to add to my To-Read list! Are you a fan of romantic suspense? Do you have any favorites you recommend? Who are some of your favorite romantic pairings in fiction that are #goingthroughit? I’ll start. Two of mine are Bryce and Hunt from Crescent City by Sarah J. Maas and Ziva and Tony from N.C.I.S.!

Undead Army

Well, hello. Long time, no post. I have, against my better judgment, decided to use this as a place to post my shitty lyrics, personal prose, ramblings, short stories… whatever. I’m thinking about also picking up regular blog posting again, but considering I’ve moved all but one of my previous posts to private I’m not entirely sure about that. Since no one follows this page anyway, I might just do it as a way of getting my thoughts out. I’m not the best at talking things out with people when I need to (I’m a textbook introvert), so what’s the harm in getting it out of my system here? Again, we’ll see. I have plenty of bad poetry saved, but I thought I’d go ahead and start with this one. It’s actually a song, but I only have a melody for part of it. I don’t know how to read or write sheet music, so I can’t convey how it’s supposed to sound, sorry. It’s unedited and dark, but oddly I kind of like it like that. It sounds as desperate as its subject matter. Please see the tags in all of my posts for trigger warnings. I went to school to get a degree in psychology to work in crisis intervention, likely as an advocate of some kind to abuse survivors (specifically sexual assault survivors). That didn’t end up happening, but I have volunteered at shelters and briefly served as an ER response team member. That is part of the reason that my writing will sometimes have dark themes. I’ll always tag triggering content though. Lastly, note that all of my content, no matter how trashy, is copyrighted. 

I wish you were to be a scar
so at least I’d know the pain would go away
but you’re a bruise
an ache that never seems to fade
I wish I could erase your name from existence
and devils like you will never know true repentance
or what it’s like to feel a beating within your rib cage
and one day there will be no more fear, no more tears, no more victims
you’ve forgotten that little girls grow up
and they’ll come back to haunt you
there’s no place you can hide
from the shame that may chase you
you’ve won for the last time
and now we’re about to break you
do you hear that sound?
you’re going down
look at this army you’ve created
Lolita came back stronger
and has raised soldiers from your devastation
thought you’d be free forever
but now you’ve gone and woken up the masses
and they’ll take all memory of you
and burn it into ashes
Lolita, Lolita
was never a love story
Lolita, Lolita
has come back
now you’re sorry
thought you’d be free forever
keep hiding
hearts you’ve severed
in your wake, you never knew you left a trail
you hear them singing?
a cursed and piercing song?
they’re saying “I’m alive”
they grow closer roaring
“I’ve survived”
a deadly day is dawning
an army is calling
they are through with your violence
they’re haunting
there’s no peace
while Lolita breathes
Lolita, Lolita
was never a love story
Lolita, Lolita
has come back
now you’re sorry

Originally written December 11th, 2020.