The train of former Disney and Nickelodeon stars who turn into pop singers continues. Over the years, we’ve witnessed Hilary Duff, Miley Cyrus, Demi Lovato, and others who initially appeared on tween television fare eventually enter the music scene. Many I sense were thrust into the limelight to capitalize on their fame. Though I’m not in their target demographic, I have nothing against young stars. So when Selena Gomez released her latest single, “Come & Get It,” I gave it a listen. I’m not a fan of teen pop but I’m not afraid of finding a potential gem in that genre. I’ve yet to find one and, unfortunately, “Come & Get It” doesn’t measure up to the musical high bar.
“Come & Get It” is a love song of sorts (more on that in a moment) and marks Selena Gomez’s return to music as well as (I assume) a break from her band The Scene and squeaky-clean pop. The song’s beat is good and easy to listen to and it borrows from modern Bollywood rhythms and incorporation of foreign (Hindi, I believe) lyrics. Gomez actually stirred up some controversy when she dressed in quasi-Indian garb to perform this song on the 2013 MTV Movie Awards. I watched her performance online and I don’t think what she did was offensive. But she’s not strong vocally and got off-key so often, I couldn’t watch anymore. But I digress.
While music is meant to be mixed and matched, I think “Come & Get It” would have benefited from being one or the other, electro-pop or world, as opposed to borrowing from both and meshing them in a way that’s less than seamless. There is a big difference between a song that truly incorporates a blending of styles (such as what Damon Albarn & the Malian Musicians did on their collaborative effort, Mali Music) and a song that tosses in musical elements just to make it sound fun, interesting, or cool. Granted, “Come & Get It” is fun to listen to but it’s far from musically interesting or “cool.” (Never heard of Mali Music? Definitely check it out since it’s fun, interesting, and cool. )
Lyrically, “Come & Get It” is not groundbreaking and it’s essentially a song of devotion to a guy. The lyrics that typify this best occur in the last verse when the song’s speaker states, “I’m gonna love you for life/I ain’t leaving your side/Even if you knock it/ain’t no way to stop it.” This statement of perseverance is actually one of few lines with the clearest intentions. The rest of the lyrics aren’t so easy to discern. In the verses, Gomez asserts she will always be there for her man though isn’t specific as to what she is waiting on. It could be that she’ll support and stand by him when times get tough, but the chorus’ repeated lines of “so when you’re ready come and get it” don’t seem to imply that. While the song manages not to be lascivious, one questions whether Gomez is singing about commitment or simply her willingness to give physical “love” (read: sexual favors) at any given time. Another question is that is she showing true devotion to a man who equally cares about her or is she holding the torch, “addicted,” in her words, to something falling apart?
One line in the song has her confessing, “I’m not too shy to show I love you, I got no regrets./I love you much to, much to hide you,/ this love ain’t finished yet.” This could be read multiple ways. First, the speaker might be taking the first step to keep the relationship alive. Another explanation could be the relationship is dying but the speaker refuses to let it go. Lastly, it’s possible the speaker isn’t interested in true love (i.e. commitment) but just a fling. Since the song isn’t overt in what it’s trying to convey, it’s up to listeners in terms of how steamy or innocent they view Gomez’s assertions.
On its own, “Come & Get It” is average pop fare. While musically it manages not to be too annoying, the lyrics aren’t fresh and sound recycled. Not to mention most of the chorus’ vocal space is Gomez singing either “na-na-na-na” in time to the beat or repeating the final consonants in the word “ready.” For me, that’s just lazy songwriting and makes me wonder if (a). whoever penned the song ran out of things to say or (b). those verbal ad-libs were actually written in there. In either case, it irks me to hear someone make the equivalent of nonsensical sounds as opposed to adding more words to the song and, maybe in doing so, giving it more meaning.
After “Come & Get it” was released as a single, the video was launched. The video itself received some hype because it also marked Gomez’s venture in grown-up land. Since the song was at least passable to me, I checked out the video. Based on early comments, I was expecting it to be something special, especially after I read the four elements (fire, earth, air, and water) were going to play a central role. I wanted to see something artistic, maybe even symbolic. Both aspects would have elevated the song from its mediocre status, in my opinion.
But, alas, a mediocre song gets a mediocre video. “Come & Get It” possesses the potential to be epic but falls short. There are some things to the video’s merit though. The cinematography is pretty and the transitions are nice. The color saturation is rich and deep, especially during the scenes where Gomez is in a wildflower-carpeted clearing. In some of these same scenes, she sings in front of a series of mirrors reflecting orange sunlight that’s stunning in terms of lighting. Overall, the video captures the natural landscape in a way that beautifies it, so for the photography alone “Come & Get It” is worth a watch.
To be true, the video incorporates the four elements but not in the way I was hoping. Rather than serving as symbols, they’re more like props. Gomez is shown swimming in water, dancing among flames, and striding across a wind-swept clearing. But that’s as far as it goes. Since the lyrics are shallow, there really is nothing for them to be attached to on a deeper level here though I sensed the potential existed.
Then there is Gomez’s actual performance. While it’s certainly not risqué, it typifies the standard route many tween stars take when it comes to evolving into a more “grown-up” image. Here, Gomez engages in sensual posturing and dance moves though, to be fair, it doesn’t cross the line into racy territory. She keeps it reined in but the lyrics’ ambiguity regarding what the singer is waiting for from her man becomes a little clearer in the video. To me, if it was a song about true love and commitment, Gomez wouldn’t be dressed to show skin or dance suggestively.
A final question remains of how exactly one defines being grown-up. For many of these young singers, becoming an adult means embracing sensuality, not true maturity, which involves responsibility and accountability. I’m not saying musicians cannot or should not change styles, lyrical directions, or even image. But it seems like the only direction former Disney stars take is the route of sensuality, some more so than others. If “Come & Get It” is a clue to Selena Gomez’s direction, I fear she, too, will go the way of others before her. (Not to mention her role in the racy romp Spring Breakers.) We’ll see what the future holds for Gomez, but for now this recent track and video fall in the middle of the forgettable pop spectrum from a teen star trying to take the sensual highway into adulthood.
Overall Score: Two Brains (out of Five). Musically, “Come & Get It” is catchy but forgettable. The video has nice photography and it’s worth a watch for that alone if you’re a sucker for gorgeous scenery and lighting techniques (like me). But Gomez’s lyrics and performance are typical of the track teen stars tend to take. “Come & Get It” is good for a few listens but other than tapping your toes to, it really isn’t worth anything more.
This was one of the first shadow palettes I bought from Sephora’s Kat von D line. While I reviewed some of her loose shadows in an older post (see the archives) and wasn’t entirely impressed, I wanted to see how her pressed shadows fared. Well, I guess you can still call me unimpressed.
The colors (from left to right) are: Sugar Skull (shimmery ivory), Long Distance (shimmery pea green), Snake Eyes (shimmery mint green), Finland (teal cream), Prague (matte deep purple), Galeano (shimmery dusty lavender), Rehab (shimmery beige), and Sister (matte peach). The palette also comes with a mirror and two mini-applicators, which aren’t shown because I wasn’t able to use them and threw them out.
My favorite, and the most versatile color, in this palette is Sugar Skull. Sometimes palettes feature a matte ivory or matte white but I prefer some shimmer to my lighter shades. Sugar Skull makes a good accompaniment to a nude eye (or any eye look) without any glitter or dullness. But the real disaster here is Finland, the only cream shadow in the palette. It’s a lovely color but the consistency is horrible. I honestly have no idea how it’s meant to be applied. I’ve tried brushes, applicators, and my own fingers but nothing works. It has a dry consistency but I’ve not owned it long enough for it to have dried out. Just to prove how dry this cream is, to come up with the swatch, I had to dig my index fingernail in and scrape out some product to put on my hand. Even then, I had to rub it around a little bit to get it to stick to my skin. That’s a real shame because I would definitely wear this color if I could use it.
While these shadows certainly aren’t the worst I’ve ever used, they’re far from the best. Consistency-wise, they can be tricky to worth with due to excessive fallout or overly sheer pigmentation (especially Sister). Likewise, some of the dusky colors fade over time even with a shadow primer. These swatches are proof of how sheer these colors tend to be. When I applied these to my hand, I purposely went heavy-handed so they would show up on camera. Needless to say, they’re a bit underwhelming. Overall, I was expecting something to jump out and impress me in this palette but, alas, it did not. But let’s see what the Beauty Marks have to say.
Packaging: 3/5 Beauty Marks – The palette’s actual construction is solid and the lid stays open, which makes it easy to use. Likewise, the palette doesn’t take much effort to open and its tab is user (and manicure)-friendly. But despite this, the outer aesthetics don’t do it for me. From the dull, thick plastic to the monochrome key design, the palette just looks cheap. But it feels solid and would probably hold up relatively well under normal abuse.
Product: 2/5 Beauty Marks – None of these shadows wow me or are in any way unique. They’re a nice array but Finland stumps me. Color-wise, it’s a gorgeous mermaid green but the quality and application are awful. Likewise, some of the matte and dusky shades fade even with a primer, so it seems as if they’re meant to be blended with other colors or used as accent shades. For me, that decreases the versatility and usability of the palette.
Price: 2/5 Beauty Marks – Unfortunately, the Truth palette is no longer available through Sephora, but I’m certain you could get one from eBay. I purchased mine from Sephora (in store) for around $34, so that comes to about $4 a shadow. That’s relatively fair but, quality-wise, these shadows just don’t hold up.
Final Score & Thoughts: Kat von D’s True Romance Truth eye shadow palette earned a total of 7 out of 15 Beauty Marks. Ouch! I think if these shadows’ formulas were smoother and more pigmented, they would have fared better. Likewise, it seems a bit strange to offer a single cream that, essentially, is unusable due to its consistency. Overall, the palette’s look, feel, and shadow selection is average if not teetering a little below average for me. If you could snag it for well under $30, it might not be bad, but it’s definitely not worth full retail price.
[Added Note: In the end, I discarded this palette. I know – shame on me! But I just couldn’t take it anymore. I rarely used it and it was just taking up space. I used a small screwdriver, popped out the shadow trays I wanted, and inserted them in another Kat von D palette I also tossed shadows from. That way, I kept the colors I liked from the Truth palette and got rid of the useless ones like Finland. I hate admitting that I throw makeup away but some of these colors, the cheap-looking box, and that blasted Finland were really asking for it!]
Being a Trekkie at heart, I was excited to see the franchise get a reboot with 2009’s Star Trek, directed by J.J. Abrams, which featured a younger “Original Series” crew. I had my reservations but the compelling cast, dynamic plot, incredible action, and gorgeous cinematography made me a firm believer that Abrams was perfectly capable of reviving a well-deserving classic sci-fi series. When I heard rumors of a second Trek film with the same cast, I was excited but wondered how it could hold up to the initial film’s high bar.
Turns out Star Trek Into Darkness exceeded all of my expectations at warp speed.
Abram’s revival shows the Original Series’ cast as their younger selves, with Chris Pine as a youthful (yet equally adventurous and reckless) James T. Kirk, Zachary Quinto as Spock, and Zoe Saldana as Uhura, along with the rest of the crew. While the first film featured the obligatory introductions, Into Darkness jumps right into the action and rarely stops. Plot-wise, Kirk and company are sent on a covert mission to hunt down a terrorist within Starfleet who is responsible for unleashing some violent attacks on Earth. The terrorist, known initially as John Harrison (Benedict Cumberbatch from “Sherlock”), sequesters himself on Kronos, the Klingon home world, which resides outside of Federation space. Any wrong move on Kirk’s part could ignite a war. But while a star system-wide conflict is avoided, the cornered and captured Harrison reveals a sinister plot generated by some unsuspecting sources with potentially devastating effects. Harrison appears to be a pawn in the game but he’s actually a much bigger player who knows what moves to make, who to use, and when to move in for the kill. Not to mention he isn’t all he appears though, at the risk of unleashing a major spoiler, I won’t say anything more. But I will say Harrison’s character is a critical centerpiece to the Trek canon and the reveal is well-done and definitely worth being surprised.
I continue to be impressed with the cast. Most of them are relatively unknown to me (though I knew Quinto stared in the NBC series “Heroes,” which I never watched). Sometimes I think lesser known actors can do a better job a big named star can’t. Each of the characters here are spot on and even borrow from their older counterparts’ behaviors, mannerisms, and attitudes. Rather than being an utter disaster, it’s a perfect unity where the crew faces personal conflict or differing opinions but it’s depicted with maturity as well as some humor. I do want to call special attention to Pine, Quinto, and Cumberbatch’s performances (though certainly not to downplay anyone else). Pine’s Kirk and Quinto’s Spock carry on their chemistry and friendship from the first movie and it’s interesting to see how two such different persons become close comrades. Chris Pine is a classic, cocky Kirk but delivers it with a deft hand. He’s tough but not afraid to express softer emotions without turning into a weepy wimp. Quinto also puts his all into a young Spock and masters his character’s torn nature as half-Vulcan and half-Human. Lastly, Cumberbatch plays a perfect villain; he’s cunning, cool-headed, altruistic at times but never without a big sucker punch hidden up his sleeve. Also, Harrison isn’t just the villain because that’s his role; he actually makes us care about him – at least until he starts stabbing backs.
Cinematic-wise, Into Darkness is just as gorgeously filmed as its predecessor. Some people have criticized Abrams of being trigger happy with the flare lens but I love it. In both movies, I thought that lighting technique gave the scenes a celestial quality. If it was done all of the time, it would lose the wow factor for me. But overall, this movie makes a great use of darkness and light, appropriately enough. Almost everything associated with the Enterprise is bright and full of light with rarely any shadows. On the contrast, Harrison and his fellow antagonistic cronies are painted in shades of darkness, blatant indicators of which side they stand for.
Star Trek Into Darkness also doesn’t skimp on the action though it’s not overkill. I was on the edge of my seat the entire time, especially once the story takes us into space where anything can happen. The constant twists and turns not only make for great entertainment but also good storytelling. Most of the time, I had no idea what to expect and it made for a very speedy two and a half hours. A good action-driven movie should employ several set pieces, which are scenes of principle action. In my opinion, many action-driven movies have way too many set pieces without any story or characters to ground them. If something is going to explode, the audience needs to care about why it’s blowing up, who is doing it, why they’re doing it, and how it ties into the plot. A series of mindless action sequences without a good backbone falls apart once you get past the surface. But Into Darkness proves you can pack in the action and not leave it detached from the story or characters involved. Rather than move from set piece to set piece, Into Darkness keeps it together with a solid plot and absorbing characters, not to mention good moral questions regarding who really is in the right and how far Kirk will go to seek justice.
Even though Gene Roddenberry purposely crafted “Star Trek” to be devoid of religious contexts, he did emphasize the noble virtues of loyalty, courage, compassion, and friendship. These are still carried out by the Enterprise’s younger crew here. Among all of the explosive action, another thing I loved about Into Darkness was its unabashed exposition of these virtues. There are too many incidents to name but two that stood out to me are when Kirk refuses to leave Spock to fend for himself on a planet facing a catastrophic natural disaster. Even though rescuing Spock proves dangerous, Kirk is willing to risk his own life for his friend. Spock doesn’t grasp this right away and insists that, “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the one,” but later he understands how some ties, like the ties between friends, are stronger than protocol. Another scene has Spock in the captain’s chair, urging his crew members to evacuate when the Enterprise is on the brink of destruction. But Sulu (John Cho) adamantly says they’re all in this together, and if it means dying as a crew, then they die as a crew. In a self-centered, selfish society, seeing a movie that covertly praises courage and loyalty to one’s friends is definitely worth major kudos.
Content-wise, Into Darkness is PG-13 for some language and intense sci-fi action. That pretty much sums it up. I can’t recall hearing too much language and the violence is more large-scale than up close and personal, thus there isn’t much blood and absolutely no gore. Overt sexual content is non-existent save for some of Kirk’s flirtatious ways. The absolute worst the movie displays in this regard are briefly showing some female characters in their underwear but that’s as risqué as it gets. Into Darkness stays true to “Trek” form in that it keeps things fairly clean, especially for a PG-13 film. Kids younger than 13 could see this movie without issue but I’m guessing anyone younger than eight or so would probably find it too long to sit through.
In the end, Star Trek Into Darkness is an awesome summer action sci-fi movie, but the reason why it works is that it’s more than just that. It has a heart and shows an undying faith in human nature as well as the power of friendship and the triumph of good over evil. In fact, its title alludes not to the bleakness of space but how easy it can be to slip into moral ambiguity. Sometimes trying to combat the sins around us may cause us to fall. Even Kirk himself observes, “There will always be those who mean to do us harm. To stop them, we risk awakening the same evil within ourselves.” The difference is what we choose to do. It’s not who or what we associate with that makes us good or bad, it’s the choices we make. While Kirk and his crew aren’t angels, they’re definitely capable of making moral choices and showing that life is about more than just serving yourself. Sometimes these choices may not look like the smartest courses of action but doing the right thing can be difficult, if not outright scary, yet there are times when a stand has to be taken, especially a stand for what’s right. As Kirk admits, “I have no idea what I’m supposed to do. I only know what I can do.”
Overall Score: Five Brains (out of Five). Star Trek Into Darkness keeps the momentum from the first film and has a plethora of positives, from fresh characters to a compelling plot and full throttle action. But more importantly, it upholds not only the values of “Star Trek” but depicts and praises classic virtues, showing viewers the importance of bravery in the face of danger, loyalty towards those you care about, genuine friendship, and the importance of doing what’s right as opposed to what’s popular or politically correct. J.J. Abrams scored a home run for me with Star Trek and he only duplicated (and multiplied) what I loved about that film here. May the Trek franchise live long and prosper for years to come!
I have some of my fellow bloggers to thank when it comes to picking this little beauty! Several beauty bloggers reviewed and praised this gem of a polish, so I decided to try it myself. I had never used a Deborah Lippmann polish before and was a bit nervous. (I always am for fear I’ll plunk down some hard-earned cash for no reason.) I don’t know why I was so worried – this was a fabulous find!
Ray of Light is a rich, deeply saturated indigo blue with copper flecks that really pop. I have to note that my photos seem to turn the base color into more of a navy shade but that isn’t accurate. The flecks aren’t pesky like glitter and for that I’m glad. Color-wise, they’re chiefly copper but are duochrome and will turn from copper to gold to green depending on the angle of light. Ray of Light’s consistency is pure perfection; it’s semi-thick and has a gel-like texture that makes it easy to apply. (My photos below sport two coats with a base coat.)
I was heartily impressed at how long this polish lasted. I applied it on a Saturday and it went almost chip free for six days! (That included three showers, typing, normal abuse, and hand washing.) I did see some minor (almost unnoticeable) tip wear on a few fingers but that was days into the application. All in all, this was a very long-lasting polish. So my first foray into the Lippmann line was satisfactory – now on to the Beauty Marks!
Packaging – 5/5 Beauty Marks: Ray of Light comes in a small, square glass bottle with a thick black plastic lid. I liked the feel of the lid, which serves as a handle for the brush, and the brush itself allows you to distribute polish across your nail without hassle. (Again, more of that is due in part to the polish’s consistency, not the brush’s construction.) Overall, the look and feel of the bottle speaks of class and user-friendliness. Plus its smaller size means less bulk in storage.
Product – 5/5 Beauty Marks: This polish is perfection in a bottle, from color to application. I think blue polishes can be hard to pull off and most blue shades work better on certain skin tones. But Ray of Light seems like the sort of color that would flatter everyone thanks to its cross into the blue-indigo spectrum. Likewise, the duochrome copper flecks add an elegant touch that, while lacking the glitz of glitter, are devoid of hassle during removal and complete the look. Combine that with nearly a week’s worth of wear (on me) and there is no way I can find any faults here.
Price – 4/5 Beauty Marks: Most Deborah Lippmann polishes sell for around $18. I bought mine from Ebay, so I paid less (plus shipping). Personally, I think the price point is a tad steep, especially for the bottle’s size, but that’s honestly my only negative.
Overall Score & Final Thoughts: Deborah Lippmann’s Ray of Light scores a 14 out of 15 Beauty Marks. Brilliant! I usually avoid blue polishes but I fell in love with Ray of Light at first swipe. If you are looking for a unique polish that’s not easily dupable and is no hassle, Ray of Light is a must for your collection.
For every book with good cover art, there is a tome whose face isn’t so great. To compliment this month’s previous post about my favorite book art, I decided to generate a list of titles sporting not the greatest covers in the world. I’ve seen my share of racy covers, none of which I own, but what about the stuff that isn’t racy but doesn’t paint the book in the best light? Before I begin, I want to say that these books are not necessarily bad in terms of story. Their covers just don’t add anything to them or, worse, detract. So in reverse order….
6. Elixir (Hilary Duff)
I already reviewed this book, so feel free to check my archives. To me, the cover just says cheesy chick flick. Of course the book kind of falls that way, too. It looks like Duff herself posed for this shot or at least someone who resembled her in a side profile. In any case, while this cover does capture the gist of the story, it’s muted and not particularly eye-catching. Just seeing both characters from this angle gives no impression as to their personalities and, thus, makes them appear very generic (which would actually be correct when it comes to the novel). One point in its favor – the cover for this particular edition has a strange rubber-like texture even though it’s a paperback. I’ve never owned or felt any book quite like it so it at least possesses one interesting facet.
5. The Snow Queen (Mercedes Lackey)
While I don’t mind this story, the cover reminds me of a cheeky beauty contestant. It doesn’t seem to fit the nature of the main character at all and implies nothing about the secondary plots, which grow to equal importance. I’m a bit on the fence about this one. I certainly don’t hate it but I felt it was a bit too cheery (and a tad cheesy) for the story, which is a little more somber and serious than the cover lets on. On the plus side, the color scheme is lovely and presents a good contrast, but the overall character depiction here doesn’t quite make the mark for me.
4. Mutineer (Mike Shepherd)
Is it just me or could this drawing pass for Beth Riesgraf, the actress who played Parker on TNT’s heist drama “Leverage”? Seriously, this is an example of not-so-great sci-fi art. Where Trading in Danger (see previous May Brain post) has a cover that is sophisticated, this one seems cartoony. While I only read this novel once, I felt the cover’s rendering of the main character didn’t seem true to her in my mind, at least not in personality. The story itself is a bit too serious for such a colorful rendering, too. Instead, this seems more fitting for a cool military sci-fi comic book or graphic novel.
3. Dhampir (Barb and J.C. Hendee)
This cover is a perfect example of utter misrepresentation. Judging by the female lead here, you’d think this is trash vampire lit. It isn’t. It’s actually entertaining and fairly clean. But her seductive threads and stance gives readers a different impression. In fact, I almost didn’t buy this book solely for the cover. Once I got past it, it turned out okay. But I wished the artist wouldn’t have used sexy clothes and poses to showcase this book since its story and characters couldn’t be further from the truth. The lead is not a sexed up bimbo but a strong female character who deserves to be painted in a better light…and clothes. (Though the haircut and black lipstick are cool.)
2. Vampire Diaries, Vol 1 (The Awakening/The Struggle) (L. J. Smith)
I hate to start accusing people but this cover looks familiar…. Could a better image not be given to grace this teen vampire book, which is typical love triangle fluff? (I’ve heard the TV show is better, which I’ve never watched, but the book wasn’t all that great, if I’m being honest.) I’m usually not a fan of object-centered covers anyway as I prefer art to depict what the main characters look like, but I really dislike object-centered art that is bland. A blood-dripping apple? Wow, that is so uninspiring. If I hadn’t read the book first (and with an entirely different cover), I wouldn’t be encouraged to pick it up now. If you’ll pardon my reference to an Eminem track, “Would the real Twilight book cover please stand up?”
1. Breaking Dawn (Stephanie Meyer)
Again, I want to say that I actually like this book (noticed I said “like” not “love”). But compared to the rest of the saga’s covers, this one is …okay, I’m just going to say it – lame. At least Twilight and New Moon featured lovely nature-inspired art and Eclipse’s frayed ribbon design evoked some symbolism. But this cover is just weird. Yes, I do get its meaning in part – Bella is the White Queen. But who is the red pawn, the weakest of all chessmen and obviously the opponent player? Is it meant to stand for Jacob? Edward? Bella’s former mortal life? I’m not sure. But I felt for as strong of a part Bella plays in the book (and her strongest performance in all of the books, actually), she deserved better than a chess piece motif. Symbolic images work but only if they make sense. (On a side note, maybe the pawn implies how Bella – and let’s be fair here – used Jacob and Edward at times, even pitting them against each other. That’s probably not what the artist was going for but it kind of fits, sadly.)
I saw this look online so I can’t take credit for it and, sadly, I can’t remember where I found it. I thought it would be a colorful disaster on me, but to my surprise I was able to pull it off. You don’t need the same products I used, just similar colors (swatches of the products I used can be found online so you can match/compare with what you have). This isn’t as complicated – or scary – as it seems. The only problem with it? I’m hungry for Skittles!
To recreate this look:
1. Start off with an eye shadow primer, covering the whole lid.
2. Brush neutral eye shadows over the whole lid and crease. Use a slightly darker shade for the crease for definition. Any two neutral shades will do as long as they match your skin tone. I used two matte nude shades from Urban Decay’s Naked palette – Naked over my whole lid and Buck for my crease.
3. Next, apply a semi-thin line of black eye liner to define the lid’s edge. I would advise against pencil liner since they are prone to smudging and this isn’t intended to have a smudged look. (I used Loreal’s Linear Intense in carbon black.) Give it a good flick at the outer corner to create a cat eye. You can get as subtle or as extreme as you want but avoid creating a super-bold, thick, black line.
4. For the rest of the colors, you’ll need a liner brush. Liner brushes are angled so you can apply color to the edge of your lid. I applied these colors wet, so after wetting your brush and dabbing excessive water on a tissue, lightly sweep the edge of the brush into the shadow. Just make sure to wipe off the extra color before applying the next segment of shadow.
5. All of the shadows I used for the liner are Sugarpill pressed powders. Flamepoint, Buttercupcake, Love +, and Poison Plum came from the Burning Heart palette, and Midori, Afterparty, and Tako came from the Sweet Heart palette. Again, you can use any shadows you like but you will need bright, pigmented colors.
6. Using your liner brush, apply the colors in rainbow order above the black eye liner line, starting from the inner corner to the edge where you created your cat eye: Love + (red), Flamepoint (orange), Buttercupcake (yellow), Midori (green), Aterparty (blue), and Poison Plum (purple). Quick FYI: these colors tend to bleed slightly into your crease due to the lid’s natural folds. I wore this look for a few hours and spied little bit of yellow and green in my right eye’s crease though it wasn’t very noticeable. If you apply a great deal of shadow, the residue might be more significant. This isn’t meant to be an all-day look – just something fun to sport for a few hours.
7. Lastly, briefly swipe Tako (white) over the lid. The trick is not to create a white lid but to lighten the lid a smidgen so the bold liner colors show. Then apply mascara and liner to your waterline. (I’m using Buxom lash and Tarte’s Lights, Camera, Lash mascaras and Revlon’s Colorstay [in black] for my waterline). Avoid applying too much liner to your waterline. You could always opt to use a different color (perhaps white) but keep it simple so the rainbow colors pop.
Let’s face it, the first thing we see when we glimpse a book is its cover. Despite what the old adage says, we do tend to judge a book’s contents by what it looks like on the outside. For this post, I scoured my bookshelf and pulled out six of my favorite covers. In fact, it was thanks to these covers that I picked up the book. Oddly enough, all but two feature female leads on their covers. That’s not to say I don’t read books with male leads, but for some reason those covers don’t get much attention. Needless to say, I found these books were worth a permanent place in my collection. So in reverse order, my six favorite covers are….
Honorable Mention: Firebird (Mercedes Lackey)
I decided to go ahead and add this cover in at the last minute because I think it’s a good example of great character design. I wished the novel itself would have been just as intriguing but at least the cover is cool.
6. The Scorpion Jar (Jason M. Hardy)
This was a random buy for me at the bookstore and the cover is 100% responsible why I picked it up. The image here of a perky blonde dressed in battle gear, walking confidently yet nonchalantly through a room where she’s obviously out of place is definitely eye-catching. It made me wonder who this woman was, what was she doing dressed like that, and where she was. Granted, it turns out this book borrows from the world of MechWarrior, a video game. But whether you’re familiar with that or not (I’m not), it doesn’t matter. The Scorpion Jar is a fun read.
5. Twilight (Stephenie Meyer)
Sometimes simplicity is beauty. Granted, I’m not entirely fond of the first entry in the Twilight saga but the cover art is still pretty. The bare white arms cradling a crisp red apple in the hands – all against a stark black background – lacks frills but it certainly catches your attention. Unlike some books that are fairly obvious with their cover design, Twilight does make you wonder what it’s about. Not to mention I think it’s one of the most easily recognized covers.
4. The Magicians and Mrs. Quent by Galen Beckett
This was another cover that intrigued me to see what the story was about. Having a lady dressed Jane Austen-style, gazing into a star-filled orb is enough to draw me in. Is this book a fantasy/science fiction hybrid? Not exactly, but kind of. It’s more magic than science, which is fine. I do have to admit I thought the cover was more exciting than some parts in the book but it’s an interesting read.
3. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (J.K. Rowling)
Out of all the Harry Potter covers, this one is my favorite. I love the misty blue background and the aura of mystery it implies. Harry himself is front and center, looking over his shoulder, as if expecting Lord Voldemort to emerge at any time. Again, there is nothing fancy about the cover for Phoenix, but it’s this minimalism that catches the eye.
2. Souless (Gail Carriger)
This is such a neat cover! I love it. It’s sophisticated, elegant, and definitely steampunk. Check out her parasol. Not your grandmother’s umbrella (or brolly, I should say) for sure! This cover is fairly simplistic but I always visualize this image as the lead character. To be fair, the covers for this series have changed models but this particular lass is Alexia Tarabotti.
1. Trading in Danger (Elizabeth Moon)
This cover is the epitome of science fiction. While some sci-fi books get graced with cheesy, cheeky, or even racy art, Trading in Danger presents its chief female protagonist as a modest, intelligent, confidant, but not cocky character. It’s all in the her face – she’s in the seat of command but her eyes tell you she’s just a teensy bit worried. I also respect the fact the artist didn’t sex up Ky Vatta nor try to make her appear masculine. The overall artwork is superb and there seems to be a lot going on all in one place. This cover prompted me to read the front insert, which led me to read the first few pages (standing there in the bookstore), which led me to purchase the book. Two days later, I had finished it. So in this case, I could judge a book by its cover and it was a good call.
What books do you own that you think sport some nifty cover art? Feel free to share them in the comments below!
This clocks in at having the longest name ever for any Beauty post title! Henceforth, it shall be called by any number of abbreviated names.
This particular Pink Supersoft Body Lotion I own is called Soft & Dreamy, which is what I’ll be reviewing here. This is my second bottle and I first picked it up at a Bath & Body Works summer sale. While there are numerous other scent combinations, Soft & Dreamy was the only concoction I liked.
This is a highly-scented lotion and it will linger on your skin almost all day. Despite that, I didn’t find it causing any of my perfumes to smell funky. Even though it’s called a lotion, its consistency is more like a body cream. That means you can use this product sparingly though it does take a little bit of elbow work to rub it into your skin.
Scent-wise, Soft & Dreamy possesses a sweet floral with a gentle fruit undertone (I’m guessing berries). (The back of the box says “dreamy meringue and whipped cream” but it’s actually a little more complex than that.) It smells strong at first but quickly dries down though the scent will last. I like the scent itself though it’s not my favorite among lotions nor is it anything particularly unique. But it’s nice and feminine without turning sickeningly sweet on your skin.
Unlike most lotions which tend to come in tubes, Pink sells this line in a plastic square box. While the plastic is pliable and you can squeeze the sides, I doubt it would break or puncture easily. The pump is easy to use and allows for a controllable amount of product to be released into your hand. It also comes with a locking cap so you can ensure no product leaks out when not in use. Speaking of storage, the Pink lotions can either be a bear to put away or a dream come true. If storing this under your vanity, you might like its compact shape but it tends to take up a fair amount of space on a vanity. The shape isn’t a deal-breaker for me, so I suppose it comes down to personal preference when it comes to container size.
My only complaint is the pump’s construction inside the bottle. Granted, the tube cannot reach all the way to the bottom to allow for the suction process to work. But in my first bottle, I ended up with about an inch of product stuck at the bottom with no way to get it out. It wasn’t until I bought my second bottle that I could empty its remains into the new container. This is a huge gripe for me because, in my opinion, I should be able to use 99% of a product before it’s time for the trash. Again, this might not seem like a big deal to everyone but it was an annoyance to me.
Overall, I like Pink’s Supersoft Body Lotion in Soft & Dreamy. I ended up buying it twice but I’m not sure I would go out and repurchase it a third time. So on that note, let’s see what the Beauty Marks say.
Packaging – 4/5 Beauty Marks: All of Victoria’s Secret Pink Supersoft Body Lotions come in a plastic square bottle. While this design makes it easy to store, it does consume its share of counter space. The locking pump releases a good amount of product from an initial pump, which saves from having to pump several times to get the amount you want. But the pump’s tube could have been designed better to allow more product to be used from the bottom before it’s time to throw it away. (But maybe that’s the secret to get you to buy it again!)
Product – 3/5 Beauty Marks: Soft & Dreamy is a nice scent, pleasant to the olfactory glands, but nothing spectacular or unique. It’s not an obnoxious sweet smell though it certainly isn’t “soft” thanks to its staying power. Moisture-wise, it keeps your skin soft – no more, no less. To be fair, I couldn’t tell any difference between using this lotion or any of my Bath & Body Works body creams.
Price – 4/5 Beauty Marks: Pink’s Supersoft Body Lotions sell between $12 (at Bath & Body Works) to $15 (Victoria’s Secret). Based on the amount of product you receive (16.9 fluid ounces) and overall performance, I would say this is a good value. Not an awesome, stellar, super-terrific value, but fair.
Overall Score & Final Thoughts: Pink’s Supersoft Body Lotion in Soft & Dreamy scored a 11 out of 15 Beauty Marks. Not bad. The lotion itself is nice and does the job any lotion should do. But the heavy, heady scent might not enthrall all noses. Since I have found many Victoria’s Secret scents seem to borrow from each other, it might be better to try this product in person. But it’s certainly worth checking out if you’re looking for a lotion that’s maybe a little better than your typical drugstore moisturizers.
I decided to have some fun this week and set forth twenty-one questions about books to myself. I certainly did enjoy interviewing myself!
1. What is your favorite reading spot? I love to sit outside on a swing and read, especially in nice weather. When weather gets too hot or too cold, I retreat into the living room. I read before bed sometimes but I never grab any of my favorite books. Usually, it’s just something short that helps my brain relax.
2. What are your book browsing habits? I stalk the Science Fiction/Fantasy shelf first then I move on to Independent Readers and Young Adults. Sometimes the content in adult books annoys me, so I’ll pick something that’s a bit cleaner. I’ve also been known to lurk in the Classics section as well as informative books, such as Travel, Science, and Languages. But you’ll never catch me in the Romance, Western, or Horror sections. I like romance if it’s incorporated into a story (and by that I don’t mean sex) and horror is good if it leans more towards the suspense end of the spectrum as opposed to gore. As for Westerns, they’re just not for me.
3. How do you organize your bookshelf? My books (if not in a series) are organized alphabetically by title, excluding articles (i.e. The Girl who Could Fly is arranged under “G” not “T”). Books in a series are organized by order of release or story chronology (such as The Chronicles of Narnia).
4. What is the longest book you’ve ever read? War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy…duh! Second place goes to The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky.
5. What is the shortest book you’ve ever read? A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens.
6. What book did you read as a new release? Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, which I pre-ordered. (I got the super-terrific-happy-deluxe illustrated hardcover edition…which is no longer in print. You are free to hate me now.) Most of the Fablehaven series I also bought as they were released (excluding the first two books).
7. What book do you keep meaning to read? Wuthering Heights by Emily Brönte. Second place would be Ian Fleming’s James Bond novels. I tried From Russia with Love once but I don’t remember it, meaning it must not have left an impression. But I really should try a few more before I officially give them up.
8. What book did you not think you would like but did? Repo Men by Eric Garcia.I was prepared to hate its guts (pun intended). Turns out it has been relegated into my favs! Another close second is Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens. I was prepared to declare it as dull as dirt but I love it when I’m proven wrong. Last place would go to Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier, which wasn’t as boring as I thought it would be since it’s historical fiction, which I almost never touch. [I just realized I own two books with Jude Law on the cover - that probably helps their appeal. ]
9. What book did you not think you would like and didn’t? That would be nearly every book I read for a local book club, which I ceased attending a long time ago. I do keep an open mind but my likes are fairly narrow. The book that claims top prize here would be The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. I dislike books written as letters because I like a linear story, not something told in bits and pieces. (The only exception is Daddy Long Legs by Jean Webster but only because I like the protagonist). Another title I can name off-hand is The Host by Stephanie Meyer. Overall, I thought the concept was interesting and it could have worked but it was so dry and none of the characters held my interest.
10. What book did you try to like but couldn’t? I have tried many times to enjoy Jane Austen’s works. Alas, I cannot, though it’s not because I think she’s a bad writer. A second place contender would be In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash by Jean Shepherd. I was expecting his memoir to be as delightful and charming as A Christmas Story, which borrows from portions of the book. But sadly, the book retains a sardonic, cynical tone that seems to treat childhood as this dumbed-down stage that one overcomes by growing up and becoming sardonic and cynical. Needless to say, the film’s take on things is much better!
11. What books were you surprised you didn’t like? Sara Douglass’ Wayfarer Redemption series. I love fantasy but these books literally depressed me. I never had any book adversely affect my mental state like these did. It seemed as if nothing good ever happened to any of the main characters. I was happy to rid my shelf of those tomes. Second place goes to The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger. To be fair, I wasn’t ready to like it anyway but when the main protagonist just kept hopping into bed in nearly every scene, I tired of it and removed it from my presence.
12. What book would you never read? 50 Shades of Grey sounds so trashy, it comes with flies. The Stookie Stackhouse books fall into my avoid-at-all-costs category, too. I don’t take issue with sexual material if it’s necessary to the plot. But must we capitalize on what goes on in people’s bedrooms? Or, worse, expose or invent weird sexual habits and practices? I have a huge issue with the erotica genre (aka emotional porn) but that would take another blog post to rant about.
13. What books have you thrown away? This is the ultimate act of hatred against a book but I’ve done it. One title I can recall off-hand would be The Man from St. Petersburg by Ken Follett. While I can’t remember other specific titles, books that get donated to the trash are those containing unnecessary (and unnecessarily graphic) sexual content. I can tolerate a little but when authors have to start spouting off parts of the anatomy, I’m done. If I want that, I’ll consult Grey’s Anatomy (the book, not the show).
14. What book literally put you to sleep? Gain by Richard Powers. It was required reading for an American Literature class when I was in college and I couldn’t get past the second chapter without dozing off. That particular chapter was all about how soap was made. Yes, that’s right. I think watching soap get made would have possessed a higher entertainment value.
15. What was the best final book in a series you’ve ever read? Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, hands down! I was nervous to read it because usually the last book in a series is the most disappointing for me. But Rowling pulled out all the stops and wrapped up the series masterfully, answering all of the major questions I had regarding how Harry’s saga would end. I couldn’t really see how she could have done it any better.
16. What was the worst final book in a series you’ve ever read? The End, the last book in A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket. As strong of an ending Deathly Hallows was, The End was the complete opposite. It failed to address any of the series’ big questions or wrap anything up. After finishing it, I wanted to heave it across the room. Yes, it was that bad.
17. What book do you think is the most underrated? I’m going to lump all of Eric Garcia’s works into this category. Seriously, why haven’t more people heard of him? He possesses a darkly humorous tone that, honestly, I’ve only seen British writers pull off. Plus, I love the fact his protagonists are morally flawed who make as many wrong choices throughout the course of their fictional lives as they do good choices. But they all get redeemed in the end, just not in a saccharine way, which I respect Garcia for not falling into that trap.
18. What book do you think is the most overrated? Twilight. Now before you hate on me, allow me to explain – the series’ subsequent novels pick up the pace though sometimes the suspension of disbelief does ask a lot out of me. But the first novel, Twilight, drags its proverbial feet before it gets going. In general, teenage drama/love triangles fail to hold my interest unless they’re really well done (like in The Hunger Games trilogy).
19. What was the fastest time it took you to finish a book? This is a tie between finishing Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone in five hours (in the first reading) and The Hunger Games in barely two days (also on a first reading).
20. What book (or books) have you read the most? In terms of single books, I have read The Lord of the Rings once every year for over a decade. But overall, it definitely has to be the Harry Potter series, which I read every year, twice a year. After doing the math, that equals to over 100 readings! I wonder what a record is? No wonder young Potter fans I talk to stare at me in awe – I am the unofficial Hogwarts guru!
21. Okay, so what exactly ARE your favorite books? I suppose I’ll indulge you after all this; in order, they are:
The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
Repo Men by Eric Garcia
Way Station by Clifford Simak
The Fablehaven series by Brandon Mull
The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells
Matchstick Men by Eric Garcia
The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis
The Neverending Story by Michael Ende
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky
Over My Dead Body by Rex Stout (and most of the other Nero Wolfe mysteries)