A Good Enough Mother by Bev Thomas

Cover Art Courtesy of Goodreads
This suspense novel absolutely drew me in with its gorgeous cover. A Good Enough Mother by Bev Thomas is a suspenseful drama that follows trauma psychotherapist Ruth. After her son Tom goes missing, she is assigned a patient, Dan, that reminds her so much of him-appearance and all. Desperate to help Dan as she was unable to help her son, she struggles to keep the rigidness in place that she normally exhibits with her patients as the professional lines start to blur. 

I thought this book was fine, but I was kind of hoping for more. The thriller element didn't really come into play until towards the very end and until that point the plot moved fairly slowly. Much of the story was more emotional, focusing on Ruth's grief, the relationship she has with her family, and how these things impact her work as a therapist. A lot of pieces of the story didn't come together until the very end, so throughout most of the book I was wondering why they were relevant. I'm glad I finished it as the ending was worth it, but there were many times I struggled to keep going.

I was very engaged by her patient Dan, and found it interesting how he referenced so many movies throughout his treatment. I also liked the added dynamics from Ruth's relationship with her daughter, ex-husband, and trusted adviser. 

Being that this book does center around trauma therapy, there are some triggering elements mentioned, such as rape, suicide, self-harm, child disappearances, and sudden death.

Overall Rating: 2 out of 5 Stars

Thanks so much to Pamela Dorman Books for a copy of this read! A Good Enough Mother by Bev Thomas is out now!

In at the Deep End by Kate Davies

Cover Art Courtesy of Goodreads
I don't think I quite knew what I was getting myself into with this book, but I definitely didn't hate it. In at the Deep End by Kate Davies follows Julia as she realizes she might in fact be a lesbian after realizing that sex with men is always terrible for her. This book was definitely explicit, so be aware if you are taking a copy of it with you into public! 

Julia throws herself headfirst into the world of lesbianism, experimenting both sexually and emotionally with women and finding herself more satisfied than ever before. When she meets the alluring Sam, she falls head over heels, but there is one problem...Sam doesn't like being monogamous. And she might also be more than a little controlling.

This was an excellent read for pride month! It was rewarding seeing Julia find herself and achieve happiness for the first time in a long time. I loved the supportive friend group that Julia had throughout the story, and I wish I had more people like that in my life! I also really loved that Julia had a super commonplace job as a civil servant. She wasn't in fashion, or an executive, or anything fancy...she was just an average woman, and I think that made it easy for readers to identify with her. I also really liked the side stories happening in the book.

I think we have all dated a Sam at some point or another...someone that makes us furiously happy one minute then puts off red flags all over the place the next. We don't want to lose those moments of happiness, but also have to decide if all the negatives that come with it are worth it. You know the relationship isn't really healthy, but it's just so hard to leave. This might be challenging for some to read if you have had a Sam (I know I have) and have traumatic memories associated with that relationship.

I was super satisfied with the ending! I did take off a star because some parts just made me squirm. I was proud of Julia's sexual liberation, but sometimes it was just a little too much to read about if you aren't typically into explicit literature. I think the point could have come across just as well with a little less graphic detail.

Overall Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

Thanks so much to Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for an ARC of this read! In at the Deep End by Kate Davies is out now!

Literary Book Gifts Writing Gloves

I was so excited when Literary Book Gifts reached out to me asking if I wanted to try out their Writing Gloves. I am always cold, my hands included, so a product that allowed me to be a little warmer while still maintaining full functionality of my hands to type was super appealing.

The gloves themselves are SO soft and comfortable, and are made from a blend of cashmere, cotton, polyester, and microfiber. They are tight enough to stay on and not be a bulky hindrance, but also won't cut off your circulation. I do have very small hands, so they were a bit big for me, but I can see them fitting the majority of people perfectly. 

 The gloves come in 13 different colors, ranging from neutrals to super colorful. I chose charcoal, which is a dark grey color, since I didn't want them to clash with anything. They allow your thumbs and fingers to stick out, not inhibiting your ability to type in any way. This also allows you to still use your touch screen devices as well! They are excellent quality and feel like they would hold up for a very long time, even with daily use.

Even if you don't have to type regularly, these would be great for tons of other activities as well, like crafting, writing notes, or even as everyday winter gloves when you wanted to keep your fingers free! There is a bit of sticker shock with the price, since they retail for US $52. If this is something you can see yourself using every day though, I think it could definitely be justified.

Thank you so much to Literary Book Gifts for sending me a pair of gloves to review! If you would like to purchase your own pair, you can find them here. They also sell other bookish merchandise, like totes and tshirts! I really want to get my hands on the Moby Dick tshirt and Alice's Adventures in Wonderland tote!

Summer of '69 by Todd Strasser

Cover Art Courtesy of Goodreads
I'm normally not a big fan of historical fiction, but being that this was a Woodstock-era, hippie book, I wanted to give it a try. Unfortunately it fell flat for me. Summer of '69 by Todd Strasser is a YA historical fiction that follows Lucas, a recent high school graduate who is trying to dodge the draft for Vietnam after getting rejected from college. Not only is he draft-dodging, but his girlfriend has moved away for the summer and hasn't really written. Lucas has to struggle with his love life and his potential military future, all while tripping on drugs and dealing with his chaotic family.

It was really hard to push through this one. It just dragged for me. The only parts I really enjoyed were the letter correspondence and the times that Lucas was with Tinsley. The Woodstock portion of the book definitely let me down, and I was sad to see it was only a short piece of the story. I thought Lucas was a really annoying character and wasn't doing anything productive with his life. I kept wanting him to get it together and he never really did. I wasn't particularly fond of most of the minor characters either.

I would probably categorize this book more as New Adult than YA. There were definitely drug references, as well as mentions of suicide and a lot more sex scenes and references than I was anticipating. 

I honestly am surprised I finished this book. I had high hopes for it since I love this era, but unfortunately it really let me down. It looks like it has great reviews on Goodreads, so it appears I'm the opinion outlier on this one!

Overall Rating: 1 out of 5 Stars

Thanks so much to Candlewick Press for an ARC of this read! Summer of '69 by Todd Strasser is out now!

Lip Balms I'm Loving


Everyone talks about making sure your lips are hydrated during the winter so they don't get dried out and chapped, but no one really emphasizes the importance of lip care in the summer as well! Today I wanted to highlight some of my favorite lip products that I've been keeping in rotation lately.

skyn ICELAND Berry Lip Fix: This product I got as a sample in my Ipsy bag, and I'm so glad I did because I don't think I would have ever discovered it otherwise! It is vegan and cruelty-free, which I love. This product contains wintered red algae to help reinforce the skin barrier to repair and hydrate, and the berry smell is the perfect scent without being overpowering. 

sara happ The Lip Slip One Luxe Balm: This is my go to when I want a little extra glam with my lip balm! This balm gives your lips a great glow with a little shimmer. It's a very luxurious product, and it's not tested on animals! Since this one is a thicker, stickier product, it does need to be worn alone. I also recommend the sara happ Lip Scrubs!

Sun Bum Sunscreen Lip Balm: If you're out in the sun a lot, you definitely need to pick this one up! All of Sun Bum's products are cruelty-free, gluten-free, and vegan. This lip balm has SPF 30, along with aloe and Vitamin E, so you know your lips are protected from the sun's harsh rays. My favorite is the Key Lime scent!

NARS Orgasm Afterglow Lip Balm: This is another great lip balm to wear alone. In the iconic Orgasm shade, it contains antioxidants and a hydrating complex to nurture your lips with a subtle color payoff. Plus the packaging is gorgeous!

Nivea Milk & Honey Lip Care: This is the balm I slather on before bed every night. It is a little greasy, so I only use it at night to ensure that my lips are soft and hydrated when I wake up in the morning!

So there you have it, all of the lip balms I've been using and loving! Do you have a lip product that you've been swearing by lately? I'd love to know!

Golden State of Mind

I was super quiet on this blog for a while recently, but that's because I was in California! My husband and I flew out to the Golden State for a little over a week to experience some of the things we've heard so much about.


Pixar Pier and Pixar Pal-A-Roundl
Our first stop was 4 days at Disneyland. As a former cast member, I love all things Disney, but had never made it out to the original park. We stayed at the Paradise Pier hotel on property, and had park hopper tickets to both Disneyland and Disney's California Adventure. I was pretty amazed at how much they have crammed into such a small space here. They have multiple attractions that WDW doesn't have that I really enjoyed, like an Alice in Wonderland ride and a Monsters, Inc. ride. The Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout ride is my new favorite Disney ride by far. It was so much fun! I wasn't sure how I would feel about it since I love the original Tower of Terror, but I was pleasantly surprised. I finally got to see World of Color, which I have been hearing about for ages, and it really was as beautiful as everyone says.

I absolutely loved the Pixar Pier area and was super impressed by Cars Land. I do think a few areas of the parks were underutilized, but I find that to be pretty true with most theme parks. I was pretty disappointed because Sleeping Beauty Castle was still undergoing refurbishment. This had been going on since January and I had really been hoping the walls would be down by the time we got there, but no such luck. Overall we had a fantastic time, but I still have to say I think I like Walt Disney World better than Disneyland! #sorrynotsorry


The Queen Mary
After Disneyland, we spent a night aboard the haunted Queen Mary ocean liner docked in Long Beach. I was actually a little disappointed by this piece of the trip unfortunately. The ship was cool, and there were some areas where I definitely felt wrong and super spooked, like the isolation ward and the engine room, but I had hoped for more than what it ended up being. Also, the walls between rooms are super thin, and people were moving furniture in the restaurant above our room all night long. There wasn't much to do, and a lot of areas were closed off for a conference happening on board.


The gorgeous Hollywood Roosevelt
Finally, we headed to LA for a few days, where we stayed at The Hollywood Roosevelt. This hotel was everything old Hollywood glamour should be. The pool area was absolutely gorgeous, and we had a room with a balcony overlooking it. There was surprisingly less to do in LA than we realized, and actually flew through our list of must-dos pretty quickly! We did the Santa Monica Pier, Rodeo Drive, Griffith Observatory/The Hollywood Sign, the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and saw Marilyn Monroe's grave. We also went to two amazing themed bars: Scum and Villainy Cantina (a Star Wars bar) and Beetle House (a Tim Burton bar) which were some of my favorite parts of the trip. On our last night, the cast of Criminal Minds actually had their series wrap party at our hotel, so it was fun getting to watch all of that happening from our balcony.


Mr. Mayor inside Beetle House
We also ate a lot of incredible food on our trip (yes, I did throw Keto out the window while we were away, but I'm back on it now!) and had a really amazing time. It was so nice to get away from real life for a while, even if we had to adjust to a new time zone to do it! Now we're looking forward to our next upcoming adventures, and I can't wait to share them with you here! Any guesses where we're going next?

Spices and Seasons by Rinku Bhattacharya


As I've gotten older, I've started to fall more and more in love with cooking. Especially doing keto, I eat 90% of my meals at home, so I love experimenting and tweaking recipes to keep things interesting. Because of that, I obviously had to jump at the chance to be part of the blog tour for an exciting cookbook! 

Synopsis


Cover Art Courtesy of
Rachel's Random Resources
Rinku Bhattacharya combines her two great loves―Indian cooking and sustainable living―to give readers a simple, accessible way to cook seasonally, locally, and flavorfully. Inspired by the bounty of local produce, mostly from her own backyard, Rinku set out to create recipes for busy, time-strapped home cooks who want to blend Indian flavors into nutritious family meals. Arranged in chapters from appetizers through desserts, the cookbook includes everything from small bites, soups, seafood, meat and poultry, and vegetables, to condiments, breads, and sweets. You’ll find recipes for tempting fare like “Mango and Goat Cheese Mini Crisps,” “Roasted Red Pepper Chutney,” “Crisped Okra with Dry Spice Rub,” “Smoky Roasted Eggplant and Tomato Puree,” and “Red Harvest Masala Cornish Hens,” to name a few. As exotic and enticing as these recipes sound, the ingredients are easily found and the instructions are simple. Rinku encourages readers to explore the bounty of their local farms and markets, and embrace the rich flavors of India to cook food that is nutritious, healthy, seasonal and most importantly, delicious.

My Review

The book itself is high quality and full of glossy pictures that just make your mouth water! There is a wide variety of recipes that fit a ton of different occasions, ranging from super simple to elaborate. I love that the book also codes each recipe, allowing for those with dietary restrictions to easily find recipes that work for them. It has a fantastic introduction section that helps you learn the basic concepts of Indian cooking as well.

This past weekend, I tried the recipe for the Herb and Spice Roasted Chicken. Instead of roasting it in the oven however, we wrapped the chicken in foil packets and stuck it on the grill to reduce the cooking time. It was absolutely delicious and incredibly simple to make! I didn't even have time to take a picture of it before we dove right in. I can't wait to try out more recipes in this fantastic cookbook. My only reason for taking off a star is that some of the ingredients are a little obscure, and some recipes require just a tiny amount of an expensive ingredient that has to be bought in large quantities.

Overall Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars


About the Author


Photo Courtesy of
Rachel's Random Resources
Rinku Bhattacharya (spicechronicles.com) was born in India, and now lives in a house with a vibrant backyard in Hudson Valley, New York with her husband, an avid gardener, and their two children. Rinku’s simple, sustainable approach to Indian cooking is showcased on her blog, Spice Chronicles, and in her Journal News column “Spices and Seasons.”

Rinku has been teaching recreational cooking classes for the past nine years, and works extensively with local area farmer’s markets on seasonal demonstrations and discussions. Rinku is also the author of The Bengali Five Spice Chronicles (Hippocrene Books, 2012), winner of the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards 2013 for Best Indian Cuisine. She writes for the Poughkeepsie Journal, the Journal News, and several online sites, and is a frequent guest on CT Style TV.


Thanks so much to Rachel's Random Resources for a copy of this beautiful cookbook, and for allowing me to be part of this blog tour! You can purchase Spices and Seasons here (US) and here (UK).

Next Level Basic by Stassi Schroeder

Cover Art Courtesy of Goodreads
Fairly recently, I discovered Vanderpump Rules and fell in love. Stassi Schroeder is my favorite character on the show, so when I saw she had written a book I knew I had to pick it up. Next Level Basic: The Definitive Basic Bitch Handbook is a tongue in cheek self help book meets autobiography.

From social media guidelines and the importance of your #OOTD, to relationships and friendships, Stassi talks you through the rules she has lived by in a variety of areas, sharing stories from both her childhood and Vanderpump. There were all sorts of fun things interspersed through the book as well, like a drink recipe, a musical theater playlist, and more!

I really adored this book. Yes, some of Stassi's "rules" were straight up ridiculous, but throughout the book she really emphasizes owning YOUR own breed of basic. Numerous times, she says that something isn't for her, but if you love it then go and rock it. So many people say you have to be this way or wear that thing, but Stassi gives readers permission to truly own their basic and whatever it is they are passionate about while explaining the rationale behind her own personal basic. While reading this, I discovered that I have so much in common with Stassi, like our shared love of Ranch dressing and fascination with true crime. I laughed a lot, related to her words, and appreciated the encouragement to truly be myself.

This was a fairly short book, and it really left me wanting more. It is the perfect book to read outside this summer with a nice cold glass of wine (which is exactly how I read it!). If you love books written by The Betches or Babe Walker, definitely pick this up!

Overall Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

Verity by Colleen Hoover

Cover Art Courtesy of Goodreads
Just like Christina Lauren, Colleen Hoover has been an author I've been avoiding because of the "romance" label. But after really enjoying one of Christina Lauren's books, and hearing that this read was super creepy, I decided to give Verity by Colleen Hoover a try - romance be damned. AND I LOVED IT. Definite trigger warning on this one though for the death of a child(ren).

Writer Lowen Ashleigh is taken aback when she is approached about helping finish a popular book series after the author, Verity Crawford, was in an accident. Lowen reluctantly accepts, desperate for money but shunning any attention she might get from undertaking this project. In the spirit of research, she is invited to the Crawford family home by Verity's handsome and charming husband Jeremy. Here she finds out much more than she bargained for, from the extent of Verity's condition to the desire Lowen is developing for Jeremy, and some sordid information about the family's tragic past that completely changes her perspective entirely. 

This book was incredible! I was legitimately terrified to the point that I couldn't read this book before bed. That so rarely happens to me that I'm completely shocked and impressed when it does, but I hate it because I want to keep reading but mentally have to wait until the day time. This story is told in different points of view, alternating between Lowen's thoughts and Verity's hidden autobiography manuscript. It was such a mind-F, and shocked me time and time again.

I do think Lowen was a pretty naive character, and I thought the ending was a bit hurried, but these things didn't bother me enough to knock off a star. Lowen's back story was very interesting and unique, and I honestly would have loved to know even more about it.

I believe this would make a fantastic movie if the raunchiness was reined in a little. It was a lot heavier on the romance than I tend to like, but somehow the creepy plot cancelled it out. Had it been less creepy, the level of smut probably would have been too much for me. Not sure if I'll read any more of Colleen Hoover's books for that reason, but I'm very glad I gave this one a try. If she does anything else along this thriller vein though, I will definitely pick it up! 

The hype around this book is absolutely real, so if you have debating picking it up I would definitely recommend going for it!

Overall Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Josh and Hazel's Guide to Not Dating by Christina Lauren

Cover Art Courtesy of Goodreads
So this is the first Christina Lauren book I've ever read. I know, I know...what have I been waiting for? I don't know, but now that I've read this book I am desperate to get my hands on more by this author duo. Josh and Hazel's Guide to Not Dating is an adorable contemporary romance that follows best friends Josh and Hazel and their riotous relationship as they navigate trying to hide that they have feelings for each other.

Josh and Hazel were friends in college, but had since drifted apart. But when Hazel finds out that Josh is actually her new best friend Emily's brother, the two rekindle their friendship and ultimately end up becoming roommates. The pair tries to set each other up on blind dates with friends of theirs, with each new date ending in disaster. Maybe strangers aren't who they should be dating after all.

I absolutely loved this story! It had me smiling and laughing the whole way through. It was told in alternating chapters between Josh and Hazel, giving the reader insight into each of their feelings and what they were thinking as the story progressed. I loved Hazel's zany personality and menagerie of pets, and I loved Josh's reserved yet playful demeanor. I actually think I was hesitating on reading this because it was labeled as a romance and I am not a fan of smut. Yes, there were a few sexy scenes in this book but it was much less than I thought it would be and did not at all deter from my overall enjoyment of the book. 

There were the perfect amount of side characters, and the plot was very easy to follow. I thought the epilogue was adorable, even though I've seen some people saying they weren't a fan of it. I could absolutely see this fantastic romantic comedy becoming a movie! And can we talk about how pretty this cover is?

Now that I know what Christina Lauren's books are like, I've already ordered My Favorite Half-Night Stand to try out next!

Overall Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

Last Girl Lied To by L.E. Flynn

Cover Art Courtesy of Goodreads
I usually can figure out YA thrillers pretty easily, but this one did manage to surprise me. Last Girl Lied To by L.E. Flynn follows Fiona after her best friend Trixie commits suicide. Only Fiona doesn't believe it was suicide. Teaming up with Jasper, Trixie's friend with benefits from before she died, Fiona tries to piece together clues that might give them an idea of what actually happened to Trixie, and if she is still alive. Maybe disappearing was what Trixie wanted all along.

I did enjoy how this was told in alternating chapters between past and present, and how this showed you glimpses of Fiona and Trixie's friendship. Trixie fit the manic pixie dream girl mold that all my readers know I adore so much. I enjoyed Fiona's side plots with Beau and her other friends. And like I mentioned previously, I actually didn't figure out the twist in this one when usually I can. 

That all being said, overall I was still not a fan of this book. Just because I didn't figure out the twist doesn't mean it was a good one, and I was not at all satisfied with the ending. There were a lot of times where it got really slow and it was hard for me to push through. I also thought it was unnecessarily long and took a decent amount of time to finish for a YA. Other than Trixie, I didn't really care about any of the characters, and honestly kept thinking that Fiona was an idiot for some of the choices she made. I feel like this book could have been so much better, but unfortunately it ultimately fell flat.

Overall Rating: 2 out of 5 Stars

Thanks so much to Imprint for an ARC of this read! Last Girl Lied To by L.E. Flynn is out now!

The Mother-In-Law by Sally Hepworth

Cover Art Courtesy of Goodreads
I really enjoyed Sally Hepworth's last book, The Family Next Door, so I jumped at the chance to get to review this one. The Mother-In-Law is a mystery that opens with the death of Lucy's mother-in-law, Diana, then continues by alternating between the present and the past, detailing both the investigation and the events that led to Diana's passing. While Diana's death appears to be a suicide on the surface, things just aren't adding up. And if it wasn't a suicide, who is responsible? Why does everyone in the family suddenly have something to hide? I would put a trigger warning on this book for miscarriages/failed pregnancies.

I liked this book fine, although unfortunately not nearly as much as The Family Next Door. The plot was good but didn't grab me, and while the ending wasn't quite predictable per se, it wasn't at all surprising either. I just couldn't get invested in this one as much as I was expecting.

I did enjoy the alternating points of view of both Lucy and Diana, as well as how the book incorporated both present day and flashbacks to the past. This really made it clear that you don't always know a person's intentions, and they aren't always as malicious as you think. The characters were fine, but not really memorable, although Diana and her husband Tom completely reminded me of Emily and Richard, the grandparents from Gilmore Girls. Of course I have to mention how much I love the cover.

Overall it was a solid story and I'm glad I read it, but to me it just wasn't as good as Hepworth's last book. 

Overall Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Thanks so much to St. Martin's Press for a finished copy of this read! The Mother-In-Law by Sally Hepworth is out TODAY, April 23rd, so be sure to pick up a copy! 

Amy Cole Has It All Figured Out by Elizabeth McGivern

Cover Art Courtesy of Goodreads
I've been a major reading slump lately, and this was the perfect book to pull me out of it. I've raved about the Amy Cole books by Elizabeth McGivern here on my blog before. Amy Cole Has Lost Her Mind and Amy Cole is Zen as F*uck are both hilarious stories with engaging plots that simultaneously tackle some taboo issues. I obviously jumped at the chance to read the third, and sadly last, installment in the Amy Cole series: Amy Cole Has It All Figured Out. With Elle recently diagnosed with cancer and Amy pregnant again, life is maintaining its regular chaos. Will these two best friends be able to weather the storm unphased, or will life's circumstances win out?

As with the other Amy Cole books, this read had me both laughing and crying. One scene had me doing both! The friendship that Amy and Elle have is so pure and genuine, and I hope that one day I'll develop a friendship like theirs. This book, like the other installments, definitely touches on some tough subjects, like cancer, mental illness, grief, and loss. 

One thing I wasn't a huge fan of in this book was the pacing. There were multiple times throughout this read where I felt like the story was coming to a natural end, only to have it start revving right back up again followed by another major event shortly after.

I liked how more characters were introduced in this story and expanded Amy's universe. You really saw a lot of growth from Amy throughout this book. I will say that by the end of this story, I was really not a fan of Ben anymore. I thought he could have done a lot more to support Amy and lend a hand rather than make things harder for her. Like come on, who gets a puppy for his wife right before she is about to give birth then expects her to care for it?! I thought this was an absolutely perfect ending to the Amy Cole series. Even though I am super sad to not get any more, I am very content with the way it wrapped up. 

Overall Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

Thanks so much to the author, Elizabeth McGivern, for reaching out and asking if I wanted to review this read. Amy Cole Has It All Figured Out is out now, so be sure to grab a copy of not only this read, but the entire Amy Cole series!

Product Review: Function of Beauty

This is another product that I've seen a ton of ads for on Facebook and Instagram. Function of Beauty offers customized hair care products tailored to your own personal hair type and up to five hair goals. You can also pick the color and fragrance you want your products to be!

I went with a shampoo and conditioner set (8oz each). For my hair type, I selected straight + fine + normal. My goals were shine, volumize, anti-frizz, strengthen, and replenish hair. I picked Nude (P)each for the fragrance, and made my shampoo blue and my conditioner pink. Each bottle comes with a pump for ease of use, and they put your name right on the side of the bottle!
What I Liked:

I am a huge fan of customization, so the fact that these hair products really are personalized to you is a win. I loved getting to pick not only the formulation, but the colors and scent too! If you don't want colors and prefer unscented, they have that as an option as well. 

I have been using nothing but these products for the last 3 months to really see if they have made a difference, and I do think the products mostly delivered on my hair goals. They didn't weigh my hair down or leave it greasy. My hair definitely has more volume than it used to, and I can tell it has gotten healthier. It's way softer than it used to be! There is also a little bit of added shine, although not a ton. 

I received my set back around January 10th, and STILL have some product left! I am close to being out of shampoo, but have about a quarter of the conditioner remaining. How is it everyone always runs out of shampoo first?! I wash my hair probably 4-5 times a week, and my hair is almost down to my butt, so that's definitely saying something about how a little product really does go a long way. And I'm glad, because this was a bit of a splurge at $41 for the set.


What I Didn't Like:

I'm not sure if my shampoo formulation was extra thick because of the options I chose, or if the included pumps just sucked. The conditioner came out fine but it took way too much effort to pump the shampoo out. Since ordering, I have seen an announcement that the company has changed their pumps, so maybe it wasn't just me with this problem! Obviously the high price is a negative, but if hair care is really something you focus on (and I always have), it's a little less painful hitting the order button when you know the product is really good. 

The scent of my products was pleasant, but I wouldn't have called it peach, so that was a little bit misleading. I don't think the anti-frizz element did much, although that could just be that my hair is damaged and needs a trim vs anything the products could fix.



The Verdict:

I'm a Function of Beauty convert! I'm about to get some highlights for the spring, so I will be placing an order with the added hair goal of reducing brassiness soon! I'm very excited to try out the new pumps to see if they are better than the old ones. They have also recently come out with a personalized leave-in conditioner that I want to try out as well.

Have you ever tried out Function of Beauty? If you're interested in giving it a shot, head over to their website via my referral link! You will get $10 off your first purchase and I'll get a $10 credit!


My Keto Journey


If you follow me over on Twitter, you will have seen a fair amount of tweets over the last two months about keto. I just hit my two month mark on my keto journey and thought it was time to write a blog post about what I've experienced so far! If you are like I was, you are really curious about the diet, but also a little skeptical, so hopefully giving you some insight on my journey will help you decide whether or not you'd like to give keto a try!


The Basics

So the keto diet is based on a diet of very low carbs, high fat, and moderate protein. The idea is to kick your body into ketosis, a state where it burns fat for energy versus burning carbs. As someone who used to be addicted to things like pasta and bread, I was really hesitant to cut these things out of my life. I also realized quickly that sugar=carbs, so anything that had any kind of sugar was mostly off limits. Key foods on the keto diet include red meat, butter, olive oil, heavy whipping cream, avocado, etc.

You'll find a lot of mixed reviews on the internet when you look up the keto diet. I say take everything with a grain of salt. Just like all diets, it's level of effectiveness varies person to person. It does seem like for the majority of people, the diet stops being as effective after 3-4 months, and I do plan to transition off of it when I hit my goal weight. There aren't really any long-term studies on the diet yet since it is so new, but obviously if you eat nothing but bacon on this diet you will probably have some major heart and cholesterol problems down the road. 

My Experience

When I calculated my personal macros I found that I needed to stay under 16 grams of net carbs per day  (they say the average to get into ketosis is 20-30). Net carbs are total carbs minus fiber and sugar alcohols. One look at the nutrition on my coffee creamer that first morning was an eye opener...it had almost my entire day's worth of carbs in one serving! I ended up making a lot of food swaps: sugar to stevia, flavored coffee creamer to half and half, lean meats like chicken and ground turkey for fuller fat ground beef and steak. I also found that I had to limit my intake of vegetables (since veggies DO have some carbs!), and pretty much stayed away from fruit entirely. 

I did experience some small keto flu symptoms. The keto flu happens when your body transitions from burning carbs into ketosis, and you may experience symptoms like headaches, feeling extra tired, irratibility, brain fog, etc. known as the keto flu. This only lasted a few days for me, since I quickly learned to combat it with added electrolytes. I also had trouble sleeping at first, but the electrolytes helped with that a ton, as did saving a carb or two for a bedtime snack.

This diet actually becomes super intuitive very quickly. Like I mentioned before, sugar=carbs so if it has sugar it's probably out. Artificial sweeteners like aspartame and Splenda aren't recommended, and you should swap them for natural alternatives like stevia. Anything processed was also out for the most part. Obviously things like bread, pasta, potatoes, etc. were on the no list. You also shouldn't have beans or any veggie grown underground. I have mostly been eating dairy, nuts, meat, and veggies. There are some packaged keto products on the market that I've thrown into my diet as well, but you should limit those as they do still have some artificial ingredients. This is a diet that actually lets you have alcohol as long as you allocate for those carbs, but for some individuals alcohol makes them hold onto weight. As with any diet, drinking plenty of water is also important.

Once I was fully in ketosis, I noticed a huge spike in my energy. Normally I hit a slump mid afternoon and like to go to bed early, but I've had so much energy on this diet that the slump is gone and I'm staying up later. After the initial few days of sleep problems, I've also found myself sleeping really well at night!

One major, maybe TMI complaint I do have about this diet is that it really screwed with my period. I've been having basically 2 periods a month since I started, even though I'm on birth control, which really sucks. It looks like some women have issues with their cycle, but not everyone. 

I haven't felt deprived once during keto, which I love! My problem with other diets has always been that I have felt like I was missing out on good foods, but not this time. I eat flavorful cuts of meat, make amazing sauces, and can put butter on things without feeling guilty! You can even put butter in your coffee, although I haven't been brave enough to try that myself yet!

This is probably the easiest and most satisfying diet I've been on so far. Yes, it requires a lot of tracking, but as my results below will show, it's absolutely worth that effort.

My Results

I've been on keto for just over 8 weeks, and I have lost 13 pounds. I won't go into starting and current weight, because this will obviously be different for everyone and what people weigh can often be a trigger, but this was a considerable amount of weight for me. To put things in perspective, last year it took me an entire year to lose 10 pounds. I'd tried everything, from calorie counting/restricting, to intense exercise, to eating clean, but nothing was really making the scale move. Keto was almost a last ditch effort for me, and I'm so happy I gave it a try because it really was the kick start my body needed to drop that remaining extra weight. Plus the added benefits like sleeping well and having a ton of energy have been great!

While I'm not quite comfortable enough for full body shots yet, here's a little face-off comparison. While the first image was taken about a month and a half before I started keto, I was the exact same weight as when I began.


  
At my keto starting weight!

At my current keto weight! And I still get wine!

What I've Learned

More than anything, this journey has taught me to eat healthy! So much unhealthy, processed food is loaded with carbs, so it's been nice cutting all that junk out of my diet. When I do transition out of keto, I absolutely intend to keep up the healthy eating and avoid processed food. I recently tested out a small piece of cookie (yes I counted those carbs for the day!) and actually found that I've lost my taste for sugar, which I consider a win! 

I think one of the keys to being successful on keto is really being prepared. I track my macros in a free app called Carb Manager, and it's really helpful in figuring out what food I can have in a day. Knowing what I plan to eat has really helped me stay on track. If I know there is going to be food somewhere I can't eat, I can pack something that I know is keto friendly. Catching yourself with nothing you can eat will inevitably result in cheating! I'm very proud to say I haven't cheated once on this diet. There are also keto friendly snacks that you can have during this diet which have really been lifesavers for me. I've always been a huge snacker! I plan to do a post soon about my favorite keto snacks. 

Electrolyte supplements will absolutely help ward off the keto flu. I noticed the symptoms going away almost immediately after I began adding supplements. I use the Ultima Replenisher supplement in the Cherry Pomegranate flavor. I'll mix mine up to drink every night with dinner, and I'll put it in a wine glass if I'm feeling fancy!

If it hasn't been obvious already, I am so happy with my keto experience. Have you tried keto, or considered trying it out? Let me know if you have any questions!


Fake Plastic Girl by Zara Lisbon

Cover Art Courtesy of Goodreads
Vapid, glamorous, wealthy, manic pixie dream girl books are absolutely my guilty pleasure. Fake Plastic Girl by Zara Lisbon delivered. The book opens with the death of Eva-Kate Kelly, a former child star turned party girl and socialite then flashes back to the events leading up to her death. 

This story is told through the point of view of Justine, an average girl who has regular brushes with celebrities but could never call herself one. When Eva-Kate Kelly moves in across the street, Justine is swept into her circle, and all the spontaneity and WORD that comes with it. But what does Justine really know about Eva-Kate? And what does Eva-Kate know about Justine?

This book was delicious and I devoured it. I love imagining starlets driving around with the windows down wearing big sunglasses, doing whatever they want because they can. I love that there was a dog in the story named Princess Leia and Justine took her wherever she went. I loved Eva-Kate's personality and purple car. The ending really threw me for a loop and brought up so many more questions than it answered! Luckily, it appears there is a sequel already in the works!

My only real complaint with this book was the gargantuan amount of Taylor Swift references. It could have gotten the point across with about half of these...the way it stands this many were just overkill.

Was this book full of substance and intelligent thought? Absolutely not. Was it an amazing guilty pleasure read that delivered exactly what I was hoping for? Of course it did. I loved this book, not because it was particularly profound or well written, but because the plot was engaging, the characters were realistic, and the subject matter was right up my alley. If you are looking for an easy, light read with a little bit of intrigue, this book is for you.

Overall Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

Thanks so much to Henry Holt for an ARC of this read! Fake Plastic Girl by Zara Lisbon is out now!

Product Review: Cocofloss

Lately I've been seeing ads floating around Instagram and Facebook for something called Cocofloss. Being that I'm admittedly not the best at flossing, and this looked like a hip product to use, I ordered a three pack. This product is pricey compared to your average drugstore floss, running around $8-10 for 60 days of floss if you buy them individually. I figured that the flavor options, the high quality ingredients, and overall cuteness of the packaging would make it worth it if it actually helped me develop a good flossing routine. 


What I Liked

The product shipped quickly (and free!), and the outer boxes that each floss came in were brightly colored and appealing. The floss packaging itself was chic and the floss was a gorgeous bright blue shade. The back of each floss also had a measurement gauge so you could see about how many days of floss you had left. The floss itself is free of parabens, SLS, and PFAS. It's also cruelty free which is a big win in my book.

What I Didn't Like

The product itself was terrible. I started with the Cara Cara Orange flavor, but I didn't taste any flavor at all. In addition, the floss actually shredded while using it. The website says each piece of floss is comprised of over 500 filaments. Well, about 400 of those ended up stuck in my teeth. Not only that, but the shreds were so small and delicate it was incredibly difficult to then get those strands unstuck. It was also initially very thick (pre-shredding), so getting the piece of floss in and out of my teeth was a challenge. I decided to open up a second box in the hopes that it was just that orange flavor that had problems, but the Pure Strawberries floss also had no flavor and shredded just as badly. The floss packaging, although visually appealing, was very difficult to get open. To avoid breaking my thumb nail off, I had to pry the lid open with the end of a set of tweezers each time I went to floss. 

The Verdict

Cocofloss was not for me. I have seen tons of people rave about it, which is fantastic, but I did end up asking for a refund. I will give their customer service department credit: they responded quickly and they gave me my money back, no questions asked. 

Have you tried Cocofloss? Do you have any other flossing products you would recommend?

Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Cover Art Courtesy of Goodreads
I've been saving this post, even though I read this book weeks ago, because today Stevie Nicks gets inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as the first woman to ever be inducted twice! Keep reading to find out Stevie's ties to this story.

There has been no shortage of hype surrounding this book, so I snatched it right up for my Book of the Month. After reading it, now I know that the hype is real. Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid follows this band on their rise to the top in the 1970s, and their break up right as their star has gone as high as it could possibly go. Even though this is technically a historical fiction, it really didn't seem like one to me even though it took place about 40 years ago. If you read my blog regularly, you'll know I'm typically not a fan of historical fiction. But this book? This book I loved.

The band The Six is slowly making a name for themselves, at the same time as the young and beautiful Daisy Jones. When their record label forces them together, no one knows what will happen. Will it be chaos? Will it be magic? Turns out, it's a little of both. It's sex, drugs, and rock and roll all the way for this band.

About halfway through reading this I switched over to the audiobook. As much as I loved the book, I knew that the interview format would be that much better on audio, and I was right. I've seen some comments that the interview format was hard to follow, but I found it very easy to get used to, both written and in audio. I thought it was a very appropriate format for the subject matter.

This book absolutely SCREAMED Fleetwood Mac to me. And if you know me, you know I LOVE Fleetwood Mac. A Stevie Nicks biography was actually the first physical ARC I ever received! Even the voice of Daisy Jones on the audiobook sounds remotely like Stevie Nicks. The Aurora album mirrored Rumors, the Daisy/Billy relationship was absolutely Stevie and Lindsey, and Karen was Christine through and through. There's even a reference to Stevie in the acknowledgements at the end. Therefore, I obviously loved this book. 

I want the Aurora album to be real. I want to blast it on my record player. But even though I will never get to do that, there are lyrics in the back of the book, and a bonus track of Honeycomb (without vocals) on the audio version. There's also a playlist on Spotify inspired by the book, so be sure to check that out! 

This was my first Taylor Jenkins Reid book, and it will absolutely not be my last. I've seen that The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo gives serious Marilyn Monroe vibes, so I think I will pick that one up next.

This book had everything I love in a book: engaging characters, a dramatic storyline, and was realistic as hell. Even though it's only March, I'm convinced this will be one of my favorite books of the year, and I've already decided to collect as many editions of this as possible.

Overall Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

**Sign up for Book of the Month with my link and we'll both get a free book!**

In Another Life by C.C. Hunter




Summary

Last year, I read and reviewed This Heart of Mine by C.C. Hunter and loved every second of it! I jumped at the chance to be a part of the blog tour for her newest book, In Another Life. 

Chloe was adopted when she was three, and after her adoptive parents divorce, Chloe and her mom move to a new town. Immediately, Chloe catches the attention of Cash, who she feels an immediate connection with. But Cash has ulterior motives. Chloe looks just like the kidnapped daughter of Cash's foster parents, and he's determined to figure out the truth. 

"Hunter deftly delivers a complicated back-and-forth point of view between Chloe and Cash, building suspense along with a steamy sense of attraction between the two teens."  --Kirkus


My Review

Cover Art Courtesy of Wednesday Books
I absolutely enjoyed reading this book. I was actually surprised at how much action it had, and how dark it got at certain points. I loved the back and forth points of view of both Chloe and Cash, their obsession with Skittles and caramels, and overall just how cute their relationship was. I thought the family dynamics were very real, even though they were hard to read at points. And the plot was definitely intriguing!

Unfortunately, this didn't quite live up to This Heart of Mine for me. This does deal with the difficult topics of adoption and being a foster child, as well as the death of a parent, a parent with cancer, and child abuse. I just didn't feel as strong of an emotional response with this one as I did by her previous book. It was still really good, but I think it might have had a little too much going on for me to really connect to it.

Overall Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Author Photo Courtesy
of Wednesday Books


About the Author

C.C Hunter is a pseudonym for award-winning romance author Christie Craig. She lives in Tomball, Texas, where she's at work on her next novel. Christie's books include The Mortician's Daughter series, Shadow Fall novels, and This Heart of Mine.


Thank you so much to Wednesday Books for an advanced digital copy of this read! In Another Life by C.C. Hunter is out today, so be sure to pick up a copy!