30 December 2011

BOOK REVIEW - The Rivals by Daisy Whitney

Synopsis from Goodreads:

When Alex Patrick was assaulted by another student last year, her elite boarding school wouldn't do anything about it. This year Alex is head of the Mockingbirds, a secret society of students who police and protect the student body. While she desperately wants to live up to the legacy that's been given to her, she's now dealing with a case unlike any the Mockingbirds have seen before.

It isn't rape. It isn't bullying. It isn't hate speech. A far-reaching prescription drug ring has sprung up, and students are using the drugs to cheat. But how do you try a case with no obvious victim? Especially when the facts don't add up, and each new clue drives a wedge between Alex and the people she loves most: her friends, her boyfriend, and her fellow Mockingbirds.

As Alex unravels the layers of deceit within the school, the administration, and even the student body the Mockingbirds protect, her struggle to navigate the murky waters of vigilante justice may reveal more about herself than she ever expected.

The Rivals is the sequel to Daisy Whitney's debut novel The Mockingbirds, which was released last year.  I received an ARC of The Rivals for review.  The Rivals will be released on February 6, 2012.

The Rivals picks up at the beginning of the new school year after The Mockingbirds ended.  This year, Alex is in charge of the Mockingbirds.  Right as the school year begins, she is confronted with a case that is different from anything the Mockingbirds have handled before- an alleged drug ring that students are using to cheat.  Throughout the book, Alex must confront both friends and enemies, decide who is being truthful and who has been lying to her, and come to terms with her role in the Mockingbirds as well as her standing with her friends.  Alex is more mature in The Rivals, and I felt as though her decision-making in this book was more rational and less emotional than in The Mockingbirds.  Of course, being as this book takes place in high school, there is still a touch of romance, friendship problems, and growing pains.

Overall I was very pleased with The Rivals.  The characters grew well in the aftermath of the events from The Mockingbirds, new characters were introduced, and new layers were added to returning characters- even some more minor ones, such Ms. Damata, the music teacher, which added depth to the plot.

Daisy Whitney deals with difficult issues in her books, but in a way that is approachable to young adult readers.  In fact, I think the real lesson in The Rivals has less to do with the surface "don't use drugs" issue, and more about how to make informed decisions with the information presented to you and how to deal with the aftermath of choices you make.

I would highly recommend reading The Rivals (and The Mockingbirds, if you haven't read that)!  Whether you're a YA reader or not, these books have a lot to offer.

FTC Disclaimer:  I received an advance readers copy (ARC) of The Rivals for review from Hip Scouts, a program of LB-Teens and Hachette Book Group.  All opinions expressed are my own.

28 December 2011

Purex Triple Action Laundry Detergent

I received the new Purex Triple Action laundry detergent for review from Purex Insiders.  This is the first time I have ever used Purex brand laundry detergent, as my parents have used Tide for as long as I can remember.  However, I am always open to trying new brands of products, so I welcomed the opportunity to sample Purex's new detergent.

I was not at all disappointed!  In fact, I felt as though the Purex Triple Action freshened my clothes better than any detergent I have used in the past.  Oftentimes, I find that my laundry is "clean", but still smells bad even after washing it.  Some of that probably has to do with the fact that I wash my clothes in a dorm laundry room using really old machines.  But, my clothes smelled clean after washing them with Purex Triple Action in the dorm washing machines!  I sampled the Mountain Breeze scent.  It wasn't overpowering at all- my clothes smelled fresh, but not "perfumey" in a way that would clash with the scents I wear as makeup.  My usual laundry detergent is unscented, but I found that I actually prefer the scented Purex detergent.

Here's what Purex says about their Triple Action detergent:
"New Purex Triple Action leverages the best parts of our current formula, combined with new additions, to deliver great cleaning plus improved brightening power... Like all of our current detergents, new Purex Triple Action has been specifically formulated to work in both traditional and High Efficiency (HE) washers."
Overall, I was very happy with my experience using Purex Triple Action.  I will definitely continue using it, because it leaves my clothes smelling clean and looking great!

FTC Disclaimer:  Purex provided me a free sample of their new Triple Action laundry detergent in exchange for a review.  All opinions expressed are my own.

15 December 2011

Holiday Cards from Shutterfly

Shutterfly has a fantastic collection of holiday cards this year!  For the past couple of years, I have ordered my holiday cards from Shutterfly, partly because they have a huge selection of designs, and partly because I always seem to have a promo code for the Shutterfly website.  When you combine those two, it only makes sense to order from there!  Below you can see the holiday card that I will be sending out this year~ how adorable! :)  I can't wait until my friends and family see it!

Stationery card
View the entire collection of cards.

FTC Disclaimer:  In exchange for posting this, Shutterfly will send me a coupon code that I can use towards my next purchase.  This has not affected my post in any way.  All opinions expressed are my own.

REDBOX 12 Days of Deals and Prizes (a Smiley 360 mission)

I was lucky enough to be selected to participate in a Smiley 360 mission to promote Redbox's 12 Days of Deals and Prizes.  You can find out more about this mission here.

First of all, if you haven't heard of Redbox before, here is a description, taken from the campaign homepage:
Renting more than 1.5 billion discs to date, Redbox is America's destination for movies and video games. With more than 28,000 locations nationwide, Redbox is the fun, fast, easy way to rent the latest new release movies on DVD or Blu-ray Disc® and the top new releases of family video games. Featuring up to 200 titles and 630 discs, Redbox is a fully automated video rental store contained in 12-square feet of retail space. With more than 68 percent of the U.S. population living within a five-minute drive of a Redbox kiosk, Redbox is where America rents movies and games.
I love Redbox!  My family rents movies from there all the time, because there is a Redbox kiosk in most of the grocery stores near my house.  Since it only costs $1 per night to rent a movie from Redbox, it's a much more economical way to watch a movie than buying the DVD or seeing it in theaters.  In fact, in some cases my family has waited for a movie to be released through Redbox before watching it since paying $1 to rent a DVD is much cheaper than paying for five movie tickets.

$1 is a great price to rent a DVD, but this holiday season, Redbox wants to make things even easier by giving away coupons towards their DVD rentals.  Their promotion is called 12 Days of Deals and Prizes.  By texting "FUN" to 727272 once per day from now until December 24, you'll receive back in the form of a text message a code that can be used for money off of your next rental from Redbox- anywhere from 25 cents to $1 off.  If you're lucky enough to get a $1 off code, your movie will be free!  You'll also be entered for a chance to win other great prizes from Sony, Wii, Barnes and Noble, and more!  So why wait- start participating in Redbox 12 Days of Deals and Prizes today!

You can find Redbox on Facebook.

FTC Disclaimer:  I am participating in a mission through Smiley 360 to promote Redbox 12 Days of Deals and Prizes.  In exchange for my participation, I received one code for a free movie rental at Redbox.  All opinions expressed in this post are my own and have not been altered in any way by my participation in this mission.

08 December 2011

Product Review: Physicians Formula New! Shimmer Strips Fashionista Eyes shadow and liner

I was lucky enough to receive the new Shimmer Strips Fashionista Eyes eyeshadow and liner from Physicians Formula for review.  This product is part of their new Shimmer Strips Eye Enhancing Shadow and Liner collection in Univeral Looks.  Physicians Formula makes products especially designed for sensitive skin, by using hypoallergenic ingredients.  Their products are fun to use, but don't irritate your skin- perfect!  I have used face products from Physicians Formula before, such as their primer, but I have never used their eye makeup before even though I have considered it in the past.  That is why I was so happy to receive the Shimmer Strips Fashionista Eyes eyeshadow and liner to try and review!

I have always liked wearing purple eyeshadow.  It's a color that just tends to look good on me, so it's my go-to color for eye makeup whenever I need to wear it.  So, I was pleased that the Fashionista palate contained mostly purple shades.  Besides a wide array of purples, there was also one strip of gold and one of black.  While these aren't colors that I usually wear, I think that they complimented the purple nicely and can add a dramatic flair to the look if you choose to apply them.

The shadows and liners are actually divided up on the palate into three looks- natural, playful, and dramatic.  However, I strayed from the recommended grouping of colors and put together my own look using the light purple and gold from "playful" with the dark purple from "dramatic".


I don't wear makeup every day, but I was eager to try out this eye shadow, so I donned it yesterday, when I was out and about going to classes, my internship, and other events.  When I first put on the eye shadow, I was initially worried that the color wasn't bold enough to stand out on my face.  Turns out that was just because of the horrible lighting in my dorm.  When I moved in to brighter light, I loved how the colors looked on my face!  I used a light purple and dark purple on my eyelids, and then added some gold in the corner of my eye for some more pop.  I thought it looked fantastic (though maybe I'm a little bit biased).  Normally when I do wear makeup, I tend to mix colors from different palates to create a more interesting look.  But since the Shimmer Strips from Physicians Formula are coordinated to be mixed and matched, I was able to put together a fun, creative look without going to a bunch of different shadows and worrying that the might not look good once on my face.  The eyeshadow lasted all day and didn't even seem to fade as the day went on.  I applied it around 10 am, and when I got back home at 10 pm, it was still bold and visible, as if I had just put it on.  I was surprised, since makeup usually fades long before 12 hours is up- but that just attests to how fantastic Physicans Formula products are!

I actually got a lot of compliments on my look yesterday from a random assortment of people who said that they liked my eye makeup!  All of my worries that the colors might not be bold enough were for naught- people sure noticed!  Overall, I am excited to keep using my Shimmer Strips Fashionista Eyes collection in the future, and I would highly recommend this product to anyone with sensitive skin who is looking for a fantastic cosmetics product to try.

You can find Physicians Formula online, on Facebook, and on Twitter.

FTC Disclaimer:  I received Shimmer Strips Fashionista Eyes eyeshadow and liner collection for free from Physicians Formula.  The choice to write a blog post was my own, and all opinions expressed are my own.
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