31 January 2012

(2015)QUILT for an AIDS-free Generation

AIDS is a terrible disease that has been plaguing the world for decades.  Because there is no cure, the majority of people who contract the disease will ultimately die from it.  The only way to stop the spread of AIDS is to treat those who have it as best as possible and prevent them from spreading it to others.

That is where the organizations ONE and (RED) come in.  Both of these organizations are dedicated to stopping the spread of AIDS.  ONE and (RED) believe that by the year 2015, it will be possible to stop the spread of AIDS from mother to baby by providing treatment to HIV+ pregnant women.  This treatment costs just 40¢ per day!  Yet throughout the world, it is not available to those who need it most.

You can help show your support for an AIDS-free Generation and pledge your solidarity in helping to reach this goal by 2015.  The (2015)QUILT is a project which allows you to create a digital patch on a quilt, and join others around the world who are committed to eliminating the spread of AIDS.

Here is some information on the (2015)QUILT project:

We are so close.

In 1987, a quilt created by The Names Project Foundation covered the National Mall in Washington, D.C., memorializing those we lost to AIDS. Today, we stand at the threshold of another defining milestone in this fight: by 2015, we should be able to provide treatment to the millions more who need it, drastically reduce new infections, and virtually end the transmission of HIV from mothers to their babies. 1.4 million HIV+ pregnant women need access to treatment – treatment that only costs about 40 cents a day.

It can be done. But we need your help to get there.

Join millions of existing ONE and (RED) supporters. Add your panel to the (2015)QUILT. Make a pledge to do more and a thank you gift will come your way. Our friends, THE KILLERS have once again recorded a Christmas song for us— their 6th song for the cause. Add your pledge to the (2015)QUILT and receive one of (THE KILLERS) RED Christmas songs for free.

The beginning of the end of AIDS starts with you.
If you are on Klout and you'd like to make a pledge to help stop the spread of AIDS to newborns by 2015, ten people can join the (2015)QUILT perk using this link that I received to share.  If you aren't one of the first 10 people, or if you're not on Klout, you can still visit the (2015)QUILT project and make a patch yourself.  Then spread the word to others.  Education is the first step in achieving this goal.

FTC Disclaimer:  I am received information on this project through Klout Perks.  I was under no obligation to share my opinion; I did so for the benefit of my readers and because I believe this is an important cause.  All opinions expressed are my own.

30 January 2012

Free Sample Purex

Because of its success in the past, Purex has once again opened up their free sample website!  This time you can get a sample of Purex Triple Action laundry detergent.  (Check out my review of it here!)  If the site is not working, check back throughout the afternoon; it's just going live today and I don't know at exactly what time.  Once you've gotten your sample, stop back here and let me know whether you loved this detergent as much as I did!

FTC Disclaimer:  I received notice of this promotion through my participation in Purex Insiders.  All opinions expressed are my own.

29 January 2012

BOOK REVIEW - The Death Cure by James Dashner

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Thomas knows that Wicked can't be trusted, but they say the time for lies is over, that they've collected all they can from the Trials and now must rely on the Gladers, with full memories restored, to help them with their ultimate mission. It's up to the Gladers to complete the blueprint for the cure to the Flare with a final voluntary test.

What Wicked doesn't know is that something's happened that no Trial or Variable could have foreseen. Thomas has remembered far more than they think. And he knows that he can't believe a word of what Wicked says.

The time for lies is over. But the truth is more dangerous than Thomas could ever imagine.

Will anyone sur
vive the Death Cure?

I wanted to love The Death Cure.  I really, really wanted to love it.  I wanted it to be filled with mystery and suspense like the previous two books in the trilogy, and I wanted it to answer the questions that have been building throughout the series.  I wanted to find out what Thomas' childhood was like, and what his role in WICKED was before he entered the Maze.  I wanted to find out why Teresa made the decisions she did, and what her relationship with Thomas was like before the Maze.  Unfortunately, I did not learn any of those things in what turned out to be a slightly disappointing end to what could have been a fantastic trilogy.

Dashner continued to successfully develop confusion and mystery in The Death Cure.  Each page seemed to create more questions in my mind.  Because WICKED is an organization based on lies, I found myself constantly wondering what was the truth and what was not.  This kept me wanting to read more, with the hopes of finding out what really was going on in this post-apocalyptic world.  Intrigue-wise, The Death Cure was extremely successful.

My overall complaint with the book was how few of my questions were answered.  Based on the previous two books in the series, as well as early events in The Death Cure, it seemed as though there were some things that would simply have to be revealed in order for the series to reach a conclusion.  Somehow, Dashner managed to end the book without answering most of these questions.  The ending was acceptable, but once I actually closed the book and thought about it, I found myself unhappy with how much information I still did not know.  It felt to me as though the answers to some of these questions could have been revealed and led to a more wholesome ending than was written.

I would have been left with this sour impression of the book if it were not for the epilogue.  Wow!  I was not expecting that revelation (even though maybe I should have been...).  I'm not going to say any more about that, though ;-)

Overall, I would say that if you have read the first two books in this trilogy (The Maze Runner and The Scorch Trials), then you should definitely read The Death Cure to finish out the series.  However, if you're looking for a new dystopian/post-apocalyptic series to read, I would look elsewhere.

28 January 2012

Product Review: Purex UltraPacks laundry detergent

I was lucky enough to receive a sample of Purex UltraPacks laundry detergent for review.  I have used Purex detergent in the past, and I was eager to try the UltraPacks to see if they could really make doing laundry easier.

It was so convenient to just toss one UltraPack into the washing machine before adding my clothes.  No measuring detergent into a cap, no spilling liquid anywhere- the packs were super easy to just throw in to the machine.  The packs contain Purex's Triple Action detergent, which I've used the liquid form of before, in a 2x concentrated formula.  You get the same cleaning power in a much more convenient form!  Once the washing machine is turned on, the packs dissolve in the water and release the detergent inside.  The Purex UltraPacks can be used in any washing machine, including HE.

I used the Mountain Breeze scented UltraPacks.  I love this scent- whenever I use Purex detergent, it's what I choose.  My clothes come out smelling fresh, but not overly perfumey.  However, if you are not a fan of scented detergent, Purex UltraPacks are also available in Free & Clear (100% free of perfumes and dyes).

My only problem with the Purex UltraPacks was that each package only contains 18 packs.  Compared to a bottle of liquid detergent, this is significantly less loads of laundry that can be done.  When I use liquid detergent, I rarely use the recommended amount of detergent- I usually use less- so the bottle lasts even longer.  With a package of Purex UltraPacks, you can only do 18 loads, and there is no way to change that.

I love anything that makes doing laundry easier.  Being in college, I hate doing laundry because it takes up time that I could be doing other things, whether that is studying, sleeping, or hanging out with friends.  Purex UltraPacks make this tedious chore a little bit easier, because it saves me time and mess that comes with using liquid detergent.

Purex UltraPacks will be available for sale beginning in February!

FTC Disclaimer:  I am a member of Purex Insiders, and I received a sample of their UltraPacks liquid laundry detergent in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions expressed are my own.

27 January 2012

Product Review: Cutex Nail Polish Remover Pads

Swaggable is a new social marketing site that allows you to sample products, review them, and then share your review with your friends.  What's cool about Swaggable that sets it apart from other WOM marketing sites is that it is based upon your social circle.  The products you are given to sample are chosen based on things you or your friends have already shown an interest in, such as on Facebook.

I was lucky enough to be able to join Swaggable while it is still in Beta, and sample Cutex Nail Polish Remover Pads.

Here is the product description, courtesy of Swaggable:

Cutex® Nail Polish Remover Pads offer a handy way to quickly remove polish and condition nails and cuticles in one easy step. They're not only faster than any other brand, they also help strengthen and nourish your nails while moisturizing and softening your cuticles at the same time. These pads are perfect for travel! A single pad removes polish from ten nails, fingers or toes—even dark and hard-to-remove colors.

As the product description claims, I was able to remove the nail polish from all 10 of my fingernails with one pad. In that respect, the Nail Polish Remover Pads are very convenient, as I can use just one pad as opposed to multiple cotton balls with liquid remover. However, there were two things I did not particularly like about this product. First of all, the red dye from the felt pads got left behind on my nails. Secondly, my fingers felt dry and slightly sticky after using the product; I think this is again from the dye on the felt pads, although I can not be sure. I would be more likely to use this product in the future if it came with uncolored felt instead of red. However, the single-use packets and large pads did make this product very convenient to use; they fill a niche in the market that I only wish had been thought of sooner!

FTC Disclaimer:  I received a sample of Cutex Nail Polish Remover Pads from Swaggable for review.  All opinions expressed are my own.

26 January 2012

This is how much I love my Kindle!

A while ago, I wrote a review of the Amazon Kindle Keyboard, which I received from BzzAgent.  My initial review mainly dealt with setting up the Kindle and using it for PDFs.  Now that I've had my Kindle for a few months, I've branched out to use it for many more purposes, and discovered some fun features that I'd like to talk about, too.

The best thing that the Kindle has done for me is allow me to read more often.  It's so light and slim that I just carry it around in my purse.  Whenever I have even a few minutes of down time, I pull out my Kindle and read a few pages or a chapter of the book I'm reading.  Because the Kindle automatically remembers the last page I read, there's no need for me to worry about remembering page numbers or finding something to use as a bookmark.  During my first three and a half years of college, I rarely read books for fun during the semesters- maybe one book a year, if that.  It was disappointing, because I love to read, but I just couldn't justify carrying around a heavy novel when I was already lugging notebooks and textbooks.  It wasn't worth the extra weight when I wasn't even sure if I would have time to read during the day.  I am so excited to be able to read more for fun now, and it is all because the Kindle is so easy to carry with me all day!

I also love that my local library (at home, not at school) has a fantastic program that allows you to check out Kindle books.  Though the lending period is shorter than for print books (two weeks instead of three), I have been able to find the majority of books I want to read using this system.  Even new releases are available for the Kindle, and overall there is less of a wait list for the e-books than print books!  This discovery has made having a Kindle simply fantastic!

On top of that, as many of my followers know, I review books on this blog.  Some of the books I receive are e-galleys, which I previously had to read on my computer using Adobe Digital Editions.  While the program itself is very useful, it hurts my eyes to read from a computer screen for too long.  So, it was taking me forever to finish books that I received in this format.  Now that I have a Kindle, I can upload my e-galleys to it, and read them much more quickly and in a way that is much easier on my eyes.

If I want to listen to a book instead of reading it, Kindle has a text-to-speech feature.  The voice is computerized, and therefore does not always catch nuances in pronunciation that a human would.  However, I have used this feature a few times and it is still nice to have when I want to continue with a story but either don't want to read (ie, if my eyes are tired), or if I can't (such as while driving).

These are just the reasons that I can think of off the top of my head for loving my Kindle.  (And for me, love is a strong word to use, since for the longest time I was convinced that I would hate using an e-reader.)  Sure, there are still reasons that I enjoy reading books in print, but I would not change having my Kindle for any reason.  If you're someone who loves reading but just doesn't want to carry around a heavy print book all the time, get a Kindle for yourself and rediscover your love of reading!

Do you have a Kindle, or another e-reader?  What's your favorite thing about it?

24 January 2012

Finding Nemo 3D!

Finding Nemo has been one of my favorite Disney movies since it first came out.  It's the perfect mix of humor and sadness, family and friendship.  Somehow, Finding Nemo manages to capture the emotions that we all feel in a great family-friendly film.  Finding Nemo is a movie that I have enjoyed watching with my family for years.  Even when it first came out I was able to watch it with my younger sisters and we all could enjoy it.

Finding Nemo will be released in Disney Digital 3D on September 14, 2012!  Here is a synopsis of the movie:
Academy Award®-winning Best Animated Feature “Finding Nemo” returns to the big screen for the first time ever in thrilling Disney Digital 3D™. In this stunning underwater adventure, with memorable characters, humor and heartfelt emotion, “Finding Nemo” follows the comedic and momentous journey of an overly protective clownfish named Marlin (voice by Albert Brooks) and his son Nemo (voice by Alexander Gould)––who become separated in the Great Barrier Reef when Nemo is unexpectedly taken far from his ocean home and dumped into a fish tank in a dentist’s office. Buoyed by the companionship of Dory (voice by Ellen DeGeneres), a friendly-but-forgetful Pacific regal blue tang, Marlin embarks on a dangerous trek and finds himself the unlikely hero of an epic effort to rescue his son––who hatches a few daring plans of his own to return safely home.
Even though the release of the movie is still months away, the trailer has just been released, and I am lucky enough to be able to share it with you!

I personally can't wait to see Finding Nemo in 3D.  Besides it being such a great story, I am sure that all the bright colors of the underwater scenery will be even more vivid in 3D!

What other Disney movies do you hope to see released in 3D?

FTC Disclaimer:  The images and video clips included in this post, as well as information on the movie Finding Nemo, were provided to me by Disney.  All opinions expressed are my own.

23 January 2012

Preview & Enter to win Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver!

The sequel to Lauren Oliver's Delirium, Pandemonium, arrives on February 28th!  Too bad that is still a month away...  In the meantime, though, the first 75 pages are available for preview!  In addition, you can enter to win an ARC of Pandemonium!  Just visit the Delirium Trilogy fan page on Facebook and click on the Delirium Extras! tab.  There will be five winners picked weekly until February 15, so there is still plenty of time to enter!

FTC Disclaimer:  I posted this information for the enjoyment and benefit of my readers.  I received no compensation from Harper Teen, Lauren Oliver, or Facebook for this post.

21 January 2012

What I'm Reading: Mastiff by Tamora Pierce

This week, I'm reading Mastiff by Tamora Pierce.

Synopsis from Goodreads:

The Legend of Beka Cooper gives Tamora Pierce's fans exactly what they want—a smart and savvy heroine making a name for herself on the mean streets of Tortall's Lower City—while offering plenty of appeal for new readers as well.

Beka and her friends will face their greatest and most important challenge ever when the young heir to the kingdom vanishes. They will be sent out of Corus on a trail that appears and disappears, following a twisting road throughout Tortall. It will be her greatest Hunt—if she can survive the very powerful people who do not want her to succeed in her goal.

I started reading Tamora Pierce's books way back in middle school (almost 10 years ago, wow!).  I started with Alanna, and have read every Tamora Pierce book since then.  I figured that by college, I would move past her books and find new authors to read, but the stories are so captivating, and Mastiff is no different.

My favorite part of Tamora Pierce's books overall, but in particular Mastiff is the character development.  Even though the story is told in a first person voice (Beka, the main character, is keeping a journal, which is what we are reading), all of the main characters- humans and animals alike- have distinct personalities, interactions with other characters, and their own quirks.  I won't reveal too much of the plot, but like in most Tamora Pierce novels, the characters in Mastiff find themselves in a number of extremely stressful and dangerous situations.  As a result, the characters must react and make spontaneous decisions.  Each character reacts in their own way, and then must deal with the consequences of their decisions with the other characters.  Their interactions seem genuine and real.  I love that even though I am reading a fantasy novel, I can relate to the characters and believe what they are doing.

In addition to the characters we know and love from the previous books in the Beka Cooper series, Tamora Pierce introduces some new characters in Mastiff who are just as deep as the returning cast.  My favorite new character is Farmer, a mage who joins Beka and Tunstall early on in their Hunt.  He has so many levels to his personality, and I just want to keep reading to find out more about him.  In addition, I love his flirty side... ;-)

It's been years since the last book in the Beka Cooper series came out, I know, but if you loved Tamora Pierce in the past, I highly recommend picking up Mastiff and diving right back in to the series!

20 January 2012

2012 in Pictures (2)

My first post in this series, Pictures (1), explains what this is all about.

January 10:  I went to check out Books-A-Million at the Cherry Hill Mall, and, in true Aliyah fashion, found a cupcake stand in the mall, too.  This was a chocolate-covered strawberry cupcake.  It looks pretty, and tasted pretty good!

January 11:  Does taking pictures specifically for the blog mean I'm cheating?  These are the books I got from the library this week, in preparation for Sunday's IMM.

January 12:  Again, with the 'is this cheating'?  A picture of the books I bought this week, in preparation for IMM.
January 13:  My mom and I went to see the Tintin movie.  We saw Tintin billboards when we were in Brussels over the summer, and wanted to see the movie- and we finally did!

January 14:  Women's basketball...games shouldn't get this close (OT).

January 15:  We ate brunch at Adelphia, and there were these fantastic cookie cups filled with chocolate and topped with M&Ms.  When I say fantastic, I mean fantastic.  This is coming from someone who doesn't really even like chocolate.

January 16:  Stocking up on items for the semester!

January 17:  I met Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler, authors of The Future of Us.

January 18:  I've been back for 3 days, and already my room is a huge mess!

19 January 2012

I met Jay Asher & Carolyn Mackler!

The other night I had the amazing opportunity to meet Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler, authors of The Future of Us!  They visited a Barnes and Noble in Princeton as the first stop of their 9 day/9 city book tour across the United States.

Me, Carolyn, and Jay!!

Jay and Carolyn were great at presenting.  They have a wonderful vibe together, and made the audience laugh out loud a number of times during their presentation.  They talked about their own books and how they got in to writing YA literature, as well as how they ended up joining forces to create The Future of Us.  It was a really interesting story, complete with cryptic e-mails, late night phone calls, and donuts!  They also mentioned some of their favorite YA novels (besides their own, of course).  Both included Jerry Spinelli's Stargirl on their list.  (I haven't read it, but let me know what you think of it if you have!)  If you get a chance to meet Jay and Carolyn at one of the other stops on their tour, I highly recommend it!  You won't regret hearing from these two.

I haven't yet read The Future of Us (I know, I know...) but I did buy a copy last night to get autographed (along with my copy of Thirteen Reasons Why).  I will certainly be reading it soon, though.  I (somewhat) remember 1996, so I'm excited to see how it is portrayed in this novel.  If the book is even half as entertaining as Jay and Carolyn were when speaking, I'm sure The Future of Us will be a very enjoyable read!

Will you be at any of the stops on Jay and Carolyn's book tour, or have you seen them in the past?  What did you think of their presentation?

17 January 2012


Last week, I visited my local Books-A-Million.  Until Borders closed in Fall 2011, my local bookstore always was Borders.  The closest one was right across the highway from my house.  It was a less than 5 minute drive to get there.  I have great memories of spending time there over the years with my sisters, my parents, and even friends.  Borders truly was my local bookstore.  Even though it was a national chain, it had a homey feel that I loved.  I just don't get the same feel from Barnes and Noble.  Sure, I can find the books I am looking for, and there is a large selection of items to browse through, but Barnes and Noble feels a lot less personal and a lot more like a big corporation that happens to sell books.  Ever since Borders closed, I've been trying to find another bookstore that replicated the feel I got there.  That led me to search for other, less well-known bookstores in my area.

In my search, I came across Books-A-Million.  I had heard of this bookstore before, on line from people living in other states.  However, until very recently, I did not know that there were any in New Jersey.  In fact, I first learned that there was a Books-A-Million near me when one of the Borders nearby got bought by Books-A-Million.  That's not the store I visited, but that is how I learned that there even was a Books-A-Million in New Jersey.

The Books-A-Million closest to my house is actually located inside a mall.  It's not a stand alone bookstore, so it is a lot smaller, but it still had all of the books I was looking for.  I was pleasantly surprised to see that nearly all of the space inside was taken up by books, save for one small wall of magazines and one rack of calendars.  There were no puzzles or games, which seem to take up a lot of space at other bookstores.  I loved that I walked into a bookstore and was greeted by books.  It's disappointing that a lot of bookstores feel like they need to sell other things to draw people in.

Since the store was very small, and I went on a weekday afternoon, there were only two employees working both the cash registers and the floor.  However, instead of frazzled, overworked employees like one might expect in this situation, both were actually very friendly and willing to help me.  I even had a nice conversation with one of the women about the cover of a book I was interested in!

Books-A-Million definitely had the homey feel that I loved about Borders and feel is missing at Barnes and Noble.  Though there is a Barnes and Noble closer to my house, in the future, I envision myself visiting Books-A-Million to purchase my books when I can!

15 January 2012

In My Mailbox: January 15, 2012

In My Mailbox (IMM) is a meme hosted weekly by Kristi at The Story Siren.

Here's what I got this week!

From the library,  I got Across the Universe by Beth Revis, Unison Spark by Andy Marino, Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins, and Legend by Marie Lu.

From the bookstore, I bought The Fault in Our Stars by John Green (an autographed copy!) and A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin.

From Net Galley, for review, I got Caught in Crystal by Patricia C. Wrede and Invasion by Jon S. Lewis.

From Pulse It, for review, I got Bittersweet by Sarah Ockler.

Since I haven't even read most of the books that I got last week, I have plenty of books to keep me busy for a while!  What's in your mailbox this week?  Leave me a comment and I'll stop by your blog!

14 January 2012

What I'm Reading: Neurogastronomy by Gordon M. Shepherd

"What I'm Reading" is a new feature on this blog where I will briefly review a book that I am currently reading.  In "What I'm Reading", I will feature books that I have not yet finished, but still think warrant being mentioned on the blog.  These reviews will include a synopsis as well as my impressions of the book in progress.

This week, I am reading Neurogastronomy by Gordon M. Shepherd.

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Leading neuroscientist Gordon M. Shepherd embarks on a paradigm-shifting trip through the "human brain flavor system," laying the foundations for a new scientific field: neurogastronomy. Challenging the belief that the sense of smell diminished during human evolution, Shepherd argues that this sense, which constitutes the main component of flavor, is far more powerful and essential than previously believed.

Shepherd begins Neurogastronomy with the mechanics of smell, particularly the way it stimulates the nose from the back of the mouth. As we eat, the brain conceptualizes smells as spatial patterns, and from these and the other senses it constructs the perception of flavor. Shepherd then considers the impact of the flavor system on contemporary social, behavioral, and medical issues. He analyzes flavor's engagement with the brain regions that control emotion, food preferences, and cravings, and he even devotes a section to food's role in drug addiction and, building on Marcel Proust's iconic tale of the madeleine, its ability to evoke deep memories. 

Shepherd connects his research to trends in nutrition, dieting, and obesity, especially the challenges that many face in eating healthily. He concludes with human perceptions of smell and flavor and their relationship to the neural basis of consciousness. Everyone from casual diners and ardent foodies to wine critics, chefs, scholars, and researchers will delight in Shepherd's fascinating, scientific-gastronomic adventures.

I decided to branch out from my typical YA genre, and start to read some science non-fiction books, too.  For being a science major, I actually read very little science material outside of what is required for my courses and lab work.  Maybe it's time to put an end to that.

Neurogastronomy has a very interesting premise, something that I have really not thought about before.  Food does not inherently have flavor; instead, our brains create the sensation of flavor based on smelling the foods we eat.  Yes, most of what humans consider to be the taste of a food is actually due to its scent!  It's kind of strange to think about, yet, it's why we have a problem tasting food when our noses are stuffed up.

In Neurogastronomy, Shepherd discusses both scientific and social implications of this scent to flavor phenomenon.  The topics of this book span everything from how the molecules we smell travel to the brain, to how scents can trigger memories tied to food.  Neurogastronomy is really striving to be a comprehensive collection of all the ideas related to how our brain perceives flavor.  As neurogastronomy is a new field of study, from my perspective, this book succeeds.

Though I am not very far into the book yet, I am already interested in learning more about how smell and flavor are connected and how they relate to not only our appreciation of food itself, but other aspects of life.  Shepherd's conversational style make this book appropriate for any adult reader, with or without a foundation in the sciences.

FTC Disclaimer:  I received a copy of Neurogastronomy for review from Net Galley.  All opinions expressed are my own.

12 January 2012

Product Review: Physicians Formula makeup

Thanks to the wonderful folks at Physicians Formula, I received a box of makeup to review!  Some of these products have not even been released yet, while others are new releases from Physicians Formula.  In the box was:

Mineral Wear Talc-Free Mineral Airbrushing Pressed Powder SPF 30
Happy Booster Glow & Mood Boosting Blush
Organic Wear 100% Natural Origin Lash Boosting Mascara

I'll review the products in the order that they are pictured in the box, from left to right.

Mineral Wear Pressed Powder:  This is the first time that I have ever used a powder foundation, and I actually realized that I prefer it to liquid foundation like I usually use.  It's so much easier to apply, and significantly less messy.  Even though it is a powder, it actually covered my face much more evenly than liquid foundation has, and hid a lot more blemishes, too.  I used my own "blusher" brush to apply the powder instead of the brush supplied by Physicians Formula.  However, you could most certainly use their brush if you wanted to, as it is large and soft enough to cover your whole face without irritating your skin.  The only complaint I would have about this product is that a lot of powder comes free from the palate when you sweep a brush across it, so unless it lands back on the palate, it seems like I am losing product each time I use it.  However, because of how well it works on my face, this is certainly a product that I will continue to use.  There is even a mirror underneath the makeup, so you can carry it with you and apply it when you are not near a bathroom or somewhere with a large mirror.

Happy Booster Blush:  The blush was a nice peachy-pink color which was a lot more subtle on my pale skin compared to other blushes I have used in the past.  Some blushes are too dark or too red, but this looked almost natural on my skin, not like I was trying too hard with my makeup.  My cheeks are pretty pink to begin with, so the blush actually helped to even out some of the splotchiness that I usually notice.  I also really liked that the blush was scented!  I've never heard of scented face makeup before, but I was pleasantly surprised with the nice floral scent of this blush.  It doesn't really smell once you put it on your face, but it does smell in the palate.  It's a refreshing, bright scent that won't take the place of, say, antidepressants to boost your happiness, but will make you smile because of how nice it smells.  The palate itself is a really bright pink, which is my favorite color, so I also like the makeup because of this ;-)

Organic Wear Mascara:  Let me start off by saying that I have such trouble wearing mascara!  Most mascaras that I wear irritate my eyes so that by the end of the day, all I want to do is take it off.  This mascara, though, I was able to wear all day with no problems!  I was so excited when, at the end of the day, my eyes felt totally fine.  Honestly, mascara is the makeup item that I consistently have the most trouble wearing.  I was so glad that this mascara was one that I was able to wear all day.  I think it is because of the all-natural ingredients used, in contrast to the man-made ingredients found in most mascaras.  My one problem with the mascara was that the brush seemed very large, but in a way that may be a positive too, because it doesn't take many swipes to coat all of my eyelashes.

Overall, I was very happy with all of the products that Physicians Formula sent me, and they have become a staple in my makeup routine already!

FTC Disclaimer:  I am a "buzz" maker for Physicians Formula, and received these products from them with no stipulations.  I was not required to, but chose, to post a review, and all opinions expressed are my own.

10 January 2012

2012 in Pictures (1)

One of my "resolutions" for 2012 was to take a picture each day of the year.  It's been just over a week, and I've remembered to take a picture each day so far!  I'll post them periodically here on my blog.  Here are the first 9 days of pictures :)

January 1:  I took a trip into NYC with my family to see the holiday windows at the department stores, visit the Holiday Market at Bryant Park, and see the Christmas tree at Rockafeller Center.

January 2:  I went to Barnes and Noble with my nearly $100 in gift cards that I've been accumulating, and picked up these two books that I've been wanting to read (as well as a Sudoku-a-day calendar)!  (Maybe you recognize this picture from this post ;-) )

January 3:  This is how many people care about the Rutgers women's basketball team, ranked #10 in the country.  It's disappointing.

January 4:  Finally, it snowed!  Just a light coating, but, it finally felt like winter!

January 5:  I visited my little sister's 8th grade science class to talk about my research.

January 6:  In preparation for a holiday party I was having with friends, I made twice-baked potatoes with scallions and bacon.  Yum!

January 7:  Another classic RU basketball moment- the men's team upset #8 UCONN!

January 8:  This is a really neat trumpet player sculpture that I picked up at the Bryant Park Christmas Market last week.  It's made entirely of scrap metal!

January 9:  I finally got mail this year!

08 January 2012

In My Mailbox: January 8, 2012

In My Mailbox (IMM) is a meme hosted weekly by Kristi at The Story Siren.

This week, I purchased Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi and Prized (Birthmarked, #2) by Caragh M. O'Brien.

I have been waiting for Prized since I finished Birthmarked, the first book in the trilogy, last year.  I picked up Shatter Me because I've read rave reviews of it and decided I just had to read it myself!

My public library allows you to check out books for the Kindle, and this week I found out that a lot of books I've been wanting to read are available that way!  I borrowed Mastiff (The Legend of Beka Cooper, #3) by Tamora Pierce, The Declaration by Gemma Malley, Across the Universe by Beth Revis, and The Time Paradox (Artemis Fowl, #6) by Eoin Colfer.

Free from Amazon for the Kindle, I got Tortured:  A bridge story between Birthmarked and Prized by Caragh M. O'Brien.

From NetGalley, for review, I received Quest for the Scorpion's Jewel by Amy Green, Endworlds by Nicholas Read, Neurogastronomy by Gordon Shepherd, and The Kitchen as Laboratory edited by Cesar Vega, Job Ubbink, and Erik van der Linden.

I have a ton to read now!  Reviews are forthcoming (in the near- or, not so near, future) for most of these titles.

07 January 2012

BOOK REVIEW - The Statsitcal Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith

Synopsis from Amazon:

Who would have guessed that four minutes could change everything?

Today should be one of the worst days of seventeen-year-old Hadley Sullivan's life. She's stuck at JFK, late to her father's second wedding, which is taking place in London and involves a soon to be step-mother that Hadley's never even met. Then she meets the perfect boy in the airport's cramped waiting area. His name is Oliver, he's British, and he's in seat 18C. Hadley's in 18A.

Twists of fate and quirks of timing play out in this thoughtful novel about family connections, second chances and first loves. Set over a 24-hour-period, Hadley and Oliver's story will make you believe that true love finds you when you're least expecting it.

I was a bit apprehensive about The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight before reading it.  Based on the synopsis, in my mind, I had classified it as being similar to Stephanie Perkins' Anna and the French Kiss.  Since I loved Anna, I just wasn't sure that any similar book would be able to compare.  To my surprise and delight, I was mistaken!

From the first chapter, I was intrigued by Hadley and Oliver's relationship and each of their lives.  Both of the characters seemed very realistic- they were not idealistic teenagers like characters sometimes are.  Just like "real live" teenagers, Hadley and Oliver each had struggles in their lives that they were dealing with, but each also managed to find something positive to help them through.  In the case of this story, that positive thing was each other.  Both Hadley and Oliver were very relatable characters, and it made the book a very easy read.

Towards the end of the story, Oliver reveals a secret to Hadley (and to the readers).  Smith also did a great job at hinting at Oliver's secret throughout the novel, so that it was not a complete surprise when it was finally revealed.  Once we did find out Oliver's secret, it made a lot of sense with respect to events earlier in the novel.  I thought that this scene was handled very well.  I hate when a surprise twist seems to come out of nowhere.  Luckily, though I did not predict this twist, it made sense and worked with the entire storyline.

I do have to say that the ending of the book made me cry.  The scene when Hadley mends her relationship with her father was so wonderfully written and so real.  I did not expect this book to be a tear-jerker as much as a chick flick, but I was actually happy with the emotions this book caused me.  It showed the power of Smith's writing and how well she created her characters.  While Hadley and Oliver's story has come to an end, I am eager to see what Smith writes next!

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

06 January 2012

Busting the Newbie Blues!

Small Review is hosting a fantastic event called...
In her words,

This event is designed to:
  • Put new YA book bloggers on the map
  • Increase blogger interaction
  • Start a discussion by sharing our experiences as new bloggers
  • Learn about what it was like for established bloggers when they were newbies
So here goes:

When did you start your blog?
I started my blog in the summer of 2009, though I didn't really start posting regularly until 2011.

Why did you start your blog?
I started my blog so that I could have a place to share whatever I wanted to.  When I was younger, I kept a journal, but I liked that a blog could be read by other people, so I could share my ideas.

What has been the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far? 
I don't know how to get people to read my blog!  My biggest challenge has been getting people to find my posts and comment on them.  I love comments, but I rarely get any.

What do you find most discouraging about being a new blogger? 
Looking at other, more well-established blogs, I wonder if I will ever get as many followers or comments.  It's discouraging especially when some of the blogs with a ton of followers have been around just as long as mine has!

What do you find most encouraging?
As a new blogger, I feel like I have a lot more freedom with what and how I post.  People don't expect certain things from me, such as posts on a certain day, contests, memes, etc.
What do you like best about the blogs you read? Have you tried to replicate this in your blog?
With respect to book reviews, I like that most bloggers post a synopsis of the book (such as from Goodreads) before their review so that if I haven't read the book in question, I can still understand what is being said in the review.  In my early book reviews, I just posted a review but recently I did start to add synopses, too!

What do you dislike about blogs you’ve read? Do you try to avoid this?
Bad grammar!  That is my biggest pet peeve with bloggers in general.  Your blog is a published piece of writing, so take pride in it!  I always proofread my posts before they get published.
Any advice for other new bloggers?
Don't give up on your blog.  Even if you're struggling to get readers, you started blogging because you liked writing and sharing your ideas.  If you're truly passionate about it, you can find a way to push through the struggles.
Any questions you'd like to ask newbie or established bloggers?
Established bloggers:  In your early days, how did you promote your blog to get more readers?
Is there anything you’d like to tell us about your blog? Feel free to link a few of your favorite posts or posts you wish had more comments.
Unlike a lot of YA book bloggers, I don't exclusively write about books on this blog.  While books are a large component, I also post other product reviews and write some "personal" posts as well.  So it's quite the eclectic mix here (hence the blog name, which translates to "Randomness" from French).

Here are links to a couple of my recent book-related posts:

A lot more reviews are coming soon in 2012 (my to-read pile is about 10 high!), so stay tuned! ;-)
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