Thursday, October 8, 2015

Book Review: Conversion

Synopsis according to Goodreads:
"It’s senior year at St. Joan’s Academy, and school is a pressure cooker. College applications, the battle for valedictorian, deciphering boys’ texts: Through it all, Colleen Rowley and her friends are expected to keep it together. Until they can’t.
First it’s the school’s queen bee, Clara Rutherford, who suddenly falls into uncontrollable tics in the middle of class. Her mystery illness quickly spreads to her closest clique of friends, then more students and symptoms follow: seizures, hair loss, violent coughing fits. St. Joan’s buzzes with rumor; rumor blossoms into full-blown panic.
Soon the media descends on Danvers, Massachusetts, as everyone scrambles to find something, or someone, to blame. Pollution? Stress? Or are the girls faking? Only Colleen—who’s been reading The Crucible for extra credit—comes to realize what nobody else has: Danvers was once Salem Village, where another group of girls suffered from a similarly bizarre epidemic three centuries ago . . .
Inspired by true events—from seventeenth-century colonial life to the halls of a modern-day high school—Conversion casts a spell. With her signature wit and passion, New York Times bestselling author Katherine Howe delivers an exciting and suspenseful novel, a chilling mystery that raises the question, what’s really happening to the girls at St. Joan’s?"

Conversion renewed my faith in Katherine Howe (I loved The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane, but not so much love for The House of Velvet and Glass). It's a compelling mystery with a realistic teen narrator.

I loved that Colleen, the protagonist, is utterly believable. She's competitive and focused on college applications, understanding if unsympathetic of her gamut of friends, loving but rebellious toward her family, etc.
In short, she's a regular gal, who isn't 100% focused on a crush (which seems to be a lot of teen girl portrayal on contemporary YA these days).

The story flashes between contemporary and 17th century Salem Village, drawing historical accounts into a modern narrative. I love that Howe brings those characters to life, in ways that brought to light some of the driving influence behind the Salem Panic. I don't recall, in high school, ever learning about the political grasping behind each accusation (and we did read The Crucible, and I acted a scene from it).

The mystery definitely involves magical realism, and it keeps you guessing until the very end. I recommend this one for fans of witchcraft (in the historical sense as well as the fantastical one), contemporary mystery and YA genres, female-heavy ensemble casts that don't revolve around romance, magical realism (I think fans of Jennifer McMahon would enjoy this), and creepy things.

It also bears mentioning that I listened to this as an audiobook. At first, the narrator's pinched, nasally voice for Colleen bothered me. But after a while, it ceased being an issue- she did such a good job differentiating voices, and nailing the accents in the historical passages.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Eye of the Week: The Sisters Brothers

Inspired by a dramatic high-fashion look floating around on Pinterest, I tried a new technique. It definitely adds shadow and depth (which I don't need) and was a fun experiment.
Plus, for some reason it makes my eyes super mint-green.

This is Printcess Vigilante all over my lid, with Trigger as a winged liner and in an arc above my crease (blended to a faded grey so I didn't look like a raccoon). 

Psst! Want to win 4 Printcess eyeshadows of your choice?

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Roman Empress Costume Review

(Playing the role of haughty empress today...)

As much as it's cheating to get a costume in a bag, sometimes it's the only option.

I'd love to create the perfect costume. But where I work, the entire month of October is hellish. Overtime, every day (without any benefit to it). That means I'm too exhausted when I get home (and too behind on chores and to-do lists by the time the weekend rolls around) to put any effort into a costume.

Thank goodness for affordable costume companies like Costume SuperCenter. They have great customer service, an "economy" shipping option that's actually quite speedy, a range of pop culture and classic costumes for all sizes (from kids to plus size) AND accessories (like wigs and makeup).

I wanted something classic and flattering, that didn't seem too polyester/cheap. I had several options to choose from, and ended up going with one of their Roman Costumes (comfy, flattering...seemed a good choice)

I got it in a 1X, which is supposed to fit sizes 16/18. Normally, costume places run small with plus sizes, but the opposite was true here. It's way too big in the bust! It's a comfortable, not-very-tight fit everywhere else, and a bit too long for me (I'll have to wear heels with it to keep from tripping). Go figure!

(Way too loose/big/wide in the bust)

I especially like the epaulettes, which are molded plastic lion heads. For the price, they're a better and more consistent quality than I expected. BUT they came with safety pins to attach, which strikes me as rather cheap. They couldn't have a pin backing?? That would have been easier to attach, for me.

(Bronze "antique" plastic accessories)

(and yet, cheap, awkward backing attachment)

The arm bands weren't too tight, and made a nice addition to a basic, but pretty costume. There were no flaws with the costume construction that I found, nor oddities. It could be improved if it were lined, but I've never in my life experienced a bagged costume that was lined, so I certainly didn't expect it.
(not too tight!)

(nice drape, although you can see every wrinkle in my backside because it's unlined polyester)

This is a great costume for Halloween, masquerades, fancy dress parties, etc.- it's simple, and all it requires is for me to pile my curls atop my head and I'm done. Easy!

(I liked the shoulder cape drape!)

What about you? Have you figured out what you're going to dress as for Halloween?

*I received my choice of costume from this business, in exchange for my honest review.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Announcing Page à Vu!

Page à Vu

I've got some exciting news, lovelies!
Kenzie from Chasing my Extraordinary, Angie from My So-Called Chaos, and I have a new joint venture:

Page à Vu is a book blog, devoted to reviewing every book we can get our hot little hands on, plus fun bookish challenges, memes, and more.

And to kick it off, we're hosting a giveaway with TWO WINNERS!

(I'll still be blogging makeup, reviews, and personal stuff here, most of my book reviews will be on Page à Vu, especially after November- you can also always find them on my Pinterest Book Review board)

Friday, October 2, 2015

Friday Confessional & Story Sprites Recap

I confess...
I'm addicted to bookish challenges and games.
Bookish BINGO went away (and then came back?!), so I'm doing Story Sprites.
For now. 
Thanks to Great Imaginations for hosting this fun game!

I confess...
I finished THREE paths this time around (and I was only aiming for two. So definitely Wahoo!)

Texts from Jane Eyre: Primary-colored cover

Breadcrumbs: Fairytale Retelling

Bradstreet Gate: Features more than 1 female protagonist

The Girl with All the Gifts: Book with a virus/outbreak

Austensibly Ordinary: Cover with a blonde

Austentatious: Female-fronted fantasy 

The Ghost Bride: Book with angels/demons

Between the Lines: Forbidden Romance

Lola and the Boy Next Door: Book set in California

Scarlet: Cover with Silver Lettering

Hood: First book in a series

A Northern Light: Historical YA

I confess...
I have other exciting book-related news to share with you guys, but I have to wait until Monday to announce it. I'm super pumped about it! Sorry to be a tease...