Sunday, February 01, 2015

Sunday Salon: January 2015 Reading Wrap Up!

January! You most definitely did not suck!

Station Eleven, by Emily St. John Mandel was my first finished book of the year, and I can't think of any other book I'd rather have to kick off a new year of reading. So good! So atmospheric!

An Untamed State, by Roxane Gay, ripped my heart right on out, but it was so worthwhile. 

The Hen Who Dreamed She Could Fly, by Sun-Mi Hwang, was a really fast read packed with meaning. It's unusual to find a short book this affecting. 

Birds of a Lesser Paradise, by Megan Mayhew Bergman, was the first short story collection I've finished in a while, and it was absolutely engrossing. Full of damaged people and the animals that help move them in a new direction. Review on the way!

Batgirl #38 by Brenden Fletcher, Cameron Stewart, and Babs Tarr keeps the good times rolling...for the reader. Barbara Gordon is catching some flack for some decisions she's made as Batgirl. Juicy!

Ares and Aphrodite: Love Wars #1-3, by Jamie S. Rich and Megan Levens, is a brand new comic com Oni Press. Will Ares is a divorce attorney and Gigi Averelle is the wedding planner for one of his biggest clients. Lots of love craziness and super cute illustrations. 

Alex + Ada #7-#12 by Jonathan Luna and Sarah Vaughan is amazing. I've already bragged on these enough. 

Family, by J. California Cooper, was an amazing novel. I'm completely new to J. California Cooper's work, but I will definitely read more. Looking forward to reviewing this one! 

Wonder Woman: Blood, by Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chang, was definitely my least favorite book of the month. While I enjoyed diving into a Wonder Woman comic, I did find the storytelling sort of hard to follow at times. It was a combo of jumpy-feeling artwork and the actual text. I may try the second volume, but I'm a little undecided at this point. 

How did your reading go in January? Would love to hear any recommendations you have to give! 

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Confession: I Love Morbid Comics

This post originally ran at

I’ve never taken the time to seek them out specifically, but I seem to have a longstanding, undeniable love of comics with a morbid twist. This goes for all modes of storytelling, really, but morbid comics are some of the best. If you like to be grossed out or you’re intrigued by things that go bump in the night, these might be just the comics for you.
Chew1Chew, by John Layman with art by Rob Guillory, is an impeccable grossfest. Tony Chu is a detective for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in a future where chicken and other bird meat is outlawed after a bird flu outbreak. The black market is hopping and stuffed to the brim with unsavory crime lords, thus the need for FDA agents to morph from inspectors to lives of undercover investigations and sting operations. Chu is also a Cibopath with the ability to receive psychic impressions from what he tastes…including murder victims, disembodied fingers, a frozen dog. You get the picture.
While it sounds absolutely repulsive, Chew is actually pretty brilliant. Guillory’s art is highly stylized which takes a little bit of the edge off of all the grossness, and there’s plenty of twisted action, mystery, and mayhem as Chu navigates a corrupt society and learns who to trust. It’s also pretty funny with sarcastic dialogue galore and one bionic sidekick.
Recommended for lovers of crime fiction, noir, and funny-scary horror movies likeShaun of the Dead.
UndertakingofLilyChenThe Undertaking of Lily Chen, by Danica Novgorodoff, follows a young Chinese man named Deshi whose brother is killed in a freak accident. At his family’s insistence and with a guilty heart, he sets off into the countryside to find a corpse bride so his brother won’t be alone in the afterlife. Along the way, he meets Lily, a beautiful girl estranged from her family who’s willing to follow Deshi on a trek anywhere.
Beyond the intrigue and mystery of the whole corpse bride phenomenon, The Undertaking of Lily Chen is notable for taking a hard look at grief. The rich artwork is not to be missed. This one is easy to get lost in.
Recommended for graphic novel lovers who need a strong hook, an immersive plot, and who like tales about Chinese culture.

LockeandKey1Locke and Key, by Joe Hill with art by Gabriel Rodriguez, is the story of the Locke family. After their father, a school counselor, is gunned down by an obsessed student, the family relocates to their crumbling familial mansion filled to the brim with horror, magic, and keys that don’t just open doors, but which grant the owners special abilities.
While it can be brutal, violent, and tough to read in spots, Locke and Key’s plot is well-developed and addictive. The art really ratchets up the sense of otherworldiness since all of the characters look vaguely smooth, plastic, and Chucky-like.
Recommended for readers who are thick-skinned to violence and who love strong, enduring story arcs and the slow release of plot details.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Estella Sparkles: Tips for Dry Skinned Gals

Disclaimer: No sponsoring here. These are all my honest opinions about some favorite products and practices. 

Helloooo friends. So I've decided to name my weekly makeup posts "Estella Sparkles." Expect this little category to show up on my header at some point, and if makeup is your bag, you'll know to check out these posts. If not, skip 'em! I also plan to open these posts up meme-style if you all would like to take part, but more on that later.

Since my dry skin prompted me to start the makeup journey I've been on lately, I thought I'd suggest some tips, tricks, and products that have worked well for me recently.

Dry skin is such a freaking drag because it makes us look older! When skin is dry, it looks more wrinkly, craggy, and crepey, and NO ONE wants that. So basically my whole makeup existence the last few months has been trying to get myself hydrated and then address my skin's texture and how to avoid dryness during the day. Easier said than done!

Whenever I start seeing dry patches on my skin, especially noticeable ones that show up with my foundation or BB cream, I exfoliate ASAP. This usually turns out to be two to three times per week in the colder months. I have used Clinique's 7 Day Scrub for years because I like that there are LOTS of little exfoliating particles in it. It's grittier than most of the drugstore versions I've tried. I recently received a travel size of the Epice Purifying Exfoliant in my last Ipsy bag. I love it even MORE than the Clinique, but it's also more expensive. Since the full size (3.3 oz) is on back order, they're offering the 1 oz travel sizes for $4.99 each. I ordered three of them and basically got the equivalent of a full size for $15 when it's usually $30-35.

Creamy Foundation
I love my Revlon Colorstay 24 Hour foundation, but just like most other foundations, especially long wearing ones, it has a tendency to settle into my dry skin crags by midday. I follow Wayne Goss, a makeup artist, on YouTube, and he shared a tip that has TOTALLY changed my foundation game. Now I add one single drop of maracuja oil (or any other face oil...argan or whatever) to my foundation in the morning, and it glides on like a dream and stays much more hydrating throughout the day. I'm still a little craggy by quitting time, but I'd say it's 85% better than before.

Speaking of Oils...
I swear by "face oils" now. By face oil, I just mean non-comedogenic (won't clog pores) oils that are popular moisturizers these days. The ones you'll hear about most often are argan and maracuja. Companies like Josie Maran and Tarte have made these puppies mainstream (and expensive), but you can still buy them from health food stores on the cheap. Since they won't clog pores, I wash my face at night, apply my Eucerin lotion which I use like a moisturizer, and then I top my face and neck off with 3-4 drops of oil. I like to focus it on the driest parts of my face and under my eyes. I do the same thing in the mornings.

On the Go
There's nothing I hate worse than looking in my rearview mirror on my lunch hour and being confronted with flaky dry spots on my face. Not to mention those really obvious fine lines to which dryness brings extra attention. My favorite beauty YouTuber, EmilyNoel83, suggests the e.l.f. Studio Daily Moisture Stick, and now I swear by this thing, too. It's a clear balm product for the face. It's cooling and creamy and delightful. I can either apply a bit to my fingers and tap it into the dry spots to rehydrate them or I just take that whole mo' to my face. I have no qualms about rubbing it directly onto a big dry spot to rehydrate the skin. Sometimes it's just necessary. Applying it with a finger won't disturb foundation or concealer, and if the spot is bad enough that I rub the whole stick on my face, I don't give a flying frak if it does disturb my foundation.

Water, Water Everywhere
On an average day I drink 88+ ounces of water. I can really tell when I drink too little.

So those are my dry skin tips for the day! I'm sure I'll think of more or make more discoveries as I continue on this makeup excursion, and I'll be sure to share when I do!