The Devil And Winnie Flynn

The Devil And Winnie Flynn by Micol Ostow and Illustrated  by David Ostow

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When Winnie Flynn’s mother dies unexpectedly, the last thing she wants to do is deal with the crazy relatives, or rather relative, that seems to have materialized out of nowhere. Winnie had heard of Aunt Maggie, but she’s never actually met her.

That is until she swoops in, what seems like moments after her mother’s death, and somehow convinces Winnie’s father that the best way to grieve her mother is by being a production assistant on Maggie’s very popular TV show Fantastic, Fearsome … a show that seeks out all that is seen and unseen.  It’s the perfect job for non-believer Winnie.

Trying to put the paranormal aspect of this job aside, Winnie tries her best to do the job that she’s been given.  But as filming begins, and as she learns more and more about the Garden State’s haunting history, Winnie has a few  paranormal experiences of her own: a strange message written in the steam on her bathroom mirror, her message about her mother on a damaged sound recording, and more instances that Winnie can’t seem to explain.

Is the Jersey Devil playing tricks on her? Is her mother trying to contact Winnie?  Whatever is happening, is it enough to make a believer out of this skeptic?

The Devil and Winnie Flynn written by Micol Ostow and illustrated by David Ostow is a paranormal mystery that keep readers at the edge of their seats.

Formatted as an ongoing letter to a friend, The Devil and Winnie Flynn is exceptionally written. And not just because of author’s Micol Ostow’s stand out writing. It’s also because it feels as if that friend is you the reader.  As a reader, you’ll instantly be engaged and engrossed in Winnie’s story.

Beyond the words, illustrator David Ostow has created vivid images that bring this often scary story to life. Seriously, read with the lights on!

But the words aren’t the only aspect that make this book what it is. The characters that fill the pages as uniquely well crafted, honestly flawed, and above all believable. Main character Winnie is a stand out character.

Winnie, admittedly, is a tough nut to crack. At the start, she’s guarded, a real skeptic, and the kind of character that comes off as a bit unlikable. But as readers dig deeper into this twisting plot they see who Winnie is from the inside out. She’s open, vulnerable, and someone will easily catch glimpses of themselves within.

What drew me personally to this book is the other main character … the devil. Going into this book I mistakenly thought it was about the devil. Instead I was pleasantly surprised to find out it was about the one and only Jersey Devil.

As a born and bred Jersey girl I love how the Ostow’s didn’t make this legend seem hokey. Instead, this and each paranormal bit is believable. And admittedly I love the jersey centric-ness (obviously).

Seriously, I could go on and on about this book. But I won’t. I will instead urge you to get your hands on a copy of The Devil and Winnie Flynn and read it!

(The cover image is from GoodReads)

Lists Galore (#4)

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(The above image is from My Future Listography by Lisa Nola)

Hello Readers!

And happy Sunday to you all! Today, I’m continuing with the topic  that I started last week. I’m refresh your memory, my topic was:

List of Cities You Plan to Visit

Last week I posted about the U.S. cities I’d like to visit. This week I’m going to list all the cities overseas that I want to visit.

  • London (I’ve already visited, but once is not enough)
  • Brighton
  • Edinburgh
  • Amsterdam
  • Tokyo
  • Vienna
  • Salzburg
  • Berlin
  • Prague
  • Athens
  • Reykjavik (to see the Northern Lights)
  • Sydney
  • Dublin

There are probably a ton more that I can’t think of at the moment, but for the most part these are the top cities abroad that I dream of visiting one day.

Where in the world do you want to visit, readers? Please share!

Lists Galore (#3)

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(Image from My Future Listography by Lisa Nola)

Hello Readers!

As you may (or may not) know I love to travel. It doesn’t matter if it’s within the U.S. or outside of it, I love to discover new places, emerge myself in new cultures and customs, and experience a new way of living.

Because of my love of traveling, this post is going to be a fun one for both you and for me! Today’s topic is ….

List of Cities you Plan to Visit

Because I love to travel so much, this list could get quite long. Because of that I decided to break this down into two posts. Today, I’m going to focus on cities I’d love to travel to and visit within the U.S. . Next week, I’ll focus on cities outside of the U.S. I’d love to travel to and visit.

Without further adieu, here are all the cities I’d love to visit:

  • Seattle, Washington
  • Los Angeles, California
  • San Francisco, California (Because one of my favorite books is based there — Lola & The Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins)
  • Weeki Wachiee Springs, Florida (To see the mermaids!)
  • Sedona, Arizona
  • Chicago, Illinois
  • Las Vegas, Nevada
  • New Orleans, Louisiana
  • Savannah, Georgia
  • Nashville, Tennessee
  • Portland, Oregon
  • Albuquerque, New Mexico
  • Niland, California (to see Salvation Mountain)
  • Roswell, New Mexico (to visit the Roswell UFO Museum)

There’s probably a ton more of places I want to visit, and a ton more things I want to see within those city, but the ones listed above are the ones that immediately come to mind when I think about this topic.

Readers, have you ever visited any one of these city? If so, what should I look forward to? What should I seek out?  And where in the whole wide U.S. do you want to visit? Please share! I’d love to know!

The BookBandit’s Guide to Christmas: Wrapping Paper

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(The above image was created by me via Picmonkey.com for the purpose of this post.)

Hello Readers!

I’m back with another edition of The BookBandit’s Guide to Chirstmas. This time around I’ll be focusing on and discussing one of my favorite topics: wrapping paper and gift presentation.

It’s no secret: I love wrapping paper. Every year, at the start of the holiday season I rush out in and do some research. I hit the stores and check out what wrapping paper is up for grabs. Once I have a good idea or what wrapping paper trends are in and out, I start to plot my wrapping paper theme.

When plotting your theme, I think it’s important to be true to who you are. If you love polka dots, try finding Christmas themed polka dot paper – maybe green with big and bold red dots! If you’re more traditional, look for paper adorned with Santa and his fleet of reindeer. There is no such thing as a wrong or a bad theme! Seriously, the paper I’m going with is black wrapping paper with neon colored Christmas trees.

Once you have a theme firmly planted in your mind, you now have to set out and find the perfect paper. This is a real task! Sometimes the idea or theme you have in your mind does not exist in the real world. And if that happens, you have to reevaluate your theme. If you find yourself in this position, I would always suggest walking up and down the holiday isles of any store that sells wrapping paper and looking what is out there. Sometimes, you may not find exactly what’s in your head, but you may find something close enough.

If you really love the idea that’s in your head, but can’t find the paper that fits your wants and needs, I would suggest getting creative. Buy some simple brown paper and decorate it yourself using stamps, stickers, and cut outs. Dig out those crayons and markers, and draw a whole winter wonderland I say!  Or still, some pretty string and bows will brighten up any package.

Before moving on, I thought it would be fun to share the stores I feel offer some top-notch wrapping paper.

Michael’s/A.C. Moore – Do not rule out your craft store (chain or local).  More than likely they’ll offer, not only wrapping paper, but they’ll offer an array of it. Beyond that, they’ll offer ornaments, bows, ribbons, and other bits and baubles to brighten up your packaging. It’s a one stop shop (and they always offer a great coupon or two!).

Target – Serioulsy, who doesn’t love Target. I’ve found that Target has a great mix of wrapping paper. My target offers two full isles of wrapping paper and other gift packaging options. They have paper for the young and the old alike. Some are traditional, some of fun and whimsy. You are certain to find something that fits your style and theme there! And besides that I always feel that they are on trend.

World Market –  I just recently discovered this store thanks to my dear old mom! After telling me about this store, and all the great stuff within I just had to go! And there I found wrapping paper that wasn’t only beautiful, it was paper I haven’t seen in any other store!

TJ Maxx – The holiday season can do real damage on one’s pocket. And wrapping paper isn’t cheap. TJ Maxx, like Target, offers wrapping paper that is trendy, but they offer it at really great prices! You can’t go wrong!

I can’t stress this enough — do not stress about a theme! Whatever wrapping you use will be beautiful and the people who you are giving to will love it! I promise you that.

You’ve plotted your theme, you’ve found the wrapping paper, you’ve wrapped the gifts. But they seems as if they are missing something. Oh! that’s right the bits and the baubles! This bits and baubles add an additional layer of pop and sparkle.

Besides that, it also helps you as the gift giver remember what package (or packages) are for who. I typically do not use gift labels — I don’t like how they look, and they don’t always go with my theme. The additional tie on helps me identify which gift belongs to which person.

Personally, I think a small Christmas ornament makes the perfect tie on to any gift. And it’s something that can be used again … and again and again. And it’s a reminder (every year) of the wonderful gift you have given. (Note: All of the stores mentioned above offer some great Christmas ornaments. So you shouldn’t have a problem finding any that match your theme. )

If an ornament isn’t the way to go, I would suggest an oversized bow, some glitzy ribbon, or even a flower or two (you can use both real and silk — it’s your choice!) .  And you really do not have to spend a ton of money on these tie ons. Check out your local dollar store … I always do! They offer bows, ribbons, and inexpensive ornaments as well.

But you can get as creative as you want. Don’t feel limited to a small Christmas ornament or a bow! Just go crazy and have fun!

I could go on and on about wrapping paper, but I won’t. I hope this post helps you, and I hope that you share your own wrapping paper themes/traditions with me!

BookBandit’s Guide to Christmas: Gift Giving Guide – Beauty Edition (Part 2)

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(The above image was created by me via Picmonkey.com for the purpose of this post.)

Hello Readers!

Since the topic of Beauty encompasses a wide range of topics, I decided it would be best to break this specific gift giving guide into two posts. As you already know, I posted part one a few days ago (if you haven’t read it, you can do so here).

Part one focused one gifts for the novice makeup lover. This post – part two – will focus on gifts for the makeup maven.

Buying any makeup for any makeup maven is a difficult task. Why? Mostly because they have their look down, they already have (several) favorite brands. And not too mention they probably have almost every makeup product they could ever need or want for that matter.

Because of this, you as the gift giver may want to do some snooping — you may want to dig around  to see what they have, what they don’t have, what they want, and even what they do not want. If you’re not comfortable snooping, seriously, just flat out ask.

One of the best gifts I think to give to any makeup maven is a gift card to either Sephora or Ulta. Both of these stores carry an array of beauty products, and offers shoppers a ton of gift sets at this time of year.

If you don’t want to give a gift card, but you’re not one hundred percent sure what to get the makeup maven in your life, I would suggest a cosmetic bag and/or case. These are some of my faves this year:

If the cases aren’t enough, I would suggest filling the case with some basic tools. A makeup maven can never have enough tools! But what tools would/should you include? I would suggest:

I’m going to go out on a limb here, but if the person you are buying for is a makeup lover than they will appreciate a great palette (or two). There are several palettes on the market that I think would make a great gift for anyone.

  • Urban Decay Gwen Stefani Eye Shadow Palette – includes 15 shades of eye shadow created by Gwen Stefani herself. (This one is even on my Christmas list!)
  • Kat Von D Monarch Eye & Lip Set – Includes warm and neutral toned eye shadows (but with an edge because it’s Kat Von D) accompanied by a few extra products like a lip stick, eye liner, and mascara.
  • Urban Decay Electric Pressed Pigment Palette – if the person you are buying for likes big, bold colors than this is the palette for them!
  • Rose Gold Natural Eye Shadow Palette – this palette includes 12 eye shadows from matte to glitter finishes. I actually own this palette and it’s honestly one of my go-to palettes.
  • Smashbox Art. Love. Color Sets – I just recently discovered this (I haven’t used them, but have seen them) and I can tell you I personally want this set! This set features both eye shadows and blushes, and when combined the makeup maven could create many dazzling looks.

There are a ton of other options out there … seriously this post could go on and on. But I figured I would just give a sampling of the gifts that are out on the market this holiday season.  Happy shopping!

(Please not that I am not getting paid or sponsored by any of the brands mentioned above. I’m simply sharing my thoughts/feelings on some of the products that I use on a daily basis).

Lists Galore (#2)

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(Image from My Future Listography by Lisa Nola)

Hello Readers!

Flipping through My Future Listography I’m confronted with a ton of a topics that I can’t wait to share with you! And today’s topic is one of the topics that I’ve been super excited to post about.

Today’s topic is ………

List of TV Series To See

(Please note that this list is in no particular order)

I’m not a TV watcher by nature. There really is only one show that I will actively seek out to watch and that’s The Big Bang Theory. But just because I’m not a TV watcher, doesn’t mean that I don’t want to be. In all honesty, I want to watch more TV! Why?I love all things pop culture – but TV kind of alludes me.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been out and about with a group of people and they are all passionately talking about their favorite TV shows/series/characters and I’m just sitting there … quiet with no opinion to interject. And when asked, I admit that I don’t watch any of the shows they are talking about. When I make that announcement I get the look — the look that says ‘what rock are you living under?!’

I don’t live under a rock, I just don’t necessarily have the attention span to dedicate so much time to a television show. And let’s be honest: because it’s me we are talking about, I tend to set out to watch a series and then completely forget when the first episode is showing.

Anyway … enough about my TV watching habits (or lack thereof). Onto the list!

American Horror Story: When this series first aired I was stoked! Horror on TV! And not during the Halloween season! This show had me written all over it. But alas I completely missed the first few episodes and before I knew it I completely missed the entire first season. Fast forward to season two – I watched the first two episodes and seriously did not enjoy it. I felt that a lot was done for sheer shock value. And I’ll be honest – that first episode with Adam Levine was just painful to sit and watch, and not because of the gore, it was because of his acting (sorry I’m not sorry for saying that!) I’ve watched a few episodes of Coven already and I have to say the ones I’ve seen I’ve really enjoyed and am looking forward to continue on with it. But I still have to watch Freak Show and the current season. One day I’ll catch up!

Bates Motel: Psycho is one of my favorite horror movies of all times, so why wouldn’t I love this show?  It’s on my to watch list (as are a lot of other shows/series).

Veronica Mars (Third Season): I checked out season one of Veronica Mars from my library and I binge watched it. I was hooked! I soon after binge watched the second season. But I have yet to get around to the third season … I just have no time.

The Man in the High Castle Season 1 (Amazon Series): After all the radio ads I was curious. And like every other show/series I’ve been curious about I forgot all about it.

Sleepy Hollow: Yes! I’ve actually watched a good majority of the first season. While far-fetched and not the cream of the crop, I really enjoyed it. I thought the acting was good, the storyline kept me interested, and the suspense was on point.  But soon I missed one episode than another and yet another. Now I have no clue as to where the series has gone (or even if it’s still airing to be honest).

This part of the list I’m going to simply list the shows that others say that I really need to watch, but not surprisingly haven’t.

  • Downton Abbey
  • Dexter
  • Penny Dreadful
  • Breaking Bad
  • The Walking Dead

So, dear readers what are some TV shows/series that you’ve been looking forward to watching?! Please share in the comments!

BookBandit’s Guide to Christmas: Gift Giving Guide – Beauty Edition

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(The above image was created by me via Picmonkey.com for the purpose of this post.)

Hello Readers!

As part of my Guide to Christmas feature, I thought it would be both fun and helpful to compile a few gift giving guides. In these posts I will offer suggestions and even give you a peek at my own Christmas list (not because I am looking for anything, but because I always think it’s fun to possibly introduce new items to someone else.)

Today,  I’m sharing with your my gift giving guide to Beauty. If you didn’t already know this, I’ll share this with you – I love makeup! I love wearing it, I love buying it, and I certainly love learning about new trends.

I think makeup, or any beauty product really is a great gift  to give. Why? It lets one express themselves and I feel like it truly does bring out one’s creativity. Even the most non-artistic person can do makeup.

I also feel that makeup is a great gift to give because ultimately, it makes you feel good. And who doesn’t like to feel good about themselves?!?

I’ve broken this guide into two parts. Part one will focus on gifts for the makeup newcomers and part two will focus on gift for the makeup mavens.

Part One: Gifts for Makeup Newcomers

If you’re buying a beauty/makeup based gift for someone who is new to the world of makeup and new to wearing it, I would first and foremost suggest not spending a ton of money on beauty products. Why? It’s not that the person isn’t worth it, it’s because they are still new to figuring out what their style of makeup is, what their favorite brands are.

Buying inexpensive but quality beauty/makeup products is the way to go. One company that I feel that puts out a quality product but is inexpensive is Eyes Lips Face, aka ELF. Generally prices range from $1.00 to $3.00 (in stores) and $1.00 to $20.00 on their online store.

During the Christmas Season, ELF puts out a lot of great beauty/makeup sets. Some sets include nail polish, some lipstick/gloss, and some sets offer products like eye shadow and blush.  One of my favorite gift sets that they come out with almost every year is ELF’s Endless Eyes Pro Palette or as I call it, the mega palette because this palette offers almost every single color eye shadow imaginable.

Giving a gift like this to a makeup newcomer is a great gift idea (I think!) because it gives them so many options. It lets them test and try what colors look good on them. I also think that it let’s them be bold and daring — urging them to try the boldest of the bold colors.

Another great seasonal set that ELF offers is their 10 Piece Lip Collection. This set features five tubes of lipstick along with five tubes of lip gloss.  And it’s a perfect gift for a makeup newcomer because, once again, it offers choice. It offers a chance to test and experiment with almost every shade of the lipstick rainbow.  And as for the lip gloss  — well it’s just fun!

If you want to spend a little more, but still do not want to to break the bank, you may want to check out Sephora. Sephora Brand cosmetics are great! They are inexpensive, high quality, and are on point when it comes to all the latest makeup trends.

Every year, they too put together various sets, I think would make a perfect gift. One such set is the Sephora Beautiful Crush Blockbuster Palette. Now, Sephora has put out many a palette before, I mean it’s not their first rodeo. But this is the first palette (that I’ve seen anyway) that includes a seriously WIDE variety. This palette contains over 70 eyeshadows, over 10 liners, and  over 30 shades of lip gloss. For a mere $35.00 you really get a big bang for your buck.

The reason why I personally love the idea of giving such a palette because of the infinite possibilites! I even thought I would purchase this for my younger cousin who is just dipping her feet into the world of makeup because everything she could ever want would be right here!

My last gift idea, is a kinda/sorta DIY gift. No, I’m not suggesting that you make the makeup yourself. Though if you were, making lipstick/gloss is pretty easy and their are recipes all over the internet (I’ll post some links at the bottom JUST in case you are interested).  But I think putting together a gift basket or a makeup case full of essential products would be great. You could visit you local drugstore and pick out any number of items. Some items I would include are face creams (bases, BB creams, liquid concealers), powders (pressed powder, foundation), lip products (lip tints, glosses, and lip sticks), eyeshadows (cream based, pressed, or mineral based), and blushes (powder and tints) By putting together a basket together yourself you get the chance to pick and choose specific colors/shades specifically for the person you are buying for. And I think this shows just how much you care, because you are taking a lot of time to hand select each and every item with them in mind.

Want to put together a gift basket, but not sure what brands to buy? Here’s a list of my favorite:

  • I’m a big fan of Rimmel London. They offer an array of products that will give product users a more edgy look.
  • Cover Girl has been around forever, and it’s only getting better. They offer makeup for every kind of look one is going for. They’re are simply … easy and breezy!
  • Neutrogena is another great brand, and it’s a brand I feel that truly does cater to those with sensitive skin.

And still … if you want to get real DIY, check out these helpful links:

  • Brit + Co. has created a great post featuring several how-to guides to create various kinds of lip products.
  • Instructables offers an array of instructions. One of which is how to make your own DIY Mineral Eyeshadow.
  • Live Simply offers readers a great how-to guide to making their own mineral based blush.

I had a great time putting this post together! And I hope that you, not only enjoyed reading it, but that you also found it helpful.

(Please not that I am not getting paid or sponsored by any of the brands mentioned above. I’m simply sharing my thoughts/feelings on some of the products that I use on a daily basis).