Summer Favourites Wrap-Up

I love writing ‘favourites’ posts.

To me, it really harkens back to the good ol’ days of blogging and of YouTube as well, which were really formative of my love of beauty and fashion (and blogging!) in my teen years. I remember so vividly logging onto my computer and reading or watching Zoella’s ‘Monthly Favourites’ posts. I always looked forward to my favourite bloggers posting these sort of round-ups, partly for inspiration but mostly out of sheer curiosity - ‘cause, hey, that’s the real reason why read blogs, isn’t it? Let’s just be honest here lol.

‘Monthly favourites’ posts just aren’t for me, sadly. However much I love to read them, I can’t write them. I just don’t have the funds to go off and buy/try out new products every month to make a monthly round-up interesting at all. Frankly, my day-to-day life just isn’t fascinating enough. I’ve made a few feeble attempts in the past, but gave up soon after. No one fancies hearing me babble on each and every month that my favourite Starbucks drink is still Caramel Macchiatos, that I’ve been re-watching New Girl for the 5th time, or that I’ve been using the same two ride or die lipsticks I’ve alternated between for the past 4 years.

This is all a really long-winded way of saying that I’ve decided to stretch out the ‘monthly favourites’ concept into something more manageable - seasonal favourites! For every season, I’ll chat about my favourite beauty products, T.V. shows, music, and books. I think it’s a rather nice way to finish up one season and transition into the next. And today, I thought I’d start off with the latest season: summer!

~ Beauty ~

NYX PROFESSIONAL MAKEUP WORTH THE HYPE MASCARA ($8.00)

I have found what might just be the greatest drugstore mascara and I shall never look back. For me, finding a mascara that suits me and does what I want it to do is quite the challenge. I have naturally long eyelashes. Very, very long eyelashes. Therefore, lengthening mascaras aren’t much of a necessity for me. I much prefer to have something that’s going to darken and fill my lashes to give that fluttery effect, rather than the ‘falsies’ look. I like a natural eyelash look and not a lot of drugstore mascaras give that. Enter NYX’s Worth the Hype. This waterproof mascara is extremely buildable and very natural-looking if you want just a thin coat. It’s perfect for everyday use or for special occasions, and because of that waterproof element, I feel comfortable wearing it everywhere, even to the Disney parks. This was great for the summer heat (and Florida rain) and I will probably carry it into the autumn season with me.

E.L.F. COSMETICS BEAUTIFULLY BARE SHEER TINT FINISHING POWDER ($6.00)

Alright, guys. I’m about to admit to a possibly criminal beauty blunder… Before this summer, I rarely used finishing powder. I never found the urge or need to wear it! I’m not sure why, as I do own a couple drugstore powders but it just wasn’t something I used in my daily routine. The closest I came to using powder was the Too Faced Peach Blur powder, which I used more for the ‘blurring’ effect than anything else. But then, after suffering with the same oily, gross makeup for the first month of summer, I decided enough was enough and went out to buy a new powder. I have seen the light. This E.l.f. powder was done wonders to my makeup, primarily by keeping it in place while protecting from the sweat and other elements of the summer months. I highly recommend this product for a cheap, but effective finishing powder - for summer or not!

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~ T.V. ~

1) THE HANDMAID’S TALE (Seasons 1-3)

I don’t know why it took me so long to watch this show! I read The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood in 2017, around the time that the show aired, but because I didn’t have Hulu at the time, I wasn’t able to watch it. So I sort gave it up. FINALLY this summer, my mum and I binge-watched this show just in time for the premiere of the third season, which we also watched together. If you don’t already know, The Handmaid’s Tale is a dystopian show all about the U.S. after a radical group has overthrown the government and installed their own dictatorship which subjugates the citizens - primarily the women. Fertile women become ‘handmaids’ who are forced against their will to conceive children for the wealthy older couples that run the state. It’s extremely disturbing, especially considering the direction we are going in today with women’s rights. It is such a good show and I highly recommend it to everyone.

2) DERRY GIRLS (Seasons 1-2)

WHY DOES THIS SHOW ONLY HAVE, LIKE, 6 EPISODES PER SEASON?! I stumbled across this on Netflix because it was recommended to me and the trailer kept playing whenever I logged onto my profile. And then, on Facebook, a bunch of compilation videos of scenes from this show kept popping up and I thought they were hilarious. So I convinced my mum to try this show with me and I LOVE it. It’s all about a group of teenaged girls and one boy who attend an all-girls Catholic school in Northern Ireland during the Troubles in the ‘90s. While the show portrays a very tense political and social climate, it’s very light-hearted and so funny. The main characters are so authentic and hilarious, and get into the most bizarre situations.

3) SCHITT’S CREEK (Seasons 1-4)

Despite never really hearing much about it prior to this year, Schitt’s Creek has easily become one of my favourite shows this year. Filmed (and possibly set?) in Canada, the show follows a family of four - Johnny Rose, Moira Rose, and their two grown kids, Alexis and David - as they lose all their morning and forced to live in a very small town they bought as a joke years ago: Schitt’s Creek. The show is full of eccentric but loveable characters. Even though I started off watching this show to laugh at the antics of this spoiled family - and especially of Moira, the most high-strung character of all time - I actually grew to love these characters and the show has progressed into a feel-good t.v. show to me! Although creators Eugene and Dan Levy (who play Johnny and David) haven’t revealed where the show is set, I’m convinced it’s in Ontario and not only because it reminds me a bit of my town haha.

~ Music ~

1) LEWIS CAPALDI, “DIVINELY UNINSPIRED TO A HELLISH EXTENT”

I have been loving Lewis Capaldi, not just this summer but these past few months was when my obsession with his music really took off. And I don’t use the word obsession lightly at all. I simply adore Lewis Capaldi’s music. His voice is incredible!! His album, Divinely Uninspired to a Hellish Extent, was released in the spring of this year and it’s been the most played music in my library ever since. Lewis Capaldi can do a ballad like no other, and I stand by that statement. My current favs off this album are “Hold Me While You Wait” and “Headspace”.

2) TAYLOR SWIFT, “LOVER”

Okay, so I have to admit, this one really shocked me. I used to be a Taylor Swift fan way back when, all the way up to her “Red” days in the early 2010s when I was in high school. I was a huge fan, bought all her albums, went to a few of her concerts, the whole shebang. But her sound changed a lot afterwards and I just fell out of love with her music. But then this summer, “Lover” came out and I was surprised with how much I loved a lot of the music on this album!! There’s a very real connection with this album to some of her earlier ones, but there’s still a fresh sound to it. My current favs off this album are “I Forgot That You Existed” (which just might be my ultimate favourite song atm) and “Lover”.

3) LIZZO, “CUZ I LOVE YOU”

I was late to the game when it comes to loving Lizzo. For a while, I saw that ‘dna test’ meme on Twitter but didn’t really know where it came from and didn’t bother to find out. That is, until this summer, when I started hearing her music on the radio. OMG I LOVE HER. I love her music and all of the positivity she spreads through her lyrics. In my experience, it is impossible to listen to Lizzo and feel bad about yourself. There’s no room for a lack of confidence when you’ve got Lizzo playing. My current favs are “Good As Hell” and “Truth Hurts”.

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~ Books ~

1) MY PLAIN JANE - Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, Jodi Meadows

These three women listed above are just phenomenal authors. I simply adore their writing. If you don’t remember or you haven’t been here long enough, last year I read My Lady Jane by this magnificent trio and adored it. It was all about Lady Jane, or Queen Jane, or the Nine Days’ Queen, and her very tragic story. But these ladies flipped the story on it’s head, added a bit of a magical element, and turned it into something wildly better than reality. This time, they tackled the marvellous Brontë classic, Jane Eyre, and once again, they added some supernatural elements to make it a compelling and worthwhile retelling. The humour is always on point in these novels and the characters are so interesting to read about. I can’t wait for the third Lady Janie novel and the future Mary trilogy!

2) THE VICTORIAN AND THE ROMANTIC - Nell Stevens

I’m sure I’ve said it a few times before, but I’ve really been trying to broaden my horizons when it comes to reading. In the past year, a large part of that has consisted of me branching out into the nonfiction genre. I really love nonfiction, particularly memoirs. So I obviously wanted to read this memoir, The Victorian and the Romantic, which was all about a young struggling academic who finds herself relating more and more to a Victorian era writer, Elizabeth Gaskell. I found myself really in a Victorian mood this past year and then once I listened to a Charlotte Brontë podcast which talked about the controversial biography written by Elizabeth Gaskell, I was even more excited to read this. I think this was an interesting, insightful memoir and perfect for a summer read.

3) THE FAMILIARS - Stacey Halls

Ahhh, witchcraft. What a crazy part of history. But what’s crazier was this novel about the Witch Trials of 1612, which young noblewoman Fleetwood Shuttleworth found herself smack dab in the middle of after trying to save her pregnancy. The Familiars was a really remarkable novel. I loved how it showed the maliciousness of the Trials and how sexist they were. I loved the story and the characters, and it was especially wonderful to read as it was set in the time period I had just finished studying in my last term of the school year!


What were some of your favourites this summer?

Felicia x

Review: Epcot's International Food and Wine Festival | 2019

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Hello my loves!

Welcome back. If you’ve been around here for awhile, you know there are a few posts that can always be counted on from me each year and one of them is my annual Food and Wine review post!

If you don’t know, every year in the autumn Epcot puts on their International Food and Wine Festival, which is a culmination of a bunch of delectable treats and beverages from around the world. Epcot’s World Showcase becomes dotted with booths where you can try out foods that maybe you’ve never had or even heard about before! It’s a great event for everyone but especially foodies.

This year was particularly special for me as it’s my first time being 21 years old at the festival! So now I can finally try and review alcoholic beverages for you guys. No more only doing the ‘food’ in ‘food and wine’!

Without further ado, let’s get into the fun part - chatting about food!

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Kalua Pork Slider - $5.25

Ahhhhh pork slider - my favourite Food and Wine dish. Ever since I tried this dish years and years and years ago, it has never failed to delight me, which is impressive because some of my favourite dishes really have let me down a few times (looking at you, filet from Canada). I’ve talked about this dish in my past reviews, so if you’ve been around for awhile, you’re probably sick of hearing about it. Essentially, it’s a pork slider with sweet-and-sour DOLE pineapple chutney and spicy mayo. These condiments really add a very interesting, multi-dimensional taste to the pork and it is just divine. It’s a small portion, but quite filling!

You can find this at the Hawaii booth!

Aulani Sunrise (Alcoholic) - $10

Let me preface this by saying my favourite thing in the whole world is pineapple juice, and just pineapple in general, so the Hawaii booth this year was a BIG win for me. This alcoholic juice was top notch. It was very simple, just vodka, pineapple juice, and grenadine but it was a refreshing punch that was very easy to sip as we walked around the park. I will say though, while the cup may appear to be very large (which it was), it was mostly filled with ice… There wasn’t a whole lot of liquid in there. For the price, it probably wasn’t worth it to be honest. But I’m glad we got to try it anyway! Plus, we got a take-home souvenir cup as it was hard plastic.

You can find this at the Hawaii booth!

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Boeuf Braisé à la Bordelaise - $6.50

In the past couple years, I have been extremely bitter as I’ve mourned the loss of one of the best Food and Wine dishes: the Boeuf Bourguignon. Anyone who’s heard me talk about the Festival knows how much I loved this beef dish. But sadly, last year it didn’t show up on the menu, and it has stayed off again this year. It was, however, replaced with another beef dish. I didn’t want to try it out of pettiness about my bourguignon leaving, but my boyfriend ordered it so I said I’d give it a try. It was REALLY good!! It honestly tasted very similar to the boeuf bourguignon, as both are braised in Cabernet Sauvignon. The main difference was the potato side dish - in the bourguignon, it was mashed potatoes, but this time around, it was pomme dauphine (puffed potatoes). I didn’t love these potatoes, I much preferred the mashed potatoes.

You can find this at the France booth!

La Passion Martini Slushy (Alcoholic) - $11

Also in the France pavilion, I got the La Passion Martini Slushy which is a slushy made of vodka, Grey Goose Le Citron, cranberry and passion fruit juice. It has a very similar consistency as the Grand Marnier slushy which you can get year-round in the France pavilion. It’s a really lovely slushy, especially if you like cranberry (which I do). It was super refreshing. However, I would recommend getting this transferred to a plastic cup (or reusable cup!) if possible. The little plastic flute they serve it in is USELESS… I say this because I spilt my Grand Marnier slushy all over my shirt this summer OKAY MOVIN’ ON.

You can also find this at the France booth!

Teriyaki Chicken Bun - $5.75

I don’t really have a lot to say about this other than that I didn’t like it. This was a steamed bun filled with chicken, vegetables and a sweet teriyaki sauce. I think it was mostly the teriyaki sauce that put me off. I only had one bite of this lol. Also, the bun was a little too doughy for my liking. But I tried it!! And that’s what Food and Wine is all about - pushing past your comfort zone and trying new things.

You can find this at the Japan booth!

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Ravioli Carbonara - $7.25

I LOVE CARBONARA. Honestly, spaghetti carbonara is my favourite dish in the whole world. Italian food in general is my favourite in the whole world. However, ravioli is meh to me. So I didn’t know what to expect with this dish. In the end, I actually really liked it! It was cheese ravioli which is good because I’m even less interested in meat ravioli. It was very creamy and cheesy, so if that’s not your thing, you probably won’t love this. I loved the sauce most of all bc carbonara duh. But overall, I preferred the tri-coloured tortellini from the Flower and Garden Festival.

You can find this at the Italy booth!

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Pollo - $6.00

And the winner for the most nondescript dish name goes to… POLLO! Lol but seriously, who names a dish just plain “Chicken”? Anyway, this was a breaded, crispy chicken with marinara sauce for dipping purposes. It was really nothing special. I’m not huge on breaded chicken (even though I love chicken tenders…. try to figure out that one lol). So it was just meh for me. The sauce made it slightly tastier but not much. My boyfriend liked it though! And it was his dish after all, I just stole from it.

You can also find this at the Italy booth!

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Schinkennudeln - $4.25

I LOVE saying the name of this - schinkennudeln. That’s awesome. This is a pasta gratin with ham, onions and cheese. It’s really quite basic and actually, I make it a lot at home from the recipe in one of the Food and Wine cookbooks I own. I have this weird thing about cheese where if the scent of the cheese is too strong, it makes me nauseous. The Alps ‘Warm Raclette Swiss Cheese’ dish this year grossed me out so bad I had to walk away while my dad and Steven ate it. But this has a very mild scent and taste, too. It’s not too overpowering nor is it too heavy, which is great!

You can find this at the Germany booth!


All in all, it was another amazing year at Epcot’s International Food and Wine Festival!

Past Food & Wine Reviews:

2018 | 2017 | 2015

Review: Again, but Better - Christine Riccio

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“It’s weird how we have to get a little older to realize that people are just people. It should be obvious, but it’s not.”

My Rating: ★★★

Genre(s): Contemporary, New Adult, Romance

Reading Challenge: 25 out of 35

New Adult is one of my favourite yet one of the most overlooked and under appreciated genres out there. What gives? As someone who falls into the ‘new adult’ category (ages 18-30, for the most part), I look around at the novels that everyone’s talking about and that show up on my Goodreads feed and see primarily Young Adult and Adult fictions. This is in large part why I chose to pick-up Again, but better - because, as someone in their twenties, I don’t feel that my age group is well-represented in novels and it’s hard to find relatable stories out there. But this is actually something that Again, but Better author, Christine Riccio pointed out at the start of her own novel. Again, but Better came from her own desire to see herself in novels when she was university age.

Unfortunately, this book just wasn’t for me. It wasn’t bad per se; it just wasn’t my cup of tea.

For starters, I took issue with the way that the characters doled out pop culture references in every. single. paragraph. Pop culture references can be done very well. For example, Gilmore Girls - a show that’s so heavily based on pop culture references in dialogue that that (along with the fast-paced talking and coffee) is what it’s known for - does it perfectly. Again, but Better… Well, it just didn’t do it for me. The references were cheesy, to be put plainly. Being someone who was young in 2011 (in fact, much younger than Shane Primaveri), I found that the way the characters referenced things such as “T-Swizzle” was cringey and not at all how people talked in 2011. I understand that the abundance of references were done for the purpose of establishing timeline but yikes, it just wasn’t easy to read at all.

In general, the language of this novel was a little odd to me.

Given that the characters were not all that far from my own age in the 2011 portion of the novel (they were 20, I’m 21), I found the language and actions of the characters to be very immature. This was probably the most disappointing thing for me because it made the novel so unrelatable, despite it being a New Adult Fiction. Both the dialogue between characters and Shane’s inner monologue left me feeling a bit exhausted. And while I’m sure for some it was entertaining, the type of humour in this novel - the loud, out-there gags - was just not for me.

I won’t go too much into detail about the whole ‘socially anxious’ side of Shane’s character because. . . ugh.

Shane Primaveri has the type of literary ‘social anxiety’ that makes her babble and occasionally say the wrong thing and makes her clumsy when she’s nervous. But let me just say, I have social anxiety. It’s crippling and not at all cute. And with social anxiety, you don’t typically just travel overseas on your own and live your life without any burden. How about in 2020 we stop equating quirky, shy characters with socially anxious characters? That’d be nice.

But, of course, I won’t belittle the good aspects of this novel!! It did have an interesting concept - in fact, that’s what mostly drew me to this novel in this first place. Throughout my university career, I’ve been plagued with worries that I ‘haven’t done university right’ (spoiler alert: there is no right way). So seeing a character who was also struggling with their direction and their identity was really comforting. Shane’s journey of self-discovery was (mostly) inspirational, especially in the second half of the novel. Additionally, I like how she took charge of her own life and decided to follow her dreams, despite the risks.

All of this to say that Again, but Better might be the sort of book you’re looking for - but it might not be.

If you’re unsure of whether or not you want to read this, I’d recommend watching Christine Riccio’s YouTube channel (fun fact: Christine was a Booktuber before she was an author). Christine has a very specific type of personality that really shows in her writing. In fact, quite controversially, Again, but Better appears to be semi-autobiographical. If you’re not into Christine’s personality in her videos, you probably won’t love this book.

What’s your opinion on Booktubers writing books? Are you for or against it?

Felicia x


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Shane has been doing college all wrong. Pre-med, stellar grades, and happy parents…sounds ideal—but Shane's made zero friends, goes home every weekend, and romance…what’s that?

Her life has been dorm, dining hall, class, repeat. Time's a ticking, and she needs a change—there's nothing like moving to a new country to really mix things up. Shane signs up for a semester abroad in London. She's going to right all her college mistakes: make friends, pursue boys, and find adventure!

Easier said than done. She is soon faced with the complicated realities of living outside her bubble, and when self-doubt sneaks in, her new life starts to fall apart.

Shane comes to find that, with the right amount of courage and determination one can conquer anything. Throw in some fate and a touch of magic—the possibilities are endless.

Review: Every Little Piece of Me - Amy Jones (*Gifted)

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My Rating: ★★★★

Genre(s): Contemporary, Canadian Literature

Reading Challenge: 24 out of 35

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A Canadian book, yay! Finally! Canadian books don’t often fall into my hands but when they do, I’m overwhelmed with pride and joy. Supporting authors from my country is so important to me, especially as Canadian books don’t often get the attention and credit that they deserve, simply because they aren’t as widely accessible as American books. So if I get to write a review that’s going to bring the attention of book bloggers or readers to a Canadian author, then it’s a very good day!

So, Every Little Piece of Me. Let’s try to break this one down because it is a doozy. First off, this book has a dual narrative, which y’all might remember I love, and starts in the present then goes back in time to slowly bring us back to the beginning and onward. Our lovely leading ladies are Mags and Ava. Mags is the lead singer of the popular Canadian alternative band, Align Above. Ava is the daughter of two men who have fallen out of favour in the celebrity sphere and decide to reclaim their fame by making their family the subjects of a reality TV show. Both women have tumultuous upbringings, and are more alike than readers may initially believe…

The passage of time in this novel really reminded me of The Royal We, except for that there were two stories to follow as the years went by. At first, I found it a bit jarring, to be honest. It was a little difficult to distinguish who was who, what was going on, and how it related to the last chapter for that particular character. However, after a few chapters, it was a lot easier to follow along.

Of the two characters, I definitely felt more attached to Mags and her story.

Granted, both ladies were well-developed, complex characters (Yay, complex female characters!!). But there was just something about Mags, in both her personality and her storyline, that I felt Ava was lacking. I think it might have been that from the start, Mags had a troubled past, she had endured so much but was still trying to stay level-headed, whereas Ava was angsty and resentful right off the bat. As the story progressed, Ava definitely had reason to behave like that. I just felt that the two characters didn’t come from the same place emotionally or physically, and Mags was more interesting on first impression. Her background story was so heartbreaking and throughout the novel, while there were definite positive moments in her life, she suffered a great deal and you could see how she deteriorated with every hit. I felt for her immensely as the story progressed.

Interestingly, I could not relate this novel to any other.

Typically, when I read one novel, I can immediately think of another that it reminds me of so I can recommend it to others in a “if you liked this book, you’ll like this book” sort of way. But Every Little Piece of Me was incredibly unique, both in setting and in plot. This story focuses on two girls from two very different mediums of entertainment - reality t.v. and music - but behind both of these mediums, the author reveals the sad reality of loneliness and despair, as well as the sexism that the girls face. It’s so unusual to combine these stories and to connect them, but I think it was really effectual. The only book that I could come close to comparing this to would be Boring Girls by Sara Taylor, another Canadian novel but a much more graphic, intense novel. If you thought Every Little Piece of Me got dark, you would be shocked by Boring Girls.

All in all, I really enjoyed this novel and I was so happy to read a great book by a Canadian author! I hope to be able to read more of Amy Jones’ work in the future.

Let’s chat! Do you love or hate reality TV? Why?

Felicia x

Thank you so much to Penguin Random House Canada for gifting me this book! All thoughts and opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.


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Ava Hart is the most reluctant cast member of a reality TV show based on her big city family's (mostly staged) efforts to run a B&B in small-town Nova Scotia. Every family has its problems, but Ava has grown up seeing her family's every up and down broadcast on national television, after the show becomes an unexpected success for reasons that will take a heavy toll on the Harts.

Mags Kovach is the charismatic lead singer of a struggling Halifax rock band hoping to be the Next Big Thing. For years she's managed to contain her demons and navigate the uglier aspects of being a woman in the music world, but after a devastating loss, she turns her anger on the only person she can: herself.

As their private tragedies continue to set social media and tabloid headlines on fire, their every move subjected to an endless stream of public commentary, it will be their unexpected friendship that will save them. They will push back against the roles they've been forced to play, and take back control of something they thought they'd lost forever -- the right to their own stories.

Review: Eat Pray Love - Elizabeth Gilbert

“That’s me in the corner, in other words. That’s me in the spotlight. Choosing my religion.”

My Rating: ★★★★

Genre(s): Nonfiction, Memoir, Travel

Reading Challenge: 23 out of 35

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Eat, Pray, Love is seen more today as a gimmick than a literary publication.

Even when I searched up the book online to link it to this review, I found about a dozen books about Eat Pray Love before I came across Elizabeth Gilbert’s book - cookbooks and lifestyle books based on Gilbert’s journey, and even books that had nothing to do with the original book except for the title which they used to grab attention. “Eat Pray Love for Vegetarianism,” was one of these books. It was years before I allowed myself to put Eat Pray Love on my TBR, and even then, it took me several more years to buy it. There was some sort of cultural stigma around this book which really can only be honestly described as snobbery - I can’t read that book, it’s popular. So many times, readers - myself included - look down on books that have garnered what we deem ‘too much’ hype. The book can’t possibly be good because a lot of people read and/or liked it. The whole thing is nonsensical but hey, c’est la vie.

Even as I finally sat down to start reading, I couldn’t get the image of Julia Roberts eating pasta out of my head.

Thankfully, I pushed past my bias and got to the good stuff - the authentic, indulgent, and beautiful journey that is Eat Pray Love.

Gilbert’s path to self-discovery through enjoying the pleasures of life and through meditation and faith was poignant and inspiring. On the surface, however, it might be easy to make judgement. After a quick scroll through the reviews on Goodreads, it’s evident that a lot of Gilbert’s readers have. The criticism is boiled down to a few themes: her divorce, her solo journey, and her indulgence. The fact that a woman would have the audacity to leave a marriage that makes her not unhappy, but miserable, and to travel overseas for a year while eating copious amounts of pasta is too hard a pill to swallow for most people. I, on the other hand, was unbothered by any of that. I fully commend women - and men, for that matter - who have the courage to make major life changes in spite of all the risks involved, solely for the purpose of making their lives better.

We only get one life, we’d better not waste it - and I think that’s an important message to take away from this novel.

Gilbert sectioned her travels off into three categories, each in a different place: Italy (the eating), India (the praying), and Bali, Indonesia (the loving). Each section came with its own lessons as well as cultural insights. I have never been to India or Bali, and based on my current travel anxiety, I may never get there. I’ve been to Italy, but I was 6 months old - not really conducive to making memorable experiences. So this book fulfilled the wanderlust in my soul. Gilbert’s imagery was so breath-taking, I really felt like I was there.

I found Gilbert’s story inspirational in the way that the everyday person’s story is inspirational. She’s not necessarily the most interesting person in the whole world. However, she’s someone who started to slip underwater, but found her way to the surface. As someone who has experienced anxiety and depression in the past, her story felt very personal to me and it touched me deeply. Above all, it made me want to venture outside of my comfort zone, and maybe learn to speak Italian (I’ve tried before, trust me, it’s not as easy as it sounds).

The structure of her novel was effective and easy to follow. Of course, she organized her experiences chronologically by each location. However, what I really found interesting about how she structured the novel was the decision to separate her journey into 108 anecdotes, the same number of beads on a Buddhist prayer-bead string. The stories were for the most part concise, powerful, and at times, definitely humorous. While I couldn’t connect with her stories about spirituality and faith, I did appreciate them all the same.

The one part of this novel I didn’t particularly fancy was the bit about meeting and falling in love with Felipe (actually named Jose, FYI). This might be just the fault of hindsight - since Gilbert wrote and published this book, she married and then divorced Felipe/Jose. So seeing their relationship play out in the book just didn’t feel romantic to me. I was sort of just waiting for the shoe to drop which it obviously didn’t until after the events of the book. But still. I almost wished that she had stuck to the early promise she made to herself to not enter any relationships during her year of travelling. Then again, the novel is called Eat Pray Love, so I should have seen it coming.

Disclaimer: If you are considering reading this book, do NOT watch the film first. Conversely, if you’ve seen the film and didn’t care for it, still give the book a try. I watched the film after reading the book and I was very underwhelmed. As much as I love Julia Roberts’ acting, I’m sad to say that not even she could save it.

Let’s chat! If you could travel to any three places in the world, where would you go?

Felicia x


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Goodreads | Amazon | Indigo

Around the time Elizabeth Gilbert turned thirty, she went through an early-onslaught midlife crisis. She had everything an educated, ambitious American woman was supposed to want—a husband, a house, a successful career. But instead of feeling happy and fulfilled, she was consumed with panic, grief, and confusion. She went through a divorce, a crushing depression, another failed love, and the eradication of everything she ever thought she was supposed to be.

To recover from all this, Gilbert took a radical step. In order to give herself the time and space to find out who she really was and what she really wanted, she got rid of her belongings, quit her job, and undertook a yearlong journey around the world—all alone. Eat, Pray, Love is the absorbing chronicle of that year. Her aim was to visit three places where she could examine one aspect of her own nature set against the backdrop of a culture that has traditionally done that one thing very well. In Rome, she studied the art of pleasure, learning to speak Italian and gaining the twenty-three happiest pounds of her life. India was for the art of devotion, and with the help of a native guru and a surprisingly wise cowboy from Texas, she embarked on four uninterrupted months of spiritual exploration. In Bali, she studied the art of balance between worldly enjoyment and divine transcendence. She became the pupil of an elderly medicine man and also fell in love the best way—unexpectedly.

An intensely articulate and moving memoir of self-discovery, Eat, Pray, Love is about what can happen when you claim responsibility for your own contentment and stop trying to live in imitation of society’s ideals. It is certain to touch anyone who has ever woken up to the unrelenting need for change.

Review: The Proposal - Jasmine Guillory

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My Rating: ★★★

Genre(s): Romance, Fiction, Chick Lit

Reading Challenge: 22 out of 35

Goodreads Synopsis —

When someone asks you to spend your life with him, it shouldn't come as a surprise--or happen in front of 45,000 people.

When freelance writer Nikole Paterson goes to a Dodgers game with her actor boyfriend, his man bun, and his bros, the last thing she expects is a scoreboard proposal. Saying no isn't the hard part--they've only been dating for five months, and he can't even spell her name correctly. The hard part is having to face a stadium full of disappointed fans...

At the game with his sister, Carlos Ibarra comes to Nik's rescue and rushes her away from a camera crew. He's even there for her when the video goes viral and Nik's social media blows up--in a bad way. Nik knows that in the wilds of LA, a handsome doctor like Carlos can't be looking for anything serious, so she embarks on an epic rebound with him, filled with food, fun, and fantastic sex. But when their glorified hookups start breaking the rules, one of them has to be smart enough to put on the brakes...

My Thoughts —

Okay, so I’m going to come out and say it… This was decidedly not my cup of tea.

Let’s get through the good first: This book was fun, which is a crucial component to a good Chick Lit. I often read terribly heavy novels with serious subject matter or they’re sad or whatever. So every now and then, I love me a good lighthearted romance novel. This one filled the quota. I liked that the female characters were presented as being strong and capable, especially the gym owner Natalie who was a real bad-ass. And there was some cutesy, fun banter throughout the novel.

But to be honest, that’s really where the ‘good’ ended for me.

Frankly, this book felt a little… immature? It's an adult novel that focuses on the lives of adults. But I just did not get that impression. I have never heard anyone over 17 speaking to their friends or boyfriends/girlfriends the way these thirty-something characters did. And then there was the sex scene… If you’ve read The Proposal, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about. THE cringe-y sex scene. Oh my lord. I nearly had to skip the scene altogether, the dialogue was just so immature and weird.

I didn’t like how the female lead, Nik, was presented. The author kept on about how strong and independent she was, but really, she was just being childish most of the time and was unwilling to show any vulnerability. I don’t really see that being a sign of strength. I believe that a strong character can show their “weak” side and that doesn’t make them helpless, it makes them human. And the male lead, Carlos, showed a lot of signs of that gross “I’m not like other guys” personality in my opinion, especially in the last half of the novel during the plot’s conflict. Yuck.

All in all, the story just seemed rushed and as though there wasn’t a lot of thought put into it. Maybe I’m just as not into romantic novels as I thought I was? Or maybe this was just a miss for me? I’m not sure. But it definitely wasn’t a win in my books.

Thanks for reading!

Felicia x

What to Know Before You Visit Disney World's Galaxy's Edge

Ignite the Spark!

So, you’re planning on heading to Galaxy’s Edge. And it probably seems pretty daunting what with it being one of the biggest additions to Walt Disney World in the past few years. Trust me, I totally get it. When I went in for the very first time, I was completely overwhelmed. So much to see, so little time. It’s a different planet over there - literally! Today, I thought I’d do a little rundown on all things Galaxy’s Edge to get you ready for your own trip to Batuu.

You’re “On-Stage” In Batuu

You may not think much of the idea of Galaxy’s Edge being themed like a planet billions of lightyears away, especially if you aren’t much of a Star Wars fan. But it’s probably something you ought to keep in mind. When you’re in Galaxy’s Edge, you’re always “on-stage.” The Cast Members are in character as the residents of Batuu all the time. It’s really as if you’ve walked out of Disney World and into a completely different world. For starters, anything outside of Galaxy’s Edge does not exist when you’re in it. Want to locate a meet and greet with your favourite mouse? The residents of Batuu won’t know what you’re talking about. The residents really want you to feel like you’re somewhere far from home.

There’s A Special Lingo

Speaking of a whole new world, let’s talk lingo. Batuu is full of phrases that you’ve probably never heard before but that you’ll know by heart once you leave at the end of the day. When you enter the land or come across residents in the morning, you might be greeted with a “Bright Suns!” or in the evening, you might hear “Rising Moons!” When someone is wishing you a good day, they’ll say: “Til the spire!” In a place like Batuu, which is crawling with Stormtroopers, it’s definitely important for everyone to know who’s who. You gotta watch out for danger! So to let someone know that you’re with the First Order, you’d say: “For the Order,” or if you’re with the Resistance, you’d say: “Ignite the spark!” And you might wonder why a resident wishes you, “Safe travels” - well that’s because if you’re in Batuu, then you’re from a different planet and you’re travelling there! So, they’re wishing you safe travels home or wherever your journey make take you. It’s a lot to remember but the lingo really helps give the land a more immersive feel.

Advanced Reservations

Something about Galaxy’s Edge that’s super important to take note of is the option to make advanced reservations. Since the park opened to the public on August 29, guests have been able to make Advanced Reservations for Oga’s Catina, Savi’s Workshop, and Droid Depot. This is pretty huge because typically, advanced reservations are only available for dining venues. To have the option to make a reservation for popular experiences like lightsaber and droid building is huge as it’ll help you ensure that you get to experience all that Galaxy’s Edge has to offer! You can make reservations 180 days in advance so make sure to make your reservations as soon as possible! At this time, there is no option of Advanced Reservations or Fastpass+ for Smuggler’s Run, the Millennium Falcon ride. So, the bonus of making reservations for the other experiences is more time to queue up for Smuggler’s Run!

Alcoholic Beverages

One thing that is significantly different between Walt Disney World’s Galaxy’s Edge and Disneyland’s Galaxy’s Edge is the availability of alcoholic beverages. In Disneyland, the land is kept relatively dry except for the few cocktails you can purchase from Oga’s Cantina. But at Hollywood Studios, you’ll have no trouble finding booze - and that’s the same for Galaxy’s Edge! You can find alcoholic drinks at Ronto Roasters and Oga’s Cantina, as well as alcoholic blue and green milk. My parents actually tried the green milk (I was sadly one day from being legal, sad) and they really enjoyed it. The green milk is paired with tequila, while the blue milk is with rum. PRO TIP: If you’re not from the US and you plan to purchase a drink in Galaxy’s Edge, you’ll have to bring a passport (or photo of your passport) to present alongside your driver’s license as I.D.!!

You Can Make Use of Discounts

If you’re travelling to Batuu with a Walt Disney World Annual Pass, you’re in luck! Your pass can be used for discounts on merchandise inside the land. And you’re going to need that discount because there is a lot of fantastic merch available in Galaxy’s Edge that you are going to want to get your hands on and we ain’t made of money. Using your AP or “yellow card” (the official Batuu lingo for your pass) will save you a few bucks here and there while you're shopping and that’s really going to add up in the end! However, at this time, Annual Pass discounts are not available on the Savi’s Workshop or Droid Depot experiences* (*as of Sept 17, 2019). Just make sure you have your “credentials” (I.D.) on you at all times to confirm your pass!

I hope this guide helps you guys plan your trip to Galaxy’s Edge!

Felicia x


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Review: Droid Depot at Galaxy’s Edge

Hello everybody!

A little while back, I wrote up a lengthy post about my experience at the Annual Passholder Preview of Walt Disney World’s Galaxy’s Edge - that can be found here if you fancy giving it a read. Ever since I visited Galaxy’s Edge in August, my mind, body, and soul have been dying to go back. So I guess I’ll just have to live vicariously through my own experiences by writing up a ton of blog posts! Today, I thought I’d write up a post specifically about my experience at the Droid Depot.

First, let’s get the details out of the way. The Droid Depot is a store/experience located on the planet of Batuu, aka Galaxy’s Edge at Hollywood Studios. This is where you can build your very own droid pal to take home with you! The whole process costs $99.99 USD - this includes both the experience of building the droid, the actual droid itself, and a cardboard take-home box. You can also purchase a backpack to carry your droid in around the land, as it will interact with different features inside Galaxy’s Edge (more on that in a sec), but unfortunately, I didn’t notice them in the store so I’m not sure on the pricing of those. Lastly, you can pick up personality chips for $12.99 a piece. These will alter the sounds and behaviours of your droid, and are purchased after building the droid.

At the time that I built my droid, since it was during the AP Preview, they weren’t taking reservations at Droid Depot. Since then, guests of Batuu have been able to make reservations for this experience at My Disney Experience 180 days in advance. I would suggest trying to get a reservation as there is very limited space inside the depot, and it’s just safer that way!

The very first thing we did upon our arrival to Galaxy’s Edge, aside from getting Batuu Coke, was get in line for the Droid Depot. We waited about 30-35 minutes to get into the depot and the wait was all outside with only a couple scattered umbrellas for shade - take this another case for booking an advanced reservation for this experience! It was a very hot wait. Once we got inside, we were filed into another, much shorter line to pay. The very first thing you do is pay and then you get to build your droid. I think it just makes it easier for them to make sure everyone leaving with a droid has paid for that droid. Keep in mind, only 2 people are able to build 1 droid. So, my family of 4 had to split into 2 groups to make 2 separate droids. This is due to the tight building stations.

We got up to the counter, paid our $99.99, and then had to make a decision of which droid we wanted to build. You have two options: R2-series (which is similar to the real O.G. R2D2) or BB-series (the newer, BB-8 style). Steven and I already discussed this beforehand, which I recommend you and your building partner also do, so we were prepared for this question - and we chose BB-series! Of course, this doesn’t narrow you down to one uniform style of droid. In other words, the series doesn’t determine the colour or style of your droid, it only determines which parts you’ll need to pick up to start building. The depot workers handed us a tray with a guide to the parts we needed on the bottom and we headed over to the conveyor belt.

At the conveyor belt, you get to choose all the parts that will make up the final product of your droid. Several parts (Both R2-series and BB-series) roll by, and it’s up to you to find the parts you’re looking for in the styling and colour that you want. While the picture above is of the parts for an R2-series unit, which my parents built, you can get an idea of what the conveyor process looks like. They have an area you can set your tray down so that you can reach out for all the parts. There’s also Cast Members everywhere that are able to help you. Steven and I found our parts quite quickly because, again, we knew ahead of time what we wanted for our droid. I suggest doing the same. Look through blog posts, pictures, YouTube videos, and get an idea of what they offer in terms of droids parts, so you can decide ahead of time what you’re looking for. It’ll help make the process quicker and easier for you.

For a BB-series droid, we had 4 parts to locate - a dome, a dome connection plate, a body sphere, and a motivator. We also had the choice of 3 types of bodies - Resistance, BB8, or Imperial. We knew that we wanted ours to look just like BB-8, but with purple colouring, so we looked for those specific parts. It honestly took less than 2 minutes to find all the parts we needed. A Cast Member found us as we were picking the last part up and sent us over to an empty station where we got to work on making our new friend.

I can’t even describe how easy it was to put together this droid. I think that the Imagineers made this a simple process so that kids would be able to do all the constructing if they wanted to. There is an instruction placemat on the building station which you can easily reference while you put the pieces together. While there were some tricky spots, like connecting the dome and dome connection plate with a drill (harder than it sounds!), it was pretty straightforward and again, there are Cast Members everywhere to help. Once we got all our parts put together, we pressed a button on the station that called over a CM - and that’s where the magic happens! The CM puts your droid inside a little cubby with a remote control and has you press a button on the station that activates your droid. There’s a whole sequence where buttons light-up and it makes noises, I think kids will love that. And then your droid powers up and starts moving/making noises!

Lastly, the CM gave us the droid and remote to test out the functions. Be warned - the BB-series units are super touchy with the remote. The slightest touch of a button will send your droid hurtling across the room. Many a times has the head popped right off ours (don’t worry, it’s an easy fix, you just pop it right back on lol). We stuck mostly to testing out the head movement and noise functions. Then, the CM puts your droid and remote into a cardboard box with a little cut-out in the side, sort of like what you’d get when you made a Build A Bear. And that’s it! You get to take your little bud out of the depot and home with you.

Or, why not take your droid exploring around Batuu? As I mentioned earlier, the droids interact with different features and areas around the land. For example, since ours was a BB-8 droid, when we brought it into the First Order area, it started making uncertain nosies and physically shaking. Like, the whole box was quivering - because he was scared of getting caught by the First Order, of course! At one point, Chewie or Rey (can’t remember which) walked by, and our droid started getting excited. At this time, you aren’t able to take your droids out to roll around on the ground in Batuu. You can take them out to hold and get a picture of, as long as you put them right back into the box. This is because of the safety concerns of having a droid rolling around the feet of many, many visitors walking around the land. It’s also a case for buying the backpack, which you can open up so your droid can “see” the land. Or just put it in your own backpack and leave it unzipped to be honest.

All in all, I think the Droid Depot experience is definitely worth the price. Although the Savi’s Workshop lightsaber building experience is way cool, it is a lot more expensive. So if you’re worried about spending $200 on a toy your kid might break in a week (it happens!), or you don’t want to spend that kind of money on yourself, but you really want a cool experience and keepsake from Batuu, I would absolutely recommend getting a droid. I went in thinking it would be cute to get a droid, but never expected I’d be so impressed. The droids are really good quality and the function on them is excellent. And the interactivity with the land is worth the price alone!!

Would you build a droid, if you had the opportunity?

Felicia x


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Galaxy's Edge Annual Passholder Preview | August 19, 2019

Bright suns, my loves!

Last month, I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to travel to Galaxy’s Edge at Walt Disney World before the land officially opened to the public. With no hint of exaggeration, I’m here to tell you that it was one of the most incredible, immersive experiences that I have ever had at Disney World. My first thought after leaving the land was, Oh my gosh, I need to blog about that… So here I am, ready to share my thoughts and opinions with y’all, even though nobody asked for ‘em! Grab yourself a cup of coffee, hot cocoa, or Blue Milk, as this one’s going to be a long one today!

If you haven’t been keeping up with the Star Wars-related news, the new themed land, Galaxy’s Edge, opened to the public at Disney’s Hollywood Studios on August 29. The land took up the space that was once occupied by Streets of America and the Studio Backlot Tour. This land has been a long-time coming, and any and every Star Wars fan has been dying for their chance to step into this new, highly imaginative land. The area is devoted entirely to the world of Star Wars, and while it is based on the film franchise, the land actually represents Batuu, a planet on the Outer Rim Territories - which is not featured in the films. That means that the land isn’t just a carbon copy of anything you’ve ever seen before. It’s entirely original and has it’s own (new!) story to share, while integrating stories and characters that fans know and love.

Awhile back, my family heard the news that Disney would be giving Walt Disney World Platinum Annual Passholders the opportunity to preview Galaxy’s Edge sometime in August. Luckily, we were spending the whole month in Orlando. So we spent the summer frantically checking our emails until we finally heard on Facebook that the emails had been sent out - but we hadn’t received ours. However, we got super lucky as someone posted the registration link and I managed to get the four of us an appointment to preview on August 19 at 1pm. Yay!! Our preview appointment was from 1pm to 5pm, so we were permitted to be in the land for 4 glorious hours.

On August 19, we arrived at Hollywood Studios around 12pm so that we were there well in advance. There was no way we were missing our appointment! One of the first things we did was head through the shops down Hollywood Boulevard and then Sunset Boulevard. There were a few Galaxy’s Edge items for sale in the shops on Hollywood Blvd, but there were a ton down at Once Upon a Time, which is the last shop on the right before Beauty and the Beast Live on Stage and Fantasmic. They had Magicbands, t-shirts, pins and more. Some of the items for purchase were passholder exclusives, which made sense as it was the passholder preview day… But a few items were available to the general public. We ended buying a bunch of pins and each of us bought a t-shirt with the date on it.

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Around 12:30pm, we made our way over to Grand Avenue which is where the largest entrance to Galaxy’s Edge is located. Despite being 30 minutes early for our appointment, they actually allowed us in anyway which was amazing. The more time in the land, the better! The check-in process for the preview was so efficient. I couldn’t believe how quickly and smoothly it went. It was so fast that I could barely process it was happening. At the first Cast Member checkpoint, we presented our confirmation email and our passports for identification. Then, at the next checkpoint, the CM scanned our MagicBands. There were so many CMs at the checkpoints, about a dozen at each, so there was no line whatsoever. And that was it! We could go inside! We went through this large archway which looked like a subway entrance. As you passed through, the tiles on the wall started to look deteriorated and eventually, by the end, it looked like a tunnel that was falling apart which perfectly suited the general aesthetic of the land.

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Upon entering the land, I was completely and utterly awestruck. Everyone I know who had already been to Galaxy’s Edge, either in Disneyland or Disney World, had gone on about how large everything is. But until you actually stand among the rocks and the buildings, you don’t realize just how massive everything is. If you’re wondering about sightlines and the likelihood of seeing other park attractions from inside Galaxy’s Edge, you can’t. I was worried that you might be able to see things from other areas of Hollywood Studios, which might ruin the feel of the land, but I didn’t see anything while I was in there. You are wholly immersed in Batuu from the moment you enter the land to the moment you leave.

One of the very first things we did upon our arrival into Batuu was hop into a line at a beverage kiosk to grab ourselves some special galactic Coke products. In Batuu, there is no such thing as Coke - although, you can still get these fizzy products. Coke, Diet Coke, Sprite, and Dasani are all available inside the land in these ‘scrap metal’ containers that resemble detonators. The only difference with these products to regular Coke products is the label. Gone is the logo we know and love, replaced with an Aurebesh logo… Aurebesh being the written language used in Batuu, of course. Honestly, this is just overpriced Coke in cute plastic bottles. But while there is no such thing as Coke here in Batuu, there is such thing as heat. It is hot in this land y’all, especially in the dead of summer. These are the only drink products they sell in the land (at least when I was there), so if you’re not up to paying an exorbitant fee for pop, then definitely bring your own drinks. The good news is, there are water bottle filling stations inside the park - and they’re themed, too!

Regardless, these bottles were a fun one-time experience and we kept them as souvenirs.

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Inside of Galaxy’s Edge, there are two major experiences that you can partake in that are not rides. The first and perhaps most popular is Savi’s Workshop where you can build your own “piece of scrap metal”… or at least, that’s what the residents of Batuu call it! What you’re really doing is building your own lightsaber in an intimate encounter with a fantastic storyline. While my family chose not to build lightsabers, we did choose to make our own customizable droids at the Droid Depot. Both experiences are quite pricey, but comparatively, Savi’s is much more expensive. A lightsaber will set you back about $200 USD, whereas a droid only costs around $100. Before heading to the land, Steven and I already knew we wanted to build a droid, so we budgeted for that. When we got there, my parents also decided they wanted their own because hello, these things are so cute! I’ll put together a detailed review of the Droid Depot experience and link that here so you can read about that full process, if you’re interested.

As for the final product…

Ta-da! I present you BB-13, our little baby. Isn’t she cute?

One of the things I had heard the most buzz about before our trip to Batuu was the Milk Stand. If you’ve ever seen A New Hope, then you may remember Luke Skywalker pouring himself a seemingly disgusting glass of blue-coloured milk. Um, gross, right? Well, you can get some of that Blue Milk - or even some Green Milk - at Galaxy’s Edge! There’s a huge debate going on right now about which is better. I insisted on trying these two milks because when in Rome, right? Or, rather, when in Batuu. Anyway, after trying both, I’m ready to weigh in on the debate… I’m going to have to side with Team Blue Milk! After sipping both, I couldn’t accurately describe the taste of either. Others say that the green is more of a plant-y, tropical taste, whereas the blue is more fruity. I agree with that.

Unlike Luke’s disgusting milk though, these aren’t actual milk products. They’re instead frosty drinks made of coconut and rice milks. The Blue Milk is a subtle combination of dragon fruit, pineapple, lime, and watermelon flavours. The Green Milk is instead made up of mandarin orange, passion fruit, grapefruit, and orange blossom. Neither were very strong in taste, but were both very refreshing. I wasn’t so sure about the consistency when I first heard about it, but I actually really enjoyed it. Both reminded me of smoothies.

Also, at Walt Disney World’s Galaxy’s Edge, you can get both of these milks as alcoholic options! The Blue Milk comes with rum, while Green Milk comes with tequila. I’d love to try the Blue Alcoholic Milk the next time I go.

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And then, the moment we’ve all been waiting for… We came across the most incredible and majestic of all… The fastest hunk of junk in the galaxy! THE MILLENNIUM FREAKING FALCON. I gotta tell you, there is nothing that could have prepared me for seeing the Millennium Falcon in person. It is MASSIVE. I don’t even know if I can put into words how magical it was to stand in front of it. I couldn’t believe - and still cannot believe - how authentic it looked. I think that even non-fans will be impressed by the sheer size and detail of the Millennium Falcon replica in Galaxy’s Edge. The imagineering that went into this land is simply inspiring and I applaud absolutely everyone who took part in the creation of this marvellous place!

As some, if not most, of you may know, the Millennium Falcon structure is home to Smuggler’s Run, the land’s only attraction currently open. It will be accompanied by a second ride, Rise of the Resistance, later this year in December. Smuggler’s Run is a simulation-based thrill ride in which you take on a role to function the very spaceship that stands before you. That’s right, you get to operate and ride the Millennium Falcon! Unfortunately, I didn’t go on this ride as I don’t do well with simulation rides. But Steven and my dad went on and loved it!! I’m so excited to see what the new ride has in store for us! Hopefully, I’ll be able to ride that one.

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Something I really liked about the set-up of Galaxy’s Edge is the area surrounding the Millennium Falcon. First, they have a raised platform with PhotoPass photographers available to take your photo with the Falcon in the background. Then, down a few steps, you’re right in front of the ship. This is where the entrance to the ride is located. The area is fully blocked off, as you can see by the fencing behind me in the picture, so the front of the Falcon is really just a photo op area. Whether because of the AP Preview being so quiet or because of this set-up, we managed to get really good photos in front of the Falcon with no one in the background. If you go to Disney World often, you’ll know how much of a treat this is! I was so happy with the photos we got and I’ll be framing them all, I’m sure.

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Although I’m steadfastly with the Resistance (Ignite the Spark!), I was very much looking forward to making my way over to the First Order area of the land. Sorry, guys. Ya girl loves her Kylo Ren. Sadly though, I never came across Kylo!! We saw a ton of other characters roaming the land… Chewie, Rey, Vi Moradi, and about a dozen Stormtroopers. But we never did see our luscious-locked baddie. I’m not really sure why that was. We were inside the land for 4 hours and walked around the entire thing a few times, but just never saw him! Hopefully, the next time we travel intergalactically, we stumble upon our favourite First Order leader.

And there ya go, that was our day in Galaxy’s Edge! Overall, our experience was perfection. Everything from the details of the architecture to the extent to which Cast Members stayed in character was so impressive. When we finally, and begrudgingly, left the land at the end of our preview, we felt so strange walking back into Hollywood Studios. Being inside Galaxy’s Edge truly felt like being in a different world - or at least in a different park! Of course, we shopped until we dropped inside the land, and hopefully soon I’ll be able to post a Galaxy’s Edge haul for you guys.

I hope you enjoyed my extra long post about my time in Galaxy’s Edge! Talk soon, my lovelies.

Felicia x

We Got A Puppy!

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Hello everyone!

So, you can probably guess from the title of today’s post what I’m here to tell you guys about… Yes, Steven and I got a puppy!!

I am a dog person. Like, there is no other pet that could come close to giving me the same amount of joy that a dog does. (Also, I’m allergic to and mildly freaked out by cats, so there’s that.) I’ve owned dogs for as long as I’ve been alive, aside from like 2 months when i was 9 - which was just the period we had to wait before getting my next dog. I love dogs, but sadly, Steven hasn’t always. When we started dating, he told me that he definitely did not like dogs. When he was a kid, he got jumped on by an overly-friendly husky and broke his arm, so it turned him off dogs completely. However, I’ve spent the past 6 years convincing him that dogs are genuinely the best and while I give myself a lot of credit, I think spending time with my dog Miley made him realize that he truly is a dog lover.

So really, when we started discussing the possibility of getting a puppy earlier this year, it wasn’t really a hard decision.

Readers, I’d like you to meet Leia!

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I’ll definitely post more in the future about the whole process of getting our puppy (it was our first time going through this ourselves!), but I just wanted to pop in and introduce you guys to the newest member of our family!

Leia’s a Havanese, which is a toy-breed companion dog. Meaning she’s tiny. Very tiny. Right now, she’s a bit too thin - we’re working on it! - and she weighs about 3.9 lbs. We picked her up on September 1 when she was 11 weeks old. That’s a bit older than you would typically pick up your puppy, but as we were on vacay, we had to wait a little longer to take her home. Currently, she’s 12 weeks old and she’ll be 3 months old on September 13!

Of course, we named her after Princess Leia Organa from Star Wars. Once I mentioned the name to Steven, that was it. There was no other name that could fit this little fighter better!

Steven and I are absolutely THRILLED. Honestly, could not be happier. The whole process has been crazy, fun, and amazing - and tiring. We’re so excited (and a little nervous!) to be fur parents for the very first time.

I’ll update you guys on how the puppy life is going very soon!

Felicia x

Disney Parks Halloween Merchandise Wishlist | 2019

~*~ It’s spooky season! ~*~

I gotta tell ya, I love Halloween. I can’t even explain why. I’m not really a ‘horror’ person - I couldn’t watch a scary movie to save my life, jump-scares give me panic attacks, and I cringe at the sight of blood. But I just love the cozy autumnal feeling of Halloween, especially of the not-so-scary persuasion. Disney checks off every box on my list for giving off the perfect Halloween vibes. Every August, when Disney’s Magic Kingdom park is transformed into a Halloween town (no, not that Halloweentown sadly), I’m enamoured. I want nothing less than to live in that little fictional town, on Main Street U.S.A., among the scarecrows and jack-o’-lanterns.

One of the best parts of Disney’s Halloween is also one of the best parts of Disney in general: merch. As you can imagine, Disney goes full-out with their Halloween goods. It usually goes out for sale around the same time as the first Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party of the season which just so happened to be a lot earlier than usual this year, haunting Magic Kingdom on August 16 this year. So, of course, I ran to see what sorts of goodies they had in store for this season. And I compiled a bit of a list (okay, so it’s a rather sizeable list) of all the bits and pieces I love this season - and today, I want to share it with you guys!

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Mickey & Minnie Mouse Cauldron Mug ($19.99)

Available on ShopDisney [x]

This cauldron mug is simply adorable! I’m absolutely loving Mickey and Minnie in their vampire and witchy costumes. I think that the fact that this mug is shaped as a cauldron is positively delightful. If I didn’t already have way more mugs than any human would ever need, I would have already added this to my collection! What’s so cute is that there’s a little spider decal on the bottom of the inside of the mug with a teeny Mickey head in it, and the back of the mug says “Brewing Up A Terror-ific Time!” I feel that size-wise, this mug is really great, and the details just make it so much better.

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Minnie Mouse Witch Sequined Ear Headband ($27.99)

Available on ShopDisney [x]

These Minnie ears are so FUN!! Like c’mon, who can deny that these are adorable? While I’m usually not into over-the-top ears, these are too cute to pass up on. Last Halloween, whilst handing out candy to kids at home, I wore a headband with a mini witch’s hat on top - and now this year, I think I’ll just have to wear these ears instead!! Considering these ears are going for the same price as most other Minnie ears, I think these are arguably more worth the $27.99. They’ve got the addition of the witch’s hat plus a large, sequined bow. Also, on the actual headband piece, there’s stitching that reads “Let’s get wicked!” - so sweet. Personally, I think these are a better set of ears than the new Candy Corn ears, which I’m not huge on. I think it definitely helps that I love the colour purple though!

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Minnie Mouse Sequin Mini Backpack by Loungefly - Candy Corn ($90.00)

Available on ShopDisney [x]

Ahhh this Loungefly is so pricey but so darn cute!!! Honestly, the quality on Loungefly backpacks looks so good, I wish I had the money to spend on one :( But someday maybe! (NOTE: while I was working on this post, my parents gave me an early birthday gift and it was the Star Wars Baby Character mini backpack! What are the odds?!) I love the candy corn details on this bag. Not only did they include the candy corn bow on this bag, which is similar to the one on the ears, but they also put the design on the zippers and the slider on the front! I love these sparkly bags and think they’re super fun and festive. This would be a great bag to take with you to MNSSHP.

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Walt Disney World Candy Corn Spirit Jersey ($64.99)

Available on ShopDisney [x]

Oh my gosh, this spirit jersey was SO hard to find. I ended up actually purchasing this bad boy as my dad hunted it down in Disney Springs for me a couple days after it was released. But it was hard to find! I went to Magic Kingdom the day after the Halloween merch was released and it was sold out at Big Top Souvenirs… Went to Epcot the next day and it was sold out at MouseGears… I was really losing out hope until my dad texted me that he located it at World of Disney - and it was the second last size small available! I LOVE this spirit jersey. I mean, I love most of the spirit jerseys, but this one was super special to me. Check out those sparkles! That’s right friends. All those white specks on the jersey are SPARKLES. How heavenly is that? It’s just really pretty and the pumpkin decals are so cute.

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Poisoned Apple Votive Candle Holder ($19.99)

Available on ShopDisney [x]

I LOVE THIS. Y’all, I love candles. Just so much. There’s nothing that gives me that cozy, spooky feel more than candles. A candle holder shaped like a poisoned apple is basically the best thing that could possibly happen. This would be so lovely to put on my mantlepiece, with a little tealight glowing through whilst I watch Hocus Pocus on repeat for the month of October lol. Also, have you guys heard that Freeform will be playing Hocus Pocus like, 30 times throughout the month of October as part of their 31 Nights of Halloween series? And they’ll be playing it on repeat on the 31st! Anyway, I just love this little candle holder, it’s small and adorable, and I think it’d be a fair-priced addition to my Halloween decor!

Have you guys seen the Disney Halloween merch? What’re you guys wishing for?

Felicia x

Life Lately: The Busiest End to Summer

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Hello friends!

I just wanted to pop in quickly to let you guys know that there will be a bit of a lull in my posts for the next little while and to explain why! Basically, there’s been no point in this year so far that’s been as crazy as the end of August is about to be haha.

For starters, I’m headed to Disney World! Yea, I’m always there. So you may think, is that a big deal? Well, it is! Because we’re about to stay on-property at the parks. This has been a bit of a tradition for us for the past few years, ever since my boyfriend’s first on-property stay in 2017. It’s one of my favourite parts of the year as there’s something so exciting about getting to stay in the magic 24/7 and not having to go home at the end of the day to reality. We’ve stayed at Port Orleans French Quarter for the past couple years, which is where we’ll also be staying this year. French Quarter is 100% my favourite moderate resort. I just adore it. I had the option to stay at Contemporary this year but it was so much money and I love French Quarter so much that it seemed silly to not stay somewhere I truly love for less money. We’ll be staying there for 3 nights and while we’re there, I’ll be celebrating my 21st birthday which is very exciting. I won’t spoil what I’ll be doing to celebrate my legality, you guys’ll just have to wait and see once I post after the trip!

A few days after our Disney World staycation, we’ll be heading on a week-long Caribbean cruise! You may not know this about me, as I haven’t really talked much about it since starting my blog, but I love to cruise. My family are big cruisers. My parents went on their first cruise in the ‘90s and fell completely head over heels. My first cruise was a two-week-long Panama canal cruise when I was 5 - after that, how could I not be hooked? Back in 2015, I brought my boyfriend onto his very first cruise and now he’s just as obsessed as we are haha. This will be my 20th cruise and Steven’s 5th cruise. We’ll be boarding the ever-so-lovely Carnival Breeze which will take us around to tropical ports where I plan on tanning and drinking to my heart’s content lol. I’m very much looking forward to a week of relaxation before the school term begins.

After our cruise, Steven and I’ll be heading home (*sniff sniff*) but the fun doesn’t end there! We will be embarking on quite possibly our most exciting journey yet in September… But I won’t spoil that just yet ;)

I hope you’re all having a marvellous August. I can’t wait to chat soon!

Felicia x

Review: The Victorian and the Romantic - Nell Stevens

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My Rating: ★★★★

Genre(s): Nonfiction, Memoir, History

Reading Challenge: 21 out of 35

Goodreads Synopsis

In 1857, English novelist Elizabeth Gaskell completed her most famous work: the biography of her dear friend Charlotte Bronte. As publication loomed, Mrs. Gaskell was keen to escape the reviews. So, leaving her dull minister husband and dreary provincial city behind, she set off with her daughters to Rome. There she met a dazzling group of artists and writers, among them the American critic Charles Eliot Norton. Seventeen years her junior, Norton was her one true love. They could not be together--it would be an unthinkable breach of convention--but by his side and amidst that splendid circle, Mrs. Gaskell knew she had reached the "tip-top point of [her] life."


In 2013, Nell Stevens is embarking on her PhD--about the community of artists and writers living in Rome in the mid-19th century--and falling head over heels for a soulful American screenwriter in another city. As her long-distance romance founders and her passion for academia never quite materializes, she is drawn to Mrs. Gaskell. Could this indomitable Victorian author rescue Nell's pursuit of love, family and a writing career?
Lively, witty, and impossible to put down, The Victorian and the Romantic is a moving chronicle of two women each charting a way of life beyond the rules of her time.

My Thoughts

Here are the things I knew (or thought I knew) about Elizabeth Gaskell before reading this book:

  • She wrote some classic novels, including North and South (but I don’t remember any other titles)

  • She was an author in 19th century Britain

  • She wrote a highly controversial biography about her dear friend, Charlotte Brontë after her death

And that’s literally it. But there is so much more to her than what meets the eye. That’s sort of my favourite thing about history - oftentimes, some of the best figures in history are actually the most overlooked.

Nell Stevens told a (somewhat fictionalized?) autobiographical story about her troubles navigating the post-grad educational world as well as her romantic life while slowly building a strong friendship with Victorian author Elizabeth Gaskell, a relationship that was unaffected by time or distance. I thought that her story was super relatable. She really showed the difficulties and awkwardness of academia, something I’ve grappled with since the moment I went into university. It’s a cut-throat world and from what I can tell, it only gets worse in grad school! Lol. But I found it relieving to see her fumbling around, uncertain of what she was doing or what she wanted. I also loved seeing the development of her relationship with Max, how she came into her own and found her footing in her own direction.

Most of all, this book made me really interested in the life of Elizabeth Gaskell. Do not believe what you’ve heard!! Victorians were not prudish, boring people. They could be very complex and saucy even. Elizabeth Gaskell was a married woman who was engaged in a flirtation with a much younger man whilst on a trip to Rome without her husband - quel scandale. It was actually so interesting to read about and I intend to read more about this fascinating woman in the future!

Have you ever heard of Elizabeth Gaskell?

Felicia x

Review: The Farm - Joanne Ramos

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My Rating: ★★★★

Genre(s): Fiction, Dystopian

Reading Challenge: 20 out of 35

Goodreads Synopsis

Nestled in the Hudson Valley is a sumptuous retreat boasting every amenity: organic meals, private fitness trainers, daily massages—and all of it for free. In fact, you get paid big money—more than you've ever dreamed of—to spend a few seasons in this luxurious locale. The catch? For nine months, you belong to the Farm. You cannot leave the grounds; your every move is monitored. Your former life will seem a world away as you dedicate yourself to the all-consuming task of producing the perfect baby for your überwealthy clients.

Jane, an immigrant from the Philippines and a struggling single mother, is thrilled to make it through the highly competitive Host selection process at the Farm. But now pregnant, fragile, consumed with worry for her own young daughter's well-being, Jane grows desperate to reconnect with her life outside. Yet she cannot leave the Farm or she will lose the life-changing fee she'll receive on delivery—or worse.

Heartbreaking, suspenseful, provocative, The Farm pushes our thinking on motherhood, money, and merit to the extremes, and raises crucial questions about the trade-offs women will make to fortify their futures and the futures of those they love.

My Thoughts

I gotta say, I feel like the description of this book was pretty misleading. I went into The Farm expecting a Atwood-esque dystopian story and although the characters did go through pretty demeaning and inhumane ordeals at Golden Oaks Farm, it was a far cry from the horrors of Gilead in my opinion. I just felt that this story didn’t hit the same note as the previous dystopian literature that I’ve been exposed to.

All in all, I thought this was an interesting novel. The characters were well-developed and I found the split narrative between Jane, Ate, Reagan and Mae told a complicated, yet fascinating story. Oh and don’t let the blurb on the back fool you - this book is not just about Jane. It follows the stories of several women from different classes, races and age groups. That was something I found sort of surprising about this novel was how they promoted it as being so focused on Jane, but the other women in this story were essential to the plot. They were simply not throwaway characters. If y’all have read my book reviews before, you’ll know how I love me some complicated female characters. I hate one-dimensional women in novels, and this was the exact opposite of that.

Honestly, this book was a bit dull though. It was still enjoyable, don’t get me wrong. It was just a bit slow. I kept expecting a massive WOW moment but to be honest, the climactic moment was sort of a let down in my opinion. The ending fell flat for me as well as it sort of simmered and very quickly.

But don’t let that dissuade you - if you’re not going into this with hopes of an intense, non-stop, can’t-put-your-book-down sort of story, then you’re good. You’ll probably love it. And I even thought it was quite good too!

What do you think about feminist dystopias? Are you into them or no?

Felicia x

Drugstore Beauty Products I've Been Loving

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Hey everyone, it’s me, your friendly neighbourhood university student, and I’m here to tell you that you are not alone, we are all suffering and we all have debt up to our noses thanks to this brilliant higher education that probably won’t help us get good jobs in the end cause the job market is a terrible place. Let’s get that out in the open, off our chests. Feels good to say it out loud, right? Not really but hey, at least we’re all suffering together!

All jokes aside, being in uni is rough. Being an adult in general is rough, especially when you don’t really have a stable income because either your part-time job doesn’t pay enough or you aren’t currently employed so that you can focus on your studies in order to get a good job (*raises hand* YUP). Whatever your spending money on, whether it’s schooling or accommodations or groceries, or maybe just saving every spare penny for the ~future~ then you might not have a lot of extra money to spend on make-up. Thankfully, there are a ton of really great affordable beauty products out there, if you know to look in the right places! I think of myself as a bit of a drugstore brand connoisseur and I’ve found some gems over time.

Today, I thought I’d share some of my favourite drugstore brand products that I’ve been using this summer to help y’all out with staying glam throughout the season on a budget!

E.l.f. Cosmetics Flawless Finish Foundation [$6]

Hello, yes, it is I, continuing to champion e.l.f. cosmetics products. WHAT ELSE IS NEW. But seriously, what could be said against this brand? It’s inexpensive, the products are beautiful, and best of all, it’s cruelty-free! The product I love most by e.l.f. is their flawless finish foundation. It’s a mostly full-coverage formula that gives skin an even, beautiful glow without being shimmery or “wet” and it’s phenomenal when you take into consideration the pricetag (hello, $6 foundation!!). I’ve been using - and raving about - this foundation for a few years now and as long as my budget is tight (aka the foreseeable future) I will continue to do so. I find that it can be easily applied with either a foundation brush or blending sponge which makes it super versatile depending on your preference or if you’re like me, on your mood lol. Personally, I have very dry, sensitive skin and this product works amazingly for me. During the summer months, I’ve transitioned from the Snow shade for my sad Victorian-lady pale skin (although it is a tad too pale for me) to the Sand shade as I’m working on a tan, and I’ve loved both shades equally.

NYX Worth the Hype Waterproof Mascara [$8]

This one’s a new favourite of mine that I’ve been loving this summer. NYX in itself is an amazing brand. I find that it’s high-end quality for drugstore prices. While elf is my favourite drugstore brand, NYX might just take the cake for being better quality (albeit for slightly higher prices). The tapered tip of this mascara wand is to die for honestly. I picked this mascara up on a whim as I’d never tried an NYX mascara before and I was in the market for a new one so it seemed like perfect timing. I gotta say, I absolutely love this one. As I’ve already got long eyelashes, I’m not really too concerned about a product that lengthens my lashes, I much prefer something that separates and thickens. This totally does that. Like to an extent that I was not prepared for. It’s taken a lot of practice to not get this all over my upper eyelids lol but once I get the hang of it, I end up with big, fluttery lashes!! So lovely and the waterproof feature is an absolute god send in this Florida heat (and daily torrential rain storms!)

E.l.f. Cosmetics Blush in “Candid Coral” [$4]

Y’all let’s talk about peach tones for a sec ok? I’m game for anything in a pretty peachy shade. I think it’s girly and cute and fun, plus it goes perfectly with a tan. Perhaps my all-time favourite peach product is this e.l.f. blush. The colour is actually called “coral” but let’s not let semantics get in the way of our fun. This lovely little powder blush is my knight in shining armour. I pop a bit of this blush on my cheeks every damn day, especially now that it’s summertime. Remember when we thought blush was unnecessary or uncool or whatever and we walked around like boring, dull contoured weirdos? We all did it, let’s be honest. Blush has become absolutely essential to my everyday makeup look, I cannot imagine not wearing it now. This gives a really healthy, bright look to my face, which has been even more necessary this last week as I’ve been fighting off some weird cold/stomach bug and have looked like a dead girl walking!

E.l.f. Cosmetics Beautifully Bare Cheek Glow in “Soft Peach” [$4]

Oh look, another blush lol what a shocker. Seriously though, this was an actual surprise product for me!! It’s not the sort of product I’d typically reach for, mostly because it’s cream-based. Cream blushes remind me of my early makeup preteen years and kind of makes me shudder involuntarily. But this was actually a huge hit for me! It’s not just a cream blush, it actually is a cream-to-powder blush, so I don’t find it as clumpy as pure cream blushes typically are. Mind you I’m judging all cream blushes based on the formulas of the early 2010s so take that with a grain of salt haha. Of course, this is another peach shade. It looks very natural on the skin especially if you pat it down a bit with a blending sponge (there’s my little amateur tip for y’all). Although the product looks very orange-y in the pan, I promise it doesn’t come off so vibrant!

NYX Matte Bronzer [$9]

I genuinely adore this bronzer. Mostly, I tend to reach for more shimmery bronzers, especially when it comes to summertime when I’ve got a tan and I just feel like it gives a really healthy glow. This matte bronzer by NYX totally surprised me. I picked it up because I wanted a daytime bronzer and with this unbelievable Floridian heat, I was already looking a little too glow-y for my own good and not in a nice way haha. So I finally gave in and bought a matte bronzer, and I don’t regret it in the slightest! This powder bronzer is so pretty and stays in place through rain or shine, and humidity or (yuck) sweat. I love it and could not recommend it enough.

E.l.f. Cosmetics Kabuki Face Brush [$6]

This brush is absolutely glorious. I had never really considered using a kabuki brush until I picked this up on a whim at Target. Kabuki brushes are particularly good at applying powder and I’ve been using this to apply bronzer, especially to my neck/chest area where I didn’t get as much sun as the other areas. The kabuki brush is large enough that it doesn’t require a lot of effort to apply the powder, even on a large surface like my neck/chest area. It applies the product really evenly and makes the bronzer look super natural and not like batches of makeup lol. Not to mention e.l.f.’s brush is way cheaper than other kabuki brushes, even from other drugstore brands (the NYX one is nearly $20!!). This is a must-have drugstore brand brush for sure.


And that’s all for now! What drugstore brand products have you been loving this summer?

Felicia x

Review: The Sun Is Also A Star - Nicola Yoon

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“Sometimes your world shakes so hard, it’s difficult to imagine that everyone else isn’t feeling it too.”

My Rating: ★★★★

Genre(s): Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Fiction

Reading Challenge: 19 out of 35

Goodreads Synopsis —

Natasha: I’m a girl who believes in science and facts. Not fate. Not destiny. Or dreams that will never come true. I’m definitely not the kind of girl who meets a cute boy on a crowded New York City street and falls in love with him. Not when my family is twelve hours away from being deported to Jamaica. Falling in love with him won’t be my story.

Daniel: I’ve always been the good son, the good student, living up to my parents’ high expectations. Never the poet. Or the dreamer. But when I see her, I forget about all that. Something about Natasha makes me think that fate has something much more extraordinary in store—for both of us.

The Universe: Every moment in our lives has brought us to this single moment. A million futures lie before us. Which one will come true?

My Thoughts —

Alright, so let me start by saying that I completely devoured this book. I gave myself about a week to get through it as I wanted to finish it before I left for my Florida trip but I literally completed it in 24 hours lol. So, I think it’s safe to say that I thoroughly enjoyed it.

This was not the first Nicola Yoon book that I’ve ever read. A couple summers back, I read “Everything, Everything” which, at the time, was really talked about because it was being adapted into a film. When I first read it, I really enjoyed it but when I started reading reviews by other readers, I started feeling uneasy because there was a lot of talk about how it sort of took the subject of disability and sort of diluted it for the purpose of the plot. In spite of this, I had heard a lot about “The Sun Is Also A Star” so I decided to give it a go.

There were two main things I really liked about this book. The first was the discussion on immigration, and the other was fate. Honestly, both were really well done. I loved how the two main characters were both influenced by immigration and yet their stories and circumstances were hardly similar. I liked the dichotomy in their families, pasts and lifestyles as I think it greatly impacted their lives and their viewpoints. In terms of the fate storyline, my favourite aspect wasn’t even really how the idea of fate affected the main characters’ love story, but rather who they came across in their 24 hour trek across New York City. In their day together, Natasha and Daniel met or passed several people and it was so interesting to see how they played off of one another and how their interactions were so important to one another’s lives.

I really don’t want to give away any of this story. It honestly took so many sharp turns and I think that giving away one detail sort of spoils all the fun! Personally, I think that if you’re considering reading this novel, I’d wait until you have the opportunity to really devote your time to it! For me, reading this novel in a day helped with the general flow of the novel, although I know that doing so isn’t possible for everyone. I’d just make sure you have time to read this in big chunks because I think it makes it easier to follow the different storylines and keep track of all the characters!

Do you believe in fate?

Felicia x

Mid-Year Book Freak Out Tag 2019

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Hello my loves!

I know I say it every year and this is probably my catchphrase, but can you believe how quickly this year is going by?! It’s so cliche to say and I’m fully aware of it. But honestly, I can’t grasp that the first half of the year has gone by. How is it almost 2020? Wasn’t it just 2010? God help me.

Anyway, existential crisis aside, happy second half of 2019 everyone! If that’s a thing lol. Today’s post is going to be one that I did last year as well which I’m very excited about - the Mid-Year Book Freak Out Tag!! Woohoo! I love posting these sorts of blogs because it’s a good mini wrap-up of the books I’ve been reading because with the amount I’ve read so far these year, it can be hard to think of them all as a whole group. So this is a really good way to talk about them all at once!

Without further ado, let’s jump right in.

Best book you’ve read so far in 2019…

Y’all know how I am about making decisions… I am BAD at it. So I’m going to allow myself to give two books for this answer. That seems fair, right?! Okay, so the two best books I’ve read this year so far are Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid and My Plain Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton and Jodi Meadows. They were both so incredible and energetic. Honestly, there was never a moment reading either of these books where I was bored or wanted to put them down. I rated both of them 5 stars and they fully deserved it in every way conceivable.

Best sequel you’ve read so far in 2019…

Okay, so I struggle to call it a “sequel” but as it is part of the Lady Janies trilogy, I’m going to have to say that My Plain Jane was the best sequel I read in the first half of the year. I didn’t really read many sequels in the first half of the year. I only read Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (a classic, of course) and All For One by Melissa de la Cruz (which I did not enjoy sadly). I’ve wanted to get my hands on a good series but just haven’t found many that’ve caught my eye yet. If you have a good one, please let me know!!

A book you haven’t read but want to…

Y’all, I am so excited to read A Game of Thrones. You may know that I got really into the show this year and that I binge-watched it just before the series ended this past spring. I only just bought the first two books recently and I am so excited to jump right into these books! Obviously, I’ve heard very good things about this series and I really enjoyed the show on the whole. I wasn’t super keen on the final season, in particular the finale, so hopefully that will be rectified by George R.R. Martin in the final books?! While those books haven’t come out yet, I’ll definitely let you know what I think about the first two books in the second half of this year hopefully!

Most anticipated release for the 2nd half of 2019…

Oh my god I am so unbelievably excited for The Testaments by Margaret Atwood to be released!! It is coming out in early September and yes, I’ve already got it pre-ordered so it will be sent to me once it’s released which is very good news because I’ve got a crazy busy September! I read The Handmaid’s Tale about two-ish years ago and loved it. I’ve since started watching the show on Hulu and think it’s incredibly done. The whole concept of Handmaid’s Tale is just so freaking terrifying but I think everyone needs to read the book or watch the show because our world is headed in a direction where women are being stripped of basic civil rights and we need to see what happens when it goes too far. Feminists, non-feminists and those in between can learn a lot from this book. And The Testaments has been described by Margaret Atwood herself as the answer to the questions that readers have had about Gilead since the first book was released in the ‘80s, so I’m PUMPED.

Biggest disappointment of 2019…

Sigh. Y’all know this has to be All For One… I was so bummed with how Melissa de la Cruz chose to end this trilogy. The first book, Alex and Eliza, was such an enjoyable historical fiction for young adults. And Love and War was a little less amazing, but still good regardless. But All For One was just a whirlwind and not in a good way. It felt like the author had sort of gotten bored with the trilogy and just wanted to finish it as quickly as possible. Like, not only were the loose ends not strung together as is expected in most series ends, but it was almost like the author started up a whole new story with this third book. Not a fan.

Biggest surprise of 2019…

Honestly, the biggest surprise for me has been Women Talking by Miriam Toews. I wasn’t really expecting much, I just thought it would be an interesting read, and it seemed sort of out of my usual selection of books. But it ended up being absolutely incredible!! Honestly, this book totally messed me up. It was so shocking and horrifying and heartbreaking… But also extremely powerful and uplifting?? I’d definitely recommend reading it. And also it’s great to support a Canadian author!

New favourite author…

Taylor Jenkins Reid!! I really enjoyed reading The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo and Daisy Jones and the Six in this first half of the year. I’d definitely read more of her work in the future.

Newest fictional crush…

I loved Alexander Blackwood from My Plain Jane! So cute and charming. Love the archetype of grumpy men who are secretly soft and caring on the inside (ahem Luke Danes)

Newest favourite character…

A character I’ve been loving is Fleetwood Shuttleworth from The Familiars. Her character growth was pretty amazing throughout the book!

Book that made you cry…

Although I didn’t cry while reading them, the two that made me most emotional were The Sun Does Shine by Anthony Ray Hinton and Women Talking. Both handled very difficult subject matter and did a great job of it. But both broke my heart fully.

Book that made you happy…

Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy!! Yay for body positivity!!

Favourite book to movie adaptation…

D’ya know what’s funny? I haven’t seen a book to movie adaptation yet this year! But the Little Women adaptation is coming out in December, so I’ll let you know what I think of that when it comes out.

Favourite review you’ve written…

My review for The Royal We [review] was my favourite to write! It was one of the longest ones I’ve written and as it was for a book I really enjoyed, it was so fun to chat about!

Most beautiful book you’ve bought this year…

It’s genuinely been a year and I still don’t know if this is asking about the cover or the story… Last year I answered for the story, so let’s go with the cover this year! The most beautiful book I bought was The Familiars. It has an incredible navy blue cover with lovely woodland creatures and floral decorations.

Books you need to read by the end of 2019…

I’ve got a ton of books that I own that I still haven’t read. A few of those are: The Farm by Joanne Ramos, A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles, The Huntress by Kate Quinn, and My Dear Hamilton by Stephanie Dray.

I hope you enjoyed this little mid-year wrap-up!

Felicia x

If you fancy reading my book reviews from this year, you can find those all here.

And if you want to read last year’s Mid-Year Book Freak Out Tag, you can find that post here.

Review: My Plain Jane - Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton and Jodi Meadows

“If there was something strange in your neighborhood, you could, um, write the Society a letter, and they would promptly send an agent to take care of it.”

My Rating: ★★★★★

Genre(s): Fantasy, Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Retelling

Reading Challenge: 18 out of 35

Goodreads Synopsis —

You may think you know the story. After a miserable childhood, penniless orphan Jane Eyre embarks on a new life as a governess at Thornfield Hall. There, she meets one dark, brooding Mr. Rochester. Despite their significant age gap (!) and his uneven temper (!!), they fall in love—and, Reader, she marries him. (!!!)

Or does she?

Prepare for an adventure of Gothic proportions, in which all is not as it seems, a certain gentleman is hiding more than skeletons in his closets, and one orphan Jane Eyre, aspiring author Charlotte Brontë, and supernatural investigator Alexander Blackwood are about to be drawn together on the most epic ghost hunt this side of Wuthering Heights.

My Thoughts —

The Janies have released yet another retelling masterpiece. And reader, I loved it.

If you haven’t already read my review of My Lady Jane, which I posted last year, now would be a great time to do that! You can read that here.

Okay, onto the review! So, first thing to note is that you don’t need to read My Lady Jane before you read this book. In fact, you don’t need to read it at all - but you should! Because My Lady Jane was amazing and I love-love-loved it. But these books exist entirely on their own. The best way that I could explain the Lady Janies series is by comparing it to an anthology series like American Horror Story, where each season is about a different story and different characters. That’s what these books are. They’ve got a common thread (being about a Jane, whether fictional or historical) but they tell different stories and aren’t connected.

Unlike My Lady Jane, which was a historical retelling, My Plain Jane took on a fictional story - the Charlotte Brontë Gothic novel, Jane Eyre. Some literary purists would probably be really put off by a retelling of a classic, especially one that really changed the course of the novel, but personally, I thought it was so entertaining. The team of authors who jointly put together this book did such a fantastic job at creating a multi-faceted story that combined the original storyline of Jane Eyre with common Gothic era elements as well as contemporary ideas. In this book, just like in My Lady Jane, we saw previously overlooked female characters taking a stand for themselves which was so empowering and amazing.

Something I particularly enjoyed about this book was how Charlotte Brontë took a major part in not only the storytelling but also the plot. In My Plain Jane, Charlotte was a close friend of Jane’s from the beginning of the story and she became an integral part in the main character’s story. But, maintaining a bit of reality, Charlotte was constantly writing down notes about Jane’s life in a notebook to use for a novel, which would ultimately become Jane Eyre. On the whole, it made the story feel a whole lot personal.

And finally, just like in My Lady Jane, My Plain Jane had little author’s notes which was so funny and original. It felt like the authors were telling the reader a story in a more personal way, and that’s something I really love about their books!

All in all, an INCREDIBLE book. If you’re looking for some ghostly fun (maybe a good October read???), definitely check this out, especially if you’re into young adults novels. It’s well worth the 400-some-odd pages!

P.S. I have just found out from the Janies’ blog (here) that they will not only be releasing a third book of the Janies series, My Calamity Jane, but also another trilogy - the Marys!! Which will include a first book about my most favourite tragic lady in history, Mary, Queen of Scots! Can’t wait for her to get the justice she deserved.

Are you a fan of retellings?

Felicia x

Review: All For One - Melissa de la Cruz

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“He in midnight-blue wool, she in dark rose silk with pink and chocolate accents - they were the picture of urbane, young New York society, and she noticed more than one set of eyes glancing at them both approvingly and enviously.”

My Rating: ★★★

Genre(s): Historical Fiction (American Revolution), Young Adult, Romance

Reading Challenge: 17 out of 35

Goodreads Synopsis —

1785. New York, New York.

As a young nation begins to take shape, Alexander Hamilton and Elizabeth Schuyler are on top of the world. They’re the toast of the town, keeping New York City buzzing with tales of their lavish parties, of Eliza’s legendary wit, and of Alex’s brilliant legal mind.

But new additions to Alex & Eliza’s little family mean change is afoot in the Hamilton household. When they agree to take in an orphaned teenage girl along with Eliza’s oldest brother, John Schuyler, Eliza can’t help but attempt a match. It’s not long before sparks start to fly…if only Eliza can keep herself from interfering too much in the course of true love. After all, she and Alex have an arrival of their own to plan for, though Alex’s latest case brings a perilous threat that may destroy everything.

The sweeping love story of Alexander Hamilton and Elizabeth Schuyler comes to a close in All for One, the riveting final instalment of the New York Times bestselling Alex & Eliza trilogy.

My Thoughts —

Whew. Okay. I’ve got a lot to say about this third and final instalment of the Alex and Eliza series, so let’s just jump right in.

As you guys may remember, I read the first book of this Young Adults’ series last October and then read the sequel very shortly after. For me, it was sort of a way to tide myself over until the Hamilton musical makes its way on up to Toronto in 2020. I didn’t really have the time to devote to Ron Chernow’s biography on the Founding Father - the one that Lin-Manuel Miranda based the musical on. So I thought that this YA series would be a great start.

Although I really enjoyed the first book, the sequel fell a little flat for me and this final book really disappointed me, and here’s why.

One of the things I noticed throughout this series is that there are quite a few historical inaccuracies. For the most part, this is pretty understandable because a) historical fiction as a genre leaves a lot of room for interpretation and b) this is a series meant for teens and some of the content of Alexander Hamilton’s history is ummmmm questionable? To say the least lol. I just looked past these little artistic licenses in the past. But in All For One, I honestly just couldn’t.

As the plot of the novel is set-up, we almost immediately find out that Eliza Hamilton is pregnant. Which is super odd because the main chunk of the novel is set during the year of 1785, while Eliza’s first child was actually born in 1782… Strange, right? It gets even weirder when a new, dangerous character called Maria Reynolds is introduced - remember her? If you know the story of the Reynolds affair, you’ll know that it didn’t even happen until 1791. So I’m not sure what the reasoning behind overlapping all of these stories was, but that’s what the author chose to do. I guess it sort of made it seem more dramatic to have all this chaos happening at once? But honestly, I think that the reality was far more tragic. There was a number of other changes made throughout the novel, some small and some consequential that I can’t mention without spoiling. But it just seemed odd and unnecessary and really bugged me.

Another thing that I took issue with in regards to this novel was the fact that it felt a lot like a retelling of Jane Austen’s Emma. Don’t get me wrong - Emma is one of my favourite Austen novels and even of my favourite novels ever. But I didn’t sign-up for a remake. And the Hamilton’s lives didn’t follow the same structure of that novel either. It felt like it was just an easy association to make between the two because they’re set in relatively the same time period and had the same social class dynamic. But then again, the characters that made up this portion of All For One - namely Emma Trask, the young girl that Eliza takes in as a ward/lady’s maid hybrid - weren’t a part of the Hamilton’s lives at all. It was just a strange deviation from the historical aspect of the novel and it made the story of All For One feel a little lacklustre to me.

Personally, as a whole, this series seemed to be geared more towards young teens - like preteens. But then again, the language was very complex for young readers. Although at times there were misplaced modern phrases used (“matchy-matchy” for instance), for the most part, the author chose to use elaborate language that felt like a mix of modern day and 18th century language. I wouldn’t compare the language of this novel to that used in Austen’s novels as this would be probably easier to comprehend for a young reader. But it’s worth mentioning for sure!

If you’re interested in reading these novels or having your kid or another young teen read these novels, I’d suggest taking the historical content with a grain of salt. This isn’t the place to go for a factual retelling of the Hamilton’s story. Consider it as The Other Boleyn Girl film adaptation of Young Adult novels lol.

Have you read a really good Hamilton historical fiction? Let me know in the comments!

Felicia x

Review: The Familiars - Stacey Halls

“If the Devil is poverty, and hunger, and grief, then yes, I think they know the Devil.”

My Rating: ★★★★

Genre(s): Historical Fiction (Pendle witches), Fantasy, Paranormal

Reading Challenge: 16 out of 35

Goodreads Synopsis —

Young Fleetwood Shuttleworth, a noblewoman, is with child again. None of her previous pregnancies have borne fruit, and her husband, Richard, is anxious for an heir. Then Fleetwood discovers a hidden doctor’s letter that carries a dire prediction: she will not survive another birth. By chance she meets a midwife named Alice Grey, who promises to help her deliver a healthy baby. But Alice soon stands accused of witchcraft.

Is there more to Alice than meets the eye? Fleetwood must risk everything to prove her innocence. As the two women’s lives become intertwined, the Witch Trials of 1612 loom. Time is running out; both their lives are at stake. Only they know the truth. Only they can save each other.

Rich and compelling, set against the frenzy of the real Pendle Hill Witch Trials, this novel explores the rights of 17th-century women and raises the question: Was witch-hunting really women-hunting? Fleetwood Shuttleworth, Alice Grey and the other characters are actual historical figures. King James I was obsessed with asserting power over the lawless countryside (even woodland creatures, or “familiars,” were suspected of dark magic) by capturing “witches”—in reality mostly poor and illiterate women.

My Thoughts —

Following my trend of only reading historical fiction novels (seriously, will I ever steer from this genre?!), I picked up this book after reading a bit about it on Goodreads. I’ve never really learned much about the history of witchcraft before, all though I knew about as much as the average person knows and after taking a recent course on the Stuart rule in England, I got the gist that James I wasn’t a big fan of witchcraft (or what he perceived to be witchcraft) in his kingdom. Despite my lack of knowledge, I picked this book up as sort of a beginner’s crash course on the topic. And it ended up doing the trick - I’m officially ready to learn more about this fascinating period of history!

I really liked how Stacey Halls flipped the perception of witches on its head completely by suggesting that the witch hunt was more of a fight for power and an attack on the poor than a reaction to an actual threat of danger. In this book, Fleetwood Shuttleworth - a young noblewoman - finds herself smack-dab in the middle of the Pendle witch trial when she believes someone to be wrongly accused and takes it upon herself to try to uncover the truth. What she finds is a world unlike her own, especially in regards to funds - those accused of witchcraft are disproportionately poor. Through her search, she discovers not only the truth about those involved in the alleged crimes, but also about those closest to her. The idea that the accused were not actually witches, but poor women who were unable to defend themselves is extremely eye-opening about the witch trials in general and how we perceive them today. In that time, what was unusual was considered evil, and the innocent were often persecuted.

Additionally, the way that women were portrayed in this novel was especially interesting. In the early 17th century, women had no rights and no position in the home or in society. They were silent figures that followed their fathers and their husbands - whether those men were good and right, or not. Fleetwood, our main character, has had significant hardship in her life as a young woman. At only 17 years old, she has endured horrors worst than most have in a lifetime. But these things have not broken her down - in fact, they have only made her stronger. And her friendship with her midwife, Alice, only empowers her more. But it is the witch trials that really sends her into full-force. She knows what she believes in and she follows this, regardless of if it is what her husband or society expects of her. Because of this, she becomes a full-fledged heroine. Through her journey, she highlights the greatest abuses against women in the early modern times and it is immensely inspiring.

Perhaps what I found most intriguing about this book, however, was what came after the novel - the Author’s Note, in which it was explained that the characters were real people who lived in 17th century England. That Alice Gray was accused and (perhaps more bogglingly) acquitted of witchcraft. The reason behind this acquittal has not been determined, even now, several hundred years later. Being a history nut myself, I found this mystery completely gripping and had even more appreciation for Stacey Halls, who gave a story to a woman whose life is an enigma.

Are you interested in the witch trials?

Felicia x