S.A. McAuley’s Out of the Shade Book Review

If romance, angst, cultural relevance, raw honesty, and smoking hot chemistry are what you’re looking for in a book, look no further… McAuley’s book, Out of the Shade, offers all of the above and more.

McAuley tackles some tough issues in this book with a poignant look at the inner turmoil and fears of coming out, as well as the reality of sometimes looking at yourself in the mirror and not liking what you see. The story arc the main characters, Jesse and Chuck, go through throughout the story focuses on these topics, as well as their own individual struggles, pushing them down a path of trying to find out who they are individually, as well as how they can fit together.

McAuley’s understanding of the difficult topics she broaches in this story, and how everything is handled with such care and honesty, is commendable. She really laid her heart out on her sleeve with this one, and I applaud her.

McAuley has a talent of drawing the reader in and making them not just read what she writes, but entirely feel and understand on a deeper level the journeys her characters are going through. The characters become your friends, men you want to succeed, men whose failures feel like your own, and make you pause for self-reflection, as every good story and character should.

The romance was raw and genuine and beautiful, but also painful and unhealthy and heartbreaking- a balance that can be difficult to maintain, but handled skillfully and flawlessly through McAuley’s talented story-telling. McAuley drew me into her world just a few pages in, the chemistry of our two male leads sparking so hot the book risked catching fire.

Out of the Shade proved to be a wonderful escape, and also an eye-opening lesson into how we view ourselves and can practice compassion and patience and kindness in our own lives, as well as a reminder to pause to wonder what struggles others may also be dealing with underneath the surface, a welcome lesson in today’s world where we often get caught up in our own fast-paced, instant-gratification, social media-fueled environments.

McAuley has never once failed to pull me entirely into her world of writing, and Out of the Shade was no different. An absolutely engaging delight (and sometimes tear-jerker) from start to finish, I give Out of the Shade five out of five stars.

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May Favorites

It’s been a while… sorry for the lack of blog posts! Let me make it up to you guys by recommending these amazing products to you!

Clean on Me Shower Gel – Soap and Glory
This product smells like citrus and clean laundry. It’s super softening on the skin. You get SO much product for very little money. I love it. This will be my new go-to shower gel. Perfect for a quick shower when you still want to pamper your skin and treat it well.

Smoothie Star Breakfast Scrub – Soap and Glory
This smells like oatmeal and maple syrup and it does glorious things to your skin and it’s basically one of my favorite scrubs EVER. It’s the perfect way to start the day.

Smoothie Star Body Spray – Soap and Glory
See above.

Butterball Bath Bomb – Lush
I’m not crazy about vanilla, and I like my bathbombs to have some color and glitter and fireworks. So I wasn’t very excited about this bath bomb. But then I read that it helps alleviate stress and depression and anxiety- all of which I’ve had a lot of lately. So I popped this guy in the bath (with some L’Occitane lavender bubble bath) and I was SO relaxed. This bath bomb is extremely moisturizing smelled amazing once it had dissolved in the water (not nearly as strong as it smells in solid form) and it really did help alleviate my stress. I stayed in the bath for almost two hours. It was lovely. And this is one of Lush’s cheaper products, too. You can’t go wrong with this one.

Sunrise Soap – Lush
This is the best soap Lush has ever come out with and I’m so upset it’s seasonal!!!!!! It has shower gel mixed into the soap. And it smells so lovely and it’s so soft on the skin and it’s just the perfect shower soap. I’m obsessed with it. Get it while you still can.

L’Oreal Infallible Pro-Matte Powder
My make-up stays in place alllllll day when I set it with this powder. I can literally feel the oils on my skin trying to break through, and they just can’t. This stuff is amazing. It goes on invisibly, and I love a matte look, and it just gets the job done. Zero complaints. Five stars.

 

 

February Favorites

Anastasia Brow Definer: This is the first time I’ve used something other than powder on my eyebrows, because I like how powder gives your eyebrows a natural look. So as soon as I put this on with half the effort of powder, but got the exact same, if not more precise, results, I was sold. I love this (and so did the two people in line ahead of me at Sephora… it’s flying off the shelves).

Lush Dream Cream Hand and Body Lotion: It works miracles. Seriously. I’m not crazy about this scent though (it’s not bad, just not my favorite), so I plan to re-stock in Karma Kream when I run out of this tub. This is my new winter essential.

Tanya Burr Picnic in the Park Lip Gloss: I’m not a big lip gloss fan- I love a matte lip. But, I’ll make an exception for this. I use this lip gloss on my lazy days when I’m doing a simple make-up look and want to add just a touch of something fun. Also, these lip glosses smell and taste amazing.

Milani Eye Tech Perfection Liquid Liner: The perfect line. Every. Single. Time. And cat eyes have never been easier. This is my new go-to liquid liner. I’m obsessed.

The Balm Mary Lou-Manizer: It’s so glowy! A little goes a veryyyyy long way with this product. I’m so glad I gave it a try. My skin looks bright and healthy and shimmery!

Luther: I binge-watched. Not gonna lie. If you like crime, British tv, and twists/surprises at every turn, then this show is 100% for you. First three seasons are on Netflix.

Shadowhunters: Not-so-guilty pleasure at the moment. It’s just pure fun. Currently airing on Freeform.

Recovery Road: THE PERFECT YA DRAMA. I’m obsessed. Currently airing on Freeform.

 

How to Celebrate Valentine’s Day!

Tell/show all your loved ones how much they mean to you.
Valentine’s Day is a great day to tell everyone in your life how much you appreciate them. Valentine’s Day cards aren’t just for elementary school or significant others. Buy some flowers for your mom. Write a thoughtful card for your roommate. Treat your friends to some chocolate. Remind your brother that no matter how much you torment him, you love him, really.

Watch cute movies.
Personal faves-Never Been Kissed, 10 Things I Hate About You, You’ve Got Mail, When Harry Met Sally.

Enjoy your time with loved ones – be it boyfriend, girlfriend, parents, siblings, or friends. Have a Galentines Day (like me!) if you’re single. Have a romantic night with your partner. Enjoy a family movie night watching Rom-Coms. Just enjoy yourself! Valentine’s Day is about love, and you should love yourself first and foremost!

Get a cute manicure or have a spa day.
We’re lucky that Valentine’s Day falls on a Sunday this year- take advantage of the day off and experience ultimate relaxation!

Eat chocolate covered strawberries.
Just do it. Yummm.

On Valentine’s we wear pink!
Enjoy the opportunity to dress up and do cute make-up (if that’s your thing). I usually wear black or other darker colors, so I like to take the chance on Valentine’s to wear pink and red and accessorize with hearts and play around with my makeup!

Take advantage of all the sweets going on sale.
Valentine’s Day is great! You know what else is great? The day after Valentine’s Day! Yay chocolate! Also, a little inside scoop for you- Target puts all of their Valentine’s Day stuff half-off the day after Valentine’s… which means half priced plates, napkins, kitchenware, mugs, decorations… treat yourself to some sale shopping!

Shadowhunters: Raising Hell Review

There’s a reason this review is a bit late! And that’s because I wasn’t sure I was going to write a review at all. But, I decided I would just go for it and put my thoughts to paper… er, blog.

First and foremost, my prayers have been answered. Last week, my biggest criticism for the show was that it sometimes took itself too seriously. And then Harry Shum Jr swept in and saved the day. He is perfection as Magnus Bane. Just, seriously, he’s Magnus Bane through and through and I’m so pleased. He provided much-needed comic relief, and the other actors fed off of him and made me laugh out loud this week. Every time Magnus flirted with Alec and Jace looked on with confusion… they just played that perfectly and it was hilarious.

On a more serious note, I loved seeing Alec forced to confront his inner demons (hehe… see what I did there?). If you’ve seen the preview on Freeform’s YouTube page for next week, you’ll see that Jace brushes off being Alec’s most-loved as them being parabatai and brothers. And, of course, Alec will be relieved that Jace is letting it go, but the biggest issue is that Alec was forced to physically look at who he really is- no more lying or hiding it from himself. And that terrified him. I think this is the first crack in his perfectly constructed life and we’re going to start seeing some changes in him (with some help from Magnus). I’m also eager to see how Jace reacts when he can’t brush off the truth anymore, either.

Meanwhile… with Simon… what the hell is going on?! I need more info and storyline ASAP.

I feel like we’re really getting into the action now and the pacing is picking up. The show is picking up speed and getting more and more exciting every week! I also love that they’re changing things up from the book, which means that I don’t truly know what’s going to happen (or if or when)- it keeps things exciting and interesting. I’m extremely eager for the next episode and to see what happens next!

 

Why I’m Voting for Bernie Sanders

Healthcare- Universal Healthcare is not a new idea. Over 50 countries have Universal Healthcare. This is a good thing, I promise.

Kindness– Bernie has never posted a negative ad. This, more than anything, really reaches to my heart.

The Middle Class– I see this argument all the time; if you want more money, you should get a better job. If you want a better job, you should have gone to college. If you want to go to a good college, you should have done more in high school…

So let me address those issues going backwards. To be involved in high school and do well, you have to live in a wealthy, good community (this isn’t a rule, just a majority). You have to not come from a lower-class, black neighborhood. You have to come from a good family that cares about your education. You have to have access to technology at home. The list goes on and on. This shouldn’t be the case. Stop making it so people have to be wealthy to succeed! Education should be for all. And the government should be invested in the future of their country- the youth.

To go to a good college, you have to have money. And lots of it. You have to be prepared to take out loans and submit application after application for scholarships. You have to rely on your parents to be wealthy and well-off enough to help you pay for school. You have to be ready to invest in a school that still may not get you a good job (I went to a wonderful school and still see my friends struggle with finding a full-time job. It’s just the reality). You have to acknowledge that you will be living in debt and paying off loans for years and years to come. Why is this the case in America when the rest of the world seems to have it figured out? The youth are the future- the government should be investing in them by offering free education for all, so we can make our country a better place.

If you want a good job, you need nice clothes, transportation, prior experience… all while you’re working off that debt from college. You’ll submit job application after job application in a job market that isn’t exactly thriving. And minimum wage just isn’t cutting it with the cost of living- it’s not balancing out. The future of this country can’t afford this country. It’s the sad truth.

We need a government that will invest in our communities. Invest in our schools. Invest in our youth. Invest in our education. Invest in our soldiers. Invest in the people who make up this country! Bernie Sanders is the answer to getting us on the same page as the rest of the world, who seem to have figured this out already.

Corruption- Bernie can’t be bought. There’s a reason the news mostly talks about Trump and Clinton- it’s because they’re paying for it. And there’s a reason Bernie, who is one of the most talked about candidates everywhere BUT the news, isn’t receiving any media attention. Because the companies and corporations that are bought by Trump and Clinton are SCARED. Because they know a country with Bernie as President means change. The news coverage of this election is proof of the corruption in politics, wall street, and the media.

Not to the mention the “convenient” DNC scandal, right as Bernie hit a milestone in his campaign. But Bernie, the only Democratic candidate to report the breach in the firewall, was also the only one investigated and frozen out from his information (which was immediately put to an end when Bernie threatened to sue, as the DNC never would have won). Considering that the chair of the DNC, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, formerly worked for Clinton and is a supporter… It’s time to put these charades to an end. Bernie would put a stop to this, because he won’t be bought.

Honesty- Unlike Clinton, Bernie has been on the same page for years and years. He doesn’t conveniently change opinions based on what’s popular and what will gain him more votes. Because he knows the people. And he speaks for the people. He is the most honest politician I’ve ever seen, and he will stand by what he preaches.

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The People- Most importantly, I’m voting for Bernie Sanders because I want America to belong to the people once more. And that is what Bernie Sanders stands for. This election is about us! Not about politicians!

If you’ve never been involved in politics before, or have been involved with politics for years, I encourage you to GET INVOLVED! Politics and laws influence our every day lives. They change lives. They can make your life better or worse. Vote for what and who will make America better. And that’s Bernie Sanders!

If you’re in Iowa today, I encourage you to get out there and VOTE! Grab your friends, family, neighbors… EVERYONE YOU CAN. This is so important. We can win this!