“The half-life of love is forever”- This Is How You Lose Her by Junot Diaz

This is How You Lose Her Review

This book holds a very special place in my heart because it introduced me to my future baby daddy and literary crush Junot Diaz. I was browsing the shelves of my local library back in 2012 and I noticed the book on a display highlighting new books. The cover spoke to me for some reason and I took it home. This was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made and it seems that yes, you can judge a book by its cover. I devoured the book that same day and I then went back to read Diaz’s first ever collection of short stories Drown, followed by his novel, the Pulitzer Prize winning The Brief Wondrous LIfe of Oscar Wao, which I’d had in my possession for years but had completely ignored as my “to be read list” was embarrassingly long. I’ve since developed a mild obsession with Diaz and I still kick myself for not paying attention to him sooner. I feel like there are those who adore him and those who can’t stand him (the latter have no place in my life :-p) but his work has had an undeniable impact. Now on to the review….

This Is How You Lose Her is a collection of short stories which all (bar one) have the protagonist Yunior in common. On the surface, the unifying theme of the book is love and infidelity, but Diaz’s writing goes so much deeper than that. This is also a book about masculinity, patriarchy, grief, relationships, and yes, as cliched as it is, “the immigrant experience”.

Yunior, the nearest thing we have to a protagonist, is really quite an unlikeable character but by the end of the book you can’t help but fall a little bit in love with him. Diaz’s writing made me feel as if I’d truly lived with these characters and I found them incredibly realistic. The book starts off with ‘The Sun, The Moon, The Stars’, a story about a holiday a couple takes in a last-ditch attempt to save their relationship. Diaz’s writing is startlingly authentic and his use of slang, both English and Spanish, does not come across as forced in any way. His writing is littered with expletives and obscenities but you really feel as though they add to the texture of his stories.  Diaz has a poet’s ear and his writing is utterly sublime. He manages to sum up the exact moment when you know a relationship is on the downward slope perfectly:
‘And that’s when I know it’s over. As soon as you start thinking about the beginning, it’s the end.’

Diaz just hooks you and keeps reeling you in. Yunior is the narrator of the remaining stories aside from ‘Otravida, Otravez’, which gives us a story from a woman’s perspective. Critics of Diaz often lament his hyper masculine characterization and the fact that we only get one story from a female perspective seems to support that but I don’t agree with the criticism at all. Diaz is writing what he knows and if real life in the Dominican-American community is hyper masculine, why pretend otherwise? Real life isn’t sanitary, nor is it all flowers and ponies so I appreciate an attempt for realism in the literature I read.

My personal favourite story in the collection is ‘The Cheater’s Guide To Love’ and I found it an exhilarating read. It’s a story about cheating, heartbreak, and its consequences and it stays with you long after you turn the final page. In fact, I was so loathe to leave Yunior and his family behind that I immediately started Drown, Diaz’s first short story collection published in 1996 which also has Yunior as its protagonist, straight after. I’ve been told that I should have have read Diaz’s books in chronological order as they all have Yunior as the narrator but I didn’t feel as though I missed out on anything major by reading Diaz’s work in the way I did.

I could go on about this book forever but this has already gone on longer than I intended it to. I’ll leave you with a short passage from which we get the title of the book. Yunior has just been caught cheating (for the nth time) from his girlfriend reading his journal:

“Instead of lowering your head and copping to it like a man, you pick up the journal as one might hold a baby’s beshatted diaper, as one might pinch a recently benutted condom. You glance at the offending passages. Then you look at her and smile a smile your dissembling face will remember until the day you die. Baby, you say, baby, this is part of my novel.
This is how you lose her.”
Junot Diaz

Clearly I can’t recommend this book highly enough and I urge you all to read it. Also, check out interviews with Junot Diaz as well as he’s refreshingly honest and hilarious. Any fellow fans of Junot Diaz out there? Let me know!

Nana Adomah

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It’s Electric!- Urban Decay Electric Palette Review

Urban Decay Electric Palette

FOMO (fear of missing out) is a real condition, I’m convinced. I snatched up this beauty about 3 weeks ago when I saw it on the shelves at Sephora and I’ve worn it almost everyday since. Yes the Naked palettes are nice and they have been stupendously successful for Urban Decay but I’m so glad that they’ve gone back to their roots with their new Electric palette. My very first quality eyeshadow palette was the original Deluxe Palette from Urban Decay about 7 years ago and I haven’t looked back since! Urban Decay were originally known for their crazy brights and bold pigments and they are back in full force with the Electric palette.

Urban Decay Electric Palette

Look at all of those glorious colours! I’m very impressed with this palette and the pigmentation is excellent. We are presented with 10 shades in the palette and they are:

revolt- a glittery silver, gonzo- a matte blue with a hint of turquoise, slowburn- an orange red matte with floating micro shimmer, savage- a hot pink matte, fringe- a metallic teal, chaos- a matte cobalt blue with floating micro shimmer (one of the standouts of the Vice palette), jilted- a slightly shimmery fuchsia with a blue shift, urban- a metallic medium purple, freak- a metallic neon green, and thrash- a chartreuse matte with floating micro shimmer (an exact dupe for NARS ‘rated R’).

Slowburnsavagejilted and urban stain the skin slightly and they required more effort to remove. Urban Decay included a little note about these colours in the box which indicates that they are not intended for the immediate eye area. As usual, people have kicked up a fuss about nothing and I’ve used all these colours with no ill effect so just use your own judgment is what I say. Here is the company’s official statement regarding this issue:

We created the Electric Pressed Pigment Palette with artistry in mind. Using pressed pigments was the only way for us to create heavily saturated brights with the intense pigment load we craved. Traditional eyeshadow formulas just wouldn’t cut it. To achieve shades like these, we started with our existing Eyeshadow formula and modified it to create a new Pressed Pigment formula.

Everywhere but the U.S., the Electric Palette is an eyeshadow palette. Because of a technicality, in the U.S. it’s considered a multi-use artistry palette. To get the most out of this palette, experiment and see what works for you. You can use the Electric Palette all over (and that’s where the creativity comes in!).

A few shades contain a colorant that has not yet been approved for the use around the immediate eye area. However, this restriction only applies in the U.S.; in every other country where Urban Decay is sold, these shades are approved for use around the eyes.

Bottom line? We didn’t want to limit the Electric Palette to eyeshadow. It’s an artistry palette with unlimited possibilities! How you use these shades is up to you. (And no matter where you use them, you’ll get insane color payout.)

 

So there you go.

Urban Decay electric palette dark skin swatch

The colours swatch easily on my skin, even the mattes which can tend to disappear on darker skin tones. I think the fact that most of the mattes have a slight floating micro-shimmer contribute to their creaminess. The micro particles don’t really show up on the skin but they do contribute to a happier blending experience. I own the original Vice palette and the chaos in this palette is better in my opinion. I have no idea if they reformulated the colour but I feel as though it’s slightly more pigmented here. Chaos is a beautiful colour but I do wish that they’d only had chaos OR gonzo. The palette has quite a few blueish shades and I think that gonzo is one blue too many. I wish they’d replaced it with a bright yellow and it would have been just about perfect. I was initially unsure about the purpose of revolt as well but I’ve seen a few people do some interesting things with the shade.

The palette also comes with a very decent double-ended brush and the smaller end works really well as a liner brush. Both ends have quite stiff bristles which is great for the nature of the eyeshadows as they lay down colour better.

The packaging is also a winner in my book as it’s non bulky and the case opens up to a large mirror. The hinge ensures that the mirror stays where you want it to and the magnetic closure is very secure.

Now on to how the colours look on my face!

Urban Decay Electric palette FOTD dark skin

“Urban” all over the lid, smoked out with a matte black shadow and “fringe” on my lower lash line. I also added Urban Decay’s moondust eyeshadow in “glitter rock” on the centre of my lid for some added sparkle. Lips: “Vento” lipstick (Bite Beauty) Foundation: Cover FX cream foundation in N100 Powder: Mineralize Skin Finish in “dark” and “dark deep” (MAC) Brows: Aqua Brow #30 (Make Up For Ever) Eye liner: “blacquer” liner (Marc Jacobs) Mascara: Diorshow New Look mascara in black (Dior)

Urban Decay FOTD ELECTRIC dark skin swatch

 

Are you as in love with the Electric palette as I am? If you’re undecided, the palette is a permanent addition so you have plenty of time to make up your mind. The palette retails for $49 and can be found at Sephora, Ulta, and on the Urban Decay website. Let me know your thoughts!

Nana Adomah

 

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Just a quick heads up to let you know that you can keep up to date with everything on my blog with Bloglovin

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Brand Focus: Bite Beauty

Bite Beauty lipsticks

Bite Beauty is a brand I only came across last year and in this short time, they’ve yet to disappoint me. They make some of the most comfortable lipsticks I own. When I say “comfortable”, I mean you hardly feel as though you are wearing any lipstick at all when you have them on. They are very moisturizing and the pigment packed into each tiny bullet of lipstick is insane.

Bite Beauty is an all-natural company and each lip product is packed with all kinds of food-grade level goodness, hence the name Bite. The lipsticks are individually hand-crafted and they contain great ingredients like shea butter, manuka honey, argan oil, grapeseed oil, etc. The lipsticks also contain resveratrol, which “fights free radicals with potent long-term antiaging benefits”. Each Bite lipstick has the same amount of resveratrol  found in five glasses of red wine! Additionally, Bite Beauty products are free from parabens, sulfates, synthetic fragrances, synthetic dyes, petrochemicals, phthalates and triclosan.

Bite Beauty lipstick bullets

My Bite lipstick collection isn’t huge but it’s well-loved. I have the luminous creme lipsticks in vento (a bubblegum pink), tannin (a burgundy), and the limited edition VIB Rouge mini lipstick made for Sephora VIB Rouge card holders. I also recently purchased the two luminous creme lipstick duos in neutral and vivid. The neutral comes with lychee (a very light neutral pink) and musk (a pinky brown), while the vivid comes with palomino (a vibrant magenta) and violet (a pinkish purple). I also have a mini of the cashmere lipstick cream in sancerre (a bright fuschia with red undertones).

From top-bottom: musk, lychee, violet, palomino

From top-bottom: musk, lychee, violet, palomino

The mini duos are a great way to try out the Bite lipsticks in a cute and portable package. As you can see from the swatches, the pigmentation’s insane and they just feel so nice on the lips. They are a great price at $12 each and since each regular-sized Bite lipstick is $24, you can try out two colours for half the price of one! Continue reading

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Divergent Cosmetics Review

I read the Divergent series of books by Veronica Roth sometime last year and I really enjoyed them (bar Allegiant; the ending was stupid) and with a huge big-budget film coming out in a few weeks, promotion has gone into over drive. Sephora have got in on the act and have released a nice collection of makeup and nail polish  inspired by the popular first book Divergent.

Divergent cosmetics packagingI had no intention of buying any new makeup for while as I have more eyeshadows than I know what to do with but I was swayed once I saw the collection in person. I’ll also freely admit that I was struck by an acute case of FOMO (fear of missing out) and bought it to prevent any future buyer’s remorse. I’m still kicking myself about that Hourglass ambient lighting palette…. Anyway, on to the review!

The set I purchased is the  multi-piece collector’s kit and it consists of three eyeshadow palettes, a cheek palette, four lip glosses, and a double-ended blush and crease brush.

Divergent Cosmetics palettes

First up is my favourite of the three palettes and it’s the Dauntless palette. The Dauntless are the risk-takers and fearless faction of the Divergent universe and the palette does a pretty good job of reflecting that. It’s a moody palette with darker, cooler, shades with a beautiful creamy highlight colour in serene vanilla. Dauntless ink is a true pure black matte eyeshadow, abnegation stone swatches on me as a cooler version of MAC’s “satin taupe” and the dark greyish taupe is a great every day colour. Erudite sapphire is a dark blue light shimmer with hints of purple but the standout shade has to be diverge. Each palette comes with a “transformer” shade which, according to the blurb, “impart[s] a diamond illusion, shimmery, mirror-like reflection that is transparent when applied dry, and translucent when applied wet, showcasing fluid, twinkling particles that look like they are suspended in air.” 

Divergent cosmetics dauntless eye palette

Diverge has a black base with dark olive-green shimmery particles in it and it’s utterly divine. It swatches like silk and it can easily be worn on its own or layered over another shadow.

Divergent Dauntless palette swatches

l-r dauntless ink, abnegation stone, erudite sapphire, serene vanilla and diverge swatched below.

Best of all, the “transformer” shade can easily be clicked out to carry alone or you can attach it to another palette. Bonus points for creativity!Clicks apart

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“Real life was something happening in her peripheral vision”: ‘Fangirl’ by Rainbow Rowell

Fangirling over Fangirl by Rainbow RowellHappy endings are underrated. I think I’ve become so accustomed to reading novels with ambiguous or bittersweet endings that a wholly joyous ending has become something of a novelty. Fangirl was the third Rainbow Rowell novel I read in under two weeks and it left me in a happiness bubble that even Atlanta traffic failed to burst.

I’d heard a lot about Rainbow Rowell all of last year and I absent-mindedly added her books to my horrifyingly long “to-read” list knowing that the likelihood of me finally getting around to reading anything by her was slim to none. However, I accidentally clicked on Attachments on my e-reader one day and I gorged myself on all three of her novels (reviews to come).

Fangirl is her latest novel and it tells the story of identical twin sisters Cath and Wren who have just left home for the first time to attend the University of Nebraska. Used to doing everything together with Wren, Cath’s world is turned upside down when Wren decides not to share a room with Cath their freshman year. Cath actively tries to avoid any social interactions and decides to focus on writing her fan fiction about Simon Snow (a clear stand-in for the Harry Potter series). Saddled with an upperclassman roommate who refuses to allow her to be a total recluse, Cath also builds a fledgling friendship with the popular and outgoing Levi. While Wren is off making the most of her first year of college, Cath immerses herself in the world of Simon Snow and appoints herself as the protector of her single father.

“So why aren’t you living with your sister?”

“She wanted to meet new people,” Cath said.

“You make it sound like she broke up with you.” 

- Rainbow Rowell, Fangirl

Rainbow Rowell’s characterisation is fantastic and as cliched as it sounds, her characters seem like real people. They are as imperfect as you and me and you’ll be able to recognise somebody you know in each and every one of them. I also loved the fact that she was unafraid to have a character like Levi who didn’t have a dark and terrible past, family issues, and who didn’t fit the usual “heartthrob” mould. Sometimes people really are just “normal” and “good” and it was refreshing to see a character like Levi in an ostensibly YA novel. So many newer YA novels have male characters who are damaged and need “saving” or who are borderline emotionally abusive to the female protagonists that it was a wonderful surprise to have such an uncomplicated character.

Having said this, I hesitate to class Fangirl as a Young Adult novel. Yes, it has characters that fit this demographic but it’s in the more in the vein of a classic Bildungsroman. Rowell addresses many of the fears of young adults and introduces quite heavy themes without beating the reader over the head with them. I guess it really does fit into the “New Adult” category.

Although I’m not a huge fan of the whole fan fiction phenomenon, I like that Rowell introduced the sub-genre in a non-judgmental and fun way. It’s an opportunity to address some of the issues people have with fan-fiction and it was very neatly done. The only negative I can think of about the books is that Rowell intersperses real Simon Snow fan fiction into the novel and while it was perfectly enjoyable for the majority of the time, some pieces just ran on for far too long in my opinion. 

I immensely enjoyed my time with these characters and I finished the novel feeling genuinely happy. You can’t ask for much more than that can you?

Rating: 9/10 

 

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NARS eye paint in “Snake Eyes”

Let’s just ignore the fact that I haven’t blogged in 2 months and dive right into the review….

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NARS has long been one of my favorite brands (especially for blusher) and I was really excited to try one of their new-ish eye paints. These can be used as either a liner or a shadow and I was immediately drawn to beautiful colour of “snake eyes”. It’s a blackened green that glides on beautifully when used as a liner but also blends well for a cream eyeshadow.

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In natural light

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With flash

It dries down very quickly so you definitely have to work quickly with it. It also has excellent staying power and the following picture is of my (generally oily) eyelid after almost 12 hours of wear.

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After 12hrs+ of wear….

The bottom line:

  • This is a great versatile eye product and the colour is unique enough to add to your collection.
  • Great staying power.

This comes in 9 other colours and you can find it at NARS counters or at Sephora for $25

I’ll rate this 4.5/5!

Nana Adomah

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