How is February over already? I can't tell if I'm ready for spring or if I'm wanting to hold onto winter for a little while longer. I'm someone who doesn't mind the cold and snow (or the rain for that matter) so I truly loved all the snow NYC got this month. It was so cozy and wonderful. 

It's been getting darker later and later (it's been light out at 5:30 PM) and I know it's just a matter of time before the warm weather is here and it's not dark until 8 PM. There are a *supposed* to be a lot of fun things happening this spring and summer, but last year was supposed to be the same so who knows what will happen.

This week was a little hard; I was a bit more anxious than I have been in the past few months and it was really difficult. It threw a wrench into my routine and I hated how it made me felt. I felt super unmotivated, bored, and just restless. Today was a lot better and I'm hoping I can keep that momentum throughout the weekend. I'm going to be running a lot of errands this weekend as well as catching up on reading and writing, so the typical Briana weekend.

Right now, I'm just unwinding from the day & watching Youtube videos which is much needed after an anxious week so let's get into the post!



Pink Positivity of the Week

I'm honestly struggling to find something positive because I was in such a deep hole but one good thing was I made brunch plans with friends and can't wait to have a fun girl's day! 

Links I Loved

What You Missed on Royally Pink



Lent is still going strong so I didn't buy anything, besides the Stoney Clover Denim Collection which I vowed to be my single shopping exception. 


Have a great weekend everyone!
xoxo
B
When I heard that the author of Gossip Girl, Cecily von Ziegesar was releasing a new, NYC based novel, I was over the moon. I had read Gossip Girl both before and after the series was on The CW and loved how different they both were -- it was like getting two stories from one set of characters. I really enjoyed Cecily's writing as a teenager so was excited to read something geared toward an adult audience.

I had applied and been accepted to receive an arc of the novel, titled Cobble Hill, on Netgalley before it was published this past November but only got around to reading it a few weeks ago. 

My disappointment in it was palpable. The book was noted as one of the best reads of 2020 from a variety of media outlets yet they could not have been more wrong.




Publisher's Summary

Welcome to Cobble Hill.

In this eclectic Brooklyn neighborhood, private storms brew amongst four married couples and their children. There’s ex-groupie Mandy, so underwhelmed by motherhood and her current physical state that she fakes a debilitating disease to get the attention of her skateboarding, ex-boyband member husband Stuart. There’s the unconventional new school nurse, Peaches, on whom Stuart has an unrequited crush, and her disappointing husband Greg, who wears noise-cancelling headphones—everywhere.

A few blocks away, Roy, a well-known, newly transplanted British novelist, has lost the thread of his next novel and his marriage to capable, indefatigable Wendy. Around the corner, Tupper, the nervous, introverted industrial designer with a warehose full of prosthetic limbs struggles to pin down his elusive artist wife Elizabeth. She remains…elusive. Throw in two hormonal teenagers, a ten-year-old pyromaniac, a drug dealer pretending to be a doctor, and a lot of hidden cameras, and you’ve got a combustible mix of egos, desires, and secrets bubbling in brownstone Brooklyn.

Smart, sophisticated, yet surprisingly tender, Cobble Hill is highly entertaining portrait of contemporary family life and the colorful characters who call Brooklyn home. 

My Thoughts

This book was so weird. It had virtually no plot and I kept waiting for the story to start. There were way too many characters and it took me until more than halfway through to understand who was who. I kept waiting for characters to run into each other, for them to get to the point of the story but it never did.

The book centered around the Cobble Hill neighborhood in Brooklyn, but it felt so unlike Brooklyn and New York in general. It felt out of place and truly, this book could've taken place anywhere in the world. There was nothing unique about the setting that made sense for the book to even be named 'Cobble Hill.'

I was so frustrated the entire time reading this because nothing was happening, it was truly boring. The characters weren't likable, a lot of them were really strange but not in a quirky way, in a truly strange way. As I'm typing this, I feel myself getting heated for wasting my time reading this, which is why this review sounds so aggressive. 

This felt very similar to Liane Morairty's latest book, "Nine Perfect Strangers". I didn't finish reading that book because there were too many characters and no storyline. "Cobble Hill" was very rambling with a lot of little plot points that didn't really make a ton of sense.

Usually when a book has a lot of characters and a lot of mini plots, it will somehow meet in the middle. This book never truly got to that point. 

There was of course, a climax where a big event happened and all the characters met but it was almost too little, too late. It came in the last few chapters of the book and by that point, didn't make a ton of sense. The characters were isolated for too long and they just didn't mesh together. 

All of this being said, the writing was good... it was the story development that was bad. I was so excited to read this, to have a grown up version of Gossip Girl, but that's nowhere near the truth. I rarely do negative reviews on my blog, mostly because I enjoy most of the books I read. I can always find a bright spot in a story, even if it wasn't my favorite. I've also gotten into the habit of not wasting my time with books I don't like but for some reason, I was determined to see if this "Cobble Hill" got better.

I would not recommend this book to anyone and that makes me sad.

What is a book you've read lately that wasn't what you expected?
xoxo
B


 As a followup to my Tuesday Inspiration post from a few weeks ago, I thought I'd talk about what it's like to be single, and actively trying not be single, during a pandemic.

I was broken up with at the start of the pandemic and felt so relieved of the timing of it all. Having to grieve a relationship while locked up at home as the world fell apart around us was oddly comforting. As an introvert, as someone who loves love and loves being in a relationship, the idea that I could just mourn the breakup without having to 'put myself out there' or force myself to go to bars and try to actively meet someone was refreshing.

I didn't have to listen to my mom or my friends tell me to buck up and get out there. Is there anything more annoying than people telling you what to do with your love life? I am an extremely shy person when it comes to relationships - I'm borderline prudish because I always want a relationship. I am not someone who is a casual dater or just wants a random hookup. I want a true, deep connection and I like to go at my own pace. It takes time for me to warm up to people, to see if I really like them, and if I find them worth it.

For someone who doesn't date a lot, I know exactly the type of 'dater' I am. 

That's why lockdown was perfect for me - I felt like I could be exactly who I wanted with no pressure because we couldn't go anywhere! I was able to have the best of both worlds: getting over my relationship while staying home without regret, and yet still being able to make connections with guys on dating apps. 

There was no pressure and it was glorious.

However, once things started opening up in the early summer months, it became a little more touch and go. I was finally having to break out of my cocoon and face the music - I was single and I needed to figure out how to navigate that world again.

Credit: Styled Stock Society

I talked to a ton of guys over the spring, summer, and fall months but didn't go out with any of them; they were all a bit strange or moving a little too fast and just didn't feel worthy of my time. Then things got bad again in the winter, indoor dining shut down and the holidays came hard and fast. I also wasn't in the best mental state so I put dating on the back burner. 

Everyone is struggling right now in the dating department - how do you date during a pandemic? 

  • Make sure the person you're thinking about going out with is taking the pandemic seriously. Masks, social distancing, etc. 
  • Rely a little more heavily on text communication (or calls/face time but I'm not about that life). If you want to play it safe, technology is going to have to play a role
  • Be more selective; don't go out with every guy to limit your exposure to the virus
    • Don't let anyone tell you how to feel or that you should give every person a chance - go with your gut
  • Don't put pressure on yourself if someone is making you feel uncomfortable, whether that is over text or in person
  • If you're getting weird vibes from someone pre-date, don't waste your time

One of the better things about the pandemic is that is exposed a lot of people's true colors, morals, and values. It's a lot easier to tell what is important to someone know so it helps to weed out the losers. *shrug*.

This is really just my take on dating during a pandemic. I've been very careful but also have been able to let up a little as cases go down and vaccines rise. I've been out on a few dates with one person and we talked for months before meeting (mostly due to schedules) but there have been weeks where we both decided to stay in because we were seeing family soon and wanted to quarantine. Having those equal values has helped a lot. 

My last piece of advice is to just take things at your own pace, go with your gut, and really don't listen to anyone. If you are not ready to date while the virus is still wrecking havoc, then don't! Don't let anyone tell you differently. 

For me, the pandemic as a whole really made me look at my life, made me feel my age and how I felt so 'behind' everyone else. I know that is not the healthiest outlook but I can't help how I felt. It made me look at the type of relationship I want as well as helped push me out of my comfort zone a little.

I realize this might not apply to everyone and it was a little all over the place but that's what my Tuesday Inspiration posts have always been! 

Do you have any advice about dating during a pandemic?
xoxo
B
 

As I mentioned in a previous Manicure Monday, I recently placed a big order on NCLA for a few new polishes. The formula is superb and they have some really unique colors so I couldn't resist. One of the newer polishes I picked up, and one that is extremely unique in my collection was the shade "We're Off  to Never Neverland."

I would be lying if I said the main reason I got this polish was because of the name (Peter Pan is my favorite Disney movie) but the color is absolutely gorgeous. It's a muted, grey-purple shade that I've never really seen in a polish before so I had to have it.



It's the kind of color you could really wear all year round because even though it's on the darker side, it's such a muted shade that it could work if you were feeling yourself during the warm weather months.

The polish went on like a dream, dried beautifully, and sits really nicely on the nails. The brush on the NCLA polishes is nice and wide so it gets every bit of nail. It doesn't allow the polish to spill all over your cuticle and nail bed -- it's perfect. 

I've only been wearing the polish for a few days so I can't truly speak to longevity but so far, so good. It's such a gorgeous polish, a gorgeous color and makes me only love NCLA colors even more. I definitely need to pick up a few more!

What's on your nails this week?
xoxo
B

 Why is it that whenever there's a short work week it always feels like the longest week ever? I can't believe it's just now Friday... I swear I woke up on Wednesday morning praying for the weekend. It was so strange.

I definitely have hit a wall the past few weeks but this week especially; being off on Monday for President's Day was fantastic but then the week just crawled by. Work was slow yet busy, and the days just felt so jumbled together. I really do love working from home but it's starting to feel like groundhog's day, especially with the constant snow and cold here in NYC. (not as bad as Texas, I'm thinking of everyone suffering there this week!). 

My routine needs to be changed up and I need to figure something out before I lose my mind. Is anyone else feeling that way? 

That being said, I'm happy the weekend is here! I have lots of fun stuff I want to do, whether that means going out for a bit or just staying home, writing, and working on some projects. We shall see! 

I will stop rambling and get into the round up!



Pink Positivity 

I'm trying to figure out what I want my next steps to be in terms of writing and recently, I've been pitching more outlets with article ideas. Well, I pitched myself a few weeks ago and got an acceptance notice this week! It's an outlet I've never written for before and I'm really excited about the article idea. It was definitely a bright spot and a wake up call that I do have talent and I need to stop doubting myself.

 Links I Loved


What You Missed This Week on Royally Pink

I gave up shopping for Lent, which started on Wednesday so *hopefully* you will not be seeing anything in this section until early April! 

However, before Wednesday I ordered three handbags, all resembling more expensive designer handbags. I've been wanting a dupe for the Hermes Kelly for a while and saw Toni Sevdalis review these bags from Giarite so of course, I bought them immediately. I picked up the Velly G Suede  and Velly S, both in mini sizes. 

There's also a shop called With Love Shop that have the cutest and chic accessories; they've had a pearl bag (that resembles the pearl Chanel bag from a few years ago) in and out of stock for months and I finally caught it in stock. I immediately picked it up and didn't think twice. I am so excited to get this bag I might cry! 

These three handbag purchases is what sent me over the edge to give up shopping with one exception, the Stoney Clover Lane denim launch next week! 

Have a great weekend everyone!
xoxo
B

After reading Verity last January, I awaited another thriller by Colleen Hoover that I could sink my teeth into. My prayers were answered in the form of Layla. I was so thrilled that I was approved to read an early copy of this through Netgalley and I devoured it within two days. 

I was unsure of where this novel was going at first and I grew so irritated with all the characters and the entire plot, until the climax hit and I understood what journey Hoover was taking us on. It was intense and beautiful.



Over the past few weeks I feel like I've been falling back in love with beauty. Maybe it's because I've been going places more or because I did a nice little de-clutter of some areas of my collection but I feel invigorated and refreshed when it comes to my makeup and beauty products in general. 

Because of that, I feel like I've discovered a few hidden gems in my collection but also have picked up a handful of new items that I have been loving. Something I noticed last year was that a lot of brands postponed launches, obviously because of the pandemic, so the market was kind of lackluster -- now we're getting those launches and then some so we have new beauty to look forward too! 

These are the items that I have been using & loving a little more over the past few weeks! 



Back in the summer, Orsoa Beauty released a nail polish collaboration with TikTok sister stars, Charli & Dixie D'Amelio. They titled the collection "Coastal Craze" and it was very intriguing. I blogged about one of Charli's colors back in summer and now it's time for another! 

I'm not going to lie, I kind of forgot about these polishes until I realized I was in the mood for a great grey shade... enter: Rapids. This is a gorgeous, cool grey polish that is perfect for the dreary winter months but is cool enough to get away with it any time of year. 


I loved this formula & polish color; I think it was a lot nicer on the nails then the pink and the formula was really great -- it went on smooth with no smudges or bleeding. It wasn't too watery or goopy, it was pretty dam near perfect. I also think it lasted a decent amount of time and didn't chip too badly -- perhaps it was 5 days before the chips became noticeable.

I have two other colors I need to review: Abyss which is a gorgeous nude and Baecation which is a baby pink with a hint of lavender. Both are stunning and I can't wait to try them out.

Orsoa has a great nail polish formula and they're good for you too-- the polishes are gluten free, vegan, 14 free (which means they don't have a ton of bad chemicals and ingredients). They're also cruelty free which we love! I'm excited to hopefully try more colors soon.

What's on your nails this week?

xoxo
B

 Happy Valentine's Day! I was busy all weekend which I'm very grateful for but that's also why I'm writing this so late. Friday night I went out on a date (!!) and last night I was with my friends, celebrating one of their 30th birthdays (!!!). He is the first of our group to turn 30 and it was truly a perfect night.

Indoor dining opened in NYC on Friday so we were inside all weekend; Saturday we had our own private room which is amazing because #covid but also because it was nice to feel kind of special and have some fun.

Today I will be eating chocolate, probably treating myself to pizza and watching To All the Boys I've Loved Before Part 3 and the Brandy Cinderella on Disney+, I also have a few articles due this week and would like to get a head start on them... therefore, today is a semi-working day.

Our 'offices' are closed tomorrow for President's Day so a three day weekend is perfect. It feels like a lot of people have hit a wall in terms of the pandemic and everyone could due with an extra day to lay around and not think about anything important.

Let's get into the round up! 


Pink Positivity of the Week

All in all, it was a good week - work was slow yet productive, I had an incredible weekend that was much needed and I'm happy to lounge around for the next 24 hours. 

Links I Loved

I've been trying to be better but this week got the best of me. Next week I will be better in terms of shopping! 



xoxo
B
I've been on a huge reading kick lately, one where it takes over my entire life and I want to read everything and anything. The need to read is in my soul and I cannot help it! I decided to sign up for Book of the Month again because I relish in getting hardcover books in the mail and I love being part of a community. 

For January's box, I chose a new novel, "The Survivors" by Jane Harper. The plot sounded interesting and I was keen for something slightly different yet still in the mystery genre. 

It took me a few weeks to start the book, to get out of my Kindle and Nook and read a hardcover and I'm very happy I did.

The book was confusing at first but I stuck with it and finished it in less than two days. I had another review planned for today but after finishing "The Survivors" this weekend, I knew I wanted to write about it.


Publisher's Summary

Coming home dredges up deeply buried secrets in The Survivors, a thrilling mystery by New York Times bestselling author Jane Harper... Kieran Elliott's life changed forever on the day a reckless mistake led to devastating consequences.

The guilt that still haunts him resurfaces during a visit with his young family to the small coastal community he once called home.

Kieran's parents are struggling in a town where fortunes are forged by the sea. Between them all is his absent brother, Finn. When a body is discovered on the beach, long-held secrets threaten to emerge. A sunken wreck, a missing girl, and questions that have never washed away...

My Thoughts

At first I wasn't sure I was going to like this book. It started off very abruptly, strange and just made me feel out of sorts. I wasn't sure what it was going to be about or where the plot was going but after the first few chapters, things picked up.

The plot centers around Kieran, his girlfriend Mia, and their daughter Audrey, coming back to their hometown of Evelyn Bay after years of being away. Kieran's father has dementia and is helping his parents with a move. While at home, tragedy strikes and Kieran, Mia, and their friends along with the entire town is thrown upside down. Secrets are revealed, stones are thrown, and people are accused. You will have your thoughts but your mind won't be able to pick up on anything. As the reader, this is one book where you are finding things out as the characters are and I can really appreciate that.

Being an avid domestic thriller/mystery reader, you get used to the tropes authors use in their novels so you can start to predict where a book is going as soon as you are presented with the question but "The Survivors" and Jane Harper didn't let up at all. 

I definitely think the book was confusing. There was a ton of characters and I couldn't ever get the visualization of Evelyn Bay in my head which didn't help. The placement of the caves, the beach, the water... it was a lot and that was half the plot. If you could get past not being able to visualize where the story is taking place and really just focus on the plot, you will like this book just fine.

I felt semi satisfied by the ending -- you find the missing piece but not everything is wrapped up in a neat bow, which always bugs me. I want a real ending, but I was happy to have everything figured out even if not all the characters did. 

This probably won't be a top read for the year but I did really enjoy it and I would recommend it to those who like mysteries. This wasn't a gory book, it wasn't extremely suspenseful but it does leave you guessing and second guessing; you want to know what happened to both girls who turned up dead, you know that there is something wrong with a few people in Evelyn Bay and Harper keeps you guessing until the very last chapter on just who or what happened. 

If you liked "The Guest List" by Lucy Foley, you will really like "The Survivors!" 

xoxo
B


I've been wanting to write a post like this for a while but the timing never felt right, or I just wanted to write about something else.... but better late than never, right? And what a great time to write it, the week before Valentine's Day! 

Love is something I have always loved. I was and still am, kind of obsessed with it. I was always a hopeless romantic; my favorite movies are romantic comedies, and I love a good super couple. Growing up, the adults in my life didn't set the best examples but I found really fantastic examples of good, healthy relationships through my friends. Almost every single one of my 'home' friends have been in relationships since we were teenagers... and they're all getting married within the next year. I love them so much.

I was always the single girl. I didn't have a real boyfriend until two years ago... we could get technical and say I had a boyfriend in college but, well, we won't. I always chased the boys who didn't like me, or just preferred my friends. I got very used to third, fifth, or ninth wheeling throughout my teenage years but once I got to college, I started to feel the pressure of being alone, even though none of my college friends had boyfriends. 



I craved male attention, I craved a relationship, I craved someone I could simply be with. I just wanted to experience that for once in my life... and I did and it was amazing. It taught me what love felt like and it also taught me a lot about what I needed from a partner. It taught me what I wanted and what I didn't want... but those lessons came much later and I think I'm still learning them.

When I got into my first real relationship in 2018, I thought I had found it. I was happy, probably the happiest I'd ever been and things seemed great. We never fought, we laughed, we got along great, we had enough in common and everything felt easy.

Clearly that wasn't the case because I was completely blindsided by the breakup that happened in early March 2020, right before the pandemic hit. I was gutted, I was stunned and thrown off guard. We never spoke after the breakup even though I desperately needed closure but you know, I got over it and I truly feel like the pandemic helped that. I was able to grieve and heal at my own pace... it truly couldn't have come at a better time. 

Everyone was home, I had so much other stuff to worry about and I didn't need to concern myself with dating or 'putting myself out there'. It wasn't until mid-summer that it hit me... I was ghosted by someone I thought I loved and it was a jarring feeling. Sometimes it still hits me, out of the blue, that I spent almost two years with someone I never truly knew. It'll take a lot of you... going through something like that. 

I never really understood what anyone meant when they said relationships taught you lessons. It wasn't until this year that I realized that I've learned quite a few lessons: You will know when you are in love and when someone loves you. When someone shows you who they are, believe them. Don't make excuses, don't ignore the red flags, and don't settle. In the words of Stormi Webster, patience is a virtue. Good things come to those who wait. I truly believe all of those things. 

Over the years, I've realized that I need to just be patient. For years, for basically my entire life, I went searching for love, for a man to love me, and I've found it before. I lost it, but I found it and I know I will find it again. The relationships before came when I least expected it, when I wasn't looking for someone, when they just fell into my lap and it was beautiful. I'm not destined to be alone, no one is, and I know that I will find love again. 

As Valentine's Day approaches, I'm in a much different place versus last year but I'm also in a much different headspace than I was even a few months ago. I've accepted that I'll be alone for now and maybe when I least expect it, someone will come along and change everything... the way men before have changed everything for me. 

In honor of Valentine's Day, below are a few of my favorite love quotes, all from Pinterest, and all from my love quote board so appropriately named "Ever Thine, Ever Mine, Ever Ours". See, I told you I'm a hopeless romantic! 











xoxo
B

I'm so grateful to be on the Lights Lacquer PR list and I'm very happy to have been gifted the latest collection, "Birthday Brat". In honor of Lights Lacquer's first birthday, Kathleen released the Birthday Brat Trio and I'm obsessed. It also comes at the perfect time since Valentine's Day is next week! I love pink polish all year round but it feels extra special around February. 

The collection consists of three colors: two pink shades and a glitter polish. Candy Clouds is a soft, baby pink that has some light peach undertones, Strawberry Frosting is a true, bubble gum pink and Sugar Baby is a gold & pink glitter polish with some chunks of holographic glitter. 

To try out the collection, I painted my nails with Strawberry Frosting and topped it with NCLA's "Heart Attack" topcoat that has small red & pink hearts in it. *You could also get Heart Attack in a duo with NCLA's light pink polish on Revolve



Strawberry Frosting went on like a dream! It was so creamy, opaque, and didn't bleed onto my nail beds. I think this might be my favorite Lights Lacquer formula to date... it just felt a lot better than the other polishes I had and maybe that's because it was a traditional cream polish & a light color! 

Applying 'Heart Attack' was a little more difficult; it was really hard to get the hearts from the nail brush onto the nail. When I did get the hearts onto my nail, it was difficult to get them to stay in place and get more than one onto my nail. After I got the hearts in place, I did apply my Olive & June top coat and it worked out great.

However, I still really loved how the manicure came out, even if it did take a little work and was overflowing with hearts! The manicure lasted a solid 4 days until I started picking at it. With regular nail polish remover, the hearts came out with ease. 

I will definitely be using both colors throughout the year, even after February 14th!

What's on your nails this week?
XOXO
B

Valentine's Day Beauty Giveaway

in , by RoyallyPink, 9:07 PM

 Hi there! Surprising you with a late weekend post to let you know I'm running a beauty giveaway right now... just in time for Valentine's (or Galetines Day!). It'll have tons of beauty items like sheet masks, Laura Geller lipsticks & eyeshadows, Lights Lacquer nail polish, some Kylie Cosmetics, and other fun 'lifestyle' items. I'm trying to do these giveways once every few weeks so keep an eye on the blog, my social media, and my newsletter for announcements.



You can enter this giveaway the below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

TGIF! This week was slow and easy, which I am eternally grateful for. It started out with a huge snowstorm in NYC and it was truly magical. It made me so incredibly happy and calm... it was just what I needed. It also felt really nice to have my mom and sister home and added a bit of ease to the day. As the snow was still falling on Monday night, my sister & I went outside to clean off the cars and it felt like meditating. There is nothing more calming than the snow at night and it was truly wonderful. 

I don't think I mentioned it here but last week I found out I was published on The Everygirl. It's been my favorite website since I was a junior in college and it's been a dream of mine to be published there. I did a test to become their next beauty writer and while they went with someone else, they still chose to publish my article. It was truly a dream and a huge accomplishment of mine! You can read it here. 



I feel like I'm drawing a blank for what else I want to say right now so I'll just jump into the post. But before we start, I'm running a beauty prize pack giveaway. It was exclusive to newsletter subscribers but wanted to open it up to everyone! The pack consists of a lot of Lights Lacquer, some Kylie Cosmetics, and other fun beauty items. Enter below! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Pink Positivity 

Riverdale had what should've been their 2020 season finale this week and it was heartbreaking. The show hasn't been great the past few seasons but that episode was pretty perfect; it was really sad, gut wrenching and would've made a great series finale. Next week we jump SEVEN years into the future, the most a CW drama has ever jumped, and I'm pretty excited to see these *adult actors* leave high school behind. However, it did make me nostalgic for what is a near perfect season of television, season 1 of Riverdale so I'm binging it as we speak. 

Another positive note? The calm, snow week! 

Links I Loved

What You Missed on Royally Pink

What I Bought This Week

I am trying to limit my spending and purchases this month. I had to stock up on some ~beauty~ items so that's what I bought but before February 1st hit, I purchased a new Stoney Clover notebook for work! 


xoxo
B

One of my new favorite pastimes is looking through Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Apple Books for e-books that are on sale. Sometimes I find books that spark my interest that are on sale or there's a best seller I've been wanting to read that is under $5. It's the best of both worlds. 

My true crime addiction is very much alive & well; I listen to true crime podcasts daily, watch Dateline & 20/20 every week (I even have it recording the series on my DVR) and usually am reading at least one mystery/crime novel at any given time.

That's why when I saw a book called "True Crime Addict" on sale at Barnes & Noble, I immediately purchased it. I did look into the book a little more before purchasing because what really drew me in was the fact that it was a 'memoir' and not a fictional story. 

"True Crime Addict" is written by James Renner, an investigative journalist who works primarily on true crime cases and has been featured on one of my favorite podcasts, True Crime Garage, many times before. His story is interesting: he claims he fell in love with a missing girl when he was younger, Amy Mihaljevic and that is what sparked his obsession with true crime.  

This book follows Renner and his journey of discovering the Maura Murray case and how his obsession with true crime once again took flight.



Publisher's Summary

When an eleven-year-old James Renner fell in love with Amy Mihaljevic, the missing girl seen on posters all over his neighborhood, it was the beginning of a lifelong obsession with true crime. That obsession led James to a successful career as an investigative journalist. It also gave him PTSD. 

In 2011, James began researching the strange disappearance of Maura Murray, a UMass student who went missing after wrecking her car in rural New Hampshire in 2004. Over the course of his investigation, he uncovers numerous important and shocking new clues about what may have happened to Maura, but also finds himself in increasingly dangerous situations with little regard for his own well-being. 

As his quest to find Maura deepens, the case starts taking a toll on his personal life, which begins to spiral out of control. The result is an absorbing dual investigation of a complicated case that has eluded authorities for more than a decade and a journalist’s own complicated true-crime addiction.

My Thoughts

This book was partially about James Renner and his journey through the Maura Murray case partially about his personal life and how he throws himself into a case and lastly, about Maura Murray's disappearance. I've listened to many podcasts episodes about the Maura Murray case -- a college student who vanished into thin air after getting into a car accident. Was she taken? Did she run away? Did she get lost and fall into a body of water? No one knows and this book doesn't solve the case. However, I do think I learned a lot more about the case and it was nice to actually read about it instead of listening to it. 

On the other hand, you learned a lot about James Renner and his life; he doesn't have an easy life and it was very interesting to read. This isn't a fun hobby for him, trying to solve and reporting on missing person cases... it's work and it takes a toll on him. As 'arm chair detectives' and people who enjoy true crime stories it can be difficult to realize that there are real people behind these cases, real detectives and reporters (and obviously the victim/families) but it takes a lot to have these cases become your entire life.

Throughout the novel you learn about Renner's family, his troubles with his son, substance abuse and his obsessive personality in general. It is deeply interesting, deeply troubling and yet fascinating. You are pulled into James Renner's life, obsession with true crime and find yourself longing for more answers about Maura Murray. 

If you love true crime, enjoy memoirs & books told in the first person, you will really enjoy this book. It's a very easy read even though it's heavy subject matter. It definitely has opened up a new genre for me and I think I will look into more books about real, true crime cases.

Have you ever read a book like this? Leave recommendations in the comments!
xoxo
B

I've mentioned this before but when I was younger, I hated Valentine's Day. I thought it was stupid and silly to have a day celebrating love but as I've matured and had a real relationship, I don't mind it as much. It's the typical scenario; girl hates Valentine's Day, girl gets a boyfriend, girl likes Valentine's Day.

I thought this year, being single, I would hate it again but I actually don't mind. I've found that it really doesn't mean anything and I can enjoy the 'spirit' of the holiday no matter what. When I say Valentine's Day spirit I'm really referring to the chocolate, the pink & red color scheme, and all of the hearts. I love the decor, the fun items, and all the candy. Pink is my brand, it's my favorite color so why shouldn't I love the holiday that celebrates it?



At the start of quarantine when nail salons were closed everyone began scrambling to buy manicure products. No one could fathom how they were supposed to survive without getting manicures or keeping up with their gel manicures. I did not have that problem as I've been doing my nails myself for years. I had all the supplies I needed to care for my nails, from remover to cuticle oil, to treatments.

I don't give myself manicures at home in a sense that I don't cut my cuticles or file my nails -- I'm not good at it nor do I like the feeling of doing it. If my nails need some cleaning up I just head to the nail salon. However, I always paint my nails and care for my nails though. 

When everyone started to get more into nail care, it got me thinking about my favorite items to help keep my nails looking and feeling healthy. Today, I'm going to do just that. 

These are my favorite items to help care for my nails and the products that help in giving me a decent at-home manicure!

nailcare items, manicure, at home manicure


Ella + Mila Cuticle Oil

I've gone through so many different cuticle oils over the years but this is one from Ella + Mila is one of my favorites, for the sole reason that I love the applicator. It has a nail polish brush so that you can just gently and easily apply the oil without it spilling everywhere. The oil itself is also really good - it's not too slippery or oily, it has almost a dry texture to it if that makes sense. I also don't feel the need to constantly reapply it which means that it's doing its job instead of further drying out my nail beds.

Deborah Lippmann Cuticle Cream

It was about a month or so ago where I felt like I needed more from my cuticle oil(s). I needed more moisture, I needed something thicker than an oil so I looked into a cuticle cream. When looking at reviews and recommendations, this Deborah Lippmann cream kept coming up. I've used their nail polishes in the past but never the care items so I immediately ordered it, feeling intrigued. It comes in a pot, and is a heavy, thick cream that you just smear over your cuticles and it's instant relief. The cream sinks into your skin so it doesn't leave your cuticles and nails overly greasy. It actually works to heal your skin instead of just masking the dryness; similar to Ella + Mila, it doesn't make your nails crave more moisture. In my opinion, the oil and the cream are different because the cream is heavier, thicker, and I use it when my hands and nails are super dry and need extra TLC. 

Ella + Mila Quick Dry Drops

I've gone through a handful of different quick dry drops and I'm testing out a new one now but these Ella + Mila ones reign supreme. They really get the job done in terms of drying my nails faster and leaving my nails with a nice finish. I notice such a huge difference when I don't use drops vs when I do. My manicure lasts longer and looks better when I use these drops. They are a must-have in terms of at-home manicures.

Julep Oxygen Nail Treatment

I always use a base coat when I paint my nails but sometimes I seek out a base coat that strengthens my nails, almost like a treatment. This base coat from Julep is the best one I have ever used and my nails are so much better when I use it. *I went through mine and need a new one* The Oxygen Nail Treatment has vitamins and Oxygen technology to treat and strengthen your nails... the product description also says this hydrates your nails which makes sense because I feel like my nails don't break as much when I'm using this consistently. You can wear it as a base coat or wear it alone if you want to give your nails a break. I've done both and they really look fabulous. 

*The treatments come in a pearl/white version and a pink.

What are your favorite nail care items?
xoxo
B
 

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