I chose "The Shadows" by Alex North as a Book of the Month pick months ago but just got around to reading it over the past two months. Sometimes I buy books or I add books to my TBR list and forget about them or forget what drew me into them initially. That's what happened what this book...  I chose it, forgot about it and then when I read the description I was intrigued. It was like buying the book all over again.

This book was a little scary, very interesting, and super twisted in a really great way. I would classify it as a paranormal thriller which is really different for me and I really loved that. It's a new genre that I've been reading a bit more and definitely think it suits my reading interests.



Publisher's Summary

You knew a teenager like Charlie Crabtree. A dark imagination, a sinister smile--always on the outside of the group. Some part of you suspected he might be capable of doing something awful. Twenty-five years ago, Crabtree did just that, committing a murder so shocking that it’s attracted that strange kind of infamy that only exists on the darkest corners of the internet--and inspired more than one copycat.

Paul Adams remembers the case all too well: Crabtree--and his victim--were Paul’s friends. Paul has slowly put his life back together. But now his mother, old and suffering from dementia, has taken a turn for the worse. Though every inch of him resists, it is time to come home.

It's not long before things start to go wrong. Paul learns that Detective Amanda Beck is investigating another copycat that has struck in the nearby town of Featherbank. His mother is distressed, insistent that there's something in the house. And someone is following him. Which reminds him of the most unsettling thing about that awful day twenty-five years ago.

It wasn't just the murder.

It was the fact that afterward, Charlie Crabtree was never seen again...

My Thoughts

I had no idea where this book was going... it was really out there on so many levels and I loved every second of it. This was a very complex and interesting story; it wasn't what you expected in the slightest bit and you don't realize that until more than halfway through the book.

I thought I had an idea of where the book was going; I thought I knew where Charlie was hiding, who killed who, and more but nothing is as it seems which I love in a book. Without revealing too much, Charlie, Paul, and the others were experimenting with lucid dreaming and that is the main plot of the book. That is what is the catalyst for the murder, for the disappearance, and everything that follows. 

The book in general is about Paul coming face to face with his past; he has to come back to the town he left after his friend was murdered and all his ghosts come back to haunt him. He has to face his mother, the girl he left behind, the murderer and the people who remember everything. Also, paired with Amanda Beck investigating a new round of murders that resemble the one from 25 years ago... it's a lot for one person to handle. However, good for us because it makes for a really interesting story.

What I loved most about this book was Paul; I loved his character, I thought he was really likable and an interesting person to read through the eyes of. It was also interesting to read Amanda's POV and get both stories at the same time. You're able to read what happened years ago to Paul, what's happening to him now, and 

"The Shadows" was unlike anything I've ever read. It was such an adult mystery with multiple plots, lots of twists and a really satisfying ending. It was a little murder, a little mystery, and a little paranormal. If you're someone who doesn't like thrillers, you might really enjoy this book. It wasn't your traditional mystery novel which I think can draw a wider audience in. 

I also found this book to be incredibly sad. Of course there was a lot of death but there was also disease, loss, and at one point, a twist so large I never saw it coming. I kind of felt my heart break in the moment that I realized what was happening... it was like a punch in the gut.

While the ending of the book was satisfying, it felt a bit random but in the grand scheme of things, it made a lot of sense. There were multiple reveals about the killer, the person(s) involved, and a few other things. It was so interesting and made the book that much more rich. 

As I said before, I think if you're someone who doesn't usually like stories like Gone Girl, or those 'domestic' thrillers, you might like this. There were so many layers and each page gave you more information and added to the story. Nothing felt like a filler which is so rare for a book. 

"The Shadows" definitely made me want to read more Alex North books so I might have to pick up his others. 

Have you ever read Alex North? Did you read "The Shadows"? What did you think?
xoxo
B

 This month felt like it was extremely slow. I know that's different from what everyone else says but March 1st seems like ages ago... maybe it was the anniversary of the pandemic, or the fact that I felt like there was a lot of death this month (I know tons of people who passed away and it's exhausting) but I'm happy it's over. 

March also brought good things: good weather, celebrations, and lots of new favorites! While spring & summer are not my favorite time(s) of the year, I'm excited for how alive everything feels when the warm weather starts to pick up. I can't wait to go on walks, be outside, and just breathe in some beautiful fresh air. 

As I mentioned in yesterday's post, I gave up shopping for most of March so these favorites are tried and true, purchased and used many times before this month. Also, I'll be doing a separate beauty favorites post because I definitely have gotten back into the swing of my skincare & makeup routines and there's tons of stuff I've been loving. 

For now, let's get into the items I loved in March!


Hey Dewy Portable Humidifier 



I mentioned this on my Instagram stories last week but this Hey Dewy Portable Humidifier definitely my favorite product of the month. As soon as the weather turns nice, my body freaks out. It's like I go to sleep one night completely normal and wake up a stuffy, tension headache mess. This portable humidifier has been helping wonders! I've had it for a little over a year and go through phases with it but I've consistently used it day and night all month and have noticed a difference. 

The reason I love this mini humidifier is because I hate large, floor based ones -- they're a pain to clean and I never feel like they truly work. With this portable one, I keep it on my nightstand and then during the day, I plug it into my computer's USB port and have it going all day long. It helps me breathe better, prevents allergy  headaches and stuffy nose. It's a lifesaver in so many ways and if you struggle with allergies, I cannot recommend this enough.

Louis Vuitton Pochette Metis



This is definitely cheating but I have to mention this! If you missed my Youtube unboxing and my Instagram post... I bought my dream bag this month! I go into detail on Youtube but finally being able to purchase this bag after lusting after it for years was a dream. I've wanted the Pochette Metis since I first saw it, and then when the reverse was released I knew that was the bag I wanted. 

I've never been able to comfortably pull the trigger on the purchase but this year, with my tax return, and after finding the perfectly priced bag on Fashionphile, I knew it was meant to be. I haven't stopped using this bag and it honestly has me questioning every bag in my collection. It's perfect for everyday, for date night, for simply everything you could imagine. I am completely obsessed and don't know if the awe will ever wear off! There will be a full review coming along with tons of other content based around the bag. 



Olive & June Cuticle Serum


Of course this is a beauty item and I said I was doing a separate post but I loved this item too much to not mention it. I received this cuticle serum while ago, as a GWP on Olive & June's website but haven't used it much since as I have other cuticle oils (and I lost it for a while). Well, this month this cuticle serum was my best friend. My nails and cuticles were a disaster and this is the only thing that helped me. This isn't like traditional cuticle oils thanks to the serum consistency. It doesn't slip and slide all over your fingers and absorbs right into your skin to really nourish and hydrate the cuticle. It's super portable so this is an oil you can throw in your bag, not worry about it spilling or breaking, and you will always have moisturized cuticles! 

Jet Set Candy Croissant Necklace




I've been having a huge jewelry moment the past few months and this croissant necklace is really the icing on the cake. Ever since seeing Alison Lou's carb bracelet and croissant stud, I've been on the hunt for a piece of croissant jewelry. As if my prayers were being answered, one of my favorite jewelry brands, Jet Set Candy, released a croissant charm. I immediately purchased it and have been living for it ever since. It's super dainty so it goes with everything, and I just love having my favorite pastry dangling from my neck. Jet Set Candy makes beautiful gold & silver jewelry that is ultra dainty, reasonably priced, and so cute. A full post on the brand coming soon! 

What items did you love this month?
xoxo
B

How I Gave Up Shopping for Lent

in , , by RoyallyPink, 3:30 AM

 After last year's no-buy fail, I was determined to reduce my spending/shopping in some shape, way or form. I've definitely come a long way over the past few years and do a decent job at saving most of my money... but the impulsivity of clicking "Place Order" is still there. 

I decided last minute, before Lent started, that I would give up impulse shopping. I had given it up once before and wanted to test my willpower. I was starting to get overwhelmed with the amount of shopping I was doing and felt that I had too much stuff. It was the perfect, short timeline to take a nice break from shopping. 

If you're not Catholic, Lent is the time between Ash Wednesday and Easter, usually 40 days. It's customary for Catholics to give up something they love during Lent to represent the time that Jesus traveled through the desert before his crucifixion. I've been giving things up like sweets, soda, chocolate, etc for years but shopping is my true love now so it only makes sense. 

Lent does not officially end until this coming Thursday, Holy Thursday when the Last Supper occurred but I let myself go last week because I had enough... I also needed outfits for a bridal shower over this past weekend so if I was spending that money, I mind as well end it a week early.



The Rules

 My basic rule for this time period was hat meant I couldn't buy anything I 'wanted'. I was not going to buy makeup, clothes, accessories... anything frivolous that wasn't necessary.

The one caveat I gave myself was any new Stoney Clover collections because I have an addiction and I'm grown enough to admit it. They also always sell out within the first hour-day they're released so I wanted to be sure I got what I wanted. I also allowed myself to use my tax return to buy my Louis Vuitton bag because the price and condition was too good to pass up. 

How Did I Do?

Other than the SCL denim collection, the flash sale they had, and my LV bag, I successfully did not impulse shop for over a month. I didn't buy a stitch of makeup, a candle, a piece of jewelry... nothing. It was the longest I've gone without shopping in a while and it felt really good. I thought about buying things nearly every day and started keeping a list of the items I would buy once Lent was over. 

Making a list of items I want helps keep my thoughts organized... and it helps me look at what I really want. Sometimes I go back and take things off that list which proves I didn't really want them to begin with. Telling myself I can only buy things off that list definitely helps with the impulsive urges. Sometimes I will see thing and immediately buy them but sitting on it for a few days or a week helps me understand if I really want that item or not. 

I think I was really successful with this little test and while I've gone off the deep end since last week, I think I will be able to implement some of this willpower going forward. 

Why Can't I Do This All The Time?

That's the old age question isn't it? Why can't I stop shopping? Why do I love stuff so much? I ask myself that question whenever I place an order, whenever I receive a package and when I look around my room at the amount of stuff I have. 

I have always been someone who loves 'things'. I've always loved accessories, jewelry, and random knick knacks and it's something I took with me into adulthood. It's obviously an issue when you're spending all your money on things you don't really need just because you didn't take a minute to consider if you actually need them.

I am also a really big emotional shopper; when I have a bad day, I want to buy something to make me feel better. When I'm anxious or feeling depressed, shopping makes me feel calmer. It's definitely a problem and I've been trying to work through it... and making lists of the things I want helps me.

Sometimes I truly feel overwhelmed by all the items I want and when I feel manic and panicky about shopping, I remove myself from the situation... I close the app, exit out of the website, and just sit to think about if I need these things or if I'm just feeling bad and want some instant gratification.

Another thing that helps is putting a lot of money in savings so I don't have it sitting in my checking account, waiting to be spent. I need to save money for a variety of reasons and having those goals has helped me save over the years. When I first graduated college and knew I wasn't going to be leaving home any time soon, I felt like 'what do I have to save for? That's so far away!' I now see that was a massive mistake so I'm trying to right my own wrongs.

So, this little experiment of not shopping for 30-40 days was a really good thing for me and I will be implementing  these strategies into my everyday life and will definitely do shopping 'cleanses' for extended periods of time... maybe I'll even do one in April because I already feel guilty for the money I spent last week! 

Let me know if you have any questions or if you think I should turn this into a little challenge for our community!

xoxo
B


 What a week.. it was another weird one that was half fast, and half slow. I didn't feel like myself; allergies and what I think was a little non Covid related virus. I feel better now, physically, but mentally I'm so/so. I know I just told you all that I quit WW and changed to just counting calories but that's changed again.

Over the past few weeks I've felt a change in my body; I'm more bloated and it's a little harder for me to lose weight. I woke up this morning, saw on the scale that I gained two pounds and was sent into a spiral. I immediately signed up for WW again because I feel like that's the only way to maybe get rid of the weight. It's worked in the past and maybe my three month break will help me mentally.

I also made an appointment with a nutritionist (before I signed up for WW) to figure out what's going on with my body. I just don't know what the issue is if I work out daily, drink tons of water, and eat well. It's really frustrating and if I'm being totally honest, it ruined my day.

Right now, I'm in my bed, watching Dateline and trying to stay in an upbeat mood. Tomorrow is my best friend's bridal shower which is definitely an occasion worth celebrating and then Sunday will be more low key with food shopping, meal planning and some writing. 



I hope you all have a great weekend, let's get into the roundup.

Pink Positivity of the Week

Despite my so/so week, I did attend a writer's workshop with my favorite author, Hannah Orenstein. It was through a new platform called "Study Circles" and I loved hearing her book writing tips and just interacting with other people who want to write a book. It was awesome! 

I also had my first article published in HelloGiggles. This was a little different for me because I did more research than my usual feature articles and interviewed a doctor. It's about doom scrolling and how you can stop the habit... something I think we're all guilty of and need some help with. 

Links I Loved


What You Missed on Royally Pink

What I Bought This Week

It was my unofficial end to Lent this week. I got my stimulus, needed to buy last minute outfits for the bridal shower, and just said hell with it. I went a month without frivolous shopping and I think it helped me break the habit. I went a little nuts this week with things I've been wanting but also stopped myself from a lot of shopping too! 



xoxo
B

When "In Five Years" by Rebecca Serle was released last year, everyone was freaking out. People loved the book and waxed poetic about it. I knew I wanted to read it but just never got around to it, even though I had an ARC from NetGalley. I kept putting it off over the past year, mostly because I had heard it was sad and I wasn't in a place to read a sad book. Also, I have a really hard time choosing my next read and breaking away from the domestic thriller genre.

Well, a few weeks ago, on a lonely Sunday night, I was bored and I decided to finally sit down and read it. I finished the book within 2 hours and was sick to my stomach afterwards. This was not the book I was expecting but it was the book everyone deserved. 



 I've been wanting to write this post for a solid year or so but I felt like I hadn't tried enough eyeliners... if you could imagine that! Eyeliner is not my favorite product in the world and I really only wear it on special occasions at this point. I used to religiously wear eyeliner back in the 8th grade, very heavy in the waterline and that lasted for a while but somewhere over the past 6 years, I've learned that eyeliner isn't always necessary.

However, I do still enjoy a good liner, especially when I wing it out properly and everything is right in the world.

For years, I didn't purchase an eyeliner because I worked for a beauty brand that had some of the best eyeliners I've ever tried. Laura Geller eyeliners, to this day, remain my favorite and I took enough on my last day in 2019 to last a lifetime.

Over the past two years, I have purchased a handful of eyeliners because I'm a sucker for good marketing, and there are also a few eyeliners from my past that are just superb. They're all in this post so let's get started!




Laura Geller INKcredible Eyeliners

These are my favorite every day eyeliners. It's as if you took a potted gel eyeliner and put it in a retractable pencil. They glide on very easily yet stay in place all day long. I don't find they transfer if you have watery eyes yet they are very pigmented. It's everything you could want in an eyeliner! You can find them on QVC or Laura Geller's website.. my favorite colors are Blackbird, Brown Sugar, and Beige to Beige!

Laura Geller Baked Kajal Eyeliner

I remember when we were formulating these Kajal eyeliners and all the ladies in the office were fighting over lab samples. At first they were limited edition but they sold really well, and we all loved them so they became a permanent fixture in Laura's line. These are kajal pencils so they are fatter and have a wider tip...however, they are baked. Laura Geller is known for baked makeup so the eyeliner pigments are baked and then formed into the eyeliner shape. They are extremely creamy, glide onto the lid easily and can be smudged out for a more shadowy look. There are so many colors and they're so good, you need to try at least one! 

Charlotte Tilbury Rock 'N' Kohl Eyeliner

Do you think I was going to have a top 5 list and not include Charlotte Tilbury? It's my favorite beauty brand and everything I try I fall in love with. The eyeliners are no different. They are a bit drier than the Laura Geller's but sometimes that is good. I have the shade "Pillowtalk" and it's the only color I've tried. Pillowtalk is a smokey, berry brown shade and I love using it on more casual days. Pillowtalk is a more matte finish, glides on beautifully, and stays in place, yet smudges easily for a smokey look. The eyeliner is waterproof, for 14 hours, which is perfect. I would like to try some of her other shades but Pillowtalk is so good!

INKcredible
Too Faced Killer
Eyeko
Charlotte Tilbury
Kajal 


Eyeko Eye Do Liquid Easy Stroke

Eyeko was the first liquid eyeliner pen I have ever used and I've been chasing that high ever since. I've tried a lot of different liquid eyeliner pens but this is my favorite and I always come back to it. It's easy to use to create a wing eyeliner and is the only eyeliner I've ever successfully used to do so. The eyeliner is long lasting and dries pretty quickly; it's super duper black and looks beautiful on the eye. I'm obsessed! 

Too Faced Killer Eyeliner

This is a newer eyeliner to me but I really love the shade I have, Killer Gingerbread. This is in the same category as the Charlotte Tilbury as I have only one shade and I love it for everyday wear. It's very long lasting (supposed to last 36 hours though I have not tested it for that long) and it just glides on very easily. The color is beautiful and I find that I love wearing just a little bit of it to add something extra to any and all eye looks. If you haven't tried these yet, I think you need to! 

These are all kind of similar and I love them all for the same reason(s) but you can never have too many eyeliners!

What are your favorite eyeliners?
xoxo
B

For the past few weeks I've been in a light colored nail polish mood... good thing too since spring started this weekend and I changed my nail polish from dark to light. I've been loving all the pink colors in my collection and one of those is the "Candy Clouds" polish from Lights Lacquer.

I received it back in February with the Birthday Brat collection and have used it twice since. Candy Clouds is described as a creamy, soft baby pink with slightly peach undertones. I think it's a very unique pink and that's probably due to the peach undertone. It's super beautiful! To me, it's the perfect pink.


In my opinion, this formula was a lot better than Strawberry Frosting. It seemed a little easier to work with, a little creamier and applied more evenly. It's a color that makes you happy, that makes you look forward to warm weather and I personally think Candy Clouds is a color that can be worn all year long... it's cool enough for the winter but light enough for spring. It's pretty perfect!

Candy Clouds is currently out of stock but I would guess it'll be back online soon!

xoxo
B

TGIF! I am very excited to see the weekend; it was a very odd week, I can't quite put my finger on it. I felt really ill; bloated, nauseous, fatigued and it really knocked me out. It was also really sad, because of the Atlanta attacks on the Asian community. Between that and the UK reeling from the murder of Sarah Everad, it was a really sad week to be a woman. 

It's very frustrating, very disgusting, and so disheartening. My heart breaks for the Asian community and it goes to show you how words affect people; the rise in hate crimes against Asians this past year is a direct result from the words our former president spewed and it's disgusting. UGH, I can't even process my anger properly. 

On another note, I'm going to spend the weekend relaxing and working; I have multiple articles due, some brainstorming I'd like to do, and products to test. I'm also going to see some of my family I haven't seen since Christmas and I'm excited! 

I hope you all have a wonderful, safe, and healthy weekend.



Pink Positivity of the Week

I went viral on TikTok! I posted a reaction to Harry Styles' Grammy look and over 27K people have viewed it and I've gained a nice amount of followers. I really loved the Grammys this year, thought they did a socially distanced/semi-virtual award show really well. I also knew most of the people/songs nominated so it was enjoyable. I felt like it should've been the TikTok awards since so many of the songs that won/were nominated went along with viral TikTok dances.

Links I Loved

What You Missed on Royally Pink

I didn't buy anything frivolous this week... expect one thing that I've been saving for but you'll have to wait for my Youtube video to see! 

xoxo
B

Ever since I read "A Good Girl Guide's to Murder" last year and found out that Holly Jackson was writing a sequel, I was dreaming of the day I could buy it.

The book wasn't due for publishing until March 2021 but I simply couldn't wait for that... I found the UK version of the book on Book Depository and bought it for $10. There was no shipping fee and hardly any tax, so it ended up being a very cheap purchase. I was so excited to have the book before it was published (I didn't get approved for a Net Galley arc) but ended up not reading it until the past few weeks anyway.

That's always my problem; I purchase a book and then don't read it immediately. But I read it and loved it, which is what matters. 




Publisher's Summary


The highly anticipated sequel to the instant New York Times bestseller, A Good Girl's Guide to Murder! More dark secrets are exposed in this addictive, true-crime fueled mystery. 

Pip is not a detective anymore.

With the help of Ravi Singh, she released a true-crime podcast about the murder case they solved together last year. The podcast has gone viral, yet Pip insists her investigating days are behind her.

But she will have to break that promise when someone she knows goes missing. Jamie Reynolds has disappeared, on the very same night the town hosted a memorial for the sixth-year anniversary of the deaths of Andie Bell and Sal Singh.

The police won't do anything about it. And if they won't look for Jamie then Pip will, uncovering more of her town's dark secrets along the way... and this time everyone is listening. But will she find him before it's too late?

My Thoughts

As much as I loved the "Good Girl, Bad Blood", I was a bit confused at first. I had forgotten a lot of the characters and was having a hard time following everything but once I got to reading, some of it came back and I was all good. 

I loved so many things about this book; I loved having the hard copy and being able to look at the layout of the book. There were so many fun non-writing aspects of the book, if that makes sense. There are tons of extra content on the pages; the photos and written notes that are apart of the case. I also loved the podcast recordings written as part of the story. It added something extra to the plot instead of just laying it out as regular text. 

This book, along with the first, are somehow in between the world of YA and regular fiction. It has that YA feel, with the maturity of a regular thriller. I love how unpredictable this story was; how you couldn't figure out who was responsible for the crime(s) at hand, how you couldn't predict the outcome at all. It was so interesting and kept me on my toes.

"Good Girl, Bad Blood" does a great job at mixing the first book and the present story. The two are definitely intertwined but it's definitely two separate plots. It was definitely a plot within a plot, which I think Holly Jackson does really well. 

Her writing is superb; she drags you into the world of Kilton and has the best protagonist in Pip. Pip is truly an outstanding main character and I really don't remember the last time I loved a narrator so much. She is so smart, witty, passionate, and dedicated... and not even the slightest bit annoying. 

Another aspect of the book I loved was how it tied into real life true crime podcasts; I loved that Pip started a podcast after breaking open a years long cold case... it's something that would really happen if Pip was real! 

When the true aspect of Jamie's disappearance is revealed, you are stunned silent. It wasn't what I was expecting in the slightest bit, and just how other parts of the book are weaved together, what happened to Jamie isn't the main climax... it's all so twisted, all so intertwined, it is just so good. 

I loved every aspect of "Good Girl, Bad Blood". Jackson is writing a third book, the final installment of the series and I can't wait to see what she cooks up. She is a fantastic writer, this is a fanatstic series and I can't get enough.

Have you read the "Good Girl's Guide" series? What did you think?
xoxo
B

I've been dealing with a fussy scalp since I was a teenager. For years, I struggled with dandruff, itchy scalp, and just an all over uncomfortable feeling. I've tried tons of products, both medicated and over the counter... and nothing really helps. 

There are a few products that I use to keep my scalp healthy, that are tried and true, so I'll do a post dedicated to that hair routine but this post is all about one miracle product that relieves the itchiness between washes.

That was a major issue for me -- no matter how clean my hair was or how healthy my scalp was, the itchiness was there. I would scratch my head until it bled... I couldn't get it under control.

Enter Mizani.

I cannot believe it has been a year since New York City locked down. On March 14th, 2020, the restaurants, bars, schools, and other 'essential' businesses closed. I was at my best friend's bridesmaids brunch when we got the news and we were all freaking out a bit. It was really overwhelming, anxiety inducing, and scary. 

As a world, we had never experienced anything like what we were on the cusp of and it was terrifying. We were watching China and Italy fall apart, and we had no idea that NYC was next. 

I don't think anyone understands what it was like in March-May here in New York, unless you were here. I don't live in Manhattan but mid-March I went into my office to grab a few things and I felt like I was in a movie. There was no one on the streets. The only people I saw were the mailmen and delivery workers. I was shaken to my core when I left... I never saw my city like that and I never want to see it again.

The difference about NYC going through the pandemic this time last year was that we were going through it alone. No other state was experiencing the spikes in cases and dates that we were... we were shipping in doctors and nurses from around the country because we didn't have enough people on the frontlines, we had a ship in the harbor, hospitals were set up in parking lots and parks. It was intense. Watching Governor Cuomo speak daily was hypnotizing, watching the numbers go up and up was really sickening; at the height of it, I remember we had 800 deaths in a day. I couldn't believe what we were living through. 

Politics aside, New York set the standard for how to handle the pandemic; the closures, the precautions, the extra hospital beds. We were figuring it out as the hours passed and to witness it was truly scary. When the first few people I personally knew died, it felt like a gut punch. It was devastating to know that their life was going to be a number, that we couldn't have proper funerals... it was just so sad. 



What I remember so vividly was how unknown everything was; it's amazing to think that we know more than we did a year ago because there was a time where no one knew what the virus was like, no one knew what to expect so the incredible fear we all had of catching Covid was at an all time high. 

Of course, to catch it now is still scary but doctors know what they're doing, we know more about the virus, if you are young and healthy, you will probably be ok. It just feels so different versus what life was like at the beginning. 

On another note, it still feels all incredibly traumatic. I am not diminishing mental health disorders (you know I am a huge advocate of mental health) but I can't help but feel we all went through an incredibly traumatic experience. Never mind the healthcare workers who went through what I would classify as a medical war, but as a city, a state, a nation, a world... we went through trauma.

This week was hard for no particular reason but there was an underlying sense of anxiety. The articles, the memories, the knowledge that this time last year, the entire world changed. Also, the weather was really beautiful and it felt like spring which also kind of triggered me. I just can't believe that we have been living this way for an entire year, but in the same breath, I can't believe it's only been a year. 

The days during quarantine were intense; I was still working while my mom and sister were in the rest of the house, trying to keep sane and busy. TikTok became a staple, my sister worked out multiple times of day. My friends and I organized Zoom calls, my sister and I learned TikTok dances, and we spent hours watching television. Life was so strange when the highlight of our week was going for a walk in the park (this wasn't until mid-May when things were a on the up) or going grocery shopping.

All that being said, I never felt bored. I'm very good at entertaining myself and it almost felt good to be stuck in the house. Being home is my favorite thing so I feel like I was kind of thriving, as horrible as it sounds. 

People on TikTok has been romanticizing early quarantine and someone explained it perfectly; March/April was the only time during the pandemic where the entire country (and probably the world) was on the same page. We were all scared, all nervous, all waiting for the other shoe to drop and the only time where pretty much everyone was taking it seriously. If they weren't taking it seriously, or didn't believe it the virus (ridiculous!!) they were still stuck at home. It's pretty much the only time in our life we could say everyone was experiencing the same thing.

I know this was a very long, rambling post but I just needed to commemorate this moment in the time. One year into a pandemic, we are still wearing masks, still social distancing, still mourning, still learning, still changing, and still waiting for life to return to normal. But there is hope! 1 in 10 Americans are vaccinated against Covid-19 and what a beautiful statistic that is!

xoxo
B

What a week! Honestly, it wasn't so bad. I was a little off but the weather in New York was beautiful! It was what they call a 'Fool's Spring' since the temperatures are going to drop again this weekend and snow is in the forecast for Tuesday. 

This week honestly had me looking forward to the warmer weather but it also gave me a bit of anxiety. Warm weather always makes me a little nervous because I get the worst FOMO -- I constantly feel like I need to be doing something or I feel like everyone is always doing more than me.

It also gave me bad deja vu because it was the year anniversary of Covid and it just brought back a lot of weird memories. I'm going to write about it in Monday's post but it was a really strange feeling... like I can't believe it was only a year ago but I also can't believe we've been living like this an entire year. I honestly do not know how I am going to do life post pandemic... I don't know how I'm going to go back to work, or not wear a mask -- I'm just nervous about a lot of things right now.

I will save that for Monday though...

This weekend I am spending at home, getting things done and relaxing, as usual. Sunday I'll be going for brunch with my friends and I am excited to sip on mimosas! 

This week was also taken over by thoughts of Meghan Markle and the Royal Family. I wrote a newsletter about the situation on Sunday before the interview and will surely be writing on this Sunday so make sure you are signed up for the newsletter. I've been writing more random, rambling newsletters, mostly centered around pop culture and I love it. I have so many thoughts that don't fit into content pillars for Royally Pink, I feel like the newsletter is a fun, extra post I can provide! Sign up here. Also, Team Meg & Harry. 




Pink Positivity of the Week 

I have been reading nonstop! This week alone I finished 4 books. When the work day is over, I've worked out, eaten dinner, written my blog posts for the week and just need to decompress, I've been cracking open a book. My plan was to read 60 books in 2021... according to Goodreads I am 11 books ahead of schedule since it is only mid March and I've read 22 books so far this year.

I read so fast, I simply cannot stop myself. I also read more than one book at at time, which helps. I might do a post on how I read so fast... I think that would be interesting! It really has been a positive light in my life lately and has helped me get through some bad times.

Links I Loved

What You Missed on Royally Pink

What I Bought This Week

I cracked this week for the sole reason that Stoney Clover did a 20% off sale. The brand NEVER does sales apart from Black Friday and the sale was one day only, and around items that the brand was discontinuing. I felt like I had to shop because it was my last chance to purchase items I've been wanting. I'm not counting this toward Lent, even though I should... but at the beginning my only stipulation was Stoney Clover new launches/discontinuations. I'm not going to link the items since they are all sold out but if you follow me on Instagram, you saw them! 

PS: Don't forget to follow me on Instagram (@bribrilukes

Have a great and safe weekend everyone!
xoxo
B

This book won't be released until August 17th but I couldn't wait for my review. You need to pre-order this novel now, and make sure it's on your TBR. Go ahead, add it to your Goodreads, I'll wait.

Ok, all set? Great!

If you love true crime, like REAL true crime, like Dateline, 20/20, true crime podcasts, this book is for you. It's a fictitious story with real life flair, all which will satisfy your true crime addiction. "The Family Plot" by Megan Collins is your next great read. 

I received the ARC from NetGalley and finished the book within 24 hours, as usual. Side note: I am flying through books lately. This week alone I've finished three books... it's really becoming a problem. 


I've talked a lot about WW (Weight Watchers) over the past three years and how I had such a positive experience with it... I mean, I lost almost 30 pounds! Well, I think it's only fair that I come back and discuss why I've quit WW.

I've been officially off WW for about a month and a half but I really started to ween myself off of the program right after New Years. I've been struggling with the program(s) for a while... I don't think I really ever lost a significant amount of weight after they changed to Freestyle in 2018/2019 and even when they officially changed to Blue, Purple, and Green plans, I still wasn't able to lose the weight.

During the pandemic/quarantine, I didn't really gain that much weight but I did put on a few pounds after changing my anxiety medication in August 2020. I also felt like that medication was preventing me from losing weight. I was really frustrated with WW, I was starving, and felt like I wasn't eating great. I was beside myself, I was binging, I just wasn't happy at all.



I've played around over the years with counting calories and even did it in conjunction with WW from time to time. It was very obvious that my points value didn't match up to how many calories I should've been eating. I mean, there were days when I was eating 800 calories but over my points value. 

I made the decision, the very scary decision, to go off of WW and just use the Lose It app (more on that later). I felt that WW was too toxic for me; I needed a break, I couldn't stand counting points anymore. It was destroying my mental health and it was making me anxious when I was starving but over my points value for the day. 

I also started to take issue with the fact that mostly healthy things, like nuts and certain proteins, were so high in points yet a slice of Velveta was 1 point. I started to feel like WW's dependency on processed foods was not healthy; it really bothered me and was kind of the catalyst for me making the switch.

I've been using the Lose It App, which I used way back in the day and have been loving it. I'm eating a low amount of calories but feel a little more freedom. I enjoy being able to look at the calorie of a food, the carbs and proteins, etc and getting that full picture of what I'm putting into my body really helps me. 

On WW, I was gaining weight every week and now, I haven't gained a pound in almost two months. I'm not losing weight, which is something I am mentally struggling with but I feel good. I feel like I'm not as restricted and that I'm able to eat better without worrying about points value. 

I realize that counting calories vs counting points is pretty similar but it's the ability to focus on the entire nutritional value of food that is helping me. I also can eat things like nuts and regular peanut butter without feeling super guilty... it's a mental game for me as much as anything.

Eventually I will do a huge post on Lose It but I wanted to come on here and talk about why I made the switch and why I felt like I was ready. I am not saying that I will never go back to WW, I've actually been thinking about it, maybe to just jumpstart some sort of weight loss but I will keep you updated.

There is also another part of my weight loss journey that I need to address and that's working out; I talked about my Amazon bike in my monthly favorites post and I definitely need to be better about working out daily, and for longer than 30 minutes. I should probably also get back into Yoga and I think those goals combined with Lose It will help me lose weight instead of just standing still.

If you have any questions about WW or Lose It, please let me know! 

xoxo
B

Since I was a little girl I always had a diary. I loved writing my thoughts down, getting my feelings out and just feeling like I was speaking to someone, even if it was just myself.

I have kept up the practice of journaling on and off for years but in the past year or so, I've gotten more into making this a habit for me. I journal anywhere from 2-4 times a week but always try to journal at least once. Sometimes it's more, sometimes it's less... it's usually more if I'm feeling overwhelmed and stressed out.


 Happy Saturday! I spent most of my day in bed, watching Youtube videos and then had to get up, get dressed and head out to a wake for my mom's cousin. It was very sad and draining so I'm happy to be back home and in bed, again. I made myself a cauliflower pizza, settled in to watch Dateline and read "She Said" by Jodi Kantor and Meghan Twohey. 

I've had this book in my possession for almost a year and finally felt like I was in a place to read it. Well, it's no surprise the two journalists won the Pulitzer Prize. The documentation of their writing and aftermath of the Harvey Weinstein article... the one that launched #MeToo is astounding. I'm almost done and of course will do a Book Review Wednesday on it, but wow, I am in awe of the power of journalism and in the voices of survivors.

We're quickly approaching the one year anniversary of NYC going into lockdown which will be an entirely different post but the feeling of hitting a pandemic wall hit me hard this week. I'm just tired, in all aspects of life and don't really know how to get back into the swing of things. Whenever I say I'm going to take time to reset my routines and think about things, I never do because whenever I have free time, I just collapse into bed. Self-care is key, folks.

This week was also hard because it was the 5 year anniversary of my dad's death. I did a follow up grief post last year around this time because I had just lost my aunt, and everything was really difficult. I might do another one soon because grief and death are so apparent right now and it's so sad. 

Let's stop talking about sad things and get into the week's roundup!



Pink Positivity of the Week 

I've been doing so good with my no shopping! I almost broke this week but I held strong and I think I'm making real progress in fighting the impulse to shop. I think this will be another blog post in the future, probably once Lent is over but I'm going to try my hardest to keep up the good work, not impulse shop, and save more than I spend.

Another positive is that the Prince Harry and Meghan Markle interview is tomorrow at 8 PM on CBS and I am very excited. I'm also very nervous for the aftermath of what will happen but really looking forward to what they will say. I just did a rant for my newsletter that I will be sending out tomorrow so make sure to sign up here. For the past month or so, I've been doing celebrity + other random topics (like books/reading) for my newsletter and I think I found my niche. Most of the newsletters have a personal touch surrounded by a larger topic and don't really make sense for a blog post. It's interesting and we'll see where it goes! 

Links I Loved

What You Missed on Royally Pink

And I didn't buy anything this week, woo!

Have a great rest of the weekend everyone!
xoxo
B

I am always looking for products that make doing my hair easier. I always want to achieve an easy, effortless, beautiful blowout. My hair is a sore subject. it is very difficult to make look good and when it isn't done, it

Before I got my Drybar Blowout Brush, I was never able to blow dry it nicely but one product that did, and continues to help is the IGK Good Behavior Anti-Frizz Smoothing Spray. I got a sample of it from Sephora and after one u
se it became my go-to favorite hair product.

I read this book a few months ago when I received an ARC from Net Galley and gobbled it up in a few days. "The Castle School for Troubled Girls" was released yesterday, March 2nd, and I really think you all need to read it.

It was such an enjoyable interesting book; it wasn't a thriller nor was it truly Women's Fiction or YA... it's in its own genre. 



Publisher's Summary

From New York Times bestselling author Alyssa Sheinmel comes the emotional story of a grieving teenager sent to a boarding school that is nothing like she expected.

When Moira Dreyfuss's parents announce that they're sending her to an all-girls boarding school deep in the Maine woods, Moira isn't fooled. She knows her parents are punishing her; she's been too much trouble since her best friend, Nathan, died—and for a while before that. At the Castle School, isolated from the rest of the world, Moira will be expected to pour her heart out to the odd headmaster, Dr. Prince. But she isn't interested in getting over Nathan's death or befriending her fellow students.

On her first night there, Moira hears distant music. On her second, she discovers the lock on her window is broken. On her third, she and her roommate venture outside...and learn that they're not so isolated after all. There's another, very different, Castle School nearby—this one filled with boys whose parents sent them away, too.

Moira is convinced that the Castle Schools and the doctors who run them are hiding something. But exploring the schools will force Moira to confront her overwhelming grief—and the real reasons her parents sent her away.

My Thoughts

At first, I really didn't get what Moira's issue was. She seemed to be overly dramatic about her friend and her parents (I know that sounds mean) but then as the book progressed, it became very obvious what her true issues were. 

I also really hated her parents at the beginning but then their side became obvious too... however, I do think that compared to the other girls in the Castle School, Moira's problems were not as extensive and didn't require her to be at the school. 

And that brings me to the Trouble School, the idea of the Troubled School was super interesting; it made me feel weird at first and I got bad vibes from Dr. Prince so I thought this book was going in a completely different direction. Even though this book wasn't a complete mystery/thriller, there was an edge of something sinister happening, as well as all the issues the "students" were at The Castle School for. *I would definitely put a trigger warning on this book if you have mental health  and self-harm issues.*

That part of the book, the mystery about the second Castle School was the main plot of the book and really brought everything together; it brought Moira out of her comfort zone as well as showed us what her true issues were with Nathan's death and her parents. 

On that note,  I loved the companionship that the girls form, as well as the friendship that Moira forms with Dr. Prince's son. It really brought the story to life and I thought it was a really important part of the story. 

The book was truly about Moira coming to terms with her friend's death as well as the story of other young girls who had similar problems, being sent away to deal. 

It was an excellent book, with excellent writing. Even though the subject matter was touchy, it was an easy book to get lost in. I really loved it and highly recommend! 

xoxo
B

It is officially almost one year since the world fell apart and I'm not sure how to feel about it. That is definitely a different conversation for a different post but wow, it's crazy how fast we got here. February felt like it flew by and so much happened, I feel like I have whiplash.

We're officially leaving winter behind and saying hello to spring, which has me feeling indifferent. I'm semi excited about the warm weather but as the resident cold weather lover, I'm sad to see it go. I guess it means we're just one step closer to next fall & winter! 

All that being said, I feel like I didn't 'love' a lot of items this month; I of course 'liked' a bunch of stuff but nothing truly worth mentioning here. I took a back seat from shopping which has honestly felt really good and I think I'll continue to limit myself in small ways. It's something I really struggle with and really want to tackle.

Most of these items are new and purchased well before Lent started and I stopped shopping. 



*If you didn't know, I gave up shopping for Lent. Lent is the time between Ash Wednesday and Holy Thursday and in the Catholic religion, it's common that you give something up to symbolize Jesus' sacrifices while he traveled through the desert. I am not a really religious person but I do identify as Catholic and I enjoy being spiritual; I always try to participate in Lent in some aspect so what better time to test out not online shopping? 

Macbook Air 13 Inch



After Christmas I knew I needed a new laptop. My old one was a Macbook 11 inch from 2016 and I was in desperate need of an upgrade. I use my laptop constantly, like most of us do, and I just wanted a better computer. I couldn't use iMovie and constantly needed to delete items off the hard drive because the storage was shot. I knew I was going to get a Macbook, just didn't know the model or size. After some research I decided on the Macbook Air, 2020 version, in Gold (it literally looks rose gold and is beautiful) and got the 13 inch.

My work laptop is a 15 inch Macbook Pro and since working from home for almost a year, I've gotten very used to it. The 11 inch wasn't working for me anymore as a personal laptop so upgrading to the bigger model has made a huge difference.

I might do an entire post, or video review about the laptop but wow, I am in love. I get very excited over new tech and this laptop is just so much better than my old one, I feel like a new person. I actually enjoy doing mundane things on my computer now and the experience of writing and editing videos is so much better. If you've been putting off upgrading your old Macbooks, I highly recommend doing so now! 

Target Marble Tray



This was very much an impulse purchase at the beginning of the month but it is probably one of the best purchases I will ever make. I saw someone on Instagram with this marble serving tray from Target and for $20, I immediately purchased it. The first one came cracked so Target sent me a new one (I got to keep the broken one and it's honestly still usable) and I'm pretty much in love. It's a little smaller than I envisioned and I was stuck on how to use it but then I decided that I would use it as a laptop 'elevator'. I have a wireless mouse and keyboard that I never use but they came in handy for this new setup. I just place my laptop on the tray, on my desk, and use the mouse and keyboard. It has helped my neck, having the laptop a little higher and I don't find myself as sore... but the best part? It finally helped me differentiate between work and 'fun' hours. 

Like most people, I've had a hard time separating work and play during the pandemic. I enjoy working at my desk both during work hours and after for my blog & writing. Having two different computers helps set boundaries but it still 'feels' like I'm slaving away at my desk 24/7. The serving tray/laptop shelf has helped my mind realize that this is 'fun' time vs when I have my laptop just on my desk during work hours. Does that make sense? 

Also, the marble tray is perfect for decor and as a photo background/prop. It's so versatile and so freaking pretty. 

Pellatini Power Crystal Pens




I discovered this company during quarantine, through TikTok and kind of became obsessed. I think they have super cute stuff but the item I was drawn to the most was the crystal pens. They're gold pens with different crystals on the top and all the crystals have different meanings. They''re super nice pens; very heavy in your hand but write really well. The ink isn't too heavy, so it doesn't bleed as your writing -- it's a very simple black pen but they look beautiful on your desk. I have all four pens but am thinking about buying doubles because they're that good. 

Maxkare Folding Stationary Bike




This was an after Christmas purchase but it was a necessary one. I really wanted a bike in my house but I had very specific needs; I wanted it to the small and compact, so that it can be folded up and stored away but I also wanted it to be sturdy. I don't have the space for a larger spin bike but I also don't love spinning. When I'm at the gym, I like the bike and elliptical but decided a bike would be better for myself and my mom. I did so much research for months and finally decided this was the bike for me. 

It's actually pretty great if you just want something for a light, daily workout. It folds up beautifully, was super easy to put together (my mom and I took maybe an hour to put it together), and is very sturdy. It's also a very quiet bike which was another feature that was important to me. The bike has multiple resistance settings which is great for making your workout a bit more difficult, but I do wish that it had a few more stronger settings. 

I use it pretty much everyday for 30 minutes to an hour and it's so enjoyable. I break a sweat, feel like I accomplished something and is just a great addition to my home. 

The bike was $120 when I purchased it, and as I'm typing this, looks like it's out of stock on Amazon but MaxKare is a well known exercise equipment brand so it should be available other places. However, here is a similar one. 

What did you love this month?
xoxo
B
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