After a their last mission turned into chaos, Hidden Government chaser Kam and her friends must hunt and recapture souls. Seventeen, to be precise. But by the time they chase down the a goblin soul, a banshee gets assassinated, leaving their progress at negative one. The connection between the goblin and her banshee? A cosplay club. Because sometimes monsters like to pretend to be humans dressing up as monsters. As the body count rises and the Hidden cosplayers point fingers at each other, it’s up to Kam and her team to stop the insanity. One costumed faction has a secret they’re not sharing—even with each other—and if the bad seed isn’t found soon, the others are likely to be murdered…or worse.

To Seize a Wayward Spirit (Djinn Haven, #2)

First things first is that I didn’t realise this was a second book when I requested it from NetGalley. Yes I know I do this a lot. But luckily, Naquin writes well enough that you get pulled into the story and caught up with the characters pretty fast. The only thing I found it was missing was an explanation of how the magic systems works for Djinns like Kam. We probably got 2 or 3 sentences about it, but I felt like I was missing some facts which were probably explained in the first book. And if it wasn’t explained then it should have been.

I found the rest of the world building to be great. We learnt there’s more than just the human world, you have djinn worlds, demon worlds etc. I’d love for other books in this series to explore away from the human world a bit. We also got to meet multiple types of creatures throughout the investigation. First of all, there’s djinn which I rarely find in books, there’s centaurs, small fey and also human sized elves. We even have leprechauns. So there’s a lot going on and as you can tell, I love a good mix of magical creatures.

The mystery off the book is also really good. I was really intrigued as to who was killing these cosplayers. At one point you think ‘oh yes I know who did it’ but you still don’t quite know who this person is. The biggest problem with this book is that it’s not exactly memorable. I’m writing this review about two weeks after reading, and I had to reread the synopsis to remember what happened in the book. This isn’t great as I’m assuming they’ll be more in the series? Overall, it isn’t a bad book and one of my negatives may just be because I started the second in the series. It’s a highly recommended book for those who enjoy urban fantasy.

Positives

+ World building was good

+ Good mystery

Negatives

– Un-memorable

– Magic system unexplained

I received To Seize a Wayward Spirit* by R.L. Naquin from the publisher via NetGalley. This is an unbiased and honest review.

Follow:

Androma Racella, the Bloody Baroness, is a powerful mercenary whose reign of terror stretches across the Mirabel Galaxy. But when a routine mission goes awry, the Marauder‘s all-girl crew is tested as they find themselves in a treacherous situation and at the mercy of a sadistic bounty hunter from Andi’s past. Meanwhile, a ruthless ruler waits in the shadows, biding her time to exact revenge for the destruction of her people. The pieces of her deadly plan are about to fall into place, unleashing a plot that will tear Mirabel in two. Andi and her crew embark on a journey that could restore order to their ship or start a war that will devour worlds. As the Marauder hurtles toward the unknown, and Mirabel hangs in the balance, the only certainty is that in a galaxy run on lies and illusion, no one can be trusted.

Zenith (The Androma Saga, #1)

It’s been about two weeks since I finished Zenith and I think I’ve finally figured out what bothered me most. I know this book is meant to be a duology and the story is going to continue but I felt like this first book was missing the big action moment. There’s always an epic showdown right before the end of a book. Something the book had been leading up to from the start. But Zenith didn’t have that. There were definitely action moments and there was a constant pacing, but nothing exquisite or exciting enough. It felt extremely anticlimactic when I finished. I understand wanting to write more than one book in a series, but my thinking at this moment in time is that this should not have been a duology.

The characters weren’t great. Adroma is the ‘Bloody Baroness’ but I really don’t think she’s written to be anything close to this nickname. Obviously we’re told that she’s a fluffy little marshmallow on the inside, but even her actions throughout the book don’t lend her to this moniker. One of the crew members literally doesn’t have a backstory because she’s lost her memory. The other two I’m not fully sure on, but I know one is a child and the other is some scaled alien chick. Overall I wasn’t connected to any of the crew or the other POV characters which we barely get to know anyway. This just hampered my reading experience further.e

We do get to see a lot of different planets, although sometimes this is in flashbacks. These are all basically described by looks. Although Androma and crew rarely leave the spaceship long enough to really get to explore these new worlds in a way I would want from a sci-fi book. The aliens also all seem to be humanoid in nature. Lira the resident alien is a human with blue skin and scales. I want proper aliens like what you see in Guardians of the Galaxy and Star Wars.

Overall, I don’t think this book was the greatest, although it did have some good points and it is readable. I think a lot could have been done to make it better especially since they brought out a novella version of it last year and got feedback. This may also have been fixed with a better editor as with two writers you would also get two very different writing styles.

Positives

+ Good pacing

Negatives

– Anticlimactic

– Lack of character depth

 

I received Zenith* by Lindsay Cummings and Sasha Alsberg from the publisher via NetGalley. This is an unbiased and honest review.

Follow:

Clinique’s 3 Step programme has been getting a lot of attention on social media. I’ve seen so many people say how good it was for their skin and that it really works as a good routine. I decided to start out with Cliniques Liquid Facial Soap to test and review. Clinique’s Liquid Facial Soap usually comes in a large bottle with a pump, but this sample is a simple tube so I had to play by ear how much is the appropriate amount to use.

 

Main Ingredients and Their Benefits

Sodium chloride (salt) is stimulating and cleansing and can be used both as an antiseptic and an astringent.

Phenoxyethanol is a glycol serves as an important ingredient of sun blocks and skin creams.

Sucrose (sugar) can go a long way in softening and overall improving your skin condition.

EDTA (Ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid) helps in controlling viscosity and consequently can aid you in the use of skin care products as well as their application.

How to Use

  • Massage onto a make-up free and wet face
  • Rinse thoroughly and pat dry

First Thoughts

The sample I have is not for my skin type, all the products in the Clinique advent calendar were Clinique’s extra mild formulas. So I do worry that this isn’t going to help my oiliness, or it’s going to dry my skin out. I am quite relaxed about irritation though as Clinique’s extra mild range is usually good for sensitive skin. This is also the first step in the 3 Step range and it is advised to be used alongside the toner and moisturiser, which I also got.

During Use

When using this you don’t really feel much. It does foam up a bit but there’s no sensation on your skin that makes it tingle which is most likely because it’s fragrance free. I only used the smallest amount each time of using this and it covered my entire face fairly easily. It’s also easy to rinse off.

After Use

After use my skin definitely felt clean. It also didn’t feel too dry, tight or oily which is always a bonus for me as I have such a poor combination of skin types. I wouldn’t say it worked miracles straight away – I obviously still had the spots and blackheads I was suffering from before. I do think that using this daily with the other two products from Clinique’s 3 step did work really well and cleared my skin up a lot. I’ve now got some lingering red patches from spots, but no raised pimples.

Would I Purchase Again?

Definitely. I think it’s one of the best wash off cleansers I’ve tried. It doesn’t feel too harsh or too weak and actually seems to add something to my skincare routine to help my skin problems. Although it is a lot pricier than my previous cleansers, the full sized bottle does seem quite large for how little you need to use for you face. It seems like a good value product and it’s a good trade off for clear skin.

Follow:

For Olivia Shaw, the danger of her assignments as a deadly Whisper agent is matched only by that of her hidden status: Liv is one of the caricae. When her handler sends her into the Quillian Empire, her mission is complicated when her hostage is revealed to be the infamous Red Wolf, Galen De Corvus, brother of the Quillian Empress. Worse yet, he is an altus, more sensitive than most to the pheromones of caricae. If he realizes what she is, he could expose her secret to either government and doom her to a life as breeding stock. As they work together to protect his royal sister from a violent coup, the passionate bond between them proves to be more than mere biology. And Liv must decide if that bond is worth dropping her guard for both an enemy and an altus.

A Conspiracy of Whispers

I’m pretty sure the only reason I requested this book was because I was half asleep and thought it was Conspiracy of Stars. I think this because I clearly did not read the synopsis as this is a romance and not a sci-fi book. Well actually, it kind of is sci-fi but it’s definitely not good sci-fi. To be honest, it’s not really good romance either. It’s more of a compilation of romance tropes and sci-fi worlds into one book.

I did check Goodreads after I started to read this book because it was immediately not what I expected. But at the time it had 5 stars from 5 people with no actual reviews out – this really should have been my first warning. I wish I had DNF’d at the start and just let the publisher know I didn’t mean to request this book, but I really hate starting books and not finishing them. Also I really wanted to learn more about how humans had evolved into caricae, altus and gentas. Unfortunately, this wasn’t a very science based book and we didn’t get much backstory to the world.

This book is all about Liv, a stereotypical moody rebel love interest for the prince who is great at military combat. They are of course on opposing sides but then join together as one of them realises they’re on the wrong side. Predictably, when you think they’re finally free to be together, something comes up and military boy has to go away, and the girl finds a way to push the boy away. Of course by the end of the book they’re living HEA and have sex. I kid you not, I have read this plot countless times as subplots in other books and never liked it. This predictable subplot did not need to be made into full length book.

Positives

+ Humans evolved in different types of people

Negatives

– Romance

– Predictable

I received A Conspiracy of Whispers* by Ada Harper from the publisher via NetGalley. This is an unbiased and honest review.

Follow:

Learn to manage your workload more efficiently

‘New Year, New Me’ is all well and good when you talk about working harder but sometimes you need to manage your own expectations. Whether you’re working a full time job, part time job or still in school, there’s always a chance of burning out if you don’t work efficiently with the energy you have. Taking time to slow down and plan ahead as well as taking regular breaks is important. Self care will allow you to continue working at your best a lot longer than pushing yourself to fit 15 hours of work into 8.

Stop Multitasking

No matter how good you think you are at multi-tasking, it’s most likely reducing your productivity. Constantly flicking between tasks lowers your focus and attention. You will also feel busier because you’re brain is overworking itself trying to focus. This will then cause you stress and worry at work. The best thing to do is to stick to one task at a time and focus all your brain power into this. This way, your completed tasks will be done faster and to a higher standard of quality too!

Slow it Down

When you’ve got a million things to do, I know my first thought is to rush to do them ASAP. But sometimes this can mean you’re doing unnecessary work or you could be make accidental mistakes. Making time to prioritise what really needs to be done right away can be an important step to your day. Nothing is worse than spending half a day on a presentation, and then two weeks later when it’s due you have to change every slide.

It’s also okay to leave some tasks in an in progress state. If you can’t complete a task because you need X, Y or Z from other team members then leave it and start the next task. Go back to the task after you’ve got everything you need so you can completely it thoroughly.

Remember: Everything Takes Longer Than Expected

When you’re planning your day, don’t meticulously plan every second. This is just going to stress you out because everything takes longer than expected. You’ll start trying to rush tasks to get them done to your set deadline, and like I said in the previous point, this will negatively impact your standard of work. When you’re planning your day, always leave a buffer somewhere so you have that extra time you need.

Learn to Say No

As a self-confessed yes man, I struggle with this one the most. It’s not always possible to take on every task in a day. And if you continue to say yes to every task you’ll start to burnout as you run out of time in the day. Learning to say no, or to prioritise tasks which can be done today, and which tasks can be done in the next few days is important. Saying no won’t make you look like you’re slacking either, as most colleagues will understand you’re working on many different things.

Take a Break

Sometimes you need to rest or your productivity is going to suffer. Make sure you take 5 minutes to grab a coffee, take that lunch break and turn off from work when you go home! Of course, sometimes you need to work late, but ensure you’re getting time off. Watch a film, read a book, just do something that isn’t solely focused on work at least once a day.

Follow: