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2016-09-04 11:00 am
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Library books returned and read

Welcome to Shadowhunter Academy:…
Welcome to Shadowhunter Academy: Shadowhunter Academy, Book 1
by Cassandra Clare, Devon Bostick (Narrator), Simon & Schuster Audio (Publisher)


This one was a cute short about Simon trying to live up to his own legacy (see previous many books) by going to Shadowhunter Academy. It's mostly funny almost a mockery of an anime high school heroes drama, but clearly setting up for a more serious tale about what it means to be a hero. Pointless to read without having read the other series, I expect, but an enjoyable lighter follow-up if you have.


Burned (An Alex Verus Novel) by Benedict…
Burned (An Alex Verus Novel)
by Benedict Jacka

Still enjoying this series, surprisingly, because this is around the point where the political drama and awful things happening to characters I love starts to wear on me. Still enough light in the dark, and it was nice to see some of the characters come to terms with each other.

Prez Vol. 1: Corndog in Chief by Mark…
Prez Vol. 1: Corndog in Chief
by Mark Russell, Sean Parsons (Illustrator), Ben Caldwell (Illustrator), Mark Morales (Illustrator), Dominike"domo"stanton (Illustrator)

In a not-so-distant future, corporate personhood and attention economy has led us to the point where a teenaged girl gets elected as president of the united states after she starred in a crappy video and a hacker group decided to push her as a viable 3rd candidate. This book chronicles her rise and her attempts to make something out of her figurehead presidency after all. This one jumps around a lot (likely an intentional choice) but is an interesting story at its core.


Delilah Dirk and the King's Shilling by…
Delilah Dirk and the King's Shilling
by Tony Cliff

Book 2 in this series is a bit less swashbuckling with a touch of Jane Austen, but still fun. Love the denouement with her relatives.


The Spirit Ring by Lois McMaster Bujold
The Spirit Ring
by Lois McMaster Bujold

Apparently I'd never read this Lois Mcmaster Bujold? This tale could be cast in the mold of "plucky girl hero saves the world" but with our young heroine's rage and willingness to bend the rules to get what she needs, it's a strangely strong story that quietly breaks many of the rules we quietly have about stories told about young heroes and women. Here is a heroine who doesn't feel guilt or uncertainty about her power and intelligence and rages against having to hide it, who gets angry, who doesn't follow the rules and this doesn't lead to downfall and repentance but rather to success. This is a quietly subversive story wrapped in a traditional fantasy mold. Sure, it's maybe not the epics and maybe isn't as full-package clever as her later works, but it's a surprising gem for its genre.
terriko: (Default)
2016-08-19 10:41 pm
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Brief book reviews: poodle mysteries and sexy aliens

Been a while since I did book reviews, eh? Not going to bother to catch up, but here are the books going back to the library this weekend:

Alien Proliferation (Alien Novels) by Gini…
Alien Proliferation (Alien Novels)
by Gini Koch

Amusingly, this is from the same series of the last book reviews I did, back in March! That was book 1, I'm now on book 4.

Series is still full of sexy aliens and crazy terrorist plots. Loving the characters and the way the author doesn't feel a need to pry apart established relationships in order to feed the drama. That actually matters quite a bit to me -- I get tired of longer series when they keep doing that, and here instead our main characters are growing into their relationships while chaos swirls around them. Less loving how brutal the bad guys were in this one. Still love the characters, but I might have to move this series from my personal "fun romp that will cheer me up" pile to a "read when you're ready" one.

Hair of the Dog (A Melanie Travis Mystery)…
Hair of the Dog (A Melanie Travis Mystery)
by Laurien Berenson

Also a book 4! This is a poodle mystery series my mom recommended to me after she saw how often I post pictures of dog shows (one of my coworkers breeds champion wolfhounds and I try to go out to some of his local shows when I can). It's a cozy mystery series set against a backdrop of dog shows, and it's everything I wanted in such a series. Sure, by book 4 it's getting a bit ridiculous that this amateur keeps getting surrounded by murders... but on the other hand, I can sort of see how police wouldn't get all the nuance of dog-show-based motives so at least our amateur sleuth has a clear role. It's been a while since I read the previous book, but book 4 had me right back into the swing of things in no time. Very fun!
terriko: (Default)
2016-03-22 11:39 pm
Entry tags:

It's been a while, how about some book reviews?

GSoC is, as usual, eating my life, but it's not so bad. If you're reading this and want to help mentor for Python, drop me a line, I have a project that needs help and is willing to train new folk.

But let's talk books in brief, since I've read a couple I enjoyed:



Touched by an Alien by Gini Koch



This title sounds like smut, and there's definitely some steamy scenes (The aliens look like supernaturally hot humans, because of course they do), but it's also a hilarious campy mashup of Men In Black combined with a romance novel, and it's *fun*. This one starts when protagonist Kitty walks out of a boring day of jury duty and sees a case of road rage turn into a savage and not-entirely-human attack. Thinking quickly, she jumps in to help... and in the aftermath, finds herself carted off to New Mexico by mysterious and hot government agents as a new recruit.

The weird combo of space-Judaism, code breaking, aliens and terrorists... well, you've got to read it to believe it. I'm particularly a fan of Kitty's mom, but I can't tell you why without spoilers. I've already got the next book from the library.



The Imager Portfolio (Series) by L.E. Modesitt, Jr.



The author's Recluce series marked the point at which I stopped asking questions about a friend's book recommendations and just started reading whatever he suggested. I haven't read all his other series, though, so I picked this up from the library because it was one where they had the first book. As I've come to expect, this one has fantastic world-building, politics and societal questions, characters I come to care about, and action to keep everything from getting too dense. I just finished the second book today.

This particular book is about a young man who starts his career at as a portrait painter, but as one might expect from the title, he eventually figures out that he has "imager" powers -- that's basically this world's version of a mage. Soon enough, he finds himself making powerful allies... and enemies. It's a serious study of power in the political/social arena, and while I do think it skirts the edge of being preachy at times, it's good enough that I don't mind, and I even found myself pausing to think about what the characters were saying more than once, and not just because I was knitting and needed to re-read passages if my mind wandered too much.
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2016-02-08 09:57 pm
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Birchbox January 2016

Unsurprisingly, the Birchbox for January is new year's resolution themed. Here's the eye-searing outside:
Birchbox January 2016

And the contents:

Birchbox January 2016

So let's talk about 'em!

Birchbox January 2016

Key West Aloe Gentle Aloe Facial Cleanser

I know, I know, more lather doesn't equal more clean, but I love how this lathers up and it's so easy to see to rinse clean even if I'm exhausted when I head to bed. I normally don't think much about my cleanser, but this one feels like a treat. The person who described it as smelling like pina colada mix isn't wrong, but I like it.

I've tried a billion cleansers thanks to birchbox and most of them make very little impression on me. Since it's sometimes a struggle for me to remember to wash my face as much as I should, I figure anything that makes me actually happy about doing it is a good thing. I'm putting the full-sized version in my next birchbox order!


Birchbox January 2016
Birchbox January 2016
0.2 Meet Your Destiny® 0.2 Eau de Parfum - 50 ml

It's a perfume. While I don't immediately hate it, I also don't love it or even care about it. It's a grand meh on the perfume scale. The nicest thing I can say about it is that the incredibly meh "0.2" name goes well with the meh scent and the meh packaging.

update: okay, after putting it on my wrist and leaving it there while I wrote the rest of these reviews, I care about it enough to wash it off. bleh.

Birchbox January 2016
Ciaté® Nail Polish

I love getting nail polish samples and I'd never tried out Ciaté so I was pretty excited. It looks pretty neat on my nails, fairly different from the way it looks in the bottle. But unfortunately, that's where the fun ends for me: it's a fairly thick, textured polish (not a personal favourite) and it chips pretty easily so my mani only lasted two days. Maybe fun for a special event, but certainly not a daily wear for me. Alas!

It did look pretty for a day, though:
Birchbox January 2016

Birchbox January 2016
TONYMOLY Delight Tony Tint

Using this feels like I'm staining my lips with strawberries -- it's got that berry scent and a light liquid formula. I kind of love it! It's quickly become a favourite of mine because of the easy-to-pocket small curvy sample container. Do be careful on chapped lips: it can stain dry edges a bit more than other places and leave you uneven, but I've used this as motivation to remember to put on lip balm overnight so that I can use this in the morning.

Definitely nicer and easier to use than the benefit stain, maybe a bit less easy to use than the stainiac one, similar to the one I have from Sephora but the scent is more fun.

Birchbox January 2016

Birchbox January 2016
Eyeko Fat Liquid Eyeliner

This seems like a perfectly nice liquid liner, but I just can't seem to get the hang of using it even in a nice big easy-to-hold pen. I did manage to get some thinner lines without much difficulty, but I still end up with mis-matched eyes half the time I try. I guess at least there's lots of sample for me to practice with?


Birchbox January 2016

In conclusion...



I guess if I had to pick one of those stickers, I'd go with creativity, since when I thought about resolutions, I realized most of what I had were craft/maker goals. I think honestly, though, that it's less about creativity and more about refinement. My goals are mostly based on learning new techniques that complement what I know and using the skills I have more effectively, and about tackling bigger projects. That's honestly true across non-maker goals too.

I think this carries over to makeup: I'm feeling less like it's a fully creative endeavour and more like I'm in a slow skill-building phase. And this is good, because tuning the looks I can use at work is super useful, and also means I have a sense of subtle tweaks that make a difference in my continuing use of makeup as a social engineering tool. (everyone uses makeup that way, I'm just more intentional about it than some, I guess.)

Anyhow, overall, this was a good box for me: I loved the cleaner and the lip tint. While I didn't love the nail polish or eye liner, they were both products I'd considered paying for and I'm glad to know not to spend money on them. A few dollars of sample continues to be a much better investment for me than most full-sized products, even if I wind up with perfume samples every other box.

I've been wondering if I should give up my birchbox subscription when it comes up for renewal this summer since I've gotten myself into another yarn subscription and honestly, how many boxes does one gal need? But given the way I use makeup, it's still looking like a reasonable investment especially because it encourages me to keep my makeup fresh and toss old samples so I don't have bacteria-filled tubes of mascara around. Plus, I like the points system. I'll make a decision when the subscription comes due, though.
terriko: (Default)
2016-01-10 12:31 pm
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Birchbox December 2015

Birchbox December 2015

I love the knitted fair-isle look of the December birchbox. So pretty! And in a rare circumstance, I was actually able to use the $10 coupon they provided (it looks like it'll be a gift cert, but it's actually just $10 off $35 worth of stuff in their shop. I had a couple of cutesy k-beauty things I wanted and I wanted to replace a lip balm that's gone AWOL in december, and with the coupon and my birchbox points, I got $40 worth of stuff for $0. The points system remains a serious benefit of the birchbox subscription!


Birchbox December 2015

jane iredale Just Kissed Lip and Cheek Stain

I would buy another of these in a heartbeat if I could get it in this sample size -- so classy looking and easy to slip into even the tiniest dress pant pocket! And it's a metal tube, which just make it feel way more posh than my usual plastic ones. I thought the orange colour would be over the top when I opened it up, but it turned a beautiful peachy tone when combined with my skin. Subtle and buildable on my cheeks especially.

Birchbox December 2015

My only complaint is that I've already crushed the top into the top of the tube twice. Apparently I don't know how to lipstick?

Birchbox December 2015

Silhouette by Christian Siriano Eau de Parfum 50ml

Meh, it's a perfume. This one was a bit more interesting than most because of the weird stopper-bottle sample container, but frankly it's a bit too much of a grey-haired classic scent to appeal to me, if I even wore scent. On the bright side, maybe it'll appeal to J's mom?

Birchbox December 2015

gorge* I’ll Make You Look Amazing Daily Spray

I've been using the Beauty Protector Protect & Detangle spray since I tried it in my Birchbox many moons ago. This sadly doesn't seem to detangle as much (it doesn't claim to, but I really like that about BP) but it's a pleasant enough alternative scent that I'm happy to have it to try! Alas, it looks to be about twice as expensive since the bottle is half the size, so I don't think it'll make it into regular rotation for me.


Birchbox December 2015

Coastal Scents® styleEYES Palette

The gold is lovely with the perfect amount of shimmer on my lids. I wish the green had the same pay-off! It's a little more washed out and not as shimmery. Neither had a lot of staying power without a primer, but eyeshadows rarely do for me so I'm not sure if that's a function of my eyes or my unwillingness to spend $$$$ on eyeshadow when I rarely wear it.

Nice sample, though, with a little magnetic lid.

Birchbox December 2015

(MALIN+GOETZ) clarifying clay mask

This is a pleasant clay face mask: cools the face a little while drying due to evaporation, gritty texture encourages thorough face washing after. I found it a bit more annoying to remove than most, but the careful face wash is probably part of why my skin feels nice afterwards, so I guess it's just part of the experience!
terriko: (Default)
2015-11-09 02:04 pm

Birchbox October 2015

October's Birchbox was pink in recognition of breast cancer.

Birchbox October 2015

I've become suspicious of pink things in recognition of breast cancer, since it's come out that often very little or no money goes to cancer research. Thankfully, this "awareness" does indeed come with a more tangible donation: $104k to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation (BCRF) which will apparently fund a year's work in a lab. I presume that's for a single person and materials, not the whole lab, given what I know of the costs of breast cancer research from a friend who used to work in the field.

So maybe not earth-shattering, but at least it's tangible!

Birchbox October 2015

Let's talk about what's inside:

Birchbox October 2015

CLEAN White Woods



This perfume didn't trigger a migraine and smells vaguely like babies and not at all like woods. I actually like it despite myself, although it's not something I plan to buy as I cannot wear perfume at work or in much of my private life.

It still irks me that even when I tell birchbox I don't do perfume, the option is "no more than 6 times a year" which means half of my boxes contain perfume. But at least I can pass it on to someone who might like it.

Birchbox October 2015

Lollia by Margot Elena Shea Butter Handcreme



I love shea butter, and this is no exception -- it leaves my hands feeling super soft for ages. The name is "sugarared pastille" (a candy or throat lozenge) but I think it smells more like generic hand lotion to me. The scent isn't too heavy or noticeable, anyhow.

Birchbox October 2015

I do particularly like the retro packaging and little metal tube with the bees in the design. It's a little thing, but in the sea of hand cremes I've tried since I started birchbox, it's hard to stand out, and I think this one will just because it's got this classic pretty vibe going.

Of course, it also stands out in that it's got macadamia nut in it, which means it's an allergen for my boyfriend. It won't kill him if I use it, but he definitely shouldn't use it himself, and I can't really buy more once this sample runs out. Good thing Birchbox has basically removed any need for me to buy hand creme again anyhow. ;)

Birchbox October 2015

Acure Organics Cell Stimulating Facial Mask



Directions: Apply evenly over the face until you look like a green sea-monster.


Now these are the kind of directions I want to see on products I sample! ;) This comes out dark green, and you smell like a sea monster (with a hint of mint) as you put it on. I know you all want to know exactly what it looks like, so here's what I look like with half a tube of the sample on my face:

Birchbox October 2015

Sea monster indeed! Might also double for zombie makeup. Made me want to put on an episode of Arrow while I matched the green theme of the superhero.

It doesn't harden too much as it dries so I wasn't itching (literally or figuratively) to get it off. I was surprised to discover that when you attack it with a warm wet washcloth, it actually foams up. It doesn't *look* like it has permanently stained my washcloth either, although I suspect I should dump it in with tonight's laundry to be sure.

It left my face feeling clean and soft but perhaps a bit dry, so I followed up with a bit of moisturizer. I found it amusing and pleasant even with the seaweed-mint smell.

Incidentally, I think the whole stem cell and growth factor stuff is probably crap pseudoscience, because most things about makeup seem to be, but I haven't bothered to look up the details yet. If anyone knows, comments welcomed!

Birchbox October 2015

Number 4™ Texture Styling Crème



Why does this have a bunny on it? Is it cruelty-free, or specifically tested on bunnies? Do bunnies have styling cream secrets I need to know about? I do wish they'd said something about it on the sample.

I'm not a big user of styling creme on account of my default hair style being basically "long flowing hippie folk singer-songwriter" but I *had* wanted to try a waterfall braid and failed because after messing up a few times my hair had become so static-y that I couldn't get it to stay sectioned. So this arrived at the right time! I don't love the smell and it basically makes my hair feel a teensy bit slimy, but it *does* make styling easier, and I finally managed the motions to make the waterfall braid work.

I wish this product came in an unscented version, but it does do what it purports to do, and I'll probably make use of it again as I learn to perfect the waterfall braid!

Birchbox October 2015

Eyeko Black Magic Mascara



I was kind of disappointed to receive this, because it wasn't the sample that I'd chosen for this month's box! Thankfully, Birchbox customer support was apologetic and supposedly the correct sample is in the mail (I'll probably review it with some future box).

That said, this is a very nice mascara. Significant length, not too clumpy or thickening. It makes my eyelashes absurdly long without making them thicker or particularly heavier. Here's a photo (sorry about the weird angle, but it was the best way to show the lashes):

Birchbox October 2015

You can compare with the sea monster pic above if you're not sure what my lashes look like normally. But yeah, it works nicely, and I'm not sad to have gotten it after all!

Birchbox October 2015

Summary



This was one of the most consistently good boxes I've had in a while! I liked all the products. (Shockingly, even the perfume) My birchbox subscription keeps me stocked in all these product categories so I don't think I'll buy more when these samples run out, but I'll use all of these myself except for the perfume, and at least I know someone who will likely enjoy the perfume sample!
terriko: (Default)
2015-10-10 04:38 pm

Birchbox August 15

The Birchbox for August started with disappointment:

Birchbox August 2015

One of the samples, the Laqa lip pencil, had come uncapped and gotten all over the box. Yuck. Apparently I was so underwhelmed with this that I didn't take pictures of the outside of the box after it arrived, which is a shame 'cause it's actually one of the nicer ones, so I took a couple today:
Birchbox August 2015

I like the "dive in!" detail on the side:
Birchbox August 2015

Anyhow, on to the products. My apologies for the sort of mediocre photo quality; these were taken shortly after the move and the experiment I tried with the light and sparkly backdrop since I didn't have my usual setups available really didn't work out.

Air Repair Complexion Boosting Moisturizer


Birchbox August 2015

This is a nice moisturizer that smells kind of fresh and herbal. I don't think it does anything for my complexion that isn't done by other moisturizers, but it's pleasant. I've stuck it into my travel kit to be used on the road.

Balance Me Congested Skin Serum


Birchbox August 2015

Another plant-y moisturizer thing. Maybe the theme for August was recovering from too much sun? This one's stronger scented, I think the eucalyptus dominates but there's a lot of scents in there. I enjoy using it because it's kind of soothing so it's still out on my counter, but it didn't seem to actually help with the bit of acne I had on my chin.

R+Co DEATH VALLEY Dry Shampoo


Birchbox August 2015

Like most dry shampoos, I found this one didn't do enough to make my hair feel clean, so instead I felt like I had 80's hair, a bit too covered in product for my tastes. It does change the texture of the hair, so I can see how it would be used in styling. Overall, it's pretty nice for a dry shampoo, with a decent scent and nicer packaging, and I'm glad to have tried it, but I probably won't buy more.

Supergoop!® Forever Young Hand Cream with Broad Spectrum Sunscreen SPF 40


Birchbox August 2015

Three moisturizer-things in a single box, Birchbox? You should be ashamed. This one smells the prettiest, sort of like berries, and it's probably the most useful with the SPF taken into account. Pity the sample is so tiny that you can barely use it for anything.

LAQA & Co. Charm School Kit


Birchbox August 2015

This was just fail: it gooped all over my box, the colour looks atrocious on me, and the formula somehow highlights every line on my lips to give kind of a horrible dehydrated zombie effect. I can't see using this except for a zombie costume on my lips. It might get some use as a cheek colour, but I certainly won't be buying more of this.


In summary...


Birchbox August 2015

This was a pleasant but uninteresting box other than the lip colour disaster. I did enjoy all the moisturizer-y things, but I would have liked a box with some more variety!
terriko: (Default)
2015-10-10 03:35 pm

Birchbox September 2015

I somehow missed reviewing August's box; I blame moving. But September's reviews are due today, so I tried out the last couple of samples!

Birchbox September 2015

The box was designed based on reader suggestions, and the result reminds me sort of an 80's sophisticate look.

Of course, what's more important is what's inside:
Birchbox September 2015

They accidentally included two 20% off coupons. I can't imagine I'll use both, so first person to ask here gets my spare one!

And now, into the products:

Rene Furterer ABSOLUE KÉRATINE Sublime Renewal Leave-in Cream


Birchbox September 2015

Love the packaging (the photo doesn't look as luxe as it does in person), and the stuff does seem to be pretty effective on the dry ends of my long hair. Unfortunately, the scent is (a) strong and (b) not for me. It smells old to me, like something that belongs on someone my grandmother's age, or like old cosmetics? And unfortunately, the smell really lingers in my hair, enough that I think I might have to wash it out if I'm going to a board game night tonight.


L'Artisan Mûre et Musc Eau de Toilette


Birchbox September 2015

I'm super excited to tell you that this didn't cause me to sneeze or make my eyes water! That's so rare in a perfume that it's worth celebrating. Now if only I was as excited about the actual scent. It smells like a more mature scent than many of the samples I get, in a good way, but it still doesn't suit me, and it's not like I wear perfume anyhow out of consideration for other people's reactions.

The one good thing is that I found out that J's mom is interested in having some scent samples for when she's visiting so she doesn't have to bring stuff on the plane, so I'll be able to pass this on to her and maybe it'll be something she enjoys, or at least enjoys trying once?

TOCCA Esfoliante da Corpo - Nourishing Body Scrub


Birchbox September 2015

This is a big thick sugar scrub. It works, smells nice, and dissolves into nothingness when you wet your face to rinse it off, so no remaining grit (which is kind of the appeal of sugar scrubs, I presume). I like it!

Birchbox September 2015: Tocca Sugar Scrub

Also, I'm amused that sugar chunks look so huge on my face after having tried all those micro-scrub things. Still works ok, just not as smooth as the finer grit. Just like sandpaper in that way.

trèStiQue Correct & Cover Concealer Crayon


Birchbox September 2015

This goes on super smooth and seems easy to blend in to your skin... but it also doesn't seem think enough to conceal much. I took some pictures but I can barely tell if it's even on:

Birchbox September 2015

Anastasia Beverly Hills Perfect Brow Pencil


Birchbox September 2015

I know generally speaking that you want a brow pencil to be subtle and not noticeable, but I'm not sure if I can even tell that I tried to use it:

Birchbox September 2015

Maybe I'm doing it wrong or the colour just isn't dark enough for my brows, but I can't say I'm excited about this product. Oh well, at least the packaging was pretty?

In summary...


Birchbox September 2015

A nice sugar scrub, but the rest of this just wasn't for me. Oh well! At least I have someone I can offer my perfume samples to now!
terriko: (Default)
2015-08-16 11:40 pm

Birchbox July 2015

July's birchbox is an eye searing art deco piece:

Birchbox July 2015

I actually love the idea, but I think they could have used better colours. (It actually looks better in the edited photo than it does in real life)

Birchbox July 2015

But enough about the box, let's talk about what's inside...

Birchbox July 2015

amika Un.Done Texture Spray

I didn't love the smell of the last amika product I got, so I wasn't too excited to receive this one. Even more so when I found out it was a "texture spray" which is completely not a thing I use or even want, since I associate "texture" with the way my hair felt when I used to wash it in hard water. Thicker and heavier are not things I want with hair whose predominant styling influence is gravity.

So perhaps I didn't give this product much of a chance. I used it lightly because it stinks and I don't love this type of product, and perhaps as a result not only does it smell but it also didn't seem to have any effect at all. (But again, the pull of gravity on my hair is rather hard to resist.)

Regardless, not a product I'm going to ever use again. I'm never sure what to do with these, so it'll likely languish in my guest bathroom. Maybe I'll get a nice bin with a note saying "free" on it to put in the bathroom and hope that visitors will take it off my hands?

Birchbox July 2015


COOLA® Classic SPF 30 Cucumber Moisturizer for Face

I do think it's a bit crappy of Birchbox to put this sample in after we just had a coola moisturizer last month, but I suppose summer is only so long. It's a product I liked enough that I wasn't too sad, anyhow. Just like last month's mango-scented offering, this manages to be light enough on the scent that it's a nice alternative to generic sunscreen. This scent is probably even easier on the nose than the mango, which I guess might make sense as it's a facial moisturizer. Given the choice, I'd probably go with the mango one, but I really like mango.

Birchbox July 2015

dr. brandt® microdermabrasion skin exfoliant

This is a fine-grained skin exfoliant that seems to work really well on my skin. I've now had a few chemical exfoliants that felt more like snake oil than effective products, but this one left my face very much scrubbed clean. It's of the variety that feels like super fine sand in moisturizer, which I guess seem to be the physical ones that work best on me. It has a very light fresh scent, maybe a little citrus-y or mint-y?

I even tried it on my lips, which were pretty chapped from being in Las Vegas (neither deserts nor air conditioning are easy on skin) and it seemed to help without actually pulling chunks of skin off. (I imagine lip balms are a better solution, but it's been days since we left and I'm tired of them being chapped so I thought I'd try a quicker method.)

I like this enough that I'd probably consider buying some when my supplies run out, but I use so little exfoliant per use, and exfoliate so irregularly now that I don't live in the desert that I anticipate that all my exfoliant needs will likely be met by birchbox samples. Probably just as well, since at nearly $80/2oz, this is a pricey one.

Birchbox July 2015

Juice Beauty® STEM CELLULAR™ CC Cream

As far as cc creams go, this is a reasonably nice once, and I am pleased that "desert glow" the colour I recieved, seems to match up well enough with my skin tone. It uses zinc oxide, so it's more of a physical sunscreen, and it leaves a little bit of a sparkle.

Unfortunately, the big down side is that I don't love the smell, which smells like like old sunscreen mixed with maybe a hint of spilled juice. Disappointing given the company name.

Happy to use it and it seems like an effective product, but the smell is off-putting enough that I'll stick to other products in the class of cc/bb/moisturizer/sunscreen.

Birchbox July 2015

stila look at me liquid lipstick trio

I chose the colour "Venezia" which is a coral colour, because I already owned "Beso" (the red) and have a decent number of lip sticks in pink.

Unfortunately, I think I chose poorly. I like my red version of this product, but the coral colour doesn't suit me, and with it being such a bold product, it's kind of awful. I have pictures somewhere, but again, I don't know where my little camera is at the moment. They're awful, anyhow.

As far as the formula goes... "stay all day" is definitely an exaggeration, since it doens't make it through a meal with me, but very few lipsticks do so I don't think it's fair to expect that of it. I'm starting to suspect that there's some art to eating in some ladylike manner that I've never learned, since only lip stains tend to make it through a meal with me. It doesn't tend to smudge on my face, though, so it stays at least in one very important respect.

It is completely unforgiving on chapped lips, highlighting any line of dry skin. They recommend you plump up with a lip balm first, which does help some, but still not a great option if you're in need of some lip repair. There's a reason I keep sticky lip balms around: they're forgiving.

I'm very sad I didn't choose the pink, as I love the little tube and get a kick out of the opaque effect, but I'm probably going to have to do some experimentation to modify this colour if I'm going to wear it. Thankfully I don't mind experimenting with lip products so this could be fun, or perhaps I'll give up and offer it up to someone with a different complexion. Or maybe I'll use it as a cheek tint?


Summary



Nothing too stand-out in this box. Liked the exfoliant and the sunscreen, turned off by the scent of the cc creme and the hair texturizer (although the latter was probably doomed to fail), and totally got the wrong colour of lipstick. Alas!
terriko: (Default)
2015-08-16 09:57 pm

Birchbox June 2015

Summer being what it is, only more so because of the move, I haven't really kept up on reviewing stuff here, so my apologies that there's going to be a bit of a review dump this evening as I see what photos I took and what hasn't gone up yet.

So, June's birchbox had a few possible options, and I got the "say yes" version:

Birchbox June 2015

I admit to disappointment with the box part of things: "say yes" is not a motto that I appreciate in the context of the overwhelming number of things I'm asked to volunteer for. Don't even get me start on the feminist critiques of this push to have women say yes to more things. Frankly, it's gotten to be one of those vapid pieces of advice that I could do without. I thought both other boxes were better, since they were on more of an adventure theme.

Crankiness about the box it came in aside, though, I was pretty pleased with the samples.

Birchbox June 2015

COOLA® SPF 50 Sport - Mango

When I heard about this product, I thought "like the world needed more obnoxious scented products you're supposed to slather on." Do you know how much sunscreen you're supposed to wear for maximal effectiveness? Adding scent to that is a landmine.

But this product won me over. The scent is light, on par intensity-wise with the usual smells that exude from my sunscreen, but way more pleasant because it's reminiscent of a delicious fruity drink rather than something I associate with sweat in my eyes and sunstroke. But beyond that, it's just a really nice sunscreen. Not too greasy, seems to work. I'd still prefer unscented when possible, but this is a nice way to change things up and make sunscreen feel like a treat rather than a chore. That actually might be enough reason to add some to my collection of go-to products.

Birchbox June 2015

Temple Spa Good Hair Day Shampoo and Temple Spa In Good Condition Conditioner

The shampoo of this set is so-so for me: it's too gentle for my hair (as in, it leaves it more oily than I prefer), and there's something about the scent that I didn't fall in love with. They claim it smells like ylang ylang, eucalyptus and patchouli. I think maybe it's the patchouli that isn't for me, but I don't know ylang ylang that well.

The conditioner, on the other hand, I absolutely love. It's much more effective for my hair than its counterpart, and the smell of peppermint, rosemary, orange and lavender smells refreshing and awesome to me.

I'm not much for buying higher end shampoos since it gets pricey with my long hair and frankly, easier to get supermarket brands like Herbal Essences or Garnier generally do me fine in both the smell and effectiveness categories.

But a bottle of conditioner lasts me a *long* time and this smell is enough of a treat that I might consider picking some up. Of course, that would mean I'd have to actually use up the many products I found languishing in corners during the move...

Birchbox June 2015

L. Erickson Narrow Grab and Go Pony

I had a good laugh when I read the accompanying card that said this would be a "bold pop of colour" -- that hair tie is pretty much exactly the colour of my hair. I guess maybe some of the colour options had more, uh, colour.

Generally speaking, I don't see the point of overpriced hair ties. I lose a lot of them, and paying more than a few cents each would just make me more sad about losing them. That said, this is a really nice hair tie. The bead doesn't catch on things, it's wide enough to wear around my wrist comfortably, and the texturing seems to help it stay in my hair without being so tight that I sigh with relief when the thing is taken out. This became my go-to hair tie as our weather turned hot, although I'm not sure where it's gotten since the move and I am, of course, actually sad about that.

Is it wrong that I kind of want more of them? They're more than a buck each even in the larger pack, but I still might spend some birchbox points on them anyhow.

Birchbox June 2015

Skyn Iceland Hydro Cool Firming Eye Gels

Somewhere I have pictures of myself wearing these, but I'm not sure where my other camera has gotten to right now so you'll have to do without. They look silly as these things generally do, but they're very nice and cool and relaxing. One set is not enough for me to decide if they're actually effective, but they were pleasant and I enjoyed using them!

Birchbox June 2015

Marcelle Mini Waterproof Eyeliner

Again, I may have pictures of me wearing this, but they must be on the other camera. Sorry!

This is my first real foray into wearing coloured eyeliner and I'm sold on the concept. As someone with fairly deepset eyes (the Japanese heritage helped with those), I find that getting eyeshadow to stay put is a pain and no one can see it at all when my eyes are open. I have some nice primer so I can play with looks when I've got time (which, honestly, is usually Saturday morning before I go to the library or Sunday before I go to the farmer's market. I live a glamorous life, let me tell you), but it's not a thing I wear daily because it's very low reward for high investment.

This blue eyeliner is rather the opposite: a few strokes of this creamy pencil along my lash line and I've got brilliant colour that people can actually see even when my eyes are open. It's fun, easy, and creates a look I was happy to wear at DEFCON or even in my office, where most technical women are pretty light on the makeup and it's only the marketing and manager types who wear much. (Dress like the career you want, and all, but I tell people makeup is part of my social engineering skills and I love hilarious face colours more than I love conformity anyhow.)

The colours are great, the effect striking but not off-putting, and my only complaint is that under some circumstances, the formula doesn't entirely stay put, so I do have to be careful about checking my eyes for little blue smears. I want to buy the little set from Marcelle that birchbox has available, and since they've got a nice offer with the Marcelle eye-makeup remover in August's box I may just go for it. But I do feel like maybe I should try offerings from other companies with different formulae too.

Conclusions



I guess you can't judge a box by its cover: despite my distaste for the packaging, this box had a lot of really great samples in it. I loved the eyeliner, the sunscreen, the hair tie and the conditioner enough to consider buying more, thoroughly enjoyed the eye mask even though I probably won't get any more of them, and only the shampoo really wasn't a product for me. Pretty good!
terriko: (Default)
2015-06-20 01:25 pm
Entry tags:

Book review: It's Raining Men (or maybe just succubi)

It's Raining Men: Slacker Demons Book…
It's Raining Men: Slacker Demons Book One
by Jennifer Stevenson

Chloe's been dumped by yet another loser so she turns to sympathetic bartender Archie, who suddenly claims that it's the fault of terrible sex demons (including himself) and she's been selected to receive a rain of good men as part of victim's compensation. Wacky hijinks ensue.

The demon-lover trope of paranormal romance is usually a big yawn for me because they usually pair it with a "he wants to be better for her" style plotline that takes itself entirely too seriously, but this book is silly and flippant enough about it to be fun. I don't know that I'll bother with any more of the series, but this was a fun summer read on its own.

I received this one free from Librarything in exchange for fair review.
terriko: (Default)
2015-06-20 12:18 pm

Book Review: Knit Wear Love

Knit Wear Love: Foolproof Instructions for…
Knit Wear Love: Foolproof Instructions for Knitting Your Best-Fitting…
by Amy Herzog

I really loved the idea of Amy Herzog's Knit to Flatter book, which is about finding and adjusting patterns to suit you. It's a great book (from what I can tell without actually following any of the patterns since I just had it from the library for 3 weeks), but I found that the patterns didn't inspire me, so it hasn't gone on the list of things I want for my personal knitting reference library.

Knit Wear Love has solved this problem for me: rather than focusing on body type, the designs are more heavily focused on aesthetic: classic, sporty, bohemian, etc. She's got some really cute details, and it's showcased by lovely photography. Plus, of course, huge numbers of charts, advice about fit, etc. It's pretty much everything I wanted in a sweater book. I borrowed a copy from the library to check it out, but this one is going on my personal library wishlist for when I'm interested in tackling a sweater for myself.
terriko: (Default)
2015-06-20 11:54 am
Entry tags:

Book review: Powers vol 1 and 2

A few books going back to the library today:

Powers: The Definitive Hardcover Collection,…
Powers: The Definitive Hardcover Collection, Vol. 1
by Brian Michael Bendis, Michael Avon Oeming (Illustrator)

This graphic novel is an exploration of what it would be like to be a cop in a world with superhero celebrities. It's decent, and I know lots of folk who like the grittier, broken superhero genre who would enjoy this. I felt like there were some really great world and character ideas set up and it was worth reading for that, but I also felt like the pacing and the genre didn't quite do it for me. I'm happy to recommend it to people who like the genre, though.

Also, I want to note that I don't really recommend the "definitive hardcover collection" for light reading. It's a huge coffee table book, lovely but hard to read in bed.

Powers: The Definitive Hardcover Collection,…
Powers: The Definitive Hardcover Collection, Vol. 2
by Brian Michael Bendis, Michael Avon Oeming (Illustrator)


I liked the first volume enough to pick up the 2nd book, but I found the pacing even more off in that one, to the point where I was tempted to just flip through pages until it got to the point. Too much media retrospective, not enough story. I feel a bit bad complaining about this because I think the media treatment of superheroes is part of the point, and the puff piece media clips feel like they've been dropped from an alternate reality in a good way. But the problem is that I dislike reading/hearing these things normally because I don't care about the celebs in real life, and thus it didn't help me care about fictional celebrities any more than I do about the real ones. I guess they are a clever device but ultimately not one that worked for me. Your mileage may vary. Still quite the story, but a bit hard to get through at times.
terriko: (Default)
2015-06-14 07:06 pm
Entry tags:

Book reviews: Two books I'm not sure how to write about

I haven't really been on top of book reviews. That's somewhat intentional in that I decided to focus on documenting my maker-y projects instead, but I noticed today that it meant I haven't been doing a great job of keeping up with the books I've been sent in exchange for fair review, so I guess I'd better get back into the groove if I want to keep getting free books. Here's two from the library as a warm-up.

Both these books have somewhat unusual protagonists. They're challenging in different ways.

When Everything Feels like the Movies…
When Everything Feels like the Movies (Governor General's Literary…
by Raziel Reid

I heard about this book because it was on Canada Reads, although being out of country I didn't manage to actually catch the episodes talking about it when they were broadcast so I still went in mostly not knowing what I was in for. The idea of coping with high school by imagining it as a movie set intrigued me.

I'm finding myself at a loss as to what to say about this book. It's authentic in that way that people don't always like to see high school depicted, with swearing and sex and violence and feelings with raw edges. For all that intensity, it's as playful as it is painful, as well as insightful and hard to put down. It takes "gay (trans?) kid not fitting in to small town" and pushes it out to an extreme that YA isn't often allowed to go. I loved it and was horrified by it at once, and I guess that's the point. I kind of hope it actually does get made into a movie.

The Slow Regard of Silent Things by Patrick…
The Slow Regard of Silent Things
by Patrick Rothfuss

This is a book that's so hard to pin down that the author's forward warns you that you probably won't like it. Which honestly, I think is a brilliant piece of marketing gimmick in that it challenges you to try. (Perhaps I am being too cynical here, but it's true.)

Since it doesn't exactly have a plot so much as a gentle unfolding of the life and mind of one small woman, I found it very hard to get into it when I was reading it in dribs and drabs. If you're going to give it a try, set aside an evening where you can immerse yourself in Auri's world, magical and strange as it may be. I doubt anyone would promise you'll like it, but at least you'll have given it a fair chance.

I highly recommend accompanying the afterward with some Dar Williams, which seemed during my reading to be the musical equivalent of what they were talking about.
terriko: (Default)
2015-06-07 10:22 pm

Birchbox May 2015

The box design May's Birchbox is definitely one of the classier ones:

Birchbox May 2015

And the products inside mine were similarly svelte-looking in design:

Birchbox May 2015

Juliette Has a Gun Not a Perfume - 50 ml



Birchbox May 2015

I was intrigued by the idea of a "not a perfume" but alas, this is still too strong a scent for it to be pleasant. Apparently when they claimed it was "minimalist" they were referring to the complexity of scent, not the intensity of it. They claim it "has a single note: elegant, spicy Cetalox."

Birchbox May 2015

They aso claim that it's allergen-free, which I find interesting and also unbelievable. It doens't seem to trigger my sniffles, so that's something, but it still smells like impending headache.

Birchbox May 2015

I like the packaging, but that's about where it ends. This doesn't smell interesting or spicy to me, it smells like generic perfume and triggers my usual reaction of "you should get away from this as fast as possible before it triggers a headache."

Birchbox May 2015

I really wish birchbox would let you opt out of scents entirely, as they are not useful to me: I can't wear them to work because there are quite reasonable no-scent policies in my office building, I won't wear them around other people because I know what it's like to be allergic to someone else's perfume, and I won't wear them myself for fear of triggering headaches. So, uh, I have a small collection of these samples wrapped in plastic bags and lying around now. I can't use them. Anyone want me to mail them some?

Naobay Oxygenating Cream Moisturizer



Birchbox May 2015

This is a pleasant enough thinner moisturizer that leaves a slight residue on your skin, just enough that you can tell it was applied but not enough to feel seriously greasy. It's got a light but definitely noticeable smell, predominantly of roses.

I did try it as a makeup base, as they recommend, but didn't notice anything particularly special about it compared to other moisturizers, so I don't think I'll try it again because I prefer unscented lotion especially on my face.

Overall, it's nice and I'm happy to have the sample, since it's probably inoffensive enough to wear at work, and it's got nice clean gender-neutral black-and-white packaging. But I'm not in love with it enough to purchase this one for myself.

W3LL PEOPLE The Expressionist Mascara



Birchbox May 2015

This is a fairly light mascara. It's not hugely lengthening or thickening, so it's probably great for natural-but-enhanced looks. It's definitely the type of mascara I prefer. It even comes with my current favourite type of mascara brush, the ones that look like little spiky maces.

Birchbox May 2015 (well people mascara)

(I'm a mascara noob and find the rigid bristles easier to control so I don't leave dots on my skin and also easier to not deposit too much crud on my lashes.)

But even though it seems to have everything going for it, honestly, it might be a bit too minimalist for my tastes. Here's some before and after shots:

No mascara:
Birchbox May 2015 (no mascara)
Mascara:
Birchbox May 2015 (well people mascara)

Or again with eyes open.
No mascara:
Birchbox May 2015 (no mascara)
Mascara:
Birchbox May 2015 (well people mascara)

It's not invisible, but on my already dark and fairly long lashes, it's not exactly a big difference.

Because I wore it on some pretty hot days where I got salt in my eyes, I've rubbed it a fair bit and I can tell you that it's not completely smudge-free, but it's not going to leave you with giant marks either.

Overall: it's nice enough to use and enjoy as an option, and I'm happy to have a new mascara since they have relatively short shelf lives due to bacteria growth, but it's not standout enough to buy more.

Beauty Protector Beauty Cream Body Lotion



Birchbox May 2015

This is a thicker "body creme" moisturizer lotion that blends in pretty well leaving skin feeling kind of slick but not heavily greasy. It smells exactly like the other beauty protector products, a scent I like ok, but I think the scent in this lotion is a bit too strong to be really pleasant unless you're only applying in a very small area. So, uh, maybe if you wanted smelly elbows or heels or something? I don't think I'll be buying this one.

Macadamia Professional™ Nourishing Moisture Oil Treatment



Birchbox May 2015

This is a fairly thick scented hair oil. It worked quite nicely when I rubbed a few drops into the tips of my hair, smoothing down the rough ends and leaving it looking great. I actually quite liked the product and would probably use it for when my ends need help, except that my boyfriend is deathly allergic to nuts and rubbing nut oil into my hair seems like a rather rude and dangerous thing to do on a regular basis. (As was, I applied it before I went to work, warned him, and washed my hair when I came home that day.)

I guess I could use it when I'm traveling without him, maybe? But I should probably just pass this sample on to someone who can use it without risk.

Conclusion



I was happy to try everything in this box except the perfume, but the only product I thought was really standout could kill my boyfriend. (That's not why I liked it, promise.)

So... obviously not a winner of a box, but I feel like I got to try some nice products even if they weren't for me, and the trying part is why I have the box, so I'm not disappointed by what my $10 got me.
terriko: (Default)
2015-06-02 12:28 am
Entry tags:

Birchbox April 2015

Can you tell I was playing with some shaped bokeh in these shots? Sorry they're not great product photography, but look at those hearts! ;)

Birchbox April 2015

Short reviews because I'm kind of behind and haven't even photographed my May products yet...

Birchbox April 2015

Beaver professional shampoo and conditioner



Totally acceptable shampoo and conditioner as far as these things go, not too much scent and the smell was inoffensive. What was offensive is this whole "amino acids will fix your hair when applied topically" nonsense on the label. Also, it's made in China, which isn't bad in and of itself, but that seems a long way to import shampoo when it's not really anything spectacular. Overall, I'll use it, but I wouldn't buy it.

Birchbox April 2015

Hello Body Butter



I liked the body scrub with this scent, so I was kind of pleased to get this, although to me it doesn't actually smell quite the same. Still, it's a reasonable enough creme, a bit heavily scented by nicely effective without being super greasy. I have it on my desk at work, although I do worry that it's too strongly scented. (I needed something less greasy, and birchbox isn't so great at low-scent moisturizers as scent is one of few defining features for the genre.)

Birchbox April 2015

POP beauty eyeshadow trio



This is the sample I got to choose, and I'm glad I did!

This is a lovely set of eyeshadows. My sample was all neutrals, which I found a bit amusing given how loud the birchbox box itself was in comparison:

Birchbox April 2015

They go on fairly lightly unless you've got a base coat for it to stick to, but I don't think that's entirely a bad thing if you want to build up a more subtle look. Swatches below without any base coat: you can barely see anything but a sparkle, which is a fun look on eyes, I think.

Birchbox April 2015

Anyhow, they're not heavily pigmented, and I found them really nice to work with, and they worked very well with the eye primer I have. As my birchbox points build up, I'll probably be buying the full-sized one to try some of their other colours, even though I seldom wear eye sparkle. Maybe having more colours will tempt me?


Birchbox April 2015

Cynthia Rowley lip stain



I was pleasantly surprised by the formula here: a lot of lip stains seem to me to be a bit drying, but this was pleasantly moisturizing. Unfortunately, the colour of my sample was too close to my existing lip colour to be very interesting...

Birchbox April 2015

Can you even tell I'm wearing lip shade? I can't.

I'd consider trying another shade someday. Maybe several if they release a set of minis, as this is a great pocket size! Actually, to be honest, I'd buy a lot more lip products if they came in this kind of size instead of giant pen-sized. The small samples get used way more often than the big ones in my life!

Birchbox April 2015

Overall:
The eyeshadow kind of made this box, for me! But the other products are all things I will use (perhaps more than the eyeshadow, even) and good examples of their respective genres. Nice samples this month, Birchbox!
terriko: (Default)
2015-04-06 08:27 pm
Entry tags:

Birchbox March 2015

This Birchbox is much prettier than last month's eye-searing box. (I'll post pictures/reviews of last month's later; I was busy with a visiting friend and didn't do it on the usual timeline.)

Birchbox March 2015

I actually managed to catch the "choose one sample!" email, so I chose the hair stuff. It was a good choice!

Now, to the reviews:

Birchbox March 2015 2015


With the muslin cloth included, it seems that this is intended as a whole facial cleansing ritual, and it's a pleasant one. I like the eucalyptus and plant-y scent, and the whole experience with the hot cloth makes it feel fancy and thorough. It's like a little mini spa treatment every night, which is a bit more work but I kind of enjoyed working it into my nighttime rituals. I'll consider purchasing this when my current facial cleanser runs low, but I would plan to buy a few extra cloths since they recommend laundering them every other use or so.

Birchbox March 2015 2015

It's a 10® Miracle Leave-In Product




This is the sample I chose!

This is a leave in hair product fitting a similar niche to the beauty protector one that I sampled earlier and now use regularly. I like that the scent is a bit lighter and dissipates faster in the It's a 10 product, making it more suitable for low-scent environments like my workplace. I wish I knew why it makes me think of berries every time I apply it! I don't think it's quite as good a detangler nor do the effects last as long as with my existing product, but the lighter smell is enough of an asset that I'm quite happy to have it as an option in my hair care toolbox!


Birchbox March 2015 2015

Elite Therapeutics Rosemary Eucalyptus Body Crème



This is another plant-smelling moisturizer. Seems like a reasonably effective lotion, takes a bit more rubbing to blend in than some. I quite like the combo rosemary-eucalyptus smell when it's going on, but I found the lingering scent of eucalyptus on my hands started to drive me nuts after a while. Thankfully, though, it's got a nice gender-neutral packaging, so my boyfriend was happy to take it off my hands (har har) and make good use of it as a convenient travel-sized lotion for his kit.

Birchbox March 2015 2015

Roloxin™ Lift Revitalizing Facial Treatment



With only a few exceptions, I enjoy trying out new face masks. Sadly, this is one of those exceptions: it dries to a powder finish, and then removing it made me sneeze like I'd been going through dusty books. It felt tightening as it dried out, but I couldn't tell much difference in my face after except for redness caused by needing to rub and rinse a lot of times to get rid of the dust. Despite my best efforts, it left chalky residue in my eyebrows and around my hair line, making them feel dirty and weird. The drying to powder experience was fun, though, it was just the removal that was too annoying for me.

I have a second packet if anyone wants to try it, although given my review, you're probably not going to be too tempted. ;)

Here's what it looks like dried on my face:
20150404-IMG_8362.jpg

(when it's wet it looks like sunscreen or moisturizer you haven't blended in)

And here's what it looks like when half-removed, so you can see the difference relative to my skin colour:

20150404-IMG_8364.jpg

Entertaining once, but too annoying to open that second packet. If anyone wants me to mail it to them, just ask. ;)

Birchbox March 2015 2015


Jelly Pong Pong GLOW GETTER Highlighter



This is a little jar of sparkle for your face! You'd think I'd be totally into this, but since my moisturizer-sunscreen already has a sparkle-vampire kind of effect, it's a bit excessive for regular use. Still, the effect is fun, and I've had a good time blending it with my matte cheek colours to try out new effects.

Conclusion:

Nothing in this box is going to change my life, but I had a good time trying most of it, and that's what sample boxes are for, right?
terriko: (Default)
2015-02-23 05:31 pm

Yarn of the Month Club review, February 2015

This is crossposted from Curiousity.ca, my personal maker blog. If you want to link to this post, please use the original link since the formatting there is usually better.

This month, I joined a yarn subscription club that No One Talks About on the Internet. So of course, I’m going to talk about it on the internet. I hope I’m not breaking some unspoken rule by telling you about it. Oh heck, who am I kidding? I’ll probably be pleased if I broke some rule. Knowledge for all!


Yarn of the Month Club, February 2015


First, though, let’s back up to how I wound up joining this club. I’ve been intrigued for a while by the idea of yarn subscriptions.


On the plus side:

+ Surprise yarn!

+ Trying new things!

+ Learning about new dyers and mills and whatever!

+ Getting some patterns to inspire me!

+ And having enough yarn to complete the projects!


But on the down side:

– Most of the boxes are moderately expensive. Around $40/month is pretty normal, and you can pay much more.

– … so if you hate what you get, you’re going feel like you’ve wasted a lot of money

– I don’t think I actually use 2+ skeins of yarn every month, so it’s going to start to pile up


Some pricing:

Knitcrate has 6 subscription types, ranging from $22.50 for 5 minis/month to $65/month for indie yarns. Likely subscription for me would have been $55 for an intermediate/advanced box.

Yarnbox: $35.95/month, more for the luxe version (presumably)

There are lots of others, but those were the two that came up the most.


In the course of doing some research about options, I encountered Yarn of the Month, which sends out little teensy yarn samples instead of full skeins. Because it’s only a taste of yarn rather than a full meal, it rings in as a $9.25/month subscription (less if you get a few months at once). That hits that sweet spot on subscription boxes for me, where it’s easy to write off a bad month and won’t result in rapidly growing pile of stuff in my life. I’d miss out on some of the advantages, in exchange I’d basically wipe out all the disadvantages I listed, and instead miss out on extras that fancier boxes throw in. (That’s actually kind of a shame because I haven’t been knitting long enough to acquire a lot of the small tools that show up as extras!)


What finally pushed me to the decision brink was the assertion that you’d be able to do little 5 inch swatches from your teeny yarn balls, and put them together to have a blanket at the end of the year. So it wouldn’t even be a pile of craft clutter when I was done admiring them, and I’d be motivated to actually *use* the yarn. Awesome!


The problem is, I couldn’t find pictures of the yarn, the swatches, or even many people talking about this club. It was a giant social media void. I could find pictures for yarnbox, pictures for knitcrate, pictures for random yarn of the month clubs on etsy… but only a few forum stale threads for Yarn of the Month.


What to do? I contemplated for a bit, then figured I could afford to try it out and see what happened. But in the interest of helping others, I was darned well going to post some pictures when (if?) I actually got a shipment!


So here’s a review. Hopefully the lack of posts about the yarn is a lack of social media marketing rather than a sign that I have paid money into some sort of mysterious yarn cult that will be upset at this breach of unspoken social etiquette.


First, let me show you the yarn again on a different background to give you a sense of colour:

Yarn of the Month Club, February 2015


I guess February was kind of red themed for valentine’s day.


Not pictured: the February Socks pattern from Birgitte Zeuner and instructions for 3 square swatches. Frankly, they’re printed on thin US letter paper and just not that attractive as a photography subject after being mooshed through the mail. Totally legible, but I might have invested in stiffer paper if I were running YOTM.


February Socks by Birgitte Zeuner


The February Socks pattern looks cute enough. I would have liked better pictures, but obviously I can find them on Ravelry so that works out.


Unfortunately, having just finished my first pair of adult socks, I’m not actually that excited about starting another one, so I think this is getting shelved indefinitely. I’m going to have to find a binder I can put these in! Maybe I’ll find a friend who’s super excited about this and I can pass it on, though.


Angora Lace


Yarn of the Month Club, February 2015


Angora Lace

“Luxurious with a delicate bloom”

6.5 sts/inch on US 2

50% Merino Superwash 20% Angora 30% Nylon

462 yds Color: 102


This is soft and lovely in the ball as one would expect for Angora, and quite pleasant to knit with. It’s not fluffy and doesn’t seem to shed (ask me about my experience knitting pure angora bunny fur sometime) but instead just results in beautifully soft yarn. It’s tightly wound enough that it doesn’t split on those little size 2 needles, and it held up to some unknitting as I tried to end my swatch as close to the end of the ball as possible and mis-calculated.


Yarn of the Month Club, February 2015


It’s not the easiest thing to photograph since it is subtly fluffy and catches the light a lot, but that’s only annoying for the purposes of this post and not in general. (Actually, I’d totally be into anti-photography yarn… I should work on that with some retroreflective stuff.)


The swatch pattern provided uses double-wrapped knitting stitches, a technique I hadn’t tried but a video tutorial wasn’t too hard to find. I actually usually prefer non-video tutorials, but this one is short and clear. You put the needle through as if to knit then wrap the yarn twice instead of once around and knit those, leaving two loops on. then when you come across it in the next few rows, you don’t bother trying to keep those doubled but instead slip stitch through them, leaving you with one longer stitch floating over the fabric.


Here’s one regular vs one weirdly processed photo to show you the floating stitches:

Yarn of the Month Club, February 2015Yarn of the Month Club, February 2015


The finished piece is super soft and pretty light. I suspect it'd be pretty warm, but it's hard to tell with just a swatch!


Saki Bamboo


Yarn of the Month Club, February 2015


Saki Bamboo

“Soft and yummy with great stitch definition”

7 sts/inch on US 0

50% Merino Superwash 25% Nylon 25% Rayon from Bamboo

230 yds Color: 203


This one feels great in the ball, all silky smooth, but I found it actually a bit odd to work with. While I’m knitting it, it has that sort of squeaky/roughish feel that I associate with some acrylics, even though the finished piece feels nice.


I was so pleased when I figured out the swatch pattern:

Yarn of the Month Club, February 2015


I’m thinking that I might see if I can incorporate this into the hem of a baby sweater in the near future. I’m not sure I’d buy this yarn, though. It wasn’t hard to work with and it does as promised have great stitch definition, but with so many yarns in the world “feels a little weird to knit” is enough to drop it off my personal to-buy list. I’ve never knit with bamboo before so I don’t know if that’s a function of the fiber or if I just didn’t love this particular blend, but I suspect the latter so maybe I’ll try some other bamboo blends out.


Yarn of the Month Club, February 2015


And finally here is is, blocking on my chair, so you can see the repeats better:


Yarn of the Month Club, February 2015


The finished, blocked piece is smooth and very light, so it might be a great for summer knits. To be honest, I like the stitch pattern best when it’s a single row, but the swatch was still fun to do!


Saki Silk


Yarn of the Month Club, February 2015


Saki Silk

“Beautiful, subtle sheen and drape”

7 sts/inch on US 2

55% Fine Merino 25% Nylon 20% Silk

440 yds Color: 305


Silk blend yarn is one of my favourite treats for myself. I’m not sure that the stitch pattern really showed off the drape at all, though:


Yarn of the Month Club, February 2015


It’s kind of a bumpy rib pattern with twisted stitches. It’s quite dense and doesn’t drape at all! What’s neat about this pattern is that it’s very reversible and feels completely different on both sides.


The bumpy rib side:

Yarn of the Month Club, February 2015


Much smoother back:

Yarn of the Month Club, February 2015


The smooth side is where this yarn really appeals, since it’s got that little bit of silky slippery-ness.


I would strongly consider using this to replace ribbing on worn items like sweaters and mitts, since I like the look of the one side and the feel of the other.


The one thing that this pattern does show off is the yarn’s stitch definition:


Yarn of the Month Club, February 2015


Overall, I liked working with this yarn a fair bit: it’s soft, easy to work with, doesn’t snag too much, and the results are reasonably striking. I do wish I had a way to see if I actually like the drape, but I enjoyed the swatch pattern so much that it’s hard to really mind.




So in conclusion…


Do I still want a fancier, more expensive, larger yarn subscription?


Heck yeah, they sound lovely. But while I can afford more, this seems like a good balance of price and quantity for me. I think I’ll aim to spend money in my local yarn stores (there are so many here!) rather than risking it on a larger subscription at the moment.


Am I happy with this month’s box?


Heck yeah! I *loved* making the swatches. I’d never done any of those stitch patterns before, and I’m glad to add to my repertoire. And I’m glad to have tried all the yarns, although I’m not sure I’d run out and buy more of any of them unless I had a specific project in mind. But I really like having samples of them all so I can tell if they *would* fit a given project.

terriko: (Default)
2015-02-08 02:01 pm
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Birchbox January 2015

I finally dropped my Wantable subscription, since I'm at the point where I didn't really need more soft bras, sleepware, or even probably socks for a while.

To be fair, I don't need makeup either... but Birchbox is fun and only $10/month. :)

Here's January's box:

Birchbox January 2015
My blush brush is in there for scale (not included in the box).

Birchbox January 2015

Davines OI / Shampoo


This was a very generous sample! The shampoo lathers well, cleans nicely, and the smell doesn't linger too strongly once my hair is dry. But it is pretty strong while still wet and honestly, the smell just wasn't for me.


Davines OI / Conditioner



The instructions for this suggest you towel dry hair, apply, and then rinse out. I agree that this needs a rinse out because the smell is much too strong otherwise. But that's way too much work unless the product does something amazing, or smells so great that you'd want to be in a cloud of it all day. Sadly, I don't love the smell, and my existing leave-in does just as nice a job on my hair while being less hassle.

Davines OI / Oil Absolute Beautifying Potion




Given my dislike for the smell of this, I couldn't really bring myself to use it as directed and put it directly in my hair. I may eventually try it as an overnight hair mask, but only if I've got enough time to wash my hair thoroughly in the morning.

Birchbox January 2015

Sweet Science Invisible Daily Tint SPF 35



Nice, simple tinted sunscreen, smells vaguely fresh and citrus-like. Cute container. Hard to blend because it's so thick and sticky, but that might mean good things as far as being effective sunscreen.

You can see how thick it is by how the sample is a giant blob on the lid:
Birchbox January 2015

Still, it looks hilarious while I'm putting it on:
Birchbox January 2015

Birchbox January 2015

Mirenesse Mattfinity Lip Rouge

I love the cityscape packaging! (I tried to get a picture of it but it's more a thing you see as you turn it in your hand. Lovely, though!) All of these are named for cities and I got the "New York" colour, which is a bright red with a hint of orange to make it more coral-like. I was worried because the applicator looked kind of sketchy (think gooey velvet) but the product itself is nice.

Here's a picture of the brush. It's sort of scoop shaped with a slimy velvet cover. Works, but not exactly a texture sensation. (You can also see that the silver "new york" lettering on the cap is suffering some from a few trips to work in my pocket.)
Birchbox January 2015


And here's a very simple look with me wearing the tinted sunscreen and the lip rouge (note how it looks more orange on my lips than it does in the tube):
Birchbox January 2015
I like it!


Birchbox January 2015

Essentiel Elements Wake Up Rosemary Body Lotion

The old school medicine bottle really works with the slightly medicinal scent of this body lotion, while still feeling fancy. I am strangely taken with this little body lotion as a result! Birchbox combined with J's mom kind of keeps me in more body lotion that I'm going to use, but I'd consider buying this because I find it amusing.

Birchbox January 2015

Harvey Prince Hello Liquid Loofah

Normally I complain about scents, but I actually kind of adore "Hello" which is some sort of citrus-y thing. I feel like it makes me feel more awake in the shower, although I suppose that could be the caffeine. I'm not so sure about the whole "liquid loofah" thing, though: this is such a light exfoliant that I can barely feel it if I apply it to my face, which is usually too sensitive for such things. But as a shower gel, it works and I like the smell, and that's basically all I want.


Birchbox January 2015

In conclusion...

I disliked the scent of the hair products, but the rest was pretty good!
terriko: (Default)
2015-02-08 11:51 am
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Book Reviews, the novels and the nonfiction, January 2015

Night Broken (A Mercy Thompson Novel) by…
Night Broken (A Mercy Thompson Novel)
by Patricia Briggs

This wasn't my favourite Mercy Thompson book since I'm not a huge fan of passive-aggressive relationship crap (and there's plenty of that as Adam's ex wife comes to stay with them), but the rest of the book is good, and Coyote's in fine form as always. Definitely not the finest book of the series, but not one to miss if you're already a fan!

Closer to Home: Book One of Herald Spy…
Closer to Home: Book One of Herald Spy (Valdemar)
by Mercedes Lackey

This is a book that seriously pleases my inner teenager, although my adult self notices and wishes for more for the women of Valdemar. I don't know how well it would stand up if you weren't already familiar with the world, but if you loved Mercedes Lackey as a kid, this is a nice journey back to Valdemar.

Ashes of Honor (October Daye) by Seanan…
Ashes of Honor (October Daye)
by Seanan McGuire

I'm a big fan of Seanan McGuire's InCryptid books (as well as her books written as Mira Grant) but I'd found the October Daye series hard to get into because poor Toby takes so much abuse. So I would read a novel, think "that was amazing but I can't take another of those" and wait 6 months before spotting one on a library shelf and thinking "oh, right, I should figure out which one I read last..."

Toby's still getting beaten up a lot, but in this novel especially I feel like she's finally getting into her own, and directing her destiny rather than just getting tossed around. But what made this particular book amazing to me was that it marks the first time where I read an October Daye book and thought "I need the next one right now."

Chimes at Midnight (October Daye) by Seanan…
Chimes at Midnight (October Daye)
by Seanan McGuire

(... so of course, here's the next one!)

In this book, Toby gets her whole network of friends an allies working to save the world, and you can finally see where she really shines. I found it very satisfying to watch all those threads come together and see the major and minor reveals for so many characters. It does feel a lot like this is the book that the series has been heading towards, whether you knew it or not. In some series, this would be in the end, but for October Daye, this seems to be a new beginning.

The Iron Trial (Book One of Magisterium) by…
The Iron Trial (Book One of Magisterium)
by Holly Black, Cassandra Clare

I've really enjoyed both Holly Black and Cassandra Clare's books, so I was really excited to hear about this one. It's a pretty standard magical-high-school setup in a lot of ways, but plays with the tropes and tosses in red herrings to keep it interesting.

Unfortunately, I got this as an audiobook and the reader didn't exemplify what the voice in my head said Callum should feel like. I've never had this problem with an audiobook before! It was *really* distracting to deal with this constant dissonance, and I think I enjoyed the book less as a result.

I'm curious enough to still be anticipating the next volume in this series, but I think I'll get a hardcover instead of an audiobook.




And then, finally, a couple of non-fiction knitting books that I checked out as possible additions to my library:

200 Fair Isle Motifs: A Knitter's…
200 Fair Isle Motifs: A Knitter's Directory
by Mary Jane Mucklestone

This collection of Fair Isle motifs is nicely laid out, well photographed and explained. I can definitely see this being a worthwhile reference book for those doing a lot of colourwork. I'm not really there yet, but I'm happy that my public library has a copy.

Knitter's Handy Book of Top-Down…
Knitter's Handy Book of Top-Down Sweaters: Basic Designs in Multiple…
by Ann Budd

I've got a goal of doing a sweater for the first time this year, and got this out of the library to get a better sense of pattern design. I found it clear and helpful, but I have a feeling that I'm going to have to actually construct a sweater to really grok how to apply the advice. I will probably put it on my list of books to own for my personal library, though.