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28Jul/122

Books I’ve been reading, part II

Back in April, I wrote a blog post on the books I'd read so far during 2012. I have read four more books since, so it's time for another update!

Okay, let me start off by saying I still haven't finished A Feast For Crows. In fact, I think I've only read one or two additional chapters since writing the previous post. As I said back then, it is a good story, but it can get a little complicated and long-winding at times, and I guess I got side-tracked by other books for a while.

I've actually been re-reading the Redwall series by Brian Jacques. I originally read the first four books in this series back when I was like 9 or 10 years old. I actually read the Dutch translations back then, since I didn't understand English that well at the time. I happened to get my hands on a complete set of ebooks a little while ago, and one day back in April or May I got a sudden urge to start rereading them - in the original English this time - and then move on to all the sequels I haven't read yet. I'll admit the writing style threw me off for a little bit when I first started; these are literally children's books, not even Young Adult novels (I think they're intended for the 8 to 12yo age range or something), and this kind of shows in the way certain things are worded from time to time. However, the stories were still as exciting and entertaining as I remembered them from my childhood. So far, I have read Redwall, Mossflower and Mattimeo. The only other book left that I'd previously read (in Dutch) is Mariel, and then there are like 18 other volumes that I haven't read before, I think.

Just last week, I sort-of-read Fifty Shades of Grey, because I wanted to know what all the hype was about. I say "sort of read", because I read the first chapter in earnest, and then decided I didn't like the writing style much. (In fact, my actual thoughts were "seriously? this is the best selling novel of 2012? I've read fan fiction that was more well-written than this, and also, Anastasia and Christian are clearly rip-offs of Bella and Edward from Twilight." Then I saw this and, well, that explained a lot.) So anyway, after that first chapter, I'll admit I didn't read the rest of the book word for word... I kind of skimmed through the boring parts to get through the good stuff. Good stuff may be a euphemism for sex. Honestly though, I still don't get what all the fuss is about. I can't imagine people are actually buying this en masse because it's such a literary masterpiece, so pretty much the only other explanation I can think of is the fact that it is erotica. So, really? Is that it? Because this isn't exactly the first published novel that's had sex in it, you know. And even the sex wasn't that hot or well-written. You can find better smut online for free, honestly. I'm not saying this is the worst book I've ever read, but it's definitely nowhere near the best, either. So I guess in the end, I'm still not entirely sure what all the hype is about. :P

Right now, I'm sort of in the middle of three different books all at once. As stated above, I still need to finish A Feast For Crows. I've also starting reading A Wise Man's Fear just recently. And after seeing both my Twitter and Facebook feed blow up over it for the entire past week, I caved and kind of impulse-bought The Land of Stories on Kindle last night. I don't even own a Kindle, but it turns out there's a pretty neat app for Chrome, and I was curious now and didn't want to wait a week for delivery. I've only read the first few chapters, but it's pretty good so far.

Oh, and by the way, the combination of Kindle app + Amazon account makes it way too easy to buy new books. It's like being logged into your iTunes account, where you're looking at an album and then it literally takes two clicks to buy and pay for it and poof, it immediately appears in your iTunes library for you to listen to. I've had an iTunes account for less than a year, and in that time I've literally acquired as many albums legally as in the entire twenty-five years before, I think. Which, you know, is ultimately a good thing - just not so much for my wallet. And now I've suddenly turned the Amazon website into that same sort of money trap, because I can now buy, pay for, and have books instantly sent to my Kindle app in those exact same two clicks. Oh God, I think I need a time-turner. Not to undo my actions or anything - just so I can A) work two jobs at once and B) have a ton of reading time. Yeah.

Filed under: Misc 2 Comments
26Jul/122

Barry M Strawberry Nail Paint review & swatches

This is Barry M's nail paint in 309 Strawberry. Honestly, I feel something like "Cotton Candy" would have been more appropriate, given the type of sweet, light pink colour this is; it doesn't remind me of strawberries at all. Oh well, maybe that's just me. I've bought a few Barry M nail polishes in the past, but I didn't like those much at all. My main issue is with the formula; it's thick, yet not very opaque. It goes on streaky, and you need multiple layers to get full coverage, which then takes ages to dry because of the thickness. Well, that was my experience with the old polishes, anyway. Because of that, I hadn't bought any new ones in like 3 or 4 years, so they could have changed the formula since then. At any rate, I was willing to give this new polish a fair chance.

Sadly, I was disappointed. The formula still has all the same issues listed above. It applied quite streakily, although you can't really tell from this photo. Another thing covered up by the light reflecting of the glossy finish in this photo, but apparent in real life, was that I still had a visible nail line (ie. still not 100% opaque) after three coats of polish. I had tried to keep those as thin as possible, and let the polish dry for a good 15 minutes, but I still completely ruined the polish on one of my nails immediately after taking this picture. (Read: I lightly bumped into the side of my desk, and it completely took off half the polish on that nail.)

In addition to that, it's just not my kind of colour. I prefer shimmers or even glitters to creamy polishes, for one, and I also prefer bolder colours rather than super sweet girly shades like this. Obviously, that's a matter of personal preference, though; this colour might be exactly what you love. Still, I doubt I'll be wearing this again.

Filed under: Beauty: Nails 2 Comments
25Jul/123

Uni update: year 2

So, around this time last year, I wrote a blog post on all the courses I'd taken during my first year. I figured I should keep you posted and do the same thing again this year.

As I explained last year, our school year is divided into six periods, three per semester. First period started off pretty heavy this year, with three different subjects. General Toxicology, where we learned about various toxins and how they affect different parts of the body; Integrated Human Physiology, which was essentially a continuation of last year's Principles of Human Physiology; and Introduction to Epidemiology and Public Health, which had far less to do with disease epidemics than you might think. It was mostly about the trends in diseases/conditions like diabetes and obesity, and involved quite a bit of statistics, history of epidemiological research etc. The second period has both the best and worst class of the year: there was Nutrition Behaviour, which I found really interesting because the behavioural/sensory aspects of nutrition are pretty much what I eventually want to focus on. And then there was Advanced Statistics for Nutritionists, which pretty much sucked. I had Statistics I and II last year and they turned out to be nowhere near as bad as I'd expected... and then Advanced Statistics suddenly delves into these rather complex statistical models and stuff, and I'm still not quite sure how I managed to scrape a pass in that class, because I was basically certain I had to have failed that exam. :P To finish off the semester, we had Pharmacology and Nutrition, which explained the workings of various types of medications and their interactions with food substances.

The second semester started off with the first (and only) subject that we got to choose for ourselves, rather than having a prescribed compulsory class schedule. Well, it still wasn't exactly a free choice, as there were only two subject to pick from. One was Practical Biochemistry or something like that and came with about 46829 lab sessions, so I went with Applied Data Analysis instead. I was a little worried about picking another statistics class after nearly failing my last one, but it was actually quite doable. We didn't so much learn any new stuff... it was basically a tutorial on how to apply all the different statistical methods in practice, that we'd learned in theory during the previous three courses. Quite useful and not even all that hard. Fourth period had Research Methodology I, where we were taught about various forms of nutrition research, standardised measurement methods etc., and Cell Biology and Health, which was basically the sequel to last year's Cell Biology I course.

Finally, we had Research Methodology II and Food & Health. In Methodology II, among other things, we measured our cholesterol levels in our own blood samples, which was pretty neat. Food & Health was probably the most intensive course I've had all year; we had to come up with a new and improved version of any food product, produce it ourselves, run a chemical analysis to establish the macronutrient composition, have it tested by a sensory panel, etc., and write a 50-70 page report on our findings, supported by literature. In fact, for the first time in my entire two-year study programme so far, this course didn't even have an exam; you simply get graded on said report. This also means I don't yet know my grade for this course; we had to edit two sections of our report after handing in the initial version (only 4 out of 19 reports immediately got accepted with no corrections necessary), so I'm not really expecting to receive a grade until the end of the summer holidays/start of the new semester.

That being said, here's my grades for all of the other courses:

Not as great as my first year marks, but still a 72% GPA for this year (77% overall), and I still passed all my exams on the first try. And now I get to relax for about five more weeks before the new year starts ;)

Filed under: Uni 3 Comments
24Jul/126

Kryolan Glossybox Lipstick

This is a lipstick by Kryolan in what I believe is a special Glossybox edition, given that it has the Glossybox logo on the side and cap, and I can't find it anywhere on their website.

This colour is otherwise known as "glossy pink" on the bottom of the tube. Kryolan's other lipstick colours retail for €11.90 each.

Colour swatches. The middle swatch is a single layer, whereas I went back and forth in the same spot a couple of times for the top one. As you can see, this lipstick is fairly sheer, but builds up to a nice peachy pink colour. (Also, holy freckles, Batman. Maybe I should only do hand/arm swatches in winter from now on. :P)

And a lip swatch as well. I have to say it looked slightly less pink/opaque in real life. It's really more of a "my lips but better" type of shade, while in this photo it appears to be a pretty bright pink. It feels nicely hydrating on the lips, too. It lasts relatively long as well. It won't survive a full meal, but having a drink will leave your coverage mostly intact. Overall, I have to say this is a pretty neat lipstick. :)

23Jul/120

Glossybox: July

July's Glossybox is here, and there's been a colour change! The theme for this month's box is "holiday". Apparently they were going for beachy colours, because the usual pink box and black packing materials have been replaced by sand and ocean blue, respectively! Let's have a peek inside...

Six products this month, three of which are full size. Nice! The three full sized items are a lipstick by Kryolan, a bottle of nail polish by Barry M and a bottle of face wash by Himalaya Herbals. I don't think I've ever even heard of that last brand before, so I'm curious! I have heard of Kryolan before, but never used any of their products, as it's a professional make-up line most commonly used in theatre. I do have prior experience with Barry M nail polish and, um, it's wasn't quite positive, I'll have to admit. But who knows, they may have changed their formula since then! This'll be a good way to find out.

There are three sample sized/travel sized products as well. Both a sample size body lotion and body oil by Weleda, based on Sea Buckthorn extract. (If you just went "wait, what now?" you're not alone. Wikipedia is our mutual friend.) There's also a travel sized tube of shampoo from the professional line of Schwarzkopf, fortified with argan oil. Since I am actually going on holiday in a few weeks, I think I shall take this tube with me instead of bringing my large bottle of shampoo from home. That does mean the shampoo review might be a while. I'll try to get reviews of the other products up as soon as possible, though.