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life as a semi-crunchy mom

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Damned [Review + GIVEAWAY]

Disclaimer: This post was sponsored as part of the Xpresso Book Tours Blog Tour. To check out what other blogs have posted (including excerpts and interviews), please visit their website. I received this product for free in exchange for a honest and unbiased review.

I love reading books that deal with the supernatural. It’s sort of my guilty pleasure. Earlier in the year, I discovered (and devoured) the novel “Blackwell: Prequel to the Magnus Blackwell Series” written by Alexandrea Weis and Lucas Astor. Simply put, it was a good read. In the back of that novel, there was a teaser for the next novel, “Damned”. I thought that its October release would never get here. But I was finally able to get my hands on a copy, just in time to put me in the Halloween spirit.

So what is “Damned” about?

Over a hundred years after the death of Magnus Blackwell, Altmover Manor sits abandoned.

Lexie Arden and her fiancé, Will Bennet, are determined to rescue the neglected Mount Desert Island landmark. They want to make Altmover Manor their home. But Magnus has other plans.

A spirit bound to his former residence, Magnus finds himself inexplicably drawn to the young woman. She has a supernatural gift; a gift Magnus wants to exploit.

As Lexie and Will settle in, secrets from Magnus’s past begin to surface. Compelled to learn all she can about the former owner, Lexie becomes immersed in a world of voodoo, curses, and the whereabouts of a mysterious dragon cane.

Magnus’s crimes won’t be so easily forgotten, and what Lexie unearths is going to change the future … for everyone.

I enjoyed “Damned”. It contained the same elements of the supernatural as the prequel, but with a likable twist to the main character. In Lexie Arden, I could find a character that I was able to relate to. She was just a bit different and I like that. The second half of this novel also takes us back to New Orleans, which serves as more of a central location (there’s a soft spot in my heart for New Orleans). The story went differently that I thought it would – I love novels that keep me guessing.

Without giving too much away, I liked how the character of Magnus developed over the course of the story and I enjoyed seeing how he interacted with the other characters, including some returning ones from the first novel.

The novel itself was very well written and I appreciate the amount of detail that the authors put into it – not just the characters but in the settings as well. Like its predecessor, it was an easy read that I couldn’t put down until I had finished. I think that I actually stayed up most of the night in order to finish it as soon as I received it.

It is certainly worth a read!

For more about “Damned”, please visit any of the following websites: Goodreads / Website / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / iBooks / Kobo

GIVEAWAY!
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Yes to Tomatoes 2-Step Nose Kit: Buh-Bye Blackheads [Review]

I’ve been pretty fortunate throughout the years that I’ve never really had issues with my skin. Even now, being pregnant, I’ve been able to use the same cleanser that I’ve used for the past year or so. Every now and then (especially during the winter), my skin will start to look dry and thirsty so I’ll perk it up with a sugar scrub and a moisturizer, but that’s rarely.

One thing that I love to do for my skin on a regular basis (meaning every 4 months or so) are those nose strips that are supposed to help remove black heads. I love those things and it is so freaky to see what sort of gunk the strips pull out. I think of it as a mini “spa day” for myself.

While at Target the other day, I came across the Yes to Tomatoes 2-Step Nose Kit: Buh-Bye Blackheads and decided to give it a whirl. I don’t use the Yes to products normally but I do love how the company is against animal testing and is a member of the Leaping Bunny Program.

The two-step kit comes with a detoxifying charcoal cleanser that is applied with a large Q-tip and a charcoal nose strip. One thing that I noticed right away was how much excess packaging there was and even now, I wonder how necessary the Q-tip is.

When using any sort of pore strip or skin mask, I’ll always wait until after my shower to use it so that the warm water will open my pores. I started with the charcoal cleanser and found that there was enough cleanser in the package to probably last me all week. It felt like a waste of product so I did try to place it somewhere where the cleanser wouldn’t dry out.

It felt a bit clunky to apply it with the Q-tip so after a few moments, I ended up using my fingers. The strip itself was easy to apply but didn’t seem to really fit on my face well enough. Strips from other companies sometimes have tears in them to help the strip adjust to your face better and I couldn’t find any on this strip.

After letting it sit for 10 minutes, I can attest that the strip definitely worked and I could see the difference on my nose. I’ll spare you the gruesome up-close shots of my pore strip and instead just leave you with this fresh out of the shower picture of me. All in all, this was a neat product to try but I would probably stick to my usual line of pore strips for now.

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