A vanity for creating my face

I may have mentioned in a previous post that one of my loves is make-up. I can get lost in a MAC or Sephora store or even the cosmetics aisle in Meijer or Walgreens. My passions seem to really run along the lines of lipsticks/glosses/stains, lip pencils, and eyeshadow/eyeliner/mascara. I wear glasses and I think it is very important for my eyes not to get lost behind the frames. I didn’t always wear glasses and my eyes were one of my big features; I like to make sure that that feature is still emphasized and highlighted. I don’t play around too much with my foundation – I’ve been using MAC for years, since I stopped using Clinique and tend not to stray although I just bought a Black Radiance a couple months ago and it is really good; but I’ll most likely only use either it or my MAC. I use one eyelid primer, Urban Decay Primer Potion – I’ve tried others and I just go right back to Urban Decay so I believe I’m done trying unless someone gives me a REALLY good reason to try another again. I’m still looking for the perfect face primer (although my mother swears by the Urban Decay DeSlick which she says they do not sell in stores anymore) so I currently switch between the E.L.F mineral face primer and NYC face primer (I know they are not high end, but I haven’t found a high end one that pops my panties and these inexpensive ones work really well.) I haven’t found a blush, bronzer, or contouring product that I absolutely love, so I pick those up when I see a color that I feel will complement my darker skin (although I’m new to contouring so I don’t have a lot of those yet – actually I don’t have any).

After giving this run down you’re probably wondering what is my point. Well, I have begun to acquire quite an eyeshadow collection and although I’ve upgraded my makeup case from the sexy Caboodle train case to a lavender tool box that I converted to a makeup case I’ve run out of room again. I also was getting fed up with where I was applying my makeup daily. I had been standing in my bathroom after lotioning up and use the small 3x magnifying mirror that I had attached to the side of my vanity mirror. When we travel, the hotels all have the nice magnifying mirrors that can be used for makeup application and I actually liked being able to sit down and put on my makeup with these.

I began searching online for new makeup storage solutions and ran across several you tube videos where ladies had a room dedicated to their makeup. I was like, WHAT?!?!?!? A room just for makeup. I was fascinated and a little intimidated by what I was watching. I can easily imagine a room for my shoes and having the finances to fill it, but not an entire room for makeup. I started thinking about it and one day I thought I could include a small makeup alcove in my office. I could have a place to sit and apply my makeup, be able to take it out of the tool box (no more lugging it from under the cabinet each morning, and at the same time acquire a little more room from my growing eye makeup collection.

After watching many YouTube videos, it seemed that the majority of the makeup room owners had some form of IKEA furniture to house their collection, either in the vanity or the storage drawers. I love IKEA, like the next guy, but the closet one is 2 ½ hours away. When we go there it is a well-planned all day event that includes a trip to Jungle Jim’s. I had gotten a burr up my bum and wanted to get my new makeup vanity done asap and inexpensively (cause I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it but we were in phase one of my kitchen remodel and the final phase of the basement renovation not to mention the holidays were coming up – there was not a lot of excess money floating around). My internet search for ideas only resulted in a need for an IKEA trip. A trip to the thrift store was not promising and I’m currently on the hunt for a new kitchen table (I’ll post about that at a later date) from the thrift store so I didn’t want to become distracted. I needed to get this setup for around $50.

Looking at images of the vanities online I realized that the depths of the vanities were not too large; about the size of a shelf or desk. I then came up with the brilliant idea to use a shelf for my vanity top. I went to Home Depot and bought a 12”x36” black shelf, 2 – 10”/12” grey shelf brackets, a package of drywall screws, and bracket screws. The total was $13.79; I couldn’t have done better finding something at a thrift store (because I would have had to invest in paint, sandpaper, & such to get to the look I wanted).

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I did go to Goodwill to look for glassware to use for brush holders and such, a lamp to use for lighting and anything else that caught my eye. I found these pieces during my first trip that cost me $8.52 with tax.

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I bought some rice to put in the bottom of my glassware and decided to tint it blue with food coloring to keep in the color theme of my office.

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I decided to paint the lamp in shades of blue, again to stick with room color theme (I’m not going to use a lamp shade because I want the light – I may even buy another lamp to have one on each side). I picked up some acrylic storage containers on the clearance table at Meijer (does anyone else always check the clearance sections at Target and Meijer every time they go into those stores?) to put my everyday used products.

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Then I realized I still had a lot of stuff still inside my toolbox. I needed a place to store it – preferably something with drawers. The only thing was it needed to be slim-lined (the area I had to work with was 9”x33”) and I really did not want to go the plastic route. I thought a slim bookcase would be the perfect size, but I want drawers or more shelves than a bookcase would allow. Can you add pull-out shelves to a bookcase? How about adding additional shelves? This part of the project was going to be my most expensive part of the project, I could feel it; but I still had $26.69 in my $50 budget. I was getting nervous. I still wanted to purchase some more acrylic containers and I knew these could get pricey even if I found them on sale/clearance. More inquiry online gave me the thought of using a bathroom shelving unit as my cabinet. Just finding the unit in my budget…

Then this past weekend I was in Michael’s (not to shop, but waiting at the front of the store waiting on Babydoll and Stan) and noticed a customer buying a HUGE amount of MDF storage units. It looked like she was about to set up an awesome craft station. One of the boxes she had looked exactly like something I was looking for. I located the area of the store where those items were and headed over there. Wouldn’t you know it, they were having a 40% off sale on all of their storage units and I had a 25% off entire purchase coupon. I bought one of the 3-drawer units. After putting it together, I realized that I could use 2 and still have plenty of room. The units were still on sale for 40% off and I could still use my 25% off coupon. I’m got both units for $38.52 including tax (the units are originally $39.99 each). I know that I’ve gone over my $50 budget, but not by much. This is how it looks.

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Since this was taken, I added a 11×14 mirror that I found at the Dollar Tree.  I still may add another lamp, but for right now, I’m happy and I have more than enough space to store my makeup. I’m not going to show you what’s in my drawers because 1) I don’t have it organized completely; and 2) There are tons of pictures/videos/blogs where people are showing their collections. I’m discussing the acquisition of a vanity space in my office not my makeup collection. This is more about having the space that I love coming into in the morning and turning on the radio and listening to the Tom Joyner Morning Show while I put on my face. It’s the little things that can make for great amounts of peace. Do you have a place that you’ve made that allows you to complete an everyday task? Did you complete it at a bargain price or did you go all out expense wise?

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Basement Remodel, part deux

In the second post about our basement remodel, you get to see the actual layout of the basement.  It went from the blank slate that we began with – concrete walls and floors with two crawlspace entrances to an actual room.  Although phase 3 was another part of infrastructure.

PHASE 3: we were still in infrastructure mode. This included the wiring for the electronics his speakers, the projector, the screen, the components, the networking all of the stuff that sounds like the adults in the Charlie Brown cartoons when it is explained to me (whamp-whamp-whamp, whamp-whamp-whamp). We had this done another two or three months after we finally finished the electrical.

PHASE 4: this would be the insulation and drywall. A lot of people could not understand why we decided to insulate the basement. They didn’t see the entire “infrastructure” Stan had installed for his picture and sound. Nor did they hear him talking about it. The rest of the house needed some insulation against all of that. I strongly suggested we get some long sleeve shirts and jeans, gloves and face mask and get to stuffing some insulation. This would save us some money ( I was starting to feel some anxiety about the electronics he had plans for and what that was going to do to the budget). Stan did not share my enthusiasm and wanted no part of possibly getting fine bits of fiberglass from the insulation in his cloths. He drove around several home construction sites and found an insulation guy. They came over on a Sunday and finished the job is less than six hours. We got a higher grade insulation than we would have purchased ourselves and still ended up with a better price had we purchased that grade ourselves. You have got to love tradesmen when they give you a fair price.

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This was the bar area. The black tank is the plumbing for the shop and bar sink.

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This was the theater area. The layout ended up getting switched around later; with the screen being on the right and the projector on the left.

Drywall was a long and messy process. I was very pleased with our drywaller. His crew consisted of him and occasionally his son. It took longer, but the work is exceptional. I would not have traded him for someone with a larger crew that could have finished in a shorter amount of time. There was some dust that came about due to the work, but it could have been SO MUCH worse. He had HUGE dry-vacs that he used to get the dust up each day, he had a sticky pad that they stepped on when they came out of the basement, and the cleaned up each night before leaving. It took us about three weeks. When he was done it was amazing…we had a basement that we could now really see what the final product would look like.

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The ceiling in the theater area is angled. Almost like a cove ceiling.

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After we got the drywall finished, it was time to pick out paint and flooring.  We had walls, now it was time to get started on the making it beautiful.

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Basement Remodel anyone…

As promised I am going to give a rundown of our basement remodel. I want to say ahead of time that I began writing this post a couple of months ago and thought I had begun the process of posting it; but looking back on some former post I realized that I had not.  I went back through my files and found all of the writing and now I begin again.  At the time of the original post the bar area had not been completed yet because 1) we felt it would require custom cabinets and we aren’t quite sure how we want to design this; and 2) my husband was tired of the project. Although it is his baby, he said at one point it took something out of him mentally to think about it anymore.

We are DIY’ers, but for this project we contracted out all of the work. Sure we could have laid the floor or painted the walls or even done the insulation (we discussed these projects thoroughly); but our schedules just didn’t allow for it. Stan’s business is doing well and sometimes I feel like I am a chauffeur for my Babydoll (I can’t figure it out). If we had of done more work on this project, I would not be showing/telling you about this project because we still would have been working on it. So let me begin…

We started a over a year ago, in May of 2013. We had several contractors come out to give us estimates to have it done by one company/person.  After some pretty amazing presentations we decided we were going to contract this out ourselves. Why, you ask? Because 1) Most if not all, of the estimates were coming in at around $25-30k and that did not include the electronics (I knew we were going to spend major bucks on the electronics because anything else was NOT going to fly with my husband, no way, no how would that fly); 2) the finishes weren’t included in that estimate (finishes are the really nice trim work, high end mini fridge, furniture, etc.); and 3) we decided we wanted to pay cash for as much work as possible, if we went with a company they would have finished within 3-6 weeks (yeah!!) but a deposit would have been needed at the beginning – $12.5k/15 – and final payment at the end (booo!). So we broke it up in phases.

PHASE 1: Framing – Stan’s side business puts him in contact with all types of construction trades. One day while doing a job he came across a framer. They had a conversation that lead to him coming buy and giving us an estimate that we didn’t feel cheated over – because he is used doing larger jobs, he was able to get a lot of the material for less – so we set it up. They came over on a weekend and we ended up with a framed basement. This lead up to what Stan termed the infrastructure phase but I called it phase 2.

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PHASE 2: Plumbing and Electrical – the basement was not plumbed for any type of bathroom or sink; hence we had no drain. I knew that I was going to add a very small salon in a section of the basement and we wanted to have sink in the bar area. I DID NOT want to have them bust up my floor to put in a drain because that was going to be an extra expense. We did some research and found that there is a drain system that you can purchase that shoots the water up. I’m not explaining this too well, I’m not a plumber, but it shoots the water up. There is probably a better explanation that Stan could probably give you, but he isn’t writing this, I am and all I can say is the water goes up with the help of some pressure. As far as electrical went, we needed a lot of outlets installed. Stan’s theory was it is better to have too many than not enough. We had tons of lighting, lighting for the bar area, the salon, the theater area, the equipment area, and the small area off to the side of the theater. The plumbing and electrical were done about 3 months after the framing was completed. This phase actually took us several months because the electrician we found (thanks soooo much to a coworker for recommending him, he is the best) was so awesome that we ended up having him install lighting for the patio along with electrical outlets on the patio.

I have no pictures of this phase because it was plumbing and electric.  It took us a minute to get it all done, but pictures of the end work would really make no sense to you.  Trust me when I say it made us very happy. Smile

Because this can be a really exhausting post, I’ve decided to break this up into a multi-part series.  Stay tuned for more post.

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Macarons

Last weekend I took the Megabus to see one of my best friends in Chicago.  We were celebrating our birthdays; although our birthdays were last month.  My travel/vacation schedule last month and I wasn’t home long enough for her to come down or me to go up so that we could celebrate.  But anyway, I was there and she took me to the French Market for lunch.  We had noodles for lunch and on the way out, I had to stop at this patisserie that I saw on the way in.  I decided to get some macarons and got some for Sylvana also. (It was the perfect snack for Sylvana, because she has a mostly gluten-free diet now).

After having my wonderful macarons on the bus ride home (I got lemon, lichen, green tea, salted caramel, and vanilla.); I decided that I was going to try my hand at making some.  I had been very hesitant to make macarons in the past because I was afraid of failure.  I had received this book of macaron recipes as a gift.

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I had read it and drooled over the pictures, but was just too chicken-butt to make them.  I spent some of my free time this week looking at different recipes and reading other write-ups on macarons and decided I was ready.  Failure or no, I was making macarons this weekend. 

I was going to purchase almond flour because I wanted to make sure that all my ingredients were top-notch; but the price for a 16 oz of almond flour was close to $10.  One of the websites that I had read suggested you make your own almond flour because the price of the flour is pricey; after seeing the price, I ended up taking her advice.  I bought a 2lb bag of blanched almonds for $6.97.  Yeah, enough said.  I pulsed them in my food processor until they were ground up fine.

I decided to make three types of macarons; lemon cookies and vanilla, almond, and purple vanilla. I decided to make a strawberry cream cheese filling for the purple vanilla, and a plain almond filling for the lemon cookies and vanilla, and almond with blackberry jam smear for the almond. NOTE:  as I was making the almond I decided to forgo the almond and added orange extract instead.  They were delicious anyway I made them.

From everything that I read online and in the book, the time that your macarons sit to “dry out” is important.  If you let them sit for the right amount of time they will get the shiny look and the “feet” will form when you bake them.  We had had a lot of rain that morning and it was humid; I read that if it was humid outside, you were to let them sit for about an hour versus the 15-30 minutes normally suggested.  While I made the second batch (the purple vanilla) I let the first set form the skin on the first batch. 

I baked the first batch at 350 degrees in the convection setting of the oven.  This turned out not to be a good idea.  They seemed to cook too fast and my “feet” didn’t turn out so great. 

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I decided to turn the oven down to 325 and had better success. 

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I went to make the strawberry filling and discovered that I didn’t have any strawberry gelatin in my pantry; but I DID have some peach.  So I made a peach cream cheese filling instead.  Babydoll tried one of the purples and fell in love.  I’m so proud of my macarons. 

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I promised some to my coworkers and I hope they like them also.  I figured out the process (I ended up using my Magic Bullet to puree the confectioners sugar and almond flour to a super smooth consistency), and Babydoll loved them; so my confidence is way up there.  I’m going to do it again soon.  I’m thinking about making some for my girlfriends as part of their Christmas treats.

Have any of you made macarons?  What flavors have you made? 

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PS: I am going to write something real soon about how AWESOME my Magic Bullet is.

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How I’ve learned to travel

It has been a very busy time in the Cork household. The month of June has consisted of nothing but travel (especially for me). I have not been home one weekend the entire month. With all of the travelling I’ve been doing I have finally figured out the best way to take the things that I consider essential to having a wonderful commute and keeping everything organized. So today, I am going to tell you some of the things that I feel are necessities.

1) The bag. It took me until the very last trip to figure this out. Up until my trip to NYC, I was taking two bags on the plane with me – my purse and my bag of electronics and camera. I finally realized that I need to consolidate these bags and save my self so grief. I decided to pack my purse with my other bags in the suitcase and put the essentials like my wallet, lotion, and makeup bags in my carryon bag. The key with this consolidation is finding the bag that is the right size and organizing it to a “T”. This is the bags that I have found worked for me.

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2) Organization. Once you have the bag you need to have a place for everything. This is when it is important to have specific places/containers so that you can find what you need at a moment’s notice. I have read about using sandwich/snack bags to place your cords for your electronic devices. I have rubber banded them and placed them in the pockets of my bag and that seemed to work for a while, but I recently found this nifty package that has become my best friend.

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I now keep it in my bag that I take to work. I love it. I purchased one for Babydoll also. I wanted to get one for Stan, but he insisted that he doesn’t need it and I should not waste my money. Any other person would buy it anyway and show him how misguided he is in his thinking; but after 16 years of marriage I have a few new things recently. 1 is that I do not need to buy my husband technology if he doesn’t specifically ask for it and even if he ask, I need to consider it carefully because he really will not use it if he doesn’t want it. I also have purchased a couple of smaller cosmetic bags that I use in my purse and my travel bag to keep things like my lipsticks (yes, I carry ALL of my lipsticks with me because I may decide the color I have on isn’t working so I need to change it), liners, mirror, blot powder, mints, etc.

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3) Neck Pillow. Have you ever had to fly an early/late flight? I have. As a matter of fact our flight to California this year was at 5am. We did not go to sleep so that we could make sure we didn’t miss our flight; so when I got on the plane, I went to sleep so fast, I don’t remember hearing the initial flight attendant safety speech. This peaceful sleep would not have been possible without my neck pillow. I know this because I forgot my pillow on our NYC trip (this happened because Stan was rushing me, I also forgot my iPod; it was a very tense 45 minutes before I was able to let it go). On the return trip home I was trying to catch up on sleep on the train from NYC to Jersey and my head was rolling and bobbing around worse than a bobble head doll. Also I think I might have had the head back open mouthed sleep on the plane. That only happens when I don’t have my neck pillow. Go to Walmart and grab you one for about $10.

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4) I think it is vital to have a good set of headphones and music for any type of plane/train ride. For me, it allows me to drown out all of the outside/surrounding traveling noise that is inevitable. I love my music and have a very eclectic music palate. I have gospel, new and old R&B, old school Hip Hop, some new school Hip Hop, Pop, I think one Country, and I don’t know what to call some of the others, I just like them. Having said that I have a great pair of headphones by Sol Republic that conceal all outside noise that allows me to go into my peace filled zone. No crying babies (I’ve traveled with a baby so I know the plane is going to bother their ears; I don’t like when parents aren’t considerate and don’t provide a bottle, Sippy cup, pacifier so that their ears can pop), no coughing/hacking passengers (that way I can pretend that I don’t hear them coughing without covering their mouths and getting a plane full of people sick), no engine noise – just peace and great music. I can read and not be distracted/disgusted.

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5) A snack. Be it a bag of nuts, apple slices, chips, a bagel, or graham crackers; having a snack will keep you from making poor airport decisions. The snacks that they provide on the plane usually only are enough to make you want more. I haven’t flown Internationally so I cannot vouch for the quality of those snacks, but Domestic peanuts or pretzels just don’t cut it. The fact that you are traveling is putting your body into a small amount of stress/shock; trying to keep your diet as normal as possible is key. So, bring something that can tide you over until you reach your destination. Your digestive system will thank you for it later.

6) Finally, a tablet/electronic reader or something of that nature. Even if you are not a reader like me, a tablet will come in handy because you can have movies, music, magazines, games, and/or books in one small device. Unless you are sleeping the entire flight or it’s a short flight (30 minutes) you are going to want something to occupy you. You could be like my husband and insist that your travelling companion talk to you; but if they have item 4 then they can block you out like I do him. So be kind to your fellow riders that may not want to converse with you on the plane/train and bring something to distract you in case they don’t want to entertain you.

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That’s my list for no hassle travel. I still have not figured out the best way to carry my camera, so I’m currently wrapping it up and carrying it with my on the plane because I don’t want to risk damage in my luggage. I’m still struggling to find the perfect camera bag (and neck strap). I have made them in the past, but I not satisfied after three or four years. I don’t want the typical black bags and neck straps because they’re not reflective of my feminine personality. I’ve seen some of the nicer bags that would be awesome to use once I arrive at my destination but they will not be sufficient for the actual trip. If anyone has any suggestions, I am open to them. What are your travel essential suggestions? Is there something that you feel is essential that I may have forgotten?

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In April We Read…

This month Sugarbooks had chosen to read Styxx by Sherrilyn Kenyon.  Now when this book was chosen there was a lot of groaning from many of our members (since there are only six of us actively coming to meetings and making decisions you can imagine how loud the groaning was).  Anyway, we made the decision in December last year and last month as we were leaving dinner the reminder that Styxx was the book for the next meeting, some “I’m not reading it” were heard.  We have a rule (it’s not always followed but we have it) that states you have to at least read 100 pgs of the book assigned for the month.   With this in mind we still had some “I’m not reading it”. 

One of the members decided to brave it and start the book two weeks before the meeting.  When she found out how many pages the book had (876), she sent out an email with a WTH. :o)  She started it and finished it in 2 ½ days.  She then got on email and started commenting that put a fire under the other members kettle that had them reading it (yep…even the “I’m not reading its”).  Some of us had not read Acheron (and some still had not read any of the Dark Hunters series), but we felt that it was important to at least read Acheron first.  You did not want to read Acheron after you read Styxx first.  I think we all agreed, reading them backwords would have caused some feelings that could possibly be avoided if you read them in the right sequence. 

So here is our take on Styxx (If you have not read this book , there may be some references that could be deemed spoilers, just a heads up).  We all agreed it was a good book, we all agreed it caused emotions to be brought forth, and we all agreed that the men during the early part of the book (even in Acheron) were into a lot of rape and sodomy.  The first half of the book dealt with Styxx being raped by his uncle(until he killed him and that wasn’t until he had been abused on three or four separate occasions that lasted anywhere from 2 weeks to 2 months) and some of the gods.  We all agreed that we were not fans of the gods in both stories.  That is where the agreement ends. 

There was a member that ended up with a dislike for Acheron after reading this book and she had been a huge fan previously.  It took a lot of deducing and reasoning before she could put her finger on what she deemed the ultimate betrayal – you don’t forsake your sibling to be tortured regardless of your reasons, and you then don’t walk around like they’re in the wrong EVER.  To her, that was making yourself into a victim – I was done wrong so they deserve to have wrong done to them too; you help/protect your siblings, you don’t make them victims too.  Styxx never made his siblings victims if he could help it; he protected them as much as he was possible although he sometimes was punished for it and they (his siblings) still treated him like dirt.   She didn’t like how Acheron  assumed that Artemis placed his brother somewhere where he was taken care of for 1100 years, when he knew Artemis to be a liar.  How can Ach believe people that have lied to him and mistreated him for most of his life and not allow his brother to even try to explain.  It didn’t sit well with that member and she was not changing her mind.

There were several members that were disgusted with Styxx and his inability to defend himself against his uncle and father.   As one member stated “he could maybe get away with catching him unaware one or maybe two times, but after that he should have been walking around with his mouth clamped shut and his back to a wall whenever his uncle was around.”  Styxx had become a feared and respected warrior and leader to his father’s army, yet he still was getting assaulted by his uncle.  Why did Styxx allow his father to punish him when they felt the army had his back?  Why not over-throw the king or kill him?  They didn’t feel like Styxx stood up for himself enough and because of it he seemed almost like a victim. 

We all agreed we did not like Ryssa, the sister.  We couldn’t figure out where her hatred for Styxx came from.  There was no reason for the type of hatred she had.  Even reading Acheron (some of us reread Ach and some read it for the first time), which had a large portion of the beginning of the book coming from Ryssa’s diary; we never ascertained why she disliked Styxx.

The culmination of the epic novel had a great HEA and we all agreed that we were happy with the ending.  Sherrilyn has done it again, sucking us into a great story that brought forth all emotions.  If you have not read it yet we all highly recommend it.  And we would love to hear your thoughts on it.  If you have read it, give us a holler and tell us what you thought.  

Next month we are scheduled to read, Tracy Solheim’s Risky Game.  This is the third book in the Game On series (if you do not count the anthology that was released in April).  This book does not come out until May 6th so it will be a race to finish it before the meeting considering  some of us have not read any other the previous books.  Again, if you have read any of the books, give us a holler.  We love to hear from you.

Smoochies,

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Today I’m…

Posting on the Sugarbook Club blog site.  Please visit it to see my thoughts on the new New Adult genre.  Have a great day.

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