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Username: Evie By Joe Sugg

Username: Evie By Joe Sugg
Published 22 Sept 2015 By Running Press

Goodreads

Summary: Like anyone who feels as though they just don’t fit in, Evie dreams of a place of safety. When times are tough, all she wants is a chance to escape from reality and be herself.

Despite his failing health, Evie’s father comes close to creating such a virtual idyll. Passing away before it’s finished, he leaves her the key in the form of an app, and Evie finds herself transported to a world where the population is influenced by her personality. Everyone shines in her presence, until her devious cousin, Mallory, discovers the app… and the power to cause trouble in paradise.

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I tried.

I have a lot to say about Username: Evie. As you may already know by now, Username: Evie is written by Joe Sugg, an extremely popular British YouTuber. Maybe just like every other celebrity book, you go in with some kind of expectation, or in some cases, very little expectations.

Username: Evie is a graphic novel, so really, its much easier to grasp but it came with a lot of flaws.

The plot of Username: Evie was simple. Evie is an outcast, and one day, she discovers a whole new world / virtual reality world created by her father. The new world is fuelled by positivity and was designed to make Evie feel welcomed and loved… until her cousin comes and spreads negativity and it becomes a zombie apocalypse.

One of the major problems I had with Username: Evie was the plot.There was not enough world building after Evie comes into the new world. Not much about it was explained, other than its a safe place for her. There were a lot of holes — why is her cousin like that, why does her cousin become super evil in the new world, how is she allowed to come into the world, how negativity spreads and makes everyone zombies.

You get it.

The transition between one scene to another is too fast — more could have been done in terms of world building, explaining the relationships between Evie and her cousin. Its very difficult to feel much for any of the characters when there’s a serious lack in character development and introduction.

For a graphic novel, it came with a lot of flaws, especially since its the first book in the series. I’m not sure how its going to pick up, or if it will explore more into the world and characters but it is something I hope is addressed in the next book.

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Korean Beauty Secrets: A Practical Guide to Cutting-Edge Skincare and Makeup By Kerry Thompson and Coco Park

Korean Beauty Secrets: A Practical Guide to Cutting-Edge Skincare and Makeup By Kerry Thompson and Coco Park
Published 3 Nov 2015 By Skyhorse Publishing

Goodreads

Summary: Kerry Thompson and Coco Park, the writers behind the influential beauty blogs, Skin & Tonics and The Beauty Wolf, come together to bring you Korean Beauty Secrets: A Practical Guide to Cutting-Edge Skincare and Makeup.

With advice on how to assess your skin, build a routine, and apply and shop for a wide variety of makeup products, this guide shows you how to achieve the look of flawless, radiant skin—with makeup—and without! This guide is your gateway into the alluring and sophisticated world of Korean beauty—for all skin types and ethnicities.

From the multi-step Korean skincare routine to chic Seoul-inspired makeup looks, this full-color handbook offers product explanations, advice, tutorials, and insider information that will have you immersed in the trendsetting beauty culture of South Korea in no time.

Kerry’s blog, Skin & Tonics, has a loyal cult-following thanks to her in-depth, scientifically-informed reviews and skincare tips, with a particular focus on Korean beauty products and Asian skincare philosophies. Kerry’s enthusiasm for skincare began at a very young age and eventually grew into a passion for documenting her skincare adventures and sharing them with the world. Her mission is simple: try emerging skincare products from all over the globe, and distinguish between marketing hype and legitimately effective solutions. Kerry can often be found perusing peer-reviewed clinical research, or speaking with cosmetic chemists and industry insiders. As an early U.S. adopter of the Korean beauty philosophy, her relationships in the Korean beauty industry and continuing quest for knowledge make her an ideal guide to the unique and seductive world of Korean skincare.

Coco Park is a digital journalist, artist, and the beloved beauty writer behind the heavily followed blog, The Beauty Wolf, which features art and reviews dedicated to Korean makeup and skincare products. Coco also works as a freelance K-beauty correspondent, and is a repeat guest beauty author at XOJane. She’s been featured in numerous Korean beauty articles in a number of publications, including Fast Company and The Daily Mail. Coco, a certified esthetician and makeup artist, has lived and worked in Dallas, NYC, Toronto, and Montreal. Her lifelong immersion in the beauty industry and specific, in-depth knowledge of Korean beauty trends make her the perfect adviser to lead you through the exciting, ever-changing world of Korean beauty.

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Today’s book review is going to be slightly different. I’m a huge fan of Korean skincare. When I saw this book in the beauty section I just knew I needed to read it and devour its content. I’ve reviewed several fashion, self-help, beauty books on Pretty Bookmarks before, but this book by far takes the cake.

The book talks mainly about Korean beauty skincare — how the Koreans view skincare as more important than the type of makeup you’re wearing and how Korean skincare has expanded over the last couple of years. Compared to the ones I’ve reviewed on PB, Korean Beauty Secrets is one of the most comprehensive skincare book that I’ve read. It really goes into the details of what types of ingredients are most commonly found in Korean skincare (and other skin cares), what types of ingredients they’re experimenting with, what the benefits and disadvantages of each ingredient or product is. That’s what I love about this book — its really a full practical guide for beginners and non-beginners. Anybody at any age can pick this up and easily digest the information. What I love about this book is that it also has a full translated list of ingredients from Korean to English, which is definitely helpful for non-Korean speakers who wish to purchase Korean products but are wary of certain ingredients.

Inside is also a compilation of different bloggers skin care routines, as examples of how you can mix and match different products, not just Korean products but any products in the market to cater to your skin type. And of course, every beauty book is not complete without a set of make up looks and advice.

I love that this book is not afraid to list down the products and names of brands that they’ve used or that people are using in the market. I believe the authors are long time users of Korean products as well and have researched into what they’re doing and what they want people to know very well. As somebody who loves skincare and Korean skincare, I feel like I’ve benefitted a lot from just this one book compared to the others I’ve read and that definitely have gotten a lot of takeaways from this book.

Definitely one of the more beneficial self-help, beauty-related books that I’ve read so far and I feel that it’s worth sharing with readers of Pretty Bookmarks, young, old, male or female! Everyone can benefit from this book and can learn so much about skin care and how to better manage their skin.

As always, if there are other beauty related books that you’ve read and loved please share them in the comments!

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Harry Potter and The Cursed Child by JK Rowling, John Tiffany and Jack Thorne

Harry Potter and The Cursed Child by JK Rowling, John Tiffany and Jack Thorne
Published 31 July 2016 By Little Brown UK

Goodreads

Summary: The Eighth Story. Nineteen Years Later.

Based on an original new story by J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany, a new play by Jack Thorne, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is the eighth story in the Harry Potter series and the first official Harry Potter story to be presented on stage. The play will receive its world premiere in London’s West End on July 30, 2016.

It was always difficult being Harry Potter and it isn’t much easier now that he is an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband and father of three school-age children.

While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted. As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes, darkness comes from unexpected places.

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Wow.

Holy crap.

I had expected nothing, and so much all at once. I pre-ordered this somewhere early July, went straight to the bookstore in the morning of July 31st and on my train ride home, I began to read. I read as I walked home, I read through the parks. I just kept flipping pages.

Maybe this is what most of us needed. A closure, and a new beginning all at once. To be able to immerse ourselves into the magical world of Harry Potter and Hogwarts. Or at least, this is what I wanted.

The Cursed Child has everything and more. I flew through it, partly because its a script, but also because it was so interesting. I loved how the script stays true to the older characters and the interactions between our beloved trio is still, after all these years, as heartwarming and hilarious as ever. Its so interesting to be able to see how our trio has grown up and attempt a hand at raising their own children — the realities of being a parent; the ability to understand their children, or otherwise. But above all, they don’t forget what’s been taught to them in their younger years, from Dumbledore or their experiences for that matter.

The addition and our ability to now visualise the Potter-Granger children or Weasley-Granger children is amazing. I loved that we are now given new characters that are so different yet so familiar to us. I absolutely loved Albus Potter and his unexpected friendship with Scorpius Malfoy. Its also pretty interesting to see a Potter “deviate” from the Gryfindor loving, brave and unwithering Harry Potter prototype. It gives the Potter name a breath of fresh air.

Overall, I absolutely loved Harry Potter and The Cursed Child. I hope that the play will go wordwide at some point and that we get more books to continue on from The Cursed Child. Honestly, there are fans who are against this, fans who worry that The Cursed Child will ruin the initial story — but The Cursed Child isn’t the original story. It’s a continuation, with new (yet old) characters that are familiar and unfamiliar to us. I for one am rooting for there to be more books!

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Grace & Style By Grace Helbig

Grace & Style By Grace Helbig
Published 2 Feb 2016 by Touchstone

Summary: From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Grace’s Guide and the host of The Grace Helbig Show on E! comes a beautifully illustrated, tongue-in-cheek book about style that lampoons fashion and beauty guides while offering practical advice in Grace Helbig’s trademark sweet and irreverent voice.

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I’m disappointed. I really enjoyed Grace’s first book Grace’s Guide, but Grace & Style really fell short for me.

The first few chapters were great. They delved into why style is so important to Grace and how she overcame her eating disorder to become the healthy person she is today. I was hooked, interested to see how her style has evolved over the years and what she’s learnt about fashion. I wanted to know what she’s learnt as a person who didn’t learn fashion, or not a beauty guru — just your average girl who wears clothes.

Grace & Style was more on the humorous side of things. There weren’t any tips that I could remember after reading it, there wasn’t anything in particular that captivated me besides the first few chapters that delved into her personal story with fashion.

I wasn’t sure what I was expecting out of this out. But I certainly hadn’t expected it to be mundane, considering I loved her first book. Grace & Style will be a hit or miss for some; it is easy to read, but probably not necessary for my shelves.

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Grace’s Guide: The Art of Pretending to Be a Grown Up By Grace Helbig

Grace’s Guide: The Art of Pretending to Be a Grown Up
Published 21 Oct 2014 By Touchstone

Goodreads

Summary“One of the sharpest, funniest voices on YouTube” (Forbes), comedian Grace Helbig offers an irreverent and illustrated guide to life for anyone faced with the challenge of growing up.

Face it—being a young adult in the digital era is one of the hardest things to be. Well, maybe there are harder things in life…but being an adult is difficult! So Grace Helbig has written a guide that’s perfect for anyone who is faced with the daunting task of becoming an adult.

Infused with her trademark saucy, sweet, and funny voice, Grace’s Guide is a tongue-in-cheek handbook for millennials, encompassing everything a young or new (or regular or old) adult needs to know, from surviving a breakup to recovering from a hangover. Beautifully illustrated and full-color, Grace’s Guide features interactive elements and exclusive stories from Grace’s own misadventures—like losing her virginity solely because her date took her to a Macaroni Grill—and many other hilarious lessons she learned the hard way.

Amusing and unexpectedly educational, this refreshing and colorful guide proves that becoming an adult doesn’t necessarily mean you have to grow up.

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Grace’s Guide is surprisingly refreshing and tongue-in-cheek funny with witty, yet useful tips to survive the world.

I have to address that I absolutely love Grace Helbig — but with most self-help books, I go in with minimal expectations that I would actually learn anything. Grace’s Guide took me by surprise! The stories that Grace shared in the book really resonated with me and a lot of it was really relatable. With YouTubers, it is easy to forget that they are just like us — they have problems like everyone else and they’re just trying their best to live their lives. YouTube gives us an outlet to be ourselves and create content, but at the same time, we only get to see snippets of their lives. This book really opened up another door into Grace’s life, and personally, I feel that I can relate to her a lot better now after reading her book.

Grace understands. The anxiety problems, being an introvert — these are things that I could really relate to. Its always great to read about someone else’s struggle and how they overcome it — just like how Grace feels her reading about others’ stories give her encouragement and believe that there is a way out, I feel that way reading about her story.

There’s a lot of useful takeaway from Grace’s Guide. Its not just funny or witty, but there are real information in there that can be useful to so many people out there who feels like they’re struggling and need someone to just understand. (Again, I have to stress that the amount of takeaway from this book varies from reader to reader).

Overall, Grace’s Guide is a pretty good quick read. Definitely recommended for fans of Grace Helbig, and anyone who just wants to see what she has to say.

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Girls on Fire By Robin Wasserman

Girls on Fire By Robin Wasserman
Published 16 May 2016 By Harper

Goodreads

Summary: Girls on Fire tells the story of Hannah and Lacey and their obsessive teenage female friendship so passionately violent it bloodies the very sunset its protagonists insist on riding into, together, at any cost. Opening with a suicide whose aftermath brings good girl Hannah together with the town’s bad girl, Lacey, the two bring their combined wills to bear on the community in which they live; unconcerned by the mounting discomfort that their lust for chaos and rebellion causes the inhabitants of their parochial small town, they think they are invulnerable.

But Lacey has a secret, about life before her better half, and it’s a secret that will change everything…

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Trigger Warning: mental, physical and sexual abuse + religious / cult elements

This book scared me.

The Virgin Suicides is one of my favourite books, and when I saw it on the blurb, I knew I had to read it. After reading the book description on Buzzfeed, I was intrigued.

The book opens with a suicide of a boy in Hannah Dexter’s class. He was a popular, well beloved golden boy who decided to shoot himself in the woods. Nobody understood why, but people were convinced: he joined a cult, brainwashed, messed with things bigger than all of us. The 90s setting of this book was amazing; Robin Wasserman did a great job setting everything up. Having been born in the 90s, it was interesting to read about how witchcraft, cults and Kurt Cobain became a great part of many people’s lives or how it affected them and their town.

In comes new girl Lacey, who decided to befriend Hannah, or now lovingly known as Dex, after being publicly humiliated by Nikki Drummond, the most popular girl in school.

Does the plot sound familiar to you? Good girl gets bullied, befriends mysterious new girl and transforms into someone else? Yeah, I thought so. But believe me when I say that Robin Wasserman makes the story her own. Her writing will draw you in, suck you up and force you to turn the pages.

The reality is, Girls on Fire is hella scary and hella good. Wasserman makes you get inside their heads, make them tell you the story, everything that they’re thinking. The chapters alternate between Dex, telling her story and Lacey, telling Dex her story. There are several chapters of “US” that’s just stories from outsiders, namely, their parents and how they’re just trying their best, but it gives you a glimpse of why things are the way they are.

Lacey is psychotic. There is something about her character and the way she mentally gets to you is extremely terrifying but you need to keep reading to know what she’s done, what she’s going to do, her train of thoughts.

While Lacey orchestrates the show, Hannah’s character serves to move Lacey’s ideologies. She is the typical average follower, but its so scary how much of Lacey is within her and how eventually her own ideologies are planted by Lacey herself. And Nikki, oh. Nikki, she isn’t so simple either. I wish there were more of her, and towards the end I wanted to hear more about her story.

Girls on Fire stands on its own. The familiar plot or typical characters doesn’t matter here. Robin Wasserman took something familiar, and spun it to the beat of her own drum.

You need to read this. This book will haunt me for years to come.

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The Worrier’s Guide To Life By Gemma Correll

The Worrier’s Guide To Life By Gemma Correll
Published 26 May 2015 by Andrews McMeel Publishing

Goodreads

Summary: If you’re floundering in life, striking out in love, struggling to pay the rent, and worried about it all — you’re in luck! World Champion Worrier and Expert Insomniac Gemma Correll is here to assure you that it could be much, much worse.

In her hugely popular comic drawings, Gemma Correll dispenses dubious advice and unreliable information on life as she sees it, including The Dystopian Zodiac, Reward Stickers for Grown-Ups, Palm Reading for Millennials, and a Map of the Introvert’s Heart. For all you fellow agonizers, fretters, and nervous wrecks, this book is for you. Read it and weep…with laughter

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I was so excited to discover this book on goodreads that I immediately looked it up at my local library.

The Worrier’s Guide is essentially a collection of pictures that reflect a worrier and their view of the world.

I had expected the Worrier’s Guide to be a funny tongue-in-cheek way of describing what anxiety is. Sadly, I couldn’t find it too relatable. Very little pages resonated with me, and I am someone who has anxiety. Then again, I should say that different people go through different things and anxiety isn’t the same for everyone.

The book fell short of my expectations. It isn’t a book you need, but it’s a book that you can flip through quickly at the library or the bookstore. Interesting pictures, hilarious in parts, but nothing to really hold my attention.

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Love, Tanya By Tanya Burr

Love, Tanya By Tanya Burr
Published 29 Jan 2015 By Penguin Random House UK

Goodreads

Summary: Hi everyone and welcome to Love, Tanya! This book is really close to my heart, because it’s inspired by my journey to becoming confident and feeling happy about who I am. I wanted to write a book to share the things I’ve learnt with you – to reveal my top tips on fashion, beauty, love, friendship, YouTube… and loads more! Plus, there is room for you to list your own hopes and dreams alongside mine – so get creative and get involved! I’d love it if this book became a keepsake you can turn to whenever you need some guidance or a little pick me up. I hope you enjoy it!

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OK, I know what you’re thinking. Another book from another Youtuber, what could they possibly know?

But Tanya Burr knows her stuff.

One thing that works in Tanya’s favour is that the book is a non-fiction. It isn’t a fiction novel nor is it a memoir. Love, Tanya is a cross between a self help book and an autobiography. Tanya discusses her experiences, her background, shares tips and tricks about fashion and even recipes. Love, Tanya probably doesn’t fit into one genre because it just encompasses everything that Tanya loves.

I do enjoy watching Tanya’s videos. She comes across as this genuine, bubbly and incredibly positive ball of sunshine that I’d love for her to be the big sister I never had.

It seems that a lot of youtubers are getting a lot of flack for putting out their own book, but I think how good or bad a book is really boils down to the contents of its book and how the reader perceives it to be. Love, Tanya isn’t a work of fiction so you’ll just have to use your own judgement about how good it is. To me, Love, Tanya is one of the better self help books for beauty and fashion that I’ve read and I personally found it helpful.

I’d recommend it if you’re looking for a simple self-help book with easy tips to follow.

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The Rest of Us Just Live Here By Patrick Ness

The Rest of Us Just Live Here By Patrick Ness
Published 27 Aug 2015 By Walker Books

Goodreads

Summary: What if you aren’t the Chosen One?

The one who’s supposed to fight the zombies, or the soul-eating ghosts, or whatever the heck this new thing is, with the blue lights and the death?

What if you’re like Mikey? Who just wants to graduate and go to prom and maybe finally work up the courage to ask Henna out before someone goes and blows up the high school. Again.

Because sometimes there are problems bigger than this week’s end of the world, and sometimes you just have to find the extraordinary in your ordinary life.

Even if your best friend is worshipped by mountain lions.

Award-winning writer Patrick Ness’s bold and irreverent novel powerfully reminds us that there are many different types of remarkable.

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If you’re looking for a book about superheroes, then this book isn’t for you.

I’ve never read any of Patrick Ness’ previous work, so I went into this without expectations. But now I see why people say he’s brilliant. What I like about this book is that Patrick Ness took a typical story about Chosen Ones and made it into something simpler. Something so uncool that it became cool. Patrick Ness wrote a book about a group of ordinary friends who just want to graduate. How much simpler can you get?

The book begins with a group of friends discussing graduation, and noticing a group of Indie kids disappearing. The Indie kids are described as the Chosen Ones — constantly worrying and busy trying to save the world, where all Mikey and his friends want to do is graduate and talk about that new transfer kid.

What makes this book more interesting is that every chapter starts out with whatever is going on with the Indie Kids. In a way you’re getting a story within a story that correlates and helps complete the bigger picture.

Now, if the plot is too simple for you (yeah, I know, a bunch of kids and an apocalypse plot, sheesh) the characters are going to sell it to you. Seriously. The Rest of Us Just Live Here is character-driven. I appreciate that Patrick Ness took the time to create such a diverse group of friends. They’re so diverse that they become relatable. There’s bound to be someone in the group that you can relate to, or know someone just like them. The characters are what makes the book special to me. I honestly believe that if this book was real and in present moment, we are these group of friends.

Personally, I wanted to give up on this book. The first few chapters were confusing, and slightly boring that I just wanted to return the book and move on. But I’m glad I continued reading because I became completely invested in it.

The Rest of Us Just Live Here is maybe not everyone’s up of tea. Maybe it’s too simple, or too boring for most. Maybe it lacked the plot that people are looking for. But throw away all your expectations and strip it to its bare minimum — The Rest of Us Just Live Here is an average book about average people. And that’s all there is to it.

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Drama By Raina Telgemeier

Drama By Raina Telgemeier
Published 1 Sept 2012 By GRAPHIX

Goodreads

Summary: PLACES, EVERYONE!

Callie loves theater. And while she would totally try out for her middle school’s production of Moon Over Mississippi, she can’t really sing. Instead she’s the set designer for the drama department stage crew, and this year she’s determined to create a set worthy of Broadway on a middle-school budget. But how can she, when she doesn’t know much about carpentry, ticket sales are down, and the crew members are having trouble working together? Not to mention the onstage AND offstage drama that occurs once the actors are chosen. And when two cute brothers enter the picture, things get even crazier!

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Two years ago I read Raina Telgemeier’s Smile for the #AntiBullyingReads challenge and absolutely loved it. Last year, I decided to pick up her other book, Drama and fell in love again. (Note: I wrote this review when I read it last year. Posted it on Goodreads — forgot to post it here. Enjoy!)

Drama offers the same writing and illustrative style that will be familiar to those who have read Smile. Drama revolves around Callie, an enthusiastic set designer for her school’s productions and theatre lover. Similarly to Smile, Drama not only focuses on Callie’s journey as a set designer for Moon Over Mississippi, but also touches on other relatable issues like fitting in, falling in love and acceptance.

Drama is Raina Telgemeier’s original work (unlike Smile which is an autobiography of the author), and is also told in a graphic novel format, but Drama is just as good as Smile. Drama offers the same qualities that Smile had — it was relatable, it was funny but it was also heartwarming. Drama also delved a little bit LGBT, with some gay characters and I loved how Callie had interactions with them and the different storylines that she had with them.

Drama is a wonderful book that talks about important and relevant issues in an approachable manner and I think people of all ages could enjoy reading this book. I would have given this a full 5 stars, but I knocked off 1 star because sometimes I felt that it was a wee bit too focused on the relationship aspect rather than the theatre production, though I definitely appreciate the author’s efforts in trying to bring in the theatre element as much as possible.

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