Book Review – A Dance with Dragons

I finally managed to find the time to finish this gigantic piece of work. A Dance with Dragons is the fifth and latest book of the “A Song of Ice and Fire series” written by George RR Martin. This is a companion book to its predecessor, A Feast for Crows, in the sense that it narrates from the point of view of the characters not present in that one. That is true up to a certain point, I’d say up to 9 tenths of the book, where the story starts to flow as one and we get to see almost all of the characters.

At the Wall we have the play for power that Stannis tries to win with Jon, who is Lord Commander. Now, I do like Stannis and his quest for justice, but his claim to the help of the Night’s Watch is out of order and Jon knows it. Jon has become my absolute favourite character now that he is a grown man who, thanks to his father and to Maester Aemon, is capable of making smart and cunning decisions, while remaining fair and just.

Another favourite character of mine is Tormund, who brings that comic relief that we so desperately need in that world. A character that I’m on the fence about is Melisandre. She is…strange. In the chapter that we are granted from her point of view, we see that she is not fake and that she truly believes in her god and in her fires. R’hllor is a diety I am not so sure about, since I do think that the true gods are the Old ones, but R’hllor fits with the predominating prophecy and Azor Ahai. Jon’s final chapter is of course traumatizing even though Melisandre sort of tells us what will happen all throughout.

Ramsay Bolton is one of the most disgusting and hateful characters ever written. I cannot believe I hate him more than I hated Joffrey. I hope that his death will be similar to that in the show and that it will be Theon (Reek) who deals it to him. Theon is someone who has gone through a complete transformation and I want to see him flourish, with the help of his sister.

Another very interesting story is Bran’s. I am dying to know more about the Three Eyed Raven and how Bran will manage to use his powers.

Across the Narrow Sea, Tyrion basically faces the wrath of all gods: first he finds out that Rhaegar’s son is not/may not be dead, then he almost gets greyscale, then he gets kidnapped by Jorah Mormont (whom I love), then he gets almost killed by a fellow dwarf, and last but not least he jousts for Daenerys in the Slave Pits. After that, he finally starts to use his wits again and manages to secure the support of a mercenary group for Daenerys.

Daenerys, whom I still do not like, is trapped in an Essos game of thrones. She ends up marrying a man who then tries to poison her, she has to lock up 2 of her dragons (which are then let loose by our very brave but very stupid Quentyn Martell, rest in peace), she has to deal with a flux, and then she flies away on Drogon’s back only to then be found by a khalasar led by an old enemy of hers, who will probably want to take her back to the Dosh Khaleen (but she is protected by Drogon, so maybe not). One very interesting fact is that she appears to get the flux (although the Targaryens were mostly immune to diseases) and she starts bleeding between her legs; she starts thinking that she has not had her period in a very long time, but being convinced that she is barren, she unconsciously excludes the possibility of having a spontaneous abortion, which I personally think is possible (thanks to either her husband or Daario).

The Martells are doing a complicated ploy of their own, even though I am not sure how that will fare since Quentyn is now deceased. Jaime in the meanwhile manages to end the war in the Riverlands only to then disappear with Brienne, who is lying to him, saying that she needs his help, while really she promised his head in exchange for Pod’s life. I’ll want to see what happens there.

Cersei has to do a walk of atonement that leads her in the arms of a resurrected although half dead Mountain (Clegane) while her uncle, Kevan Lannister, whom I actually really liked, is killed by Varys and his little spies. I still dislike Cersei and find her quite a hypocrite even during her walk, when she says that women are the first to insult other women, while she herself has always done that to others.We find out that Varys has plotted all these years for a resurrection of the Targaryen line through Aegon.

I cannot wait for The Winds of Winter to come out, although I do think that we will have to still wait a while.

Thank you for reading

xx

 

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Infallible: Pro-Matte vs. Total Cover

My Pro-Matte is living its last days and I had to buy a replacement, but I felt like I needed a change from the foundation I have been wearing for the past year. I saw the Total Cover one on the stand for the same price and decided to try it out. I knew the reviews online were half great and half awful, so I took a leap of faith. I wear shade 20 Sand in both (it is the European shade range, so the names are different in the US).

Now, keep in mind that I have combination skin, which means that I have mildly-oily spots, like around my nose, chin and forehead, while the rest of my face is basically normal, maybe just slightly sensitive to friction.

I did a review of the Pro-Matte here: basically, it’s great. Long lasting, matte, the shade range in Europe could be better but on the US site there appear to be way more shades. I love it a great deal: I put it on at 6:30am and when I get home at around 3pm it is still amazing, only slightly shiny, although when I go and powder it, it looks less perfect than when freshly applied.

Now, for the Total Cover: it is even more high-coverage than the Pro-Matte and it looks almost airbrushed. The shade range on the US site is more limited than the Pro-Matte one, especially for darker skin tones, and that is a thumbs-down. It is a beautiful foundation and its only fault is that it starts getting shiny earlier. I wore it last night for about 4 hours and a half and it was pretty shiny when I got home, even though not truly oily. I then powdered it and it was beautiful once more, completely flawless and I think I could pull another 3 to 4 hours out of it before re-powdering. I do not mind having to do that, but I have to make it into a habit, since as of right now I never take powder anywhere with me.

Also, they both photograph well, but the Total Cover one truly blew my mind. It gives you that Instagram filter sort of look and you look as if you have no pores.

Which do I think is the best? It has to be the Pro-Matte, simply because it lasts much longer without needing touch ups. But the Total Cover is a total tie if you do not mind carrying a compact around. Both are great and they both deserve a 9/10 for different reasons.

Thank you for reading.

xx

 

Hair Care Routine

I took a (much needed and lazy) month long break from writing blog posts, trying to get back into the swing of things university-wise. However, I am back with a hair care routine: this consists of all the steps I do whenever I wash my hair.

Keep in mind, my hair is very fine and fragile, therefore I need a lot of strength and nourishment, especially since I like to style it almost every time I wash it, be it a simple blow dry or true straightening.

As far as washing and conditioning goes, I have recently started using Biopoint products, because they claim that they are salon quality professional products and I have to say, they feel like it. The shampoo I use is the Pure & Fresh one, made for normal and fine hair, with 0% silicones, parabens and all of that bad stuff. One piece of advice I can give you is to have your hair particularly wet before using this product: if you fail to do so, there will not be enough foam. Regarding the conditioner, I use the Super Nutrient one, since I like a heavier consistency. For both products, one pump in enough.

Now about hair masks, I have always used L’Oreal ones and the one I am using at the moment is the Keratin Smooth one. I think, however, that it somehow dulls my hair and I will soon switch to a Biopoint one.

After I get out of the shower, I towel dry my hair and then I apply two more products: the Schwarzkopf heat protectant which has done its job for the past 3 years, and the Pantene dry oil with vitamin E for damaged hair. In regards to oils, I have always used what I find at the store, nothing fancy and I have never been too picky about them.

So this is my routine: I do this about 3 times a week and I have to say that I do not have split ends, despite last trimming my hair more than 4 months ago, so I must say I am pretty content.

Thank you for reading.

xx

First Winter Exam Session – Done

Three days ago I finished what was my first ever university exam session and let me tell you, it was a whirlwind of emotions, insecurities and late nights. I understood so much about myself and about what I will do better next time and I have to say, I am very pleased.

My first exam was on the 10th of January, Business Fundamentals I think you would call it in English. I went fully prepared and knowing that I would ace it. That turned out to be true: I did everything perfectly and got the maximum. I was very happy and for the first time ever I felt like hard work really pays off. So that is my first lessons learned there.

My second exam was probably the one I dreaded the most: Math. This was the lengthiest one, divided in two parts: the written exam (on the 16th of January) and the oral exam (on the 22nd). The written part went, in my opinion, kind of below mediocre. The oral part went much better and my professor assessed that: that got me a 26/30 overall. I could not have been happier, I must say. That grade is higher than any I have ever gotten in high school in this subject and I am proud of myself.

Fast forward to three days ago, I did my last exam of the semester, Public Law, at noon on the 20th of February. Now, I have never felt more insecure than I did the days prior to this exam. I did not study as much as I should have, I did not prepare my answers as well as I should have, so I was mentally prepared for a mediocre grade. The professor herself decided to examine the student who have actively frequented her class (leaving the others to her assistants), those she recognized the faces of, so she also picked me. She started asking me question after question, not letting me breathe, saying she liked my way of answering and therefore having fun torturing me. I did not expect to get the maximum, but I did. What mattered more though, is what she told me after: she said that she is proud of me and of the fact that also my other exams went well and how she is simply content witnessing this from someone who was not born in this country.

This final exam made me realize that I should believe in myself more, that I should assess my capabilities. A friend of mine, whom I was venting to the night before, told me to remember that I am Wonder Woman.

What you are inside shines through in times of hardship and coincidently, those times make you who you are. 

This semester I have been insecure, thinking that other classmates of mine were way above my level and that I could not reach them. Well, that proved to be false. I have something that not many people have, and it is not a particular drive for a subject more than another; it is purpose. I have a grand plan in my head and I will not rest until it is accomplished. You want to know who I am? I am the person you hear about in motivational videos on youtube. Check me out.

I am not perfect, I have to say. There are many things I should have done differently: I should have started studying sooner and I should have studied more. I should have doubted myself less and ignored my brain when it would try to make me nap in the afternoon. This semester, starting Monday, I know better.

Thank you for reading.

xx

BoomBoomTheLabel Dress Review

When it came the time to pick my outfit and birthday present, the two coincided into one and I decided to get spoiled and get a dress I have been dreaming about for months.

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BoomBoomTheLabel is an English brand found online here and on Instagram here. Their photos are everywhere and I started researching their brand. Their items are handmade in England and they use great quality materials, making sure that their tightest fits are not see through. This last detail is what sold me on buying the Sweetheart Midi Dress in red. The size I got is an S and it is super comfortable and true to size. The prices are slightly higher than what we are used to from most mainstream brands, but they are absolutely worth it.

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Shipping was very effective as well, having decided for the Express shipping (1-2 days). They shipped the dress a day from when I ordered it and it got to me in 2 days, perfectly. It came in a lovely black box with the brand name in gold. That is where I will store the dress itself, since it makes me very happy seeing it perfectly in order.

Now, for the undergarments. I did not wear a bra because the texture could be seen through and the back is half revealed. I did wear knickers, but a special seamless type from Intimissimi, and they were truly impossible to see.

I really adore this dress and I must say that it is totally worth the price tag. As soon as some new occasion pops up I will certainly shop again with them.

Thank you for reading.

xx

Birthday Reflections – February 5th, 2018

Another year went by and I do not know where it went, yet I find myself, on this very day, utterly myself and utterly changed. I am 20 years old as of 4:50 am today and I have to say, I have never felt more Woman in my life.

I was talking to a very close friend of mine yesterday and she asked me if I think I have changed and how. The answers came flowing easily. I have less patience, in general. I cannot be bothered with feeble people and weak opinions, I want certainty and I want things my way. My demeanor has changed: starting university I decided to let people gravitate towards me, not the other way around, not caring if I had to be alone in order to be the person I always wanted to be. I immersed myself in my studies and the results are proof of that. My taste in partners has evolved: no more time for half-men and fuckboys, no more time for grey answers, it is either black or white. I have learned to live more in the moment and think before I speak. I have learned to not complain and be 100% positive, even when the circumstances are not ideal. I have learned to turn anxiety into energy and fuel.

I have grown so much as a person and as a woman and I am grateful for living the life I am living, for being able to study in an established institution, for having my small circle of friends who love and support me. There is nothing else I could think of that I need. I have it all.

My mother barged into my room yesterday, looked at me and said “Do you realise I am your mother? That I have been your mother for the past 20 years?”. And now I realise that and there is nothing I could be more thankful for. My mother is a great woman, who is good and kind and hard working, always with a smile on her face about to explode into laughter, while keeping me grounded and raising me into a self-aware and confident woman. She is my rock.

My 20th year will be my best one yet, I am certain. I hope you will stick around.

Thank you for reading.

xx

Book Review – A Feast for Crows

This must be the book from the A Song of Ice and Fire series that I read the fastest, partly because I was taking a break from exam-prepping. I do not know why, but reading this book felt different than reading the three previous ones. I think that the author’s approach sort of changed with this book, giving it a more modern feel.

The title does indeed say it all: there are not true battles resembling the Blackwater Bay one; instead, this volume focuses on the aftermath of the war, on all the dead bodies of soldiers and commonfolk on which the crows are feasting. The title might also be a reference to a new and savage character, Crow’s Eye, aka Euron Greyjoy.

With this new character introduced, I have to say that I actually, for the first time, enjoyed reading about what happens in the Iron Islands. Euron is a man who has been to the eastern edge of the world and has come back even crazier than when he left in exile. Of course, I have to love the damaged characters. I also loved Asha and Victarion’s characters, especially Asha’s strength and determination. I am excited to find out what happens on Victarion’s voyage east.

Cersei…I was particularly happy to start this book because for the first time we have a Cersei POV, but my high hopes were crushed. She is nothing, in my opinion, like the Cersei we have seen portrayed by Lena Headey in the tv series. I think she lacks strength and wit and foresight, while blaming every injustice done to her on the fact that she is treated differently, being a woman. She hopes to surpass her father, but that will never happen, not because she is female, but because she is absolutely nothing like the great lion Tywin. I think her poor choices, both as a mother and a queen regent, culminated in the twist of fate the new High Septon bestowed upon her. Now, do not get me wrong: I hate this new spiritual guide and his militia, but Cersei got a good bite of karma. I felt genuinely sorry for Margaery, Tommen, and Blue Bard.

My favourite chapters, of course, were the ones involving Jaime! This man is so good and strong and fair. He improves the farther away he is from Cersei and his last act of burning her letter begging help made me so ecstatic. But I have to say, I am happy that the Blackfish escaped his claws; I love that man.

Brienne and Pod’s journey left me kind of disappointed, since they seemed to be going in circles, without really getting anywhere. Lady Stoneheart’s appearance left a bitter taste in my mouth, not liking her idea of justice.

I never thought I’d find myself saying this, but I actually adored Petyr Baelish’s character. I loved the little lessons he gave Sansa (Alayne) regarding the game of thrones and power. And I also liked Sansa’s chapters, which has never happened before.

Now, for my favourite part: DORNE! I cannot tell you how much I loved being introduced to this kingdom and its exotic people and culture. I liked Arianne Martell’s character and her tragic love story with Arys Oakheart, while I respect her father so much for putting in motion a plan which could give great fruits in the future.

Arya now has started a completely new journey in the House of Black and White and I must say, I prefer the way it is depicted in the books rather than the show. I especially appreciate the “kindly man” and his words of wisdom. Also, the way the stories of some of the characters (like Sam and Arya) cross paths did not escape my sight; this is something new we saw with this book.

Samwell is still the sweetheart slayer we all know and adore, who manages to carry so much weight on his shoulders, despite being afraid of everything. His and Gilly’s relationship evolves, while we unfortunately get to witness the spectacular last moments of Maester Aemon, one of my overall most favourite characters. The amount of knowledge and new mysteries her comes out with before dying left me open mouthed and googling theories. He will be so missed. Sam’s arrival to the Citadel is welcomed by a very sinister but, for some aspects, brutally honest maester, Marwyn, who already knew what Sam came to say and do and then left to fulfill Aemon’s role, fighting the Citadel’s wish to destroy magic.

This is indeed one of my favourite volumes, thanks to Jaime, Aemon, Samwell, and Arianne.

Score: 8/10 (only because I miss Tyrion and Jon so much)

Thank you for reading.

xx