November Favorites

Sorry this post is a bit late! But as I said in my Pile of Applications post, things are a bit hectic around here. Still, there were some products that managed to stand out from the PhD application craze and make it to my monthly favorites!


Quite by accident, my November favorites are color coordinated.

Quite by accident, my November favorites are color coordinated.


Too Faced Lip Insurance Lip Primer


This is a sample size, but I cannot for the life of my remember how I received this sample since I don’t own many Too Faced products. I really enjoy this primer though. Only recently have I been concerned about lip primers in particular. Mostly because fall and winter are the seasons of darker, more matte shades and you want those lippies to stay put! Maybe it’s just me but I also think that this primer has helped seal some moisture into my lips. I notice less drying and chapped lips when I use this lip primer. A full size Lip Insurance primer retails for $19 and when this sample is up I may have to bite the bullet here.

The Balm’s Meet Matt(e) Palette

I got this palette awhile back from a Hautelook sale for $17, but it took me until November to really explore this palette properly. Honestly, having a Hautelook account is worth it for The Balm alone since this palette runs for $34.50 at Nordstroms.

All your matte needs in one.

All your matte needs in one.

All the shades are named after a Matt, which is cute. But the colors themselves are amazing. Buttery soft shadows that blend like a dream. The little brushes that come with the palette will do in a pinch but they’re nothing special.

Left to right: Matt Patel, Matt Schilling, Matt Smith, and Matt Gallagher.

Left to right: Matt Patel, Matt Schilling, Matt Smith, and Matt Gallagher.

The above photo shows some of my favorite shades from the palette. I love the smokey-taupe of Matt Patel, and the dusty emerald of Matt Schilling will be perfect for the upcoming holidays. You can barely see Matt Smith on my hand because it’s such a close match for my skin tone, which is great for those days you want to pretend you’re not wearing makeup. For similar reasons, Matt Gallagher is great crease shade.

Dr. Jart + Black Label Detox BB Beauty Balm

This tiny tube holds one amazing product!

This tiny tube holds one amazing product!

This wee sample came in my first Birchbox, which I did not do a review on because it came so late in the month. This BB cream has blown me away. Such a small amount covers my face and makes my skin look so much healthier. It helps conceal and combat blemishes and evens out skin tone. There is also a 25 SPF in this product, which is ideal for my lifestyle (I never walk out of the house without some level of sunblock on my face). Your skin will look velvety smooth. This balm comes in one universal shade–for my fair skin this blends out beautifully but darker skin tones would have a hard time matching up with this formula I think. A full-size .6 oz tube of this costs $36. Since I’ve gotten at least a half-dozen uses out of this tiny tube and it’s not empty yet, the price point for this BB cream is probably worth it.

Indie Lee Brightening Cleanser

Almost empty.

Almost empty.

As you can see, I am almost out of this sample sized cleanser, which came in an ipsy bag. Luckily, I already have a full-sized bottle of this from a previous PopSugar Must Have box since the product retails for $32. There’s a light strawberry scent to this cleanser that is invigorating. This cleanser is multi-purpose too: you can use it as a make-up remover (and it’s gentle on the eyes too), as a cleanser, or as an exfoliator. I have used this product all three ways and I will say each way is effective, but my favorite way to use it is as a cleanser. I just feel refreshed after using this cleanser.

Real Techniques Stippling Brush

The perfect brush.

The perfect brush.

Up until a year ago I was not that invested in makeup brushes. Boy, has that changed! My brush collection has grown, but my favorite brush is easily this Real Techniques stippling brush. It has a pleasant heft to it and the bristles are soft and densely packed. I use this most often for blush; this brush has cut down on heavy-handed application a.k.a. clown face. When I use this stippling brush it puts on just the right amount of color and gives a stunning airbrushed effect over the cheeks. For $9.99, you need this brush in your life.

And now for my other monthly favorites…

Favorite Film

It should come as no surprise that my favorite film for November is Interstellar. It’s been weeks, but I still return to the idea of that film and turn it around in my mind. A close runner-up though, would be Fury, another film I saw this month that blew me away.

Favorite Book

I think my favorite read from November would have to be The Book Thief.

That wraps up my November favorites. Hope you found something to enjoy!

Thanks for popping in!

The Book Thief

Lately, I’ve been making a concentrated effort to read more YA literature. In my teens and early college years I judged what was then only just being officially labeled as YA as being too juvenile, but I’m here today to recant my former snobbery.

The library has been my greatest ally in exploring all kinds of new literature. A recent trip had me picking up Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief. Once again, I found myself wanting to know what all the hype was about, providing that the hype had died down a bit, of course.

The Book Thief

The Book Thief

The Book Thief is actually a perfect example of my previous dismissive habits regarding YA lit. Debuting in 2005, The Book Thief rocketed to the number one spot on the New York Times’ bestseller list. I was fifteen and it seemed that everywhere I looked someone was carting around a copy of this novel. Naturally, my snobbish impulse was to ignore its presence.

Yet if anyone is emblematic of the power of YA, it is Zusack. His writing coaxed laughter, anxiety, and tears out of me with ease. Perhaps Zusack’s greatest skill is that feeling, that illusion, of naturalness: you often forget that someone must have labored over these words while reading this novel and instead find yourself wrapped up in the storytelling rather than the storyteller.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. You’ve come this far, you should at least get a summary.

The Book Thief is about an unlikely family struggling to survive and thrive in the midst of Nazi Germany. Liesel Meminger’s stint as The Book Thief begins with the tragic death of her little brother and the fateful book found in the snow, The Grave Digger’s Handbook. Thrust into a new life, ┬áLiesel finds solace in her stolen book and its complex words as her kind-eyed foster-father teaches Liesel to read. Soon enough, Liesel is itching to steal again: at the Nazi book-burnings, the mayor’s library, or wherever else she can manage. But Liesel’s theivery isn’t the only secret in their household. The family is hiding a Jew in their basement, and Liesel finds her world torn apart and put right all at once as the war reaches a fever pitch.

On the surface, the concept of this novel should be rather difficult: making a slew of characters in Nazi Germany not only sympathetic but heroic and loveable. That is not to say that The Book Thief applies rose-colored glasses–there are a fair number of unpleasant folk in this novel–but that the book suggests that the culpability of a country is not as black and white as history books often portray it.

There’s Rudy Steiner, the blonde boy-next-door whose greatest idol is Jesse Owens. Hans Hubberman, Liesel’s foster-father, whose deep well of kindness often gets him into trouble. And of course, Liesel herself is an undeniably compelling character with her select but firm moral compass that allows her to steal and give tremendously by turns. My favorite character, however, is Death.

Death is the most marvelous and considerate narrator. The boldface asides and mild tangents about humanity are beautifully executed. And there is perhaps no better use of an omnipotent narrator in WW II than Death. As a result, we get to see the fate of characters we may never have known about had the story been told from Liesel’s perspective solely.

In many ways, we are drawn to Liesel as readers because Death is drawn to her. Death’s compulsory love and admiration for Liesel is what allows us to care for her so quickly and in spite of her sometimes morally ambiguous behavior.

Zusack has a way with manipulating language that speaks to the heart of a person. Each turn of the page reveals a clever phrase or a profound image. Most often I’d find myself stunned by Death’s or Liesel’s description of the weather, so casually rendered on the page, but so moving.

“The sky was like soup, boiling and stirring. In some places, it was burned. There were black crumbs, and pepper, streaked across the redness.” (12)

Imagery is clearly one of the author’s strong suits.

I’ve yet to read any of Markus Zusack’s other books, but based on The Book Thief, I’d like to read more. I’d give this novel 4 Book Bubbles–A Popping Good Time.