My October 2016 Julep box: ‘Dark and Stormy Nights’

(Disclosure: post contains affiliate links.)

I haven’t ordered a Julep Maven box in what seems like forever. I haven’t really been doing my nails much lately and I’ve been trying to save cash, but I was really digging the October options and had some Jules saved up to splurge, so I got a sweet little box to treat myself! The theme this month was “Dark and Stormy Nights” and here’s everything that was included:

Julep Dark and Stormy Nights box

Katya (Classic With a Twist)—deep acai berry creme. She’s similar to some other Julep polishes that I already own but I just love vampy almost-black polishes and if I decide not to open her she’d be perfect for giving away. I’m really a sucker for these shades.

Ebony (It Girl)—graphite holographic. This polish is soooooo pretty in the bottle and equally mesmerizing on nails.

Jean (Classic With a Twist)—black cherry creme. Such a vampy twist on classic red nails. It makes me think of a classic horror heroine and definitely fits with the “dark and stormy nights” theme!

Desiree (It Girl)—high-gloss holographic top coat. This was a bonus polish included in all boxes this month and since I adore holos, I can’t wait to play with her.

Fifi (It Girl)—tea time pink creme. This was the October mystery polish. It’s not necessarily something I would have picked for myself but it’s very soft and pretty and a nice pedicure color to offset black or charcoal on my fingertips (or vice versa—I like contrast between my mani and pedi).

Colton (It Girl)—black iris creme. This looks very, very similar to Katya, but I think it’s a shade darker and cooler. Up close you can see that it’s purple, not black.

Silver nail studs and skull print nail stickers (not pictured here, but you can see them on my Insta)—I haven’t played a lot with nail art so I got these add-ons to try out. Wish me luck with the studs!

If you’re curious about Julep, here’s how it works: each month you receive a box of $40+ worth of nail polish and beauty treats for $24.99 ($19.99 if you prepay for a three-month subscription, or $16.66 for a six-month plan). You can opt for a curated box or swap out options and add on exclusively priced extras. Not feeling the monthly options? Skip that month altogether. If you’re interested in becoming a Maven, you can currently get a free twelve-piece polish set when you start a new monthly subscription. And if you’re an existing Maven, don’t forget that you can get $10 off your order of $25 or more with the code “OCT10” now through November 30!

Are you a Julep Maven? Did you post your Dark and Stormy Nights box on your blog or social? If so leave me a link in the comments so I can check it out!

Music Monday: Let Me Down Easy

I can not get this damn song out of my head. I think I need to just buy Hardcore Henry so I can watch it over and over again. If you haven’t seen it, BTW, it’s everything you might gather from the trailer: hyperviolent, hyperkinetic, and freaking awesome.

Top Ten Tuesday: Character names I’ve used (or would use) for my cats

Top Ten Tuesday: character names I would use for my catsI love good stories. I love cats. If I can combine the two then I am one happy girl! This week for TTT we’re talking character names that we would use for a child or pet, so I am rounding up my fave character names that I have used or would use for my kitties:

Merry and Pippin—I mean, who didn’t love these two hobbits? And The Lord of the Rings continues to be one of my fave stories ever, so obviously I’ll have to pull some kitty names from it at some point. If I ever get kitty siblings I’d love to call them Merry and Pippin.

Guenhwyvar—the magical panther who accompanies Drizzt Do’Urden in the Forgotten Realms books. I always said that if I got a female black cat I would use this name and now I have. If you follow me on Instagram you’ve probably seen her pop up from time (but let me tell ya, black cats are hard to photograph, and even more so when they’re shy!).

Book character names I've used for my cats: Guenhwyvar

Artemis Entreri—another FG character, this one was an assassin who was kind of a good guy at times. I haven’t used it yet but I will. I’d like to give this name to a black boy cat.

Sherlock Holmes—can’t you see a super-grouchy fluffy cat with this name?

Jaqen H’ghar—I’m reserving this one in case I ever get an orange and white cat. I suppose my Skittles comes close since she has the split coloring on her face and that fits perfectly with the Two-Faced Man but I couldn’t bear to change her name. She is my other super-fluffy girl.

Captain Jack Sparrow—the fluffiest of fluffies! She got this name because a) I found her while jogging to some music by Bring Me the Horizon, so fate; and b) she had bad mats in her fur from neglect, so she looked like she had black dreadlocks. I know this doesn’t really count as a bookish name, but I had to include it.

Book character names I've used for my cats: Captain Jack Sparrow

Daryl Dixon—if I ever get another cat who’s absolutely wild he or she will be Dixon after everyone’s favorite zombie slayer. If it’s a girl I could just call her Dixie for short.

HobbesCalvin and Hobbes was one of my favorite comic strips growing up, and still is. I used this name for the shy, slightly grumpy orange cat that comes by my porch each day for food. S/he is feral and won’t accept pets but is slowly getting more used to me. (I’m not sure if it’s a girl or a boy but I call it “Mr. Hobbes” all the same.)

Al Sa-Her (The Magician)-–if you watch Arrow on TV or read the DC comic books, you know this is Malcolm Merlyn’s name as a member of the League of Assassins. A little black and white cat showed up on my doorstep and charmed even Hobbes into accepting her, so “The Magician” seems to fit. And I do think a black and white cat needs a regal name, don’t you? (BTW, that ghost cat in the background is the neighbor’s, “Sweetie”–but I call her Mouse!)

Book character names I've used for my cats: Hobbes and Al Sa-Her

Those are the best ones I can think of for now! So what character names would you use (or have used) for your kids and pets? Do you think it’s a silly idea or not? Leave me a comment and let me know!

Music Monday: Witchcraft

New yoga music. Yes, I listen to some pretty different stuff when I do yoga…it’s not all “namaste” and meditation for me, I do it to stretch and strengthen and relax after a long day at work, so I like music that makes me feel powerful. Immersion is a pretty good album for that.

Book review: ‘Dark Matter’

(Post contains affiliate links. Thank you to NetGalley for providing a review copy!)

If there ever comes a day when a new Blake Crouch novel is announced and I don’t immediately start fangirling, check my pulse, because I’m probably dead.

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To understand why, you have to flash back a year or so to when I first got a copy of Abandon from NetGalley. I sat down to read it thinking I had it totally pegged, and the deeper I got into the book, the more I realized just how wrong I was. Every time I thought I had a good handle on what the hell was happening and what might happen next, Crouch threw something at me so shocking that I could barely turn the next pages fast enough.

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When I first saw the cover for Dark Matter pop up on NetGalley, I requested a copy without really reading the description. I mean, it’s Blake Crouch. From reading through his previous books, I can see a clear pattern: the man just gets better with each new book. Rumor has it the movie rights to Dark Matter were optioned before he even completed the manuscript, so I’m clearly not the only person with this mindset. If I had to guess at how he comes up with new story ideas, I would say he clicks around on the Internet until he finds a topic that interests him, and then proceeds to research the hell out of it until he can write the most compulsive book about it that exists. Whatever he’s doing, it’s working pretty damn good.

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Now, the thing about Dark Matter is that it’s one of those books where the less you know, the better off you are. I rolled my eyes at a lot of very hype-y reviews that said the same thing about Gone Girl and once I read that book, I realized that the reviewers were not lying. So when Goodreads was flooded with warnings essentially saying the same thing about this book, I took heed. You should too. I will give you the most spoiler-free review that I can, and I will warn you that it’s a good idea to make sure you have no pressing commitments that will interrupt the reading of this book, because it’s damn near impossible to put down. Get your snacks ready and snuggle in!

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The basic premise of Dark Matter is this: one cold night in Chicago, Jason Dessen is having an ordinary family meal with his wife and teenage son. When he leaves for a short time, he is followed and kidnapped by a man in a mask who asks him, “Are you happy with your life?” Shortly thereafter he wakes up strapped to a gurney, surrounded by strangers in hazmat suits who tell him, “Welcome back.”

What follows is such a crazy ride that I’m not even sure I can compare it to many other sci-fi or spec-fic novels. I have no idea what the below GIF is pulled from, but it’s a pretty good summary of my feels about this book.

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From reading books across the spectrum of his career, I would say that Crouch has definitely matured as a writer. He isn’t afraid to cut characters loose or to show you things that are deeply uncomfortable, even if they don’t offer the happiest of endings for the characters involved. This is actually a pretty dark book once you start to think about it. A lot of themes come into play here: choice, second chances, and the long-reaching consequences of seemingly small choices. It definitely makes you think about all the events that have shaped who you are today, and how those little “what ifs” that linger at the back of everyone’s minds are actually not so little.

I’ve also heard this book described as a love story, and after a pause, I would agree. You can’t really ever make a choice about your own life without affecting the lives of the people you love. If you trade your dream for a life with someone else, is that trade worth it? If you had a second chance to do it all over again or take a different path, what would you do? It definitely makes your mind wander.

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One last note: if you’re not a big science fiction fan, don’t let the “sci-fi” designation scare you off. This book is weird and twisty and at times it will make you think hard, but it never got so far out there that I couldn’t follow along. It’s nowhere near on the level of books like The Martian, which is definitely written by and for geeks. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that…but it can be intimidating to general readers!)

So in short: go read this book. Buy it, so you can read it multiple times. I promise you’ll be blown away.

If there ever comes a day when a new Blake Crouch novel is announced and I don't immediately start fangirling, check my pulse, because I'm probably dead. (Book review of 'Dark Matter')Dark Matter, by Blake Crouch (hardcover, 352 pages). Published July 2016 by Crown. Genres: science fiction, speculative fiction, thriller, mystery, suspense, fantasy. Five out of five stars. Find it on Goodreads, Amazon, BN.com, or the Book Depository. Don’t forget to friend me on Goodreads while you’re there—I love making new bookish friends!