Cozy Mysteries Master List!

Recently I have been getting into the cozy mystery sub-genre. Cozy mysteries are essentially a section for mysteries that are on the lighter side. While murder is a common theme, violence and grotesque descriptions are usually not mentioned or very lightly touched upon in these books.

I especially have gotten into the paranormal side of cozy mysteries, which I first found on this awesome website. 

It is a master list of all cozy mysteries that are split into different themes. Besides paranormal mysteries the website gives you suggestions on specific topics like pet cozy mysteries and holiday cozy mysteries. Looking for something spooky to read for Halloween? You will find many on The Cozy Mystery List. 

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Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea

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Author: Barbara Demick

My Rating: 5/5

 

It all started when I was watching the ABC 20/20 episode about what happened to Otto Wambier. (If you’re interested in watching the episode, you can look it up on YouTube.) Before, I knew North Korea was kind of a crazy country, but I had no idea it was an extreme communist country; and after watching the episode I just had to learn more about this “hermit kingdom.”

Nothing To Envy is a nonfiction book in which the author tells the stories of six North Korean citizens who managed to escape the most secretive state. This book is an incredible source of information of what life is really like in North Korea.

I really enjoyed this book because before, I had finished watching lots of documentaries on North Korea. It is not only hard to get into the country, having permission to film and interview citizens is even more difficult. When I watched the documentaries, I saw that the North Korean government wanted the films to only show the very best that North Korea has, not the bad and ugly. When you watch a documentary on North Korea that interviews the citizens, you do not get the personal opinions from the citizens; you get a propaganda machine spewed from the mouths of the citizens who claim to have a perfect life and have “nothing and nobody to envy.”

This book tells the true stories of so many North Korean citizens who do not live comfortably in the city Pyongyang, the wealthy capital of the country. A cushy and rich city where health care, food and shelter is easily accessible. This is the only city North Korea will let foreigners visit and documentary crews film; simply because they do not want people to know the poor and awful standards of living the rest of their country suffers in. This book engrossed me, and it read like a novel. The author extensively interviewed and researched the topics she covered. Because of these points, I easily gave this book a 5/5 star rating.

I honestly believe everyone should read this book, especially those who moan and groan about the evils of capitalism. Now, before I get your panties up in a twist, I am not all pro-capitalism or pro-Trump. All I am saying is, after reading this book, it gave me a fresh perspective on the advantages of capitalism, and above all, reminded me how fortunate I am to live in a capitalist country with internet access and free speech. Something, North Koreans, would be killed if caught participating in.

I recommend this to anybody and everyone. I strongly feel this is an essential book to read.

Cheap Makeup Removal Wipes!

When I have finished a closing shift I usually get home around 10:30 pm. I’m hungry, tired and frankly, at that hour, I just don’t want to thoroughly wash my face with a washcloth and soap to scrub the makeup off my face. I also have to wash the washcloth and rinse the makeup out after I’m done as well. Otherwise, I would have to face the morning wrath of my mother for leaving a foundation covered washcloth in the sink. I know, I’m super lazy.

So, I turn to makeup remover wipes in time of need. The thing is, I find they are pretty damn expensive. For example, at Walmart, a pack of 25 NEUTROGENA® makeup wipes costs you 10 dollars. 

But do not fear, for I have found the cheapest and best deal on makeup removal wipes. For me at least. (If you have any other good deals on cheap makeup wipe cleansers be sure to comment on this blog post below!!)

For a while, I was buying makeup wipes at Forever 21. These cost roughly 6 dollars, for a pack of 60 wipes. YES, not 25 wipes, but 60! 

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The one above was one of the kind I would frequently buy. They had all kinds of different scents besides this one. They were decent, cheap and would get the job done. However, they were nowhere near perfect. I would often find they were dryer than other makeup wipes I had tried out, and sometimes, they were just too dry. At the end of the day though, they were fine, and there were 60 of them. I really couldn’t complain.

A few months ago, I was dismayed to find out Forever 21 did not sell this line of makeup wipes anymore. I was very worried they were just going to be selling their small 30 makeup remover wipe sets. 30 wipes is still good and all, but you get a much better deal getting the 60 piece one since it was only a couple of dollars more than the 30 piece.

Last week I visited Forever 21 and was super pumped to find out they were back to selling their 60 wipe set. Forever 21’s makeup Love & Beauty label was still stamped on the packaging; but the design and name of the wipes were different and cost 8 dollars instead of the original 6. I still didn’t hesitate to pick one up to test out.

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Behold, my new favourite item at Forever 21.

 

I am very glad I did. These wipes are so much better than the previous ones I used to purchase. They are better because, sigh, they are perfectly….moist. I cringe as I type this out. (I really hate that word and I hate to use it, but I must in this case.)

They take the makeup off much easier than the ones I used to use and they smell way better. They are a bit more expensive, but heck, 60 wipes for 8 dollars is still an awesome deal compared to 25 NEUTROGENA® wipes for 10 dollars. (And that is how much they cost at Walmart. Can you imagine how much they must cost at Shoppers Drugmart?!)

I try to minimize the waste I cause, so I don’t use makeup wipes every day. But if you are like me and get home late from work some days and just want to hit the hay without covering your pillowcase with makeup, these are a great life hack. Especially for those on a budget.

 

Criminal Minds: Finishing School (Criminal Minds #3)

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Author: Max Allan Collins

My Rating: 5/5

In case you are new to my blog, I am a true crime addict. I research serial killers in my spare time. I read case files. I love documentaries on famous murderers and villains. I even check out /r/CrimeScene on reddit. This subreddit allows redditors to submit crime stories with actual crime scene photos.  (View at your own risk, it is NSFW.) I have a fascination with the darkest of human nature. This all started when I was 12 or 13 years old when I was flipping through tv channels, I stumbled across Criminal Minds. I can confidently say this show has changed my life.

If you are unfamiliar with the television show, it centres around the FBI’s Behavioural Analysis Unit (BAU.) They investigate and solve the most complex murder cases. They deal with terrorists, pedophiles, murderers and their specialty: serial killers. Now, I am going to admit this book review will be biased because Criminal Minds has always been my all-time favourite show. I can honestly say I have watched every single episode at least three times. (And to give you an idea of the episode count, the show has been renewed for it’s 12th season.)

Because I have been a fan of the show for so long, I was quite surprised to find out I didn’t know there is a book series based on it. I came across this book at my local thrift store and squealed. So as a die-hard Criminal Minds fan I had to get it.

Even though this is the 3rd book in the series, (and to my recent discovery, the last,) you do not need to read the first two to understand what is happening in this one. Like the television show, the book begins with the BAU team given a new case to solve.

The first thing I noticed and liked about this book is that the author gives you a quick rundown on what the BAU is and does; as well as explaining each member of the team. So, if you have never watched the television show, you will still understand the characters and what they bring to the team as individuals.

On the flip side, if you are just as a massive fan of the show as I am, you will be pleased to find out this book does NOT repeat an episode from the show, it is a brand new case! This book features my personal favourite BAU team combo. We have: David Rossi, Aaron Hotchner, Derek Morgan, Emily Prentiss, JJ Jareau, Penelope Garcia and Dr. Spencer Reid. (Who are all briefly described in the first chapter.) Whether you know about the tv show or not, you can pick up this book and understand it.

For a quick summary of the book, here is the rundown: The BAU is called into Minnesota where a horrifying graveyard is discovered in a forest. Three bodies are found, each a young girl wrapped in blankets and sheets. The BAU soon discovers that each girl disappeared ten years ago from different parts of Georgia. They also find out these bodies are not the only victims of this perpetrator.

The BAU works on building a profile of the unsub. (Unknown Subject.) Who he is, his background and why he is taking these girls and holding them for a decade before killing them. Hence, Criminal Minds‘ tagline: The way to a criminal is through his mind.

I gave this book 5/5 because of it kept my interest all through the story. There was no fluff/fillers and the author did an excellent job of portraying the characters. He clearly did his research on the show and characters, as everything was spot-on all through the story.

As I mentioned earlier, this case has not been an episode of Criminal Minds, which impressed me. The case is just as twisted, unique and complex as the ones on the show.

That being said, this story is very dark and parts are very graphic. If you do not like stories about children being abducted, murdered etc, then this is not a story for you. Trigger warnings for this book would be sexual abuse.

However, if you like dark fictional crime books, this is definitely something worth considering picking up.

AliExpress is the New Crack

So I’ve never been a huge online shopper. Apart from books, I rarely considered ordering anything online mainly because everything seemed so damn expensive. (And most of it still is.) I’m sure this has something to do with me working at a thrift store AND benefiting from the 50% off employee discount. Aka, I am not spending more than seven dollars on a t-shirt, no matter how cute it is.

 

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This isn’t EVEN a cute t-shirt; and damn, then there is shipping as well. I rest my case.

 

There are many websites I love to browse such as Etsy and Storenvy. But unfortunately Etsy can be quite expensive because most of the items on that website ARE handmade, so the pricing is justified (most of the time.) Although, the shipping can get quite extreme. I saw a really cool zombie girdle the other day and the shipping ALONE was over 40 dollars.

And then out of nowhere, the solution to all my online shopping problems were resolved. It was the day AliExpress entered my life.

 

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The first AliExpress wig I bought

 

Now, to be fair, if I stumbled across AliExpress with no prior knowledge, I would’ve easily assumed it was a scam website. Why? Because the website carries everything. And I mean, everything. Not only that, the prices are super low and almost everything comes with free shipping. Even though there is so much to choose from, the website offers tons of filters such as if the item is in your price range, the colour you are looking for, the material, style, if it comes with free shipping or not and more! Fortunately, one of my friends had purchased a few items from the site and was quite pleased with what they received, so I decided to give it a shot.

 

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An American Horror Story t-shirt for five dollars

 

AliExpress is basically my worst nightmare at the same time. Because so much on that website is cheap and the shipping is free, I tend to spend WAY too much too fast. When you buy 9 things that are each five dollars you are still spending 45 dollars, even though it doesn’t feel like it at the time!

I’ve mostly been getting into their wigs. The selection is massive, and the wigs can run super low. (I got one for five dollars with free shipping, naturally.)

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^This is the one^

Of course, like anything when you shop online, you have to be smart. Check the ratings and reviews for the item. I never order something off the website that doesn’t a decent amount of positive ratings/reviews. I also like to check how long the “shop” has been open on the website.

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I got this meter long wig for eleven dollars and the black lipstick for one dollar

 

The downside to this website? You pay with your time. You can be waiting up to a couple of months for your items to come, and at least none of my items have come with a tracking number. However, some of my items have come in just a couple of weeks, so the shipping time will vary. If you don’t mind waiting the extra weeks to save money, then AliExpress is for you!

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My favourtie wig so far

How to Answer Annoying Holiday Questions

I don’t like the holidays for the very specific reason that my extended family members seem to think that I am comfortable answering their questions that may SEEM simple small talk questions, but really annoy me to no end.

Who I am dating, my future career goals and such, really are not something I would like to talk about. Dude, lets talk about dogs, memes, what manga you are reading, etc. Lets talk about a serial killer you just learned about, but please do not ask me about big life questions that I currently don’t, and may not know the answer to, for quite a while.

Unless I bring some date with me to dinner, (which I can’t simply because dating two people at once is blasphemy to my mother, therefor they are dead to her.)

Here is the thing, at my age, I honestly don’t know what I want for a career just yet. I like my job right now, I may not plan on keeping it for the rest of my life, but shouldn’t that be fine on its own for now?

Who knows. Either way, the questions come up each year, so I’ve come up with answers that maybe you can use when your Aunt or annoying cousin asks why you are the dateless wonder this Christmas night. Most of these will shut them up.

 

Question: “How is school going? Picked a major yet?”

Possible Answers:

  • “Good. Just good. Next question?”
  • “I’m deciding between majoring in Classics or Psychology. I know the odds of being a Classics prof or a shrink are slim to none, but so is getting a job with any arts degree.”
  • “I finally learned the difference between your and you’re.”

 

Question: “So what do you think you want to do with the rest of your life?”

Possible Answers:

  • “I’m really thinking of getting into pole dancing, I never was good at the Pythagorean theorem anyways.”
  • “I am starting an exclusive religious group and I think will be life-changing. God has recently started talking to me about it is my calling to build a heaven-on-earth cult…erm…community.”
  • “I don’t fucking know man, probably smoke a lot of dope and dance with the many dogs I plan on fostering.”
  • “I’m 100% set on having as many kids  as I can so my baby daddies and I can be the new 19 Kids and Counting on TLC. Did you hear they got cancelled because Josh molested five girls, excluding his own sisters?”

 

Question: “Anybody special you have been seeing lately?”

Possible Answers:

  • “I’m volunteering at a retirement home, and I really think I’ve found the one there, I see him every second day, and I help change his diapers. We’re so much closer then ever before.”
  • “I’m still dating One Direction even though they are on hiatus and don’t know I exist. Nothing has changed over the past year, they are my gods. Want to say a prayer with me for Zayn to join 1D again? I brought a poster of him we can worship him together.”
  • “My prof is pretty special, the amount of spit he shares with students who sit in the front row is incredible.”

 

That is all for now, for I must go and get ready myself for my fancy family Christmas Eve dinner.

I hope your family holiday gatherings will be as painless as possible 🙂

merryxmas

The Best Horse Computer Game Ever

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The problem with horse themed computer games is that they are always geared towards one very specific demographic; six to ten year old girls. While there is nothing wrong with this, the main issue is that the toy industry sure loves to drown “girl” toys in the world of make up, dressing up, fashion, manicures, barbie, super models and all things glittery.

I love horses, so I do like to play horse computer games and watch horse themed television shows while creepily pretending I have my own horse and that I even know what I am talking about when it comes to riding competitions.

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(The Saddle Club, the best kid riding tv show ever. I still ship Stevie and Phil so hard.)

Obviously, real horses don’t have sparkly pink manes with glitter heart tattoos on their asses, but a good percentage of horses in computer/DS games do. I can’t seriously pretend I have my own horse if my horse is hot pink and named Sparklez.

Thank god for Saddle Up with Pippa Funnell. Seriously. This is the coolest, different and entertaining computer game all centred around horses, competitions and renovating a stud farm. Did you hear that? You get to renovate a stud farm, not go off to a tacky mall to buy a new rainbow coloured saddle for your glittery artifical looking horse! (Note: all the horses in Saddle Up are all natural looking, and gives you information on each of your horses, including what breed the horse is.)

The first thing I want to talk about is the storyline of this computer game. Most horse computer games are incredibly formulaic and there is little storyline, or close to none. Usually you are given a horse and there is a shit load of grooming and training in the exact same ring. Then, at the end, you take part in a major competition, win and the game is over. Saddle Up is anything but. The game begins when the main character, Estelle, inherits her great aunt’s stud farm in the wake of her great aunt’s death. Estelle quickly learns from her solicitor that since her great aunt was a very “eccentric” woman, she has put many clauses in her will before Estelle can fully renovate the stud farm. As Estelle, you are able to choose new buildings, vehicles and training locations each time you win a competition, (which, there are several, and they are all in different locations, thank god.)

The next thing I absolutely love about Saddle Up are the characters. In the typical girly horse games, you have one dimensional, plain Jane characters that have no backstory whatsoever. In Saddle Up, you get loads of characters Estelle interacts with that have history and personalities.

The reason I just love Saddle Up is because it has everything I could ever want in a good computer game. I’m not a hard core gamer, so obviously I’m not super picky on graphics; but the plot, the characters, the entertainment level? 10/10.

I highly recommend this to anybody looking for a horse themed computer game with more content besides grooming your horse and shopping for it.