Thursday, January 29, 2015

bookListChallenge: 10 and more books that has stayed with me!!

Have you taken part in the latest craze that has been all over Facebook :-) If you ask me, this might be one of the best things that has happened over there in FB, of late :-) I thought why not convert my list to a blog post!! :-)  I also figured this might as well be a wonderful opportunity to share a FEW of the beautiful literary pieces ever published in my native language, Assamese.  

I was a voracious reader till my early twenties; actually I was always up-to-date on Assamese Literature. But then somehow other aspects of life took over! I know it’s my fault, but somehow I can no longer manage the time to indulge in peaceful book-reading. I have not read a single book in recent years that have touched my heart and soul! But, as I compiled this list, I was completely reliving the thrill and satisfaction of being a book-worm!! And also to the #bookListChallenge tag, I am able to make a pretty good inventory of my next reads, whenever I can manage some time, that is :-)

Without further ado, here is the list of 10 books (in no particular order!) that has, in some way stayed with me -

  1. অনুৰাধাৰ দেশ/The Land of Anuradha (by Phanindra Kumar Dev Choudhury): One of the very bold writers in Assamese Literature. This is my all-time-favorite book! I have read it at least 4-5 times. While I thoroughly enjoy the technical aspects of the “oil-rig” operation as the background of the book, I find myself completely lost in the poignant, emotional and romantic journey that the protagonist, "Arunabh” took, every time I read it. This book is my escape land; it takes me to a world of love, and of beautiful human relationships that goes beyond the rules and regulations of society! It takes me to a world where the end is ‘believably” good! This book puts my faith in real love! 
  2. Totto-Chan: The LittleGirl at the Window/ত্ত চ্চান (by Tetsuko Kuroyanagi, originally in Japanese): I have such fond memories with this book! I dreamt about being able to experience a school as unique as the one "Totto-Chan" went. I read the excellent Assamese translation written by Toshaprabha Kalita. This is a story of a kid who joined a very unique school and how this new method of education brings so much transformation and vibrancy to her little world!  A wonderful and fun read for young minds.
  3. অয়নান্ত/Ayananto (by Arupa Patangiya Kalita): Story of a unique and bold young girl spanning across her entire life. It’s a story of almost every woman in India (and in many societies). I am lucky that I am born in this era and into a progressive family, but the more I live, the more I realize that the struggles that women have been facing are still the same. They have gotten less severe but there is still a price you pay for being a woman! The melancholy and the pain the protagonist faces while trying to balance being a good daughter and the brave girl who has a strong desire to follow her dreams! It just shook me! One of best written book I read.     
  4. মৎস্যগন্ধা/Matsyagandha (by Homen Borgohain): Such a bold literature, just like the writer. And I LOVE the intriguing introductory page. I very much appreciate any work of literature created by male writers where women's emotions are profoundly expressed. "Menaka", the leading character, is a fierce lady who belongs to a lower caste. When her sister-in-law fell in love with a man from higher-caste and gets pregnant, Menaka refuses to lose to the tyranny of society. She prevents her sis-in-law from aborting the child and enables her lover to gather up the courage to break off his match enforced by his family and get married to her sis-in-law instead. Menaka”, is a true embodiment of Assamese women; bold, brave and beautiful :-)    
  5. দঁতাল হাতীৰ উঁয়ে খোৱা হাওদা/The Moth Eaten Howdah of the Tusker (by Mamoni Raisom Goswami): This is a must read book if you are interested in reading more about the socio-cultural aspects of Assam of yore. The writer is an epitome of grace, courage and hope, and so is her writing. I have read her other books, but this has stayed with me the most. She portrays the change and transition faced by "Giribala", a very young Brahmin widow and the surrounding orthodox Vaishanvite society set in a Satra in Assam just around India’s independence. The writer herself translated the novel in English in 2004, it goes by the title “The Moth Eaten Howdah of the Tusker” (available in amazon). I also love the National Award winning Assamese movie Adajhyo directed by Santana Bordoloi based on the novel.
  6. হৃদয় এক বিজ্ঞাপন, চাহেব পুৰাৰ বৰষুণ, নাহৰৰ নিৰিবিলি ছাঁ/The Heart's a Showbiz, Rains of Sahebpura, Shadows of Nahor (by Anuradha Sarma Pujari): I am putting all three together, as they all are my favorite. I admire the writer for introducing the soft romantic, yet meaningful genre of novel into Assamese literature. Her books are romantic at the core, but very thought-provoking. The story-telling is also very fresh. The brave protagonists in her novels blew my mind awayI can always relate to them in some way or other. Plus, it also never hurts that I got to receive an award for book-criticism for হৃদয় এক বিজ্ঞাপন (The Heart's a Showbiz) from the writer herself. Definitely a cherished moment for the writer(??) in me! 
  7. Anything and EVERYTHING written by Dr. Bhabendra Nath Saikia. Specifically his short story collections like প্ৰহৰী/ The Watchman, সেন্দুৰ/ Sindur, গহ্বৰ/The Cave, শৃংখল/The Chain, এই বন্দৰৰ আবেলি/Afternoon of This Port, বৃন্দাবন/ Brindabon, তৰংগ/Wave, সান্ধ্য ভ্ৰমণ/Evening Walk etc!
  8. সীমান্ত/Ximanta (by Hiranya Kashyap): The story of a teenage boy. I enjoyed it while it was published in the Assamese fortnightly Prantik and had to buy it once it was published as a book. Amazing story-telling and I can assure, you will relate to one or more incidents that have happened to you when you were a teenager. A fun read.
  9. Five Point Someone, 2 States (by Chetan Bhagat): Well, these are by no way “great literature”  But they are about engineers and I really had fun time reading and reminiscing my engineering days! And excellent narrative in the latter.
  10. How Green Was My Valley (by Richard Llewellyn): I read this in Assamese translation as well. To be honest, I don’t remember the plot clearly. But I simply love the name, and perhaps the “traveler” hidden in a “young” me was absolutely smitten by the story that was based on an entirely different continent. 

SPECIAL MENTION: Sishkin, Moi aaru Bahutu (I believe this was the first translated book I read, it completely amazed the my little mind but I cannot remember the original name and hence cannot find any online link to the book :-) ), Ruskin Bonds short story collection (The man and the magic he creates with his words), অস্তৰাগ/Astarag (by Homen Borgohain), অশান্ত ইলেকট্ৰন/ Restless Electron (Story by Sourav Kumar Chaliha), হালধীয়া চৰায়ে বাওঁধান খায়/Halodhiya Soraye Baudhan Khai (by Homen Borgohain), এই নদী নিৰৱধি/Ei Nadi Nirawadhi (by Nirupama Borgahain), কেথেৰীণৰ সৈতে এটি দুপৰীয়া/Catherinor Hoite Eti Duporiya (Story by Anuradha Sarma Pujari), মৰমৰ দেউতা/Dear Father (by Dr. Bhabendra Nath Saikia), মৄত্যুঞ্জয়/Mritunjay (by Birendra Kumar Bhattacharya), হন্যতে/Na Hanyata (by Maitri Devi, superhit bollywood movie Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam was adopted from this novel, let me tell you the novel is much more intriguing :-) ), সুগন্ধী পখিলা/Xugandhi Pakhila (all time fav collection of poems by Hiren Bhattacharjya).

I am inspired again to get back into the habit of reading :-) Infact, there are a lot of classic books that I have not read yet, so please feel free to suggest some of your favorite… in any language, I will try to find a translation :-) Oh, and this time I have to thank my sweetheart sister for digging up the books from our bookcase and take these beautiful pictures despite her very busy schedule...

Thank you to all of you too for reading through :-) Even though this is by no means a comprehensive list of all the great books ever published in Assamese language, I really hope it gives you an idea :-) Do share your thoughts if you happen to read any of these…. I always appreciate your feedback…

Lotsa love...

Monday, January 26, 2015

REVLON Colorburst Matte Balm in SULTRY and Balm Stain in ROMANTIC Swatces and Review :-)

I have expressed my love for Revlon lip products before! Today I have two more products from Revlon for you! Lip crayons have been incredibly popular for a while now. I believe Revlon was one of the first few brands to launch this type of lip crayons. Please correct me if I am wrong.

I got their lip balm stain in Rendezvous for my sister ealry last year. Since then I was itching to try one for myself. Then during one of Ulta's Buy One Get One 50% off sale, I picked up two shades :-) You can find these in UltaWalgreensWalmart etc. 

Colorburst Matte Balm in SULTRY: Depending on the store the cost varies from 8$ to around 10$. I feel like I am forever in search of a natural color for everyday wear! This shade is such a beautiful mauve color! It may appear a little bit pink from time to time; but it's just the right amount of pink. Very comfortable to wear. It's very creamy and hydrating but the finish is definitely matte! Very impressive wear time as well. I have had 10 hrs. of work days and I could still see the very faint and even stain when I reached home (Well, hotel actually as I am always travelling for work). The packaging is good enough; not very bulky. The color of the tube matches the lip shade and feels matte corresponding to the matte finish of the lip shade; that is very convenient. I also love that these are automatic pencils. But I do think they are a little bit high on price considering it's a drugstore product. But apart from that, I am highly impressed by this particular lip product.

Colorburst Balm Stain in ROMANTIC: Depending on the store it varies from 5$ to 9$ for 0.09 oz. The packaging is same but keeping it coordinated with the lip stain, it’s a tube is a little shiny, even the bottom is in metallic silver material. I am really liking this! But the writing at the surface has already started to rub off, which disappoints me. I purchased both of these at the same time, used it at the same rate, but the "Sultry" still has its names on. In the tube, "Romantic" looks like a berry shade, but on application it turns up to be a red and has a sheen! It is a very EASY red. It goes on very smooth and the feel on the lips is a bit stiff, a bit plastic-y. It’s not very bad though. I use it for days when I yearn for some red lips but I can't, as I work in field where a red lipstick does not really look appropriate. It immediately brightens up my face. If you are scared of trying red lipstick, I highly recommend starting with this kind of sheer-red. It will warm you up until the time you are comfortable to wear a full-on Red lipstick. The staying power is not very impressive though, it stays for a maximum of 2-3 hrs. on my lips. I don’t mind reapplying once or twice during the day. Price is same, but as I bought it in BOGO sale, I think it is a good-enough deal.  

I hope this quick review was helpful for you! The matte balm is absolutely fantastic and when I am back to my shopping mode again I will definitely try out new shades! I can't say the same for the Colorburst Balm Stains. 

Have a great weekend folks!!


Friday, January 23, 2015

Loving it: Bliss high intensity 24-heaven healing body balm

Isn't that a very long name for a moisturizer? :-) Winter is rough on my skin and I am always itching to find and test different moisturizeing products that would help salvage the dry flaky "beautiful" skin of mine!! :-) This is the 3rd or 4th such product I am blogging about in last few months!

Bliss originally started as a spa in New York in 1996 and has been recognized as a leading spa and salon services since then. With the spa services they also offers/retails their products. Read more about bliss here.

This healing body balm is one of their bestsellers and makes some pretty bold claims. As found in Sephora, "This rich, therapeutic cream provides ‘everlasting’ relief to seriously dehydrated, damaged skin from head-to-toe, especially particularly parched, flaky and problematic parts. With exfoliating lactic acid and soothing, protective colloidal oatmeal, the super-saturating formula is clinically proven to moisturize for 24 hours, breaking the cycle of dry skin to leave it smooth, healthy and gloriously soft all year long." In my experience, the product almost satisfies the claims.

The full size product is of 8 oz. with a price tag of $35.00. I know; pretty hefty for a body cream. I got this travel size tub of 53g/1.9 oz in the Sephora Favorite Skin Bender Vol. 1 kit and I can definitely say that it was good investment. This tub lasted me a little over a month!

The packaging is very nice. Simple, sturdy and decently pretty. And I look forward to reusing the tub; yes, I am frugal like that.. hi hi!

It is an extremely thick white body balm. The consistency is very thick and the texture is fluffy yet rich and creamy. So, it is not the most comfortable balm to "apply", personally I find that it is easier to rub a moisturizer into the skin if it is a little dilute. This balm also has a very subtle vanilla-y sweet scent which is nice. Despite its thickness, I was very impressed with the product. I traveled quite a lot in December and January to Seattle and Florida; and in both places this worked incredibly well. I would apply this all over my body early in the morning after shower and it will keep my skin moisturized till 'almost' the next day. Generally in winter, after 5-6 hours of applying any body moisturizer, if I scratch my hands it turns white streaky and I need reapplication. But not with this! Even though its thick, its not sticky and it absorbs pretty quickly. It works best when you apply it after shower into your slightly damp skin. I  was pretty happy with it :-)

But then I came to Chicago (which is my base location) and it could not give me 24 hour performance. At night, I would have to reapply another thin layer of this or my beloved Neutregena Body Oil before bed. That is why I am saying that it "almost" meets the claim :-) after all, Chicago is Chicago and I decided not be be very judgemental on this poor moisturizer.

Overall, I am satisfied. I do, however think that it is a pricy product so I am not really sure if I will repurchase this right at this moment. But if I can find a value set, I will surely get it. Or if my dry skin situation gets out of hand, I may buy it in regular size :-)

Bliss is available in Sephora, Ulta, Macy's etc and I believe you can buy it from their website as well.
What's your favorite moisturizer? I would love to hear :-)


Saturday, January 17, 2015

Sephora wishes "Happy Birthday" :-) :-) :-)

My birthday falls in January and that definitely comes with few perks. For example when I was a student I could enjoy my birthday without having to worry about any tests as the school year would have just started. January born babes also get to collect the free birthday gifts from beauty stores like Ulta, Sephora or from other cosmetics brands comparatively sooner than the rest of the members! :-) This is something that I have been really enjoying for this past two years!!

I loved the gift that Sephora offered last year (blogged here). I came across a few sneak peak of 2015 Sephora Birthday gift via various social media in December and I have been pretty excited since then! The gift set was activated in Sephora website come January 1st, I ordered it ASAP. It reached my apartment within 4-5 days too! But I was out-of-station since then for work and it is just these past couple of days I have got around to exploring it. I am particularly more pumped because the NARS products in the set are highly raved about in the beauty industry and I did not have any of these in my collection yet. 

Sooo, this year’s gift consists of deluxe-size velvet lip pencil in "Cruella" and satin lip pencil in "Rikugien" from NARS. I recently became a VIB Rouge (yes, I spend or waste(?) a lot of money in cosmetics :-)) my gift also included a bonus mini Larger Than Life Long-Wear Eyeliner in Via Veneto.  NARS and Sephora teamed up to design this kit named which they are calling as NARS Happy Birthday "One Year Bolder" kit. 

Cruella (0.06 oz./1.8 g): This shade is described as "Scarlet Red" and you know I love my reds! (buy full-size here) If you compare it to the iconic Red- "Ruby Woo" from MAC Cosmetics, this is slightly more vivid, as to me it appears to have a very subtle orange hint. Personally, I prefer my reds to be a bit deeper! But after wearing it a few times I have really started to LOVE “Cruella”. It’s red, it’s bright and it’s playful! The finish is definitely matte but it’s easy-to-apply and feels weightless on the lips. It has not bleed or creased on me and it definitely does not make me conscious about wearing a red lipstick. I have had at least 9-10 hours of wear that survived a very cumbersome Indian Chai tea drink in a moving car. It faded after I ate a big homemade chicken roll but it did leave a beautiful stain. It does feel a little drying after 6-7 hrs of wear. But overall, I am very pleased. 

Rikugien (0.05 oz./1.7 g): This appears as nude barbie-pink shade on my skin tone. But it is described as "rose pink" in Sephora website. (buy full-size here) Very pretty color, but I thought it will not look good on me. In fact when I first used it I did not like the feel as well the look on me for the first hour. I felt it was a bit too plastic-y, But after that, it settled on the lips pretty well and I loved the look thereafter :-) It is definitely hydrating compared to the velvet pencils. If you have pale skin tone, this shade will look so adorable on you. Sephora did a great job this year in assembling this comprehensive little gift; you get your red, your MLBB and the classic black liner :-)

Via Veneto (0.01 oz./0.3g): I am very glad that it was included in the VIB Rouge gift even though I was not very thrilled at the beginning about another black eyeliner. But I have to say, this one has impressed me the most in the kit. First of all, sleek packaging! It is automatic (I don't like things that need sharpening!) And it also comes with a tiny sharpener at the end. I may not use it ever but I always appreciate the option. The finish is matte, which makes me really happy because I did not have a black matte eyeliner till now. The staying power is very impressive; the first day I tried it without a primer and I took a small mid-day nap (guilty :-)) and I was surprised to see the liner intact. It may appear a bit less creamy than others, but I am loving it. (buy full-size here)

Now that, I have shared my excitement over the products let me describe Sephora's Beauty Insider program for those of you who is still unaware. It is a membership program which Sephora offers and you can register for it for free; online or in the stores. It rewards you with points against your purchases and later, you can claim sample reward products against those points that you have been accumulating. They also send you emails about some pretty cool promotional deluxe size products from time to time. (These emails have proved very dangerous to my financial health as I have purchased unnecessary items just to get the free products! I know :-) !!)  They have different levels for their membership with few added benefits with each levels. In a calender year, if you spend 350$ you become VIB and if you cross 1000$ you reach VIB Rouge status. One of the perks that I have been TRUELY enjoying is the free shipping for VIB rouge members.  So, even though you don't really shop regularly at Sephora, I suggest you open a Beauty Insider membership; it is a good thing. 

Oh! Another thing! If you are not really very interested in the lip kit from NARS, you can choose this skincare kit from Peter Thomas Roth, another highly valued brand! I have used the mask and I love it! I am really glad that Sephora offered this interesting alternative. 

Birthday gifts are redeemable in store (no purchase necessary) or online (you need to buy at least one merchandise to add this gift to your online order) during your birthday month. If you somehow forget to collect it during that month, you can always approach their customer service and they will reimburse you with beauty insider points in lieu of the gift (at least I have been told so, when I contacted them with the same query!)

I am thoroughly enjoying my gift! January and February born divas, go and collect your gift! For the rest of you, I am sorry but you have to wait :-)


Sunday, January 11, 2015

MARC JACOBS BEAUTY Limited-Edition The Sky-Liner Seven Piece Petite Highliner Collection: Review and Swatches

I and my sister were brought up in a household with decent finances! My parents came from much rougher financial background and have worked tremendously hard to be where they are, and to offer the best to us. They provided us every amenities NEEDed to live a happy healthy life.  At the same time, they were also very STRICT about instilling in us the value of hard earned money. When looking back several years, I feel very proud of the fact that I and my sister NEVER asked for outrageously costly demands when growing up.

I am still not sure why I wrote this introduction. I guess I am just trying to say that just a few months ago, even as a beauty blogger, I did not feel comfortable about a few luxury brands with which I consider “outrageous price tags”. I do love Tarte, bare minerals, Lorac etc. which are also considered High-End but personally I feel easy with the price. But NARS, Marc Jacobs were some of the few brands for which I thought I can never look beyond the price range. But recently, I have been testing a few sample products from Marc Jacobs here and there and I must admit, I have started to care for the products shedding my initial inhibition about the price. I am also a BIG fan of Instagram; beautiful pictures of new products popping everywhere also made me curious about the brand.

Today I am going to talk about the "MARC JACOBS BEAUTY The Sky-Liner Seven Piece Petite Highliner Collection". It is a Limited-edition set currently available in Sephora at a price of $45. It once went out of stock but they have restocked it since then. It is available right now, but it is a Limited Edition product. Each eyeliner is of 0.01 oz. (0.37g which is actually 0.013 oz.) which is about 3/4th of the regular size. So per highliner it is costing you $6.5. The regular liner costs you $25 for 0.5g of product.

The packaging of these liners is stunning. They are housed in very sleek, silver metallic pens with a small part at the bottom in a color of the eyeliner shade. This is very convenient as you pick up the exact shade you want from your storage without having to open the cap. They are automatic pencil; I hate sharpening my makeup pencils :-) The set comes in a beautiful plastic container with typical minimalistic Marc Jacobs packaging. Even though it is plastic, it is not flimsy; but personally I would have liked a stronger/sturdier material for the container; after all it IS a luxury brand. The silver material on the pen is sometimes a little slippery and hence I had to train myself to use control in applying them, especially when I am drawing a wing liner. Unfortunately, when I was writing this post, the brown liner completely came out of the packaging! That was highly disappointing from a brand like Marc Jacobs. I, however, greatly appreciate Sephora's client services. They quickly replaced the set. Other than that, I just LOVE these liners in my vanity. They look very elegant, very luxurious :-) 

Let’s discuss the colors; six different jewel-toned shades with a very essential black. With these beautiful colors, I truly believe it makes a very comprehensive set. I also love that the colors are pigmented and sophisticated, graceful; not “in-your-face-crazy-vibrant”. Especially useful colors for matured skin, or for everyday wear or for wearing in professional environment. Every shade performs quite well. With primer, I have had an impressive wear time of 8-9 hrs.

O(vert): Very dark blackish forest green. Applies very easily.
Brown(out): Beautiful brown color with some shimmer. In my opinion, everyone should have brown eyeliner. And I am happy that this color shows up nicely on my tan olive eyelid.
Sunset (Exclusive to this set): Another awesome color. Very gorgeous mid-tone warm shimmery gold. Unfortunately it is almost similar to my skin color and hence does not show up very distinctly on my skin tone. Nevertheless it is a gorgeous color!
Th(ink): This is an interesting shade. A mix of blue and black. It is a tad bit less pigmented than the rest. But is still gorgeous.
Midnight in Paris (Exclusive to this set): This may be my most favorite shade among the set. It is a stunning deep navy shade with some glitter flexes. Very pigments and will flatter every skin tone. If you have never tried any shade other than black for your eyeliner, Navy is a beautiful and easy alternative.
Plum(age): This is another light shade in the bunch; personally I would have loved a deeper purple. It is a light purple and because of that this looks a bit less pigmented than the rest.
Blacquer: Very dark, pigmented and creamy black. It takes a few seconds or a minute to dry up. Sometimes if I am not careful and open my eyelid sooner, the liner transfers to the upper part of my lid and it does not look good. So if I am in a hurry, it may be a hassle. But other than that, I do love its performance.

It is surely a pricey product, and I do think that there are eyeliners with lesser price in the market that performs almost similarly. But to put it concisely, with 7 long-wear creamy pigmented jewel-toned eyeliners with pretty packaging, this set makes a good buy. I personally have been satisfied with it.

If you are already a Marc Jacobs fan, you will definitely love it. It’s also a good way to try different shades in a less cost rather than buying full-size. Also if you shy away from bright colors but still would love some vibrancy to be added to your looks, I would highly recommend this set!!

What products do you have and love from Marc Jacobs?