Where The Forest Meets the Stars – Book Review

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After the loss of her mother and her own battle with breast cancer, Joanna Teale returns to her graduate research on nesting birds in rural Illinois, determined to prove that her recent hardships have not broken her. She throws herself into her work from dusk to dawn, until her solitary routine is disrupted by the appearance of a mysterious child who shows up at her cabin barefoot and covered in bruises.

The girl calls herself Ursa, and she claims to have been sent from the stars to witness five miracles. With concerns about the child’s home situation, Jo reluctantly agrees to let her stay—just until she learns more about Ursa’s past.

Jo enlists the help of her reclusive neighbor, Gabriel Nash, to solve the mystery of the charming child. But the more time they spend together, the more questions they have. How does a young girl not only read but understand Shakespeare? Why do good things keep happening in her presence? And why aren’t Jo and Gabe checking the missing children’s website anymore?

Though the three have formed an incredible bond, they know difficult choices must be made. As the summer nears an end and Ursa gets closer to her fifth miracle, her dangerous past closes in. When it finally catches up to them, all of their painful secrets will be forced into the open, and their fates will be left to the stars.

“Remember that feeling you described—the ‘horrific crush of humanity’ on your soul—maybe that’s another way of saying you’re afraid people will hurt you if you let them get close.”

During the time I was on my unpaid leave, obviously, money was tight so I relied on my Kindle Unlimited and Prime subscription for the supply of books. This book was “first read selection” for February 2019 and I chose it because the summary seemed interesting plus the cover attracted me, I’m a certified junkie for star-related stuff. I normally wouldn’t go for this type of books, I’m more into fantasy but the story of this book captivated me for hours and I couldn’t stop reading.

The story is about two flawed people, Joanna, and Gabriel that connected through an alien child named Ursa who got sent to earth to witness five miracles. Everything about this book is pure raw unfiltered emotions and it just feels incredibly real, the suspense of Ursa’s true past kept me on edge and wanting to know more. The relationship between Joanna and Gabriel was rather unique and not as predictable, the bond between those three characters give this book a special place in my heart and I honestly cried while reaching the end, it blew my mind.

Where The Forest Meets The Stars is one of the most incredible, amazing, enchanting, beautiful stories I’ve ever read. There’s a reason why it has high ratings, trust that and go in blind.

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What They Don’t Tell You About Hair Extenstions

So you’re thinking of getting extensions and hopefully doing extensive research before going forward with it.  I decided to write this post as a follow up for my previous post about keratin bonded extensions about everything you should know about them in more details because I recently removed my extensions.

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  • Itchy Feeling

This irritated me the most because I had to wash my hair more frequently than I’m used to and it’s not exactly convenient for a mom since I normally shower fast. By time, my scalp was getting irritated from the weather as well, I can’t exactly scratch comfortably because you can feel the notes where the extensions are.

  • Changing Hair Care Routine

I hate change, when I’m comfortable with a routine PLEASE don’t make me change it. Having extensions makes you change everything when it comes to hair care, the products you use, the time you spend washing your hair, how do you style it. Even when your hair gets a little bit sweat from the summer heat or even at the gym, you have to wash your hair and blowdry it right after which was such a hustle for me because I normally air-dryed my hair.

  • Brush, brush, brush

After getting a special brush for my extensions, I kept getting annoyed that I have to brush my hair while avoiding the notes where the hair and extensions connect. I wanted to brush my hair fully from roots to tips without dealing with the apparent road bumps.

  • They’ll show … Eventually

By time, your hair grows out and the extensions will show so you’ll have to change the way you style your hair to blend them which goes back to my second point “I HATE CHANGE”, there’s a certain way I like my hair to be and I’m comfortable not changing it.

I kept my lovely extensions in a bag in the closet, maybe someday I’ll attach them again when the weather is less humid and not too hot, probably grow out my hair more so it’ll blend better since my hair is shoulder-length at the moment. Until then, the only extensions I’ll be keeping are my lashes, those I can’t live without.

 

 

My Strange Visual Novel Addiction

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They say the first step is admitting it …
I have a problem… I got addicted to Danganronpa.

It sounded more dramatic in my head, I swear.

In the past five months, I’ve been obsessed with a certain Visual Novel named Danganronpa and let me just tell you how deeply I got into this world of sci-fi hope vs despair battlefield. Visual novels, according to my logic were glorified dating simulation while I already know I am wrong, it didn’t stop me from solidifying this conclusion in my mind.

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“Hope’s Peak Academy is home to Japan’s best and brightest high school students — the beacons of hope for the future. But that hope suddenly dies when Makoto Naegi and his classmates find themselves imprisoned in the school, cut off from the outside world and subject to the whims of a strange, murderous little bear named Monokuma. He pits the students against each other, promising freedom to anyone who can murder a fellow classmate and get away with it. It’s up to you to find out who Monokuma really is, and why you’ve been taken from the world you once knew. But be careful what you wish for — sometimes there’s nothing more deadly than the truth…”

The first installment of the series is the introduction to the Danganronpa World and the cast “The Ultimates”. Now the characters are an interesting part of the game because their talent is considered an ultimate as if they excel in that field, Ultimate Swimmer, Ultimate Gambler and so on. Those talents give the characters a personality and insecurity as well.

 

 

 

 

 

There’s a certain order you need to follow when getting into Danganronpa world, which anime to watch first and which game to start on, unfortunately, I watched the anime before playing the game so I knew the direction the game was going but to be honest it was more enjoyable for me to play the game than to watch it.

After a murder occurs, you get time to investigate the murder scene to chain the events in your mind before a class trial starts to reveal who’s the culprit. The trial format is almost the same as Phoenix Wright and I loved every minute of it, the music and the whole truth bullet shooting, it excited me. The punishments -when the trial ends and the culprit revealed- is basically an execution scene, are sometimes silly and more humorous. After it, parts of the school gets unlocked which gives you more area to explore and of course find new ways to kill someone.

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The game is heavily dependent on the story, so it has a lot of reading, it took me 41 hours to beat the first game and honestly I would recommend playing the game instead of watching the 12 episode anime.

Moving on to the second part Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair.

 

 

 

Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair takes place shortly after the events of Trigger Happy Havoc and Danganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls. The game is from Hajime Hinata’s point of view as he starts his first year at Hope’s Peak Academy. As he walks into the school building, he is overcome with fatigue; when he recovers, he finds himself in front of a door. He has the strong urge to open it, and once he does, he finds himself in a classroom full of his new classmates. They suddenly find themselves locked in the classroom, and a pink bunny, Usami, appears before them, claiming herself to be the class’ teacher. The classroom around them soon falls away to reveal a paradise-like island. Usami tells them that they are on a school trip and that they are to befriend each other to gain Hope Fragments and make their hope grow. Just as they get used to the peaceful island life, Monokuma appears and takes control of the island, announcing that the students must participate in a life of mutual killing if they wish to escape.

Oh boy, this part was surprising to me because it was more brutal and dark compared to the first one. Even the punishments aren’t as silly as I mentioned in the first part, they are horrifying and I feel guilty that I was entertained. There was a lot of changes implemented in the gameplay and I actually needed a guide to go through the trials, not my favorite confession to make as a gamer. I mean it’s a visual novel, how hard it should be.

I wasn’t really satisfied with the ending because it was confusing but at the same time, my mind was blown how the story progressed throughout the games, spin-offs, and the anime. I think I enjoyed this part more than the previous one, probably because of my newly found sadistic trait that surfaced during the gameplay or because I’ve grown attached to Monokuma … He’s a cute bear.

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The lastest game of this series is Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony

 

“Welcome to a new world of Danganronpa, and prepare yourself for the biggest, most exhilarating episode yet. Set in a “psycho-cool” environment, a new cast of 16 characters find themselves kidnapped and imprisoned in a school. Inside, some will kill, some will die, and some will be punished. Reimagine what you thought high-stakes, fast-paced investigation was as you investigate twisted murder cases and condemn your new friends to death. Forget what you thought you knew about Danganronpa and join a completely new cast of Ultimates for a brand-new beginning. In a world where everyone is trying to survive, nobody’s motivations are quite what they seem. Use your skills to solve each new murder or meet a gruesome end. The world is shaped by our perception of it. Fast-paced trial scenes will require lies, quick wits, and logic to guide your classmates to the right conclusions.”

I kept reading the synopsis that it’s new, the characters are new, the school is new but part of me was searching for connections to the previous games, surely there’s something the ties the epic battle between hope and despair which Monokuma keeps hinting. The gameplay has a massive overhaul in-class trials and thankfully it was easier than Danganronpa 2. The killings were creative and I was impressed at some of them, why don’t I feel bad saying this.

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Danganronpa triggered the inner killer and also the detective in me, I’ve enjoyed every minute of those games. Also, I have to say Monokuma is adorable, the best mascot ever (it’s the total truth, I’m not held at gunpoint)

OwlCrate – June 2019

I finally resubscribed to OwlCrate, it’s been such a long time I really missed it. I’ve said this before but I have to say it again, this subscription box is my favorite and I would recommend it to any bookworm.

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June’s theme was “Libraries of Wonder”, the card design looks like Beauty and The Beast drawing.

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This has to be my favorite enamel pin I ever received, it’s so beautiful and it fits the theme of the box as it read “Child of The Library”. The design is by Brio + Brandish.

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Key Gel Pen

I saw the key and I instantly thought KINGDOM HEARTS! Of course, it joined me in my office, it looks pretty and writes in a smooth motion.

Libraries of Wonder Coaster Set by KDP Letters

A set of 4 coasters with great quotes about libraries by authors like J.K Rowling and Victoria Schwab. I absolutely love these, I use them with my morning coffee each day different design.

Belle’s Library Book Beau Brew by Cervantes Coffee

The scent of this coffee filled the box the moment I opened it, I was afraid it somehow opened and poured out but thankfully it was just the scent that spilled out. I love the line in the packaging “nutty, bright, a touch of this provincial life” from Belle’s song, I didn’t try it yet but I can guess from the scent that it’s nutty almost like Nutella.

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Strange the Dreamer-inspired Tote Bag by Stella Bookish Art

I’ve always loved the tote bags sent by OwlCrate, this one is inspired by Strange The Dreamer which sits currently in my to-read list. The colors are so vibrant and beautiful, the handles are extra long as well.

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The Chronicles of Narnia-inspired Metal Bookends by Hey Atlas Creative

I’ve always admired bookends, they keep books neatly organized so I was excited for this item. The design is inspired by Narnia with the lamp post and the forest trees, it looks so beautiful.

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And finally, the book of the month Scorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson which came along with a letter from the author as well as a sticker with a quote from the book. Now the book features an exclusive cover and also signed by the author.

All sorcerers are evil. Elisabeth has known that as long as she has known anything. Raised as a foundling in one of Austermeer’s Great Libraries, Elisabeth has grown up among the tools of sorcery—magical grimoires that whisper on shelves and rattle beneath iron chains. If provoked, they transform into grotesque monsters of ink and leather. She hopes to become a warden, charged with protecting the kingdom from their power.

Then an act of sabotage releases the library’s most dangerous grimoire. Elisabeth’s desperate intervention implicates her in the crime, and she is torn from her home to face justice in the capital. With no one to turn to but her sworn enemy, the sorcerer Nathaniel Thorn, and his mysterious demonic servant, she finds herself entangled in a centuries-old conspiracy. Not only could the Great Libraries go up in flames, but the world along with them.

As her alliance with Nathaniel grows stronger, Elisabeth starts to question everything she’s been taught—about sorcerers, about the libraries she loves, even about herself. For Elisabeth has a power she has never guessed, and a future she could never have imagined.

The summary instantly made me think of Harry Potter for some reason, it seems very interesting and to be honest, this book was recommended to me before I even got the box by Goodreads so I was surprised and excited to see it in this month’s box.

Overall, I’m so happy that I resubscribed to OwlCrate. The box contents fit perfectly with the theme and the book seem very exciting. My favorite items would be the coasters and the bookends.

Peanut Butter Cookies (3 Ingredient Recipe)

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I can’t cook, to be more accurate I can’t cook to save my life. It’s one of the skills I severely lack, and I would definitely say below level 0, I mean I feel like I could burn the house down by boiling water only. Cooking for me is an intimidating activity, I feel so bad at it that I’m too scared to even try. During Ramadhan couple of months ago, I decided to unlock this skill by using the app Tasty, it made cooking seem easy and not that scary. I made these cookies using 3 ingredients only and according to my son, they tasted like Reese’s.

Ingredients:

  • Peanut Butter (1 Cup)
  • Sugar (1/2 cup)
  • Egg (1)

Preparations:

  1. Preheat the oven
  2. In a large bowl, mix all the three ingredients
  3. Scoop a small amount of the dough and roll them into balls, place them onto a nonstick baking sheet
  4. (Optional) Use a fork to create the criss-cross pattern on top
  5. Let the cookies bake for 8 – 10 minutes or until the bottom of the cookies are golden brown
  6. Remove them from the sheet to let them cool for a bit

And of course, the final step is to enjoy. They are very easy to do and they were delicious. If you want to see a video of the process, you can go here.

Amigurumi for Beginners

“it’s easy to start a new hobby”

I told myself this at the beginning of the year along with my new motto “Comfort is the Enemy of Progress” I wanted to feel the validation that I’m being productive, I want to create something. I’ve done crochet before back in school days, I made a couple of table mats since they are basic and easy to do. I decided to try amigurumi since it appealed to me and looked interesting to do.

Amigurumi (編みぐるみ, lit. “crocheted or knitted stuffed toy”) is the Japanese art of knitting or crocheting small, stuffed yarn creatures. The word is a portmanteau of the Japanese words ami, meaning “crocheted or knitted”, and nuigurumi, meaning “stuffed doll”. Amigurumi vary in size and there are no restrictions about size or look.

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My first attempt was this cute jellyfish, I didn’t have any safety eyes so I used embroidery thread. It looked easy to make and I followed this video.

The yarn I used is not as chunky as the video so my jellyfish look too small compared to the one in the video.  I had fun creating it, and my son loved it so much even if it was too tiny.

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The next amigurumi that I created is this cute cactus.

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I felt more confident creating it and I’m proud of it. Again, because of the lack of safety eyes, I used thread to sew the eyes into a sleeping expression.

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I had these two videos as a reference to create the cactus.

I think I’m ready to try more complicated patterns and of course finally order safety eyes to make the faces look better. It was a relaxing experience and a great way to keep myself occupied and busy, except for the part that I have to count while stitching so I thank stitch markers for existing.

5 Things You Need To Know About Hair Extensions

According to my mom, our hair is our crown. Being a teenager back then I enjoyed going against her and I managed to destroy her heart when I cut my hair one day which once upon a time reached my hips, all the way above my shoulder. She was devastated and I remember that she didn’t speak to me for a couple of days, she took care of my hair for so long and I ended it all in one impulse moment. Till this day, she repeats how I managed to ruin my hair that easy. Now that I’m older, I’ve kept my hair controlled always above my shoulder just so I don’t become my mom’s favorite Rapunzel.

After giving birth, my temporary luscious hair began to wither and fall out faster than leaves in autumn and I made the decision to cut it all. I did miss having longer hair after all these years so I started researching about hair extensions just so I have the required knowledge before actually getting them. I eventually chose to have keratin-bonded extensions because I felt more comfortable when I read about them.

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I found a well-reviewed hairdresser who has experience in hair extensions for 5 years in Iran, so I went to the salon and did it. It’s been almost two months now since I’ve had them and it’s definitely one the best decision of my life. I love having the long hair feeling, I missed it but I don’t miss the amount of time I spend in washing it. Here are the things I learned during this two months having extensions :

  • Use sulfate-free hair products

Now this point is something I’ve been doing before I even had extentions, I think sulfate-free hair products are better and a healthier choice for your hair.

  • Comb your hair twice a day

Because the extentions are longer than your actual hair, they tangle easily and you might tug it hard on a knot and the strand will fall out.

  • Keep your hair in a braid when you sleep

As I mentioned the hair tangle easily so keeping it in a braid when you sleep makes it managable the next day.

  • Dry your hair instantly after washing it

This point annoyed me because I’m used to air-dry my hair after I wash it, water breaks the keratin bonds faster so you have to blow dry your hair whenever you wash it. I normally just dry the roots where the bonds are and leave the rest to air dry, it gives my hair the natural waves as it dry. Also avoid keeping the blow dryer heat on the bonds as it breaks the bonds faster as well

  • Uneven hair

With time, hair strands starts to fall out and it begins to show how your hair shape is changing and somewhat thinning.  Also your hair grow out with time and the growth shows where your real hair ends and where the extentions are. it’s annoying but can be managed with certain hair styles top blend your real hair and the extensions .