Sunday Book Club! The Reflections of Queen Snow White by David Meredith

Today’s Sunday Book Club Review is “The Reflections of Queen Snow White” by David Meredith. The exciting announcement I mentioned last Sunday is that I was asked by the author to read & review this book! Yay – my first Sunday Book Club Collaboration! Disclaimer: I did receive this book for free, but that in no way influences my Review.

Initial Thoughts:
When David first emailed me & offered me the chance to review his book, I was surprised, extremely flattered, & excited. I love this Genre of Fairy Tale retellings or examination from a modern authors point of view, as you’ve probably noticed with my past Book Reviews such as Beastly, Mermaid: A Twist on the Classic Tale, The Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister, & others coming up on my Books to Read List. I’ve never read an E-Book, which is the only way this novel is currently available, so I was a little nervous about how I’d feel using “new technology”, haha! I was also nervous because of the collaborative spirit of this Sunday Book Club. It’s tough to be fair when you know the author will most likely read your Review, but I believe I was unbiased. Keep reading & let me know in the Comments if you feel I was being too easy, fair, or too harsh!

Plot:
As the title implies, this story is of course, about Snow White. Meredith continues forward from the tale we know & starts his story with an older Snow White who is not the cheerful, upbeat Disney princess many know & love. She is now bitter, sad, & lonely because Prince Charming has passed away. Snow’s depression & grief have caused a rift in her relationship with her daughter Raven to the point that she is not even involved in the planning of her upcoming wedding. One day while wandering the castle in a state of despondency, Snow stumbles upon the Evil Queen’s old chambers. She finds the Magic Mirror has been stored there & embarks on a magical journey into her past to try & find some peace in this new chapter of her life. I will leave it at that to prevent any Spoilers.

Characters:
– Erfruet – It took way too long for me to piece together that Snow’s “right hand man” is one of THE dwarves. You know….one of the seven! I thought this character was used as a clever & cute way to pay homage to the original story & show how the Dwarves’ relationship with Snow continued after her marriage, connecting the old & new story.
– It seemed like all of the characters had some type of accent & foreign name, except Snow White & Prince Charming. I thought perhaps this was an homage to the Grimm Brother’s & their German heritage, but the accents didn’t seem German so I’m not certain.

Quotes:
– Acknowledgements: “To anyone who has ever known loss, wrestled with grief, & struggled to find themselves again”
This is really what the story is about & I admire Meredith for taking on such a difficult topic & trying to make it more relatable by involving a beloved Fairy Tale character. It’s an interesting topic for this Genre, one that’s not too often explored because most readers don’t want to think about the reality that comes after “happily ever after”. I will touch more on this idea below in the “Overall” section.
– Magic Mirror: “What happens, happens. The past is the past and your past is ever a part of you! Only by facing it can you truly leave it behind. Otherwise, it will ever intrude upon your present”…She felt as if she stood alone on the edge of a precipitous gorge, filled with despair at the impossibility of her predicament, but knowing that her only choice was to descend into its shadowy depths, cross the unseen rocky path at its bottom, and pull herself out once more on the other side.”
The beginning of this passage is really so true, not just about grief, but anything that plagues us from the past. The second half of the Quote seemed like a subtle, or perhaps not so subtle, metaphor for the process of grieving.

Overall:
I could definitely see this becoming a film. While I enjoy Fantasy stories, I sometimes take issue with how unnecessarily lengthy they can be. I know I’ve complained on here a few times about endless pages of scenery. I enjoyed Meredith’s extremely descriptive but mostly concise style of writing. However, it’s worth mentioning that there are scenes of abuse & sexual content that made me rather uncomfortable. Meredith has a knack for creating an intriguing story & providing resolution. There were several times I found myself wondering about a “plot hole”, but later receiving a full explanation. Overall I enjoyed the theme of the story & the unique idea of this stereotypical happy go lucky Princess dealing with grief. I think Meredith was trying to touch on an important point about loss & love. He presents the reader with the idea that throughout our lives we have way more than one chapter, way more than one “happily ever after”. Just because one type of love has left our lives doesn’t mean all love is gone & there’s nothing to live for, it just means our idea of happily ever after has to change. SPOILER! I also appreciated the Feminist angle of the story. The Magic Mirror is trying to make Snow see that although Charming helped her, she played a huge role in her own destiny. She saved herself, but gave the Prince all the credit & after his passing, felt she was lost without him because she did not see her own value.

Rating: B-
Unfortunately, my rating was influenced a bit by the production value. Any book I catch typos in automatically gets knocked down a peg. While I did enjoy the overall theme & message of the book & find them to be important topics to tackle, I can’t support the sex scenes & some of the discussions the characters have about sex/body fluids. I can very well see the interactions taking place, especially in that time period, but that doesn’t mean I want to read about them. That’s the beauty of reading, I’m supposed to be able to use my imagination, haha! Some of those scenes were too descriptive for me & I would imagine other readers may feel the same. While those scenes were not too frequent, they did weigh heavily enough on me that it was almost a distraction from the book as a whole. I would say it’s 50/50 – Great topic/message but some really uncomfortable character interaction!

What do you think? Will you be heading to Amazon to download your own copy of “Reflections”? Please feel free to share your thoughts & book suggestions with me in the comments below! Big thank you to David Meredith for asking me to do this Review – I congratulate you on all of your well deserved success.
If you’re an author or PR team looking for Reviews, please reach out to me – MissAl.Leigh@gmail.com

The next Sunday Book Club is July 10th & the book is “The Fates Will Find Their Way” by Hannah Pittard. Stay tuned & thanks for reading!

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Movie Review! Central Intelligence

Looking for something to do this weekend?! Today’s post, a mix of a Collaboration, Event Recap, & Movie Review, will definitely provide an awesome idea!
On Monday, I was offered the chance to get a sneak peek of “Central Intelligence” – a new movie starring Dwayne Johnson & Kevin Hart that comes out THIS FRIDAY, June 17th! Thank you FabulousArizona.com for this awesome opportunity! The Event was a lot of fun, way more than just a basic Movie viewing. Radio stations Power 98.3 & 101.9 were there giving away a ton of free branded merchandise, as you’ll see below, & playing some great music. I was genuinely surprised no one started a dance party, especially when they started playing “The Wobble”! I posted a video of the theater filling up on my Twitter, go check it out & Follow me: @MissAl_Leigh. Keep scrolling to watch the trailer for “Central Intelligence” & read my Review – I’ll try to keep SPOILERS to a minimum!

As you can see from the trailer, the basic plot is that Hart’s character, Calvin, & Johnson’s character, Robby are high school classmates with very different social standing. Calvin is Prom King & basically Captain of every sport, voted Most Likely to Succeed & dating the prettiest girl in school. Robby is an overweight goofball that’s a social outcast, an easy target for bullies. Flash forward 20 years & Calvin definitely doesn’t have the amazing successful life he imagined. He married his high school sweetheart & now works as an accountant. The day before their 20 year High School Reunion, Calvin is reunited with Robby – now Bob Stone. Bob Stone is, of course, in way better shape, but the same lovable, if a tad bit annoying, goofball – & he’s also a human weapon employed by the CIA. Bob involves Calvin in his latest mission which twists & turns until Calvin has no idea who to trust! Underneath the huge muscles, is Bob still that misfit from High School, who now needs his help to save the world? Or is he really a dirty CIA Agent hell bent on killing whoever gets in his way? Calvin & Bob must overcome many obstacles on the road to clearing their names in this Action Comedy that has a really sweet message about friendship & learning to love who you are.

Rating: B
Usually I split my Movie Reviews into Likes & Dislikes, but there wasn’t anything I DISLIKED about “Central Intelligence”. I just didn’t really connect with it enough or find it hilarious enough to give it an A rating. It’s definitely funny & there were quite a few moments that had the whole audience laughing out loud. However, if you’re not a fan of Kevin Hart, you most likely won’t enjoy this film. He’s a “big” actor, but I have the same sense of humor/style of comedic acting, so I guess I’m biased! The writing is clever, pay close attention for a few lines that reference other characters the cast has played. For example, a line about Bob looking like Hercules – a character Johnson has played. Also, there are some awesome cameos for fans of “Breaking Bad”, “Arrested Development”, & “Bridesmaids”. This film was relatively tame in terms of language & violence which I was kind of surprised by. Plot wise, the details of the CIA storyline hardly matter. The real story is the developing friendship & character growth that occurs between Calvin & Bob. The end is predictable & slightly cheesy, but was nice to see in a mostly male cast action/comedy/buddy film. Character-wise, I liked that Calvin is honestly a good guy. I appreciate that he wasn’t some bad boy jock getting his comeuppance by becoming a paper pusher. I think more people can sympathize with a nice character that had a bright future ahead of him – & just turned out to be average. There’s nothing wrong with it, but I think many of us can identify with having big dreams, only to wake up to a reality that’s much different. All in all, I would definitely recommend this film for anyone looking for a movie that’s fun but also has a lot of heart – no pun intended!

For a chance to win a Sneak Peek of your own for an upcoming film & to check out all sorts of cool restaurants, local spots, spas, donut shops, etc, in Arizona, please Follow Fabulous Arizona on their website, Instagram, & Twitter!

While you’re at it, please Follow me here on MissAl-Leigh.com, Instagram, & Twitter! Let me know if you plan on going to see “Central Intelligence” or once you’ve seen it, Comment below what you thought! What other movies are you planning on seeing this summer?! Thanks for reading 🙂

20 Questions – Best Friend Edition Part 2

So here it is, the moment you’ve all been waiting for….Part 2 of my 20 Questions video with my best friend Danny!! I hope you enjoy our shenanigans! Click here to watch Part 1 of the series!
Please FOLLOW this blog, SUBSCRIBE to the YouTube channel, SHARE, COMMENT, & LIKE!

Featured! Miss Al-Leigh on TAPS News

Hey everyone!
I received some exciting news today that I wanted to share with you!

TAPS reached out to me after reading my blog post & wanted to feature it on their News page!!!
This only further solidifies my warm feelings towards TAPS. I appreciate when a company is on top of their Social Media & uses it to create a community of like minded people. I’m extremely excited they took the time to read my Event Recap & even more excited that they liked it enough to feature it on their website – what an honor!

Click here > Event Recap! to read my recap of my experience volunteering with TAPS.
Click here > TAPS News to visit the site & read other great articles & blog posts featuring TAPS!

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Big Announcement! Summer Internship with…

Hi everyone!
I have some big news to announce.
I have been invited to participate in a Summer Internship with Coast Concierge Service, Inc., owned and operated by Rená Puebla! I’m so excited and grateful for this opportunity!
Please check out the company website, CoastConcierge.com to see amazing pictures of past events & read the company blog. Please follow us on Facebook, Instagram: @CoastConciergeService & Twitter: @CoastConcierge1 to stay up to date with the company and all the amazing events we’ll be putting together this summer!
Click FOLLOW on the top right of this page to stay informed of my upcoming posts! Thanks for reading!

My partner in crime! One of the other Summer Interns joins me for a quick photo op in the CCS office.

My partner in crime! One of the other Summer Interns joins me for a quick photo op in the CCS office.

Beauty Review! Sephora Mini Contour Makeover with @itsnellydee

Hi everyone!
Today I’m going to be talking about the Mini Contour service that Sephora offers, plus introduce you to my new friend and Makeup Artist, Nelly.

As you can tell by my long hair in the pictures below, I had this service done about a month ago. I’m a VIB Rouge with Sephora & one of the perks is you can receive free Makeovers without having to make a minimum purchase. About a month ago, they were also promoting a free “Mini Makeover” specifically geared towards contouring. Before meeting Nelly, I had no interest in the Makeovers because of my experiences with other Sephora MUAs. Usually when I go to Sephora to try on make up, I don’t wear make up to the store. What’s the point? Why wear make up there, just to have to take it off? 9 times out of 10 this results in the Make Up Artists thinking I’m a high school kid, that I don’t know how to wear make up AT ALL, or that I don’t like wearing makeup. I’m by no means a professional, but I know how to apply my own make up & am always looking to learn & test new products or application techniques. I’ve found that because of these misconceptions when people put make up on me they tend to lean towards 2 extremes. One, they do a SUPER natural look, or two, they do something extreme to “shake things up”. When this happens I don’t feel like I’ve really learned anything because these generally are not looks I want to duplicate. Thankfully, this was not my experience with Nelly.

I went to Sephora at the Westfield Valley Fair Mall specifically to do the Mini Contour Lesson. I know above I said I wasn’t interested, but I specifically wanted to get some tips on Contouring & Highlighting. Plus, I knew I could report back to y’all about the experience and maybe save you some time if it wasn’t worth while. However, I had a wonderful experience with Nelly! If you’re able to make your way to Valley Fair Mall in Santa Clara/San Jose area to go see her – do it!

I appreciated that Nelly went out of her way to get to know me & my beauty routine. The Makeover is only supposed to take 15 minutes – but we definitely went over that.
– We talked about the makeup I wear & my skin type to determine what kind of contour/highlight products I should be using. I thought you used a cream based product to create the “war paint” look, blended everything, then set it with a bronzer/highlight powder. Nelly told me that on my oily skin that would be a quick way to see everything crease up and/or look cakey – my worst nightmare!
– We also talked about the brands of makeup I use to see if I liked their contour/highlight options. Mixing and matching brands is fun & fine, but I think it can be smarter to stick to the same brand of face products. Companies make their products with the idea that they all work best together, they want you to wear their entire line! This keeps the ingredients you put on your face consistent which is a good idea if, like me, you have very sensitive & acne prone skin. If you know a certain brand has face products that work for you, why introduce another brand that may use different ingredients and/or makes their product differently & risk having a bad reaction? Just my two cents & of course, I don’t always follow my own advice, haha!
– An important aspect of contouring Nelly taught me is warm vs cool tones. I knew about there was a difference, but never thought much about it. We tested a contour stick I recently received as a Sephora sample & was excited to start using, but unfortunately it was much too warm aka orange! This is how she explained it, you’re trying to create the look of shadows/depth/dimension on your face. Shadows will have more of a grey/cool look to them, not an orange/warm/tan look.
– I had a general idea of where to contour and highlight to slim my round face, but Nelly gave me some tricks that I found helpful. For example, two lines of highlight, hugging the contour on my cheeks, really make that chiseled cheekbone pop!

Here are some of the products Nelly & I discussed, it was a Smashbox kind of conversation 😀 Click on the links to purchase!
1. Sephora Collection Pro Angled Contour Brush #75 – Sold out as of this posting, but just add it to your Loves List or ask to be emailed when it’s in stock.
2. Smashbox Step by Step Contour Stick Trio
3. Smashbox Step-By-Step Contour Kit w/brush
4. Smashbox L.A. Lights Blendable Lip & Cheek Color in Hollywood & Highlight
5. Smashbox Photo Finish Primer Water

Below is the finished look! As I was not wearing make up Nelly was kind enough to apply a light Cover FX foundation before the contour/highlight lesson. To further complement my “no make up” look & attempt to stick to the timeline, she created a more natural contour/highlight & gave me tips on how to amp it up for a more dramatic look.

So there you have it! This review might seem a bit contradictory because I talked about how I don’t like extremely natural looks, & then that’s what Nelly did. I just want to clarify that I’m fine with this because Nelly & I talked about SO many things beforehand & I understood we were on a time crunch. I would have been peeved if I’d gone in expecting to come out looking like Kim Kardashian did my contour/highlight, and got a natural look. That’s not the case here. I knew the look would be very soft and subtle. I’m happy with my experience with Nelly – I left her a great review on my Sephora survey! – & I will go back to her for the other full Makeover lesson that comes as a VIB perk.
Please follow her on Instagram: @itsnellydee & go see her at Sephora at the Westfield Valley Fair Mall!
Tag me (Instagram/Twitter: @missal_leigh) in your before & after pics so I can see the amazing work she does for y’all!
Thank you so much for reading, please click the FOLLOW button on the top right of this page to be updated when I write a new post – stay tuned for a Review of the full Sephora Makeover!
Contouring