I know I promised to review these nail art pens months ago, but I keep forgetting about them. I apologize.
Anyway, I found these during one of my visits to Watsons and I couldn’t help but get every color. (I think they have more available, but these were the only ones Watsons had at the time.) I couldn’t help myself, they were only P36!
Although they are packaged differently, these pen function just like my old Etude House nail art pens. You squeeze them and a drop of nail polish comes out at the tip. You can control the size of the dot depending on how hard you squeeze.
One thing I love about these pens is that they come with this pin-like stopper thing that prevents the nail polish from drying up inside the tips:
The red cap is attached to a tiny needle that goes inside the pen’s tip. My Etude House pens don’t have these and their tips keep getting blocked, which is annoying. I always end up having to soak them in nail polish remover just so I can get the nail polish out.
Just a random concept I thought of the other day. It’s a bit different from what I initially imagined, but I’m still pretty pleased with it. The hair on my face kinda bothers me a bit though. I mean it’s fine since I was going for the whole wind blown effect, but I wish it didn’t cover up my lips so much. I tried reshooting it with my hair tied up, but it didn’t look as good.
Anyway I’ve finally caught up on my 52-week project! Weeee~ Now I just have to make sure I don’t get lazy and fall behind again.
Theese past few weeks I’ve just been sitting around at home and reading whatever books I could get my hands on. I discovered that I really enjoy urban fantasies and paranormal romance. I didn’t even know those two genres existed until a few weeks ago. My current favorites are the Vampire Academy series (which you probably already know, seeing as I’ve mentioned it a number of times already) and the Georgina Kincaid series, both by Richelle Mead.
Anyway, I figured I’d do something book-related for my SP this week. I shot this earlier today in front of our garage. (I was actually planning to do the shoot in our garden but the heat was killer today so I decided to go somewhere with a bit more shade.) The book I’m holding is one I’ve never read before. It’s called “Slaves of Mastery” and it’s the second book from the Wind on Fire Trilogy by William Nicholson. I’ve never heard of it before but I found it at a booksale for P99 (~$2) and I bought it, not realizing that it’s part of a set. (I love booksales and whenever I see one, I usually end up walking away with a few purchases. Most of them end up collecting dust on my bookshelf because I’m too busy to read them. Ezra tells me that I should stop buying new books, at least until I’ve read all the other ones I’ve bought, but I just can’t help myself. Anyway I promised myself that I will get around to reading them all someday.)
As for the falling books in the picture, don’t worry, I didn’t actually start throwing my books in the air. They came from the following stock artists on deviantart:
And the quote in the title is by Jessamyn West
I don’t think I’ll ever get enough of Richelle Mead’s writing. True, I wasn’t very impressed with Bloodlines, but after Vampire Academy I knew I had to check out her other works. I’ve been very into urban fantasies and paranormal romance lately, which is exactly what Richelle Mead is known for.
Like Vampire Academy, the Georgina Kincaid series is composed of six books:
- Succubus Blues
- Succubus on Top/Succubus Nights
- Succubus Dreams
- Succubus Heat
- Succubus Shadows
- Succubus Revealed
Before I give you my summary and thoughts on each one, here’s a brief idea of what the books are about (copied from Richelle Mead’s website):
As if love wasn’t hard enough! Imagine not being able to touch your boyfriend without sucking away his soul. Welcome to the world of Georgina Kincaid, a reluctant succubus living in Seattle who always seems to find herself in the middle of supernatural intrigue…
So yeah, the story focuses on Georgina Kincaid, a succubus who is forced by Hell to prey on innocent (and sometime not so innocent) men and steal their life energy for her own survival. She’s been around since around the 4th century (if I remember correctly) and has mastered the art of seduction. However, despite the promise of immortality and her deal with Hell, the only thing she really wants is to be human again and live a normal life with a family of her own.
Below are my thoughts on each book. They are FULL OF SPOILERS so stay away if you plan on reading the books.
Before reading this picking up this series, I didn’t really know much about succubi and what they do, so I found the idea of shape shifting and seducing men (and sometimes women) to survive quite interesting. The books also features other immortals beings such as imps, angels, nephilims, vampires and demons.
One thing I found very interesting was the idea that although Heaven and Hell existed in this story, it showed that there is no distinct line that separates good and evil. Georgina and her friends are good people, but they are minions of Hell and must therefore do evil things such as preying on mortals, even if they don’t want to. Carter is an angel (an archangel to be more precise) and yet he is friends with many immortals from Hell, including the archdemon Jerome, and even tries to protect them when he can. Now while I found all this to be interesting, the series didn’t immediately hook me. It took finishing the entire first book before I really started enjoying the story and liking the characters.
As for the romance in the book, I was quite happy with it. As a succubus, Georgina catches the attention of many men, including Seth Mortensen, a famous author who she idolizes. I was a bit annoyed at first because it was initially unclear who Georgina would choose from the men who went after her (Seth, Roman, Doug … I even thought she would end up with Carter or Jerome at one point), but it all became clear at the end. (And speaking of the ending, I thought that note that Seth wrote for Georgina was very sweet, with the whole Thetis and Peleus reference.)
SUCCUBUS ON TOP
The book opened up with Georgina receiving an award for fulfilling her succubus duties thanks to her deal with Jerome in Succubus Blues. The readers are also introduced to Bastien, an old friend of Georgina who also happens to be an incubus.
Out of all the books, I think this one had the least magic and supernatural events. Don’t get me wrong, there were still plenty of it to go around, but there weren’t any huge displays of power and magical battles or anything. This book mainly dealt with three issues. The first is the relationship problems between Seth and Georgina. The two had started dating secretly, and it’s taking all their willpower to stop themselves from sleeping with each other. It shows how the two are forced to deal to the fact that they must remain chaste with each other while knowing that Georgina is forced to be with other men in order to survive.
The second issue deals with how Doug, one of Georgina’s best friends, gets caught up in some drug addiction which turned out to be Ambrosia or Food of the Gods. Georgina reports it to Jerome and Carter but unfortunately they cannot interfere without risking a war between supernatural forces. The concept of a God providing mortals with ambrosia in exchange for sex was interesting, but the way Georgina took him down was a bit anti-climatic in my opinion.
The last issue is the task that Bastien has set out to do, which is to corrupt a hypocritical radio talk show host and expose her. Out of the three issues, I found this to quite boring a bit annoying. I wanted to see an incubus in action, how he lures and traps his prey, but in the end it was still Georgina who managed to figure out a way to finish the task and save Bastien while she’s at it.
Maddie (Doug’s sister) makes her first appearance in this book. She shows up towards the end after Doug is hospitalized due to an overdose of ambrosia and decides to stay and take Georgina’s old position at the bookstore after Georgina’s promotion to manager.
In this book, Georgina is plagued by dreams (or should I say “dream” because it’s always the same one), but not the bad kind. They show her doing something as mundane as washing dishes and taking care of a daughter she wishes to have. It also shows her greeting a faceless husband. The dreams are pretty harmless unless you count the fact that each time she gets them she wakes up with her succubus energy drained. After some investigation, she discovered that she was being preyed upon by Nyx, the goddess of the night. With the help of Carter and a few angels, they manage to come up with a plan to capture Nyx and release Georgina from her spell, but not before Nyx tells her that the dreams were not simply dreams but are premonitions of future events. Georgina wishes it to be true but knows that as a succubus, any chance of her living a normal life and having her own family is pretty much nonexistent.
In this book Georgina realizes how fragile human life is after Seth takes a bullet for her during a mugging. Fortunately he survives, but the event causes the two to rethink their relationship. In the end Seth decides to break up with Georgina to protect her from having to constantly worry about him, and begins to date Maddie. This drives Georgina into losing all hope in everything good and she turns to the dark side by deciding to date Dante, a human psychic who has done several horrible things in order to strengthen his powers.
A bunch of new characters are introduced in the story, including Tawny (a new succubus), Yasmine (an angel), Vincent (a nephilim), Joel (another angel), and Dante. Niphon, the imp who bought Georgina’s soul in Succubus Blues, also makes an appearance in this book. In the end they discover it was actually him who released Nyx and set her on Georgina. His actions and sudden interest in Georgina’s love life causes Hugh to suspect that there might be something wrong with Georgina’s contract. Unfortunately, there is no way to check it so the best they can do is speculate what could be the problem.
I found this book to be extremely captivating. It’s definitely one of my favorites out of the entire series. There was just so much going on and so many new characters that it was hard to not get caught up in everything. Also, the possibility of Georgina being able to regain her soul due to a faulty contract made me so excited. It was pretty clear that she wanted nothing more than to be human and to have a family, and now the readers are presented with the idea that it could happen after centuries of living the succubus lifestyle.
As for the ending, it took me completely by surprise. I did not see that coming at all. I was so pissed at Seth for doing what he did. I know that Georgina goes around and sleeps with other men every few days, and that she’s been urging him to sate his lust with some other girl, but still! To do it with someone Georgina considered to be a close friend is just so wrong. So although I didn’t approve of it, I kinda understood why Georgina decided to turn to Dante for comfort at the end of the book.
After having her heart ripped apart in the previous book, Jerome orders Georgina to start seeing a therapist to get rid of some of her anger and depression. Unfortunately she thinks the whole thing is stupid and ends up sleeping with her therapist. Jerome is displeased and as punishment he sends her over to Canada to work for another archdemon who has been having problems with a Satanist group called the Army of Darkness. Through some investigation, Georgina discovers that the Army of Darkness is being controlled by some “Angel” who is using them to create distractions while she made arrangements to gain power by “summoning” Jerome (AKA trapping him inside a box like some genie) and taking over as archdemon. During Jerome’s absence, all immortals under him lose their powers temporarily. Roman reappears in this story and works with Georgina to free Jerome from captivity. In exchange, he asks Jerome and Carter for amnesty and that he be allowed to live in Seattle without the fear of being hunted down by the archdemon and archangel.
Despite everything that’s going on, Seth and Georgina realizes Jerome’s absence is the perfect time for them to consummate their love without the risk of Georgina stealing Seth’s life energy. Unfortunately, this meant that Georgina and Seth both cheat on their respective partners. While this doesn’t do much damage to Georgina’s soul, Seth cheating on Maddie (several times) pretty much assured him a place in Hell. Overcome with guilt, Seth ends up proposing to Maddie.
Now while it’s pretty clear that Seth and Georgina are meant to be, I definitely don’t condone cheating. And I’m glad that the book showed that their actions lead to terrible consequences, such as the corruption of Seth’s soul. As for Georgina, her boyfriend’s actions almost killed her, so I suppose that was punishment enough.
I’ve been feeling a bit restless these past few days (probably because I haven’t been out of the house since last Sunday) so as soon as I woke up yesterday, I texted Brinks and asked her if she wanted to go get a facial with me. She was actually planning on going shopping that day with her brothers, but they decided to bail so hooray for me. She agreed to come with me as long as in return I go with her to get her hair cut. I picked her up around 3pm and we headed over to SM Calamba. It’s pretty far but I needed to drop by Watsons and go grocery shopping anyway so we figured it was the best choice.
Yesterday’s outfit. It felt good to get a chance to dress up and be girly after lounging about in oversized t-shirts and shorts the entire week.
We got stuck in traffic (as usual) so we took pictures to pass the time. Brinks kept laughing at me because after spending the whole week at home, I got a bit claustrophobic inside the car and had to open the window to be able to breathe properly.
Week 19/52 : Sometimes you wake up from a dream. Sometimes you wake up in a dream. And sometimes, every once in a while, you wake up in someone else’s dream.
Quick picture Ezra took of me during our vacation last week in Bohol. We didn’t have time to do a shoot, but we did manage to get a few SP-worthy shots. This was taken during our first day there, as we explored the beach at our resort. We found this little wooden couch-like thing which Ezra dubbed “The Armadillo Chair“. The bottom picture is a shot of our resort from when we went glass-bottom boating on our 3rd day there.
The quote I used for my title came from the book Succubus Blues by Richelle Mead. I just finished reading her Georgina Kincaid series and I absolutely love it~
Our family went to Bohol last weekend to celebrate my parents’ 28th anniversary. They’ve both been to Bohol plenty of times before (they even had their honeymoon there) so they decided it’s about time Ezra and I visit the place. We stayed at the Panglao Blue Water Beach Resort, which was BEAUTIFUL! And all the people there were so nice. I wish we could have stayed longer.
Title from a quote by Gloria Stuart from the movie Titanic.
It’s been over two weeks and I’m still on a Vampire Academy high. I can’t help it, Richelle Mead is just so awesome! Since I can’t get the books off my mind, I figured I might as well make an entry which consists of favorite quotes and moments from the series. Enjoy!
“Hey Mason, wipe the drool off your face. If you’re going to think about me naked, do it on your own time.” –Rose
”You got cheap foreign labor to protect Lissa?” – Rose
“Only a true best friend can protect you from your immortal enemies.”
“I love pity parties. I wish I’d bought the hats.” –Christian
“I couldn’t be Mason’s girlfriend because when I imagined someone holding me and whispering dirty things in my ear, he had a Russian accent.” -Rose
Lissa : What are you doing here?
Christian : Taking in the sights, of course. That chair with the tarp on it is particularly lovely at this time of year. Over there, we have an old box full of the writings of the blessed and crazy St. Vladimir. And let’s not forget that beautiful table with no legs in the corner.
Mason : Maybe they were hooking up.
Rose : He was a SAINT.
Mason : So? Saints probably like sex too. That ‘brother and sister’ stuff is probably a cover. See? They were ‘bound’ together. It’s code.
“The Battle cry sort of gave you away. Try not to yell next time.” -Dimitri
“I like him.”
“Like or like?”
“Oh, there’s a difference?”
“Yes. Like is when you date a big, blond moron and laugh at his stupid jokes.” Then, out of nowhere, he leaned forward and kissed her. It was hot and fast and furious, an outpouring of the rage and passion and longing that Christian always kept locked inside of him. Lissa had never been kissed like that… he made her feel so much more alive than Aaron or anyone else could. Christian pulled back from the kiss but still kept his face next to hers. “That’s what you do with someone you like.”
“No. If I let myself love you, I won’t throw myself in front of her. I’ll throw myself in front of you.”-Dimitri
“What’s your name?”
“What?” I asked, squinting at the light.
“Your name.” I recognized Dr. Olendzki peering over me.
“You know my name.”
“I want you to tell me.”
“Rose. Rose Hathaway.”
“Do you know your birthday?”
“Of course I do. Why are you asking me such stupid things? Did you lose my records?”
Dr. Olendzki gave an exasperated sigh and walked off, taking the annoying light with her. “I think she’s fine.”
“Do not do that again,” he said stiffly.
“Don’t kiss me back then,” I retorted.
He stared at me for what seemed like forever. “I don’t give ‘Zen lessons’ to hear myself talk. I don’t give them because you’re another student. I’m doing this to teach you control.”
“You’re doing a great job,” I said bitterly.”
“Sweat isn’t a bad thing. Some of the best things in life happen while sweating. Yeah, if you get too much of it and it gets old and stale, it turns pretty gross. But on a beautiful woman? Intoxicating. If you could smell things like a vampire does, you’d know what I’m talking about. Most people mess it all up and drown themselves in perfume. Perfume can be good…especially if you get one that goes with your chemistry. But you only need a hint. Mix about 20 percent of that with 80 percent of your own perspiration…mmm. Dead sexy.” -Adrian
“Not into older guys, huh?” asked Adrian once we were alone.
“You’re imagining things,” I said. “Clearly, my stunning beauty has clouded your mind.”
“There’s nothing worse than waiting and not knowing what’ll happen to you. Your own imagination can be crueler than any captor.”
“We can’t stop living because other people are dead.”
“Rose only hangs out with guys and psychopaths,” said Mia.
“Well,” he said cheerfully, “since I’m both a psychopath and a guy, that would explain why we’re such good friends.”
“Too bad. Family members hit you by accident. Psychopathic whores tend to come back for more.”
“I felt like someone had ripped my heart out and tossed it across the other side of the room. There was a burning, agonizing pain in my chest, and I had no idea how it could ever be filled. It was one thing to accept that I couldn’t have Dimitri. It was something entirely different to realize someone else could.”
Across the room, Christian met my yes. Somehow, his face looked even gaunter than it had a couple of hours ago. Hunger burned in his gaze, and I knew I wore the complementary one : a desire to sate that hunger. God. We were so screwed. I think Christian realized it at the same time. His lips twisted into a bitter smile.
“You never looked so good Rose,” he managed, just before the guards told him to shut up.
“I’ll see you later Roza.”
“At our next practice?” I asked. “We are starting those up again, right? I mean you still have things to teach me.”
Standing in the doorway, he looked over at me and smiled. “Yes. Lots of things.”
“My cigarettes and I are going outside. At least they show me respect.” -Adrian
Adrian: ”Oh my God. A kind word from Rose Hathaway, I can die a happy man.”
Rose : “What are you saying that I’m normally an ungrateful bitch?” (silence) “Hey! Not cool.”
Eddie : “If I didn’t know any better, I’d say you just defended Christian’s honor. Isn’t he a pain in the ass?”
Rose : “Yes he is. But for the next 6 weeks he’s MY pain in the ass.”
Adrian: What do you think, little dhampir? I was pretty badass with that plant, wasn’t I? Of course it would have been more badass if I’d, I dunno, helped an amputee grow a limb back. Or maybe separated Siamese twins. But that’ll come with more practice.
Rose: If you want some advice-which I’m sure you don’t-you guys should lay off on the magic. Christian still thinks your moving in on Lissa.
Adrian : What? Doesn’t he know that my heart belongs to you?
Rose : It does not. And no, he’s still worried about it, despite what I’ve told him.
Adrian : You know, I bet if we started making out right now, it would make him feel better.
Rose : If you touch me, I’ll provide you with the oppritunity to see if you can heal yourself. Then we’d see how badass you really are
I’m not really sure what happened. It was working fine when I used it last night, but when I turned it on to style my hair this morning, it refused to cooperate. I plugged it in and gave it time to warm up as I applied my makeup, but when I grabbed it to straighten my bangs, the plates were not hot at all. In fact, they were barely warm. I’m not even sure if the little heat on them was due to the iron trying to warm itself up, or because it absorbed some of hot air from this heat wave we’ve been having lately. Anyway, it definitely wasn’t enough to straighten anyone’s hair. (Not that I didn’t try. But I might as well have taken two books and used that to style my bangs for all it did, tch.) Anyway, I did a quick search online and the most reasonable explanation I found was that the heating filament inside has finally burned out.
I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised. After all I’ve been using this flat iron almost everyday for the past 6 years. (It was one of my first purchases after I got a job.) I suppose it’s about time I get a new one.
I texted my sister to tell her about the untimely demise of my poor flat iron and she replied “Haha, say hello to poofy bangs!” How terribly sensitive of her. Hmph. Sorry to disappoint you Ezra, but there’s no way I’m letting that happen. Thank goodness I have this little guy:
My mini Conair flat iron. I bought it back in 2009 when we went to California because I thought it would be a useful thing to have when I travel. It’s tiny, comes with a heat protectant pouch, and it’s dual-voltage too! (Whenever we visit the states, Ezra and I always end up having to borrow Kurt’s flat iron because ours operate on 220V and American outlets run on 110V…)
I’ve already stated numerous times here on my blog how much I loved the Vampire Academy series. But there were so many unanswered questions at the end of the last book that even though I wasn’t ready to let go of Rose and the other characters, I immediately picked up Bloodlines just to find some answers.
Basically this is a spin-off of VA and it picks up right around where Last Sacrifice left off – with Lissa elected as queen. Bloodlines focuses on Sydney, the alchemist that Rose met in Blood Promise during her search for Dimitri. With the discovery that Jill is half Dragomir, Lissa gains full power over the Moroi court. Unfortunately, some refuse to accept her and will do what they can to remove her from the throne, including murdering the Dragomirs. As queen, Lissa is heavily guarded at all times, presenting her as a difficult target to those who wish to get rid of her, so the assassins go after Jill. Until a new law is passed which will allow Lissa to rule without the presence of living relatives, Jill needs to remain alive and safe for Lissa to hold the throne. For her safety, Jill is sent to a private human boarding school in Palm Springs, along with Eddie, Adrian and Sydney – posing as siblings – to protect her.
Okay, I have to be honest here, while I still believe that Richelle Mead is a wonderful writer, I wasn’t as impressed with this book as I was with the Vampire Academy series. Yes, it did have plenty of mystery and a decent plot, but that was about it. It lacked action, magic, romance and strong characters. I’m not saying it was horrible, just that it wasn’t really what I was expecting, especially after VA.
I suppose the main reason I didn’t enjoy this book as much as I should have is because I’m just not a huge fan of Sydney. Sure I thought the concept of Alchemists were interesting, but she never really stood out for me in Vampire Academy, so I don’t really understand why the author chose her to be the main character for Bloodlines. She was likeable enough, but she wasn’t someone I grew to love in the story. I found that as I read the book, I seriously began to miss Rose’s confidence and snarky attitude. I enjoyed reading about her because she was someone willing to take big risks for people she cared about. And the fact that she can kick major Strigoi butt definitely made me love her more. In comparison, Sydney’s character was a bit too straight-laced and (for lack of a better word) boring. She was unsure of herself and was a strict follower of rules. Even she herself acknowledged that she behaved more like a mother than a friend or “sister” to Jill and Eddie. I understand that this mainly has to do with how she was raised by her father and the Alchemist society, and I suppose this makes her a responsible role model for many young girls out there, but as a reader I still prefer reading about characters who are confident (and a bit badass). On the plus side, I did see a lot of personal growth from her in the story. As the book progressed the readers could she that she’s slowly starting to accept that not all Moroi and Dhampirs are evil creatures, and that not all magic is bad. And although she’s nowhere near as impulsive as Rose, she did take some risks in the story to uncover what was really going on with the tattoos and the mysterious Moroi deaths. I think the time away from her father and the rest of the Alchemists is doing her a lot of good, and making her question everything she’s been taught as a child. I’m hoping this will continue in the next books.
Raffy and I decided to go to the derma clinic and get facials the other week, and we managed to convince Ezra to come with us. She’s never gotten it done before so she decided she should at least try it once. She said it was painful, but the results were worth it. She loved how shiny and healthy her skin looked afterwards
(Title came from a quote by Koo Stark)
Day two of our quick sightseeing trip with my aunt and cousins. (You can read about Day 1 HERE).
We woke up early that morning because we had 9:30am tickets for the Hearst Castle tour. I didn’t really know much about Hearst or his castle until my aunt arranged this trip for us, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. She told us that the place once belonged to Sir William Randolph Hearst. After he died his children decided to donate part of his property to the state of California, and since then it has attracted many visitors. It was a well known fact that Mr. Hearst only invited aristocrats and elites into his home back when he was alive (some of his favorite guests included Charlie Chaplin, Clark Gable and Winston Churchill) so I suppose a lot of people simply wanted to see the place that these famous people once visited.
Ate Maryann dropped us off at the Hearst Castle Visitor’s Center at around 9am. (She couldn’t join us for the tour because she had to work.)
It was a beautiful sunny day. Just look at that lovely sky~
In case you were wondering, this isn’t the castle yet. It’s just where visitors go to get their tickets and wait for the tour guides to pick them up.
We looked around inside and explored a bit while Kuya Wibet went to the counter to get our wristbands.
Mama Darling headed straight for the gift shop XD
Tour packages available for visitors. We got the Grand Rooms Tour.
Map of Hearst Castle
Our tour bracelets:
My mom helping me put mine on
Ta-dah! All set for our tour.
We had about 10 minutes before our shuttle arrived so we just did more exploring and took a few more pictures at the visitor’s center
Poor Kurt woke up with a heavy migraine that morning and could barely stand. But he didn’t want to miss out on the tour so Ezra volunteered to be his crutch for the day, lol. It must have been hard on him seeing as she’s so much shorter, but at least he was able to walk around (really slowly) through her help.
He still managed to smile for cameras too. (He said it was because he didn’t want to look back on the pictures and videos in the future and see himself in pain, lol). But he got better throughout the day and even managed to take pictures during our tour. (Some of the shots I will be posting in this entry were actually stolen from his camera XD – Thanks Kurt for the copies!)
Soon our bus arrived to take us up to the castle. As we drove up, our bus driver gave us a bit of info about Mr. Hearst and this place. He told us that all the land we saw around us belonged to Mr. Hearst. He used to call this place La Cuesta Encantada (“The Enchanted Hill”). Mr. Hearst loved animals so he filled this place up with them. We saw a couple of black cows, deer, rabbits, squirrels and some zebras on the way up. Supposedly Mr. Hearst even kept polar bears around back when he was still alive (but he made sure they were locked up of course).
All of this belonged to Sir William Randolph Hearst. I can’t even imagine what I would do if I owned this much land! Probably build my own amusement park.
It took us about 10 minutes to get up to the castle, where our tour guide was waiting for us.
Our first glimpse of the famous Hearst Castle. It’s beautiful, but not what I expected. I sorta envisioned a modern Hogwarts when my aunt told me we would be visiting a castle, lol. This seemed more like a church or a cathedral to me – which was actually what it was modeled after (according to our guide). Oh well, it may not have been Hogwarts, but it was still gorgeous.
Speaking of our guide, here’s a quick shot I took of him. Doesn’t he sort of look like Jack Nicholson? I kept telling my mom that and she didn’t believe me, but my dad and aunt agreed with me XD
Anyway, Mr. Nicholson-lookalike (I can’t remember his name, sorry) gave us some background information about Sir William Randolph Hearst and his famous castle. Supposedly he had a lot of strange quirks and was quite eccentric, but no can could deny how brilliant he was. He was a perfectionist and he loved art. As for the castle, something that many people may find interesting was that it was designed by a woman named Julia Morgan. While this may seem trivial to some, our guide reminded us that the castle was built in the early 1900′s and female architects weren’t as common back then. According to him, Ms. Morgan was a brilliant architect and she utilized a lot of modern technology (well, modern for their times) which allowed the castle to withstand a lot of earthquakes and survive up to this day. (He did admit that the castle has undergone many restoration projects but there wouldn’t be anything to restore if it wasn’t for the castle’s strong foundation.)
After his brief introduction of William Hearst and his castle, we were finally allowed to go inside. We had to go through the side entrance though because the main entrance lead to a hallway which had intricate mosaic tile floors. In the past, visitors were allowed to enter through there, but eventually the tiles became damaged and the people running the place had to pay to have it restored, which took years! The guy who fixed it told them that they better not let anyone walk on those tiles again, because there was no way he would agree to repair it a second time.
One thing we all noticed going in the castle was how tall and narrow the doors were. Only one person could fit at a time, so we had to queue up to enter the building. Some people even had to walk sideways. It makes me wonder if weight loss didn’t present as much of a problem back then as it does today.
Inside we were taken in to see the assembly room. It was huge and reminded me of a fancy hotel lobby.
It looked so cozy and inviting. I would have loved to have curled up on one of those armchairs with a good book. But we weren’t allowed to touch anything, let alone sit on the chairs. In fact, visitors were only allowed to step on the areas marked with a black/gray carpet to prevent any sort of damage to the room. Flash photography wasn’t allowed either because they wanted to avoid light damage, so forgive me if some of the following pictures turn out a bit blurry.
Look at the details on that ceiling!
There were two of these huge Christmas trees inside. (Uh yeah … it was the holidays when we went there. I guess I should probably mention again that I’m pretty lazy when it comes to blogging, which is why this entry is 5 months delayed ….)
Took some selca shots while our guide explained more about the room
Another Vampire Academy inspired self portrait. I’m still obsessed with the books and I’m currently rereading the entire series
Anyway, those tattoos are photoshopped of course. They’re symbols that are often mentioned in the book. Dhampirs (half human – half vampires) often get tattoos on the back of their necks to mark their achievements. They call the “S” shaped tattoo a promise mark and it indicates that they have agreed to serve the Moroi (the good vampires) and protect them from Strigoi (the bad vampires). The little “X” marks are called molnija marks (which means “lighting” in Russian) and they represent how many Strigoi that dhampir has killed so far. The main character in the story has a lot of these, and she even has the star-shaped “zvezda” tattoo which indicates that she’s been in battle and has killed countless Strigoi.
My title came from the main character’s nickname, which was given to her by a Moroi who was in love with her. He was one of my favorite characters
Recently I’ve been obsessed with this book series called Vampire Academy. I just finished reading the final book (Last Sacrifice) last week so I decided to make this vampire-inspired self portrait. I’m not really that pleased with how this turned out, but I’ve been editing it for the past two days and making itsy bitsy changes. I figured I should just upload it since I don’t think I’m ever going to be completely happy with it.
In the books, vampire bites give their victims a huge rush of endorphins, so people actually volunteer to give blood. When a human does it, they’re called feeders and are accepted by the Moroi (vampire) community. The Moroi only drink little amounts of blood each day so its safe for the humans (aside from the fact that it turns them into junkies). However, when a dhampir (half vampire, half human) offers their blood to a vampire, it’s considered kinky and erotic and society looks down on them for it. But some dhampirs still do it for the rush.
If you want to know more about the books, you can read my review on the series HERE. Although I must warn you that it contains a lot of spoilers so if you’re planning on reading the books, you might want to skip the section where I summarized each book and just read the intro (where I basically just tell you how much I loved the story ^__^).
Bite marks brushes came from HERE.
I call this her ridiculously expensive SP because this picture cost her more than she expected. She knew she wanted a picture wearing her academic gown for her 52-week project, so after her graduation was over she didn’t return it to the shop immediately. Once we got home she kept putting the shoot off because it’s really hot over here right now and she didn’t want to wear her toga, until my mom reminded her that she needed to return it. And even then it took us a few days before we got to shooting this. Because of that she ended up returning her toga 4 days after the deadline (which she didn’t know about). Unfortunately there’s a P100 daily fine so she wasn’t too happy about that when she found out. Especially since the toga had just been lying around the house for almost 3 weeks now. (It’s the same one I was wearing in this self portrait XD)
Anyway the graduation bear she’s holding in the picture was my present to her back when she graduated from high school. We thought it was cute that he’s wearing a yellow-lined toga as well so we decided to include him in the shot.
Ezra’s like 3 or 4 weeks behind in this project so we shot this quickly the other week. Uploading it just now because I kept putting off the editing. (It’s summer here so we’ve both been extremely lazy XD)
Anyway this was inspired by an old poster of Sabrina the Teenage Witch. We used to love that show when we were younger
I can’t believe it. My little sister who hates studying and would always cringe at the thought of having to do anything school related has earned her Master’s Degree! And in the same year that I did! The same little sister who always used to call me a nerd for loving school actually decided to go through additional schooling after college! Who would have thought?
She didn’t plan on it of course. Right after she earned her Bachelor’s Degree, she worked as a research assistant for my parents. After a few months she realized she didn’t enjoy it as much as she thought she would so she decided to look for something else to do. It was during this time that my parents somehow managed to convinced her that she should try studying again. (It’s their lifelong dream to see Ezra and me with doctorate degrees.) She was against the idea at first but they told her to just give it a try and that she could always stop if she really doesn’t like it. To be honest, I wouldn’t have been surprised if she gave up after a semester, but she actually enjoyed herself and decided to finish the course. She started her graduate studies in 2010 and finished it in two years. It took me three years to earn my Master’s Degree, so I guess that makes her the nerd now XD (Peace Ez!)
Like me, she decided not to attend the University graduation but chose to participate in the more intimate CPAF and graduate school recognition ceremonies instead. Both events took place on April 27th - The CPAF recognition in the morning and the graduate school’s hooding and recognition at night. I wasn’t able to attend the morning recognition because she was only allowed to bring two guests, so naturally she chose to bring our parents. But I did wake up early that morning to help her get dressed and to style her hair for her.
Here’s a shot my mom took of her in front of the banner CPAF prepared for its graduates that morning
With the proud parents My mom is wearing the same dress she wore during my graduation the week before. She’s had that dress for years now and she calls it her official grad dress. She first wore it during her own PhD graduation and proceeded to wear it to all our graduations after that – high school, college and now Master’s. Amazingly it still fits her after all these years XD
The CPAF recognition took the entire morning and included a free lunch. The three of them came home aftewards and had time for quick naps before we had to get ready again to attend the Hooding and Recognition Rites that evening.
Quick family photo before we left. We somehow all ended up wearing black that evening. (My mom changed into a shorter dress because as a University faculty, she had to wear her PhD toga to the event, and the yellow dress was too long.)
Deus dropped by to attend the special event. (He’s so tall that he had to squat down to fit in the picture.) Raffy was also there but he was too busy making fun of Ezra (as usual) so I wasn’t able to get a picture with him before we left.
I’ve been *so* obsessed with this series! I found it while browsing through a list of popular young adult books a few weeks ago and decided to give it a try. I started reading the first book and I just couldn’t put it down! It usually takes me a few chapters to really enjoy a story, but this series had me hooked from the first few pages. I couldn’t stop reading until I reached the last page of the sixth book. I was so tempted to write a review for each installment, but my desire to continue reading wouldn’t let me put the books down long enough to do so. Now that I’ve finished them all, I can get down to writing this entry.
Now before you go “oh no, not another vampire story“, hear me out first. I admit, I’ve always been sort of attracted to vampire stories ever since I can remember, but I also know that not all of them are good (I’m guessing I don’t have to name any examples here …) Vampires are extremely over-rated these days so I was a little hesitant to start reading the books. It just seems as if most vampire stories I’ve come across recently had similar plots and themes. I gave this series a try with the idea that I could always just stop reading if it bored me, but I ended up being totally addicted. The books had the perfect balance of action, romance, friendship and humor. I love how the main character is a strong girl who is willing to put herself in danger to protect the ones she loves. (And when I mean put herself in danger, I don’t mean rushing into doing stupid and suicidal things without thinking, I meant chasing after enemies to save her friends’ lives.) She’s a girl who knows what she wants and isn’t afraid to take action to get it.
Before I continue my review I think it would be best if I first tell you what the books are about. There’s really no easy way for me to summarize all six books without giving spoilers, so if you plan on reading the books, you might want to stop reading this now. But first let me paste this short summary of the first book which I stole from the author’s website to give you an idea of what its about:
Two races of vampires walk our world. One, the Moroi, are alive and wield elemental magical. The other, the Strigoi, are undead and evil–feeding on the innocent to survive. Rose Hathaway–a half-vampire with poor impulse control–is training to be a bodyguard for a Moroi princess. Learning to decapitate and stake is hard enough, but Rose’s real danger may lie in an illicit romance with one of her instructors…
I know that that summary makes it sound like the whole book is about a taboo relationship between Rose and Dimitri, but the story is actually much deeper than that. Sure it contains a lot of romance, but friendship is also a big theme in the book. The story focuses on Rose, a dhampir (half vampire) who is a student at St. Vladimir Academy training to become a guardian for her royal Moroi best friend, Lissa. Lissa’s family were recently involved in a car accident, leaving her the only Dragomir left. Rose was in the same car during the accident and all evidence suggests that she should have died along with the rest of Lissa’s family, but somehow Lissa’s spirit magic was able to bring her back to life, creating a special bond between the two friends. And I don’t mean a something like “you saved me, you’re now my best friend forever” kind of bond, but an actual connection that allows Rose to have constant access to Lissa’s emotions and thoughts. In some instances the connection is so strong that she can enter Lissa’s mind and see the world as Lissa sees it. It’s a useful thing to have since it lets Rose keep a close eye on Lissa, especially since several strange incidents at the academy suggests that somebody out there is out to get her.
The series is comprised of 6 books:
- Vampire Academy
- Shadow Kiss
- Blood Promise
- Spirit Bound
- Last Sacrifice
Vampire Academy – This was where the whole idea of the Moroi (good elemental vampires who are mortal), Strigoi (bad immortal vampires who feed on Moroi) and dhampirs (half human and half vampire beings who live to serve and protect the Moroi) was introduced. I absolutely loved the world and the different classes Richelle Mead created and the concept of mortal vampires that needed protection, as opposed to immortal creatures who gets what they want through seduction. I was also really intrigued by the spirit element and the idea of being shadow kissed.
This first book focused a lot on high school life. In a way it reminded me of Gossip Girl (even though I’ve never read the books) in the sense that Rose and Lissa had to deal with a lot of school stuff (classes, rumors, popularity, etc). And I also loved how we were introduced to the forbidden romance between Rose and Dimitri (her guardian instructor), as well as the complicated friendship/love story between Lissa and Christian. I loved this book because there was so much mystery about the spirit element and I enjoyed reading about it played out in the made up world that the author had created. There was also plenty of humor, action, and romance which is good. And I liked that the ending wrapped the story up pretty nicely and can stand alone if readers don’t feel the need to continue reading the other books in the series. I’m not sure why they would decide to stop after this book though, because although I can say that this is probably my favorite out of all six books, the rest are just equally as good.
Frostbite – The story starts off when the Moroi community is thrown into chaos after several consecutive Strigoi attacks on royal Moroi families. St. Vladimir decides that the best way to keep its students safe is to stick together, so everyone is forced to celebrate the winter break together (along with other Moroi and dhampirs) at a ski resort. A few new characters are introduced in this book : Janine Hathaway (Rose’s mother), Eddie Castile (he is mentioned in the first book, but plays a bigger role here), Tasha Oreza (Christian’s aunt) and most importantly Adrian Ivashkov (another spirit user who has the ability to walk dreams). I loved Adrian’s character immediately, he was charming and a bit of a rebel (the kind of guy most girls would probably want to avoid). With Adrian’s help, Rose and Lissa learn more about Spirit and its uses. In this book, Rose and her friends get caught up in a horrible situation which leaves one of them dead. It came as a shock, especially since the character who died was portrayed as someone strong, but I did like the way Rose and her friends fought the Strigoi and eventually ended up killing them. It is also in this book that the idea of Moroi fending for themselves instead of relying on guardians was introduced. I liked it because although Moroi are weaker than Strigoi, they still have the ability to control certain elements and can learn to fight.
Aside from the first, this is the only other book in the series that has a solid ending, one that wraps up the book nicely. The following books all end during pretty climatic events which will have the reader running off to get their hands on the next one to see how things will turn out.
Shadow Kiss – This third book is a lot darker than the first two of the series, with Rose mourning over the loss of a friend during their previous encounter with Strigoi. Soon, Rose starts seeing ghosts following her as a result of her being shadow kissed. To top it off, the senior guardians at St. Vladimir take their field test and are assigned one Moroi to protect for six weeks. To Rose’s shock and dismay, instead of being paired with Lissa as she expected, she is assigned to protect Christian instead. It is in this book that Rose finally understands the true weight of the guardian motto “they come first” (“they” referring to the Moroi). She is used to being the center of attention, and we can see that being forced to become a mere shadow to a Moroi bothers her a lot. The only thing that keeps her going is her love for Lissa and desire to protect her.
I liked how Rose and Christian’s friendship develops in this book, especially since they had a lot of animosity towards each other in the first one. Their love for Lissa and shared ideas of Moroi fighting Strigoi bring them together. When a group of Strigoi attack the academy, the two of them work together to bring them down. I also loved how Dimitri’s and Rose’s love story finally got somewhere. After three books, they finally admit their feelings to each other.
Out of all six books, this is the one that caused me a lot of emotional turmoil. I didn’t bawl like a baby or anything, but I definitely shed some tears at the ending, especially the very last line.
Still in a celebratory mood after finally earning my Master’s Degree after 3 years You can’t really blame me though, it was such a happy moment for me. I’ve been looking forward to it for so long. I can’t believe I finally did it ^__^
This isn’t my official graduation photo, nor is it my graduation gown/toga. This was actually shot in my room. The university I graduated from required us to wear a white dress and the traditional university sablay. The graduation gown I’m wearing in this picture belongs to my sister, who also earned her Masters Degree this semester. Her graduation took place last weekend I figured I’d have some fun with her toga first before she has to return it XD
Here’s my official graduation photo taken by a professional photographer:
(If you want to see pictures of my actual graduation, you can view my earlier entry about it by clicking HERE)
Taking some time to relax out in our garden. This was after she completed her clearance so she was able to get some free time and finally relax.
The dress she has on was the dress she wore for her graduation ball back in 2009.
For TOTW : Yin Yang
I had to reshoot for this concept so many times that I almost gave up. I wanted to do something really fancy so I tried so many different poses and compositions, but I couldn’t find anything I liked. Finally I decided to just go for something simple. (But it was still a pain to edit in Photoshop because I couldn’t get the lighting right and I had a hard time merging the two images together.)
Anyway I’m happy with how it turned out, so it’s fine. It even made Flickr’s Explore – yay~