The Spirit Runner by Richard Ferguson

When it comes to reviewing books I can sometimes be a tough nut to crack. My average book rating on Goodreads is currently 3.37 out 5 so I do not give out praise easily.  However, when I do, it is well earned. 

4/5 stars.
ebook, ARC, 255 pages.
Read from October 31, 2017 to November 2, 2017.

I love being able to support Indie authors and so when the author of this novel reached out to me to get some feedback on this currently unpublished novel I happily obliged. When it comes to reviewing books I can sometimes be a tough nut to crack. My average book rating on Goodreads is currently 3.37 out 5 so I do not give out praise easily.  However, when I do, it is well earned.

When we’re young, our parents are our heroes. Ron Campbell was no different, except that his father was an Olympic marathon runner. Ron desperately yearns to be an exceptional runner like his father and as his talent grows he is looking to head in that direction. Until a horrifying accident robs Ron not only of his parents but also his ability to run as the wreck has left his legs mangled and crippled. giphyThe doctors have told Ron that they do not expect that he will ever run again, let alone walk properly.  Thankfully Ron’s grandfather does not approve of the doctor’s negative attitude and he is sent to live with his Aunt and Uncle along with the support of an Aussie physical therapist aimed at getting Ron running again. However, Ron’s situation is far from ideal. He may be with family but he quickly learns that his Aunt and Uncle have little interest in his recovery and are more concerned with getting the plot of land that has recently been bequeathed to him from his grandfather. Coupled with the physical abuse from his Uncle, Ron is not off to a sympathetic start but with the continuous love of his friends,  grandfather, and even a friendly bull named Curly, Ron’s spirit is determined and unwavering. Ron aims for miracles in his quest to run again and to ensure that his Aunt and Uncle do not get what they want.

Being pleasantly surprised by this book is a bit of an understatement. I did not want to put this book down. When it comes to reviewing Indie writing you are never sure what the quality of the story or the writing is going to be like and I can honestly say the story is highly engaging, that the writing is solid and the editing is damn near perfect.  There is never a lull or dull moment in this story as the plot takes you on a continuous roller coaster ride. The story is the epitome of a feel-good novel, even if the outcome of the book is somewhat predictable, it does not take away from the enjoyability of the novel. Ron is an admirable little boy with realistic qualities and the other characters add such colour to the already enticing plot. Curly, the bull, is also one the best tidbits of the whole story as well.

This is the sort of novel I would consider purchasing for my running friends or for anyone that can appreciate a feel-good novel with likeable characters. While the book does not have a solid release date yet I will keep in touch with the author to get more information about when readers can access this book.

The Beautiful and the Damned by Scott Fitzgerald

Two young, immature, wealthy and unemployed people living in the Jazz Era of excess get married. The drink a lot and party hard because YOLO!

3/5 stars.
Paperback,  364 pages.
Read from September 18, 2017 to October 3, 2017.

Two young, immature, wealthy and unemployed people living in the Jazz Era of excess get married. The drink a lot and party hard because YOLO!

Bricktops_Midnight.gifThey start to run out of money and lose an inheritance. They realize they are pretty shallow people in a shallow marriage and are not able to cope and do what is necessary to get by, you know, like keep a job. Money saves them… The end.

The redeeming quality of this book is that the writing quality is exceptional but the characters are of an unrelatable timeframe. In summary, while the novel is not what I would call timeless, Fitzgerald is not untalented. Still worth reading? Yes, if you need a literary historical window into the Jazz Era, Fitzgerald’s works are the way to go.

Stockholm Syndrome: Dermatillomania Makeup Tips

Learning to use makeup and learning about skincare has helped me with many self care techniques for my dermatillomania and otherwise.

Originally written for the Canadian Body-Focused Repetitive Behaviour Support Network (CBSN) during BFRB week October 1-7, 2017


I love makeup. Or rather, I should say that I have a Stockholm syndrome relationship with makeup. At 19, I was held hostage by makeup and my dermatillomania, having never before worn it or had any interest in wearing it.

When my dermatillomania was at its absolute worst in my early 20s, I quickly learned the ins and outs of how to conceal my awkward condition. Everyday I prayed to and thanked the makeup gods that I was able to cover up my horribly red, weeping, and marked face (or arms) just to give the appearance of functioning like a normal person. But I was not okay. I needed help. Makeup made me feel better and calmed my rising anxieties about my appearance. Even when I was home alone or ready to go to bed sometimes just applying makeup and wearing it through the night was enough to calm me and temporarily halt my urges.

At first, I did not know what I was doing at all with make-up. It started with just concealer but when I started using half a tube on face every day and realized it wasn’t blending well, I discovered foundation. And then I learned that powder can help create a smoother and lasting appearance and that it also seemed to work better on slightly open wounds. I then started using all three and tried every drugstore brand under the sun. I bought brushes and sponges, watched YouTube videos, all to perfect the technique of smothering and soothing myself. I needed makeup and started to carry an emergency kit of concealer and other supplies around so that my flaws never showed. I did not go swimming. I did not wear tank tops or short sleeve shirts. I hid in my makeup that kept me safe. I remember feeling so frustrated that I was a slave to this commodity and felt that I needed it like a junkie needs their drugs. Wearing makeup was a consolation that provided me the facade of happiness.

skin picking
Image credit: http://bit.ly/2hgUH1S

After years of misery perfecting my cover-up techniques and learning about the different aspects of skincare, I finally started working through the healing stages of my dermatillomania. I started to improve to the point that dermatillomania no longer controlled my life or all of my waking thoughts. I began to enjoy the makeup process as it did not feel like a necessity anymore. I felt attractive for the first time since I could remember.

While I can probably get away without wearing makeup most of the time now, I don’t. Makeup is still my comfort and still brings me some degree of happiness wearing it. I have even noticed that if I am having a hard time with my skin I will sometimes splurge at Sephora to make me feel like I am some how being proactive about my skin.

Learning to use makeup and learning about skincare has helped me with many self care techniques for my dermatillomania and otherwise. Would I have found this comfort and interest in makeup and skincare if I had not had dermatillomania? As I spent half of my life as a tomboy, it is hard to say. Regardless, I am grateful for what makeup has given me even if it was not something I would have chosen.

makeup tips
Image credit: http://bit.ly/2AgYZKo

For those that need it, here are some derma-friendly makeup tips that have worked we for me:

  • Primer and setting spray: I use to scoff at it. Seemed like another layer to add to my face that was already bordering on way too much but it truly helps the make up adhere better to your skin and makes it last longer so you do not have to worry about your carefully placed make up accidentally rubbing off.

  • Invest in quality concealer and foudation: Not only do better quality products cover better they are often better for your skin (oil-free, paraben-free etc). Take the time to find a brand that works best for you. Make Up Forever carries a water-resistant brand of concealer that lasted me 2-years even with regular everyday use (they have a foundation too). When applying concealer, dab it, don’t swipe it for better adherence.

  • If your skin is weeping and open, it is hard to cover and you run the risk of infection – The best course of action is to let the wound get some sort of barrier on it before you put on makeup. Here are a few techniques that can help:

    • Liquid bandages – Found at practically every drugstore, using this requires a bit of technique to get right. The key is to get the thinnest layer possible for the best coverage in the end. It sting a bit when applying it but it will protect your skin once it is dry. Make sure it is dry before applying makeup.

    • Honey, lemon and cinnamon: These ingredients are naturally antibacterial and will reduce redness. If you have time, put a mixture of these three on the area for 10 minutes or more to allow a barrier to form (the sticky mixture helps you from touching it too) then very gently wipe away with warm water.

      lemon-honey-cinnamon
      Image credit: http://bit.ly/2m0PSLR
    • Tea tree oil: Naturally antibacterial, tea tree oil can help dry out open wounds. Make sure to check the bottle to ensure that you get 100% tea tree oil as many brands like to add a small percentage of tea tree oil and fill the rest with rubbing alcohol and then charge too much (I’m looking at you Body Shop). Be aware, that the pure essential oil can be strong so if you have sensitive skin dab a cotton bud with water and then add the tea tree oil before applying it to your skin.

      polysporin cold sore patches
      Image credit: http://bit.ly/2jaTCcI
    • Purchase Nexcare acne patches or Polysporin cold sore patches (these ones are thinner and are better but more expensive) for more severe wounds. You can then apply make up on top of the patch. The patches still show a bit but chances are if the wound is bad enough it still looks better than the wound would with makeup. You’re also protecting it and it will heal faster. These are also great to wear at night time when you want something to heal fast!

  • After primer and concealer, follow with foundation and then a loose mineral powder (with or without colour) for a more natural and lasting finish: Investing in quality products and applicators will reduce the caked on look but it is also important to work within your budget! There are decent cheap alternatives. Maybelline’s Fit Me foundation and FaceStudio Master Fix primers and powder are budget friendly. Makeup brushes/sponges really do make a difference for the look, feel and coverage.

    • Flat foundation brush: Put the foundation on the back of your hand (not directly on the brush) and swipe your face in a downward motion starting in the middle of your face. Reapply more concealer after if need be and dab with a makeup sponge for a quick smooth finish after.

    • Stippling brush: These brushes are great if you want a more airbrushed finish. With the foundation on the back of your hand, dab the makeup on to your face. Do not swipe or twirl the brush as it defeats the purpose of the technique. Give your skin a chance to absorb the makeup afterwards as well for best results.

    • Powder: Loose is better than pressed and mineral is better than not. Use a kabuki brush and dab it on wounds instead of swiping in order to get it adhere better. Powder ensures the longevity of your makeup. For those with mature or dry skin, loose powder can set in wrinkles and dry patches so just stick to a good hydrating liquid foundation and setting spray.

    • Brushes don’t always have to be expensive: Granted quality ones last longer but it is still hard to cough up the money for them, even if they do make a difference. Check out these cheaper sets by ELF Cosmetics. Amazon also offers plenty of options.

    • Setting spray: Essential for hot summer days or a humid climate, a setting spray keeps your make up locked in place and your skin looking moist and fresh.

  • Keep your makeup tools clean: Whether you use your fingers, brush or a sponge to apply makeup it is even more imperative for those with dermatillomania to keep these items clean to avoid infection. Use a daily spray cleanser on your brushes and sponges and then deep clean once a week. If you use a sponge make sure to replace them once every 3 months.
    dirty make up brushes
    Image credit: http://bit.ly/2haYsCj


    • Homemade brush and sponge cleanser: Mix water, rubbing alcohol, tea tree oil, antibacterial dish soap, olive oil, and micellar water in a spray bottle. Use daily.

  • Less is more: I know it is tempting to smother on the concealer but it is important to apply it on in smaller layers in order for it to look natural and blended.

  • Blotting papers: These are especially imporant for those with oily skin. They remove excess oil but not your makeup. It will help to keep the shine down and keep your makeup looking fresh. Tissue can be used in a bind but will remove more makeup.

  • Wash your makeup off before bed: It is tempting to leave it on sometimes and I have definitely done it many times but you are ultimately making your skin worse in the long run by leaving it on. Your skin can become infected and will be more prone to break outs and wrinkles.

  • Face masks: These can as sooth your skin, pamper it, and can help you to stop touching it. Find ones that help reduce redness, like clay masks.

  • For immediate relief of redness: Stick a spoon in the freezer or on ice and apply it to your face. Witch hazel (though try to avoid putting it directly on an open wound, it stings), moist tea bags and cucumber slices are also great redness relievers.

  • Make your routine about self-care, not self-loathing: Touch your skin with kindness and allow your makeup routine to become a positive aspect of your derma struggles. Make an effort, no matter where you pick, that you will touch your skin with kindness and that every act of your routine is done gently.