Sonic Paradise

Hayley Kiyoko has appeared in a number of children’s programming, from guest spots on Nickelodeon’s Unfabulous and Disney’s Wizards of Waverly Place to starring in Lemonade Mouth, as well as a number of movies, such as the upcoming Jem and the Holograms. She is also a prolific musician. Previously in the band The Stunners, Hayley released her solo debut, A Belle To Remember in 2013. She’s now featured in the new CBS drama CSI:Cyber, along with her brand new EP, This Side of Paradise, released in February 2015.

I downloaded the title track when it was the free track of the week on iTunes (which it might still be today, not sure when that resets) and was immediately hooked. After getting my iTunes money counted by the Coinstar machine, I downloaded the full This Side of Paradise EP. Like my previous music review, I’m going to break this down track-by-track with my initial observations.

This Side of Paradise

  1. Given It All

    Pure dance track – think the likes of Elie Goulding. Simple, sing-along-able lyrics over a great track. Love this as the opener. Sets the vibe for the rest of the album.

  2. Cliff’s Edge

    Good, driving beat. Flows well as the second track. This one has a bit more of a story element in the lyrics, though still kept simple.

  3. This Side of Paradise

    It’s not often I have a single song I can listen to for half an hour on repeat without going crazy, but due to a mix up with my music on my phone, I did as I drove home Sunday. And then I bought the rest of the album on Monday right after I turned on the computer. That should tell you how awesome this song is. Again, lyrics gain slightly more complexity from the last track.

  4. Girls Like Girls

    This one has a definite increase in the story complexity of the lyrics, I’m also really loving the track on this one. It feels like an updated 80s/90s throwback, but I can’t place it. Maybe it’s all those Beck videos I’ve been watching since Sunday’s “Teens React” episode.

  5. Feeding the Fire

    Along the same lines as the last track, definitely hearing an 80s influence in this one. Definitely a good note to wrap up this EP.

This album definitely has the (sadly) “old school” album flow, where you can tell the songs were intended to be listened to as a whole album. But, since no one seems to do that anymore, I will say that each track is great on its own as well. You just can’t hear the progression that way. It also has a very ethereal quality in terms of sound.

Make Up: A Review

Confession: when the whole “Internet beauty guru” thing got started, I didn’t get it. I had been introduced to Xanga as a freshman in high school (because, unlike the MySpace pages we were all obsessed with at the time, we could rush to the library and check it at lunchtime). As I got more into it as an online community and less as a place to keep up with my real-life “friends”, I discovered the “popular bloggers.” One of those was RiceBunny, who I would read occasionally, but wasn’t subscribed. Like a few others popping up, she posted tutorials along with more typical entries on the platform.

Then, she had the audacity to move her videos to YouTube. Seems silly now that we would complain about her becoming popular on another site and “abandoning” the community. Especially since I think most of the people who were complaining at that time jumped ship within a few years as well and now the site looks like it is still frozen in time around 2010.

Anyway, RiceBunny went on to own her own beauty empire. And be known by her own name, Michelle Phan. From a successful YouTube channel (to which I am subscribed. I get it now!), to a subscription sample service, her own cosmetics company, and now her own book, Michelle is a perfect example of how hard work and perseverance can pay off.

This all makes her a perfect candidate for writing a “Life Guide to Beauty, Style, and Success – Online and Off,” as the tagline for her book Makeup puts it. The book begins with a look at her early life, and then leads into the things that brought her to where she is today.

Once you know Michelle’s story, she gets into the beauty basics. Chapter three is all about skincare and creating a good base for the rest of the beauty tricks.She doesn’t even try to promise you’ll have “perfect skin.” As she says in the second paragraph of the chapter, “These are steps each of us can take to ensure that our skin is in optimal condition”…”So perfect skin? No. But better skin? Absolutely.” She takes you through determining your skin type, creating a skincare routine, and even gives tips for caring for skin elsewhere on the body, not just the face.

Chapter four has a good set of makeup basics, from choosing your shades to how to apply everything correctly. She even includes tips on organization, tools, and a DIY brush cleanser. Chapter five is all about hair and nails, same premise as the previous two chapters were for skin. She covers nail polish, hair dye, and just basic care for these parts of yourself.

Chapter six delves into fashion. Instead of harsh, “no white after Labor Day” or “no one should ever wear…” style rules, Michelle keeps with her general guidelines in this section. She even provides some basic “Do & Don’t” lists for various occupations, as well as dressing tips for various occasions. As with the previous chapters, she also provides good storage and organizational tips as well as tips on caring for your clothes and accessories. This chapter does a good job of bridging between the beauty and life sections of the book.

Chapters 7-10 are full of great life advice. From balancing your digital and personal lives to using manners in the modern age and finding a job, this part of the book includes wonderful hints to help you life the best life possible for you. It’s not an “everyone has to work from the bottom up” or even “everyone should find a way to be their own boss” type of advice. It really is about finding a way to do whatever you love, not what someone else says you should love. All of the tips are things Michelle has learned over the past few years that help her and may help you, too.

Overall, I was very impressed with this book. While there are brief mentions of Michelle’s various business endeavors, the book itself did not feel like a giant advertisement for said endeavors like some other books written by bloggers that I have seen. It is very much what it claims to be: a life guide. I would highly recommend it if you are someone who is into beauty and fashion, or even someone who wants to be and is looking for a place to start out. I would especially recommend this to someone getting ready to graduate and move on to another stage in their life who might be looking for some general guidance.

You can find the ebook or physical book at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Target (physical book only).


Though it came out last week, I finally saw the newest movie from Laika (the production company that made “ParaNorman” and “Coraline”), The Boxtrolls, on Sunday. I’ve always loved stop-motion animation. I try to see all the works by houses like Laika and Aardman (“Walace and Gromit”, “Chicken Run”, “Shawn the Sheep”, etc.). It’s a refreshing change from the world of CGI. Not that I don’t like CGI, but traditional forms of animation are most certainly still relevant.

Anyway, this particular movie was amazing, though not completely what I expected. I had thought it would be more of a comedy, and it was certainly funny, but it was exceptionally sad in places. Depressing almost.

Now, don’t let that turn you off of the movie, because it was a perfect mix of the two sides. Like, there would be something sad or scary or depressing, and then there would be something funny right after. They struck the perfect mix of dark and fun.

The movie is an adaptation of the story “Here Be Monsters.” It’s a story about underground creatures, the Boxtrolls, who have created a society by picking from the trash of the upper world. But some in the upper world think they are menaces and are hunting them down, trying to eradicate them. There is danger, and silliness, and an all-around good story.

Most of what we saw in the first trailers for this film was the behind the scenes. Holly Klein posted a really good behind the scenes video on her “Unfurled” blog (since her husband worked on the movie and is featured heavily in the featurette). It’s really interesting to see how much time and effort goes into it all. Also, there is a break between the animated credits and the full credits where you get another peek into the making of, so be sure not to leave until you’ve seen that.

The movie theater we went to was only showing it three times a day, but if you do get the chance to see it I strongly encourage you to do so. You will most definitely fall in love with these little trolls.

Try Something New–“The Great Fitness Experiment” Review

Everyone knows the importance of daily exercise. Countless books, articles, websites, and television shows remind us of this fact every time we turn around. Hundreds of “experts” touting thousands of theories, products, and systems tell us their method is the best. So how does one discern which form of exercise is best?

Charlotte Hilton Andersen tackles this dilemma in her book “The Great Fitness Experiment: One Year of Trying Everything.” Charlotte chronicles one year in which she tested a new workout each month. She, along with her trusty Gym Buddies, test workouts that range in level from beginner to advanced.

Along the way Charlotte shares personal stories, from inner struggles to her family’s reaction to a month of vegan eating (during Thanksgiving, no less), that bring a relatability most other fitness books lack. It reminds you that, instead of just being a fitness professional, Charlotte is a regular person juggling being a mom, a writer, and an SAT essay grader while trying to stay healthy and dealing with occasional insecurities.

This book is a must-read for anyone looking for guidance to start exercising, looking for some variety for their exercise routine, or wanting reassurance that he or she is not the only one who ever had a piece of equipment removed from the gym due to the way they were using it. “The Great Fitness Experiment: One Year of Trying Everything” is available from Barnes & Noble,, and other major retailers.

Charlotte also runs a blog under the same name, “The Great Fitness Experiment,” where she continues to test new workout each month, as well as being featured on many other websites.

Ending An Era- A Tale Of Two Pretties Review

It all began in 2004. I was fourteen years old, beginning grade nine, and totally obsessed with the movie “Mean Girls” (as many my age were). Browsing the teen section at the local Borders bookstore, a plaid covered book with the simple title “The Clique” caught my attention. The back cover said it was slightly below my grade level, but I had been required to read above my grade level in school for many years. I decided to read it, and was immediately hooked.

I continued reading the series through high school, eagerly re-reading the series in preparation for each new books arrival. I followed The Pretty Committee through a new girl moving in, their first boy-girl Halloween party, a clique break-up and make-up, a Spanish boy-snatching thief, their first boy-girl camping trip, a feature film, finding the key to a secret room at school, an eighth-grade party (with dates!), a summer apart, overflow trailers and a boyfast, a soccer cheer squad, hired friends (and another clique break-up), older crushes, and an alpha gone broke. It seems only fitting that the final chapter of this saga was released slightly over a month before my 21st birthday. In a way, I grew up with TPC.

The final book sees the girls rally together amidst a lot of changes. There are new television shows, psychic predictions, new addresses, and a prestigious traveling soccer squad. We see the Pretty Committee for the last time in the same place we met them (in the prequel, at least), Merri Lee Marvil’s New Year’s Yves party.

I have come to know and love the girls of OCD over the years, and I really appreciate how Lisi Harrison chose to end the series. There were a lot of twists that were unexpected (you’ll never believe where Massie’s headed!). In true Pretty Committee style, they handle all the surprises with class, grace, and the most stylish outfits.

If you are an avid Clique fan, you will love this book. If you aren’t an avid Clique fan, what are you waiting for? Lisi Harrison has written 14 great novels in the series, along with 5 books in the summer series (one for each girl) and a prequel. This series is great for middle to high school girls, even ones who aren’t exactly into reading. I would definitely suggest any of the books in the series to get younger girls excited to read, or as gifts for girls who already love reading.


(This post was in no way sponsored or affiliated, just my personal opinion.)