When You're Behind On Your Reading Challenge...

Friday, November 21, 2014

I love the classics. I do. But let's be real - their awesomeness takes a little while to get through. I don't think I've ever read a good-sized classic novel in less than a week. I also don't think I've ever disliked a classic either so... there's that.

But what's a girl to do when she's almost a dozen books behind on her reading challenge and it's the middle of November? Here are my suggestions to hit that book challenge goal:
When you're trying to hit the reading goal, there are 3 major categories of novels (most of them in YA books) that I suggest you pull from.

When a novel has a continuation, I get excited to keep going, so before I know it I've read three books in one week. Check my Goodreads page. I devoured the first 5 books in the Mortal Instruments series in like two weeks! It's a great way to get sucked out of a reading slump and into a whole new world (with Aladdin? A girl can dream). Before you know it, you're so close to that reading goal.

Below are a few of my suggestions for trilogies/series that are sure to hold your attention and seriously add to your "read books" list just in time for the new year.

The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer (3 books published; 1 book to go)
The Hunger Games by Susanne Collins (all 3 books published)
The Infernal Devices by Cassandra Clare (all 3 books published)
Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas (4 books published; 2 or 3 books to go)
The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare (all 6 books published)
Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling (all 7 books published)

The thing I love about contemporary novels is that they don't take long to get into. They are set in the world we already know and generally deal with elements of life that we've experienced or are familiar with, as opposed to fantasy or dystopians which have a learning curve of sorts. I also find that books about love and life are just faster reads. My go-to book to pull me out of a reading slump is Anna & the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins, our November book of the month! Anytime I need a pick me up, it's the book I reach for.

There are so many good contemporaries out there that I can't even attempt to list them, but here are a few that I love.

Anna & the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
This Lullaby by Sarah Dessen (or any Sarah Dessen novel)
Attachments by Rainbow Rowell
Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
The Fault In Our Stars by John Green
Where The Heart Is by Billie Letts

This just might be cheating but I mean not really because Goodreads allows it. And we all know that if Goodreads allows it then it counts damn it! Which reminds me that they should really allow you to count rereads towards the book challenge. Anyway, I digress. Short stories, Novellas and Graphic Novels. They're a great source for meeting that reading challenge because (1) they are usually quick reads and (2) in many cases, each short story can be counted. For instance, Four: A Divergent Collection, is a bind up on 4 (surprise, surprise) short stories, all four of which can be marked as 'read'. Hello, four more reads!

Here are a few short story bind-ups, novellas and graphic novels that are on my TBR list.

Four: A Divergent Collection by Veronica Roth
The Assassin's Blade by Sarah J. Maas
The Bane Chronicles by Cassandra Clare
If I Loved You, I Would Tell You This by Robin Black
Going To Meet The Man by James Baldwin
This Is How You Lose Her by Junot Diaz
Saga by Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples
Deadly Class by Rick Remender, Wesley Craig, and Lee Loughridge

How are you doing on your reading challenge? Any suggestions for quick reads to boost your numbers?

Blackness.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Every now and then I get sucked into the comment section of an iG post or a discussion post on a particular topic for hours. Recently, I was looking through discussion topics on Wuthering Heights and stumbled upon the topic of Heathcliff's ethnicity. Commenters compared opinions on whether Heathcliff was black or rather Indian or a darker-toned Caucasian gypsy. I found the conversation fascinating and began wondering myself how I pictured Heatthcliff when I first read of him (I don't recall). Before I knew it I'd spent nearly an hour sifting through. It was this comment that tore me out of my information-crazed revere:
Didn't Heathcliff place a lock of his hair in _[spoiler]? A Lock of his hair. He wasn't black. More likely a dark/swarthy skinned Caucasian with an appearance like a gypsy. 
First, I reread the comment just to be sure I had read it properly. Then I became enraged. WHAT DOES SHE MEAN?!?! How exactly does the fact that Heathcliff placed a lock of hair somewhere serve as definitive evidence that he was not black? Do blacks not have locks of hair? Can we not cut off said locks and place them inside things? Have we not hands?! Of course, I recognized that her statement was made out of misinformation. Simply someone who was completely uninformed and ignorant of other people. But to be honest, that did nothing to quell my frustration. I just did not get it. Where along the line did this young girl get the notion that black people are not human?
Heathcliff depicted as a black man in the 2011 film adaptation of Wuthering Heights 
Once I got off my high horse, I had a thought - a much more tranquil and controlled thought :) What good does my rage do? Yeah sure, at the moment, it made me feel a little better. I can't deny that. They say getting angry and letting anger out does nothing. They lie. It helped. But it didn't help the world or society as a whole. The way to help is to inform. And I truly believe that the culprit of so much is misinformation or no information at all. So, here are a few things to keep in mind, a few things that aren't meant to be insulting but sometimes are.

Don't ask to touch my hair.

By this I mean, asking to touch me on the account of your cultural curiosity. Let me explain. I chemically relax my hair so this isn't recent, but I've been asked and many of my friend's with natural hair have been asked: "Can I touch your hair? Is it soft like cotton or like a poodle?" Cue record scratch. Isn't all hair soft? It's just a really weird request. I mean, if I just got my hair blown out it's different. But don't ask to touch me on account of my skin color or hair texture or anything like that. You probably can't imagine someone would do this, right? I know, but it happens much more frequently than you think. Check out this Buzzfeed video that depicts so many of these scenarios in a very funny way. Gosh, I love Buzzfeed videos!


Try not to be uncomfortable.

I use to feel really uncomfortable mentioning about my race around people of other races. Strange, right? It always seemed that it made others uncomfortable and so I'd stay away from it. I got over this feeling, but every now and then, when I mention being on CP time (colored people time = always being late) or reference my year-long tan, I can see the surprise on the faces of some people around me. Just remember, it's all okay! There's no need to feel awkward or uncomfortable when the topic comes up. Just go with it like it's a normal conversation, because, well, it is.

"I don't see (think of) you as black." 

To which I respond, well, why the hell not? Don't say this. Pleaaasseee, don't. Because although you may intend it as some sort of compliment, it's not. You're essentially saying that you don't see me. I'm black. It's evident, it's not changing. So see it. See me for me. Don't strip me of my blackness. Acknowledge it the way you would any other feature - pale skin, brown hair, blue eyes, long legs - and attribute the same value to it. Essentially, say "I see you as black but I also see you as tall, fit, pretty, intelligent, all of the wonderful adjectives." Except don't actually say that aloud. That'd be weird :)


Eeep! That was heavy. I know it's a heavy topic for a lot of people, but the only real way to affect change is to talk about things. And I decided in this post to talk about real things and real issues. So, if you have anything to add to the conversation, please please please I implore you to comment below.

"NaNoWriMo-Ing": Part I

Monday, November 17, 2014


Have I mentioned that I've always wanted a typewriter? I have to resist buying one every time I go to a vintage store or flea market but I know I don't have the space for it :(

That's beside the point. As you probably already know, I'm participating in NaNoWriMo this year and I'm about 1/2 through now (which means I should have over 25K words but nay, I do not. Let's not talk about it). Let's talk not about word counts or the act of actually writing a novel at all. Let's talk about prepping a novel, specifically creating a story bible.

Creating A Story Bible


I've been writing for as long as I can remember, short stories, attempted novels, you name it. And unknowingly, I've been story bible-ing (made-up word) for almost as long. So a few months ago, when I decided to commit to nanowrimo-ing (another made up word), I began researching and working on a full-fledged story bible for my novel.


Did you know that television shows use "show bibles", a collection of details about the show from location and character descriptions to much more? It makes perfect sense when you think about the nature of writing a show. A television show, unlike an average novel, usually has multiple writers that form a writing team. Think about the flow of the story in your favorite show, like The Vampire Diaries, and then imagine what it would be like if a writer forgot to curl Nina Dobrev's hair to play Katherine or if Jeremy's hunter tattoo was on the wrong arm next episode? All details maintained by a show bible.

This little fact was brought to my attention by Rochelle Melander, writing for Jane Friedman, who wrote a very informative article about all of this a few years ago. In the same way that show writers use a show bible to "keep track of details about the setting and characters to preserve continuity", a novel writer can benefit from the use of story bible in this way. A story bible can be a useful tool for keeping track of settings, characters, plot twists and a great place for jotting down notes or dialogue that pops into your head. My story bible is full of my scribbles that don't quite fit but may just work later on.


In her article, Melander writes about the multiple formats that a story bible can take. While most writers prefer a purely electronic story bible, I combine electronic and physical copy. I like having an actual book in front of me to flip through, but I print quite a bit of it's contents from my computer documents. I just really like stationary and pretty things :) (You should see my planner!)

Now that I've flooded you with all this information on what a story bible is, let me show you how I create and manage mine.

(Note: many of the pages in the following pictures are blurred purposefully. Not that I think any of my ideas are worth stealing but they are mine. I'm protective!)


Technically, I have 3 versions on my story outline in my bible. First, we have what I call my quick outline. I adopted the 3 Act method from Katytastic (although I'm sure it's widely used by the writing community) and made it work for me. If you want to know more about this method of outlining, click the link above. Behind that I have a print out of my full outline (see picture above), which is essentially just bold headlines for the general point of a scene followed by a few sentences describing said scene. Lastly, I have individual pages for each chapter where I handwrite what scenes go where. This serves as the most detailed order of events that I use and it's the document I work from when I'm actually writing. Here I'll jot down any dialogue that I know works for that chapter and every other detail I can think of when I'm setting scenes.


Behind all the outlines, there are character sketches, location information and other descriptions for the story's progression. There are very many pictures in this section, but I also have a Pinterest board dedicated to inspiring images for my novel. Each character has their own page where their physical characteristics, personal values and beliefs, family connections, relationship and a whole host of other details are listed. (I even have a separate page for the town my story takes place in because the town is almost a character in my novel.) For example, below is a character page for my main character Lea.


I'm constantly adding to my story bible as I write and think of interesting, new dynamics to the story line that I hadn't seen before. Quite frequently, I'll think of a scene or a statement that doesn't fit what I'm currently writing, sometimes I'm not even sure it belongs in the same book, so I'll scribble it somewhere in the back pages behind my sketches. While writing during NaNoWriMo, my chapter pages have been invaluable in keeping me writing and not getting me stuck, at least so far.

If you are also nanowrimo-ing or you just need some motivation for writing, check out my Instagram, where I'm daily posting about writing for the month of November.

Are you a writer? How do you keep track of the many little details that go into writing?

Link Love | Nov.14,14

Friday, November 14, 2014

This picture has nothing to do with this post. Just really liked this shot a snapped down in SoHo :)
Got any plans this weekend? Aside from trying to catch up on my NaNoWriMo words, I'm headed to one of my best friend's wedding! I can't believe the day has finally come, and I'm so excited to finally see my bestie say "I do" to her soulmate. Eeeee :) I hope your weekend is wonderful as well. Here are a few links that I've been loving this past week:

This winter living room <3

T-Pain minus autotune? Say What?!

I'm not particularly religious, but this article about Jesus' alleged family caught my attention this week.

Although I'm curious what Ye thinks of all this, I can't say I was too surprised to see Kim Kardashian's naked body all over my iG feed. But is she just the butt of old joke

Speaking of naked, is a nude beach really that different from the infamous Brazilian bikini?

Disturbing children's toy that should be taken off the market immediately.

Is there a line between private and public in the political arena?

This lovely post about why kids cover their eyes while hiding. Aw!

Sidney Poitier on luck. Such class.

Joining us this (short!) month for the book club? We're reading Anna and the French Kiss. This fan made book trailer makes me excited for the reread!

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Happy Weekend, deary! (Ok, who caught that Once Upon A Time reference?!)

Blogging Personality

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

It's been a week since I've visited blogland. Eeep!

I'm taking a break from writing to write this. Well from writing a novel to writing this blog post. Believe me, there's a difference. And I'm currently 4,000 words behind :\ Also, is it still 'taking a break' from writing if you're actually not writing? Clearly, NaNoWriMo crazy has reached my brain. Pray for me.

All this writing has got me thinking about what I want my little corner of internet to be. I've struggled for a while in determining that. Not necessarily because I didn't know what I wanted but because I came to realize that having it all when it comes to blogging is difficult.


Let me back up because I'm not making much sense (again, my braaiinn!). With a single lap about the blogging track, it's easy to see that it's a land full of product reviews, weekend wrap-ups, weekly confessions and favorites. And there's absolutely nothing wrong with that. I want to make that perfectly clear before I go any further. I'm not throwing any shade on those blogs/bloggers. Some of my favorites are those blogs/bloggers: I follow multiple beauty blogs, I binge watch monthly favorite videos on YouTube, I like peaking into someone's weekend occasionally, and some of those confession posts really make me feel closer to said bloggers. Hell, I myself flood The Kari Diaries (TKD) with beauty things and book reviews! But that's not the kind of blog I want TKD to be. At least not entirely. I want to be more than lipstick swatches, picture dumps, and embarrassing confessions.

It's probably the writer in me (and I'm sure this month's writing frenzy is adding fuel to the already burning fire). I want to feel like my blog is adding something to the interwebs, to the people who care to read my entries. And even though my weekends are very important to me and posts made entirely of gifs make me incredibly happy, I want TKD to mean something more than that, something more than just my personal enjoyment. I'm not expecting to change the world, but I want to talk about real things, about real issues. I want to make people think.

So I know you're sitting there saying: Ok Kari, just do it then. Here's the weird part about blogging. Blogs like that, they don't garner much readership. And I want TKD to be a successful blog as well as a conduit for conversation. I want TKD to be equal parts light and heavy, funny and serious, beauty and the beast. But just like any other blogger, I want readers. I repeat readers, not followers. Sure, followers are nice. "Oh no, please don't follow me!", said no one ever. But readers... as an aspiring author, readers are my JAM. As a writer and an avid reader, I desperately want to interact with others over the words we write, the things we think, the purposes we ponder.

I've rambled on long enough (and my manuscript is not so gently calling my name), so I'll cut to the point. Soon, hopefully very soon but I can't make too many promises with the craziness that is NaNoWriMo, I'm going to start heading that direction. Despite fears of turning certain people off, The Kari Diaries will be a better representation of me and my thoughts, and I hope to post more regularly, on a MWF schedule, if not more. There are plenty of blogs that I think accomplish this well (The Florkens, The Grits Blog, The Happy Type, She Is Fierce) while retaining readership. I have no idea how they do it, but I'm hoping that I can do that as well. Because what good is sharing your thoughts if you have no one to share them with?

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Quick Note: November has been a very busy month for both Kay and I. So busy that we totally forgot to announce November's book of the month! We've chosen Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins! For more information on the book as well as the review date, check the "Books" tab above or the Goodreads page.
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What do you think  your blogging personality is? Do you prefer to operate a more lighthearted blog or a serious one? Would you ever stop reading a blog that changes its personality?

Fall Lip Colors

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Ouch! I have a new found respect for beauty gurus. Lip swatches are tough business! My favorite season for makeup and fashion is fall, so it's no surprise that I have tons of favorite fall lipsticks. And I've narrowed the list down to 9 ultimate favs this year.  

Before I jump into the reason my lips are technicolor, a mini-announcement: I'm a Lucky Contributor! Which really isn't a huge deal, but is pretty big to me :)I'd seen this little badge all over the blogging community for so long, so I'm excited to finally be a part of the club. I have 3 post (including, this one!) published over there, and I need your help. If you have a moment, please click over there and "heart" my posts! It would mean so much! I've also popped the badge into my sidebar so you can check out my published posts whenever you can :)

Okay, on to the fall lip colors!

Colors are shown left-to-right.

Go Nude


MAC Hug Me - It's like being wrapped in the warmest hug of liiiffee! Hug Me is my perfect nude. MAC says it's a flesh pink, but in my opinion, it's much more neutral. I line my lips with MAC's lipliner in Chesnut, and baaam! Love.

YSL Rouge Volupte in #09 Caress Pink - Lipstick gods have spoken. The obsession with YSL lipsticks is real, y'all. And this color, described as a muted raspberry pink, is a great pink for my skin tone during the colder months (or any month really) <33

Jordana Lipliners in Coco Loco and Rock n' Rose - Everybody's looking for the perfect "Kylie Jenner lip" and while I'm not sure that this combo is dead on, it's pretty close. Thanks to Vicky Logan on YouTube!



Be Bold


L.A. Colors Glazed Lip Paint in Coy - This is puuurple. This bold lavender shade was released as part of a spring collection, but I like it as a brave choice for fall as well. It's not an everyday color, but on a certain girl's night out with a brown liner, it's a great pop.

MAC Rebel - Rebel is my fall JAM. Every fall, I put "wear dark lipstick" on my fall bucket list with this color in mind. It's probably my most worn lipstick during the fall, followed closely by Hug Me and the Dior one below. I'm on my second tube because it's cannon.

Dior Rouge Favori #752 - One of my favorite reds if not my favorite. It's a warm-toned red which is perfect for my skin tone and it's kind of a talisman for me. I wore it to my first ever law school Barrister's Ball, and it seems to be present for so many other memorable moments. Plus, I'll rock a red lip every damn day of the year.


Do Dark


NARS Valparaiso - Described by NARS as a rich raspberry, this pure matte lipstick is perfect for fall. I've had this little baby in my makeup collection for a few years now, and I'm always excited to rediscover it every season, like "oooh, I forgot all about you!".

Wet N' Wild Cherry Bomb - Both this shade and the next were featured in my "Vampy Lips" post. Cherry Bomb is a black cherry colored, semi-matte, super long-wearing lipstick. I pop it on my lips whenever I want to feel done up with very little makeup.

Wet N' Wild Vamp It Up - This deep purple, almost black isn't for everyone, but I've been rocking it like crazy this fall so far. I pair this lippie with basic liner and lots of lashes for an insta-glam look.


Really like any of the lipsticks mentioned above? Well, not only are three of them sold at Sephora (NARS Valparaiso, Dior Rouge Favori and YSL Caress Pink), but the beauty megastore has a gazillion to choose from. All the more reason to enter the Sephora giveaway! It ends November 9th. I truly wish I could enter, but alas, you must enter and win so I can live vicariously through your purchases :)




a Rafflecopter giveaway

What are your favorite fall lip colors?


Cash Money For You! [$100 Sephora Gift Card Giveaway]

Monday, November 3, 2014

How was your Halloween-y?! This Halloweekend was of course filled with so many happies. Unfortunately, it was also filled with all of the sadness as my phone died right as Friday's festivities began. No matter, I had a wonderful Halloween, checking out the Village Halloween parade and then spending the night on my sofa binge watching scary movies and eating tons of treats. My only surviving photograph is only of 1/2 a costume, but hey, it's me as a cat. Meow!
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The ladies over at The Sequin Notebook are making this blogging gig super easy for me today. I ain't mad at it. Because I'm on the third day of a little thing called NaNoWriMo and I've found out that the extent of my creativity is about 3,000 words, or rather 2 days. If you have no idea what I'm talking about, head over to this sneaky post from Saturday.

Right. Super easy blogging... Word is that Sephora is having a VIB sale from November 6th to November 10th where shoppers get a 20% discount off all items. A fact I'd wish I'd known before I spent an unthinkable amount of cash within those pearly gates a few weeks ago. But B & M from The Sequin Notebook, together with a few other beauty-obsessed bloggers, including me!, thought to tempt you even further by giving away a $100 gift card to the blush, bronzer beauty heaven that is Sephora.
Hosted by: The Sequin Notebook, Join the Gossip, B Loved Boston, A Little Glitter, Twin Living, The Kari Diaries, Recent Somethings, Make Me Up Mia, Your Beauty Fix, and La Dolce Vita

That's right. Giving it away. To you. (Perhaps.) The giveaway will run from today November 3rd until November 9th at noon (EST), just in time for you to spend it all at the VIB sale.

Enter here!  




a Rafflecopter giveaway

Looks like the gift giving of Fall-O-Ween isn't quite over :) What will you finally purchase if you win? Indulge me!

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