Friday, November 28, 2014


Hi everyone! This is my very first book review on Essentially Shannon, and I couldn't be more stoked! I'm thankful for Thanksgiving break because I actually had a chance to read some books that I've been wanting to read for so long (kind of ironic because as an English major i'm constantly reading...) But on that note, I (literally, like two hours ago) just finished Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas so here is my review! :)

Hold on a second, can we just take a second to marvel at how beautiful this cover is? I know it's what's inside a book that's important, but come on. This cover is AMAZING. You don't even have to open the book to know it's going to be crazy good. I mean, you should open the book and read it...but just wait till after my review, okay? ;)

I feel like before I tell you what I thought of this book that I should just say: Harry Potter is, and will always be, my favorite book series. Nothing can ever compare. That's just how it is for me, literature wise. So, when a book/series even comes anywhere close to my love for Harry Potter, you know it has to be good. And this book does not disappoint in any way.

Okay, with that little disclaimer out of the way, let's get into this (spoiler free) review. First of all, you're probably wondering, "Shannon, what is this book even about?" Oh, I'll tell you what it's about. Throne of Glass follows Celaena Sardothien, aka the most kickass female protagonist in any book ever, an 18 year old assassin who is imprisoned in the salt mines of Endovier while she serves out her sentence for the plethora of crimes she has committed. One day, everything changes when the Crown Prince arrives and offers Celaena her freedom, but with a catch: she will compete against other fugitives to become the King's Champion, the royal assassin who does the king's bidding without question. If she emerges victorious, she will be granted her freedom after four years of servitude as the royal assassin.

Upon her arrival in Adarlan, Celaena begins her training and things seem to be going pretty well. Although she pretends to be somewhat incompetent in front of the men she is competing against, it becomes clear that Celaena is the front runner to win the competition. However, her competitors start to be murdered one by one and Celaena discovers that something truly evil is lurking among them.

I know, I know, that synopsis is kind of vague but it has to be because I don't want to give anything important away! And plus, I really want you to read the book! ;) For me, this book started out a little bit slow (but really, what book doesn't) but once I got past the introduction of the world and the characters, I was hooked! Like I said earlier, Celaena Sardothein is the most kickass female protagonist ever. I mean for one, she's an assassin. And two, she doesn't take anyone's crap. And three, she wears beautiful clothes and Dorian the Crown Prince is in love with her. So, I mean what's not to like. 

I thought the plot was great, it kept me interested and there were a few red herrings, which always makes for an interesting read! The world building was pretty extensive (it is the first book in a series, after all) but I enjoyed getting to learn about the different kingdoms and I can't wait to learn more. In my opinion, for fantasy series in particular, creating an interesting world with an intriguing story and mythology is one of the hardest things to do but Maas went about it really well. This book is considered "romance" as well, and the romantic aspect was one of my favorite parts surprisingly. Usually, I am leery of romance in YA fantasy books because it tends to be cheesy or just plain annoying (cough Twilight cough) But, I am a huge fan of Celaena and Dorian (Delaena? Can we make that happen?) Their conversations were by far some of my favorite scenes in the book, and I can't wait to see where the next book takes their relationship.

Speaking of the next book (Crown of Midnight, if you're wondering), I loved Throne of Glass so much that I bought it immediately after I finished and I plan on starting to read it...oh, right after I finish this blog post! If I had to give Throne of Glass a rating, I would easily give it a 4.5 out of 5 starts! It's definitely up there on my list of favorite series and I can't wait to start the next book! If you're looking for a great fantasy read, I would most definitely recommend it!

until next time,


Hi everyone! I'm back with, you guessed it, another haul! I've been shopping around for some warmer pieces to wear to school and also for my trip to England in less than three weeks! It's been absolutely frigid here the past two weeks (so glad I'm leaving for Florida in January!) and it will be quite cold in England, so I wanted to get some clothes that will keep me from freezing but are also adorable! So, let's get into it!

First up is my Wednesday Adams dress from Boohoo! Definitely not the actual name for this dress, but that's what I call it! I've been looking for a dress like this for what feels like forever...but I finally found it :) I was expecting the dress to be stiffer but it's made out of a stretchy material so it's pretty comfortable. I love the collar, in a way it reminds me of the Pilgrims...but in a good way? It's more sophisticated than anything though! I can't wait to wear this with tights!

I got two chokers from Boohoo as well. I can't help but laugh because if you told my ten year old self that ten years later I would be buying chokers and wearing them again...I would have thought I was crazy! Who knew they would be in style again?! Like the scrunchy trend, I wasn't into the whole choker thing at first but I love the grunge look and when I started seeing other people wearing them and I remembered how awesome they look I was totally in! I love how a choker can add a 90's vibe to any outfit, and I really like styling them with lower neckline tops so it's the focal point of the look!

The last thing I got from Boohoo is this pair of black combat boots! I'm so glad I finally found a pair to replace my old ones (R.I.P.) that fit me and that I actually like!

They have silver detailing and a knit material that sticks out of the top. They aren't as high as my old pair of combat boots which makes me kind of sad, but I still really like them.

I only made one purchase at Francesca's, but I'm so in love with it. It's this stunning green and black skater style (my fave) dress and it's actually perfect. I saw it on a mannequin as soon as I walked into the store and I knew it was the one! I was looking for a sequinned dress to wear for New Year's (because I'm actually doing something on New Year's for once in my life!) but I was having a hard time finding one that I wouldn't have to sell my soul for (they're so expensive!) so I gave up on that dream. But I found this one and I couldn't be happier! It's super festive and I can't wait to wear it on New Year's or Christmas...I haven't decided yet :)

Onto Forever 21! I got this black cable knit sweater dress and it's the best. It's a lot warmer than I expected and it goes down to right above my knees so I could wear it with or without tights! Sweater dresses, especially basic ones like this, are such a perfect piece for winter because the ways you can accessorize them are basically endless! I like pairing it with some black tights or leggings and my combat boots for a more edgy feel, but I could definitely picture it dressed up with some gold jewelry and black heels!

Speaking of heels, I'm actually head over heels for this sweater. Which is crazy, because normally I don't even like wearing turtlenecks! Well, technically this is a cowl neck sweater but you know what I mean. Again, this is really great quality for Forever 21 as it actually keeps me warm! And, cowl neck = no need to wear a scarf! Also, it's cropped so it looks awesome with high waisted jeans :)

And last but not least, I picked up a pair of basic black ballet flats from DSW! I primarily got these for the Disney College Program as I'll be in business casual clothes quite a bit while I'm there, but I plan on wearing them around as well! Just need to break them in first ;)

Have you been taking advantage of Black Friday sales? What do you have your eye on for Christmas? Let me know in the comments!

until next time,

Sunday, November 23, 2014


Hi everyone! I did something naughty yesterday...I went to the mall and went absolutely bonkers in Lush. The store only opened a few weeks ago and I didn't even know it was there until I spotted it from the second floor and nearly had a heart attack! I am obsessed with Lush and I used to go to the one in the mall near me in California all the time, but I haven't been to one since I moved (besides once when I was in England, I was too poor at the time to buy anything lol) because the closest one to me is in Massachusetts! Probably a good thing, because what happened yesterday would have happened a lot more if there had been one closer to me all this time... But anyways, I have quite a bit to show you so let's get on with the haul! :)

The first product I picked up is the I Love Juicy Shampoo. First of all, isn't the name is adorable? And the smell...oh the smell! As you can see, the label says this shampoo is made with mango, papaya, kiwi and pineapple so basically it smells like heaven. I used this shampoo during the Great Hair Debacle of 2012 (long story but it involved some Lush henna, my hair, and a lot of frustration on my end) and I decided to repurchase it because I remember loving it and it's the perfect size for travel! It's a great shampoo for people like me whose hair tends to lean towards the oily side.

Next, I got the Eua Roma Toner Water. In the past, I've used the Tea Tree Toner Water but I decided to try this one instead! It has rose and lavender in it, so it's hydrating and calming on the skin. I used it last night and so far I'm really liking it :) Again, the perfect size for travel!

Okay, so this next item was a bit of a splurge for me. Whenever I go into Lush, I always want to treat myself to a lotion but they are pretty pricey! I finally decided to go for it this time around, probably due in part to my excitement and also because the girl who was helping me was such a good salesperson...they could probably persuade me into buying anything! Despite the fact that it was $26.95 (18 GBP), I picked up a tub of Dream Cream, which is Lush's best selling lotion. So it must be amazing!

The more I think about it, the more I start to believe that this product is in fact worth it's price tag. For one, the container is quite large so this product should last me a couple months at the least! And with Lush products, they're handmade and full of natural, quality ingredients so I'm okay with spending more than I normally would because I like knowing what I'm using on my body. I used Dream Cream today as a body lotion and I am very impressed! It has a nice, mild smell and it makes your skin feel like a dream...guess the name is fitting! ;)

Don't you just love impulse buys? I picked up some Santa's Lip Scrub at the register because it was so cute and festive!

As you can see, it is red and has little hearts on top! It smells like cherry Coke, so I can only imagine how it will taste. Oh, that reminds me. You can eat it when you're through with scrubbing your lips! Awesome, right? :)

I'm finally going to try a steamer tab! I'm quite excited about it because I hear that it's basically a mini facial. You get a bowl full of super hot water, drop the tab in, and put your face over it! I hear it's supposed to help open up your pores, which sounds amazing and I can't wait to try it. The one I got is the Dream Steam Tab, it has lavender and rose in it!

I usually pick up a face mask at Lush every time I go as a treat to myself and this time was no exception! My face has been breaking out recently so I told the girl who was helping me that and she recommended that I get the Cupcake Fresh Face Mask. Disclaimer: You will want to eat this mask when you smell it but don't do it! It really does smell like cupcake mix but it has a bunch of inedible ingredients in it so I would stick to actual cupcakes if I were you! ;) I tried this mask out last night and it was lovely! It made my skin really smooth and smell really nice. I think it'll take a few more times to see if it really helps with breakouts but I'm hopeful!

Finally, I picked up two bath bombs! The first one I got is the Snow Angel Bath Melt. It's called a bath melt but it's also a bath bomb! I'm so excited to try this one out, it smells like almond and it's covered in gold glitter, so very festive!

The second bath bomb I picked out was Phoenix Rising. I think I was drawn to it because of the color (purple is my favorite, in case you were wondering!) but it has a nice cinnamon scent to it as well. I'm looking forward to popping this into the bath very soon!

Sadly, we've come to the end of the haul! I'm very happy with all of my purchases, it's nice to splurge every once in a while and treat yourself! We all deserve a treat sometimes :) Let me know down below what your favorite Lush product is, or even what you buy when you want to pamper yourself!

until next time,

Thursday, November 20, 2014


Hi everyone! Are you one of those people that love watching "What's in My Bag" videos on Youtube or just seeing what your friends carry around? I know I definitely am! I used to carry a pretty big purse, but recently I've found that a crossbody bag does the trick for me since I don't lug around as much stuff as I used to. I still overpack my suitcases though...but that's a different story altogether ;) As I am a college student, I use a backpack when I'm at school but it basically holds my purse essentials and my school supplies. So, I decided to show you my backpack and my purse, and what I keep in them!

Behold, my trusty Jansport backpack! I bought this last year because my other Jansport was falling apart (I must say, they do last quite a while) and it's easily one of the best investments I've ever made! I brought it with me when I went to England (and used it as my suitcase on my many weekend excursions) so it's been through quite a lot already. But alas, it is still in pretty good quality and it holds all my school stuff!

And when I'm not using my backpack, I'm carrying this beauty! I bought this crossbody bag about a year and a half ago from Urban Outfitters and I absolutely love it. I don't know why I didn't discover crossbody bags earlier, but I wish I did because they are so perfect! It's basically the perfect everyday size and I can fit everything I need in it. Once again, I brought this bag with me when I studied abroad and it was such a great bag to carry around town! Or out on the town, especially because I could keep it close to me at all times. And it matches with everything!

Not to mention, it has this really fun horse pattern on the inside flap :) Onto what I keep in my bag(s)!

Like most girls, my number one purse essential is my phone! I'll be honest: I'm on my phone way too much. In my defense, my boyfriend is five hours ahead of me so we have a limited window of time when we can talk to teach other! :) In case you're curious, I have the iPhone 5 (I want the 6 so bad! Hopefully when I'm due for an upgrade!) and I adore my phone case <3 It's a Wildflower case and I can't tell you how many compliments I've gotten on it! I'll link to this case down below if you're interested, Wildflower makes absolutely amazing cases! They are all hand made and they have so many cute designs. If I was rich, I would probably own them all by now.

Onto the beauty/fashion essentials I carry with me! Fun fact about me: I'm blind without sunglasses. It can be a gloomy and cloudy day and I'll still wear sunglasses! So I always carry them with me. And plus, you never know when the sun might come out! I think my sunglasses are from Primark...I can't believe they've lasted this long! I picked them up for one pound so I'm impressed :) I also always have a hair tie and some bobby pins with me because a hair disaster is always a possibility for me! Or a lot of the time, I'll have my hair down and I'll get annoyed so I throw it up in a ponytail or a bun.

These Clean and Clear Oil Absorbing Sheets are a must have in my purse. I tend to get oily on my T-zone (even though I use powder when I do my makeup...sigh) so I always keep these with me!

Like I've said before, lip balm is a beauty essential for me. My lips get dry so easily, so I'm always trying to prevent them from getting chapped! I picked up this Nivea A Kiss of Vitamin Swirl lip balm a few months ago and it does the trick! It's super moisturizing and my lips always feel so smooth after I apply it! It's the perfect before lip gloss/stick product for me :) I'll be needing a new one soon as it's almost gone!

I've admitted it before but I'll say it again: I am not a lip gloss girl. Never have been. Maybe at one point in middle school...or elementary school? But either way, I've never enjoyed wearing lip gloss because it's sticky and just plain gross. However, I am happy to announce that I've found a lip gloss that I don't absolutely detest! :) I got this Starlooks lip gloss in Guilty Pleasure in my October Ipsy bag and I like it a lot! I definitely did not expect to, but I was pleasantly surprised. It definitely still has a sticky quality to it but it is not as bad as most lip glosses I've tried in the past. Also, it is a really nice shade and it smells wonderful!

Lastly, we have my wallet and some school essentials. Now, obviously I carry a binder and books and all that jazz with me to school! But that's not exactly interesting ;) I do carry some fun colored pens (for when I get bored and want to doodle) and my Platform 9 and 3/4 pencils that I got when I was in London! Also, I always have earbuds with me because I listen to music basically all day at school except for when I'm in class. The last thing I have is my wallet! I bought this from Urban Outfitters around the same time I bought my crossbody bag, and I love it! It's kind of falling apart now (I took it with me abroad so...yeah that's what happened haha) but I still use it! As you can probably guess, I just have cards and cash and all the normal wallet things in there.

And there you have it! That's all of the things I keep in my purse/backpack! This post was inspired by Rue La La's Style Guide for Handbags and Purses, which I will link to down below if you want to check it out. It has some really awesome info about finding what bag is best for you, how to tell if a bag is really designer, and the history of handbags which I found super interesting! :)

until next time,

Sunday, November 16, 2014


Hi everyone! Today's #StudyAbroadSunday is going to be my trip to Stonehenge and Salisbury. In my mind, I've always pictured Stonehenge as this mysterious monument that's out in the middle of nowhere on a long road or in a dense forest. To my surprise, you can see Stonehenge from the motorway! (that's the freeway to any Americans wondering what the heck a motorway is) I actually saw Stonehenge the first day I was in England on the way to Winchester. It was quite a tease, as I didn't end up visiting Stonehenge until a month or so later. We also went to Salisbury the same day we went to Stonehenge, as they are fairly close in proximity. The main reason for visiting Salisbury was to see the cathedral, and it was magnificent! I went to a plethora of cathedrals during my time abroad and this one definitely did not disappoint :)

until next time,

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