Lit For Life Book Reviews: Perception by Lee Strauss

perception by lee strauss cover

Today’s title is Perception by Lee Strauss (and Elle Strauss, apparently, though her name isn’t on the cover?). It is the first book of The Perception Trilogy and was published as an ebook in December of 2013. I read this book in between 3 and 4 hours, and it sits at 313 pages.

Summary on Amazon:

“Seventeen year old Zoe Vanderveen is a GAP—a genetically altered person. She lives in the security of a walled city on prime water-front property along side other equally beautiful people with extended life spans.
Her brother Liam is missing.

Noah Brody is a natural who lives on the outside. He leads protests against the GAPs and detests the widening chasm they’ve created between those who have and those who don’t. He doesn’t like girls like Zoe and he has good reason not to like her specifically.

Zoe’s carefree life takes a traumatic turn. She’s in trouble and it turns out that Noah, the last guy on earth she should trust, is the only one who can help her.

PERCEPTION is a dystopian romance Young Adult novel that takes place in the not too distant future in a world changed by climate extremes, natural disasters and impending wars, and where scientific breakthroughs cause class divisions—both financially and philosophically. It explores the clash between faith and science and how differences can separate us as enemies or ally us together. And in some cases, even in the midst of betrayal and personal crisis, there’s room to fall in love.”

Acquisition: I read this title as a Kindle ebook, which I “purchased” for free. It was suggested to me by Bookbub in my daily deals email as a currently-free ebook in March of 2016, and is free as of now, as well (May, 2017). It is also available as a paperback and as an audiobook.

Spoilers May Exist Below!

Diversity: So-so. The GAPs (Genetically Altered Persons) in the book often are described similarly, but this is also made a point and an uncomfortable fact several times. Because these GAPs are genetically altered and specifically “designed” to be as attractive and aesthetically “perfect” as possible, they look fairly similar and are usually tall, beautiful, blond men and women.These characters are also very similar in their great wealth, intelligence, education, and beliefs. They are all wealthy and are of a distinctly higher social class than “naturals,” who are not even allowed to enter GAP cities (which have much better architecture, security, and energy efficiency) unless they work for a GAP family and are authorized to enter. However, the “naturals” who are described have more physical diversity.

These characters are also very similar in their great wealth, intelligence, education, and beliefs. They are all wealthy and are of a distinctly higher social class than “naturals,” who are not even allowed to enter GAP cities (which have much better architecture, security, and energy efficiency) unless they work for a GAP family and are authorized to enter.

The GAPs also all seem to be educated to the same level and hold the same morals/beliefs, which are fairly entwined. They all go to the university in Sol City (the GAP city in/connected to LA) and are expected to make contributions to science, which is basically what they have faith in instead of religion of any kind. Science is what gives them extremely long lives, immunity to almost all disease, and their social standing, and so it is also what they have faith in.

However, the “naturals” who are described have more physical diversity. Noah and his family are described as having darker “caramel-colored” skin. Dexter has red hair, and other unnamed characters in the “natural” city are described as being overweight, different skin tones, etc. Noah’s mother is extremely sick and Dexter is addicted to pharmaceuticals. However, I did not notice any differently-abled bodies, any non-hetero sexualities, or any non-cis individuals. 🙁

The “naturals” are also much more likely to have different moral and religious beliefs. Though they state that the vast majority of all churches have closed, it is also stated that religion may be alive and well in the family homes of the non-GAP communities. Noah’s father was a pastor (I don’t know if that was the exact word they used, but I think so? He led a church, anyway) who led the first protests against genetically altering people and their life spans, and Noah begins work to bring those protests back.

Originality & Plot: I thought that the overall ideas behind this novel were intriguing and seemed fairly original, though it reminded me of some other futuristic young adult books I have read in the past (see final review, below). The sci-fi kinds of technology ideas (city layouts, GAPs and disease immunity, energy efficiency, magnet grids, etc) were interesting ones and were well-laid-out and consistent throughout the book. It seemed very consistent and interesting that the GAP cities had much, much larger amounts of technology available and around. The whole “mystery” part of the plot is interesting  So, the dystopian and sci-fi parts of the plot were compelling.

The love story part of this book was not as compelling–beautiful girl falls in love with boy who is off-limits/is not “as good as” her/her family tells her she can’t be with–kinda yawn, isn’t it? However, thankfully their relationship does have some interesting points. Noah makes Zoe think about religion and moral choices. He makes her consider what a relationship with somebody who will live half as long as her means. But I really feel that the book could have gone on perfectly fine without the romance.

Editing Perspective: Sometimes, editing issues can be very distracting and seem to be much more common in these free, sometimes self-published book. However, I only noticed two missed errors in this entire book. Both were near the end and were simple little issues–single quotation marks where no speech was occurring. They did take me out of the story momentarily, but not enough to affect my experience.

Formatting, content, development of plot and characters, and pacing all seemed appropriate and well-done, and no issues with any of these things took me away from the story to figure out a why? or a what’s going on?. In the end, I was very happy and impressed with the book’s overall editing and level of polish.

Feminist Perspective: Zoe is a strong-willed young woman who finds ways to surreptitiously bypass authority when she feels it is necessary. I was glad to read her as an independent individual after a while, finally choosing to learn more about and spend time with those who do not have the extreme level of privilege that she was born with. When her grandfather alters her memory, though, she is highly dependent on her boyfriend Jackson and then on Noah, who “kidnaps” her to help her find her memories that she did not know that she had lost.

There are some problematic representations here, though. Pretty much all of the named and important characters are highly attractive, including the “natural” Noah–Zoe only decides that she can be attracted to him at all when she spends enough time staring at him to decide that he is good-looking despite his non-white, non-blond status and his single crooked tooth.

It is also frustrating and problematic to me that the book completely lacks disabled bodies of any kind, non-hetero relationships of any kind, and non-cis characters of any kind. I hope that these lackings can be addressed in some way in future books (is it a societal issue? are these individuals entirely unaccepted? have we simply not seen them because we spent much of this novel with Zoe in the GAP Sol City?) and that Zoe will reclaim her strength and independence, so that she doesn’t have to rely on Noah to “save” her.

Final Review: This book is well-written and intriguing. I felt that the pacing and action of the plot kept me very interested throughout. I will definitely be putting the second and third installments on my wishlist and be 100% ready and willing to read and review them, as well.  I do wish that the story had more diversity in it, but, in the end, it was not a bad book at all.

The futuristic style and altered human beings, as well as the way that the characters address these ideas, reminded me of The Uglies series by Scott Westerfield. The dystopian model and the ways in which science and education interact with society and government, as well as the whole idea of their running away from the society because of big secrets, reminds me a lot of The Barcode Tattoo books by Suzanne Weyn. If you liked these books, you will probably enjoy this one!



Ipsy Glambag Unboxing, April 2017

*Some links included in this post are referral links or links to my own Avon e-store. Signing up or purchasing through these links will benefit me by way of “points” from Ipsy or commission from Avon. Other links are simply links to products that I found in case you are interested in them.*

Today I am exploring the Unboxing of my April Glambag. If you would like to receive a Glambag every month for just $10, sign up here!

This month’s Glambag was a really great one!


First of all, the bag itself is extremely cute. Besides the Halloween bag (of course), it is my favorite one so far! It also seems sturdier than previous bags, since it feels like a thick, plasticky material rather than just printed cloth like they often are. I’m not a big fan of the coral orange kind of color, but I can deal with it for the adorable ticket design. It takes me right back to theatre in high school, which was an amazing time.

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The first item to come out of this Glambag was this Tonymoly Liptone Lip Care Stick in Rose Blossom. I have really liked all of the lip balms and lip treatments that I’ve gotten from Ipsy. I’ve never tried anything from Tonymoly before, but I see it in Ulta and on Hollar and a lot of it looks really cute. It is a rose scent that I really enjoy, and this first week of trying it out has been really nice. It is not anything miraculous, but it is a perfectly good lip balm with a pleasant scent.

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This Seychelles hand and nail cream from The White Company was the next item to come out of my Glambag. I don’t think I had ever heard of The White Company (and seriously, what a name choice… weird) before, but this product smells nice. It is not a very strong or lasting scent and, honestly, the feeling is not nearly as silky or long-lasting as my favorite Avon hand creams, which are also way more affordable! So, this is a cute little mini to try and smells nice, but, in the end, I will probably end up giving it to a friend or somebody because I have plenty of my favored Avon kinds and scents.

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This nail duo from Meg is a super-cute, Ipsy Limited Edition neutral Twin Nail set. I was happy with the colors–the gray is a lavender kind of shade, which I am in love with. I’ve never been much for brown or beige tones in my nail polish, but this one is so neutral and cool that I am willing to try it, though I haven’t yet. I think that they are an unexpected but cute pair together so I might use the beige/tan tone as an accent nail or nail art of some kind to make me more comfortable with trying it out. I have worn the gray shade and it went on smoothly and lasted a while, so I am happy with this product.

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This black liquid eyeliner from Jesse’s Girl was the fourth item in April’s Glambag. I am always happy to have another black liquid liner on hand because I use them every single day! The tip is comparable to my favorite Superextend from Avon, though it does not seem to be quite as black or as easy to apply over eyeshadow–do you know what I mean? That extra little tug when it is applied over shadow instead of just on a bare lid? Being not as deep or as black when applied over a color? That is the downside of this little baby. I will, of course, use it up, but I am not 100% impressed so far.

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My final product–and the one that I am most excited about–is this adorable brush from Glamour Dolls! I am not normally that excited for the brushes I get from Ipsy, but this one made my heart sing! I have seen the information about this Lisa Frank collaboration for a while now and can’t believe that I actually got this brush–it instantly takes me back to elementary and middle school when the folders and notebooks and other supplies were everything! I haven’t tried it out yet (partly because it’s so pretty and partly because I don’t wear blush super often, oops), but it is super soft and seems fairly densely packed. The metal section of the brush is even a cute rose gold!


What do you think of my April Glambag? Totally worth the $10, right? Did you get any of the same things if you get a Glambag? Any suggestions for my products?

Thanks so much for spending some time with me today. Have a lovely Monday!



#GotItFree: Poppy Voxbox from Influenster

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It’s always exciting finding a Voxbox in the mail! It’s free products in exchange for a promise to review them and complete activities, all through Influenster.

I opened my Poppy Voxbox late last week. I just finished my last school final (ever!) last night, so now I can finally put together a good post about it. I am extremely excited to try everything out: I’ve never tried any of the products from this box!

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The first thing in the box is a sample size packet of the Nyakio Kenyan Coffee Face Polish. I was very glad that the card had pronunciation information on it because I always have issues and never would have gotten that right! I have never tried a face polish/exfoliator before. I have sensitive skin that is prone to redness and blotches, so I’m not sure how this product will work for me. However, I have a coffee lip scrub that I love! I will update or post again when I try this out!

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Eva NYC dry shampoo and coupon

The next item in the box was this Eva NYC Freshen Up dry shampoo. I was really excited for this product! I received a sample size of the 10-in-1 Mane Magic in a recent Ipsy bag and I love the smell of it and how my hair feels and looks afterward! I really love and rely on dry shampoos. With my purple hair and the slowly warming weather, they help get me a few more days between washes to preserve color and keep from worrying.

I have tried this product out and I like it! It is not extremely strong, but it works for me on mildly oily days. Plus, it smells nice! Another positive is that it doesn’t cause a lot of white cast, thank goodness. That is what drives me crazy and leads me away from certain dry shampoos.

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Nivea In-Shower Body Lotion

The next item in my Voxbox was this Nivea In-Shower Body Lotion. It is for Very Dry Skin and has almond oil in it. I have seen these before and was curious about them, but have never tried an in-shower treatment like this. I love the Nivea lip balms in the little tins that I have and my skin is usually dry, so hopefully, I will enjoy this and it will work for me. I will update here or post when I try it out.

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Tide Pods with Downy and coupon

Then there was this packet and coupon. I received a single Tide laundry pod to try out and a $2 off coupon to get more if I like them. I have not tried these out because they have always seemed too expensive. However, if I could get them on a deal with coupons and Target Cartwheel discount, maybe they would be worth it. I will update or post when I try this product out!

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These two Rimmel cosmetics were the next things that came out of this great Voxbox. The micro precision eyeliner has an ultra fine tip and is waterproof. The Oh My Gloss! is in the shade Master Pink and has a thin, flexible, double-sided style of doe foot applicator.

I have been testing out these products for the last few days and I like them fine. The eyeliner is really extremely thin and tiny, so if you like precision, this is the liner for you! It really is budge-proof, which is great for wings like I like. If you like big liner or big wings, it will probably take you a little time to build it up because of how small this tip is.

The gloss isn’t sticky–thank goodness, because I cannot stand sticky glosses! It isn’t a strong color, either, just a light shine. Because of the pale pink shade, it does look a little funny where it builds up along the edges if I’m not looking in a mirror when I put it on. It also wears off super fast. Personally, I will stick with my Ultra Glazewear glosses instead, because I think that they are much longer lasting and I like the shades and trust my Avon True Color cosmetics.

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The final item in this Voxbox is this pack of 7th Heaven foot masques. They are supposed to get your feet ready for summer and sandal season. My feet are weird though, and I get clammy if I’m not wearing socks, so I don’t know how much they will be able to do for me. I also wear a size 10, so I wonder how big these are. I will update or post when I try this product out!

Thanks so much for checking out this unboxing! What do you think of these products? Have you tried any of them? I would love any comments or suggestions about using them.

Best Wishes,



mark. Eye Daydream of Glam Palette (with Swatches!)

2017-04-28 15.30.04 The mark. Eye Daydream of Glam palette is a 16-shade eyeshadow palette from mark. by Avon. It was recently discontinued and will only be available until they run out of them. It is available at Outlet price here.

The original price of this palette was $40, and it is on Outlet (which is basically clearance) for $19.99. This distributes out to about $1.25 per shadow, and they are quite large pans! They are beautifully marbled and the shimmering,  iridescent shades are just lovely.

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Here are swatches of the 16 shades, done with just my fingertips. I did use flash to show the shimmer in them!


I think that this palette is beautiful, especially if you like shimmer and/or iridescent shadows. For the money, you get a whole lot of makeup, too! They are beautiful and have such a wide variety here.

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$5 for $28 Worth of Makeup: Glambot Haul, April 2017

$5 Haul GB bigger

I opened up another Glambot haul today! This is my second haul from their “Dollar Store” grab bag section. (I thought that I had posted about my first haul but just realized that I didn’t finish the post! I will link it here when it is complete. Finals time, I swear!)

This time, I only spent $5. After my first order, I got an email to complete a survey about my experience. After I finished it, I got a code for $5 off my next order! So I knew I would need to do another fun surprises haul for you. (It’s not like I have enough makeup… 😉 )

So, I spent $5: a $1 face item, a $1 eyes item, and a $3 eyes item. That is everything that I could get to add to my cart because all of the dollar store items were being moved to “The Vault.” I hope that’s not the new norm, because I am loving this fun Dollar Store. Anyway, with my order being under the Free Shipping mark, shipping would be another $5. My $5 off code made all of the items in my cart free and I just paid for the shipping.

$1 Face Item: Benefit Porefessional, 0.10 fl oz

Value: $4.80

I have never tried anything from Benefit, but I hear about how awesome Porefessional is on Youtube alllll the time. I am super excited to try it out for myself! I couldn’t find anywhere selling this exact size, so I am guessing that it is the sample size they give in beauty boxes and free gifts with purchase and stuff like that. The .25 oz version is $12 from Ulta, so proportionately that would give this size a value of $4.80.

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These are the swatches for my Eyes items with flash.

$1 Eyes Item: Colourpop Super Shock Shadow (I’m not sure what shade this is though, because the sticker is peeled off of the bottom. What do you think?)

Value: $5.70 new on Glambot, $6 full-price

I was super excited about this shadow! I actually had been really hoping that I would get one in this haul because I hear about them all of the time, again usually on Youtube. I know that many of my favorite beauty Youtubers have whole videos (sometimes multiple!) about their favorite Colourpop shadows. This is a more affordable brand, but not one available in stores, so I probably wouldn’t have gone on their website to order, just to be honest. This metallic-looking navy shade is pretty, and I noticed that in the sun it is sparkly. If you have any idea which shade it might be, please let me know! I was browsing and thought perhaps Baby T (which is linked above), Luckfully, or Rex? It is hard to tell the difference between them on the computer screen, I guess.

$3 Eyes Item: MAC Crushed Metallic Pigment Stack in Lantern Light and Campfire

Value: $17.50

I was excited as soon as I saw MAC coming out of the bubble wrap! This is another brand that I’ve never been able to afford but have always been curious about. Now this one took me a minute to figure out: this stack of pigments is actually half of a set of two stacks, the Aloha set. The set of two has a value of $35, so just one stack would be $17.50 I believe, because I couldn’t find this one sold by itself.

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Here are my swatches without flash.

What do you think of the items that I received? Have you used any of them? Do you have any tips for me on how to get the most out of them (especially those loose crushed pigments)? Do you think that the value was good and worth it? Would you try Glambot?

If you are interested in trying Glambot for yourself, you can use this referral link to get $10 off your order!

Please Be Aware: This post contains affiliate links that I could potentially receive free products or payment from if enough people used them. If you do not wish to contribute to me in this way, just Google things like everybody else. 😉

EatPakd: We Tried It Free (as Adults!) and Here’s What We Thought

Here is an unboxing video of our first EatPakd box.

Honestly, we tried EatPakd both to try something new and because it didn’t threaten our tight budget. I thought that we could try it out and see if we liked the idea or the food fairly risk-free since the first box was free. This is how our experience went.

My husband did not like the food all that much, and the portion sizes were way too small for him. The portion sizes were okay for me, but some of the food wasn’t very good. I don’t recommend the cauliflower tots or veggie nuggets (both of which I was excited to try!), but the chicken stir-fry was very good. The desserts with the added veggies were very dry but not awful. The pumpkin chocolate chip muffins were the only ones that were not dry. The wraps were pretty good! I felt like having crackers with the tomato/cucumber mix seemed like just too many carbs and I would have preferred more tomato/cucumber, but it is more understandable if it is mostly for children.

We ended up getting a second box for free when I emailed the company to ask to have my subscription canceled. I don’t know if this is a regular occurrence, but I was fairly impressed by the belief they had in their products.

I accepted, thinking maybe we would have better luck on the second box. In the end, the box got left at our leasing office instead of our house and it was out of refrigeration for a while. Hopefully the freezer packs kept it safe, because we ate most of it anyway. We had a very similar experience to our first box, though, and didn’t like many of the foods. The apple slices with ricotta caramel dip were delicious, though.

In the end, we canceled our box. My husband complained about the portion sizes and didn’t like a lot of the food. I was frustrated by all of the waste that their packaging entailed. The styrofoam and pads and freezer packs were all expected to be thrown away, and it practically made me sick. Instead, I gave my packing supplies to my Green Bean delivery person since they recycle those products over and over again. I think that this service could work for parents with children who are willing to try new things or who they want to save time packing lunch for, but it seems pretty expensive for the average household to afford regularly.




45¢ Homemade Bean, Rice, & Cheese Freezer Burritos (Easily Made Vegan and/or even cheaper!)


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My husband and I have been trying to eat down our food supply before we buy any more groceries. If you aren’t familiar with “eating down,” this just means that we are avoiding buying any new products until we make our way through a lot of the products that I have built up in our pantry and freezer by overbuying when things are on great sales or deals.

I have been wanting to make burritos for a while because I have seen so many great Pinterest recipes and they seem so simple and inexpensive. I found this Spanish Rice Knorr side in my pantry and thought that it would make an interesting, filling addition so I am trying it out!

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I got 12 burritos out of this, bringing my total to 45¢ apiece. That is only technically for buying the cheese for this recipe because it only took a little bit of the cheese (about a quarter of it) so I finished a bag I already had. If you buy the ingredients to make this, you should have quite a bit left over for other things.

If I did not include cheese, they would be vegan-friendly and drop the price down to just 25¢ apiece! I got my parchment paper and tortillas at the Dollar Tree and you could honestly easily get everything you need for them there (I know that the Dollar Trees near me with freezer/refrigerator sections usually have cheese).

It was my first time making burritos for the freezer, but I just followed regular rolling technique. I put the filling on the edge, fold over the edges, then roll across. I followed the same rolling technique with my parchment paper and rolled them up and put them in gallon bags.

Here’s my price breakdown:


Pre-shredded or chunk cheese, shredded (Meijer brand, 8 oz., $2.39)

Spanish Rice with peppers (Knorr Rice Side, $1.00)

Refried Beans (Vegetarian, Old El Paso, $1.00)

Burrito-size Tortillas (Dollar Tree, 12 pack, $1.00)


I made the rice while the refried beans cooked in the microwave (you can also use the stovetop). Then I heated the tortillas while I got everything organized. Then I rolled each one up and bagged them! I packed two and a cucumber in my lunchbox for supper and the rest went into the freezer.

Update: They are delicious! I really like the rice in them. We either put them in the oven or toaster oven for a while or microwave them (40 seconds, flip, another 40 seconds), but Hubby has something against the microwave so there won’t be any getting away with that when he’s home.