Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Novelly Yours Candle Haul

Hello, all!

Do I even need to reiterate how much I love candles? After getting a few of Novelly Yours candles in bookish subscription boxes, I decided to finally try out the brand for real. Big surprise, I loved them.

The first one I picked up was Winter. I love apple scents, so I knew this one would be right up my alley. It is a bit more of a sweeter scent, so it may not be for everyone, but I love it.

This one is called Cath's Lemon Tarts, and it smells like a flaky little pastry you'd get at a bakery. I always get a little iffy with lemon scents because the line between just right and cleaning product is very thin, but I think the buttercream aspect of this one really helps tame it into being just right.

I love how these next two came in little tins rather than the jar, it's so cute. This one, called Palsson's Cinnamon Twists, was by far my favorite of the bunch. It smells exactly like the cinnamon twist donuts from the bakery by my house that my Mom gets us every Christmas morning. It's also a really great dupe for the Cinnamon Sugar Donut candle by Bath and Body Works, which is my favorite candle which they also don't make anymore.

The last one I picked up was November Cakes and it has notes of honey, cake and vanilla. It's such a nice warm cozy scent, and I can just picture it being my go to for curling up on cold nights.

If you're a candle lover like I am, definitely check out their shop!

Friday, December 7, 2018

Let's Talk: The Institute for Singular Antiquites Series

Hello, all!

I love a good supernatural action adventure, so when I was browsing Netgalley and saw The Beast of Nightfall Lodge by S.A. Sidor was described as just that, I jumped on the chance to request it (thank you to them and the publisher for the copy!). I didn't actually know that this was the second book in a series, so I picked up the first from my local library, and honestly, both were pretty meh.

The first book in this series is called Fury From the Tomb. This was described as being a bit like if Indiana Jones met The Mummy, so I figured it would be right up my alley. I was wrong. The story follows Egyptologist, Dr. Rom Hardy, as he unearths the find of his life: a tomb filled with five coffins and a mysteriously large sarcophagus. Here's where everything goes downhill. After the discovery, all of his men die, and Rom is sent back to America to deliver his undead cargo to his reclusive benefactor in Los Angeles. While traveling, Rom's train gets hijacked by banditos in the Arizona desert who flee across the border with his bounty. Rom has no choice by to team up with his sponsor's rebellious daughter, Evangeline, an orphaned Chinese busboy, Yong Wu, and a gun-slinging bounty hunter named McTroy, to track down the mummies before it's too late.

I found this extremely slow to get through. You would think with all the action right from the get go that it would be something you would fly through, but it was the opposite for me. I also found the way the story is set up to be a little boring; it's basically Rom telling us about the events years after they happened, so you get little passages from the present before jumping back to the past. I think because I found Rom to be a bit of a bore and very long winded, it made reading his lengthy passages not very appealing. I also had a slight issue with all the supernatural elements in the book. Besides the mummies, Rom and crew go up against ghouls, vampires, and giant worms, but no one bats an eye at anything. It's like everyone just thinks it's totally normal. Honestly, I thought I would like this so much, but I ended up skimming the last 100 pages or so because I just wanted it over with.

Pub Date: 2-5-19 by
Angry Robot
Adult - Sci-Fi - Mystery

Which leads me to the second book, The Beast of Nightfall Lodge. Like the first book, this is Rom retelling events that had happened years prior. In this adventure, Rom receives a letter from McTroy and finds himself thrust into a mystery of a blood thirsty creature that's prowling through the mountains of New Mexico. A big game hunter who lives on the mountains has promised a huge reward for whoever can capture the beast, so of course headstrong Evangeline has signed the gang up. What follows is a wild adventure through the snow fighting everything from mad doctors to wild animals and a monster so terrifying it's not of this world.

I was a bit hesitant to jump into this after not really loving the first, but I was pleasantly surprised by it. I definitely found it faster than FFtT, but it still had its moments where it dragged a bit. Again, no one thinks twice about the supernatural elements, which I just find strange. I did think some of the new characters were interesting, especially the twins, but my favorite was Orcus the talking dog. I thought he was adorable. Some of the plot points were a little predictable, especially in regards to the twins. The ending was very sad, but I liked it. It had everything come full circle. Even though I didn't fully love it, I did think this one was better than the first.

I'm not sure if maybe I just went into these books with higher expectations but I was expecting a rough and tough charming leader like Indiana Jones, but that just wasn't the case. Rom has his moments, but for the most part, he's just so boring. I'm not sure if seeing things from a third POV rather than Rom's would've made the stories any better, but it probably would've quickened things up a bit. I found both books to be very pulpy and very much those typical action adventure books you would find during the late 1800s-early 1900s, so they nailed it on that respect, but they just weren't for me.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

LitJoy Crate November Review

Hello, all!

This months theme was Fortune and Folklore, so let's jump right in!

So, the first thing I pulled out was this little Forbidden Forest candle by Nerdy Alchemy. It has a deep, woodsy pine smell, pretty much exactly how I picture the forest at Hogwarts to smell like. I'm actually not a fan of pine, so I'll probably be passing this along, but I do like the design on the label.

The next thing was this lovely Celtic inspired pouch designed by Eden Cooke. Being Irish, I'm super into Celtic folklore, so this was really neat to get. It's super pretty and a decent size as well, so that's always a plus.

Next was my favorite item this month: a Professor Trelawney bookmark designed by Ink and Wonder. I love Ink and Wonder bookmarks; they're always so detailed and lovely, and even though they're made out of wood, they're very sturdy and durable. I have a few of these now and I'm always so pumped when I get another.

I'm a huge fan of the A Court of Thorns and Roses series by Sarah J. Maas and this Feyre print by Tiara L'Hommediue is super pretty. It kinda gives me Renaissance painting vibes, but I dig it.

The book this month is one I've been looking forward to, and it's The Wren Hunt by Mary Watson. This story follows Wren, who's people-- the Augers-- were once ruled by an ancient magic, but now are controlled by the Judges, who are set on destroying the Augers for good. In a desperate attempt to save her family, Wren takes on a dangerous undercover mission posing as an intern to the same people who want her dead. While there, Wren must do all she can to uncover the truth without becoming wrapped up in lies, deceit and betrayal that threaten to consume her and reveal who she truly is.

Friday, November 23, 2018

OwlCrate November Review

Hello, all!

This months OwlCrate theme was Rise from the Ashes, and honestly, I wasn't super into most of what they sent, but nevertheless, let's get into it.

The first thing I pulled out was this skull planter which was an OwlCrate exclusive. I have a black thumb, I kill any sort of plant that's around me, so I don't know how much use I'll actually get out of this one.

This little wax seal kit was another OwlCrate exclusive item that was designed by Michelle Gray. I think this is pretty adorable, and I really love the little book design in the stamp. I actually got a different wax seal kit in a FairyLoot box, but I like this one much better.

Next up was this little bracelet craft kit by Ann Williams. Apparently, you're supposed to write down your hopes and wishes on the little strips of paper, then make them into the bracelet so you can always keep them close. It's a cute concept, but not something I'm particularly into.

This pillowcase designed by EvieBookish was inspired by the An Ember in the Ashes series, and I really love the colors in this one. I always love anything by EvieBookish, I just think her designs are so fun and unique.

You can't have a "rise from the ashes" box without including a phoenix, and who better than Dumbledore's faithful Fawkes? This sticker, designed by Susanne Draws, was probably the only thing I was really excited about this month.

The book for this month was Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan. Every year eight girls throughout the land of Ikhara are chosen as Paper Girls, concubines who serve the Demon King. However, this year the tradition is disrupted when a ninth girl, Lei, is kidnapped from her village and forced to serve the King as well. The story follows these nine girls as they struggle to survive in this cruel place, until Lei does the unthinkable-- she falls in love.

Hope everyone has a lovely weekend!

Friday, November 16, 2018

Top 5: Stan Lee Cameos

Hello, all!

It was a sad time in the entertainment community this week with the loss of Marvel's own Captain, Stan Lee. The only other celebrity death that has affected me this much was Robin Williams. I've loved Marvel comics since I was a kid; these stories and characters that Lee created, made me who I am today. He seemed like such a kind, generous, funny person and my favorite parts of any Marvel movie are always his little cameos. So, I thought it only fitting to dedicate this Top 5 to just a few of his best moments. Stan Lee was a titan of the industry, and I for one will miss him dearly. Rest in Valhalla, and thanks for all the stories. Excelsior!

1. Iron Man: This was the one that kicked off the MCU and thus brought us the greatness that is the Stan Lee cameo. Here he plays a Hugh Hefner-type playboy and it really is such a blink-and-you'll-miss it scene, but I just had to include it.

2. The Amazing Spider-Man: This is actually one of my favorites because it feels the most like what I would think Lee was actually like. Just a happy ol' man listening to some tunes, completely oblivious to the fact that there's a fight behind him.

3. Captain America: Civil War: Now, this one is probably my favorite cameo. I mean, Tony Stank. It's just so good.

4. Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2: This cameo I loved because of what it brought to the table. It basically confirmed that Lee's cameos have all been the same, and that he's a "watcher informant." Watchers are an ancient race of aliens that pretty much oversee the whole universe, and the fact that Lee's been reporting to them the whole time is pretty neat.

5. Thor: Ragnarok: I love this one because I think it's so cute. What's more adorable than an old man with a rotating set of shears telling you to hold still right before he cuts your hair because his "hands aren't as steady as they used to be"? It's like the geriatric Edward Scissorhands. I love it.

What are some of your favorite Stan Lee moments? Lemme know!

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Let's Talk: Veronica Speedwell Series

Hello, all!

There's nothing I love more than finding a new series to absolutely gush over. I recently stumbled across the Veronica Speedwell series by Deanna Raybourn, and I devoured them within a week. I completely fell in love with these books and the entire story, and especially the main characters, Veronica and Stoker. So far, there are three books in the series, and I'm counting down the days until March when the fourth comes out.

Pub Date: 7-12-16
Adult - Mystery - Historical Fiction
I initially picked up the first book, A Curious Beginning, from my local library because I really liked the cover art, but I was so pleased to find out it was a great story line as well. Set in 1887 London, orphan Veronica Speedwell has just buried her spinster aunt and is looking forward to resuming her world travels to study butterflies. What Veronica doesn't know, is that fate has another adventure in store for her. After thwarting her own abduction attempt with the help of a German baron, who offers her sanctuary and answers to her mysterious past, Veronica is whisked off to London where she is left in the care of Stoker, a reclusive bad-tempered natural historian. Before the baron can give her any answers to why there's now a plot against her, he is murdered and Veronica and Stoker must team up to find out who killed him and who is after her before it's too late.

Pub Date: 1-10-17
Adult - Mystery - Historical Fiction
I didn't even let myself breathe before jumping right into the second book, A Perilous Undertaking. This takes place shortly after the events in the first book, and Veronica finds herself yet again in the middle of a mystery and dragging a reluctant Stoker along for the ride. Now, Veronica is tasked by the shady Lady Sundridge with saving a high society art patron from execution for a crime he didn't commit. Time is of the essence and uncovering the true identity of Lady Sundridge is only the first of many secrets Veronica and Stoker stumble upon. This story sees the duo running all over London, from an artists' colony to an underground orgy grotto. This one was just as fast paced and entertaining as the first one, and I loved it.

Pub Date: 1-16-18
Adult - Mystery - Historical Fiction
The third in this series, called A Treacherous Curse, focused more on Stoker's background which I loved. After his former expedition partner disappeared from an Egyptian dig site with a priceless cursed diadem, Stoker and Veronica are swept up into a mystery of mythological proportions. The pair must battle rumors that a vengeful princess has been unleashed as the shadowy figure of Anubis himself stalks the London night. This one was full of conspiracies and enemies from Stoker's past, and Veronica must use her intellect to separate what's fact and fantasy before Stoker loses everything.

I've quickly become obsessed with this series, and now it's one of my favorites. It's such a fun mix of adventure, witty banter and mystery. Veronica is a feisty, intelligent, take-no-crap badass woman and I love it. She's such a strong, independent character and really holds her own during a time when women were expected to be meek and stand a few steps behind a man. She charges in and takes the reins on whatever situation her and Stoker find themselves in. I also really love the relationship between Veronica and Stoker and the way they play off one another. They treat each other as equals and you can really feel the respect they have for one another. And c'mon, I mean the slowest burn of a relationship ever, and it kills me but I love it at the same time. I need the fourth book, like, right now.

This is one series that I've told (alright, maybe harassed is a better term) everyone I know to read. If you're a fan of a fun, fast paced Victorian mystery series, I cannot recommend this one enough.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Harry Potter: A History of Magic Exhibit

Hello, all!

You all should know by now that if there's a Harry Potter exhibit near me, I have to go. I had heard about this particular exhibit months ago, and immediately bought tickets, and am so glad I did because it was super interesting.

Harry Potter: A History of Magic was unlike other HP exhibits I've seen because along with the memorabilia, it focused heavily on the lore and texts that JK Rowling drew inspiration from. Another thing that was unique and set this exhibit apart was that each room was decked out as a different Hogwarts subject, such as Charms, Divination, Potions, etc.

Each room also had items that pertained to that subject. In the Potions room, there was a real witches cauldron and ancient texts such as the Ripley Scroll (which many believe gave clues on how to create a Philosopher's Stone); in Herbology, there was sketches of gnomes and even a station where you could listen in on Professor Sprout's mandrake lecture by putting a pot to your ear; in Divination, you could get get an interactive tarot reading and then look at a real crystal ball from a English witch named "Smelly Nelly" (apparently, she was a fan of very pungent perfume). My favorite room was Care of Magical Creatures because that has always been the class that I was always dying to take. There were drawings all along the walls from some of the artists who worked on the Harry Potter books of all the different creatures, but my favorite thing was the huge Narwhal tusk (or "Unicorn horn") that was mounted on the wall.

Not only were the artifacts in each room so perfect to the subject, but the whole atmosphere of each room was just so magical. They really catered every little nook and cranny of each room to flow perfectly with whatever the subject was. Everywhere you looked there was a medieval text or an original handwritten Harry Potter page by Rowling herself. There were even quotes from all the books painted along the walls.

I also loved seeing all the original artwork by JK Rowling. It was so interesting to see her take on these characters that she dreamt up. My favorite was one she did of Professor Sprout, who was surrounded by plants and pottery, and had a little spider dangling from her witches hat. There was also artwork by Mary GrandPré (who did the original US cover art and chapter illustrations) and Brian Selznick (who just did the 20th anniversary editions), Jim Kay and Kazu Kibuishi which were all gorgeous. Also, there were portraits of all the Hogwarts professors littered throughout the rooms and all were just so beautiful, even greasy ol' Snape.

The only downside to the exhibit was that because it's located at the New York Historical Society, you're unfortunately not allowed to take photos. They had a few things set up outside the main exhibit, so I took a few pictures of those which are all below. If you're in the NY area, I'd highly recommend seeing this exhibit. You can find all the information here.