Saturday, December 23, 2017

Owl Crate December Review

Hello, all!

I hope everyone's getting ready for their Christmas holiday. All I have left to do is wrap gifts, but since I'm completely horrid at wrapping, I keep putting it off so I thought it was the perfect time to review this months Owl Crate.

The theme this month was "Seize the Day", so let's get right into it!

The first thing I pulled out was this cute wooden ornament from Juniper & Ivy Designs based off the book Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon. This was so detailed and pretty, I automatically rushed to put it on my tree where everyone could see it.

I love a candle. It's so weird, I never used to like them, but now I have stacks of candles that I change throughout the year depending on scents. This one by Novelly Yours is definitely going to get heavy rotation. It has such a lovely apple scent which is one of my favorites. It said this candle was inspired by The Names They Gave Us by Emery Lord, and I've never read that but based on the candle alone, I feel like I need to.

Just like a candle, I love myself a bookmark. I feel like they're one of those things you just can't have enough of, and this double sided one by Little Inklings Designs is perfect to add to my collection. One side of the bookmark has a quote from The Serpent King (another I've never read, but which is going onto my Reading list) and the opposite is from The Perks of Being a Wallflower.

I've mentioned my love of the Percy Jackson series/Greek mythology before, so getting this magnet inspired by that same series was perfect. It was created by Ink & Wonder Designs and it's so pretty. I mean, just look at all those colors!

Now, to my favorite item in this box-- a Harry Potter tote! This tote, designed exclusively for Owl Crate by Bookworm Boutique, is so perfect. Not only does it have the cutest deign and quote, but it has extra long handles and a decent size which makes it the best trip-to-the-book-store bag.

I kept saying that I wanted to be one of those people who had planners and were super organized, and now I can finally make it happen! This lovely 2018 planner/reading journal was a partner design between Owl Crate and Blue Star Press, and features quotes from previous Owl Crate book picks, spaces to fill in your favorite books, and even a rating system to keep track of all that you've read so far. I'm excited to use this, I usually keep track of books I've read on little scraps of paper, so it'll be nice to have them all in one place now.

The book for this month is called Foolish Hearts by Emma Mills. When Claudia is caught eavesdropping on a conversation that was only meant for two people, she gains an enemy in Iris, one of the meanest girls in her school. If that wasn't worse enough, the two of them are then forced to participate in the school's production of A Midsummer Night's Dream. The whole story revolves around first loves, finding friends in unlikely places, and learning to step out of ones comfort zone. It all sounds a bit Sarah Dessen-ish to me, and she's one of my favorites, so I feel like this will be right up my alley. It also came with a little patch, and we all know I do love a patch.

I hope everyone has a lovely holiday!

Friday, December 15, 2017

Top 5: Christmas Horror Movies

Hello, all!

So Christmas is rapidly approaching, and when everyone else is curling up on the couch watching Freeform's 25 Days of Christmas, here are a few *ahem* less family friendly films to get you through the festive season.

1. Silent Night, Deadly Night: After witnessing a man in a Santa suit kill his parents on the side of the road when he was 5, Billy isn't the biggest fan of Christmas/Santa in general. Now a young man, Billy is asked to stand in as Santa at the little toy store he works at, things go awry and something snaps in Billy, leading him to go on a killing spree, including impaling a lady on a set of deer antlers hanging on a wall, decapitating a sledder and shouting "Naughty!" at everyone before he dispenses his Yuletide justice.

2. Jack Frost: No, I'm not talkin' about the weird family movie where Michael Keaton dies and then comes back as a snowman to have another chance at being a good dad. I mean, it's sorta the same, someone does come back to life as a snowman, but it's a serial killer (aptly named, Jack Frost) who crashes into a truck full of "genetics material" on his way to his execution. What ensues next is what B-movie dreams are made of: a killer snowman terrorizing the quiet town of Snowmonton.

3. Rare Exports: Ok, I have to admit, I had no idea what was going on throughout this entire movie, but I do know it was cuh-reepy. It's a Finnish movie and even with the subtitles, I really couldn't understand much, but the gist is that a research group was drilling on top of what ended up being an ancient burial chamber which a young boy thinks is Santa's, who in this story is a horned being who beats naughty kids and boils them in his cauldron. Then there's some slaughtered reindeer and a bunch of naked Elves running in the woods, and plans to blow up Santa before he can do anymore damage. This one left me with no words except for, "HUH?"

4. A Christmas Horror Story: Unlike the others on this list, this is more of an anthology movie, and the thread that holds all four storylines together is William Shatner as a radio DJ who pretty much just talks throughout the entire thing. Since it's a bunch of different stories together, there's a creep factor for almost everyone: you got your ghost possession, evil clones, Krampus and zombie elves...and a partridge in a pear tree.

5. Gremlins: This is my favorite Christmas horror/but not really horror movie. It's definitely the most family friendly on this list, but it's still got some scare elements to it. Like, I dunno what's worse finding out the smell coming from your chimney wasn't a dead animal or listening to a bunch of bat-eared leathery green reptile thing-a-majigs screech out some Christmas carols on your front porch. There's also a ton of comedy in the movie as well, the entire scene of the Gremlins in the movie theater watching Snow White kills me as well as Corey Feldman just delivering Christmas trees while dressed as a tree.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

National Geographic: Ocean Odyssey Exhibit

Hello, all!

When I was younger, I wanted to be a marine biologist. I mean, I was just obsessed with the idea of working with sea animals, specifically sharks (thank you, Jaws). I used to spend hours at the library tracing sharks out of books and labeling their anatomy. I read every single book I could find on different sea life, and copied little notes for myself in notebooks. My Mom even adopted me a whale one year for my birthday.

My marine biologist dream were dashed once I got to high school and I realized just how crummy I was at science, and how my asthma would get in the way of trying to scuba dive. But my love of sea animals never went away, so once I heard that National Geographic was having an exhibition in the City called Ocean Odyssey, I knew I just had to go and see it. Unfortunately, it really wasn't what I had dreamed it would be.

I was picturing lots of actual physical exhibits or maybe objects discovered on dives, or videos of animals in their natural habitat or pictures from expeditions. What I got was a bunch of computer generated videos and a 3-D movie of a humpback whale eating some fish.

I think this exhibit might be geared more towards younger kids, because at the end of the tour, one of the guides gave out a little scavenger hunt sheet for them to do. Another thing I wasn't too keen on, was that you weren't allowed to walk through it on your own, you had to stay in your designated group. You would think that that would make the visit slower since you have to wait for every single person, but we were still in and out in about an hour.

There were some cool bits though. There was a room that was set up as a maze with mirrors and floor to ceiling sea kelp and you had to maneuver your way out. And once you finally did, there was a room with little circles on the ground that once you stepped in the middle of it, a computer generated sea lion would show up on the screen before you that you could interact with by lifting up your arms.

It may not have been all that I thought it would be, but I can see how amazing it would seem to a young kid. All the kids that were in my group were loving life and really enjoying all the interactive screens that showed characteristics of a few animals, and there was also a room that the floor was designed as a coral reef and when you stepped in certain spots little bioluminescent bits would glow which reeeeally got their motors running. It was definitely an exhibit that is original and super immersive, I just think I had higher hopes and expectations.

I took a few pictures of the actual displays they had up, so enjoy!

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Owl Crate November Review

Hello, all!

I think this months Owl Crate box was my favorite so far. The theme was Castles, Courts and Kingdoms and it was chock full of wonderful goodies, so without any further ado, let's get to it!

Ohhhhhh yessssssssssss. I love a good bobble hat and what better way to fight off the cold (and some pesky Dementors) than with this one?! This was a exclusive to Owl Crate and I love it so much.

Next up was this brooch pin made by Juniper and Joy Designs based on Leigh Bardugo's great Grishaverse. I loved the whole Grisha series and I have to admit, while reading them I did wonder about which order I'd be in, and now I know! Owl Crate sent out three different versions of the pin and I got the Durasts, which are part of the Materialki order, who can manipulate anything solid such as glass, steel, wood, stone, etc. Jesper was a Durasts and he's one of my favorite characters, so I was all about this pin. Also, Durasts usually wear purple and gray, which just so happens to be the color scheme of my room, so I thought this was super appropriate.

My lips are pretty much permanently chapped, and I never go anywhere without chapstick, so this little guy is perfect for me. It's also sporting my favorite house and a nice blackberry mint flavor, so that's going right into my handbag.

This was another exclusive from Fizzy Fairy Apothecary and it's based on the Elven bread from Lord of the Rings. It has a nice cucumber and mint scent which is really refreshing, a perfect way to start your journey though Middle Earth.

One of my favorite new series recently has been A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas, so I was pumped to receive this notebook with a quote from A Court of Mist and Fury. I love notebooks, like I have a stack of notebooks all half used because I'll be in the middle of using one and then I find another one and start using that one instead and then the cycle continues, so I'm excited to add this one to the pile as well. Plus, the artwork by Stella's Bookish Art is just so nice.

The book this month was The Glass Spare by Lauren DeStefano. The story follows Wit, the only daughter of a power-hungry king, who is forced to live in the shadows as a spy for her kingdom. Then, one day while her life is at risk, Wit finds out she has the power to turn living things into gemstones just by touching them. But Wit is forced to flee once her powers cause a tragedy. On her hunt for answers and a cure, Wit meets a prince from an enemy kingdom who has a curse of his own. DeStefano's tale is a beautiful fantasy story all about the bonds of family and where loyalties lie.

I can't wait to dive into this story. Has anyone read it? Lemme know!

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Book Haul

Hello, all!

It's been quite some time since I did a book haul, and I recently picked up some new ones, so I figured now's as good a time as any to bring it back. Also, it's starting to get really chilly here now, so it's the perfect time to stay inside, curl up under the blankets with a cuppa tea and good book, so here we go!

Lost Boy: The True Story of Captain Hook- Christina Henry: Peter Pan is one of my favorite stories, and this take on it seemed right up my alley. I had never really read anything that revolved around Captain Hook and how he came to be Peter's most hated foe, so this was an instant stand out for me. Henry paints a great picture of two friends who once meant the world to each other, and the lies and secrets that slowly tore them apart.

Turtles All The Way Down- John Green: I'm a fan of John Green; I haven't read anything of his that I haven't liked. I just feel like the way he approaches his characters seems genuine, and always seem relatable. This story follows 16-year old Aza and her best friend Daisy as they try to uncover clues about the disappearance of the fugitive billionaire, Russell Pickett. All the while, Aza has to try to fight the ever tightening spiral of her own thoughts and anxieties.

Murder on the Orient Express- Agatha Christie: My job has this little book fair about twice a year (which totally lets me re-live my Scholastic Book Fair high of when I was young), and I picked this up since: A. I had never actually read anything by Agatha Christie and B. I wanted to read it in case I saw the movie. Plus, who doesn't like a good murder mystery every now and again?

The Winter People- Jennifer McMahon: Keeping with the sort of mystery vibe, I picked up this by Jennifer McMahon. There was a quote on the back from a review from USA Today which called this, "Crisp, mysterious and scary... Reminiscent of Stephen King." How could you go wrong with that?! The story starts off in 1908 in West Hall, Vermont, where a woman named Sara was found dead in a field behind her house just months after the tragic death of her daughter. Then the story jumps to present day where a family lives in Sara's old farmhouse and one morning they wake to find their mother has disappeared, and in her search for clues, 19-year old Ruthie stumbles upon Sara's hidden diary which might unlock the mystery unfolding around her.

Anyone read anything good lately? Lemme know!

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Owl Crate October Review

Hello, all!

I realized I never put up a review of last months Owl Crate box, but hey, better late than never, right? The theme for the month was "Find Me in the Forest" and it had a lovely variety of goodies, so let's jump right in.

The first thing I pulled out was this cute little candle, which was exclusive to Owl Crate members, by In The Wick of Time inspired by the series, The Raven Cycle. I haven't read the series, but I have heard very good things about the candle company, so I'm excited to try it. And it smells like mint with a hint of forest, and usually I don't like woodsy scents, but I kinda like it.

Next up, is the cutest little packet of tea by Riddle's Tea Shoppe. I don't think you could have a forest theme without having something to do with Robin Hood and his band of merry men, and who doesn't love a good cuppa tea? This is also an exclusive for the box and tastes just like a slice of blueberry pie.

This is my favorite item that came last month. It's a Harry Potter mug! You all know my love of Harry Potter, but I also am slightly obsessed with mugs, so this feels like it was made just for me. The design of Hagrid's hut and the Forbidden Forest is just beautiful, and there's even a little Buckbeak on it. I love it so much.

And here we have yet another exclusive (this box was just filled with them!), a pretty little woodland coaster. The design is so simple, but so pretty and I love the quote as well. It's such a nice little addition to go along with the mug.

Next up were these adorable little magnetic bookmarks inspired by Where the Wild Things Are from Craftedvan. I've never had magnetic bookmarks before, so I'm really excited about these. Plus, I just think they're adorable.

And keeping with the exclusive trend, they also included this print of San from Princess Mononoke created by Audra Auclair. It's just so pretty and a good reminder to be as kind and as fierce as the Wolf Girl is when it comes to the place we call home.

And finally we get to the book for the month, Wild Beauty by Anna-Marie McLemore. The story centers around the Nomeolvides family, who are a group of women who tend to the beautiful garden estate of La Pradera. The Nomeolvides women have been blessed with the ability to grow stunning flowers whenever they desire, but that ability comes with a cost. They can never leave the ground of La Pradera, and anytime they fall deeply in love, their lovers mysteriously vanish. One day, a strange boy appears from the soil and the women begin to question everything.

The book also came with a cute little packet of Forget-me-not seeds, which I thought was such a nice touch and definitely on theme. Has anyone read the book yet? If so, lemme know what you thought!

Friday, October 27, 2017

Top 5: Scary Moments from Kids Movies

Hello, all!

So, sticking to the Halloween vibe, I decided to dedicate this Top 5 to scary moments from movies. And not just any movies—kids movies. Normally, kids movies are light-hearted and fun, but every so often you get one that just straight up traumatizes you. Here are some moments that scared the bajeezus outta me when I was younger:

1. The Tunnel Scene- Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory: Who didn’t get freaked out by this scene, that’s what I wanna know. The background whizzing by, the flashes of light, Gene Wilder’s voice growing more and more manic as he deadpans “There’s no earthly way of knowing, which direction we are going.” It’s like, “Hey kids, hope you’re enjoying my lovely chocolate factory where everything is edible and fun, now let’s take a ride on this boat of nightmares that’ll make you feel like you’re having a bad acid trip!” Keep your Golden Ticket, I don’t want it.

2. The Dip- Who Framed Roger Rabbit?: You would think an entire movie based around cartoon characters would be super family friendly, but lemme tell you, that ain’t the case. I never thought that I would get so upset over the death of a cartoon shoe, but I did and still do. Poor little guy. And Christopher Lloyd is terrifying as Judge Doom, I was so glad when he and his little gangster weasel squad got their comeuppance.

3. Artax’s Death- The NeverEnding Story: If an animal dies in ANY movie, I’m gonna be heartbroken, but this one hits harder than most because of the way Artax dies. His handler, Atreyu’s, quest took them through the Swamps of Sadness, and while they’re trudging through the muck, Artax ends up succumbing to the swamp. So basically, the horse got way too sad and then got sucked into the swamp forever. No, I’m not crying, I just have something in my eye.

4. Large Marge- Pee-wee’s Big Adventure: If you’re a parent and you want to teach your kids the dangers of hitchhiking, just show them this scene. They’ll be convinced that every strange person in a car will tell them a creepy story and then turn into a shriveled head with large bulbous eyes.

5. Skeksis- The Dark Crystal: Usually, when you think of Jim Henson, you think of cuddly, cute Muppets like Fozzy Bear or Beaker, but what The Dark Crystal gives you is nightmare fuel.  The Skeksis are a race of shuffling, heavy robe clad, bony bird lookin’ things. Seriously, they look like a cross between a baby bird and a snapping turtle. I was actually a bit older when I first saw this movie and if the Skeksis could creep me out when I was in my teens, just imagine what it could do to children.

Are there any scenes from films that creep you out? Lemme know!

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Top 5: Spooky Stories

Hello, all!

Halloween is my favorite time of the year. Christmas time is a close second, but for me, nothing quite beats the crisp spooky feelings October brings. I can never get enough of the shows about ghost hunting or haunted places, and don't even get me started on Halloween decorations. If my roommates would let me, I'd keep our howling skeletal animals and projector lights that make our house look like it's on fire out all year round.

I figured I would dedicate this Top 5 to two of my favorite things: Halloween time and books. So, here are just a few stories that'll help get you into the spooky vibe.

1. Frankenstein- Mary Shelley: First and foremost, we have to start out with this classic, widely considered to be one of the first works of science fiction. I've always loved Frankenstein ever since I was young. Something about the story always drew me in, and out of all monster stories, this has always been one of my favorites. Also, I kinda hate to say it, but I am one of those people who fight the urge to correct people when they call the monster "Frankenstein" when that was the doctor. And great writing aside, Mary Shelley kept her dead husband's heart wrapped in silk in her desk drawer, and I just think that's badass.

2. Dracula- Bram Stoker: I feel like you can't have Frankenstein without Dracula. For me, both of these stories just go hand in hand. There's been a lot of great takes on Dracula throughout the years (one of my favorites being The Monster Squad and the ever underestimated Dracula: Dead and Loving It), but no one has ever encapsulated the feeling of the story as well as the iconic Bela Lugosi. If you're looking for a vampire story to really get you into the spirit of Halloween, this is definitely it.

3. Annabel Lee- Edgar Allan Poe: Sure, you could argue that there are other works that are a bit more nail bitting than this one, but nothing makes me think of Poe quicker than this poem. Anytime I read it, I can vividly picture it playing out; a man grieving over the loss of the woman he loved so dear in a kingdom by the sea.

4. The Call of Cthulhu- H.P. Lovecraft: Everyone loves a good sci-fi monster, and what better than the octopus faced Old One. This was one of the first horror/sci-fi stories I ever read and it creeped me out so much. It also made it impossible for me to eat any sort of noodles without pretending that I'm Cthulhu, Elder God of the Noodle.

5. The Witches of BlackBrook- Tish Thawer: Everyone loves a good witch story around Halloween, and this is one of my recent favorites. It's a story of three sisters during the Salem Witch Trials and in order to escape persecution, the eldest sister casts a spell which flings them forward in time and they have to find one another and defeat an evil from their past.

Do any of you have a certain book you like to read to get into the Halloween spirit? Lemme know!

Sunday, October 8, 2017

NY Comic Con 2017

Hello, all!

It's that wonderful time of year when all the nerds and geeks descend on the Javits Center in the city for four days and rejoice in all that Comic Con has to offer. I've been to a few smaller cons, but this was only my second time going to the NYC one, and man, was I in my glory the entire time.

I opted out of going to the panels this year, only because there wasn't too many yesterday that I wanted to see, and to be honest, the whole to-do of even getting into the panels is enough to make my head spin. I had just as much fun going around to all the booths all day as I would've sitting in one of the panel rooms anyways, so it didn't matter much to me.

One of my favorite parts of Comic Con is that at any given moment anywhere you look, there's something to do or something to see. Whether it's someone in a ridiculously amazing cosplay or a chance to win crazy prizes. All the artists and exhibitors are always so nice and friendly whenever you go up to their booths, and seem genuinely excited that you took the time to stop by. I got to see Chris Claremont, who created some of my favorite X-Men, just signing comic books; I got Scott C., who does the cutest pop culture drawings, to draw a portrait of me and he didn't even charge me for it; I got to see some of my other favorite comic book artists just hanging out; I got to take a picture with BB-8 and see tons of movie props; I even found a booth that sold tea based on Hogwarts and Doctor Who and so much more; I got some really great art prints and shirts. All in all, it was a great day.

Like the last time I went, I didn't take too many pictures because I just walk around in awe most of the time and forget to, haha, but here are a few. Enjoy!