Monday, December 31, 2018

End of the Year Book Haul

Hello, all!

I can't even remember the last time I did a book haul. My goal for the year had been to try and utilize my local library a bit more because I had gotten to the point where I was literally tripping over stacks of books, and I'm very happy to say that for the most part, I stuck to that. Until Black Friday where I bought a massive stack, but in my defense, the sales on Book Depository and Book Outlet were just way too good to pass up. And then I got even more for Christmas, so I thought I would round out this year with the bookish goodies I picked up/received. As always, let me know what you all are reading!

Friday, December 28, 2018

OwlCrate December Review

Hello, all!

This months OwlCrate theme was Power of Illusions, and it was the perfect box to end the year with. Let's get into it.

First up was this lovely little candle by Flick the Wick inspired by The Lunar Chronicles. It has notes of blackberry, vanilla and greenery, and it smells so so good.

Of course you can't have a December box without including an ornament, and this one from Juniper and Ivy Designs is so pretty. This was inspired by The Crown's Game, which I've never read, but the design of this reminds me of Anastasia and I dig it.

Next up was this cute The Night Circus magnet by Ink and Wonder Designs. I love that book, and I also really like all the hype it's been getting all of a sudden. I do wish the magnet had a little bit more of the red/black aesthetic that the book had, but I still like it.

Oh, how I love a tote bag, and this one designed by Stella Bookish Art is no exception. This is a lovely Caraval inspired tote, and not only is the art super pretty, but the actual quality of the bag feels very durable which is great since I usually use these for groceries.

This reading planner made by Blue Star Press was probably my favorite thing in this months box. They included a planner like this in last years box as well, but I think this one is way better. It's a great size, the design is cute, and the way it's broken down is so nice-- not only does it have monthly views, but weekly as well. Each month also has spots for new releases for that month, your TBR and even spots to review what you've read during that time. I actually keep my own reading journal, but I think I'll be switching between both since I just love this.

The book this month was Amber & Dusk by Lyra Selene. This story follows Sylvie, an orphan living in the Dusklands, whose strict guardians are ashamed of her power to conjure illusions and treat her like a walking curse. Sylvie decides to set off on an adventure to the royal palace, hoping to show off her skills and earn a place in the court. Once she arrives in the Amber City, she realizes things are not as they seem. Sylvie must train and learn to harness her powers if she wishes to survive and make a name for herself in this harsh new world.

I also really like how they included a little amber pendant to go along with the book. The OwlCrate team really think of every little thing, and their attention to detail is one of my favorite things about this box. I can't wait to see what next year brings!

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

LitJoy Crate December Review

Hello, all!

This months theme was Fallen Kingdom, so let's get into the goodies.

WEASLEY CAN SAVE ANYTHING, HE NEVER LEAVES A SINGLE RING, THAT'S WHY GRYFFINDORS ALL SING, WEASLEY IS OUR KING! I love collecting pins and I love Harry Potter, so this LitJoy exclusive enamel pin was definitely right up my alley.

This little tumbler was another LitJoy exclusive. I'm not super into the design of this one, it's a bit thinner than a normal tumbler, but I guess it'll be a good back up.

These socks were another item I wasn't super into, but who doesn't have a use for socks? They are pretty soft, so I'm sure they'll be comfy, but I'm just not a huge fan of the writing on the feet.

I have a confession: I'm obsessed with collecting cute notebooks, and this one designed by Lucy in the Sky Creations will be a nice addition to my massive stack. Also, could you really have a box about kingdoms without including Narnia?

You guys know how much I love the ACOTAR series, and we received a print of Feyre last month, so it's only fair to include her lovely mate, Rhysand this month! This artwork by Tara Spruit is so pretty and I love the flecks of stars in the background.

This month they also included these collector trading cards based on the Throne of Glass series with artwork by Gabriella Bujdoso. I actually just read the last book in this series, Kingdom of Ash, this month and it was an emotional rollercoaster, so I was super happy to receive these cards.

Now for the book-- Once A King by Erin Summerill. For 20 years, Channelers--women with magical abilities-- have been persecuted in Malam by those without magic. Now King Aodren is looking to end this bloody divide and try to unite his kingdom. But it seems like years of hatred can't be overcome with decrees, and rumors about a deadly Channeler-made substance are only adding fuel to the people's fires. Lirra has every reason to distrust Aodren, yet can't help saying yes when he asks for assistance in discovering the truth behind the rumors. Can Aodren rewrite the past mistakes of his people before his enemies destroy the world he's working so hard to rebuild?

I'm obsessed with the design of this book. There's no dust jacket or anything, it's printed right on the book itself, and it's just so pretty. It looks like one of those collector's edition of classic books, and those are some of my favorites, so it'll fit right in on my shelves.

Hope everyone had a lovely holiday!

Friday, December 21, 2018

Top 5: Underrated Christmas Movies

Hello, all!

My favorite thing to do during this time of year is watch a bunch of Christmas movies, so I figured I'd dedicate this list to the unsung holiday movies that don't always get enough love.

1. Babes in Toyland: This was one of my favorite Christmas movies when I was younger. It has a tiny Drew Barrymore who plays Lisa, a young girl who has no time for playthings and hates being treated like a child. Then an accident during a Christmas Eve blizzard sends her into Toyland. While there, Lisa must stop a plot to marry Mary Contrary off to the horrible Barnaby Barnacle, who wants to take over Toyland. But there's one little problem: the Toymaster will only help if Lisa really believes in toys. Not only does this movie have a young Keanu Reeves, but  also a fun car singalong that's super catchy. What more could you want?

2. Jingle All The Way: Growing up, I fully remember my Mom saying how savage it was trying to get whatever the latest toy craze was for us. Not to mention seeing countless pictures of people with scratch marks all over their faces and people getting into fights all for a Furby or Tickle Me Elmo. This movie fully embodies that mad rush, but throws Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sinbad into the mix.

3. To Grandmother's House We Go: Who didn't love a Mary Kate and Ashley movie in the 90s? When the two overhear their mom call them a "handful", they decide to run away to their grandma's, but they aren't allowed to cross the street without an adult. So what do they do? Hope on a bus, of course!  Thus kicking off their crazy Christmas adventure.

4. Ernest Saves Christmas: Where does Santa Claus go to look for his successor? Florida, obviously. While there, Santa gets into some unexpected trouble, as one does, and lovable doofy cab driver, Ernest, steps in to help save Christmas.

5. Serendipity: Everyone loves a romance during the holiday, and what better than one with John Cusack? During the Christmas season, Jonathan meets Sara while shopping at Bloomingdale's when they both try to purchase the same pair of gloves. After having dinner together, the pair decide to write their phone numbers on different items thinking that if fate really wanted them together they'd find each other. Years pass and both are in relationships, but fate finally pulls through and brings them together again. What a Christmas miracle!

Honorable Mention:

Trading Places: You just can't beat a Dan Aykroyd/Eddie Murphy team up!

What're some of your favorites? Lemme know!

Sunday, December 16, 2018

City Day/Head Over Heels

Hello, all!

Yesterday, I took a trip into the city to see the musical Head Over Heels, but before that my mom and I had a little meander around the city and the shops at Bryant Park and it was lovely.

The weather was pretty gloomy but thankfully it didn't rain on us (seriously, walking through the city in the rain is so not fun). We got in around 10:30 and walked the 10 or so blocks over to Bryant Park to check out the little holiday shops. Around this time of year, the park turns into a little vendor fair, with pop-up shops filled with everything from jewelry to bags to candy to soaps. There's even a bunch of food booths as well, so it's basically your one stop shop for all your holiday needs. Oh, and there's also a big ice skating rink if you're feeling up to busting your butt (oh, is that just me?)

We walked around the booths a bit, and I found this adorable shop called Mulberry and Grand and I'm now obsessed with them. The jewelry was gorgeous and the clothing was full of really fun sayings (one said "Sassy Since Birth" and I probably should've picked it up), I ended up getting three necklaces: a star, roses, and an alien with a spaceship, and a little rose gold star and moon ring and I love them.

After that, we picked up some hot chocolate and apple cider, and found The Strand booth (my favorite) where I browsed a bit more, and can we please just take a moment to applaud the fact that I didn't buy anything? It's a Christmas miracle. We poked through a bit more shops, but then we were off to find somewhere to eat before the show.

As we were walking towards the Hudson Theatre, we passed the HBO store that had this amazing Game of Thrones window display and it made me that much more excited for the final season.

After we ate, we still had a bit of time before the show started, so we walked into this store called BT-21, which was filled with toys of random characters I'd never seen before but were pretty cute. They also had huge displays of them as well, which were fun.

Then it was finally show time! I'd heard about Head Over Heels a few months ago, and I immediately knew I had to see it. The show is labeled as a "jukebox musical" which uses the music of The Go-Go's to tell the story of the royal family of Arcadia and how their land prospers off this mysterious Beat. One day, the King gets a summons from the Oracle, Pythio, who tells of four prophecies that once they come to pass, will spell the end of the Beat and will plunge Arcadia into a permanent distemperature. This leads the King and the rest of the royal family to go on a quest through the woods to try to stop what's going to happen, which in turn leads them all to their true and better selves.

This isn't your ordinary musical. It's full of cross dressing and queer representation, sassiness and tons of fun musical numbers. It takes the music of The Go-Go's and amps them up to 11. And the whole story itself is hilarious; seriously, I was laughing throughout the entire thing. It's sort of like if Monty Python were doing Shakespeare set to a bopping '80s soundtrack. Pythio is also played by Peppermint from RuPaul's Drag Race, and you know how much I love my Drag Race. I will admit, I did feel like she got a little winded during a few parts, but she killed it overall.

Everyone in the show did amazing; the singing was great and the dancing was on point. I loved every minute of it. I'm so bummed it's only running until the beginning of January cause I'd totally go see it again. I definitely recommend looking up the cast soundtrack if you have Spotify cause it's just so great.

Hope you guys had a great weekend!

Friday, December 14, 2018

Top 5: A Christmas Carol Adaptations

Hello, all!

Have you ever noticed just how many versions of A Christmas Carol there are? Tons. Like, tons of tons. Here are just a few of my favorite retellings.

1. The Muppet Christmas Carol: I mean, c'monnnnnn. This is my absolute favorite. I'm not even joking when I say I pretty much watch this every single day once December hits. I just love the Muppets so much, and the Gonzo/Rizzo narration pairing is everything I've ever needed in life.

2. Scrooged: Who doesn't love a bitter Bill Murray learning to appreciate the joy in life with the help of a cigar chomping cabbie and an abusive fairy? The end bit of him burning inside the coffin used to scare the bajeezus outta me when I was younger, but the big sing along at the end more than made up for it.

3. Ghosts of Girlfriends Past: This is probably the most non-traditional version of A Christmas Carol on here, but the premise is still the same. Notorious playboy goes to his brothers wedding and gets haunted by you guessed it, ghosts, but not just any Christmas ghosts-- ghosts of the women in his life! I think it's so fun and Emma Stone plays the first ghost and I just wish I could be her best friend.

4. A Diva's Christmas Carol: This one may be a random lame choice, but I don't even care. This was one of those Lifetime Christmas movies that pretty much no one but me, I think not only remembers, but genuinely loves. Basically, Vanessa Williams plays this big ol' diva who went solo and became super rich and mean. Oh, and the Ghost of Christmas Future is a VH1 Behind the Music documentary, it's perfectly cheesy. The music in it is actually really catchy, especially "Heartquake", so it's worth it just for that.

5. The Afterlife of Holly Chase by Cynthia Hand: Ok, so it's not technically a movie, but it still counts. I recently read this book and absolutely loved it. Holly is a 17 year old stuck up, rich California girl who bosses around everyone from her friends to her maid. On Christmas Eve, she gets visited by three ghosts, but she just takes it as a joke. Then she gets hit by a car and dies and wakes up in an office building in New York as a ghost of sorts. She is offered a job at Project Scrooge, which is an organization that plays out A Christmas Carol by picking a Scrooge for the year and tries to get them to see the errors of their ways before it's too late. Holly has been playing her role as the Ghost of Christmas Past without a hitch, that is until she comes across their newest mark and throws everything for a loop. It's a super cute holiday story and perfect for this time of year.

What're some of your favorites? Lemme know!

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!