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.

Friday, November 9, 2018

Let's Talk: CAOS

Hello, all!

** Potential spoilers in here **

Fun fact: the first comics I started reading were Sabrina the Teenage Witch. My mom used to bring me and my brother to our local comic shop where I would always grab the mystery bags which were brown paper bags filled with about 5 comics. You never knew what comics you'd get until you opened up the bag, but usually it was always some sort of Archie comic, and my favorite to get were the Sabrina ones.

When I got a bit older, my love of Sabrina only grew with the tv show. It was fun and sassy and who didn't want to be a teenage witch? Flash forward a couple of years ago to Archie bringing out The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina comic (original review here) and my whole Sabrina world flipping on its head. This telling is much, much darker, and revolves around Sabrina's conflict about signing her name in the Book of the Beast upon her 16th birthday (or her "Dark Baptism") and forsaking her mortal half.

This was not my Melissa Joan Hart Sabrina and I loved it from the very first panel. It was gory and straight up horror filled, I mean, the Aunts were cannibals for cryin' out loud! I couldn't get enough of it. So, you can only imagine how pumped I was when I heard that Netflix was adapting the comics into an original series. And overall, I enjoyed it.

Let's start with the show's intro-- I was super into how they used a lot of the artwork from the comics, I thought it was a great way to tie in the original source material. I think the additions of Sabrina's two friends, Roz and Susie, were a nice touch to give her more of a link to her mortal side than just Harvey. Oh, and let's talk about Harvey. Ross Lynch was the perfect Harvey Kinkle for me; he was sweet and had that dopey sort of innocence that Nate Richert had in the 90s tv show, and I really liked it. Hands down though, my favorite character was Aunt Hilda. Lucy Davis was everything. She was lighthearted and funny, and stood her ground when needed. She was such a difference from the wise cracking Hilda we all know and love, but I really enjoyed it.

Aside from the characters, the actual visuals of the show were nice as well. Everything was dark and had that feeling of old age and spookiness. It had a certain vintage feel to it as well, which I liked. I didn't fully love the soft, out of focus shots of the outside of the Spellman mortuary, though, but that's just personal taste. I'm not a huge fan of things like that. If I wanted to see blurry things I'd just take my glasses off. The shots inside the Academy of Unseen Arts were very Gothic and had a cult-like vibe to them which fit the aesthetic to a T. Out of all the places, I'd really like to visit Dr. Cerberus cause that seems like a book store/cafe that I would definitely spend all my time in.

The only slight issue I had with the show was the feeling of overacting at some points, usually by Sabrina herself, Keirnan Shipka. I don't know if it was just me, but I felt her delivery at times was just weird and felt like she was putting on airs to sound a bit more... posh? Maybe? I can't explain it. But it wasn't just her, Prudence and the Weird Sisters, and even Aunt Zelda at times, just felt off. But I could look passed all that when Michelle Gomez was on screen. Her Madam Satan was just so so good. I knew she'd be great in this sort of role because it's kind of like her Missy from Doctor Who but ramped up to 666, and she did not disappoint. Except for the slight glimpse of her in her true form at the end which looked like a melted candy bar, but other than that, she completely sold me.

All in all, I really liked The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. It fully delves into the darker side of magic and witch lore, and doesn't seem too miffed about crossing the line every now and then. Are there some things I think they could tweak? Yes. Are there some story lines they set up that are a bit predictable? Yes. I'm looking at you, Sabrina/Harvey/Nicholas love triangle and Dr. Cee's eventual outing as a demon of some sort. But it all had that bit of almost campy-horror that I love so much, and I'm really interested to see where the show goes from here.

Have any of you watched it yet? Lemme know what you thought!

Friday, November 2, 2018

Mini Thoughts

Hello, all!

I have two very different books to talk about today. One was very lighthearted and fun, and the other was a murder mystery, both were pretty good. As always, thanks to Netgalley and the publishers for the copies!

Pub Date: 10-30-18 by
Quirk Books
Non-Fiction - Pop Culture - Humor
Paperback Crush: The Totally Radical History of  '80s and '90s Teen Fiction- Gabrielle Moss: Raise your hand if you spent your tween/teen years binge reading everything from Babysitters Club to Sweet Valley High. If so, then this book is for you. This is a hilarious look back at all the paperback teen series of the 80s and 90s. Broken down into seven affectionate yet snarky chapters, Moss covers everything from friendships to love to the stalker story-line craze of the 70s and 80s. This is the perfect mix of nostalgia, humor and history. Moss does a really great job of delving into the history of this widely loved genre, and even dug up a few books I totally forgot about (Hey, The Face on the Milk Carton, I forgot how paranoid you made me as a youngin'). There were even comments and interviews with some of the major authors who brought these series to life. It is such a well-researched walk down memory lane, it's funny and informative and didn't take itself too seriously. I'd definitely recommend picking this up if you were a fan/grew up on these types of books.

Pub Date: 3-5-19 by
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Adult - Mystery - Thriller
The Stranger Diaries- Elly Griffiths: Clare Cassidy is an English teacher specializing in the Gothic murder story, The Stranger by RM Holland. Clare's work and personal life collide after one of her friends and co-workers is found dead with a quote from the story on her body. As a way to stay calm during this difficult time, Clare spends most of her days writing in her journal. Then one day she notices some writing in her diary that isn't hers. I thought this was a really nice suspenseful mystery story. It's told though three different point of views: Clare, her daughter Georgia, and the investigating police detective DS Kaur. Each POV flows together well and doesn't feel clunky or disjointed. I also really liked how after a few of the chapters, there were excerpts from The Stranger, and it always seemed to line up with what was happening at that moment. The inclusion of the full short story at the end was a nice touch, as well. I had my suspicions throughout as to who I thought the murderer was, and the end reveal threw me for a loop-- it was so unexpected and I appreciated that. Plus, I was also a big fan of all the Harry Potter references littered about. If you're looking for a mystery/thriller, definitely look for this one when it comes out.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

30 for 30

Hello, all!

Today is my 30th birthday, so I thought it might be fun to do something a little different. I decided to do a little get to know me-introductory-facts about me thing. So here we go!

1. My name is Heather and I was born and raised on Long Island.

2. I have an older brother, which led me to grow up on horror movies, video games and WWF wrestling moves. Seriously, I can't even count the amount of times I heard, "Hey, lemme just try this real quick, I won't do it for real" before getting power bombed into beds, couches, anything really.

3. My favorite food is French fries.

4. My favorite tv show is Seinfeld.

5. My favorite video game is either Zombies Ate My Neighbors or Mortal Kombat. And my go to fighter for MK is Kitana. I'm a big fan of hers....get it? I'll be here all week.

6. One of my favorite things to do is watch really terrible B-movies. Me and a group of friends used to do a weekly movie night where we'd watch B-horror movies and just make fun of them the entire time, a la Mystery Science Theater 3000. We called ourselves the B-Movie Crew, and we even had patches and hats made, so you knew we were super legit.

7. On that note, my favorite B-movie is Killer Klowns from Outer Space.

8. I'm a massive Star Wars fan. Growing up and all throughout school, I've been known as "the Star Wars girl." I used to make a lot of my own clothes in high school and I even made this big Star Wars tote out of old boys bed sheets. And once my friend texted me in the middle of a quiz because the extra credit question was Star Wars related.

9. Despite loving Star Wars so much, and that being so much of what others know me for, my favorite movie is actually Clue.

10. I was obsessed with the movie Jaws when I was younger, and wanted to become a marine biologist and specialize in shark research. Then I got to high school and realized I was absolute crap in science, and I'm asthmatic so I can't really scuba dive.

11. What I actually went to school for was journalism. My claim to fame is that in my senior year of high school, I was the Entertainment Editor of our paper and was sent a press kit by an up and coming band who wanted me to interview them and review their show. I went, interviewed them, watched their show and then utterly destroyed them in my review cause they were terrible. That band you ask? The Jonas Brothers. It seems they did pretty well for themselves, so looks like my review didn't hurt them too much.

12. My favorite hobby is baking.

13. I have about 30 tattoos. My goal is to cover myself with lots of nerdy/pop culture related tattoos. So far I have: multiple Star Wars ones, Harry Potter, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Spice Girls, to name a few.

14. My favorite season is the fall, and my least favorite is summer. I'm too Irish for direct sunlight, my skin only has 2 colors: corpse and lobster, there is no in-between.

15. I read a lot. Usually, I read about 2-3 books a week, whether it's audiobook, e-book or a physical book.

16. Keeping with reading, my favorite series is Harry Potter, and I'm a Hufflepuff.

17. I'm allergic to pretty much everything.

18. I hate uncovered windows. Like, when people don't have any blinds/curtains and you can see directly into their house. Makes me cringe.

19. I was attacked by a cat when I was little and received multiple scars, one being on my forehead and I call it my Harry Potter scar.

20. If I had to describe myself as one character, I'd pick Daria.

21. I'm always confused for being at least 5-10 years younger than I actually am.

22. I hate driving.

23. I have really bad anxiety and have had it since I was young. I have good days and bad days, but it's something I try to not let define me, it's only a little part of who I am.

24. I'm always freezing.

25. I'm the worst sleeper. Ever since I was young, I just could never sleep. I usually only get around 4-5 hours of sleep a night.

26. I'm super clumsy.

27. I love being at home. Seriously, give me a blanket, pajamas, and my couch and I'm the happiest gal.

28. I can quote a ton of movies.

29. I judge people based off who their favorite Batman is. (It's Michael Keaton. Or Kevin Conroy.)

30. I'm super tiny and even have to sit on a pillow while driving.

There you go! Hope you learned something fun about me, lemme know something about you!