Monday, September 25, 2017

Blogger Pen Pals

Hi Friends! I hope that you had a great weekend!

Today I'm sharing that Steph has started a super fun blogger pen pal group!


Do you dream of penning letters like the Bennett sisters, the March girls, or anyone else EVER featured in an old book?


Do you like snail mail?

Can you handle sending 1-3 pieces of mail per month (choosing on a monthly basis)?

You should join us! Let us know and we will invite you via Facebook. Don't use Facebook? No worries, you can still participate.


So far Steph from Steph the Bookworm, Kelly from Noodle to the Rescue, Audrey from Life as Louise, Nadine from Life By Nadine, and Laura from Alabama + Graffiti have participated in the group!

I have loved getting to know these awesome ladies better via letters and cards. Plus it is always nice to have something other than bills and junk mail in our mailboxes!

Anyone want to join in?! We'd love to have you!

Snail Mail Forever! 

Alexandra

Friday, September 22, 2017

Have You Heard? // Glass Animals - "Agnes"

Happy Friday, Friends! I hope that you had an exciting week. Here things were calm, and it was so nice. :)


KC loooves Glass Animals, we saw them in Indiana a few years ago and it was great. I don't love their new albums as much, but I do really like this song.



When we downloaded it over a year ago, this song reminded me of fall. :)

I will say AGAIN how ready I am for fall.. it's been in the 90s this week. I AM SO SICK OF THIS HEAT. :( 

What are you up to this weekend?!

We have zero plans. Again! I'm hoping to read a lot (again), work on our second room (making a cozy reading corner), and do some finishing bits of NYC planning! I'm still trying to finish up some Netgalley reads, and making good progress... so I can request more! I read these three recently:  Girl off the Grid, The Yellow Envelope, and The Beautiful Ones... and they were all great in their own ways! :) 

Other Posts This Week: 10 Books I Read in 2016 That Are Still On My Mind and Travel Documenting Collaboration with Shea Lennon.

On YouTube This Week: 2017 Travel Album // New Orleans & May Days Process Video.

XO,

Alexandra

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Travel Documenting: Tips for Creating an Album You Love // With Shea Lennon

Back in July I had the opportunity to meet a blogger friend of mine IRL. Shea from Shea Lennon lives nearby and it was so fun to finally meet up! She had recently taken a family trip, and wanted to document it. So we got coffee (thanks for paying for mine when I forgot my new card, Shea!) and chatted about life and some methods for documenting it. :)



We decided to collaborate by each documenting our 2017 travels in an album and then sharing them with you guys! This is her very first PL album, and I'm super jazzed to share it with you guys! :) Here I'm sharing my album and tips, as well as what Shea would like to do differently next time. Make sure to hop over to Shea's post to see her album and what she learned during the process, and what I'd like to do differently next time!










My Travel Album Tips:

Simple is better!


For my own albums, I like keeping the embellishments simple. I want the focus to be on the photos. Which works out well, because it makes it less time consuming! I stuck to washi tape, white cardstock, and stamps for the most part with this album! I used a few cards here and there, but my use of stickers, 3D embellishments, alpha is low! I love how simple and cohesive it makes it look!

Hide your journalling, and still record the stories!


I do this in all my albums... but I don't always love the way my writing looks. I'm tempted not to journal at all, but telling those little stories is so fun. If you're like me and you don't want your writing front and center, hiding it on a tag or card behind a photo or in a pocket is a good way to go! I like to put a paper clip, tab, string, etc. on it sometimes to remind me that it's hiding there!

You won't love every page, and that's ok!

Not every page will turn out perfectly, not every page will be your favorite. Leave it alone and come back to it later, or don't. It doesn't need to be stunning. The most important part is documenting your memories! :)

Hang on to paper mementos!

When you travel, pick up business cards, maps, tickets, post cards, stickers, etc. and use them in your albums. You never know when you'll have a fun place to re-use those items. If I have any leftover, just stick them in an envelope/bag and punch holes in it. That way you can keep those extra items together. This is also a good place for extra photos if you've printed too many!

Interested in seeing the process for making these pages? Check out my full process video!



Ideas for Next Time:

I have these posted over in Shea's post, so go check out those ideas and her awesome Minneapolis travel album! I love how hers turned out and that she took the plunge in making her first album! 


Shea's Ideas for Next Time:

Hi Simply Alexandra readers! I'm Shea from Shea Lennon and I love to share posts about style, books, and life as a busy working mom on a budget. I'm new to Project Life but I had a lot of fun creating an album for our recent trip to Minneapolis. I'm happy with how it turned out, but there are a few things that I plan to do differently for my next album.

Be more intentional about choosing an album size. I honestly got so overwhelmed by all the albums out there that I got tired of looking and just grabbed one. I didn’t really consider what that would mean for the size of pages that would fit inside and, therefore, what size photos it would hold. It ended up working okay, but next time I may try a different size.

Take and print more photos. I wish I would have taken more photos of little, everyday moments on our trip. I'm glad I got some good destination photos, like our trip to the zoo and to Target field, but I wish I would have included more photos of meals we loved and random, funny pictures of the kids. I would rather have more to choose from and have extra photos than to feel like I didn't quite have enough.

Be a more thoughtful photographer. I don't like spending a vacation behind a camera (or, more likely, my iPhone), so I tried to quickly snap photos and be done with it. However, as a result I had a lot of photos that were poorly lit, had a lot of background clutter, and just in general were kind of crappy. In the future, I'd like to take just a few more seconds to make sure I'm getting a good photo before I start snapping. And then I'll put the phone away.

Take home free keepsakes to add to album. I wish I would have saved some restaurant menus, maps, and other free items from different destinations to add to my album. I will try to remember to do that on our next trip.

Again, go over and say hi to Shea, she's an awesome blogger, and her album is so much fun!

Overall, I'm really happy with how my New Orleans section of my album came together. It was a lot of fun to go back to a super simple documenting style! I'm enjoying documenting our Dakotas trip the same way, and NYC once we get home! :)

Anyone feel inspired?! Her album has me itching to document something else! :)

Thinking about taking the plunge to make your first album?! Check out:

Headed to NOLA Yourself?! Check out my recaps for recommendations: April 2017, January 2015, and March 2014.

See my 2016 travel sections: Houston & GalvestonSan FranciscoGeorgia,Nashville, and Las Vegas

Anyone taking a fun trip anytime soon? I'd love to live vicariously through you! :) 

XO,

Alexandra

Monday, September 18, 2017

10 Books I Read in 2016 That Are Still On My Mind // Bookworm

Sometimes there are books that just stick with you. There are some that you are stuck in for a week after finishing, and then there are the ones that creep back in much later and make you smile or think. These are some that are still making me smile and think a year later. :)



No Baggage: A Minimalist Tale of Love and Wandering by Clara Bensen

5 Stars | Non-Fiction / Travel / Memoir | Stand Alone

Quarter-life crisis + 13 day, 8 country trip + no baggage + OK Cupid met sort-of-kind-of-boyfriend. What a premise right? That was enough to get me invested. I found this to be really relate-able and personal to read. It was quick, it was funny, it was a good mix of non-fiction and fiction-like writing. I really enjoyed this one.

The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden*

4.5 Stars | Historical Fiction / Magical Realism / Fantasy / YA| First in a Series but could read as stand-alone

Pagan pasts and religious tensions meet in Northern Russia. Vasya is wild like her mother was, she's a bit of a disgrace to her new mother, but she might be what can save her home. This one is pretty hard to describe, but I just LOVED it. I recommend reading it in the winter, and expecting it to read like historical fiction + a bit of magical realism for the most part. They are releasing a sequel in January, but I think you could read it as a stand alone if you wanted to.

THE PUBLISHER GAVE ME A HARDBACK OF THIS BOOK AND THE ARC OF THE SEQUEL! Squee! I feel so cool. x_x

Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake 

4.5 Stars | Fantasy / Dystopian-ish / YA | First in a Series

Every generation triplets are born, each girl having a special ability. One is a poisoner, one is a naturalist, and the other is an elemental. They are split up to develop their gifts as young children, for when they are 16 they must battle to the death to determine the one true queen. This book is like The Hunger Games but with magic. Holy Toledo. The poisoner stuff is super awesome, and it ends in a crazy crazy twisty way. The sequel was just released and I've got it on hold at the library!

The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith (AKA JK Rowling)

4 Stars | Mystery | First in a Series but could read as stand-alone

A slow burn mystery with an intriguing detective that you can't help but feel for. It takes a while to get his backstory, but I'd rather read that slowly than not care about the lead character, you know? The mystery was detailed enough that I didn't know what would happen, and I wasn't bored.

Certain Dark Things by Silvia Moreno-Garcia*

4.5 Stars | Urban Fantasy /  Crime Drama / Dystopian / YA | Stand Alone

Don't write this one off because it has vampires. I'm serious. It's more about the dynamics between police/gangs/vampires in Mexico City. The world building is so crazy. It's a bit dystopian, and it's just fascinating! I loved that some of the characters had questionable motivation/alignment as well. Are they good? Are they bad? Are they doing the best they can in a tough situation?

Scarlet Trilogy by A.C. Gaughan

4.5 Star Series | Historical Fiction / Fairy Tale Retelling / YA | First in a Series

This series follows Robin Hood and his band of men, as they steal from the rich and give to the poor. However, one of his men is not a man at all. Scarlet disguises herself as Will Scarlet. When a thief catcher is hired from London, Scarlet knows just who he is, and just what it will mean for Nottingham. These read like action-packed historical fiction, and I loved the twist of Scarlet along with Rob's gang. This series does not falter, start to finish it is great to read. There isn't any magic in this one, it's just based on the original story.

Mara Dyer Trilogy by Michelle Hodkin

4 Star Series | Psychological Thriller / Paranormal Elements / YA | Series

These books follow Mara Dyer. She wakes up in a mental hospital not knowing how she got there, or that she's the only one who survived a building's collapse. Her friends are dead, her family is scared, so they move to Florida to start a new life. However, this is just the beginning of Mara's journey. I thought this trilogy was very suspenseful and interesting. You never know what is going on, which is a lot of fun. Each book has a bit of a different feel to it. The last one was not quite as strong as the others. There was a weak patch, but overall I still enjoyed the series a lot. There is a spin-off series coming out soon, which I am interested in reading. Please give it to me Netgalley!! :)

Anna and the French Kiss Series by Stephanie Perkins

4 Star Series | Contemporary / YA / Romance | First in a series but could read as a standalone

Each book is about a different quirky high school girl, and the boy that catches her interest. These don't really hinge on one another, but there are some little overlaps within the books/characters. The last one was by far my favorite, but I think I just related to those characters more than the others. While I don't generally gravitate toward books that take place in high school, these felt different because they were more about their other experiences, and were also set in interesting settings like Paris and San Francisco. They were all really cute. I highly recommend if you enjoy contemporary YA, these are super feel-good.

Dumplin' by Julie Murphy

5 Stars | Contemporary / YA | Might be a series someday...? Can read as standalone.

This book follows Willowdean, a "self-proclaimed fat girl," living in Texas with her former pageant queen mother. This book is a sweet coming of age novel, with body positivity to-boot. I can tell you that I am not overly interested in pageants, Texas, high school set books, etc. but this book was fantastic. It oozes charm, the characters are colorful, and it makes you root for everyone involved.

The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer

4 Star Series | Sci-Fi / Dystopian / Fairy Tale Retelling | Series

This series is set in the future where the Earth and the moon (Luna) are inhabited. Androids live among humans, there is an epidemic sweeping the Earth, and tensions are high between Earth and Luna. These books follow 4 heroines as they fight for a better world. These are based upon the fairy tales Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel, and Snow White respectively. I have not read the companion short stories, etc. yet, but I really enjoyed the series. And that's saying something because I don't normally love Sci-Fi.

What are some books you read last year that have stuck with you? I'd love to know!

HOW DO YOU RATE #.5 STAR BOOKS?!?!?! Do you round them up?!

XO,

Alexandra


*This title was given to me by Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. These reviews are my own opinion, and based on the edition of the book I was given at the time. Thank you Netgalley!

Friday, September 15, 2017

Have You Heard? // Lord Huron - "The Night We Met"

Happy Friday friends! I hope that you had a great week. Here it was a pretty good week! I had a few icky brain days (you know when you just feel weird all day long but you don't know what's wrong..?) But that's ok, it was mostly good. I got to read a lot, go to a craft night, and do some NYC planning with KC. Getting so pumped. Also we have a hotel now... so we won't be sleeping in the park. :P


Today I'm sharing this song that I've been hearing for months, and it just reminds me so much of fall. I love it so much. KC says it makes him sad, but he still likes it. It reminds me of the vibe I get from the New Moon soundtrack, which is one of my favorites. :)



What do you think? Apparently this is in 13 Reasons Why... Didn't know. Makes me think I may need to check out other tracks featured in the show! For the record.. the song IS sad. But I like it.

Is anyone else beyond ready for fall?!!?! I have bought all of the fall things recently. Love it! :)

What are you up to this weekend?!

We have zero plans. Le gasp! I'm hoping to make some more videos before my video editor goes away forever. Sad face. And then download them all to my computer. I also hope to read a lot, work on our second room (making a cozy reading corner), and do some more NYC planning! I'm trying to finish up some Netgalley reads so I can request more!

Other Posts This Week: August Reads & 2016 Project Life Album // Vol. II.

On YouTube This Week: 4x6 2 Hour Album Process Video, Fall Haul! & Spring Days 2017 Process Video.

XO,

Alexandra

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

2016 Project Life Album (Part II) // Documenting

In December... I decided to do a 2016 Monthly Project Life Album. Maybe it's because I got a lot of documenting gifts, or because I also bought myself a lot of things...? Either way, I had a blast going back through my year and documenting it. I just finished the full album in May, so I'm excited to share the photos and (much shorter!) videos with you!

Check out Part I, here.

Part II - April - June























I love how these pages turned out, I loved making the shaker pockets to begin each month. The April one was really fun with peach to lilac ombre paper used with a punch to make little blossom confetti. So pretty! 

I made quite a few pockets this time that were an envelope with something on the front (a card or other paper memorabilia) and then put the over-printed photos from and event or extra paper items inside the envelope. That really helped save some space and also mix up the book. Everything is not in a page protector, and you can open it up and explore it which is fun! :) 

Check out the videos to see all the pages and hear some of the details on the products/events that happened in early 2016. :)

Videos

April


May



June



I had so much fun making this album (well.. 2 because... too many pages! LOL), I can't wait to show you guys the rest as the year goes on. :)

See the first Part I of this album, here.

To see the videos as they publish, consider following me on Youtube! :) 

How do you guys feel about glitter? I love it, but KC calls it the STD of Christmas... lol. 

Have you ever started a project WAY after the fact?

XO,

Alexandra

Monday, September 11, 2017

August Reads // The Month I Fangirled So Hard

Happy Monday Friends! I hope that you had a great weekend! 

I am so excited because I READ AND READ AND READ IN AUGUST. The last few of these I read over Labor Day weekend, so I'm just putting them in here as well.) Woohoo!


Two "quick" notes on reading: 

1) I read for enjoyment. Not to say that I don't read to explore, learn, grown, etc. etc. but I primarily read for enjoyment. I shouldn't have to tell y'all this... because I'm usually reading YA, fantasy, etc. genres that many people make fun of. It's cool. You don't need to like it at all, but I certainly do. I think everyone should read what they like! If they want to explore things they don't like, that's cool too. But lets not book shame each other! :) So go ahead and tell us about your Nick Sparks, your Kardashian bio, your torture-y crime drama, or smutty romance novel. I'm not going to judge your reading habits and interests. You do you, boo. 

2) I've noticed lately that there is a LOT LOT LOT of book hate on Sarah J. Maas and her books (and others in the genre). I've read up on some of it, and I get where some of the concerns are coming from, I don't expect everyone to love it, I don't expect everyone to be happy with changes she makes based on her reader's feedback, I want to see more diversity in books and in authors too, but you guys, let's be nice! No one who reads a book thinks it is perfect, or if they do, it is very rare, so take it with a grain of salt, always! Anyone interested in having a discussion on diversity in fiction/fantasy/sci-fi? I'd love to know what y'all think, KC and I talked and talked over our lunch today about it. But again, as long as we are being respectful. (silly that I have to say this 5 times, right?)

Those two things being said, if you'd like to share your opinions on SJM's books, or any other books, or issues related to representation, etc. Please feel free. But please be nice and constructive about it. Let's not berate one another. Ok?

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

4 Stars - I recommend if you enjoy YA fiction and coming of age stories. Especially if you have a penchant for anything "nerdy". Even if you don't, I think this book will be enjoyable.

This book follows Cath as she begins her post-high school life. She and her twin sister, her and Wren have always stuck together, and they are not going to be roommates at college. Cath has to figure out how to navigate college alone. New roommates, new roommates' boyfriends, new classes, and how to keep up with her old life. She's worried about her dad all alone, and she's got to keep up with her fanfiction. She's got thousands of followers hanging on her every word. She escapes into her fanfiction world, but she has to find the cut off point. When is it more important to take a risk in real life vs. in the world you're writing?

I thought that this book was really cute and fun to read. I really enjoyed Cath and the other characters as well. I feel like a lot of what she goes through is pretty normal for college, and relateable to read. I didn't expect to enjoy the fanfiction part, but I really did. I definitely shipped those characters (Simon and Baz), and I really want to read Carry On (Rowell's book related to their story). I liked that this book wasn't all fanfiction, it wasn't all fun, it wasn't all drama either. It was a nice mix of all of it. 

I only have a few complaints: 1) the ending felt rushed. The last few chapters were a blur... skipping from one scene to the next. And then it just... ended. I wanted more of a resolution! 2) Levi is not a very realistic character to me. He's adorable. Don't get me wrong.. .but I basically grew up in the same world as Levi. Tiny town, middle of the Midwest, Ag. is king. I went to school with a million kids who lived on a farm. Obviously, I don't know everything about everyone, for sure. But most of the boys that I knew who fell into this category would never ever ever be so open minded (at least at this age!), they wouldn't act so bohemian, they wouldn't get into fanfiction about two male characters and their romantic relationship, they wouldn't likely even give Cath the time of day (because she's too "quirky" or "weird"). They likely wouldn't go to college unless they needed to, and if they did, they certainly wouldn't live in a house with tons of roommates, incense, and work at Starbucks to pay tuition. I realize that there has to be SOMEONE out there like this... but based on where I grew up, and the boys I knew who sort of fit the life that Levi had.... none of them that I know are like him. I guess that's just a mini rant.. because it's too bad that he doesn't seem realistic to me. But he doesn't. Not sure if any of that makes sense. But I wanted to type it down. LOL I'm also guessing that most of you won't feel this way, it's very specific to where I grew up, lol!

Anyhow, bottom line, it's super cute. Go read it!

30 points - Erin's 7.0

Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan

2.5 - 3 Stars - I recommend this book if you enjoy contemporary fiction, with a secret society, solve the code, kind of vibe to it. It is very light hearted.

This book follows Clay, a young man in need of a job. The recession has hit, and he finally finds a new place of employment: Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore. He quickly notices that this is not just any bookstore. There a frantic customers who request books from the "way back list", and check them out with special member cards. Clay investigates what's going on in the bookstore with his muti-talented friends. What is Mr. Penumbra up to?

I had a hard time getting into this book. I liked the setting and quirky characters, which made it quick enough to read... but all of the tech-related descriptions really through off the flow of the book for me. I'm not a techy person. Normally a book with codes and secret societies might be just a little bit serious or dark. This book is neither, which made the mystery seem a bit unimportant. I didn't find myself caring what the society was up to. I also didn't love the fact that most of the early on pieces of the puzzle are solved by using power technology. I'd rather read about clever people who know clever things and solve clever puzzles. Not because they have access to Google's super computers. So, toward the end, it got a bit more interesting to me. There was a bit less of the technology, but it took too long for me to fully appreciate it. I did enjoy the characters through the end, and things related to the bookstore itself. By the time I got to the end of the book, I wasn't invested in the mystery, and then when everything was revealed, it felt anticlimactic. I think I'm in the minority on this one, but it just wasn't my jam. I would rather have read about Clay and the quirky people he observes in the bookstore. 

10 points - Erin's 7.0

The Little Book of Hygge by Miek Wiking

5 Stars - I recommend if you enjoy learning about other cultures, happiness, and practical ways to add that culture and methods of happiness to your own life. 

This little non-fiction book covers the increasingly popular topic of hygge (pronounced HOOGA). Hygge is best translated into one English word as the concept of "coziness" or "hominess". Miek Wiking is the CEO of the Happinesss Institute in Denmark, where Danes are consistently ranked the happiest nation in the world. Wiking gathers his knowledge of happiness, hygge, and Danish traditions to help others around the world add a little hygge to their own lives.

I'd been wanting to read this book for so long, I find the concept of hygge really interesting. The people of Denmark deal with dark, cold winters and superhigh taxes, but are still the happiest in the world?! Fascinating. Reading this book, I felt like I got a peek into hygge and some practical ideas to channel a little hygge in my own home. I enjoyed the conversational writing style, the humor, and the different ways he explained hygge. From giving examples of times in his own life that were hyggelig, to explaining things you can do and try to make your own life more hyggelig, even down to including recipes, crafts, and activities to try on your own. While this book was covered many areas of hygge, I always like as many actionable ideas as possible. So I will probably continue reading about hygge. There are so many books anymore! Anyhow, I really enjoyed this intro to hygge, and I can't wait to try out the ideas and make our home more cozy!

Confession: I HAVE NEVER, EVER, EVER, EVER FANGIRLED OVER ANYTHING SO HARD AS THIS SERIES. Outlander (remember this post?) was pretty darn close... and might tie this once I read more of the books... 

A Court of Thorns & Roses by Sarah J. Maas *re-read*

5 Stars - I HIGHLY recommend if you enjoy fantasy, action/adventure, and a bit (lot?) of romance.

This book follows Feyre (Fay Ruh), the main provider for her family. When she kills a wolf in the forest one day, she does not know that a price must be paid. When someone comes to claim her, she must learn to survive in a different world, with different dangers. (I don't like to give the plot away too much on this one!)

This is my first ever re-read on my blog. Probably also just in general (in the recent past), I'm not one to re-read. However, I recommended this book to SO many friends, let them borrow it, etc. that they have now all read the whole trilogy... and want to talk about it... and I'd only read the first one. LOL. So I started over, because I couldn't remember enough of how I felt about the characters. I NEED TO KNOW. Because I loved the first book so much, I didn't want to forget my feelings before starting in on #2 and #3. After the second read, I can say without a doubt, that this is still a 5 star, favorite book. I love it so much. It has all of the things that make reading fun for me. Intrigue, action, adventure, romance, incredible world building, and page-turning suspense. I loved this so much the second time around, and immediately started in on the second one. :) If you read this/have read this and took some issues with some of the themes... stick with it. She addresses a lot of it in the second book!

A Court of Mist & Fury by Sarah J. Maas

5 Stars - O. M. G. - I HIGHLY recommend if you enjoy fantasy, action/adventure, and romance.

Feyre's story continues in the second volume of this triology. No spoilers from me. 

I HAVE SO MANY FEELINGS. This book was hella intense in SO MANY WAYS. I wasn't shocked until the very very end, but I was definitely interested. There is more great world building, some excellent character development (new and old), really cool settings, steamy romance that puts the first book to shame (TO SHAME!), and lots of magic/fighting/battles/adventures, etc. etc. While this book is extremely long (690-some pages) I read almost all of it in one day. I kid you not. SO GOOD.

30 Points - Erin's 7.0

A Court of Wings & Ruin by Sarah J. Maas

4.5 Stars - I recommend if you enjoy fantasy, action/adventure, and romance. And if you've read the rest of the series.

Feyre's story continues in the third/final volume of this triology. No spoilers from me. 

Again, I have a lot of feelings. Keep in mind... I had been reading for 6... or so days, straight-ish. Obviously I went to work guys... The second book was SO good, that it almost doomed this one. Don't get me wrong, it wasn't bad by any means. But you know how Return of the King is no one's favorite LOTR? This one likely won't be anyone's favorite of Court. Just because last installment means wrapping things up, means battles and strategy, means... all that junk. Which is totally interesting, but not quite as much fun as the middle. Everyone likes The Two Towers better, and you know it. All that being said, this is a great last book to the series, I like how things wrapped up, I had some OMG moments, some teary ones, etc. This book is less steamy than the others, but you know, war. LOL. Overall I HIGHLY recommend this series if you enjoy fantasy!

++if anyone wants to read spoiler-y or full thoughts on these books, just shoot me an email. I don't want to spoil anything for anyone.++

+++I definitely bought the coloring book, because I am just TRASH for this series.+++

East by Edith Pattou

4 stars - I recommend if you enjoy epic adventure novels (think long spans of time and space), as well as fantasy elements. 

This book follows Rose, who was born facing North, by her mother's superstitions that predestines her to be wild and always seeking adventure. Fearing that life for her, she lies, and says she was born facing East, meaning she will be level headed and happy at home. However, Roses's destiny will be that of a North child, and everything sets into motion one day when a white bear comes to take her away from her home. Rose must leave with the white bear, figure out his curse, and then journey to the ends of the earth to save him.

I didn't know what to expect from this one, but I really enjoyed it. It was different from most fantasy that I read, in that it was much more-so adventure based than fantasy element based. I loved that Rose goes on a journey across Europe to save the white bear. Think, Stardust or LOTR (long treks, lots of interactions with different people, etc.) I love how much research Pattou put into the cultures of the people Rose interacts with, as well as specific methods behind things mentioned in the book. I felt like I learned so much about all kinds of interesting topics like: early navigation tools, Inuit culture and customs, sailing, weaving, etc. etc. It was really fascinating. I thought that this book was also fun in the way that it was written. I loved the vivid descriptions of the landscapes, etc. I also enjoyed that this was written in alternating perspectives by chapter, but that it was still chronological. I did find that I wasn't quite as connected to Rose and the White Bear as I could have been... possibly because of the alternating perspectives? I found the very end to be a bit anticlimactic.. (I won't spoil it) ...but overall I really loved this story! I know several of you are reading this for Erin's challenge, so I will be super interested to see what you thought!

20 points - Erin's 7.0

A Man Called Ove by Fredrick Backman

4 stars - I recommend this one if you enjoy humorous comparisons, grumpy characters, and things that will tug at your heart strings.

This book follows an "old" man called Ove. He's got an opinion on just about everything and everyone, and he's not afraid to share it. His neighbors are idiots, Japanese cars are for idiots, and no one knows how to do anything, anymore. As the story unfolds you'll learn about Ove's past, and watch his character develop.

This book... gosh this book got me. I have a hard time with anything involving the elderly. I just get SO sad. I think it's probably because my grandpa passed away quite young due to Alzheimer's. I can't watch Up. NEVER EVER EVER again, I just never stopped crying. You get the idea. So even though Ove is not very old, only 59, it took me a while to get through this one. It just hurt a lot to read. All of that being said, it's not all sad, and it's not even mostly sad... this is just a personal issue that I struggle with. I thought Backman's writing was stunning and hilarious. I particularly enjoyed his comparisons. I liked how the pieces of the story and the characters intertwined as the book went on. Like I said above, this will really tug at your heart strings.

The Falconer by Elizabeth May

4 Stars - I recommend if you enjoy fantasy, adventure, steampunk, and strong female characters.

Aileana Kameron is the most eligible lady in Edinburgh. After her mourning of her mother's death comes to a close, she is sent back out into society to find a husband. However, hunting faeries makes it quite difficult to concentrate on polite conversation and dancing with her many suitors. By night, Aileana slays faeries with the help of Kiaran McKay, practice to one day avenge her mother's death. What he doesn't know... is that she's been dangerously hunting them alone as well. What she doesn't know... is that she's a part of something much bigger than her own quest for revenge.

I didn't know what to expect with this one, but I found it really quite delightful. I thought that the setting was really interesting, and the steam punk elements were really fun. I've only read one other steampunk book, so I say that as an outsider. I love, love, loved that Aileana is an inventor, and that she designed and invented things with her mother. I think that's so interesting and fun. I loved that this was action packed, and there was a bit of romance, but not too much. I particularly enjoyed the various scenes where she battled alongside Kiaran or Gavin. I liked that we get a taste of the larger "world" this story is set in, without losing the current setting. 

The Vanishing Throne by Elizabeth May

3.75 Stars - I recommend if you enjoy fantasy, adventure, and strong female characters, and if you've read the first book.

Aileana's adventure against evil continues. (I don't want to spoil anything!)

While I enjoyed this book and the continuation of Aileana's story, I was initially thrown off, and overall a little bummed to lose the setting of the first book. I won't spoil anything for you guys, but I missed the dichotomy of her character's life, and I really really missed her inventions, tinkering, and the bits of steampunk woven into the first book. I also felt like when the setting changed... the world went from being the size of a pond (with potential to unfold) to the size of the Pacific. It was just a bit jarring since I read them one after the next. All that being said, I did enjoy this book, and I found parts of it to be really satisfying. I enjoyed some of the new characters that were introduced, and learning more about the larger world the story is set in. Overall this book had a more dystopian vibe than the other one.

The Fallen Kingdom by Elizabeth May*

4 Stars - I recommend if you enjoy fantasy, adventure, and strong female characters, and you've read the other books.

Aileana's battle against evil continues. (I don't want to spoil anything!)

I wasn't sure how the last book would go after such a big change between books 1 and 2, but I thought that this was an extremely satisfying conclusion to the series. I thought that the plot was strong, the adventure was interesting, and that the resolution was clean and satisfying. I thought that the explanation of the world, the character's back stories, and the end goal was a lot clearer than the second book. I still really missed the element of invention and steampunk that were featured in the first book... but I did like this one quite a bit better than the 2nd. I like how this series continued to show strong female characters, and their struggles. Interestingly enough, this volume of the book had a much more horror-y vibe to it.

Currently Reading:



A Fork in the Road edited by James Oseland
In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
Be Your Own Fairytale: Working with Storytelling for Positive Life Change by Alison Davies*

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll

Books on Deck:


I've been reading loads of fantasy, (and also ACoMaF just ruined things by being so good..) so I am hoping to take a bit of a break from it, and read some contemporary, thrillers, etc. before I dive back in!



Everything to finish Erin's Challenge:

Shotgun Love Songs by Nikolas Butler
Looking for Alaska by John Green


and then... :

Love, Rosie by Cecelia Ahern
The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins - I know... latest to the party.
The Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
Tell Me Where it Hurts by J.R. Rogue - poetry!
Emma in the Night by Wendy Walker*
Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly*
The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton
Truthwitch & WindWitch by Susan Dennard

Erin's 7.0 Point Total: 135 - just 3 books to go! WOOHOO!

Linking up with Jana and Steph for Show Us Your Books tomorrow. :) 

What have you been reading? What do you hope to read this month?! 

Let's be friends on Goodreads!

XO,

Alexandra

* Asterisks denote titles that I was given advance access to by Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. These reviews are my own opinion, and based on the edition of the book I was given at the time. Thank you Netgalley!

Friday, September 8, 2017

Have You Heard? // Taylor Swift - "... Ready For It?"

Happy Friday Friends! I hope you had a great (short) week! :) I had a great week... I read... a lot of books, got to watch The Hobbit (for the millionth time), and did some more project life! :) That's pretty much an ideal week for me! hahah



Taylor Swift has dropped another song, and the comments on my last T-swift post were just too too fun. LOL. I share your sentiments on her maturity, etc. But I still can't help but enjoy her music. hehe Back in May or maybe June I joked to KC that she was working on a rap album. Well... this one has some rapping... talk/singing in it. ha. I think this one is a lot more catchy and also, it makes since to be more of a single.



At first I wasn't sure about it, but I actually really like it. It's so so so so so catchy. Can't help but think about the lyrics... yikes. It's a bit threatening... knowing her music. Look out whoever you are!!! hahaha but I still like it. :)



FWIW "Look What You Made Me Do" has definitely grown on me as well.. have you seen that video you guys?! It's nuts! I also have to give it to her, I like that she doesn't take herself seriously all of the time. With all of the Taylor cameos in the video it's pretty funny to me, and I like that she's making fun of herself. Anyhow, I think after about 3 listens, I was way more on board with it. I never seem to love the singles when they come out, but they do grow on me pretty quickly. I didn't love "We Are Never Getting Back Together" or "Shake it Off" at first either.


Also, pretty excited because I ordered this shirt and I think it is priceless. LOL, the best part is that the shirt itself is called "blameless" lolololololol Photo via Passive Juice Motel. Love their shirts, but these will be my first ones, KC has tons!

Alright, what do you think of these songs now that you've had a bit more time?

What are you up to this weekend?!

We are planning to get our first cider donuts of the season at the farmer's market, and also to get waffles... because The Waffle Iron is having a pop up! :) Other than that we will see. Probably more project life and reading! Ooh and more of The 100. We're hooked.

Other Posts This Week: Snapshots of Fargo, ND and Eight Months In // 2017 Goal Progress.

On YouTube This Week: June 2016 Album Flip Through and Hello April 2017 Process Video.

XO,

Alexandra