Thursday, September 19, 2019

Keep It Together // September 2019

Whoops! Sorry guys, I had a little bit of a glitch over here this morning!

Hello friends! It's Keep It Together day!! It has been a fun documenting month around here, and I am excited to share what I have been up to! :)

I am excited to post today with Lauren at Shooting Stars Mag for our Keep It Together linkup!

If you're new here, this is our linkup for all things planners, memory keeping, and journalling. Please feel free to join us on the third Thursday of the month with any posts that fall into those categories! :)



Planning:

I have still been enjoying my ECLP! I mentioned last time that I have been loving my new pens. I still am! Today I wanted to show how I have been using my blank pages in the back to track my ARC reading! :) 




I have been adding ARCs by publish date, and grouping them by color. As other reviewers know, you might get an ARC that has already been published, or finally get approved at the last second... so it isn't a fully organized list, but it's close. I then put an "N" for Netgalley, "A" for Author, or "F" for Penguin First to Read. Then I check them off once they are finished. I do put the dates in my weekly spreads too, but this is a quick way to see which ARCs will be publishing soon. I love adding book washi tape or sticker and business cards related to library or book events to make the page a little bit more interesting.

Documenting:

Boston Album:


I'm working on my Boston & NE Road Trip album. It is a TN size, and I am having fun documenting this trip finally. I feel like I'm "catching up" a bit, but really I'm just having fun and getting to what I get to. Which has been key in my experience documenting! hahaha I recently finished up my Salem, MA sections, and started on the portion of our trip where we went to Maine! 





I am loving adding in paper ephemera from our trip (maps, brochures, stickers, etc.) to remember the trip by and to have less trash to throw away. I think it is coming together really well... though I ran out of room and don't have another notebook that is exactly the same size.. whoops! I guess I need to make one now.




Lastly, I got a letter punch board and am having fun punching out words in my albums. I used it to punch out PORTLAND on one of my Maine pages! :) 


Another Giveaway Album:

I am working on a giveaway album for my second YouTube winner, Hallie. We went to high school together and I am super excited to make her a little album! :)

What's Next?!

I am still working on what I want to do for 2019 documenting... ooof. I need to get going because I am readddyy for October-December Daily! :) / I'm very "behind" Lol. That is the way of documenting.You just have to do it when you feel like it and you have time.

CLASSES / Album Sales: I also heard from the library that I can hold scrapbook classes and open scrapbook times at the library! So I am hoping to get something going for that here pretty soon! :) I am also thinking about making mini albums from certain collections (Halloween, travel, various generic Maggie Holmes collections) and selling them for people to put their photos/journalling into. Thoughts?!

Have you been working on any documenting?

Would you or anyone you know be interested in buying a little blank album to add details to?

Please feel free to linkup with us below! We'd love to see what you are up to!

XO,

Alexandra

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!
Click here to enter

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

August 2019 Reads // Finally Some 5 Star Reads!

Happy Book Day, friends!! I have surpassed my reading goal for the year and am feeling good! :)




The Flat Share by Beth O'Leary library, ebook

3.5 Stars - I recommend if you enjoy sweet contemporary romance with quirky characters.

Tiffy's boyfriend has cheated on her and now she needs to find a place to live. London is expensive, and she considers her best option a Flatshare. She would share a 1-bedroom apartment and bed with her roommate, and they would never cross paths due to different working schedules. Leon just needs to make some money from the flatshare so that he can pay his brother's lawyer, and get him out of jail. Through a series of many post-it notes, scraps of paper, and notes throughout the apartment the two get to know each other, but still haven't met in person. What will happen when they finally meet face-to-face.

I thought this was really sweet. I loved the quirky and endearing characters! Leon and Tiffy were both so unique and adorable. The notes were so sweet and all of Leon’s patients were too. I liked seeing how their relationship unfolded in notes, and then in person. It felt so gradual and natural. The book overall felt just a little bit long. I struggled with the manipulative boyfriend because of some personal stuff... so it was a little triggery for me. Overall I enjoyed it. The quirkiness reminded me a little of Josh and Hazel. I definitely recommend if you are looking for a mostly sweet quirky romance.


Forbidden by Beverly Jenkins library, physical book


3 Stars - I might recommend if you enjoy historical romance.


After Eddy's parents die she and her sister are left to fend for themselves. Eddy decided to cook and wash and save up money to move to California and open her own restaurant. When her money and train ticket are stolen her plans take a turn for the worst, and she must rely on the kindness of strangers to make her way West. When she is robbed yet again and left for dead in the desert she is rescued by Rhine Fontine, and nursed back to health. Rhine is the son of a slaver and slave woman, but appears white to the untrained eye. He has made a new life for himself in Utah as a white man, and tries to advocate for the colored community. When he meets stubborn and driven Eddy she will make him question his decision to cross the line.


I’m a sucker for old west plots and/or this time period, so I wanted to give this book a try. I appreciated the diversity in this particular story and the history that was so thoroughly included by the author. I thought this story was quite sweet and reminded me a bit of When Calls the Heart or something in that vein, though it does get a little bit R-rated. I thought that Eddy was a fantastic character. She was very independent and hard working, I loved her journey as a cook and building her life in Utah. Rhine was an interesting character too. I thought that their chemistry was great in the beginning and from time to time, and I love that she turns him down over and over (especially when he is engaged to another!). She's really fiery and doesn't let him call the shots. Overall I felt like some of the plot threads were built up and then dropped a little bit, and I did wish that they had more of a connection. It is also always a bit jarring when there are some steamy scenes... but then the bigger ones fade to black. I don't care if a romance is "proper" or not, but it is confusing to have so much back and forth. Overall I enjoyed this, but didn't like it quite as much as I had hoped.

Bringing Down the Duke by Evie Dunmore*** ARC, ebook


4.5 Stars - I highly recommend if you enjoy historical romance with modern characters.


Annette has been given a scholarship by the Suffragists of London to study at Oxford's women's college. In order to accept the scholarship she must help the group petition wealthy men to support the married women's property act of 1870.When Annette unknowingly approaches The Duke of Montgomery, her group is shocked by her audacity, and then uses it to their advantage by having her get close to him to endear him toward their cause. Sebastian Montgomery immediately dislikes the beautiful Annette and assumes she is his brother's mistress. Conflict ensues, and they must play nice in order to appease polite society. However, Annette is not a lady, she's a girl from the country, and all bets are off.


I LOVED THIS BOOK SO MUCH. This had the fun feel of other modern historicals (think Tessa Dare, etc.) but it was not quite so funny or whimsical. I liked that while the characters were modern, the world was still very old fashioned, and therefore there was a lot of brooding and intensity. I thought that Annette and Sebastian had fantastic chemistry.It was quite swoony. I liked that they were both dealing with their own issues and their life circumstances which meant that they didn't relent from their ideals/morals/dreams as the story went on. I found all of the side characters very endearing. I am hoping that this becomes a series of books, because I would love to know more about her various suffragette friends, and Sebastian's brother. I also adored that the female friendships were so tight, not judgmental, and so focused on supporting one another. I am so tired of reading books where women don't like each other and see each other as competition. :) 


The Wallflower Wager by Tessa Dare own, physical book


4 Stars - I recommend if you enjoy historical romance with modern characters. This is the third book in the series. I highly recommend that you start with book one because they are all SO GOOD.


Lady Penelope Campion (Penny) has spent her life taking care of wounded and unwanted animals. She has a two legged dog, an abandoned otter pup, a hedge hog, a parrot that says obscene things, and a smattering of other animals. When Gabriel Duke, also known as The Duke or Ruin buys the house next to hers to refurbish and sell to the aristocrats, he'll need to get rid of her animals, and Penny's eccentricity. Penny is being forced out of London by her family unless she can put herself back into society, with a new wardrobe, and get rid of her animals. When Gabriel demands that she get rid of her animals, she promises too, ONLY if he can find them good and loving homes.


This book was so cute! I am always amazed at Tessa Dare’s ability to take timely issues (and less "issues" like you know, like pockets in dresses...today and put them into her historical plots. Her characters and their lives feel so modern despite the fact that the books are set in the past. I ADORED any time any number of the group was together. Adorable banter. It reminded me a bit of the group from the ACoTaR series. They just argue and give each other hell and it is incredibly endearing. I particularly loved the way Ash and Chase got on with Gabriel. Too funny. I thought that the romance was really nice. The banter and chemistry between them was great and I loved their contrasting personalities so much. A woman who loves everything and is sweet as can be, and a man who is grump grump grumpy and has never loved anyone or anything. I also loved how much emphasis there was on consent in this book. Yes. Yes. Amen, Tessa Dare. And that Penny made her own decisions and really knew her mind. We need more heroines like this!


The Love Solution by Ashley CroftARC, ebook


DNF - Mayyyybe 2 Stars - I wouldn't recommend this one. I rarely DNF netgalley books... but I was really bored with this one. :( 


Sarah and Molly are close after the deaths of their parents. Sarah put her plans to go to art school on hold to help Molly finish high school. Molly is now a scientist working on a top-secret project with her attractive new boss. Sarah has just found out that she's pregnant when her long-term partner leaves her. She must pick herself up and figure out how to make a life in a new place, with a baby, and no support of the baby's father. She wonders if Molly's top secret project "the love bug", a hormonal attraction drug, might be the answer to making the baby's dad come back to her.

This was just a kind of off for me. It had cute/funny moments, but felt a bit like a British Hallmark movie but steamier. Honestly, it took forever to get towards an interesting part of the plot. I DNFd at 55% because Sarah still hadn't asked Molly for the top secret drug. ... and it was just boring. I didn't want to spend another 3 hours finishing it. It's a bummer, it sounded cute and I love the cover, but the characters weren't very compelling to me and it was much too slow.

Fix Her Up by Tessa Bailey library, physical book


4.5 Stars - I recommend if you enjoy contemporary romance. This one is really steamy. Proceed with caution.


Georgie is the baby of the family, she's decided against joining the family business, and decided to be a birthday clown for children. She loves her job, but it doesn't help people take her more seriously or treat her as an adult. When her childhood crush, her brother's best friend Travis comes back to town after ending his baseball career with an injury, she's determined not to be seen as a little kid anymore. Travis is washed up, and out of motivation. Georgie is the only one who tells it like it is, and kicks him out of his sorry mood. The two form an unlikely agreement to form a fake relationship to make her seem more like an adult, and him seem more like a *responsible* adult in order to gain a commentating job. Will their fake relationship work?


When they call Tessa Bailey the queen of dirty talk they were not lying. Holy Toledo. Proceed with caution if you are not looking for something super steamy. At first I was a bit hesitant because Northeastern city small town bars, beer, and their less-than-charming-expressions is not usually my thing. HOWEVER, this one worked for me. I ended up loving both Georgie and Travis, and was attached to both of them because there was SO MUCH depth with the characters. I thought that the romance was excellent and the steam level was off the charts. Also, don't read this while wearing a sweater. I repeat... so. much. dirty. talk. I also LOVE LOVE LOVED that the women in this book were so supportive of each other. There's kind of a catty moment between two characters, and it is acknowledged and resolved. That RARELY happens. Also, there is this great group that the girls in the book form which is amazing, and I love their friendships so much. Also, I can't wait to see what happens in the next book.


The Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young own, physical book


4 Stars - I recommend if you enjoy YA fantasy. This doesn't have magic in it, for those that might need to know that. ;) 


The Aska and the Riki serve different gods and have therefore been at war since ancient times. Many young people become warriors. Eelyn lost her brother and fighting partner several years ago, but when she sees him on the battlefield, and he saves her life, she knows it is not a figment of her imagination. She tracks him down and realizes that he is fighting for the Riki against her and the other Aska. As she confronts him she is taken prisoner by the Riki people, and made to live as their slave. As she gets to know them and her brother's life better, she comes to find that they aren't so different from the Aska after all, and they might have a common threat.


I enjoyed being swept up into this world. I thought that it was a little bit Viking-esque, and very beautifully simple. I enjoyed the lore involved in their gods and peoples, and their societies too. I found myself just enjoying the passages where they were doing very normal tasks. While the book was intriguing and enjoyable, I felt that the action occurred and was resolved fairly quickly, and I was left kind of wishing that I  had known a bit more about where certain plot threads went. I have the next book in this series/world, though I don't know if it will touch on those things. Overall this was really enjoyable, but I could have done with more action and depth.


Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston library, physical book


3-3.5 Stars - I recommend if you enjoy cute romances and a lot of politics.


Alex Claremont-Diaz is the son of the first female president of the United States. He's the golden boy of the white house and future political hopeful. He cannot stand Prince Henry of Wales, the very uptight prince, who he has been compared to basically his entire life. When a possible political scandal occurs, making the two look like they are fighting, they must form a fake long-term close friendship in order to save face. Along the way Alex realizes that maybe he doesn't hate Henry, maybe he actually quite likes him... and maybe he's not straight after all. Can the two work out a relationship despite their high profile political lives?


Sigh. I so wanted to LOVE this. I did enjoy it for so many reasons, but for others I just found it a bit boring. So... let's get into it. I adored Alex and Henry and their relationship. Going from enemies, to frenemies, to lovers was very cute. I loved their banter, sarcasm, and chemistry. I would say the steam level is fairly mid-range. Fairly explicit, but not overly descriptive, and definitely with shorter steamy scenes. I enjoyed Alex's relationship with his sister, his parents, and Nora, and all of the delightful extra side characters too. While I certainly agree with and feel inspired by the politics expressed in this book, and do not mind political opinions or jabs being put into fiction... (if ONLY the 2016 election had gone in such a way...) I don't particularly enjoy political *plots* in books. I just found it a bit dry. I didn't care too much about the intrigue related to campaigning and scandals and all that. I would say, that stuff is most of the book, and it just isn't my cup of tea. I will also say, probably because of the political plot... the book felt extra long. I didn't find myself wanting to keep reading it constantly, because I just wasn't very invested in the campaigning and election stuff. Hope that makes sense? I loved so many things about this book, but overall it just wasn't my kind of thing.


Pumpkinheads by Rainbow Rowell, Illustrated by Faith Erin Hicks  own, physical book

4 Stars - I recommend if you enjoy Rainbow Rowell, fall, and cute graphic novels.

Deja and Josiah work at the same pumpkin patch every fall. They've been friends for years, but only in the fall when they work together. This graphic novel follows their last night together before they graduate and head off to colleges next year. 

Ah friends, I love Rainbow Rowell. I haven't even read that many of her novels yet... but I just love her style. So I knew I would want to pick this one up, and that I would love it because it would be cute, and fun, and fall-ish. It delivered. 1) now I want to go to a pumpkin patch, real bad... 2) this is suuuper adorable. I loved the illustrations. I loved Deja and Josiah. I loved the shenanigans, and all the falls snacks. The attention to detail in the art is great, and I loved the funny little repeating quirks, like the goat that escapes. I wanted just a little bit more character development. I think maybe it felt just a *little* bit lacking because of the format, and because it is so short. But that's ok, its just that it's so good and I wanted MORE. ha If they decide to make more graphic novels, I will gobble them up. Fall pun not intended, but do with it what you will.

How to Love a Duke in Ten Days by Kerrigan Byrne* ARC, ebook


3.5- 4 Stars - I recommend if you enjoy historical romance with modern characters.

TW - Rape.


Alexandra Lane is a brilliant blue stocking who along with her friends Cecilia and Francesca, had decided never to marry. Her past holds trauma and a secret that haunts her days. She's not told them that she's now being blackmailed to cover up her secret, and her family is running out of money. When she meets Piers Atherton, The Duke of Redmayne, also known as "The Terror of Torcliff" she finds she's not entirely afraid of him. He baffles her, and she proposes marriage. He gets his heir, she gets his money and protection from her blackmailer. As they travel to a dig site in France, it's clear that she's in more danger than she expected, and she might have to tell Piers about her past.

This was my first novel by Kerrigan Byrne and I overall enjoyed it but had mixed feelings about part of the main conflict. I was VERY VERY on board with this book at the beginning. It took me a little while to get into the first chapter, set in the past containing the backstory of Alexandra and her friends as they formed The Red Rogue Society, and as she is raped and murders her rapist. It is essential to the plot of the story and the series as it bonds the women together and creates conflict in the present point of the story as well. Once I got into it I really loved Alexandra, Cecilia, and Francesca. I also enjoyed Piers and his general snark. I always appreciate a sort of snarly, wounded hero. I thought that his relationship with Alexandra was great... until the little spoilery conflict at about 40%. Then I was all snark and eye rolls. HIGHLIGHT FOR SPOILER The fact that he made such a big deal about her "not being a virgin" and acting like a petulant child really pissed me off. Especially because I don't think he cared whether or not she was actually a virgin, and so it felt like his character had a very weird shift, becoming incredibly moody about that fact and whether or not she was pregnant with another man's child. It didn't feel natural to me for his character. Also, it gave ME whiplash, so imagine how traumatic it must have been for the character Alexandra...Also, in modern day "intact" is not much of a thing as we know that something so simple as riding a bike can detach a hymen. I digress. Anyhow, once they were done being petulant, I thought that his behavior was rather endearingly protective and sweet once he knows what she has been through. Of course I don't usually like conflict due to miscommunication or lack of it altogether... but in this case it does make a bit of sense because of her trauma. But once all of that was resolved I enjoyed the story so much more. It was endearing, incredibly steamy, and the mystery was even good for me... and I'm generally bored with mysteries. I also loved the travel and adventure elements in this story. So, I think I will read more of her books and probably enjoy them quite a lot. I realize that the miscommunication was needed to keep the conflict a secret for longer, but it just didn't work for me.

The Little Women Cookbook: Tempting Recipes from The March Sisters and Their Friends and Family by Wini Moranville* ARC, ebook


5 Stars - I recommend if you enjoy Little Women and cooking. This would make an excellent gift.


A cookbook with recipes and tibits from the time period of Little Women. Moranville has spent time researching the foods mentioned in the book, and cookbooks written during the time period to share similar recipes to the ones Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy would have made and enjoyed. Some are updated versions for modern cooks, while others are fairly true to their 1800s recipes.


The cover drew me to this cookbook. The illustrations are absolutely darling, and made me want to dive back into the world of the March women. I love that the author of this book did a lot of research related to not only which dishes were mentioned in the book Little Women, but also into recipes from cookbooks written in that time period. While some of the recipes are updated for modern cooks and palates, some are also fairly true to their 1800s versions. I loved learning more about the world during the time of the book through tidbits of history and every day life that were shared in these pages. The excerpts from Little Women containing the particular dishes were also so sweet and brought a lot of nostalgia to the cookbook. I think that flipping through this lovely book will definitely inspire readers to have a boating party picnic or apple orchard picnic of their own. From recipes for apple turnovers, to chicken salads, roasted meats, and vegetable pot pies this book has many tempting recipes. I will definitely be picking up a copy of this for my own shelves after it publishes on 10/1.


Frogkisser! by Garth Nix library, physical book

4.5 Stars - I highly recommend if you enjoy middle grade fantasy. This book is accessible to a wide audience!

When princess Anya is tasked with turning a frog back into a prince, she must set off on a quest to gather the ingredients to make more transmorgification lip balm, and to overthrow her evil step father Duke Rikard. Along the way Anya travels with a royal dog, a human-turned-newt, an otter-turned-weasel, and other colorful characters to save the fate of their world as they know it.

When I first started reading this I was not in the right mood to get fully into it. This book has a lovely slow pace, and is best enjoyed when you have time to be leisurely. When I picked it up again I really enjoyed it. Anya is a strong character who is both child-like and wise all at once, which is very endearing. I like that she has very realistic reactions to things, and is often so inexperienced, yet she succeeds in her tasks. All of the characters were interesting, the quest was complicated and simple all at once. I loved that the tasks often seemed impossible, but Anya came up with very simple solutions that made sense. I don't particularly like talking animals in my fantasy novels, but in this case I eventually got on board with the various talking animal characters. I liked how clever the world that Nix created was. How he took common elements from so many parts of fantasy, old fairy tales, etc. and turned them on their heads. Everything was so clever from the names of the otters, to the Heralds, to the flying carpets, and Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. I love how all of these elements came together to create a compelling D&D-like quest with endearing characters. Though this is listed as YA it reminds me more of middle-grade as it is very wholesome and sweet. I think it would be lovely as a read-aloud family book for (I'd guess) children ages 7-12. If you enjoy magical stories, this one is very well done.

The Harp of Kings by Juliet Marillier* ARC, ebook

5 Stars - I highly recommend if you enjoy high fantasy, multi-POV, political intrigue, and covert missions. 

Swan Island Warrior initiates Liobhan. Brocc, and Dau are at the top of their group. When they are sent off early for an undercover mission, they must a help a kingdom retrieve a sacred harp for the coronation of their new king. They must take on new identities and act accordingly to gain information about the missing harp from druids, washerwomen, royal children, and mysterious folk who live in the forest. Along the way they will realize that much more hangs in the balance than just an awkward coronation, the fate of the free world may be at stake.

When you start this book, there is a very detailed cast of all characters, including the pronunciation. This is difficult when you're reading an ebook and generally a bit intimidating... however it is useful. At first I was a bit taken aback by the simple writing style from the 3 POVs. It was very diary-like, and the most succinct character's chapters were written in that way. However, as the book went on it did start to feel more detailed and descriptive, as I would expect for a high fantasy novel. Maybe it all meshed together and I got used to it over time. I was immediately invested in each of the three main characters and their combined mission. I thought they were quite different from one another, but had such strengths. Can we take a second to appreciate that Juliet Marillier wrote a book about BARDS? I have never seen another book about bards. I find that so interesting for so many reasons. Music woven into a plot is always cool, but particularly in a fantasy novel that contains lore and myth and storytelling. I also think that bard magic is not something I ever think about. Fascinating. I was very happy to be reading something SO different. Despite the uniqueness of this book, I did enjoy some of the more classic fantasy elements related to things like fair folk and more common myths and stories. Overall I just felt for all of the characters and loved them so much. I love how all of the pieces in their mission wove together, and how it all became clear during the finale. I highly recommend this if you enjoy fantasy. I will be reading my way through Marillier's other works soon!

Monthly totals:

Read - 12
Owned - 2
Ebook - 6
Physical book - 6
ARC - 5
Library/Borrowed - 5
Bought - 24 (9 physical books, 15 ebooks) - 4 books were freeee! :)
To Let Go - 12


Yearly Totals:


Read - 64
Owned - 17
Ebook - 39
Physical book - 26
ARC - 28
Library/Borrowed - 15
Bought - 113 (93 physical books, 26 ebooks) - 14 books were freeee! :)
To Let Go - 49


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


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

**Double asterisks denote books won via a goodreads giveaway! 

***Triple asterisks denote titles that I was given advance access to by Penguin First to Read 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 Penguin First to Read!

****Quadruple asterisks denote titles that I was given advance access to by the author of the book 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!

Friday, August 23, 2019

Have You Heard? // Taylor Swift - "Lover"

HAPPY FRIDAY FRIENDS! Today we have a brand new Taylor Swift album! WOOHOO! :)

image via google.
Here's the most recent single and video. The video is stinkin' cute. The end made me tear up.



I think it's sweet. I'm still not over the moon about everything I've heard for this album... but we'll see how it goes today when I download and listen to the whole thing! Things usually grow on me, and KC pointed out that the singles are usually not my favorites anyway. :) EE! :)

I also love that her lover in this video isn't white. I went on a bit of a "listen to old t-swift music via YouTube" binge last week... and they're all white. So this was a nice change. I always like to see more representation and diversity.

What do you guys think of this one? Are you planning to get the album today?!

What are you up to this weekend??

We have a bday part for one of KC's cousin's kiddos on Sunday, but are otherwise free right now. Hoping to do some organizing and decorating and of course reading. I realllllllllllllllly need to sort out some scrapbook stuff so that I can make some progress there. LOL I'm enjoying reading so much right now, which is great, but at some point I really do want to use the supplies that I purchased! 

OH YEAH! WHO IS EXCITED FOR THE NEXT SEASON OF GBBO?!?!?! It comes out on the 30th! SQUEE! :) 

Have a great weekend!!

XO,

Alexandra

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Thanksgiving 2018

Last November was busy as usual, but we had a nice set of Thanksgivings with my family and KC's. We are always grateful for time together, especially with our extended families. :)



We also made a gratitude "wall" which was a nice way to keep the focus on being grateful during the holiday season. I wrote about it for Year of Gratitude, here.

For my family's Thanksgiving I totally forgot to take any photos... but it was great. I'm really glad that we all got to get together early to celebrate, the meal was amazing, and I love that we've been getting to see my grandma more.



Thanksgiving with KC's family was great too. We had a nice meal with KC's parents, his sister and her husband, and his grandparents. It was great to share a meal and spend more time in a big group together. We took a family photo which doesn't happen a lot, so that was special. KC and his dad's test shot was cracking me up so I had to include it.




So that's it. We had our pie and cranberries and lots of great family moments.

Thanks for bearing with me as catch up on old holiday posts. I want to be able to look back on these here.

Do you have specific Thanksgiving traditions?

XO,

Alexandra

Friday, August 16, 2019

Have You Heard? // Ed Sheeran feat. Camila Cabello & Cardi B - "South of the Border"

Happy Friday Friends! I hope that you had an excellent week and gave yourself some grace. I hope that you have the best weekend ahead! :)



Back in the beginning I wasn't a huge Ed Sheeran fan, I don't really know why because I do love his voice, and I've loved pretty much every other album he's had. I looooove the collaboration album that he recently released! Of course it's no surprise that I liked this song with Camila Cabello a lot.

So here's a quite inappropriate ( ;) ) and catchy tune for your Friday friends!



What do you guys think? Are you a fan of Ed Sheeran's music?

What are y'all up to this up this weekend?!

We have D&D with some close friends on Saturday night, but otherwise I hope to get some chores/cleaning and reading/scrapbooking done this weekend because last weekend ended up being BONKERS BUSY with plans.

HAVE A GREAT WEEKEND!

XO,

Alexandra

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Keep It Together // August 2019

Hello friends! It's Keep It Together day!! It has been a fun documenting month around here! :)

I am excited to post today with Lauren at Shooting Stars Mag for our Keep It Together!

If you are new here, this is our linkup for all things planners, memory keeping, and journaling. Please feel free to join us on the third Thursday of the month with any posts that fall into those categories! :)


Planning:

I have still been enjoying my ECLP! I found some really lovely colored felt-tip pens with the school supplies at Target. They don't bleed through any pages and I am obsessed with the fun colors! These are the Paper Mate Flair Pens, in Candy Pop


see how nicely the golden color matches the August layout??



I love that the colors are fun and bright, but a little bit muted too. I'm loving the goldenrod one for fall spreads! I'm not usually in LOVE with a pen, so I wanted to share that. I'm tempted to try the larger package with even more colors in it, and at a thinner tip size. :) 

Documenting:

Maggie Holmes "Heritage"



via Crate Paper Blog

I am loving this new line by Maggie Holmes. Her collections are go-to buys for me because I love the girly and vintage styles. They are so easy to use on almost any project. I love that this collection has more muted colors, it reminds me of fall! Of course it has houses, butterflies, swans, and lots of florals. I think this would be a really lovely collection for someone who wanted to document things further in the past. I think I will pass along that info to my grandma because she has been wanting to start.

Hey Pumpkin!

I got the cuuuutest Halloween stuff from Crate Paper. I can't wait to make my October Daily album! Would anyone be interested in purchasing a mini Halloween album? I'd use this line, and the line from two years ago to make a festive little album for you. Just add pictures and journalling! I'm excited to use the ghost banner at the bottom over my chalk board!


images via Crate Paper Blog.


Boston Album:

I'm working on my Boston & NE Road Trip album. It is a TN size, and I am having fun documenting this trip finally. I feel like I'm "catching up" a bit, but really I'm just having fun and getting to what I get to. Which has been key in my experience documenting! hahaha



Another Giveaway Album:

I am working on a giveaway album for my second YouTube winner, Hallie. We went to high school together and I am super excited to make her a little album! :)

What's Next?!

I am still working on what I want to do for 2019 documenting... ooof. I need to get going because I am readddyy for October-December Daily! :) / I'm very "behind" Lol. That is the way of documenting.You just have to do it when you feel like it/have time.

CLASSES / Album Sales: I also heard from the library that I can hold scrapbook classes and open scrapbook times at the library! So I am hoping to get something going for that here pretty soon! :) I am also thinking about making mini albums from certain collections (Halloween, travel, various generic Maggie Holmes collections) and selling them for people to put their photos/journalling into. Thoughts?!

Have you been working on any documenting?

Would you or anyone you know be interested in buying a little blank album to add details to?

Please feel free to linkup with us below! We'd love to see what you are up to!


XO,


You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!
Click here to enter



Make sure to hop on over and see Lauren's post! :)

Alexandra

Friday, August 9, 2019

Have You Heard? // The Dixie Chicks - "Cowboy Take Me Away" // Throwback

Happy Friday Friends! I'm coming at you late today because I have been thinking about 90s country lately. Is that strange?

image via google.

We grew up listening to country, after all, I live in Kansas... and grew up in the country. I wouldn't call it a "farm" but we did have a barn and livestock (sometimes), and two pastures. So there you go. ANYHOW, sometimes I just itch to listen to 90s country. KC looks at me like I'm bonkers because I am NOT and was definitely not in the past (AT ALL) a country girl. It makes me giggle and I turn on old Shania, Tracy Lawrence, or Brooks & Dunn. KC laughs and laughs while I try to sing along to things like Texas Tornado and My Maria. My mom was a big Garth Brooks fan, so I can sing along to at least one of those Christmas albums like nobody's business. In the late 90s we had a lot of (IMHO) fabulous pop country that I could not get enough of. I was on my way to loving exclusively pop music... but I really did like Shania Twain's That Don't Impress Me Much album, along with The Dixie Chicks. I may or may not have dressed up as "Earl" one Halloween. There is a very bad picture, I'll try to find it sometime.

This video is so 90s 00s that I cannot even.



ANYHOW, Audrey has been listening to 90s country, and I have been turning it on off and on... and Cowboy Take Me Away came on yesterday and I was just like, "YAS". I hadn't heard it probably in 15 years. What a jam. I was imagining this as the soundtrack for Arrogant Devil and I just might have to do a re-read. Le swoon what a romantic song. LOL

image via google.


Today I read the Vogue interview with Taylor Swift, as one does, and they mentioned something that I briefly forgot... The Dixie Chicks reference in the Me music video. Yes please, I really hope this collab is happening. Also, it makes so much sense when TDC are known for opposing President Bush's decisions, and T-Swift has found her political voice. TDC kind of fell of the radar and have come back... which reminds me a bit of T-Swift's disappearance during Reputation... I'm so excited to see where this goes. These ladies will not be silenced, and I am here for that. (squee if they open for her during her stadium tour I would freak out!)

One thing I love about life, and being a woman is that I don't feel like I need to fit a mold. One day I want nothing to do with country music, all about current alternative tracks. I've pulled out a band tee and distressed jeans. The next day I'm listening to a Latin playlist, or 90s R&B and watching throwback tv shows. Today I just might find my denim dress and listen to The Dixie Chicks.

What about you, does your music taste vary a lot? 

Has it changed over time, or does it build on itself?

What are you guys up to this weekend?

We're watching my nephew and hopefully seeing my sisters, but otherwise hanging out around the house. I would like to get a lot of reading in, which should shock no one.

HAVE A GREAT WEEKEND!

XO,

Alexandra

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

July 2019 Reads // Book Slumps + A Few Really Good Reads

Woohoo! It's NOT book day! Whomp Whomp... well I'm early, but I'll leave this up anyway! I didn't read a lot this month, and a lot of the things I read and some that I read last month I just did not love. So, I was super happy to adore my latest two reads. Just the fun engaging books I was looking for! :) :)



War by Laura Thalassa own, ebook

4 Stars - I recommend if you enjoy paranormal romance, and can suspend your disbelief a bit.

The second book in the four horseman of the apocalypse book, where War ravages the earth.

I read this in a few bursts, which was made it a little bit disjointed. Overall it was enjoyable, I like the continued premise of the four horseman plot. I sometimes liked War better than Pestilence, but I also had moments where more-so than Pestilence, I am like HOW DOES SHE LOVE HIM??? I almost wish these were dual POV, because these relationship are SO problematic sometimes. This one felt a little bit long, but I did like the very end quite a bit. It think that the relationship part drug out just a little but the action, reconciling, and resolution of the plot during the last 30% of the book was really good. I'm really intrigued by the rest of the books and to see where they will go after getting a peek at Spoiler?? Death. I did have a harder time overall suspending disbelief in this one. I don't understand what God's role is in this. I always feel like the Horsemen are learning a lesson and not the humans... so why is God sending them to kill the humans...? Maybe it is meant to be unclear, but it was really distracting for me during this book.

Say You Still Love Me by K.A. Tucker* ARC, ebook

3 Stars? - I might recommend if you like heartfelt second chance romances.

Piper is reluctant to spend the summer as a camp counselor at her mother's old summer camp, but when she meets the irresistible and edgy Kyle she is suddenly more excited for the summer. The two quickly form an intense connection. Piper is drawn toward things she would never do, with destructive consequences. When the summer ends with their expulsion from the camp after an off limits incident Piper and Kyle promise to keep in touch. When Piper never hears from Kyle again, she never stops wondering what happened to him. 15 years later the two meet again. Kyle has become a security guard in her office building and he wasn't placed there coincidentally. What does he want?

I really liked the idea behind this story: two teenage camp counselors fall in love and then meet again later in life. I have to say that I did enjoy their teenage romance, I felt like the thrill of their relationship was very realistic, and it can be fun to read about reckless teenagers from time to time. However, it also had me going... oh dear... I don't know that I could ever be a parent of a teenager. LOLOL I wanted SO MUCH to love this story... but a lot of the present day stuff didn't quite work for me. While I was interested to see who Piper and Kyle became, there was a LOT of buildup in the present day plot. It didn't particularly help that I don't love corporate settings, and a lot of it was related to her job in real estate development. It also took too long for them to meet back up, and their wasn't a lot of focus on their present day relationship... which I really wanted. I did like some of the more emotional parts, and the ending was nice too. It was quite bittersweet, which I also kind of liked. Overall this was a fun read, but I wanted a little bit more from it.

The Lady in the Coppergate Tower by Nancy Campbell Allen*  ARC, ebook

3 Stars - I might recommend if you enjoy steampunk, or proper romance, or if you have read the rest of the series.

Hazel has spent her life under her mother's protection and as a fledgling medium. However, she finds her talent as Dr. Sam MacInnes's surgical assistant. He once saved her from a vampire attack, and now she must endure her severe crush on him every day as they work together. When she meets a mysterious Transylvanian noble, and he claims to be her uncle and caretaker to her secret twin sister, she is skeptical. She always dreamt of a girl who looked just like her, but her uncle seems less than trustworthy. When tells her that she must come help heal her sister in Transylvania, Hazel warily accepts. Sam is not about to let Hazel go alone, and inserts himself into the trip as a chaperone. What is her uncle hiding and what is wrong with her mysterious twin?

This is one of my favorite series. The mix of fantasy, and proper romance is amazing and so much fun to read. I started this book out feeling the familiar love of the world, but this one fell a little bit flat for me in the middle. I liked the working relationship between Sam and Hazel was very sweet and swoony when they were working in London. However, as soon as they embarked on their adventure I didn't find myself quite as invested in the plot or their relationship. It was still sweet and the steampunk stuff was fun. The setting was interesting too, not a lot of books take place on a submarine, but I just felt like something was missing. I will say that I liked the beginning and end, so maybe it was just a fluke. While this wasn't my favorite in the series, I am still looking forward to more books if Allen writes them!

A Curse so Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer - library, ebook

4.5-5 Stars - I highly recommend if you enjoy fantasy novels and fairy tale re-tellings.

Harper is minding her own business as a lookout for her brother when she witnesses a women being abducted. As she tries to save the woman, she is taken instead, and finds herself in another world. She is now the guest of Prince Rhen of Emberfall in his castle. The more she tries to escape and the more she learns about Emberfall, the less she wants to leave. Rhen just wants to break his curse, and it is his last chance. Harper is the only one who can help him, and she just might be able to help him save his people too.

This is the first book in a while that had me tearing through pages, and that I wanted to stay up all night and read. I really wanted to figure out what was going on, and I immediately was hooked by the short chapters and differences between Harper and Rhen. I appreciated the strength of the characters, their loyalty, and selflessness. I thought that the villains were strong, and the characters were courageous. I loved the setting and the re-telling element. It did remind me a lot of Beauty and the Beast, but it was new enough and different enough that I wasn't bored. I'm a sucker for romance, but I adored the friendships, courage of characters, and strategy to save their kingdom most in this book. The way that this ended was satisfying and suspenseful all at once, I like how some of the things tied together. I'm really excited to see where other books in this world will go.

Wicked and the Wallflower by Sarah MacLean own, ebook

4.5-5 Stars - I highly recommend if you enjoy historical romance with modern characters.

Felicity Faircloth was once the belle of the 'ton surrounded by friends and suitors, until she found herself in the bedroom of a man who was not her betrothed. Over time scandal after scandal ruined her reputation. Now she is a 27 year old spinster with no friends, and no prospects. As she sneaks onto an off limits balcony at a ball she meets a mysterious stranger in the shadows. He promises her a Duke that will save her reputation, family, and place in society. Devil is one of the Bareknuckle Bastards, the king of Covent Garden, and wealthy smuggler. When he meets Felicity by chance, he sees her as the perfect opportunity to deny his brother the wife and heir he so craves. Along the way he will quickly realize that Felicity is actually who he craves.

Ahh I really liked this book. I thought that Felicity and Devil were such fantastic characters. I loved her wittiness and her child-like awe at the world. I loved that she was a strong female lead who wanted to choose her own life. I thought that while Devil has a ridiculous name, he was an interesting character too. I enjoyed the parts where he was working with his brother, sister, and their men to complete their smuggling tasks, as well as his banter with Felicity. It did take a while for the truth of the past, the oath, etc. to come out, but overall it worked. I appreciated that the male lead was not just another Duke or Marquess... because that does get a bit boring in historical romance. I am super excited to read the next books in this series.

Monthly totals:

Read - 5
Owned - 2
Ebook - 5
Physical book - 0
ARC - 2
Library/Borrowed - 1
Bought - 31 ( 25 physical, 6 ebook) MOST of these were from bday shopping.. I don't even know if that "counts" as it was part of my gift from KC but there you go.
To Let Go - 4

Yearly Totals:

Read - 52
Owned - 15
Ebook - 33
Physical book - 20
ARC - 23
Library/Borrowed - 10
Bought - 113 (93 physical books, 26 ebooks)
To Let Go - 36

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

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

**Double asterisks denote books won via a goodreads giveaway! 

***Triple asterisks denote titles that I was given advance access to by Penguin First to Read 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 Penguin First to Read!


****Quadruple asterisks denote titles that I was given advance access to by the author of the book 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!