Monday, October 30, 2017

LYB(Holiday)L Week 1 // Seeking Holiday Calm

Happy Monday, guys! I hope that you had a great weekend! I can't wait to show you guys our Halloween party details on Wednesday! Until then, let's get started with week one of LYB(Holiday)L!

New Here? The What & Why

Shea from Shea Lennon and I are super psyched to be kicking off LYB(Holiday)L this month! Starting November 1st (Wednesday!) we have one prompt per day to help us live a calmer, more organized, and peaceful holiday season! Each week we'll share the week's prompts, and our own ideas for how we'll do them. We'll give brief re-caps on the previous week as we go. The full list of daily prompts is on IG, and will be linked at the bottom of each of my posts. If you're a plan ahead type person, tape it into your planner or write it out to start thinking ahead. We hope that you'll join us! Use #LYBHolidayL to let us know when you tag along on social media! :) (see the full intro post and details, here).

We are starting our challenge off with a partial week, which will be great for easing into the challenge!

Week 1:

November 1 - Make an effort to write down one thing you are grateful for every day or week (this could be in your phone, your planner, or in a specific journal of your choosing)

I think I am going to do this in another traveler's notebook! I am enjoying my October Daily SO MUCH, that I want to make a gratitude one for November!! I can't wait to use all the pretty fall things in my stash! I'll keep my list in my phone as I go and document in chunks while I can. Stay tuned on YouTube for the videos! :)

November 2 - Read this article about raising Thankful kids 

I don't have kiddos, but I thought this article was really interesting and helpful. I was raised (I bet a lot of us were!) by a lot of the "what gratitude is not" items in this article. Reading this is giving me some ideas for possible future kiddos of my own, but also for interacting with my youngest sister Olivia (10), and my nephew Darrick as he grows up.

November 3 - Do something to welcome the Thanksgiving season (share something you’re thankful for at family dinners, buy a fall wreath, etc.)

*update 11/2* - Shea shared this fabulous podcast episode about "opening and closing cermonies" for holidays or seasons. I found it a fantastic resource! 

We are big on Thanksgiving episodes of our favorite shows. Top runners are always: New Girl (the "Camping" one is our favorite), Gilmore Girls (probably my favorite GG episode of all time, which is saying something), and Everwood. I think I will start with Everwood, and save the others for Thanksgiving week.. that way I can get some ideas straight from Delia Brown for my November Daily Album!

November 4 - Make pumpkin waffles for breakfast/brunch/breakfast for dinner

Yum, yes. We didn't get around to this in October, so I can't wait to eat my favorite fall weekend brunch. So easy, so festive. Mimosas optional... and no, I won't judge you if you eat it Leslie Knope style. #allthewhippedcream

November 5 - Shop your closet and try to come up with a couple of new outfits from old pieces.

Shea does this so often, and I am always amazed! I'm so glad to be trying my hand at it at the beginning of the month to get more "new to me" outfits ... and less purchasing in this month! Plus it will get me finding my warmer clothes sooner, and starting to think about outfits for holiday functions! :) 

My Shop My Closet Goals:

mix and match velvet
wear more dresses
enjoy normal boots before it's too cold.. (and all I want to do is wear Uggs)

What about you guys?! Are you planning to tag along?

Do you like holiday episodes of TV shows? What's your favorite?

I'll be posting about the prompts using #LYBHolidayL on Instagram! Make sure to check in with Shea on her IG too! :) @simplyalexandra12 & @shealennon



Friday, October 27, 2017

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

Happy Friday Friends! I caught up on so much blog reading and commenting this week, it was great to catch up, and to be reminded so many times why the blogging community is the best! :) :)

Last week Taylor Swift dropped another song, "Gorgeous". Of the three, this is my least favorite, but I'm sure after a few more listens it will grow on me... because that's what T-Swift music does. This one definitely has the Swifty trademark of being completely ridiculous in an overly dramatic sort of way.

I mean: "You've ruined my life by not being mine.", "I think I might sink and drown and die." and "if you've got a girlfriend, I'm jealous of her, but if you're single it's honestly worse. Because you're so gorgeous it actually hurts" - that last one is KC's favorite line. " :P

When she says, "you should take it as a compliment that I'm talking to everyone here but you." That just makes me remember all the "bow down to your queen"s from GOT this season:

To which I just:

What do you think?

I do like the line about, "stumbling on home to my cats. alone." lol. #catladyforlife

But you know... after listening to this twice more to write this post.. .I like it better already.

Last night, she also released the video for "... are you ready for it?" - which is far and away my favorite song of the three. The video is totally nuts, as expected, and must have cost a fortune to make. Just insane.

Anyhow, not long now until the album is out. :)

How are you feeling about Taylor Swift's new music after some time?

What are you guys up to this weekend?

We are having our Halloween Party on Sunday night, so we are going to be busy busy doing cleaning, party prep, and costume things! Also, we still need to carve pumpkins. haha I would like to say we'll get to do other things... but it is not very likely. However, we have set aside tonight to watch Return of the King with KC's parents, we've worked our way through all six extended editions in the past few months! :) 

ON MONDAY: I will be posting the first November prompts for #LYBHolidayL ! The full list is up, but on Mondays I will give the list for the week, and what I plan to do each day. Hopefully that will give you all a few ideas! :) We would love to have you join us! You can tag along via social media, blog, etc. Feel free to drop in and out of the challenge any day that you feel inspired by the prompt! :) We'd love to see ourselves and others enjoy November a bit more, and feel a little calmer and more organized going into the Holidays! :)

Posts This Week: #allthefallthings & Live Your Best (Holiday) Life with Shea Lennon!

On YouTube This Week: October Daily Days 1-5, October Daily Days 6-11, October Daily Day 12!

Have a Wonderful Weekend!



Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Live Your Best (Holiday) Life w/ Shea Lennon

Happy Wednesday Friends! I am super jazzed about today's post!!! :) Shea from Shea Lennon and I are collaborating to bring you guys a fun way to keep it sane during the holidays! 

Living Your Best Life for Less (LYBLFL):

Back in April, Shea and her husband came up with a plan to buckle down with their budget. They knew that they needed to make spending cuts, but wanted to make it inspiring along the way. She called it “Live Your Best Life for Less” or “LYBLFL”.  I LOVED her idea, she made a calendar that was filled with easy prompts that kept them on track. Ideas like color combos for shopping her own closet, as well as recipe ideas. Even fun activities to do at home or as a family that were easy on the wallet. All while maintaining a sense of creativity and fun. I was impressed and tagged along on quite a few occasions.

When we met up in July, that was one of the first things I wanted to tell her, what a brilliant idea!

As the holidays inch closer, I think a lot of us are in a state of “OH MY GOSH, HOW CAN I GET THINGS UNDER CONTROL?! HOW CAN I KEEP FROM LOSING MY MIND THIS YEAR?!” As much as the holidays are filled with fun, love, and great memories, they hold their fair share of stresses too.

Living Your Best (Holiday) Life For Less:

Shea and I decided to collaborate on this new calendar which we are calling “Live Your Best Holiday Life” or “LYBHolidayL”. We’ve spent some time brainstorming ideas to help get organized, practice self care, foster quality family time, and stay on budget this season. We’re also including a lot of ways that you can focus on gratitude and giving back.

We would love for you to join us as we go along. Feel free to participate on any day that you feel drawn to the prompt. We’ll put this image on Instagram (please follow us! :) @simplyalexandra12 - @shealennon) and post weekly about the prompts and how we plan to implement them within our own weeks on our blogs. If you’d like to tag along, please let us know by tagging us, and use the hashtag #LYBHolidayL !

What do you guys think?!

How do you keep calm and organized during the hectic holiday seasons?



Monday, October 23, 2017

#allthefallthings // 2017

Happy Monday Friends! I hope that you had a great weekend! I spent mine recovering from a cold, but also doing fun things. I got to work more on my October Daily album (videos start going up tomorrow morning!), play a new game with KC, watch The Two Towers, and visit the pumpkin patch/fruit farm with my family. :) 

I'm working hard on that Fall Wish List (Bucket List). I can successfully cross off: 

cider donuts
cozy sweaters
an October Daily album
chili and cornbread
walks in the nice weather
fall decorations

This week I think we'll be able to cross of a few more related to pumpkin carving, pumpkin waffles, and Halloween costumes/party prep! 

Speaking of Halloween... it's not too late to come up with an awesome "last minute" costume! Check out my tips, here: 5 Steps to an AMAZING (& Cheap) Costume! I'll whole-heartedly admit that we are still working on ours for this year! It just hasn't been the priority, for some reason... hahah 

And if you want a festive playlist...Vintage and Indie meet in this Halloween playlist, *spook ! (6 hours long..... mildly more than anyone should ever need... but.... )

I'm also hoping that we get to watch some of our favorite movies soon:

Halloween Movie Night Picks for the Kiddos, and the Scaredy Cats (*raises hand!*) A selection of fun costume-y movies, perfect for the occasion.

More Halloween Movie Night Picks, of the witchy and spooky variety. Or perhaps you want to start Witches of East End and watch it non-stop through the weekend? No judgement here.

Maybe next week after all of the festivities are over we'll have time to make our "Perfect Fall Meal". It's worth it even if you only try the salad! :) KC refers to this one as "the one that takes 35 pans?" lol. It's not hard, but it does take ALL OF THE DISHES... and a good bit of time. Easy meals are the name of the game for us... so this one is worth the effort once or twice per fall. :) 

If I feel like reading again... I'm just refusing, which is ridiculous, especially with only 1.5 books left for Erin's challenge... I hope to read at least one book from this list of Witchy Reads.

On my "to buy" list before too long: 

Lastly... I'm super proud that we decorated for fall this year. yayyy! 

What are you guys up to?!

What are you doing for Halloween?!

What are you hoping to buy soon...?!



Friday, October 20, 2017

Snapshots of Vance Joy + Have You Heard? // Vance Joy - "Mess Is Mine"

Happy Friday, Friends! I hope that you are each having a great week! I've managed to come down with a cold, but otherwise it's been a good one. Hoping it goes away soon! :)

Last weekend was nuts, we had two concerts, a crafting day with my sister Jess, and then a family day at the Ren Fest. Whew. One concert was obviously Hanson, the other was Vance Joy! You guys know how I love Vance Joy!

It was our 4th time seeing him live, and it was such a great show. He played his new single, and also three new unreleased songs! I can't wait to hear when the new album comes out!

This was his second single from his first album, and I just love it. It's still one of my top favorites from him. The lyrics get me every time.

This video is just a sad polar bear though. :(

What are you guys up to this weekend?

We have no plans other than a call with my friend Juliet. :) I hope we find time to get some pumpkins and maybe carve them. I want to work more on October Daily videos and more pages too. I finally figured out that I can do all of the editing steps ON MY FREAKING PHONE... so... that's good. HA. They should start posting to YouTube next Monday! So stay tuned. I also need to do some reading.. but I haven't been feeling like it. We shall see. Maybe we'll watch The Two Towers. Nerdy & Crafty. Sounds about right.

Posts This Week: Me Too and October Daily 2017.

On YouTube This Week: August 2016 Flip Through and June Days 2017 Process Video.



Wednesday, October 18, 2017

October Daily 2017

Hello Friends, I hope that you are having a nice week so far! I wanted to start by saying thank you for all of the thoughtful comments on Monday's post. It's never fun to talk about deep rooted issues in society, especially if it brings up painful memories for you, but I appreciate your support, your constructive comments, and this great community of bloggers! Love you guys!

Ok, on to today's post. :)

What are seasonal "Daily" albums?!

When I started doing Project Life, I loved watching videos to see other people's albums and processes. I noticed that many people were doing December Daily® albums. I initially thought, "oh cool, a Christmas themed album!" But it is really more than that. Ali Edwards's (the creator's) idea behind it, is to capture your story for the month, and your story every day. Some days it might be a big story, some days a little one. Other times it will just be a photo and the story is implied. However, the aim is to get you to focus on the reason behind the season of Christmas, and the "spirit of December" (as Ali puts it). Whether you're religious or not, it is easy to get sucked into the hustle and bustle of this time of year. I think it is so nice to have a moment where you can focus on the small moments, the important ones, and pause during such a hectic season. All sorts of documenting companies come out with supplies for this project, so it can be all done from a kit, or mixed and matched as needed! :) So customizeable.

Why I'm Doing October Daily:

I didn't do a December Daily® last year, but I plan to do one this year. Since I haven't done daily documenting before, I decided to also do an October Daily! I figured that practicing in October would give me some ideas as to what I wanted to do for December. I love October and Halloween almost just as much as I love December and Christmas! So I wanted to put the same idea behind the season of fall, and Halloween too!

A post shared by Alexandra Consolver (@simplyalexandra12) on


Size: Traveler's Notebook (new to me!) - ~4.25 x 8.5 inches - I made mine using the papers I bought + black and white card stock. I used this method to make them. Because the paper is thick, it will take two notebooks of this size for the month.

Supplies: Pink Paislee's "Spellcast" range, see haul video below, + lots of orange, black, white, and gold (from my stash) - ok a few purchases..

Method: Capture one story every day. If I don't have a particular story to tell, at least share a photo, if I don't have a photo, capture something related to the season (a quote, a list, favorites, etc.) Intersperse a few sections that aren't related to a specific day. Ex. One page just has our fall decor on it. I keep a note in my phone of approx. what I did each day, so I can catch up as needed. I tend to write it out and map out what photos I need to print. Since the pages are smaller, I usually have to print 2+ day's worth of photos at once. I don't want to waste paper! (btw, my Canon Selphy is so perfect for this daily type of project. I LOVE how easy it is to print as I go!)

How it's going:

Before this I have only done 6x8 albums, and mostly in pockets (as you guys have seen! ha), so at first it was a bit tricky to get into this new size! I had to do a few practice pages just to play around with spacing, etc. Once I started going it got a lot easier, and now I am having a blast with it! :)

I also had trouble at first including some of the stickers, etc. I was being really literal about it... but I'm getting a bit better at it as I go. Adding those little bits, even if the story isn't about pumpkins, or witches, etc. There's no point in hoarding these supplies, I bought them for this album!

I've recorded the entire process of making this album so far, so check My YouTube next week if you are interested! :)

I'm having so much fun with this, that I kind of want to do one for November. Maybe make it gratitude themed... The only question then is... do I still do my normal documenting for these months? I think I probably will.. because it will bother me not to, but I won't feel compelled to have EVERY SINGLE PHOTO in there, which is something that I struggle with. haha

Thoughts on This Year's December Daily®:

I will definitely be doing an December Daily® this year. I have all of my supplies, minus a binder (depending on what size I choose). I am super excited about it. The only question is... what size?!?! The Traveler's Notebook size is super fun, but I may want to try a 4x4, or go back to a 6x8. Decisions, decisions. hehe

"Spellcast" Haul:

What do you guys think of the idea of a daily album? 

How do you capture the spirit and festivity of a season or holiday? 

What are your traditions?! - I'd love to know!



*this post contains affiliate links, if you purchase I might get a few cents. ;) As always, I share my true opinions with you all, and only link in items I am legitimately crazy about/using.*

Monday, October 16, 2017

Me Too (and I didn't think so at first...)

When I woke up this morning, I found the "Me Too" posts trending across social media. Sleepily, I scrolled past it. I saw another, then another, then another. I read it again.

I instantly thought: "I've never been sexually harassed,"

The more I thought, the more I remembered those times when men would say something to me that left me feeling nauseated, blood pounding in my ears. But that wasn't "enough" was it? I was lucky enough to have never been physically harassed. Not something really bad. Not something bad enough to "count". Right?

I even searched "sexual harassment" in Safari. I knew what it is, but it was like I needed to prove to myself that I hadn't been sexually harassed. Like anything that happened to me, wasn't "bad enough" to re-post this status. Isn't that ridiculous? "Bad enough" should not be something anyone has to prove. It doesn't undo the things that were said or happened. It doesn't make them better or ok. It doesn't make them not sexual harassment.

I'm sharing this post, not to prove my status to anyone, but for the people who were/are like me, thinking "this has never happened to me." If it hasn't, I'm so grateful. But I found after my instant certainty that it had not happened to me, that it really had. Many times. And those times were enough. If you think this is you, I recommend reading this, I found it really helpful. The more I think about it, I doubt I know any women who have not had at least one of these moments. :(

I posted mine, and still felt like my experiences weren't enough. I continued to scroll. Continued to see so many friends, family, etc. posting this. If one of them experienced what I did, would it feel like "enough"? "YES" I thought without a doubt. I would never judge what someone else felt sexually harassed by.

What happened to me was enough. What happened to me was sexual harassment.

Early on especially, I was often SO surprised by the situation, that I would react by laughing nervously, and trying to smooth it over with a smile, and walking away when I could.

When you're 14, and a Junior football player makes you laugh, it's flattering that he wants to talk to you. When he says, "it would be fun to see you drunk..." You know what it means, and his attention is not flattering anymore. But how do you react to that? When you're so surprised and feel so instantly uneasy? Nothing more came of it, I never really talked to him again.

You see, when you're 16, a waitress, and have no experience with sexual harassment, and a customer makes a comment that they should not have, you still might not know what to do. I had no idea that refusing service was an option I had, I'd never thought about it. Even if I had... did I really want to anger a belligerent drunk? One who'd spoken words, laced with expletives, that I never could have imagined someone uttering to me? Especially when he was with three friends, and my only other co-worker at that moment was in the kitchen? No, not really.

It happened so infrequently for most of my life, thankfully, that I was often STILL taken aback by it. I STILL didn't know how to react.

When I was 17 I started my college job. (I'm a July baby, always the youngest.) I had a co-worker who was a little overly friendly, but he acted that way with everyone. I didn't really think about it as anything weird, until it was.

I remember one day he asked me, "Hey, do you use Facebook?" I responded that I did. He explained, "I don't use Facebook, but my buddy made me an account. I told him to delete it, can you check for me to see if he did?" So, not thinking anything of it, I search for him on Facebook. When I clicked on his name, a pornographic image showed up. He touches my shoulder, "Oh my God, I'm sorry you had to see that." He touches my shoulder again, tries to make eye contact, "Really I had no idea, I'm sorry. I can't believe he would do that."

Was he telling the truth? At the time I thought so, but as I worked with him more, the more I'm sure he knew what was waiting there. There wasn't anyone around. It was an innocent enough excuse, he could get away with it if someone walked in. He could just, "blame it on his buddy". Who then would have just been labeled, a "boy being a boy".

More memories came flooding back.

As time went on he would bring up things of a sexual nature, or of past-co-worker's (or student's) appearances or promiscuity. It was always in passing conversation, and I was always horrified and uncomfortable. Hew would grin, giving a conspiratorial look. This man had a Ph.D. He made over $90k per year. More money a year than anyone I'd ever known. Everyone else seemed to like him. Everyone else brushed it off as, "Yeah that's just NAME," or at the very most, "yeah I hate him, I just ignore him". I needed this job. It was the only way I was going to be able to afford college. I paid my own way through school, and this job let me work summers and paid me $12 an hour. I didn't want to do anything to jeopardize that.

One day, after KC started working in the same office, he was given a tiny closet of a work space. A little back room that wasn't meant to be an office, but that is where he sat. One day this same co-worker entered his office and made some comment to the effect of: "I bet you'd like to get Alex back here." When KC told me what he'd said, I was absolutely mortified, and I wasn't even there. And I'm pretty sure KC spared me some other things that were said....

I definitely think he knew what would be on that Facebook page when I opened it.

He eventually lost his job. I'm not sure if it was because someone reported him for things like this, or for other reasons. But I was certainly glad to see him go. I ran into him once years later, I instantly felt nauseated. Thank goodness there were a lot of people around.

Of course there are the short instances, the ones that I think every woman has had to deal with. Quick cat calls, "DAMN GIRL!" while being ogled from across the side walk.

But there were other times, where the most unlikely (in my mind) people would say something that I was SO surprised by, I can't even remember if I heard everything they said. As if my hearing shut off as the blood started to pound in my ears.

A friend of KC's dad meeting me, looking me up and down, and saying, "all right Kyle, nice job". I'm sure he didn't mean anything by it. But boy did I wish I had a sweater. Or a parka.

A dad at the school where I worked suggesting that he "Bet I had a good time on the weekend... ," panning his eyes down my frame as he walked his kid to class.

A seemingly harmless, super nerd in college, at a trivia event held on campus. I can't even remember what he said at all, because I was so shocked. And then so so revulsed.

So yes, me too.

If you're reading this thinking that you encountered anything remotely like this, it wasn't right. It WAS sexual harassment. You don't need to feel like it isn't valid enough. You don't have to "prove" anything to anyone. You don't have to feel like your discomfort isn't worthy of the label it deserves.

So again, I hope that this shed a little perspective to anyone who felt like me when they first read the "Me Too" posts on social media. 

And I hope it sheds some light for people who have been thinking it doesn't happen so often. It only happens to people who are "asking for it". It can happen to anyone, and does happen to so many. However big or small, it's not ok. 



Friday, October 13, 2017

Have You Heard? // Hanson - "Penny and Me"

Happy Friday, Friends! I hope you have had a great week! Ours has been pretty darn good. I cooked #allthefallfood on my day off. Woots. Also, Hallmark movies... found out we have the Hallmark channel... goodbye DVR space... Oy.

Ah, Hanson. This is hand's down my favorite Hanson song. Ever.

I remember just loving this music video, loving this song, just listening to it over and over. I downloaded it in the last few years just to listen to it over and over again, again. :) - LOL

We were so happy to see Hanson last night in our city. What a fun treat, right?

25 years of music, wow! Last time I posted about them, I was sharing their super fun covers. Seriously, check those out if you like covers.

The show was really fun, and I was so happy that they played this song! Unfortunately the girl in front of us (who was apparently a Hanson SUPER-FAN) talked through both verses of this. So my favorite song was interrupted by, "HAVE  YOU SEEN THE OC?!" and "*unintelligible words* SEX IN THE SOUTH". UUUUGHHH. You guys, if there is one thing that ruins a concert for me. It's rude people. We'd already had her jumping in our view for the whole show, and I was like, "It's fine, she is obviously a HUGE fan, I'm fine with her having a better view than me." But I was so angry when she then talked through the song I really wanted to hear. It was distracting during the song, and the video we took of the song (we always try to get my favorite song recorded) has her louder than the music in both verses. So, note to selves guys (though you're obviously amazing and considerate) try not to be that person. Even if it's a song that's not your favorite... it might be someone else's.

We are excited to have another music-filled night tonight! We are headed to KCMO to see Vance Joy (again... #noshame) with a friend. Vance is my fave, so we clearly had to go. SUPER ironic though that we've been to all of ... 3? ... concerts this year so far, and these two are back to back. Grumble. I'm really enjoying spacing our plans out more so there's more time at home to unwind.

What are you guys up to this weekend?!

We are headed to Vance Joy tonight (duh) for the um... 4th time..., and then headed to the Ren Fest with my family on Sunday. I hope to read and work on PL, and pot some mums that we bought. Because we're trying otu that whole fall decorating thing. If I'm being honest, I'm not the best at the home decor thing. But I have goals. ha

Other Posts This Week: September Reads and Go-To Easy Chicken Stir Fry.

On YouTube This Week: October Daily Haul and July 2016 Flip Through.



Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Our Go-To Easy Chicken Stir Fry // Nom Nom

I try to share our recipes from time-to-time in this space. Especially when I find a quick and easy recipe that we make on repeat. This is our go-to stir fry. It was shared by a friend in our college hall's cookbook, and we love it! Guys, I'm serious, this is the easiest thing, EVER.

Here we go!


1 lb chicken breasts (you could definitely sub tofu or another meat here)
12-15 oz mixed frozen veggies (we just use the whole package)
1/2 cup Asian toasted sesame salad dressing (Kraft, or knock off) - get the low sugar version.
2 T. soy sauce
1/4 tsp. ginger
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes

Add for Serving:

Cooked Rice
Chow mien noodles & chopped dry roasted peanuts

1) Cut chicken into bite sized pieces and saute over medium high heat until cooked through (about 6-8 min). Meanwhile, cook rice according to package directions. Mix dressing, soy sauce, and spices together.

2) Add vegetables and sauce to chicken. Cook for until veggies are tender.

3) When rice is finished serve a bit of rice onto each plate and top with the chicken stir fry mixture. Finish the plates with chow mien noodles and/or chopped dry roasted peanuts.


This meal makes about 4-6 servings for KC and I. We often make it just to have for lunches during a busy week. Super easy and reheats well, just wait to add the noodles and peanuts!

There you have a super easy go-to recipe from KC and I's kitchen.

Other "Recent" Recipes: Apricot Adobo Pork Loin + Mashed Potatoes + THE BEST ASPARAGUS EVER(!), The Easiest Veggie Ravioli, and The Perfect Fall Meal.

What are some of your go-tos? I'd love the recipes!



Monday, October 9, 2017

September Reads // Under Loved Genres

Another month with tons of reading! Woot. This month I read a few under loved genres, which is one of my 2017 goals! I read a mystery, a few contemporaries, and a non-fiction. I also checked off 3 Negalley reads! YAY! Let's get on to the reviews, friends! :) 

The Bookshop on the Corner by Jenny Colgan

3.5 - 4 Stars - I recommend if you enjoy women's fiction, and stories about picking yourself up and following your dreams. It's a bit romantic, but not overly.

This story follows Nina, a English librarian who's just been laid off because her library branch is being absorbed by the bigger one. She's got more books than she can count, and she's taking in strays from the closing building. She doesn't like the idea of taking on a technology position in the bigger branch... so on a whim she decides to buy a large van, and make a mobile bookstore. The only issue is, the van is in Scotland. When she arrives to see the van, she's in love with the country as well. She buys the van and begins her new adventure abroad selling books.

My sister-in-law got me this book for my birthday, and I was glad to have something fresh on my shelf to read! Thanks, Kels!This book started a bit slow for me, it takes about 100 pages for her to get the van... but I really enjoyed the idea behind the book so I kept reading. (again, keep in mind I still read this in two evenings... so it's not THAT slow). I love that her goal was to get people books that were perfect for them! Also, I had no idea this book took place in Scotland... I can't get way from the Scottish. ;) I enjoyed the characters that she meets and their interactions, I enjoyed all the different types of books she talked about. I liked the book tree with Marek, and also everything with her landlord. It was romantic enough, but not overly. The pacing was a bit odd (slow at first, a good pace in the middle, and then a lot wrapping up right at the end) but it didn't affect my reading too much. Overall this is a quick and sweet read, a bit inspiring to make daring changes. :) 

The Dry by Jane Harper** 

3.5 - 4 stars - I recommend if you enjoy mysteries, great writing, experiencing a different world, and small town dynamics.

This book follows Aaron Falk as he heads to his hometown for his high school best friend's funeral. It was a tragic death, as he killed his wife and child before killing himself. His friend's father thinks that there is more to the situation than meets the eye, and asks Falk to investigate, threatening to expose his secret from nearly 20 years ago when another mysterious death occurred in their town. Falk has to dig up some demons to solve this mystery.

First off, the writing is just excellent. Oddly enough the plot reminded me quite a bit of In Cold Blood the only other murder/mystery/etc. type book I've been reading this year. Small, rural town, family group killed by shot gun, small town gossip and dynamics. As the book went on it branched out quite a bit which left me feeling a bit more intrigued. I enjoyed the double mystery in this one especially, though I didn't feel truly shocked by the way things played out in the end. I wanted to know more about Falk as well, I felt like I didn't get a clear feel for his character. Especially since this will be a series... I don't feel super attached to him as I have other book detectives. Overall a good read!

Girl Off the Grid by Jillian Dodd and Kenzie Harp*

4 Stars - I recommend if you enjoy fiction that features travel, romance, and is light hearted. This isn't the sub genre for everyone, but I think it is super fun to read.

This book follows blogger/YouTuber Camille as she embarks on a paid trip to Costa Rica for a up-and-coming fashion magazine. She's given tour guides, and a photographer. The photographer, Adam, happens to be very obnoxious, and uptight, but also cute. He thinks she is spoiled, and much to self-centered to think about the world. As the trip goes on, they find out they have more in common than they thought.

Like I said above, this sub-genre isn't for everyone, but I think it is a blast to read. Especially when you want something fluffy. The writing is very fun and easy. I liked that this one specifically was about college aged people. So it didn't feel quite as young as YA. I really liked that the perspective varied by chapter Adam then Camille. I felt like that made it pretty cute to read. I also liked that while romance is decent chunk of this book, it was still pretty detailed in the travel aspect. They describe the activities, the things they are learning, etc. I don't know, I just loved this one. Very cute.  hope that they write more!

The Summer I Turned Pretty (Summer Series 1) by Jenny Han

3 Stars - I recommend if you enjoy contemporary YA and family drama. This one felt a bit younger than most I have read, but also dealt with some difficult topics. I did not like it nearly as much as "To All The Boys I've Loved Before" everything about it had quite a different vibe.

This book follows Isabel "Belly" as she spends her summer at her family friend's beach house. She's spent every summer there, since before she was born. Her and her brother grew up with Beck's boys, Conrad and Jeremiah. Since she was 10 years old, Belly has been in love with Conrad. As they all get older, things are changing rapidly, and it might just be their last summer at the beach house.

If you've been reading my reviews for a bit, you'll know that I LOVE LOVE LOVED Jenny Han's "To All The Boys I've Loved Before" series. I decided to read this one at the very end of summer, because when would be a better time? Overall I did not love it like I did her other series, but it was still an entertaining read. I liked the idea of her family's tradition to spend the summer at the beach with another family, like one big family. I liked seeing Belly come of age a little bit, but it still felt quite young for YA. I read it in an evening, so it was certainly entertaining enough. I felt like Conrad was kind of a brat for most of the book... and I honestly like Jeremiah better. LOL. I definitely found myself wanting to know the quirky details, habits, interests, etc. of the characters because those details were so much of what I loved in the other series. We'll see how the rest of the book goes. I'm not good at reading a series and not finishing it. :)

It's Not Summer Without You (Summer Series 2) by Jenny Han

3 stars - I recommend if you enjoy contemporary YA and family drama. This one felt a bit younger than most I have read, but also dealt with some difficult topics. I did not like it nearly as much as "To All The Boys I've Loved Before" everything about it had quite a different vibe.

More summer shenanigans.

Hmm... I liked this one a bit more, mostly because Belly was a bit more mature. However, the inability to communicate with anyone was enraging for me. It's very much like New Moon, Bella is acting out to get Edward's attention. I did like seeing chapters from other character's POV, but I wanted a bit more of it. I like how Han flashes back to things in the past that clear things up later.

We'll Always Have Summer (Summer Series 3) by Jenny Han

3 Stars - I recommend if you enjoy contemporary YA and family drama. This one felt a bit younger than most I have read, but also dealt with some difficult topics. I did not like it nearly as much as "To All The Boys I've Loved Before" everything about it had quite a different vibe.

More summer shenanigans.

What... ? This one was just a hot mess of events. (highlight for spoilers) Your boyfriend cheats on you and tries to fix it with a marriage proposal (at 18!) and you say 'yes'?! Holy cow you guys. I had a hard time understanding the character's motivations in this one. I still liked the flash backs and multiple POVs. I liked the ending.. .but it also did that (SPOILER) thing, making living your life and finding yourself something you cannot do if you are married or in a committed relationship. Just one of my all-time biggest pet peeves. (for obvious reasons...) I overall wouldn't recommend this series. If you were avoiding reading To All The Boys I've Loved Before because you didn't like this series, don't worry. They aren't alike hardly at all. Go ahead and read the other series. It's much better, IMHO. :)

Passenger by Alexandra Bracken

4 Stars - I recommend if you enjoy action, adventure, and time travel elements. If you're not into fantasy, it's really the only element that's abnormal. No magic, etc. This is the first book in a series, but a series of just two books. #winning

This book follows Etta, a violinist on her way to her debut. When she begins her performance for The Met in NYC, she begins to hear feedback and runs off stage. She's soon ushered into a stairwell, and pushed... into another century. She awakens on a ship in the 18th century, in the Caribbean. She must quickly figure out what is going on, as she's been summoned to the leader of the travelers... who everyone seems to be afraid of. While on the ship she meets Sophia (the one who pushed her through the portal), and Nicholas (a freed slave, and the new captain of she ship she's on, as he's taken it by force). When the leader of the travelers gives her a seemingly impossible task, she must travel through time to retrieve an artifact. Adventure ensues.

I really enjoyed this book! I thought it was a cool concept, and I liked that while the time travel element is fantasy, it doesn't have any other magic or creatures in it. :) It's kind of like Outlander in that way. I also loved how much focus there was on inequality, and societal issues. Nicholas is half black and a freed slave, and Sophia struggles with being treated as a child for being female. I thought it was cool how they brought Etta from the present to put those issues into perspective. I also kind of love pirate-y plots, so the whole first part being on a ship was fun, I was actually kind of sad when they left the ship. LOL. I really enjoyed that the time traveling took them to many interesting times and places. It wasn't just one or two. I shipped (har) Etta & Nicholas, but I will say that for some reason the way it read made him seem quite a lot older than her... which he is not. The sections kind of switch back and forth between their perspectives, but then not so much. It's not really confusing, but it is a bit unusual. I wouldn't say this ends on a cliff-hanger, but it does bring up some new information in the last few pages. I'm excited to see where the final installment in the duology takes the story, I've already seen a few of the times/places they go from the goodreads synopsis, and I cannot wait!

The Yellow Envelope: One Gift, Three Rules, and a Life-Changing Journey Around the World by Kim Dinan*

4 Stars - I recommend if you enjoy travel memoir books, as well as reflections on self-discovery.

This book follows the true story of Kim and Brian Dinan's adventure as they sell their home and cars, quit their jobs, and embark on an unknown world journey. They are given a yellow envelope filled with money before they leave, and are instructed to give it away as they wish along the way. This book is a recount of their travels, but also the journey of Kim's self discovery.

I wasn't quite sure what to expect with this book, but once I dove in I was pretty captivated. I always love reading about people's travels, and the struggles they deal with as they travel. While I have not traveled extensively or internationally, I can relate to how hard traveling often is. It's meant to be a journey, a struggle, and something that you learn from. I appreciated that honesty in this memoir. I also really loved that she tackled the complicated emotions and opinions related to the right way to live, the right way to travel, and the right way to give. It is so easy to think that anything we do is not "enough". Or to over-think our motives, or how our actions might look... but I appreciated that she acknowledges these things in herself and others and it all comes down to: we are all doing the best we can. And we'll all keep doing great things and also messing up, and it will be fine. We'll learn from it. I did have to stop reading this at one point, there is a portion where things are not going smoothly and Kim and Brian aren't communicating very well, I had to take a bit of a break because it broke my heart a bit. However, once I kept going it was fine. I think I was just consuming a bit too much media with a stark tone to it at the time.

The Beautiful Ones by Silvia Moreno-Garcia*

4 Stars - I recommend if you enjoy books that focus on relationships with twisty motivations, and subtle hints of magic in your fiction.

This book follows Hector, a magician/telekinetic, who moves to a new city to perform. He meets a young woman, named Nina, who is taken with his talents, and wants to be a performer herself. He decides to court her, and teach her what he knows, as she enters her first "grand season" in society. Nina is under the supervision of her elegant aunt Valerie, in hopes that she may find a husband soon. However, her gifts are frowned upon and often cause her to be seen as an outcast. Hector seems to be her only suitor and friend, but is he really after Valerie?

This book is pretty hard to describe, but I just thought it was lovely and atmospheric. It has a slow pace, but the world is lovely. I enjoyed the societal aspect of the book (the grand balls, the courting, etc.), but I also enjoyed the bits of magic/telekinesis. I loved most that Nina and Valerie had really interesting personalities and interests. Nina as into etymology and collecting butterflies specifically. Valerie is all about presentation, perfect from head to toe, every room in her home, even her rose garden. I felt like most of the characters had questionable or changing motivations. You didn't know when people were telling the truth or not, which had me feeling like I didn't know what would happen in the end. The twisty relationship dynamics reminded me a bit of My Cousin Rachel or Cruel Intentions, though a little less stark overall. I recommend this if you enjoy books like this or are looking for something a little bit out of the ordinary. I thought it was really lovely to read.

Publication Date: October 24th 2017.

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 feel like I keep making a "books on deck" section... and not reading any of them... for at least 6 months. Whatever... :P I'm just going to keep last month's this time!

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!



* 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 titles won in a goodreads giveaway.