Wednesday, December 26, 2018

My Favorite Books of 2018! // Bookworm

How did we get to the end of the year? This year was crazy and fast. I read a lot... mostly to avoid stress... but also to *treat* it. Can I get an amen?! :P I was somehow able to eliminate down to 26 favorite books within the following categories. Here we go!

Is it strange that I read almost all of these books before September?! (obviously not the Christmas ones..) What does that mean?!

Several of these books would also count for other categories, but you guys are super smart. I'm not going to put things in multiple spots. :)

Reading Goal:

This year I set my goal at 50 books... which is my usual goal. I usually read 52-58 books. This year I SOMEHOW(!) read 108 books (as of 12/22). Woohoo. What a crazy year. I guess it feels good that I really liked about 1/4 of those books, and of course probably another 1/4 - 1/2 were pretty good, but not amazing. :)

The Bear and the Nightingale & The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden
A Court of Frost and Starlight by Sarah J. Maas
Beauty and the Clockwork Beast & Kiss of the Spindle by Nancy Campbell Allen
Dance of Thieves by Mary E. Pearson
Phoenix Unbound by Grace Draven

The Chaperone by Laura Moriarty

On the Island by Tracey Garvis Graves (contemporary)
Pestilence by Laura Thalassa (paranormal)
Head Over Heels by Serena Bell (contemporary)
The Real Deal by Lauren Blakely (contemporary)
The Kiss Quotient by Helen Huang (contemporary)
Josh and Hazel's Guide to Not Dating by Christina Lauren (contemporary)
The Beau and The Belle by RS Grey (contemporary)

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
Simon vs. the Homosapiens Agenda by Becky Albertali
The Sun is Also A Star by Nicola Yoon

Sadie by Courtney Summers

The Christmas Sisters by Sarah Morgan
A Holiday by Gaslight by Mimi Matthews -- fyi this is a novella
The White Christmas Inn by Colleen Wright

The Sleeper and The Spindle by Neil Gaiman
Wires & Nerve vol. I by Marissa Meyer

We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Make Something Good Today by Ben and Erin Napier

Have you read any of these? If so, what did you think?

What were some of your favorite books this year?!



Friday, December 21, 2018

Have You Heard? // Kacey Musgraves - "Mele Kalikimaka"

Happy Friday Friends! Last night we went to see The Nutcracker at The Kauffman, which was so fun! :) I'm SO GLAD THAT IT IS THE WEEKEND, AND MY HOLIDAY "BREAK".**

I have really loved getting to know Kacey Musgraves's music this year, her Christmas album is super fun. I like that a lot of the songs have a vintage-y feel to them. I think this is one of my favorite tracks though it is hard to choose! :)

I really think that more people should cover this one, it is fun. :)

What are you guys doing this weekend?!

We have our Christmas party/game night with friends tomorrow evening which should be fun. We are doing breakfast food. YUM. Then Sunday we're not sure. Probably finishing up gift wrapping, driving around to see holiday lights, and possibly Jingle All the Way at our local theater. I've never seen it! :) Then it's Christmas Eve spent together, and Christmas spent with family. :)

Wishing you a very Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays to you all!




**let's not talk about how I will only have FIVE vacation hours come January 1st. :( Buying a house + two longer vacations = nada vacation. OY. : /

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Keep It Together: A Planning & Memory Keeping Blog Hop - December 2018

Happy Thursday Friends! It is one of my favorite days, Keep It Together with Lauren at Shooting Stars Mag! :) This linkup is all about planners, memory keeping, bullet journals, etc. So please feel free to linkup your posts on the Third Thursday of every month! Make sure to hop on over to Lauren's page and check out her post too! :)


In November and December I've gotten back into using my bullet journal. I haven't really decorated it or made it fancy, but I have used it... so that's an improvement. I am excited NOT to BUJO next year. :) hehe I can't wait to use my 1canoe2 planner!


Last year I did my first October, November, and December Daily albums. I loved them so much, and felt like they helped me to de-stress and focus on gratitude during some of the busiest months of the year. There was a bit of time this year, where I wasn't sure I'd be able to make these work... but I am so glad that I did, even if I'm a little "behind". :)

October Daily:

I initially planned to do a Traveler's Notebook like last year, but decided to do a mini album instead to save time. I like how it turned out, despite making a lot of these tiny albums, I have yet to make one for myself! I thought it was super fun! I am also glad to be using up some of my Halloween-themed supplies.

November Daily:

I was so behind on this I was worried that I would end up skipping it! I decided to use a small notebook that I got from 1Canoe2's Hi-Five envelope. It is so cute and small and made documenting November manageable. I am so glad I was able to do a bit more journalling in this one with my type writer! :) I started by trying to use up supplies, and ended up being kind of bored with it. When I started using newer items that I'd been "saving" I started really LOVING this album. Don't hoard your things, folks!!

December Daily:

The Big Kahuna! I am so excited to start this project. I have gushed about this collection a lot... so pretty! I love the red and green and the swans are MY FAVORITE. I am doing a 3 x 8 size which is new for me, and I think will be SUPER FUN! :) I got everything organized last night, so I am ready. to. start!

Next Year!

We are so excited to announce that we will continue this linkup into 2019! If you love planning or documenting please join us on the first day, January 17th! And we'll continue on each third Thursday of the month!

What about you guys? Have you been doing any fun documenting or planning?

Do you have any documenting goals for next year?!

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

Have a planning or documenting post? Link up with us below! :) 


    An InLinkz Link-up

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

November 2018 Reads // Mismash!


I realized that back in September... I forgot to share my review of Not So Nice Guy by R.S. Grey. *facepalm* I got the review onto Amazon 

Not So Nice Guy by R.S. Grey****

3 Stars - I recommend if you enjoy contemporary romance, quirky characters, and the friends to lovers trope.

Sam and Ian have been best friends for three years. Sam has love Ian for three years, and Ian has loved Sam for three years. Ian starts a rumor at the school where they work that they are dating, so other single teachers won't hit on Sam. When she squashes his rumor, single male teachers come out of the woodwork to date her. Suddenly Ian has to put his hat into the ring as well. Is he ready to be more than just friends?

I love R.S. Grey's books, they are so darn cute and funny. This was no exception. It started out incredibly hilarious and I loved their initial chemistry. Friends to lovers is one of my favorite romance tropes, so I was loving how it was progressing. I was having a rough couple of days though, so I am not sure if it skewed my opinion... but it ended up being a little bit all over the place for me. I loved the beginning, I loooved how he threw his hat in the ring, and some of the steamy/tension-y scenes at that point. However, I felt like I didn't understand Ian's character after that. He was trying to seduce her and then he just kind of asked her to date and stopped communicating. Maybe I didn't quite "get" them. I like that he gave her space to figure out what she wanted, but other times she asked for what she wanted... and got turned away. I'm not really sure. During that time a lot of zany things happened, which wasn't quite what I expected from her book. Not completely sure how I feel about it yet, it was a fun read, it had some really good steamy parts, but it also wasn't my favorite I've read from R.S. Grey.

Someone to Hold (Westcott #2) by Mary Balogh

4 Stars - I recommend if you enjoy historical romance. This is the second book in the series.

Camille Wescott's life was overturned when her father's death realized her fate as an illegitimate child and penniless. Upon moving to Bath to live with her grandmother, Camille decides to begin teaching at the orphanage where her half-sister used to live and work. Her time there helps her realize that she could be content with a simpler life, and that she very much wants to be a mother. When she meets Joel Cunningham, the orphanage's art teacher, and master portrait painter she is immediately taken with him. Can Camille adjust to her new life, and will Joel be content to live a simpler life with her?

Overall I enjoyed this book more than the first one. I liked the setting within the orphanage, a smaller city, and a lower society much better. I liked hearing about Camille's journey to accept her new life, and her teaching at the orphanage. I found Joel to be infinitely more appealing than Avery, not that he was horrible... I just thought the chemistry was better. I also like that Camille and Joel kind of made their own rules and made their strange relationship work. I liked the ending, though HIGHLIGHT FOR SPOILER: did anyone else wish that they hadn't inherited all of that money? :/ 

Someone to Wed (Wescott #3) by Mary Balogh

4 Stars - I recommend if you enjoy historical romance. This is the third book in the series.

Alexander Wescott has unexpectedly inherited the title of Earl of Riverdale and a drowning country estate that he cannot pay to repair. Despite his distaste for it, he knows that he must marry a wealthy woman. Wren Heyden is a recluse with no surviving family. She owns her uncle's company, his estate, and is extremely wealthy. All that Wren is missing is a husband and a family. Can she convince the extremely proper Alexander to marry her for her money?

THIS IS THE BOOK I WAS WAITING FOR. Also, that start. So direct. I love it. I liked that this book was a bit different than the other two. I loved how forward, modern, etc. Wren was. I loved her contrast to Alexander and how they made it work. I could have gone for all of this happening at the country estates... but I guess they had to get her out of her shell. I adore that this was a bit of a Beauty and the Beast in reverse. I really liked pretty much everything about this one. It is my favorite in the series so far!

Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

4 Stars - I recommend if you are looking for excellent writing, vivid world building, and a completely original fantasy plot.

Richard Mayhew's life is right on track, if not a little average. He's a business man, and he's engaged to a woman he's been politely dating for some time. His chance meeting with a wounded girl catapults him into the world of London Below. A place that no upworlder knows exists. An incredibly dangerous place filled with criminals, beasts, sewer people, danger, and rats. How can Richard survive London Below, and make it back to his London Above life in one piece?

It took me a little while to get into this book, the world and how it was written. It was immediately apparent how great of a writer Gaiman is. However, I wasn't sure that this story was for me. The world building was incredible, everything was written in such a vivid way which I adored. However, there was not a lot of linear plot until about 65-70% through the book. I will admit that I put this book down for several months. I just wasn't into it. I picked it back up and finished it very quickly. Once we got into more of the action piece of the story I quite liked it. Overall, maybe not my favorite Gaiman story, but I did end up liking it quite a bit. The world building, and incredible writing make up for any of the bits that I found were not my favorite within the plot.

Coraline by Neil Gaiman

4 Stars - I recommend if you enjoy creepy stories with brave characters for children.

When Coraline moves into a new house she quickly figures out that some doors are better left locked. But is life more exciting on the other side? When her parents go missing it is up to her to find them and bring them back. Can she be brave enough to face her fears and save them?

Even though creepy themes are not my favorite by nature, I adored the reason that Gaiman wrote this book, and of course the writing style. I liked seeing how his mind translated into a children's story and a children's character. I liked how it focused on bravery and courage.

Someone to Care by Mary Balogh (Wescott #4)

4 Stars - I recommend if you enjoy historical romance. This is the fourth book in the series.

Viola Kinglsey, the former countess of Riverdale has been trying to start her life over. When her husband died, it came out that her marriage to him was illegitimate and that his daughter from his previous (and only) marriage was to inherit his fortune and property. All of a sudden Viola is left without a fortune, a home, and her children's futures are ruined. Since that time her children have started to remake their lives, but she is still unmoored. When a chance meeting reacquaints her with a man she once loved, The Marquess of Devonshire, she decides to take a chance on an improper decision. But how will her life move on once her fling has ended?

I wasn't expecting to like this one quite as much as the others. It is a second chance love story of one of the older characters, and I wasn't particularly interested. However, this one really grabs you from the beginning. A lot of the romance happens early on, and for the most part the plot kept my interest very well. I like that part of it took place at Christmas. I think that all of the other ones take place in spring and summer. Overall I liked Viola, and Marcel and how they worked through their various issues.

Someone to Trust (Wescott #5)**

3 Stars - I recommend if you enjoy historical romance. This is the fifth book in the series.

Elizabeth Overfield has been married before. Her first husband was abusive, and she was able to escape his clutches. After years of healing she is ready to enter into the "marriage mart" again. Colin Handrich is also ready to look for a spouse, but doesn't find any of the ladies he meets very compatible to his life. He does however, find Elizabeth to be a good companion. However, she's nine years older than he is, and not a suitable match. After a shared kiss, they part ways agreeing to look for more suitable people in London. Their agreement to save a waltz for each other at each dance however, may disrupt their marriage plans.

At first I loooooved this book. I adored the chemistry between Elizabeth and Colin. They were so bantery and fun. It was so festive that it took place partly at Christmas as well! I thought that their age difference was really kind of appealing... but then at some point it became kind of convoluted and overly dramatic for me. So much mis-communication and thing after thing put in their way. Any sort of passion or chemistry that they had felt diminished by the end of the book, which was such a bummer. Which is crazy, because the whole waltzing thing was so sort of fun and there was so much chemistry! I was really hoping to love this one, but I didn't love it nearly as much as the other books in the series.

Hotshot Doc by R.S. Grey****

4.5 Stars - I highly recommend if you enjoy contemporary romance, humor, and the enemies to lovers trope.

Bailey is a surgical assistant and loves working with her surgeon. However, when he announces his retirement she's out of a job. Dr. Russell is known for being mean, cocky, and very good at his job. When his (newest) surgical assistant quits he is in need of a new one. Bailey begins working for Dr. Russell and finds that he is just as difficult as everyone says he is... but there's also something else there. Attraction.

I was a little nervous about this one, because Grey's last book Not So Nice Guy was not my jam. I had NO NEED to be! Y'all, this book was SO GOOD. It was very very very funny, it was extremely steamy, and it had parts that were cute as heck. I loved Bailey and Matt, they had such good chemistry! There was some banter, but mostly there were just icy cold glares and heated glances. I loved Bailey and Josie's relationship, I liked that it gave her character depth and a different backstory than other female leads. I'm not sure what else to say about this one, but I loved it! Highly recommend!

How to Hygge: The Nordic Secrets to a Happy Life by Signe Johansen

4 Stars - I recommend if you are looking to learn more about hygge.

A guide to hygge living, this book is filled with recipes, design tips, and memories from the author's childhood.

Starting out I enjoyed this book. I don't think it is a particularly good overview of Hygge. It sort of assumes that you already know something about it. I felt that the print was VERY small and I have pretty good eyesight. I enjoyed her Nordic mindset that bodies are looked at in the way of their usefulness and not in how they look. However, a few times in there it did feel a little like... but I can't go cross-country skiing in the evening, even if I wanted to. There is a sort of privilege that came with the perspective on that chapter. I did enjoy the commentary on the vikings and their nature to adventure and to move. Also on the idea that we forget to have fun and worry about being silly. I feel that way about exercise and sports. Though I do not in other areas of life. So that was food for thought. Overall I enjoyed this book, I thought that there were some good ideas within it, it was filled with reasonable information, and was inspiring especially during the winter season. If you are looking for an INTRO to hygge, I would go with The Little Book of Hygge instead.

Accidental Beauty Queen by Teri Wilson*

3.5 - 4 Stars - I recommend if you enjoy contemporary romances, humor, nerdy references, and PG-13 romance.

Ginny and Charlotte are twins and polar opposites. Ginny is a beauty queen with an Instagram presence that earns her living. Charlotte is a school librarian with a minor Harry Potter obsession.When Charlotte agrees to attend Ginny's pageant in Florida she imagines she'll be there for the finals to cheer her sister on.. .but otherwise reading and visiting Harry Potter World. However, when Ginny has an allergic reaction and is unable to compete she convinces Charlotte to take her place for the first few days. What can go wrong? Not to mention... one of the judges is both nerdy, and incredibly handsome.

This is a really cute, quick read. I enjoyed this Parent Trap meets Miss Congeniality plot. At first I was hoping for the whole story to be about Ginny and Charlotte...  Sort of a coming to terms story with their sisterhood and their differences. As the book went though, I really ended up liking Grey. So I wasn't too sad that there was romance involved in the plot too. It was very cute in a nerdy sort of way (so many Harry Potter references! etc.). Also she says her favorite book is Jane Eyre. So it's a keeper for obvious reasons. I liked that this book did address the issues she had with her sister, and with herself as well as the romantic plot. This was a very cute PG-13 sort of romance... and I liked it. :)

Miss Mink: Life Lessons for a Cat Countess by Janet Hill*

5 Stars - I recommend if you enjoy children's books, or gift/art books.

Miss Mink is a cat countess with her own cruise company. When she finds herself feeling down, she looks to her sixty-seven cats for advice on contented living.

Janet Hill has been one of my favorite Etsy artists for years.When Miss Moon: Wise Words for a Dog Governess came out a couple of years ago, I jumped at the chance to read and review it. I have now bought a copy for myself and gifted it to several kiddos in my life. Iwas so excite dto see Miss Mink was available as well. I consider myself a cat person, though I love dogs too. This book was just as delightful as Miss Moon, with so many cute, quirky paintings of Miss Mink and her sixty-seven cat friends. I love the whimsy of Janet Hill's world, I hope that she keeps writing books in addition to telling stories through her paintings. I definitely recommend this to parents and to anyone who loves a nice art/gift book.



What have you read lately?!

How's your 2018 reading goal looking?!



* 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, December 7, 2018

Have You Heard? // Pentatonix - "Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays" (N'sync Cover)

Helllo! It's been a long time since I've done a "Have You Heard". This has not been my blogging year. That's ok, I'll just keep moving forward.

When Pentatonix covers an N'sync Xmas song... you've gotta share it. :)

Anyone else still listen to 90s and aughtie xmas albums?!

What are you guys up to this weekend?!

We are watching DUMPLIN' on Netflix tonight! HOORAY! I am so so so excited! Tomorrow we have a Hanukkah party this afternoon and early evening, and then a Christmas party with some of KC's former coworkers after that. Sunday is a dinner with my girlfriends. We're giving belated gifts to Jessica who's bday was last week!

I hope that you have a great weekend!



Tuesday, December 4, 2018

The Roaring Swinging Groovy Fabulous Wrap Up!

Whew, it is DECEMBER! That means that Audrey and I are here to recap our year of #RSFGBlogCollab - this is still a mouthful. hehe

We could not decide how we wanted to format this post, but we ended up thinking we'd do a section on "best of the best" aka essential reading/watching, "Through the Ages" aka other period dramas we love, and "On Deck" - stuff we are *still* dying to read or watch! (or maybe even more-so after all of this talk.

Here we go, on to my lists -- make sure to check out Audrey's here! - Make sure to link up with us if you want to share your favorite period dramas!

Best of The Best 

To Read:
Anne of Green Gables (190os) - Check out my post about Anne, here.
The Tumbling Turner Sisters (1910s) - vaudeville, so fun!
The Chaperone by Laura Moriarty (1920s) - Check out my thoughts on this one for SUYB next week! Spoiler: I loooved it! - I think this is being made into a movie!!
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Schafer (1940s) - loved this!
The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd (1960s) (one of my all-time favorite books)
The Help by Kathryn Stockett (1960s)
Bridget Jones's Diary by Helen Fielding (1990s) - pure genius!

To Watch:

When Calls the Heart (1910s) - TV - I love mounty Jack. *swoon* (1910s)
Sweet Land (1910s) (movie) - cute!
Florence Foster Jenkins (1940s) - SO FUNNY and heartbreaking
**Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries - TV - THE BEST SHOW EVER, GO WATCH IT! - movie just wrapped filming! Squee!)
Anastasia - all time favorite (obviously) (1910s-1920s)
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them - I adore this movie! (1920s)
Paper Moon (1930s)- 5 Stars! - Possible father/daughter con team sell bibles in Kansas. A
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (movie) (1940s) - this movie exceeded my expectations and was SO gorgeous!
Call the Midwife (BBC) (1950s-1960s) - This is my go-to Netflix show. It follows the midwives in London's East End. The show starts in the 1950s, and is still coming out on BBC. I think it is in the mid to late 1960's now. I have a little catching up to do.. but I think I've seen about 5 seasons. This show while very real and emotional... is very heartwarming for me. It's still good for my mental diet! Babies, nuns, people rising above it. A gem you guys, watch this. But be ready to sob.
Stranger Things (1980s) - I fought watching this so hard. I don't like the 1980's, I don't love sci-fi. I did love this show. A lot. It's very very well done and it didn't matter at all that it wasn't right up my alley. :) Who is your favorite character?! Mine is Lucas. :) 
Gilmore Girls (TV) (2000s) - forever, but I'll always be grumpy over that reboot.
The Holiday (2000s) - my favorite Christmas movie
Bridget Jones's Diary (2000s) - essential watching


**Anastasia Broadway (1910s - 1920s) - Musical - AMAZZZZINNNNG! 

Through The Ages - Other Period Dramas I Love

Tristan and Isolde (1200s..?)
Little Women (Civil War) I like both the 1994 + 2017 PBS versions.
Jane Eyre - Favorite book of ALL TIME!
Love And Friendship - a hilarious Austen movie!
Pride and Prejudice (book and movie)
Persuasion (book and movie)
The Bear and the Nightingale (book series) - Medieval
Outlander (book and TV series) - 1700s + other times
Edenbrooke (book) - Regency
The Queen's Lady (Thornleigh Saga, book series) - Tudor
A Holiday By Gaslight (book) - Victorian

Still On Deck

The Romanov Sisters: The Lost lives of the Daughters of Nicholas and Alexandra (1900s)(Book)
Joyeux Noel (1900s) (movie)
Dreamland Burning by Jennifer Latham (1920s) (book)
Downton Abbey (1920s) - TV - I know it's shameful... but I haven't finished this!
Upstairs, Downstairs (1930s) - BBC Miniseries
Dust Bowl Girls: The Inspiring Story of the Team that Barnstormed Its way to Basketball Glory by Lydia Reeder (1930s)
A United Kingdom (movie) (1940s)
Land Girls (BBC Show) (1940s)
The Bronze Horseman (book) (1940s) 
Wonder Wheel (movie) (1950s)- this looks sooo good!
Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepeyts (book) (1940s) - great author, set in NOLA, must read.
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (tv show) (1940s)
The Astronaut Wives' Club (TV Show) (1960s) - I've heard that the show is a lot better than the book, I'll keep you posted!
The Help (movie) (1960s)
Friends (1990s/2000s) (TV) - yes I have seen some/a lot, but not all. Someday! :)

Whew, so there you have it! The best of the best from this year and some bonus items! 

What about you?! Feel free to linkup with us below!!





Thursday, November 29, 2018

Live Your Best Holiday Life Update // November

Happy Thursday friends! Today, Shea and I are sharing updates for #lybholidayl ! We are doing it a little differently this year, and enjoying it and struggling with it in our own ways! Make sure to check out Shea's post to see what she's been up to. We'd love for you to join in with the ideas and by sharing your own successes and struggles this holiday season! Need the lists again? Scroll to the bottom! :) 

What's Going Well:

We spent a really nice weekend at KC's grandparent's farm. I wrote about what it means to me, here.

A lot of reading! (a lot!) - if you are looking for a cheesy holiday read check out these reviews! here and here.

Keeping a Gratitude Log

Getting outside & walking home more often

Shopped my closet for Thanksgiving outfits

Rules for Making Plans (to reduce anxiety!!):

1) if someone in the group is super busy, let them pick the time between two days, etc. "We are free all day Saturday and Sunday, you guys let us know!"
2) if everyone is free, be the person who says let's go HERE, at THIS TIME.

If it changes, that's ok! But be the decisive person, you'll have a plan sooner!

The "Four" Christmas Gifts - this year KC and I are doing the "four" gifts for Christmas. 

1) something you want
2) something you need
3) something to wear
4) something to read

It has definitely simplified shopping and been kind of a fun challenge!

Cheesy Netflix Xmas Movies - can recommend The Christmas Calendar and The Princess Switch. And obviously last year's A Christmas Prince!

A long snow weekend where we stayed in, read, cozied up with cats, played board games, made a really yummy stew, etc.

Made turkey broth after t-giving with the turkey carcass. It was SO inexpensive and easy. I froze the broth in ice cube trays for easy use and portioning later! (we also do this with leftover broth from the store, and chopped up adobo chiles. :) 

Where I'm Struggling:

Meditating... oy, it's getting a little easier, but is not my jam.

We tried some nail wraps... LOL they were not super successful.

I'm not feeling overly festive this year. I want to feel a little less bah humbug! I'm hoping that getting a tree and decorating soon will help!

Hopes for December:

To make and send Christmas cards - down to the wire... lol

To decorate and feel more "in the spirit"

Donate to a few organizations -- we usually do this in November, but only did a little bit.

Try to reduce a little stress, this week has been a rough one stress-wise.

Do some holiday baking

Overall I think that things are going well, but I am starting to feel some stress this week. I hope that I can do a bit of destressing and getting a bit more festive in the coming weeks!

How about you guys? How is your holiday season going?

Are you doing LYBHolidayL? We'd love for you to join us! 

Please let us know if you are joining in by using #lybholidayl and tagging Shea and I! :) 



Thursday, November 15, 2018

Keep It Together: A Planning & Memory Keeping Blog Hop - November 2018

Whew, we are fully in the swing of the the holiday season here. We're busy, it's cold, I'm feeling the stress. Trying to #lybholidayl to make it a little easier. Trying meditation this week too! Please join us for #lybholidayl

But today, Lauren and I are talking all about planning and memory keeping! Make sure to hop on over and see her post! :)


No news here!

Merry Days & Willow Lane Haul:

I'm so excited to use these collections. Especially Merry Days for December Daily! :)

Mini Album for Audrey:

I have a little flip through of the mini album that I made for Audrey who attended my scrapbook class! :)

Mini Snow & Cocoa Album:

I made a mini album for the holidays/winter for Audrey who attended my scrapbook class this summer. I am going to ship it with her mini album (above) I hope that she enjoys both of them!

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What about you guys? Have you been doing any fun documenting or planning?

Have you picked your 2019 planner?!   

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



    An InLinkz Link-up

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

October 2018 Reads // Romance, Space Opera, and New Age

HAPPY BOOK DAY! I have continued to bury myself in reading, and am at about double what I have read in the past few years. I'll take it.

I read more Christmas books last month and I am not putting my reviews here since that's not everyone's jam... so check out Volume II of 2018 Christmas reads. I figured out the best and worst, so you don't have to.

The Long Way to A Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers

3.7-4 Stars - I recommend if you enjoy science fiction plots, and relevant social commentary.

Rosemary is running from her old life. She pays someone to give her a new identity, and takes up as a clerk on a long haul ship. There she'll meet a diverse cast of characters on a mission to punch holes in space for easier transportation. The work is dangerous and can strand the crew in deep space for long periods of time, which is probably why this crew is a lot like family.

Overall I really liked this book. I am struggling to properly rate it for several reasons... I loved the characters, the world building, and imagination put into this book. The planets, species, etc. alone must have taken ages to dream up. It was all so vivid too, I loved reading about the different places that the crew stopped and the people that they met there. However, I felt like a lot of the action-y parts of the book didn't go very far. Either the action sequences fade to black, are resolved very quickly and without a lot of consequence, or the action scene ends up being more of a bonding scenario for two characters. I felt like that was kind of a let down for me. So, I'm having trouble rating it.... I did also really appreciate the author's ability to weave current social commentary into a book set somewhere completely different. It definitely makes you think about things like racism, violence, humanity, sexuality, etc. I really appreciated that, and I think it probably made me think about some of those topics in a bit of a different way. I will likely read the next book, but I am not in a hurry to get to it.

Someone To Love by Mary Balogh

4 Stars - I recommend if you enjoy historical romance.

When the Earl of Riverdale dies, his secret daughter is exposed and brought from an orphanage into high society. Anna Snow has always wished for a family, but it is clear that her new family has mixed feelings about her. Avery Archer the Duke of Netherby does as he pleases, and decides to intercede and help Anna escape her smothering new family. Avery's reputation is set as a wealthy bachelor, who does as he pleases, but Anna causes him to consider desires he has long pushed aside.

I haven't read a ton of historical romance, so they are always a little bit hard for me to rate/review, but it will get easier eventually. Overall I enjoyed this book, I liked the main character Anna well enough. She was smart and fairly independent. I liked that Avery never followed any rules, but I found his quizzing glass, etc. a little eccentric and not particularly attractive. I enjoyed their opposites attract sort of relationship, however I couldn't figure out at what point they decided they liked each other. Anna kind of went along with things. I did appreciate the there wasn't this huge fixation on her being a virgin as there often can be in novels like this. It wasn't a big deal, and that was so much less creepy. I thought that the martial arts stuff was a little random... but whatever. I particularly enjoyed the ending when they visited Bath, etc. I'm excited to check out the next books in this series and see how the rest progress.

The Proposal by Jasmine Guillory**

4 Stars - I recommend if you enjoy contemporary romance, and especially if you are looking for more diversity within the romance genre.

When Nik's boyfriend unexpectedly proposes to her at a Dodger's game (live on the JumboTron) she is angry, mortified, and publicly shamed when she doesn't say "yes". Carlos and his sister sitting a few rows behind Nik decide to swoop in and save her from more on-camera humilation. To thank them, she buys them a drink. Nik has sworn off men after the proposal, but she can't help but appreciate how kind and good-looking Carlos is. What's the harm in meeting up for dinner? Carlos and Nik aren't looking for a serious relationship, but things can get blurry pretty quickly in a new relationship. Can they keep it casual? Or are they looking for more?

I really loved this book! Carlos was my favorite character in Guillory's other book The Wedding Date, so seeing him as the main character of this book was a lot of fun. I definitely liked Nik a lot, and their chemistry together was really great. They were both honest and sarcastic characters which was refreshing in a romance novel. I loved the foodie aspect of the story, and Carlos's love of food and cooking. My favorite part was that the side characters and especially Carlos's family members played a large role in this book. I loved the family dynamics with Carlos and his sister, cousin, etc.! I think once again Guillory shows a modern take on dating and relationships that feels fresh and romantic, but more realistic. Overall I really enjoyed this book, and it definitely has me excited to read Guillory's next novel!

The Duke I Tempted by Scarlett Peckham

3 Stars - I might recommend if you enjoy historical romance, strong female characters, and bdsm.

Poppy Cavendish is a successful botanist and runs her own nursery. When the Duke of Westmead hires every working man in the area she finds herself in a bind as she must uproot her nursery and move it several miles away to another property. The Duke of Westmead's ambitious sister, Constance, has no bigger desire than to throw the ball of the year at Westmead. In order to do so she'll need an indoor forest, and hires Poppy to make her dreams a reality. As Poppy and The Duke of Westmead spend time together they come to find that they are quite attracted to each other. However, the Duke is a member of a little-known illicit club in London which just might ruin his reputation, and by association, Poppy's.

I felt like this book had a LOT going on. To start, I loved Poppy's independent character, her profession, her humor, and wit. I loved her chemistry with the Duke as well. Most of the beginning of this book reminded me of The Steampunk Proper Romance series by Nancy Campbell Allen. However, the bdsm stuff just felt so random for me. Perhaps it is because I have no other books to compare it to, or maybe because it's just not something I'm particularly interested in... but it felt like a small and sort of random addition to the story. I also felt like there was a lot going on within the story: her business, his business, their relationship, the rumors, the illicit club, other hardships, his tortured past.. I won't give spoilers... but it was just a bit much to keep up with. Honestly, without the bdsm and a one or two disasters or dramas I might have really loved this one!

My Favorite Half-Night Stand by Christina Lauren*

4 Stars - I recommend if you enjoy contemporary romance. This one has a bit more emotional depth to it.

Millie has been one of the guys for as long as she can remember, one night she starts to see her friend Reid as more than just a friend. When they end up sleeping together they quickly decide that it won't happen again, and their whole group decides to try a dating app. As Reid and Millie start chatting with potential dates within the app, their friendship gets more complicated.

Overall I enjoyed this book, I read it in an afternoon/evening. I liked the "found family" aspect of the book, and the quirky characters. I wish that Millie and Reid's personalities would have been just a bit more apparent. I loved that she was into True Crime and serial killers, but it seemed like such a small part of her personality, despite it being her profession. This book was a bit more emotional than some of the other CL books that I have read. There is a lot of character growth, struggles, and some tough issues. In addition to it being a bit more emotional, it also wasn't quite as comic as some of their other books. While I did enjoy this one, Josh and Hazel has not been knocked from the top spot for me. - Publishes December 4th!-

Chakra Animals: Discover Your Connection to Wisdom of the Natural World by Angelica Stuart*

3.5 Stars - I would recommend if you enjoy learning about the symbolism of animals, and how you can use it in your everyday life.

This book contains a guide to 50 animals from ant to wren that can be used to channel in your every day life.

I picked up an animal totem deck in Anchorage, AK once and have been fascinated by the idea ever since. I love the idea behind this book, and it's gorgeous cover. I like how thorough the book is, from the introduction, the chakra explanations, the "how to use", and the animal pages. There is even a section in which it is explained which animals excel in particular areas (strength, family, etc. etc.). The whole thing is very useful, not to mention packed full of interesting facts about the animals. The life-long-learner in me was very pleased! I like that there are small animal cards that you can cut out to shuffle and draw from in the back. My only disappointment would be that based on the cover I was expecting a vibrant book. I was hoping for dreamy water color pages and the information tucked next to gorgeous illustrations. However, the inside of the book has (decent) clip art style black and white images -- which aren't nearly as inspiring as I'd hoped. You can order chakra animal decks from the author, however, it's unclear if those match the cover either! As a visual person, I'd hoped for a bit more of a pretty art theme within the pages as well. I think it would be a breathtaking book, should it be illustrated later. Either way, the information inside is very thorough, inspiring, and knowledge-filled. You can tell that the author came at this with a wealth of knowledge and didn't hold back within these pages. It is packed with information. I definitely will enjoy going back over this one to ponder from time to time. - Publishes January 8th 2019-

Sleepover by Serena Bell*

3 Stars - I might recommend if you enjoy contemporary romance, particularly ones including single parents.

Elle has reasons not to want to date, her ex left her and her son for his high school sweetheart after years of swearing nothing was going on. Sawyer, who's wife recently died of cancer, as sworn off dating because he knows he'll never love anyone the way he did his wife. However, when Sawyer and Elle meet at a bar, something is different. They shrug it off, until they realize they've become next door neighbors. When their sons become best friends it is hard for them to keep their distance.

I requested this book because I LOVED Bell's other book Head Over Heels earlier this year. While this one was cute and steamy, I didn't love it as much as Head Over HeelsI love Serena Bell's ability bring single parents into the spotlight of a romance novel. I thought that this book was so endearing: two parents who's boys become best friends, so they end up falling for each other. It was so cute. It was also very steamy. Like a little x-rated steamy. I probably could have done a bit more of their budding friendship, and a little less dirty talk, but that's just me. I definitely loved all of the "family" aspects of the book. I loved Bell's other book Head Over Heels, and while I didn't like this one as much, I'll definitely read more Serena Bell books in the future. - Publishes Today -

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?! 

Make sure you check out my Christmas Fiction post if you're into that kind of thing! :) 

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 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!