WWW Wednesday – 30 November 2016


Welcome to this week’s WWW Wednesday post, a meme hosted by Sam @ Taking on a World of Words. Don’t forget to go take a look at what everyone else is reading! You can post your own WWW in the comment thread here

The Three W’s Are:

  • What are you currently reading?
  • What did you recently finish reading?
  • What do you think you’ll read next?

I am spending the next two days at the historic Grove Park Inn in Asheville, North Carolina! Look at that amazing fireplace…the lobby is filled with so many perfect reading spots. I will be spending quite a lot of time cozied down with a book in front of that fireplace. Or maybe, within viewing distance of the lovely warm glow, since the weather is actually in the 7os right now!

Currently Reading:


Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany and Jack Thorne. For better or worse, I am finally taking the plunge and seeing for myself what The Cursed Child is like.

Just Finished:


Heartless by Marissa Meyer. I just finished this, around 11:30pm last night! For me, it definitely lived up to expectations. My review will be shortly forthcoming.

Up Next: 

Continue reading

10 Gifts for Bookworms That Aren’t Books!

Today I am linking up to Top Ten Tuesday for the prompt “Holiday Gift Guide”, a topic I was already planning on writing about!

Ten Gifts for Bookworms

That Aren’t Books!

I love books. I love receiving books as gifts. Equally nice, I love receiving book-themed gifts that aren’t actually books! Which is why I have put together my go-to list of bookish-themed gifts for that adorable bookworm in your life – which is most likely, YOU!!

Literary Candles by NovellyYours

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Photo by NovellyYours

Who doesn’t want a Lemon Tart Candle to go along with Marissa Meyer’s latest release? Or revel in the scent of the Scottish highlands while reading Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series with the Craigh Na Dun candle?

In addition to these two, there are many great other literary candle scents from NovellyYours:

  • Anna’s Favorite Cookies (Anna and the French Kiss) – Chocolate, Mint
  • The Lunar Chronicles Collection – Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, and Winter
  • The Raven Cycle Collection – Cabeswater, Henrietta, Manibus, Gansey
  • The Candle of the Month – Fantasy Beasts (Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them)

Magnetic Bookmarks from HappyHelloCo

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Photo by HappyHelloCo

They are so adorable and there are so many to choose from! One of my favorites from HappyHelloCo is the Land of Tales bookmarks, which looks like the characters from the Lunar Chronicles! The ones inspired by A Darker Shade of Magic are great, too!

Literary-themed Coloring Books

There are an amazing number of literary-themed coloring books out there. Alice in Wonderland, Shakespeare, A Christmas Carol, Outlander…and the three pictured above!

The Literary Tea Collection by First Edition Tea Co.

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Photo by First Edition Tea Co.

I love to curl up with a cup of tea when I am reading in the winter. The First Edition Tea Co. has an amazing selection of classics-inspired teas. If you can’t decide which one to try, you can buy a set that features them all! the Literary Tea Collection includes 5 blends inspired by:

  • Alice in Wonderland – Almond & Marzipan Rooibos Black Tea
  • Sherlock Holmes – Smoked English Breakfast Tea
  • The Great Gatsby – Lemon and Lavender Green Tea
  • Jane Eyre – Currant & Spice Black Tea
  • Pride and Prejudice – Citrus and Roasted Mate Herbal Tea

Bookish Mugs

Add a literary mug to go with the above tea collection for the perfect gift for your bookish friends! My favorites right now are designs by Evie Seo @ Society 6. Pictured above are mugs based on A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab and Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll.

Funko Pop! Vinyl Figures

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Funko Pop! mainly focuses on movies, TV, and comic book characters in pop culture, but there is often overlap with the book world! My favorite bookish Pop! right now are the various Harry Potter series figurines, Game of Thrones, Once Upon a Time…and the soon to be released Gilmore Girls!

Bookmarks by Marquis du Soleil

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Photo by Caitlin Nicoll.

A bibliophile can never have too many bookmarks! Caitlin Nicoll, owner of the Etsy shop @MarquisduSoleil creates beautiful bookmarks in three different styles: Hand-painted, Minimalist, and Illustrated.

Throw Pillows

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Photo by Evie Seo.

Everyone needs a pillow or two to make their reading experiences more comfortable and cozy! Here is another pick from Evie @ Society 6. I adore the Between the Pages pillow, as well as the Mr. Darcy pillows.

Book Page Art

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Photo by Bookishly UK.

Who doesn’t want a little bit of Virginia Woolf, Jane Eyre, Dracula, Shakespeare, or Oscar Wilde gracing their walls? These bookish pieces of art by Bookishly UK are the perfect gift for the classically-minded reader.

Literary Scarves

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Uncommon Goods has so many fun gift ideas, and we have bought quite a few things from there over the years. My current favorite is the literary scarves by Tori Tissell. You can choose from Jane Eyre, Alice in Wonderland, Pride and Prejudice, and Wuthering Heights.

 

Book Review – Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

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Title: Eleanor & Park
Author: Rainbow Rowell
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Genre: YA Contemporary

Rainbow Rowell seems to be one of those YA authors that “everyone should read”. So, I figured it was about time I picked up one of her books and read it!

I picked up Eleanor & Park on a whim this month, as it was not in my planned November reading list, but I am so thankful I did. It was just what I needed right now. The characters are offbeat misfits; the story is both heartwarming and heart-achingly tender.

Eleanor and Park. Eleanor, Eleanor…I loved her, flaws and all, although the majority of her flaws were due to her horrendous family members, not her. I have seen Eleanor’s behavior before, in a friend or two, and Rainbow Rowell really nailed what it can be like living in an abusive home. My heart bled for her and her siblings so many times. It was devastating to read about her lack of basic necessities – like food and clothing – and the creative ways she learned to compensate. Particularly her self-created fashion style, born out of necessity, totally owning it. Eleanor was a teen in pure survival mode, building a wall of protection around herself and not letting anyone in through the gate…until Park comes along.

Park. PARK. I wish I had a Park back when I was in high school. What a sweet guy. He’s kind and sweet and just awesome. His family was wonderful, too.

The two of them together were so adorable. And I love how they slowly , awkwardly connected, over comic books! I think I do a happy dance every time characters bond over books.

Shakespeare. Rainbow Rowell incorporated Shakespeare into the story, and it really, truly worked! I love when Shakespeare references work. Rowell uses Romeo & Juliet to help frame the storyline – you find out in the very beginning that the story doesn’t necessarily have a “happily ever after” ending for the two young-and-in-love teens, and it is further amplified by the Shakespeare references early on.

The Ending. I won’t say what happened, but feel free to discuss in the comments, which I am making a SPOILER zone! Did you like the ending? I definitely liked the way it ended. For the most part.

Rating: 4/5 stars.

Read Watch Play #7

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Good morning! Today’s post will link up to The Sunday Salon, and the Sunday PostRead, Watch, Play is a round-up of bookish and non-bookish entertainment going on in my home this week. Feel free to join in and let me know what fun you have had recently!

Whew! The last few days have been a whirlwind! We have had loads of family in for both Thanksgiving and M’s 9th birthday, which was yesterday. Very little reading, but lots of fun to be had. We went to the NC Zoo yesterday, a birthday request, and M and her cousin both had a blast.

One of the cutest – and funniest – moments of M’s birthday happened during the birthday gift opening. Her excitement and exuberance over receiving all of her gifts was contagious, but her reaction to opening one of them was priceless. She asked for a 2016 Hillary Clinton Funko! Pop, and when she opened it – OMG! She literally cried tears of happiness, jumping up and down and hugging it to her chest. The reaction was so over-the-top and genuine she had everyone in stitches. Even the Trump supporters in the family!

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Who knew a little Hillary could give so much joy to a 9-year-old? She looks up to Hillary – and the historical aspect of her campaign and what it represents – tremendously. It was all incredibly cute and a little bittersweet – when we bought the HRC Funko Pop!, we were hoping it would be a gift representing the newly elected Madame President. It still stings a bit.

In case you’re wondering what to buy a 9-year old this holiday season, these were all big hits:

  • My First Lab Duo-Scope Microscope
  • AmScope Prepared Microscope slides
  • Walkie Talkies
  • Lego Friends Heartlake Grand Hotel
  • LilGadgets Wireless Headphones
  • Beados Sweet Scoop ‘N Mix
  • Harley Quinn Mini Action Figure
  • The Blank Comic Book Panelbook (for drawing and writing your own comics)
  • Usborne Write and Draw Your Own Comics –do you see a theme developing?
  • Mindware Extreme Dot-to-Dot: Animals
  • Books: The Land of Stories: An Author’s Odyssey by Chris Colfer, Big Nate Blasts Off by Lincoln Peirce, and Women in Science: 50 Fearless Pioneers Who Changed the World by Rachel Ignotofsky.

BLOG ACHIEVEMENT!!!

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Woohoo! I reached 100 followers a few days ago! A BIG thank you to everyone who follows my blog!

Now, on to Read, Watch, Play!

What I’m Reading

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The Exclusive Edition from OwlCrate, of course!

What I’m Watching

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Stars Hollow is back!!!! Filled with nostalgia, I have watched two of the four revival episodes: Winter and Spring. It is so cozy and fun to be back with Rory and Lorelei.

No spoilers on the last four words, and the real ending, until I finish the final two episodes, please!

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We went to see Doctor Strange on Friday, it was so good! Marvel movies – comic book movies in general – can be hit or miss for me. This one was so much fun to watch. I am admittedly not well-versed in this Marvel character’s storyline, so much of it was new to me! I love the magical and mystical components, different from the pseudo-science I was expecting. It definitely made me want to dig up some Doctor Strange comic books to learn more about the character’s book storylines!

 

What I’m Playing

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We always get out the Apples to Apples Jewish Edition when my in-laws come to visit!

What are you up to this week? Let me know in the comments!

Top Ten Tuesday: Appreciating the Small Stuff

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week the theme was a Thanksgiving freebie: what we are thankful for.

I needed this theme this week! The year 2016 has not been the greatest year for me, at times, it has been downright miserable. I had surgery and was diagnosed with endometriosis in February; my husband was involved in a car accident in June when someone ran into him, and a dear friend and someone who was a mentor to me passed away suddenly in October. I won’t even go into the feelings brought about after the election.

It would be an understatement to say that I am counting down the days until 2017, with the hope that it will be a brighter year. Which is all the more reason why I need to take a moment to highlight all the great little things in life. The little things are vastly underrated, when in reality, they do so much to cheer and uplift.

 Top Ten Little Things That Bring Happiness and Joy

  1. Comedians – Dave Chappelle, Jon Stewart, Tina Fey, Jimmy Fallon, Amy Poehler, Kate McKinnon, Ellen….they always bring out a laugh, even during the gloomy times.
  2. My cats – Isabel and Hello Kitty.
  3. Giving to others – Giving an extra pair of sneakers to the Tile Guy working on our bathroom renovation. M had a foot growth spurt in September, and she outgrew the sneakers we bought in August before she even wore them. I passed them on to the Tile Guy, who happens to be a single dad raising a 6-year-old. His daughter loved the shoes – win/win for everyone!
  4. Warm, sunny days – we have had a lot of them this autumn, and I appreciate every single one.
  5. Books – Of course this book lover will have books on the list! It would be so silly to think otherwise.
  6. My daughter’s first original composition – My 9-year-old wrote her own song, y’all! And it is such a fun thing to listen to.
  7. My Book Club – our book club is known as the LLC – Liberal Literature Club – and we always have great conversations when we get together.
  8. Netflix and Amazon Prime – When I feel like doing nothing else, I can always count on these two to come to the rescue.
  9. Ice Cream  – the small-batch gelato at Va Da Vie in Charlotte, Ben & Jerry’s, or any one of the other many local ice creameries in our area. Yum.
  10. The Joe Biden memes – Oh, how they do make me laugh. We love you, Joe!

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Read Watch Play #6

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Good morning! Today’s post will link up to The Sunday Salon, the Sunday Post, and 5 Things on Sunday.

This fall has been crazy busy!! I look forward with glee to December when I will hopefully have two weeks of quiet and calm, and can go into winter book hermit mode (although it’s not actually that cold here yet in North Carolina – I don’t usually go into seclusion mode until the cold weather blows in!).

Right now, I am gearing up for Thanksgiving, a holiday that almost always also overlaps with M’s birthday. Every year, we host a multitude of family for both Thanksgiving and birthday celebrations. Don’t ask me about the year of Thanksgivukkah – that one crazy year (2013) that I had 3 holidays in 3 days: M’s birthday, Thanksgiving, and Chanukah all rolled into one! So much fun…and so exhausting!

This year, we have 10 family members coming to visit, beginning to arrive on Tuesday, and hopefully I will still be sane on the other end of things! Too bad our bathroom renovation is about one week behind schedule, and will not be done by Thanksgiving. I am sobbing tears of defeat over that one!

In other exciting news, I am only 4 people away from 100 followers!! Who knows, maybe you will be my 100th follower! It would be wonderful if I reached that milestone today!

What I’m Reading

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We had a great book haul from the library this week! Above is a selection of books that both M and I are reading.

M’s books:

  • The Fourteenth Goldfish by Jennifer L. Holm
  • Serafina and the Twisted Staff by Robert Beatty (I will be reading this, too!)
  • El Deafo by Cece Bell. M loves this one so much she has probably already read it 3 times, and we are currently reading it aloud together, as well.

My books:

  • eleanor & park by Rainbow Rowell. I finished this a few days ago, and hopefully will have my review up before Thanksgiving!
  • Heartless by Marissa Meyer – Squeee!!!
  • a platter of figs and other recipes by David Tanis – I always like going back to this cookbook when I need new ideas for dinner.

Even more exciting news, my November OwlCrate came in the mail Saturday evening! Here’s a sneak peek:

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Excuse the poor lighting, I didn’t open the box until I returned home from dinner last night!

What I’m Watching

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The Hunting Ground (Documentary) – This documentary takes a look at college rape, and how it is handled by various universities…and hits the bull’s eye. It is an influential documentary that deserves all the attention it has recieved…as do the amazing young women who were brave enough to confront university and athletic programs head on and demand change and reform.

What I’m Playing

My reward swag bag finally came in the mail for my team finishing 1st Place in the Women’s Relay for the JJF Virtual Triathlon!!

You can read about the Jimmie Johnson Virtual Triathlon in one of my earlier Read Watch Play Posts, but look at this cool swag!

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Here’s what came in the Swag bag:

  • An awesome medal and Congratulations note for completing a 140.6 mile triathlon!!
  • A Lowe’s Nascar hat – My dad would love this, so it will be passed on to him.
  • Under Armour Coldgear running gloves – They have touch-screen fingertips, which will be perfect for cold weather bike rides and walks to/from M’s school!
  • Sports towel – I can always use  more of those!
  • Mission EnduraCool Instant Cooling Skull Cap – I’m not sure if I will use this or not, so it might be gifted to my father-in-law, who runs and bikes and lives in the very hot, very arid desert near Phoenix, Arizona.
  • $10 Gift Certificate to Dick’s Sporting Goods! Yes!!

What I’m Cooking

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I am participating in the 5 Things on Sunday meme for the first time, hosted by Kendra @ Reads and Treats. This week’s theme is a Thanksgiving freebie, which fits in perfectly with what I’m cooking this week!

I tried to switch things up this year and prepare some new dishes for our Thanksgiving feast. I received a resounding, PLEASE, NO!!! from almost every family member. My daughter loves my sweet potatoes and would be devastated if I switched out the marshmallow topping for pecans. My brother-in-law would consider it sacrilege if I tried out a new stuffing recipe. And so on and so forth.

So, here are five tried and true dishes that I make on Thanksgiving, and apparently are well-loved by my family!

  • Cranberry, Sausage and Apple Stuffing – made with a mix of whole wheat and farmhouse white bread that I buy at Great Harvest Bakery a few days before.
  • Cranberry Sauce – a quick 10-minute skillet recipe that only uses 3 ingredients: cranberries, sugar, and orange juice. Easy, and delicious!!
  • Turkey – We buy local, heritage turkeys as often as we can, and brine it overnight. We added the brining step a few years ago, and never looked back! I’m not a big turkey fan, but brining brings out the moisture and really adds to the flavor.
  • Sweet potato casserole – I don’t make the sweet potato as sugary sweet as other people do, but we do pile the marshmallows on the top!
  • Pumpkin Pie – my secret? I don’t use pumpkin, I use butternut squash! When we lived in Australia, sugar pumpkins (or canned pumpkin) was hard to come by. I substituted butternut squash one year, and loved how easy it was – especially compared to stringy pumpkins – and have done it that way ever since!

Happy Sunday! What are you up to this weekend?

 

ARC Book Review – The Blazing Star by Imani Josey

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Title: The Blazing Star
Author:  Imani Josey
Publisher:  Wise Ink Creative Publishing
Release Date: 6 December, 2016
Genre: YA Fantasy

*This ARC was provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.*

Book Blurb:

Sixteen-year-old Portia White is used to being overlooked—after all, her twin sister Alex is a literal genius.

But when Portia holds an Egyptian scarab beetle during history class, she takes center stage in a way she never expected: she faints. Upon waking, she is stronger, faster, and braver than before. And when she accidentally touches the scarab again?

She wakes up in ancient Egypt—her sister and an unwitting freshman in tow.

Great.

Mysterious and beautiful, Egypt is more than they could have ever imagined from their days in the classroom. History comes alive as the three teens realize that getting back to the present will be the most difficult thing they’ve ever done. Stalked by vicious monsters called Scorpions, every step in the right direction means a step closer to danger.

As Portia and the girls discover that they’re linked to the past by more than just chance, they have to decide what it truly means to be yourself, to love your sister, and to find your way home.

The Blazing Star contains so many incredibly awesome components: time travel to Ancient Egypt and Egyptian mythology, a diverse cast of PoC characters, strong female protagonists, and a gorgeous, breath-taking book cover. I know, I know, a book cover in no way represents the quality of writing inside of a book, but LOOK AT IT. I bow down at the feet of the artist who designed it, because I love the cover THAT much.

Much of the story revolves around the twinning, or lack of twinning, going on between Portia and Alex, as they try to find out why they were pulled back in time into ancient Egypt, and how they can get home. It’s a fun, original mash-up of fantasy, Egyptian mythology, and magic. Imani Josey truly did an amazing job of making me, the reader, feel as if I was back in Ancient Egypt with the girls. What makes the time travel plot work so well is the characters that Portia, Alex, and Selene meet. My favorites were definitely the Priestesses of the Temple of Isis: High Priestess Weret, Sikara, and Tasherit. The Prince of Egypt was exasperating.

The first half really held my attention, and did a moderately successful job of setting up the world and mythology that we learn about as the novel progresses. However, sadly, the story begins to lose its way in the second half, and in my opinion, starts to fall apart a teeny tiny bit. It became harder and harder to keep track of the timeline, and all the characters that come in and out of the story. The plot advances, but there are definitely some holes and gaps, and character’s actions that don’t make a lot of sense, which started driving me batty about 2/3 of the way through the book.

The ending is unresolved and definitely leaves room for a sequel, but also had me feeling as this was a case of lost potential. I really, really wanted to love The Blazing Star, but ultimately, it fell a bit short.

Rating: 3/5 stars.