January 2016 Wrap Up! Books & Lifestyle Favorites!

January is almost over, the snow is still falling, it’s one month closer to the summer!

This month has been full of excitement, I did so much reading, exploring, and experiencing.  It’s been a good month.  Coincidentally, it is actually the end of my first month of blogging and I feel really happy because time has flown by.  The blogging community has been so sweet and supportive, I can’t wait to get to know everyone better!

Let’s get started!


 

Books

This month I read a total of 11 books!  I believe on Goodreads Reading Challenge I chose 100 for the year, so I’m already ahead of schedule! This month was all fantasy for me, and it was beautiful.  Have any recommendations for me? Let me know!

I’m currently in the process of reading Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman.  I am banning myself from reading anything else until I finish these two books.  After that, I have 2 ARC’s on NetGalley to read so that will be my life.  #sigh.


Shows

Okay so this is pretty horrible but our TV remote died an awful death about a week ago and we hadn’t replaced it until today… Meaning many shows I am super pumped for have aired and I am super behind.  These (kind of) are my current shows:

I believe Grey’s comes back mid-February (HALLE-FREAKING-LUJAH) and I really want to get back into OUAT.  The last season isn’t on Netflix yet (or am I on the newest one? I don’t know).  Jane The Virgin is actually super hilarious, I recommend it to everyone!


It’s the little things in life

So I recently bought a new purse and I am LOVING it!  It’s the Lauren by Ralph Lauren Crawley Hobo Bag in black.  It’s a beauty!  I used to have a Fossil Erin small crossbody in bright yellow and it’s time was over.  Huzzah for material goods!

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I also bought a planner! It’s called a Happy Planner.  I wanted to properly plan out my weeks with my online businesses and blog posts.  I’m currently procrastinating on buying sticker paper, but once I get it I will have so much fun using my Silhouette to make planner stickers. n_n.

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I’m was a subscriber to a monthly Artisan box subscription called GlobeIn (click here for more info!), and I’m pretty sure this month was my last time getting it.  The theme for January was “Bathe” and I was pretty satisfied with what I got.  Here’s a couple photos from their website:

The stuff was pretty cute but I just kind of lost the appeal after awhile, I didn’t really use the things I got.  However I do recommend it to anyone who is interested in artisan things!  You get cool little things made from all around the world.

Note: If you have a nut allergy (like me) make sure to email them and tell them.  One of my boxes had this chocolate bar with tree nuts and I would have ended up in the ER if I didn’t read the label soooooo… It’s a lot of money to spend and not be able to eat/use the things they send you.

PS: This isn’t sponsored….? I feel like I should state the obvious…..


Colombia

Ok so if you didn’t know, I was in Colombia for a whole month and just got back almost two weeks ago.  While there, I got the joy of eating Colombian food all day every day.  My Tia and I made empanadas (aka beef patties…? I think that’s the translation), they were THE FREAKING BOMB.  I have a video of us making them on my Instagram.  Anyways, here are a few photos of my trip!  You can see the rest of them on the ‘gram. :]

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February

Oh February, it’s definitely one of my favorite months.  I’m a sucker for Valentine’s Day. I’m pretty sure le boyfriend and I will be doing something cutesy.  I was in South America for our 3 year anniversary, my birthday, and Christmas so we need a little vacation.

I’m planning on doing a little road trip mid-Feb to go to the Susan Dennard / SJM book signing at Barnes & Noble in PA. So exciting!

Anyways, I’m super hungry and my floor is finally dry after mopping. I AM OFF TO EAT. Tell me about your favorite things this month! :]

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Review: Night Study by Maria V. Snyder

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Night Study by Maria V. Snyder

Pages: 444
Series:
Yes, part of the Chronicles of Ixia series #8.
Publisher: MIRA Ink
Published: January 26th 2016

Synopsis:

Ever since being kidnapped from the Illiais Jungle as a child, Yelena Zaltana’s has been fraught with peril. But the recent loss of her Soulfinding abilities has endangered her more than ever before. As she desperately searches for a way to reclaim her magic, her enemies are closing in, and neither Ixia nor Sitia are safe for her anymore. Especially since the growing discord between the two countries and the possibility of a war threatens everything Yelena holds dear. 

Valek is determined to protect Yelena, but he’s quickly running out of options. The Commander suspects that his loyalties are divided, and he’s been keeping secrets from Valek…secrets that put him, Yelena and all their friends in terrible danger. As they uncover the various layers of the Commander’s mysterious plans, they realize it’s far more sinister that they could have ever imagined.

Wowowowow. So much happened in this book I need to a moment and just.. wow.  SO MUCH FREAKING HAPPENED!  I literally don’t even know where to start without spoiling anything because there’s is SO MUCH TO BE SAID.

The book takes off exactly where Shadow Study (COI #7) ended.  It was essentially like the conversation Valek and Yelena (aka Yalek) were having was cut in half and the second half was put at the start of this book.  I’m SO glad this was done because we got to see Yelena and Valek’s POV and it was really sweet.

The first third of the book is actually us following Yalek around (SWOON). After Poison Study I always felt as though Yalek spent more time apart than together, so when we were finally graced with reading about them together, I was really pleased.  Yalek is a power couple and them being together reminds me of old times.

It wasn’t until about halfway through the book when they separate and do their thing when I got a little bored.  Typically, when Snyder would talk about Valek’s missions she never really goes into such extended detail.  And this time she did, which put a lot of questions in my head such as: “Why do I care about this mission? Why do I care about this place? Why is Snyder making this such a big thing?”.  And it wasn’t until the home stretch (finallllly!) of the mission that we get a HUGE SURPRISE!  In Shadow Study, we got a glimpse of what made Valek the infamous assassin, King killer, and right-hand man of the Commander.  This time we got another glimpse at his past and it was shock after shock.  Valek had the most character development and it was amazing.

One of my favorite parts about this book is that we finally see that none of the characters are infallible. People we had previously thought of as invisible, aren’t.  There are so many fail-safes created by Snyder that when you see the characters slowly losing hope, you even feel your own hope dwindling.  Which is soul-crushing but so exciting because we never really experienced that in her previous books.

It also must be remarked that Snyder’s storytelling abilities have greatly increased.  Compared to the beginning of the Chronicles of Ixia you can really see her growth and the intricacies of her imagination.  Almost every chapter was dedicated to a new point of view which really added to the complex and intricate storyline woven by her.  People you thought were dead aren’t, murder plots are reveal, people you wouldn’t expect to die, die.  It was a thrill to read and I am too bummed that I will have to wait over a year for the next book.

But I am SO EXCITED!

4.5/5 stars.

The Liebster Award! (AKA Lobster Award if you ask my Mac)

Huzzah! Thank you Kat for the nomination! :D.

DISCLAIMER: These questions made me seem really mean and strict and I swear I’m not! 😥

THE RULES:

  • Acknowledge the blog that nominated you and display the award.
  • Answer 11 questions that the blog gives you.
  • Give 11 random facts about yourself.
  • Nominate 5-11 blogs you think are deserving of the award that have less than 200 followers.
  • Let the blogs know you have nominated them.
  • Give them 11 questions to answer

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1. What is your favorite book? Why?
My favorite book is probably the cliché Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas.  Honestly guys I just freaking loving Maas’ storytelling ability.  However, if you asked me before I inhaled this series, it would be Harry Potter.  It’s honestly a tie.

2. Who is your favorite book character and why?
Either Valek or Celaena Sardothien

3. Do you have an OTP (one true pairing), if so, who?
VALEK AND YELENA from the Poison Study series.  They are the ultimate OTP.

4. Have you ever tried giving a book one star? How did it feel?
Yes. It felt good.  Obviously I didn’t do it to feel spiteful but honestly if a book is getting a bunch of 1-stars and I want to give it one star, I will.  It’s a sign.  A 1-star isn’t meant to be a destructive.  It’s to say “Hey, this book might not have been executed that well.  Maybe you need a new editor or you should look over your plot holes”.  It’s constructive.  I truly believe all books have the potential to be good.

5. How important is the cover of the book to you?
SUPER IMPORTANT.  Honest fact, I judge a book so heavily by the cover.  If I go to NetGalley there is a pretty big chance I won’t even glimpse at a book if it has a terrible cover.  I don’t believe good books should have bad covers.  If a publisher truly believes in a book/series they would put extended effort into the cover.  However, this is also a downfall because I’ve read some books that I really didn’t like and they had awesome covers.  The thing is, we as humans automatically go for the better looking thing.  If you go to a grocery store and you see a bruised apple and a perfect apple – you buy the perfect apple!  Books are food for the brain, you choose what you think looks best! (ends nonsensical rant).

6. If you weren’t a person what would you like to be?
Maybe an otter.  I like otters. :).

7. Can you listen to music while reading? If so, which song?
I can but I usually don’t because it’s a waste of battery life.  I totally zone into a book when I read it.

8. What is your favorite and least favorite color?
I really like blue and yellow.  Yellow reminds me of happiness and blue is just pretty.

9. What is your favorite book that turned to a movie? Did you like the movie as well?
HARRY POTTER FOREVER. To respond the the second part of the question: Always.

10. Do you crack the spine of the book or not?
No! I try to avoid making my books look used.  I read books on my iPad 99% of the time so when I get a physical book I really try to take care with it.

11. How long does it take you to read a 400-page book?
I marathoned Queen of Shadows so I guess the answer is, pretty fast if it’s a good book and I’m invested.

11 Random Facts:
1. I grew up in 3 different countries
2. I’ve been dating my boyfriend for over three years.
3. I have a cat named Butters (aka butbut, aka bubi)
4. I foster dogs
5. I took Calculus 3 times in university and dropped out EVERY SINGLE TIME.
6. I’m 23!
7. I had a caesar salad addiction for 3 solid months.
8. I only like to eat gummy vitamins
9. My parents are Colombian and English
10. I enjoy frolicking
11. When I was 12 years old I flew an international flight by myself and at my layover in Atlanta, Georgia the airport guide put me on the wrong plane and I ended up in Quebec, Canada instead of Toronto, Canada. #igottositinsecurity #igotfreefood #ididn’tspeakfrench #theylostmydog

NOMINATIONS:
Because I feel like everyone and their mother has been nominated. If you HAVE NOT gotten this award, you are officially nominated by me.  I love every single one of your guys’ blogs. DO THIS TAG PLEASE. Thank you :3.

My Questions:

  1. What language do you wish you could speak?
  2. What is your favorite book?
  3. If you could have dinner with a fictional character who would it be?
  4. How old are you?
  5. Do you recycle? If not, you should. #savetheworld
  6. What do you want to study in University? / What did you study?
  7. What is your favorite genre to read?
  8. If you had to choose between pizza and grilled cheese, what would you choose?
  9. Do you have any must-read book recommendations?
  10. Do you have a bookstagram?
  11. What’s the last thing you bought online?

Book Traveling Thursday! (+TOG rant)

Helllooooo I am finally done working for the day and I am READY TO TALK BOOKS. WOO.

#BTT is a weekly bookish meme created by by Danielle’s Book Blog and TheGirlWhoReadTooMuch. This Goodreads page will tell you exactly what you need to know in order to participate!  This weeks theme is “Because some books stay with us forever!! Choose a book you want to re-read in 2016”.

Okay, I think it is pretty freakin’ obvious that I am ALL for S. J. Maas – all day, every day.  With that being said, I really want to reread A Court of Thorns and Roses.  I keep reading so many people giving their feels after reading it and now I just want to re-live it!

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As a complete aside, I had a solid conversation with my boyfriend the other night about the TOG series and how people keep saying a certain SOMEONE isn’t actually dead.  ___ HAS to be dead right?!!?!!? MY HEART STRINGS CANNOT HANDLE IF ____ IS NOT DEAD.  If ___ is not dead I will literally record myself flipping a table and post it on my blog for you guys.  I’m trying to be as unspoiler-y as possible.  Anyways, le boyfriend thinks __ isn’t dead, but he hasn’t fully read QOS yet… Guys, his theory is KILLER and if I didn’t read QOS I would actually be inclined to believe him.  Maybe I’ll make a guest post with him about it.

 

 

Review: Rebel Spring by Morgan Rhodes

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Rebel Spring by Morgan Rhodes

Pages: 401
Series: YES, book #2
Publisher: Razorbill
Published: December 3rd 2013

Synopsis:

The road to power… is paved with blood and magic.

Cleo is now a prisoner in her own palace, forced to be an ambassador for Mytica as the evil King Gaius lies to her people.
Magnus stands to eventually inherit the new kingdom but is still obsessed with his feelings for his adopted sister, Lucia.
Lucia is haunted by the outcome of the breathtaking display of magic that allowed her father to capture the kingdoms.
Jonas watched at the palace gates a troop of rebels behind him, waiting for him to tell them how he plans to overtake King Gaius.

After a bloody siege, Auranos has been defeated, its young queen orphaned and dethroned. The three kingdoms—Auranos, Limeros, and Paelsia—are now unwillingly united as one country called Mytica. But the allure of ancient, dangerous magic beckons still, and with it the chance to rule not just Mytica, but the whole world over…

At the heart of the fray are four brave young people grappling for that magic and the power it promises. For Cleo, the magic would enable her to reclaim her royal seat. In Jonas’s hands, it frees his nation, and in Lucia’s, it fulfills the ancient prophecy of her destiny. And if the magic were Magnus’s, he would finally prove his worth in the eyes of his cruel and scheming father, King Gaius, who rules Mytica with a punishing hand.

When Gaius begins to build a road into the Forbidden Mountains to physically link all of Mytica, he sparks a long-smoking fire in the hearts of the people that will forever change the face of this land. For Gaius’s road is paved with blood, and its construction will have cosmic consequences.

Wow. Okay.  This was a really good book, but I don’t think it better than the first.  Compared to Falling Kingdoms (book 1 in the series) I thought that this book was a little slower.  In my FK review (read it here!) I actually said that it reminded me a lot of Game of Thrones because there were different kingdoms and you got to follow the lives of different characters from each kingdom.  If this had been the first book in the series, I would not say that.  Simply because this book is now focused on the rebels versus the King of Blood, as he and his family have taken over all the kingdoms.

There was little character development.  For most of the storyline, there was a lot of running around in circles with nothing coming out of it.  For Cleo, she’s trying to find out more about magic so she can defeat the King.  For Lucia, she spends 75% of this book not in the storyline (you’ll understand if you read it).  For Jonas, he keeps trying to be a leader but he’s honestly not that good at it and it becomes very evident as the story progresses.  Magnus was pretty much the same as the last book but near the end I think we see a glimpse of him finally deciding to stand up for himself.  Hopefully this means we’ll see him kicking ass in the next book!  Oh and by the way, Aron is still a piece of shit.

We see more of the Sanctuary.  This is AWESOME because in FK we really didn’t see too much of their world.  I really don’t know what to believe when it comes to the Sanctuary because I feel like there’s too many hidden agendas and ambiguity.  I don’t really know if I like their part in the story, however I hope we see more of them in the next book.

Don’t get me wrong, a lot of things happen in this book but it’s nothing that blows my mind.  There was still a lot of death, both expected and unexpected, but it doesn’t hold as much of a shock factor that it did in FK.  As a whole, nothing was really accomplished and I feel like it was a lot of fluff for a book thats 401 pages.  I’m sure that what happened in this book will play an integral part in the future but it wasn’t as exciting. So hopefully the next book is better.

My rating: 4/5

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Strong Female MC’s I Admire

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday is a freebie!  So after skimming through everyones fun and insightful posts today I thought I’d talk about 10 female MC’s I really admired.  I like strong MC’s that really stand up for themselves and follow their heart.  I’m not too big on the wispy “woe-is-me” characters, so hopefully you’ll see the same strength that I do in these characters!

Instead of repeating over and over why I love these characters, I’ll just make a quick blurb.  Each of these characters are strong, intelligent (most of the time), and they fight for something they believe in.  They take charge, they make mistakes, and they’re easily relatable.  They’re powerful and weak, and yet they all grow at their own paces.  If somebody was to ask me about a female MC in the YA genre, I would suggest one of these lovely fictional ladies because they damn well deserve it.

1. Celaena / Aelin from Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

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2. Yelena from Poison Study by Maria V Snyder

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3. Feyre from A Court of Thorns and Roses

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4. Hermione (0 surprise)

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5. Sydney from Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen**

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**So I just want to point out that this is a contemporary novel, everything else I’m including is fantasy.  To be honest with you guys, Sydney and I are SO alike, almost 95% similar in terms of life and the shit we’ve had to deal with.  I’m including her because I know her feelings and the need for strength.  I didn’t love the book (I only gave it 3/5 stars) but I loved the portrayal of Sydney.  This novel put into words what I constantly fail to do.

6. June from Legend by Marie Lu

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7. Rose Hathaway from Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead

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8. Cat from Halfway to the Grave by Jeaniene Frost

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9. Serenity from The Queen of All That Dies by Laura Thalassa

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10. Tessa from Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare

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So there you have it!  There wasn’t a rank I put them in, I think all these female MC’s have their strengths and weaknesses.  I just love strong characters and I really think they all fit the bill.  Who would you add to this list?  Let me know in the comments!  I feel like I’m missing some huge ones :o.

The Dragon’s Loyalty Blog Award!

Woo, thank you Luna for the award! :]  This award lets me share several things about myself with you guys (woo!).

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The rules:

  • Display the award on your blog.
  • Announce your win with a post link the blogger who awarded you.
  • Present 6 deserving bloggers with the award.
  • Link your awardees in the post and let them know of their being awarded.
  • Write seven interesting things about you.

Seven Random Facts

  1. I really, really want an axolotl or Ambystoma mexicanum (also referred to as a Mexican walking fish).  When I worked at an aquarium two summers ago, it completely reaffirmed my desire to have one.  They’re AWESOME, but unfortunately extinct in the wild.
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  2. My favorite classes I took at my alma mater were: Ethics and the Environment and Introduction to Wines (aka taste a bunch of wines every single class for a whole semester)
  3. I graduated from Cornell University in May 2015.
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  4. I have a lot of social anxiety due to some bad social experiences a couple years ago.  It makes me really anxious to go out and meet new people.  Blogging is actually a way for me to start branching out and try to make new friends.
  5. I have a really dry sense of humor, also known as “British humor”.. Which makes sense because my dad and his entire side of the family are all from England.
  6. I recently started designing planner stickers! It’s been super fun learning how to do it.
  7. I have an Etsy shop were I sell vintage goods! 🙂  Check it out here!

I nominate:

Kat

Astra

Mariana

Beth

Angela

Mariana!

Summing up Sunday: Jan 18-24 (exciting news!!!!)

Wooooo! It’s Sunday! It’s also super cold and I really, really, don’t want to go outside.

Last week my plan was to read The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey (WHICH I DID HOLLA), and Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (which I didn’t, totally forgot).

This is a complete list of what I read this week:

  1. These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner (review here!)
  2. The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen (review here!)
  3. Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes (review hereeee)
  4. The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey (LAST REVIEW, whew, here)
  5. The Storyspinner by Becky Wallace (I said that I finished it last week, but I didn’t.  I read the last 30 pages two nights ago n_n).

So I had a pretty busy week reading.  I’m planning on going to see the 5th wave movie with le boyfriend (he doesn’t know yet.. unless he’s reading this…).

My plan for this week is to read:

IT’S RELEASE WEEK FOR Night Study by Maria V Snyder and I am SOOOOO EXCITED!!!!!!! I’m literally squealing reading the synopsis.  She’s doing a book signing in Lancaster PA (5 hours away) and I SO want to go.

  1. Reread Shadow Study by Maria V Snyder tonight/tomorrow so I’m all refreshed on what happened.
  2. Buy Night Study by Maria V Snyder on release day and INHALE.
  3. Read Rebel Spring by Morgan Rhodes
  4. Read Illuminae by Amie Kaufman (it’s 599 pages…

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Whew, that’s it guys.  I can’t even finish expressing how pumped I am for Night Study, the cliffhanger ruined me in Shadow Study.  I do have some ARC’s waiting for me on Net Galley so hopefully I can fit those in too.  Is there anything you’re planning on reading this week?

As an aside, I’ve been working from home the past few days so I don’t have to go out in the cold.. I’m trying to save up my money for braces but my stupid student loans are swallowing up everything I’m earning. Sigh. :/.

ON A POSITIVE NOTE: I bought a Happy planner and am currently designing planner stickers!  It’s so fun to do, I just need to find some sticker paper and it’s game over.

I also need to figure out how to do some things on WordPress because I (kinda) hate my layout.  I have no idea how to do certain things and it’s killing my soul piece by piece D: