On the eighth day of #blogmas …

I give you a beautiful aesthetic from Hogwarts. I found this on Insta and did NOT create it myself so I cannot take the credit. Whoever I am borrowing it from, I am sorry I don’t remember who you are and can’t give you credit for piecing this together. Its so beautiful!

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Listening to: “Silent Night” by Jewel

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On the sixth day of #blogmas …DIY holiday gifts for students/classmates/etc.

Its HUMP DAY, y’all! I hope you are all having a good week! The holidays are drawing nearer and I hope things aren’t getting too stressful. I have a couple of Secret Santa packages to start wrapping. As I was starting to do so, I was trying to think of an extra treat to put in them and I realized that I have a couple extra treats that I made up from my classmates and realized that I should share that with the blogging world because they are SO CUTE, if I do say so myself. So here goes:

CANDY CANE REINDEER

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WHAT YOU WILL NEED:

– Candy Canes of any kind (these are Sweet Tarts, but you can use traditional Red/White peppermint or any other combination you like)

– Googly eyes

– Pipe Cleaners (again, any colors…if you want them to be traditional and have black or brown antlers, then get black or brown pipe cleaners. As you can see, I opted for neon colors)

– Pom pon balls (I chose red for Rudolph, but again, black or brown could be more traditional)

– Pencil

– Hot glue gun

INSTRUCTIONS:

Choose your candy cane and your pipe cleaner. Fold pipe cleaner in half and then hook it onto the bend of the candy cane. Tightly pinch and twist several times so that the ‘antlers’ are secure. We will come back to these.

Next, place a dab of hot glue on the end of the candy cane’s hook. Place a pom pon on the glue and hold briefly. Then find 2 googly eyes. Spread the hot glue about one inch above the nose and press the eyes firmly into the glue.

Lastly, take the pencil and hold it straight up against the pipe cleaner. Beginning about half an inch from the base from the head, coil the pipe cleaner around and around the pencil. Once the pipe cleaner is wrapped all the way around the pencil, slide the pencil out. You may then decide how tight or loose you with your reindeer’s antlers to be. (See above)

Happy Crafting!!

What I’m listening to: They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera

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On the fifth day of #blogmas …Tag Tuesday: The Christmas Song Book Tag

This tag was made by Hail Hearts NYC on YouTube. The original video can be watched here.

#1 – “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch” – Name a villainous creature you couldn’t help but love. The. Darkling.!!! So, I say this and I’m only in the first of the Grisha trilogy. I don’t know if he truly is a villain…as of now, I assume he is…but I love him!

#2 – “All I Want For Christmas is You” – Which book do you most hope to see under your tree this year? I have been itching to read anything by Megan Miranda all year long! Her covers just grab me and I’m always down for a good mystery.

tim-gouw-165547#3 – “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” – Name a character that overcomes major obstacles and still believes in themselves. Jordan from Noteworthy by Riley Redgate (my summary & review of the book is here). I loved this book because Jordan/Julian was a character who had a goal and did whatever it took to reach it. She stuck by that and worked so hard and truly believed that she could do something that no one had ever done before. And she did it.

#4 – “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” – Which character do you think is at the top of the naughty/nice list? Naughty list: Queen Levana from the Lunar Chronicles. I just finished reading the novella Fairest and it was so insightful into Levana’s past. I wish we had books on all villain’s pasts. Wouldn’t it be amazing to know all of the Disney villains’ backgrounds? Nice list: Iko from the Lunar Chronicles. I also recently finished reading Wires and Nerve, which is the graphic novel that follows the Lunar Chronicles and oh. my. stars. it was MAGNIFICENT!! So it was my first graphic novel but it was easy to read and I literally laughed out loud. The book gave new life and personality to the characters and it was grand! Do NOT disregard this book! Its a must-read! (But only after you’ve finished the series!)

chinda-sam-185434#5 – “Frosty the Snowman” – What book just melts your heart? My go-to book for a heart-warmer is Anne of Green Gables. First off there is the childhood nostalgia behind the book for me, and then secondly Anne herself is such a charming and warm character. Then when you mix in the secondary characters–Diana, Matthew, Marilla, Gilbert–my very soul is warmed.

#6 – “Feliz Navidad” – Pick a book that takes place in a country other than your own. Murder, Magic, and What We Wore is set in London in 1818 and is a tale of mystery, spies, and dressmaking.

#7 – “Its the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” – Which Christmas book do you use to spread the joy? Either A Christmas Carol or Skipping Christmas. I didn’t realize, until a couple years ago while randomly shopping at Half Price Books, that the movie “Christmas With the Kranks” was based on this book by John Grisham, but I really recommend giving it a read! The movie is actually pretty faithful to the book and its a pretty quick, easy, cozy read so if you need some holiday cheer, give it a go!

#8 – “Sleigh Ride” – Which character would you choose to spread holiday cheer with? Me and Luna Lovegood all the way, just to see what unique, creative mischief we can come up with!

#9 – “Baby, its Cold Outside” – Which book, that you didn’t like, would you sacrifice to warm yourself up on a cold day? First We Were IV . What a pity 😦

#10 – “Do You Hear What I Hear?” – What book do you think everyone should read? Hmm… tie between The Hate U Give, The Library of Fates, and The Light We Lost. Those are my top 3 reads for 2017.

If you are reading this, consider yourself tagged!! Spread the love around and feel free to let me know if you have any thoughts on any of these books!

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On the third day of #blogmas …

…we jumped in on the Book Blogger Hop! For those of you who don’t know, the Book Blogger Hop was originally created by Jennifer from Crazy-For-Books but is now maintained by Billie B. at Ramblings of a Coffee Addicted Writer. The hop’s purpose is to give bloggers a chance to follow other blogs, learn about new books, and receive new followers. There is a new prompt each week so feel free to jump in any time!

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Q: What is your favorite Christmas-themed read?

A: I think my favorite Christmas-themed read is either A Christmas Carol or Skipping Christmas. A lot of people don’t realize it, but Skipping Christmas (written by John Grisham) is the book that the movie “Christmas with the Kranks” with Tim Allen and Diane Keaton is based off of. I thought the book was very well-written and I love the movie too!

I’m always on the lookout for more good holiday reads. I especially like reading cozy Christmas mysteries, paranormal, contemporary romance, etc. so if you’ve got any good recommendations, please leave them for me! Thanks!

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On the second day of #blogmas ….

andrew-neel-48762I present to you my wrap-up for the month of November. Regarding books read, I hit my average, which is four books read. I miss the days when I was finishing 6 books every month. Those were the days! So here is a re-cap of my completed books for the month of November:

32682118 – 4 stars     22663629 – 3.5 stars

34058936 – 5 stars!!    28016509 – 3.5 stars

In 2016 I read 127 books in total. I was so proud of that number – it was my largest ever! This year my goal was 100! I’m currently at 75, so I’m not likely going to hit that number, but I’m still going to try to get as close as possible to it so we’ll see!

What reading goal(s) did you set for yourself for this year? Are you close to hitting it or did you reach it already?

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On the first day of Blogmas…

Happy December, everyone!

I absolutely can NOT believe that today is December 1st! November went by in a blip to me, I swear. Even October was short, but November was nothing!! Its just astounding!! I probably shouldn’t say that though, because I did have a good month when I think back on it. Work was productive, I read a couple good books, and Thanksgiving was spectacular. I hope that many of you can say the same or similar things.

So getting down to business, I am going to do my best to participate in a phenomenon called “Blogmas.” Now for those of you who don’t know, Blogmas is for both bloggers and vloggers alike, and the goal is for us to post at least once a day for all 25 days leading up to Christmas! We can post about anything we like, but ideally, we should be posting some holiday cheer along the way. Now, I don’t know that I will hit all 25 days, but if I hit at least the “12 Days of Christmas,” I’ll be super happy! We’ll see!

To kick off my blogging for the month, let me share my projected TBR for the month of December:tbr

Now, things are, of course, subject to change, and there are a couple books that I have on my iPad that I would add also (mainly ebooks from NetGalley). These are Kiss me in New York and The Tethered Mage. I am definitely looking forward to all of these books this month, though! I will probably read the less holiday of the books first, and then most on to the holiday ones. Can’t wait!

What are you reading this month?

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Murder, Magic, and What We Wore by Kelly Jones

23113602So this is a NetGalley ARC I have had on my shelf for a while now. A few things about this book right off the bat: first of all, it took me a long time to read. My attention just wasn’t held the way I hoped it would have been. Especially because it felt rather like it was going to be a YA historical/almost-cozy mystery, which would have been right up my alley. Still overall regardless of exact genre, the plot moved very slowly.

Secondly, the magic in this book was not very exciting, widespread, nor well explained. Was it unique? Yes. You will never find Harry, Ron, and Hermione sewing glamours. However, that is the only magic in the book and its not shiny magic, its really not magic that Annis is really confident in or that she learns from some great wizard or a secret family recipe or anything like that…she hardly practices in any big, adventurous, fun way except for exhausting herself to save herself from bankruptcy. It was a bummer.

daniel-garcia-418370Third, the characters were unextraordinary to me mainly because I never trusted any of them. I never felt like we got a good enough glimpse into any of them because there was just too much going on with Annis and her cherades.

So those are my criticisms. All of that being said, I did enjoy other aspects of the books. I did like the setting of the book and the genre in general. There are not many YA historical mysteries out there. I would LOVE to read more books like this! Especially with young women at the center. The Jackaby books are good as well! I also thought the ending and the resolution in general saved the book in general. I wish the pacing would have been better throughout the book, but I have to say that I thought the ending was well done and I hope there is another book because I would pick it up.

Book soundtrack: “Skyfall” by Adele

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Fairest by Marissa Meyer

22489107THIS. BOOK. (!!!)

If you have read/are reading this series, this novella is a must read. I have completed the entire series and I am so glad that I went back to read Levana’s story. The book is numbered “3.5” but really it takes place before any of the series take place, when the main characters of the series (Cinder, Winter, etc.) are being born and Levana is first rising to power. It does cover a long time span, I suppose, and ultimately, it leaves off during the book series.

Here is what you really need to know about <u>Fairest</u>: It is the story of how the ‘villain’ of the Lunar Chronicles (Marissa Meyer’s 4 book series) becomes the villain. As always, Meyer’s writing is beautiful as she describes Levana’s sordid childhood as the bullied younger sister. She grows up and falls in love with a man who never loves her back, and is barren her entire life. In a nutshell you can see why she’s bitter. Other things we learn (very generally, without giving any details): how Levana got her scars and why she wears her glamour, why Lunars decide to unleash a devastating disease on earth and how it originated, why Levana is so seriously twisted, and much, much more!!

Honestly, I cannot understand how the author crammed all of this information into a mere 222 pages. I never felt like I was bored or restless, I was just so interested in the characters and the story. Also, the audiobook is great for this as well. I definitely recommend it!

Book soundtrack: “Bring Me to Life” by Evanescence

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Shallow Graves by Kali Wallace

22663629All righty, I’m a little bit torn about this book. First off, I listened to the audiobook and I feel like that always throws my rating off a little bit. Was it the book I did/didn’t like or was did the reader throw my bias a bit? I actually thought the reader was pretty good on this book. She has a dramatic voice without being over the top or whiney or overdone or anything like that. I thought she was right where she needed to be. So great job to the narrator, in my opinion.

It is important to go into this book with an open mind. Just read the synopsis and go with it–don’t assume this or that, just let the story unfold. I’ve read several of the other reviews on this book and trust me, readers who expect one thing or the other only set themselves up for disappointment and this book truly is unique.

What Kali Wallace has done with Shallow Graves–in my opinion, at least–is create a unique kind of story. I don’t think I have read a book quite like this, where the main character wakes up dead and not remembering why. The mystery is who killed her, what type of creature she is, what other creatures actually live in the world, who is friend and who is foe, and how is she supposed to move on from here. There are several creep factor moments and then the book has its lulls…but overall, I was pretty entranced with the book so I recommend as a good fall/Autumn book!

Book soundtrack: “Graveyard” by The Devil Makes Three

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One of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus

For several months now, I’ve been seeking a good YA mystery/thriller. As I read more of them, it just seems that contemporary YA authors just fall into cliches and I dislike them and drive me farther and farther away. Not this one, though. My hope has been renewed! Thank you, Karen McManus! And this is a debut novel! Bravo!!

23472238_10100116527721319_209185853208846123_nAll righty, so as indicated by the above, that alone is a recommendation from me. One of Us Is Lying basically begins with murder in detention (dun dun DUN!!). The four survivors alternate narration as they navigate the media storm of their classmate’s death. The ‘victim’ was the school gossip mill via his own app, but also–as we find out–very interested in online chats about other school shootings and acts of violence. We learn about the four survivors’ secrets as they become closer to each other and how they ultimately unravel the truth and the lies behind what the bigger plan really was for detention that day.

Here is my brief opinion of the cliches I mentioned earlier that I usually see in YA horror and/or thriller and/or mystery: way too much high school drama i.e. the he said/she said heartbreak gossip OMG LOL ETC. BS. I can’t handle all of that. Or at least too much of that. I understand that I am reading the YA genre so I expect some of it. Fine. <u>One of Us Is Lying</u> has some, but does it with grace and gets the heck past it. There are way bigger issues to worry about. Like a MURDER. Lawyers to be hired. Press and media. Parents. Still trying to keep life in line and get into college. This was realistic to me. Yes, there were still petty high schoolers being jerks, but these kids (“the murder club,” they were taunted by the other kids in school) just banded together and got through it together and the story moved on. I loved that about this book. THANK YOU!!! Miracle!

Other big perks: I guessed at the killer, but I didn’t KNOW. Plus, I was too engrossed with the characters to really care about the story line. Sorry but, I hardly even cared about the story line. I cared about the characters’ lives and what would happen to them, LOL. There were maybe a couple draggy parts (not much though) and I marked it down to 4 rather than 5. The book wasn’t perfect. However, the end redeemed it. I loved the ending. We get our happy ending. Loved that. I can’t deny it….I absolutely LOVED it because (without spoiling anything)….yeah….dude is my GUY!!!! That’s my trope right there! ❤

So if you have not yet, check this book out. +19 weeks at the top of the NYT bestseller list and a 4.06 rating on Goodreads…this book is killin’ it (no pun intended).

Book soundtrack: “Bad to the Bone” by ZZ top

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