Nov 29, 2012 {holiday reading plans}

The book chat returns!!  Doesn't it feel like it's been forever since the last book chat?  The Blogger Book Swap was so much fun so thank you to everyone for participating!

(And on that note, I've been hearing people say that they haven't received their book yet, so please, if you haven't sent your book yet, please do!  It's not too late.  Especially if you received a book.  It's not fair to get a new book without sending one, right?  And if you do still plan to blog about your new book, you can still link it up here.  I like reading about everyone's new books :) )

Okay, so for todays book chat topic, I chose the question...

I know for some of us, the holidays are a time for relaxation and time for reading, while for others it can mean the total opposite.  If you plan on sitting in a car for hours on end, you could easily get through an audiobook...unless of course, if you have kids in the backseat.

As for me, I don't foresee having an excess of reading time on my hands.  We had originally planned on driving to Arizona which is a 24 hour drive each way, but my husband found cheap flight tickets so now we're flying.  I never have much time to read while I'm visiting family, which is fine.  I'd rather spend my downtime hanging out with my parents.

Rather than lug big heavy books back & forth, I'm just bringing my Kindle to get caught up on some reviews I'm too behind on.  Here is what I have planned...

This is an ARC I received from NetGalley that's coming out in January.  The synopsis sounds awesome.  I can't wait to dive into this story.  Look out for my review in December.

"The Mad Scientist’s Daughter is the heartbreaking story of the journey from childhood to adulthood, with an intriguing science fictional twist.
There’s never been anyone - or anything - quite like Finn.

He looks, and acts human, though he has no desire to be. He was programmed to assist his owners, and performs his duties to perfection. A billion-dollar construct, his primary task is to tutor Cat.
When the government grants rights to the ever-increasing robot population, however, Finn struggles to find his place in the world."

This is another Netgalley request.  I was intrigued by the idea of Lydia Bennet's story after she runs off with Mr. Wickham, but after seeing a few bad reviews already online, I've lost my motivation.  Now the only reason I'm planning to read it is because I need a book written by an author with my initials for the Semi-Charmed Winter Book Challenge.  It's either this or Jim Butcher...and

I haven't really read much sci-fi before.  I have read some books with sci-fi aspects to them (i.e. Hunger Games) but these will be my first real science fiction novels.  I've been trying to get my hands on a good copy of Ender's Game for months.  

Seriously so much good stuff to read.  I'm really trying to get through Megan's Book Challenge this time.  But this book is taking me SO long.  

So, what do you plan on reading this holiday season?  
Link up below.


Next week's topic: What books are on you asking Santa for this year?  

Nov 25, 2012

Book Review: Wither by Lauren DeStefano {with playlist}

This was the book I was lucky enough to receive from Melissa for the Blogger Book Swap.  I completely trusted Melissa's judgement and wasn't much surprised when she chose a dystopian YA novel for me since it's a genre we share a special affinity for.

This book was no exception.  The story is about 16 year old Rhine who lives in a future world where girls only live to be 20 and are often abducted and sold into marriage, or worse.

What a page-turner!  I loved that there are so many levels to this dystopia.  Not only is there the whole young fatality rate, but then DeStefano adds in the plight of girls being abducted.  There are so many different relationships going on, and I like that the blossoming romance is overshadowed by the more important aspects of the story.  It is a smart and brave novel.  It is the right amount of dark and morbid for a YA novel.  If I could sum it up in one phrase it would be "The Handmaid's Tale for teens". And I mean that in a good way.

My only annoyance was that so many of my questions went unanswered.

I'm entirely uncertain as to what direction the story is going, and I cannot wait to read on in this trilogy.

Find it here:
Goodreads // Amazon // B&N

The playlist...
I especially loved this story's creepy elegance.  There was so much femininity and melancholy.  I couldn't help but imagine the perfect playlist while reading.  These artists immediately came to mind...

Pretty Bird - Jenny Lewis
Keep Breathing - Ingrid Michaelson
Hide and Seek - Imogen Heap
The Suburbs - Mr. Little Jeans
All Your Gold - Bat for Lashes
Hanging High - Lykke Li
Born to Die - Lana Del Rey


Nov 19, 2012

Literary Junkies

When I saw that Lesley {By the Porchlight} was hosting a link-up party related to books I thought...clearly, I need to blog about books more.  ahem.

Here are the questions...

I'm actually not really into anything at the moment.  I just finished Wither by Lauren DeStefano yesterday and loved it a lot.  I want to read the sequel but it's not at the library, and I'm refraining from purchasing it for $10 on Kindle to save money for Christmas.  *cough*christmas present idea*cough*

I picked this book up from the library and have only read a chapter so far.
I picked it for this book challenge.  I don't really know what it's about yet.  There's a boy and his father and it revolves around a book and it's mystery author.  It's supposed to be phenomenal for bibliophiles like ourselves.  I'm hoping to get into it soon.  Today was a book hangover for me.

Three favorites of all time?!  This won't be easy...

We're all nodding in agreement, right? I don't think I need to go into detail on this one.

We all remember our first love, right?

I mean, come on.  

I can't not mention a few others like The Handmaid's Tale, The Kite Runner, Still Life with Woodpecker, The Fault in Our Stars and my most recent favorite, The Night Circus.  
This was a cruel question, Lesley. ;)

Great question.  I immediately head to the cafe.  I have to have a hot coffee in my hand as I peruse the shelves.  If I have my kids with me, I go straight for the train table in the kid's department, grabbing an armful of books along the way to look through as I sip my coffee and watch them play.  

What a great link-up!  If you like books, you should join in with this one.  Who doesn't love blogging about books??

By the Porchlight

And just a returns on the 29th!  The topic question is: What are your holiday reading plans?

Nov 18, 2012

A big girl purse

This post was inspired by one of Megan's recent posts.  I kind of love seeing what is inside everyone's handbags.  Is that weird?  Anyway, seeing Megan's bag made me realize that my purse is a shameful, sloppy abyss of crumpled receipts and fruit snacks.  It made me really wish I had a nice handbag to be proud of.  Instead mine is something I throw over my shoulder in a rush and pray that there's an extra diaper in it.

I've never been much an "arm candy" kind of girl.  I could never justify spending $500 on something that holds sunglasses and keys.  For a purse, I have seen people throwing down cash that would easily buy a new camera lens or a top brand bike.  On a family budget, an expensive purse is in the $60 range and that thing better last a year.

Lately, I've been thinking that it's about time that I carry around a nice purse.  Nothing too fancy or expensive.  Something functional and stylish.  Something that says something about who I am and will match most of my every day looks.  It only needs to big enough to hold a few diapers, a wallet and a book.

A few of the bags I found...

1 : 2 : 3 : 4 : 5 : 6 : 7 : 8

#2 and #3 are my favorite.  Believe it or not, #3 is from Anthropologie and only $98.  I want.

What kind of purse do you carry?  Is it more for function or fashion?


Nov 16, 2012

Book Review: The Night Circus

The cover of this book has been grabbing my attention for months.  The synopsis didn't grab me right away, but I had also read Water for Elephants and was not a huge fan, so I was a bit scorned by the circus stories.

This was nothing like other circus stories.  This was nothing like any other stories at all.

I started this book on audiobook.  I HIGHLY recommend this audiobook.  The reader had such an exquisite accent and voice.  He was genuinely a pleasure to listen to.  Also, I know this book starts off a little slow, so having it read to you in such an appealing voice helps to make up for that.  I have to admit, less than halfway through, I had to get the actual book from the library because listening to it in the car was just not enough.

As for the book itself, I'll say this...
This is probably the best writing I have encountered in any book, anywhere.  Morgenstern is an artist.  She paints such a magnificent dream with her writing.  This book was not a story.  This book was an entire world within itself.  This was something to immerse yourself in.   This is the kind of story that feels like home.  Somewhere you can visit, escape to.  Like a dream.

I could not wait to get back to it.  And when I was away from it, I couldn't stop thinking about it.

I love that this book has a plethora of highly developed characters.
I love that the romance is genuine and sweet without being overbearing or redundant.
I love everything about this book.

I cannot say it enough.

Read. this. book.

FIVE very sentimental stars.

Find it here.
Amazon // Barnes & Noble // Audible // Goodreads

Nov 15, 2012

Blogger Book Swap - Final Link-up

Today is the last day of the Book Swap.

Of course, I participated in the swap too.  I paired up with Melissa of Press Play.  I'd be lying if I said, I didn't sort of plan it this way.  Melissa is one of my best and first blog friends and it's just about darn time we sent each other something.  I'm pretty sure it won't be the last time either.

Shopping for Melissa was so much fun...but not easy.  I get most of my reading recommendations from Melissa so all of my favorite books are ones she already has.

On Tuesday, seeing my package by my front door totally made my day!  It may sound so cheesy, but just getting something in the mail that traveled so far from her to me, was sort of special to me.

This is what was inside...

She sent me Wither by Lauren DeStefano.  I have not read it yet and don't own it.  I didn't even knew it was a dystopian novel, or if I had, I probably would have had it already.

I wasted no time and immediately sat down with it and started reading.  So far, (and I'm only a couple chapters in) I think I will really like it.

I adore this notebook she sent.  I don't know if she understands my obsession with notebooks or if she is just my kindred spirit in list making, but notebooks are my weakness.

And then the coolest thing she sent is a book all about her hometown, Montreal.  This is the coolest to me because now I can read it and plan on really visiting!

Thanks so much, Melissa!  You sent a great package.  I'm so glad we were swap partners.

Go check out Melissa's blog, if you have a chance.  She's the coolest.

I hope you all have enjoyed this book swap as much as I have!  I have already read a few posts from last week, and I can't wait to read more this week.  If you have a post for today, please link it up below.

If you have any suggestions or ideas, I'd love to hear them.  I definitely plan on hosting one again, maybe in the spring or summer.

Also, I'd love to invite you all back for The.Book.Chat.  It's a weekly book related link-up with a new prompt each week.  We won't be linking up next week because of Thanksgiving, but we will pick back up on the 29th.  The topic for the 29th is: What are your holiday reading plans?


Nov 14, 2012

Gift Ideas for Music Lovers

Christmas is right around the corner.   You might have a lover of music that you are buying for this year.  Here you will find, a collection of the internet's best for gift ideas...

((1)) Original Owl Painting - How precious is this painting?  And original artwork is such a special gift to give.  Etsy Shop: Water in my Paint - $40.00 - source

((2)) Retro "Life is a Mixed Tape" print - love this print.  There are many more in this artist's shop.  Etsy shop: handz - $17 - source

((3)) Record Player printed notebook - What a gem. This is just too sweet.  Etsy shop: TwoGuitars - $8.00 - source

((4)) Vintage records.  Even if who you're buying for doesn't have a record player, album covers make great wall art and if they have a favorite musician, these can make very special gifts.  source

((5)) Hand-stamped guitar pick bracelet.  I've seen jewelry makers do some great things with guitar picks.  Most of these shops will personalize the picks with your own quote.  Consider song lyrics or names. Etsy shop: Carries Custom Designs - $20 - source

I see so many great song lyric prints online.  If you find an artist online that you like, sometimes they will customize a print with the song lyrics of your choice.   Etsy Shop: Rag and Bone Studio - $22 - source

I have a soft spot for Jason Munn musician posters.  They are so clever and unique.  There is an entire collection online. $40 source

Show your loved ones how well you really know them with a gift geared toward their favorite genre, song or band.  Happy holiday shopping!


Nov 10, 2012

20 dreams for 2013

I recently stumbled across this 20 Wishes post from Truly Lovely inspiring their readers to create a list of 20 things they want to do in the next twelve months.  I love this idea.  I love that it's not about things you should do or things that need to get done.

The way I see it, if I could create a blueprint for this next year made of only the things I want to do, this is what it would look like...

1. Meet a blog friend.
2. Attend a book conference.
3. Finish writing a novel.
4. Take the kids to Disney World
5. Finish my bachelor's degree.
6. Get a new tattoo
7. Keep blogging throughout the year
8. See Mumford & Sons in concert
9. Host another book swap
10. Attend a blog conference
11. Read 40 books (ten more than this year)
12. Go on a trip alone with Jeremy
13. Ride my bike more
14. Keep in touch with my brother & sister
15. Learn to play the guitar (seriously so sad how long this has been on my list)
16. Sew a quilt for Jonathan
17. Move to our next duty station and into our new home
18. Join the PTA and volunteer at Jonathan's school
19. Cut my hair short.
20. Celebrate turning 30!  (And no crying about it)

Fun year, right?

If you make a list too, I'd love to see it.

Nov 8, 2012

Blogger Book Swap - Extension...

Hey book swappers!  The swap is coming to a close, and hopefully you have all either received your packages or are expecting them soon.

I know everything went pretty fast, and many of us didn't get our package sent off in time, so I am extending the final link-up to next week, November 15th.

Once you do receive your book package, here's what you can do for the link-up...
1. Take pictures.   Show off the goodies you received.
2. Tell us all about your book swap partner.  Include links and blog info.
3. If you had time to read the book already, share a review/thoughts.

Put it all in a blog post and link it up here with us next week!

If you have already written up a blog post about your book swap, you can link it up here today.  I can't wait to read them all!


If you have any feedback on the book swap, I would appreciate hearing it.  I have enjoyed doing this swap so much!  I'm thinking we will do it again, maybe in the spring.


Nov 6, 2012

Tunesday: be kind. have fun.

No obligatory political post here.

However, I do hope everyone gets out to vote today, if you haven't already.  I know this campaign season has been a tiresome one, so not only is it exciting to see which way the polls go, but it's also a relief to know it's about to be over.

For today, I want to share some uplifting, light-hearted tunes to put us all in a fun-loving mood.

So perhaps the results in the election are not going your way, and you need a pick-me-up....

Or perhaps they are going your way and you need some celebration sounds...

Either way, please remember to be kind and radiate positivity no matter which way it goes today.

Gloating, bashing, and/or bragging is not a good look for anyone.

Crystal Fighters - At Home

Ball Park Music - It's Nice To Be Alive
"Don't stress.  That's dumb"

Royal Teeth - Wild
"Just because we’re growing up, it doesn’t mean we’ve had enough
When times are hard we’ll smile and say we’re not afraid of anything,
cause we feel young and wild"

Bad Books - Forest Whitaker

Happy Tunesday!

Nov 1, 2012

Winter Book Challenge @ Semi-Charmed

Hey friends.  It's Thursday, and even though is on hiatus during the Blogger Book Swap, I wanted to share a cool book challenge I'm participating in that starts today.

Megan held a Summer Book Challenge that I didn't finish due to my reading drought that I suffered all summer.  I have faith in this challenge.  I've decided not to choose books I'm not likely to read.  I'm even hesitant to share the list with the fear that I might jinx it and be then doomed to not finish it.

Oh well...I'll risk it.
Here's my list...

5 points: Read a book by an author you haven't read before: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern  (started this today on audiobook.  I'm already an hour into it and I love it!)
5 points: A book you have at home but haven't read yet: Into the Darkest Corner by Elizabeth Haynes
10 points: A book written in the decade you were born: Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
10 points: A book that takes place in your home state: Still looking...  Do you know a good book set in Alabama?
15 points: The _____'s daughter/wife: The Mad Scientist's Daughter by Cassandra Rose Clark
15 points: Originally written in another language: The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera
20 points: A book with a number in the title: Fifty Shades Freed by E.L. James
20 points: A book set during Christmas or other winter holiday: Home in Time for Christmas by Heather Graham
20 points: Author with the same initials as me: Bad Miss Bennet by Jean Burnett
25 points: Pulitzer Prize winner or finalist: A Visit from the Good Squad by Jennifer Egan
25 points: Re-read a book: Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
30 points: 3 books from 3 different genres: The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer (YA), And All the Stars by Andrea K. Host (Sci-Fi), The Comfort of Lies by Randy Susan Meyers (Fiction/Lit)

I love that her challenges involve scores and points and causes us to seek out new books we might not have seen otherwise.  If you like to read, I do hope you join in.


As for the Blogger Book Swap, everyone should have completed their shopping and hopefully their shipping.  If you haven't shipped yet, no worries!  Just try to ship this week so that your partner will receive it in time to blog about it and link up next Thursday.  If it seems that people need more time, we can extend the link-up for an extra week.

If you are having a problem at all, please let me know.  Hope you're all enjoying the swap!

Happy reading...