Tuesday, January 31, 2017

January Snapshots

1 & 2. Fawkes already knows how to model.

3. Unintentionally matching bookmarks with hardbacks. // 4. Currently reading: The Star-Touched Queen with Lia from Happy Hello Art.

4. Thank you Book Outlet for having the new UK Harry Potter boxset in paperback for super cheap. I have to organize my HP shelf for these to fit, but I really couldn't help myself when I saw these.

5. Added this Kallax unit from Ikea, so I could have more storage for my LPs. - Jessica

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Bookish Goals and Lists For 2017

For the past couple of years, all of my New Year's resolutions have been book related, including the various books I want to read and the number of books I want to read during the year. Last year I gave myself the initial goal of reading 70 books and then I bumped it up to 130, because I ended up having more reading time than I expected. This year, I'm setting my reading challenge at 140 books and I'm hoping to stick with it but due to school this year, I might have to change it. Over the past three years I've been slowly increasing my reading goal by 10 books and I'm slowly working my way to reading 150 books in a year.

While last year I made a list of the specific books I wanted to read last year, and I didn't do the best job of completing it. Even though I didn't get to read all the books on that list, it was still fun to compile and reflect on those books at the end of the year. But I also making these type of lists because I find it very satisfying to cross a book off of my TBR list. So here are the books that have been lying on my shelves that I want to get to in 2017:

1. More Middle Grade - This first goal is pretty general, but I just finished rereading the first four books in A Series of Unfortunate Events and I was reminded of how much I love the genre. I'm hoping to finally get to The Spiderwick Chronicles, which was one my list last year, and there's still a ton of Rick Riordan books that I've been wanting to read.

2. Of Fire and Stars by Audrey Coulthurst - This is a fantasy novel, centered around Princess Dennaleia, who is betrothed to marry a prince of another kingdom where her magical ability is considered illegal, and she starts to develop romantic feelings for the prince's sister. This book has been on my radar for a while, and I have been dying to read it. The plot sounds so intriguing and I absolutely love reading books with diversity in them.

3. Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare - This is the first book in Clare's new trilogy set in the Shadowhunter universe. I finally read The Mortal Instruments series and The Infernal Devices trilogy last year in the span of a month and enjoyed them, but by the time that Lady Midnight was published, I was a little burnt out from that world and so I never felt like picking up this book. I definitely want to get to this book this year, especially with the sequel coming out in May.

4. Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie - I was obsessed with the Disney movie when I was a little kid (I would watch it almost every day). I somehow have never read the actual book, and I hoping to finally read it this year.

5. Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake - This is a fantasy novel, centered around triplet princesses who have to kill each other for the crown. This is another book that has been on my radar for a while, but I didn't get to read it last year. I've heard great things about this book and I'm hoping to get to it before the sequel is released this year.

6. A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab - This is the second book in the Shades of Magic Trilogy, I read the first book almost two years ago and absolutely loved it, and I have no excuse for not picking up this book yet. The last book comes out next month and I'm meeting the author in March, so I have to read this book before then.

7. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline - This is a dystopian novel set in a world where people spend time actually living in video games. I have heard nothing but good things about this book, so I'm hoping to pick up this book soon.

Along with all the books that I finally want to read in 2017, there are also a TON of new releases. Here are some of the releases I'm most looking forward to:

Links (left to right): 01. 02. 03. 04. 05. 06. 07. 08. 09. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16.

And those are just some of the books coming out in 2017 that I'm looking forward to, they're mostly to books coming out during the first half of the year and only the ones that have official covers released. I'm already feeling accomplished because I've read three of the four books on this list that have already been published. So I've obviously got a lot of reading I plan on doing this year and so little time. - Jessica

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

December Unboxings

I've developed a bit of an obsession with subscription boxes and during the month of December I received three different boxes: the first Wizarding World Loot Crate, the Magical Edition of Litjoy Crate, and the December OwlCrate. I really loved all the items that I got in each box and wanted to share some of my absolute faves.

I was so excited when I learned that Loot Crate had released a Wizarding World themed bi-montly crate, but I unfortunately was too late to buy one because they sold out so quickly. Luckily, Loot Crate did a second run and I was able to snatch myself one of the first boxes. The first crate featured a lot of Fantastic Beasts themed items and I really love the detail that went into the box (especially the latch like on Newt's suitcase). 

Except for the random Funko Pops, the crate consisted entirely of exclusive merch. I lucked out and received a Funko that I didn't already own and got Jacob from the Fantastic Beasts line to go along with the two Newts I have. My absolute favorite item from the crate would have to be the stuffed Pigwidgeon, he's so soft!

I also originally missed out on the Litjoy Magical Edition Crate, which is a one time subscription box, and the first box's theme was Harry's first year at Hogwarts. Litjoy plans to do one crate for each year, or one crate for each Harry Potter book. This box is definitely my favorite of the three, and I love how each item tied into the book so well. This was a huge box, consisting of 15 items, so it was a little hard to narrow them down to my faves, but here they are...

I finally received my Hogwarts acceptance letter in the mail, and I might have teared up a little. Each box also came with a one of a kind wand from Wands and Wood (excuse my really messy bookshelves in the background of this photo). I already have a ton of wand replicas from Noble Collection, but I love having one that's completely my own. My brother decided that my wand would make a good dog toy, so there are a few bite marks on it, but at least it adds some character.   

I absolutely loved the little Invisibility Cloak, I think this idea is so cleaver. I exclusively use bookmarks from Happy Hello Co, but these ones from Gadget's Print Shop are absolutely adorable and a wonderful addition to my collection. I'm also really excited to try out the Butterbeer chapstick from Nerdie Nifties and the Pumpkin Juice candle from Dio Candle Company

My favorite item would have to be this exclusive print designed by Calligraphy.org. It has each book from the first year supply list. It's a little hard to tell from the photo, but it's printed in gold ink and I can't wait to add it to my Harry Potter wall.

And lastly is the December Owlcrate, which included Of Fire and Stars by Audrey Coulthurst and I've been looking forward to reading this book for ages. The box also included a Harry Potter blind box mini Funko figure (I got Hedwig!), Game of Thrones coasters, a Lord of the Rings book pin from Ideal Bookshelf, a Narnia print from Susanne Draws, and a sticker inspired by A Darker Shade of Magic designed by Miss Phi (not pictured). 

And those are all the subscription boxes I got last month. I've definitely developed a bit of an obsession with subscription box services, and would love to try more in the future (if my bank account will allow it...). - Jessica

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Books I Read in December

During the month of November, I had one of my worst reading months and that continued in to December. I'm a bit disappointed with how I closed out the year as I read six books and three short stories. But at least I surpassed by reading goal! So here are the books that I read in December and some of my thoughts and opinions on them:

Persuasion by Jane Austen - This book centers around Anne, who eight years previously rejected Captain Wentworth because her family didn't approve of his financial status. When Captain Wentworth comes back from war, he's now in her circle of friends and he starts to pursue one of Anne's friends. This book was quite a bit of a journey to get through, I started it back in February and made my way through 100 pages before I set it aside, I didn't pick it up until December and I then managed to fly through the book. I ended up really enjoying the story and I loved Anne as a character. This is the first Jane Austen book I've read and I'm hoping to read the rest of her books soon.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling - This is another book that I slowly made my way through, as I started rereading it before The Cursed Child came out and didn't finish it until December. I'm actually really pleased that I didn't end up finishing this until now because all the Grindelwald plot points were so much more interesting to read after seeing Fantastic Beasts. 

Pottermore Presents Short Stories by J.K. Rowling - These are a collection of new and mostly old writings available on Pottermore. I had already read most of these stories before but it was a lot of fun to reread them as a refresher. I think these short stories are a must for any hardcore Harry Potter fan, but since like 95% of the writing is available for free on Pottermore, some fans might not be able to justify the $2.99 on each of the three short stories.

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness - This book revolves around a boy, whose mom has a severe cancer diagnosis, and is being visited at night by a monster in his backyard. This book was so incredibly moving and beautifully written. I flew through this book in two sittings and absolutely loved it. I had previously read Ness' The Rest of Us Just Live Here, which I liked but this book blew that one out of the water.

Crystal Storm by Morgan Rhodes - This is the fifth book in the Falling Kingdoms series. The previous book left off on some huge cliffhangers and I couldn't wait to dive into this book and see how things would unfold. This book was so entertaining and I absolutely love how the world continues to grow and the characters continue to develop. This book ended in the general fashion that the previous books have left off on and I'm highly anticipating the last book's release.

Something in Between by Melissa de la Cruz - This book follows Jasmine, a Filipino immigrant, as she is applying for colleges, when she discovers that her family has been staying in the States illegally. I was so excited to read this book when I found out what it was about, because my father and my maternal grandmother are immigrants from the Philippines and I knew that I would relate to some of Jasmine's experiences. I've also never read a YA book with a Filipino character, let alone a protagonist, so I was also excited to see a character like me in a book (a huge reason why representation in literature matters). I ended up loving this book, especially Jasmine's character and I related to her so much with how she viewed her racial identity. I did have a few problems with the romance aspect of this book, but all else aside I loved it, and I hope to find more YA books with Filipino characters.

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Illustrated Edition) by J.K. Rowling - I look forward to the release of the illustrated editions every year because Jim Kay's illustrations are beautiful. I love how he interprets Rowling's writing and how these books open the story of Harry Potter to a new generation. My only complaint is I wish there were more illustrations because they're just so beautiful.

So those are all the books I read in December, even though I didn't read a lot, I truly loved everything I finished during the month (finish is the keyword because I read most of Naomi Novik's Uprooted during the month and did not enjoy it at all, but more on than in my January wrap up). I'm hoping that rereading books from my all time favorite series (obviously Harry Potter) will end the reading slump I've been in and I'll be able to read a ton of books in the new year. - Jessica