Friday, February 9, 2018

A Very Merry Unbirthday

Hi, everyone! Long time no see! Today I'm hosting an Alice in Wonderland–themed discussion in honor of Ashley at Falling Down the Book Hole’s fifth blogiversary! I was so excited when she invited me to do a post! Be sure to stop by and say hi to her, and also check out her Alice in Wonderland-themed read-a-thon, which runs until February 15. 

Now, on to the discussion!

Characters I'd Invite to My Very Own Unbirthday Party






Rhysand from A Court of Mist and Fury. It should be a well-known fact by now that I love the High Lord of the Night Court. He stole my heart in ACOMAF, and I've been in love ever since. So of course he'd be number one on my invite list!

Morrigan from A Court of Mist and Fury. If I invite Rhys, I kind of have to invite Morrigan (and okay, probably the rest of the Inner Circle) by default. Actually, I'd probably hand party-planning duties over to Mor because she seems like she knows how to have a good time!

Aelin Galathynius from Throne of Glass. First of all, Aelin deserves a party after everything she's been through. And second, like Mor, she just seems like she'd be fun to hang out with!

Fred and George Weasley from Harry Potter. Can you imagine how much fun these two would be? They'd bring all sorts of fun party favors from Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes and have everyone cracking up with their jokes and pranks.

Zuzanna and Mik from Daughter of Smoke and Bone. For even more entertainment, Zuzanna and Mik could put on their puppet show that they perform in DoSaB.

Let me know in the comments which fictional characters you'd invite to your own unbirthday party and why. And don't forget to drop by Ashley’s blog to say hi and congratulate her on five years of blogging! 




Monday, January 15, 2018

Review: A Quiet Kind of Thunder by Sara Barnard


A Quiet Kind of Thunder by Sara Barnard
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Pub. Date: January 9, 2018
Source/Format: NetGalley/e-galley
**I received a free e-galley in exchange for an honest review. Quotes are taken from the finished Kindle edition.**

I want to bottle this discovery and carry it with me everywhere. Lose the fear, find my voice. So simple. And, yet, so rare.

What It's About
Steffi Brons is a sixteen-year-old with selective mutism—which means she literally can't control when her voice comes and goes—and severe social anxiety. Steffi has always relied on her awesome best friend, Tem, to support her, stand up for her, and help her navigate the social world of school. But this year, Steffi's and Tem's paths are diverging—Steffi is starting sixth form and Tem has chosen the college route—and without Tem around, Steffi finds herself adrift and unsure of where she belongs or how to navigate through school life. Enter Rhys Gold, a deaf boy who Steffi immediately connects with because she can communicate with him through British Sign Language. As the year progresses and Steffi and Rhys grow closer, Steffi finds herself taking small but victorious steps toward becoming more comfortable with world around her.

My Thoughts

Because anxiety doesn't care if you're happy or not ... Just like cancer doesn't care if you're happy. Or a broken leg. Or diabetes.

This review was really hard to write because A Quiet Kind of Thunder covers a topic that is very familiar and personal to me, and it did so in a way that I so appreciated because it was so real. First, I should start by saying that I don't know much about selective mutism or deafness, so I'll just have to echo other reviewers' thoughts here and say that it seems like the author has done her research on these subjects. What I want to talk about is Sara Barnard's spot-on portrayal of a character who has severe social anxiety. Wow. Just ... wow. I wish this book had been around when I was in high school, back when I didn't know that social anxiety was even a thing and was just drifting from one day to the next feeling so isolated from my peers and like there was some massive defect in my personality. I really hope that this book reaches readers like sixteen-year-old me, who desperately need to see that there are other people like them out there who are going through the same struggles, and that there are things they can do to help themselves not feel so scared and alone.

There were so many times while reading A Quiet Kind of Thunder that I felt like jumping up and down and shouting "Yes! Oh my god, someone else gets this!" Barnard captures perfectly those feelings that I and others with social anxiety have struggled with constantly: the feeling that basic, everyday things like saying hello to someone in the hallway or speaking to a cashier at a store are insurmountable hurdles; the feelings of jealousy when you see "normal" people in social settings interacting with others with what seems like total ease; the feeling like you're not normal, will never be normal, or that there's something inherently wrong with you that can never be fixed. It was so validating to  read about a character experiencing those feelings. Equally important were the moments when Barnard showed us Steffi's small victories: those moments of validation when she was able prove to herself that she could do the things that used to seem impossible to her, like answering a question out loud in class, or going to the grocery store by herself, or asking a stranger for help in a dire situation.
Mum has had an anxious daughter for sixteen years, and she still doesn't seem to get the concept of little victories. That spending and evening where I wasn't feeling sick every time someone asked me a question is actually a really big deal, and the fact that it might just be a one-off is the kind of thing I'm already worried about. There's no such thing as getting your hopes up if you're anxious. Little victories are everything in a world where worst-case scenarios are on an endless loop in your head.
The depictions of CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) and Steffi's treatment process for her anxiety were so realistic, and for that reason, so very important. Meds and therapy, while helpful, aren't magical cure-alls; even with these, Steffi realizes she has to actively take steps to help herself. And even then, there are still going to be days that are a struggle. I really appreciated that Barnard didn't shy away from these hard truths. There's a part in the book where Steffi is having dinner with her family and Rhys, and it's been a good day for her, and she says that if her life were a movie, this is were the movie would end—with everything perfect and happy. But Steffi's story doesn't end there, and Barnard goes on to show Steffi's continued struggles. I think that's important. It's important that Steffi doesn't do a complete 180 by the end of the book and turn into a super talkative, vivacious, charismatic person, because that's not how mental illness works. There's no switch that flips or magical pill that you take that turns you into a different person. Steffi does make improvements, but her anxiety doesn't just go away; it's still something she has to manage, and that's okay.
We know you find the world quite hard, and we know we can't make it easier for you, or make decisions for you. But you're growing up and you're learning how to navigate it in your own way. That's fantastic.

What I also loved about this book were all Steffi's different relationships: with Rhys, with her parents, and with her best friend, Tem, who all help her handle her anxiety and selective mutism in different ways. Steffi's parents are divorced and both remarried, so it was really interesting (and sometimes heartbreaking) to see the different parenting styles: one side is super supportive, and one, unfortunately, doesn't fully understand or accept that her selective mutism and anxiety truly are things that Steffi cannot fully control. Tem, who has served as Steffi's protector throughout their school years, is mostly understanding, but as they take different paths and begin to drift apart, Tem tends to throw Steffi's problems back in her face or make hurtful jabs. For those reasons, I both loved and was frustrated by Tem (though it's important to note that Steffi isn't a perfect friend either; she sometimes takes her for granted, because she feels that since Tem is outspoken and social, she doesn't need Steffi as much as Steffi needs her). And then there's Rhys. Their relationship was so adorable and one of my favorite parts of the book! Befriending Rhys is what initially gives Steffi the confidence to be bolder, but, importantly, she learns that she can't be totally reliant on him to make her better; after all, Rhys has his own disability and insecurities to deal with. But together they do help each other.

A Quiet Kind of Thunder is a sweet love story, a relatable coming-of-age story, and a truthful depiction of what it's like to live with an anxiety disorder. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and I hope that other readers who can relate to Steffi's and Rhys's situations will find it, read it, and hopefully feel less alone because of it.


Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Mini Review Roundup: 2017 Reads

As I discovered while filling out the Year-End Statistics Survey last weekend, 2017 was a not a good review year on the blog. I only posted two reviews the entire year—two! Ouch! Granted, I was trying to get back into the swing of blogging regularly, so I didn't post a lot in general, but still. Must do better in 2018! Anyway, I was doing a little cleaning up behind the scenes—updating the layout, deleting drafts of posts I'm not likely to finish—when I noticed that I actually did have a few reviews I started to write but never got around to finishing. So, rather than toss them in trash bin, I decided to tweak them a little bit and make a compilation of mini reviews as a final send-off to 2017. 

The Bird and the Sword by Amy Harmon

Read February 2017 | 

I discovered this book through the art of PhantomRin, who, as you might know, has created some amazing fan art for the Throne of Glass series as well as other YA novels. I came across this gorgeous picture she made of the two main characters from The Bird and the Sword, Tiras and Lark, and I was immediately intrigued because this imagining of Tiras totally gave me Heir of Fire-era Rowan vibes, with the long, silver-white hair.
The writing in The Bird and the Sword is so enchanting, and it was easy to get swept up in Lark's story. One of the most powerful elements of the book, for me, was how acutely I felt everything Lark was feeling––her loneliness and isolation that she felt because she is literally unable to speak, the despair over the seemingly impossible circumstances she and Tiras face, but also her love for Tiras and her stubborn determination to do whatever she can to save him.
While I definitely felt there were elements of the plot and the worldbuilding that could have been fleshed out a bit more––for instance, I'm still not entirely sure why Tiras had such a hard time shifting between his eagle and human forms––The Bird and the Sword makes up for these shortcomings with beautiful writing and a sweet romance.

Once and for All by Sarah Dessen

Read in June 2017 | 

I've been meaning to read more Sarah Dessen books ever since I finished Along for the Ride (which I loved) a few summers back. With its intriguing premise of summer romance amidst the flurry of wedding planning chaos, Once and for All seemed like the perfect book to try next. While it was a quick, enjoyable read, this one unfortunately didn't fully capture my interest. Ambrose's constant cheeriness and knack for landing himself in trouble was a bit annoying, and I never really felt 100 percent on board with the budding romance between him and Louna. I was far more interested in the chapters about Louna's previous relationship with Ethan than I ever was for the chapters about Louna and Ambrose, whose relationship felt somewhat forced. The Ethan chapters tugged at my heartstrings, and I sort of wish the book had just focused on that story instead.

Night of Cake and Puppets by Laini Taylor

Read October 2017 |  

To read my review of the original e-book version, click here.
I absolutely love the Daughter of Smoke and Bone series by Laini Taylor and cannot praise it highly enough. Seriously, why is there not a bigger fandom for these books, or the fantastic Strange the Dreamer, for that matter? Laini never disappoints. There are so many laugh-out-loud moments in this novella, and the romance between Zuzanna and Mik is too adorable for words. I really loved the illustrations and how they brought the story to life (even though these interpretations Zuzana and Mik didn't quite fit my own imagined versions of them). Some of the artwork even creeped me out a bit, but that's not necessarily a bad thing, since the series does have a touch of creepiness––I don't think I really appreciated before just how macabre Zuzana and Karou's habitual hangout, Poison Kitchen, is. The bonus comic at the end for the opening pages of Daughter of Smoke and Bone has me seriously wanting the whole series in graphic novel form. It would be so amazing!


Monday, January 1, 2018

2017 Year-End Statistics Survey

A random fact you may not know about me is that I love making lists, filling out questionnaires, and taking surveys. When I was a kid, I used to get all those "about me" journals that had you answer questions like "What's your favorite color?" "What are your favorite movies?" and on and on, and I'd have a field day filling them out with my array of glittery gel pens. I actually still do pick up books like this from time to time (the Listography journals, anyone?), whenever I find one that looks fun to fill out. So, naturally, I had to do the Year-End Statistics Survey hosted by Brittany of The Book Addict's Guide and Andi of Andi's ABCs. I also plan on doing Jamie's (The Perpetual Page Turner) End of the Year survey too, so watch out for that later this week!

Without further ado, here are my 2017 reading stats. If you want to fill out the survey yourself, just click on the above links to Brittany's or Andi's blogs for a blank version with all the questions.

Number of books read…

  • Under 250 pages (not including novellas): 10
  • Between 400-449 pages: 5
  • Between 450-499 pages: 1
  • Over 500 pages: 4
  • Over 1000 pages: 0

Number of…

  • Audiobooks: 4
  • Rereads: 5
  • DNFs (did not finish): I didn't keep track of my DNFs this year, but I'm sure the total number's probably more than I would've liked. 
Number of books rated…
  • Five Stars: 7
  • One/Two Stars: 1
  • Number of authors met in 2017: 0
  • Number of book events attended in 2017:
  • Number of books you read in one day: It just occurred to me I could answer this question in two ways: the number of books I read in a single day, or the number of books I completed in one day, but on separate days. If it's the first, there were about nine books I read throughout the year that I completed in one day. Not entirely positive that's accurate, but it's my best guess. As for the total number of books I ever read in one single day, I think the most would've been two.
  • Number of books that made you cry: Only 4, surprisingly!
  • Number of 2017 books you have on preorder: 1. I only preordered A Court of Wings and Ruin. 

  • Book read furthest away from home (vacation reads?): I didn't go on vacation this year, and since I moved, I guess the books I read in my new home state don't exactly count as being read far away from home (even though it sort of feels that way).
  • Book that took you the longest to read: The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova took me a couple of months. 
  • Book that you personally connected with the most: Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia. 
  • Book that made you love the villain: I guess Rhys in ACOTAR? Lol! That's sort of a cheat answer though because it was a reread, so I already knew he wasn't really a villain. 
  • Book you said you’d come back to but still haven’t picked up again: Caraval. The beginning was a bit slow, and I went into a reading slump and set it aside. I definitely do want to come back to it though!
  • Book you read on your birthday: I can't believe it, but I don't think I read anything on or around my birthday!
  • Book you weren’t entirely truthful about when rating (Fluff up any ratings? Rated even though you didn’t finish?): I totally rated The Unthinkable without finishing it. It was nonfiction, and I ended up skimming it through to the end because I got bored. 
  • Book you read in 2017 but already want to reread: A Court of Wings and Ruin, for sure!
  • Book you wish you could go back and read for the first time again: Also A Court of Wings and Ruin. It was my most anticipated book, and I love this series so much that I wish I could experience it all over again!
  • Most books read by one author this year: Three by Sarah J. Maas: Empire of Storms, A Court of Wings and Ruin, and A Court of Thorns and Roses. 

Happiest & saddest

  • Happiest: Night of Cake and Puppets by Laini Taylor
  • Saddest: Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas

Longest & shortest…
  • By page number: 
    • Longest: A Court of Wings and Ruin (704 pages)
    • Shortest: To Kiss in the Shadows by Lynn Kurland (86 pages)
  • By title:
    • Longest: The Unthinkable: Who Survives When Disaster Strikes - and Why
    • Shortest: Wintersong and Hunted
  • From buying to reading:
    • Longest: The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova. I originally bought it/started reading it nine years ago in high school, but I didn't finish it until this December.
    • Shortest: To Kiss in the Shadows and Snowed Over by Angie Stanton. Finished both of these within a couple hours of downloading the e-books.
Best & worst…
  • Average rating on Goodreads: 3
  • Books you read/your rating: 
    • Best (5 stars): The Historian, Night of Cake and Puppets, Strange the Dreamer, Empire of Storms, The Bird and the Sword, Big Mushy Happy Lump, and Hunted.
    • Worst (2 stars): The Edge of Everything
First & last…
  • Reads of 2017:
    • First: I Work at a Public Library by Gina Sheridan
    • Last: Snowed Over by Angie Stanton
  • Books on your bookcase (1st book on the top left and last book on the bottom right):
    • First: Dreamology by Lucy Keating
    • Last: The Black Jewels trilogy anthology by Anne Bishop
  • Most disappointing & biggest pleasant surprise:
    • Most disappointing: An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson
    • Biggest Pleasant Surprise: The Bird and the Sword by Amy Harmon
  • Fandom you joined & one you abandoned:
    • Joined: Strange the Dreamer
    • Abandoned: None. I stuck to all my fandoms this year.
  • Series you picked up & series you quit:
    • Picked up: The de Piaget series by Lynn Kurland
    • Quit: I didn't quit any series this year.
  • Most lenient & harshest ratings:
    • Most lenient: An Enchantment of Ravens. I gave it a 3 on Goodreads, but it's really more of a 2.5 to me.
    • Harshest: The Edge of Everything. This was my lowest rating of the year (2).
  • Most hyped & furthest under the radar that you read:
    • Most hyped: Definitely A Court of Wings and Ruin
    • Furthest under the radar: Probably Snowed Over.

  • Book you read that is red: A Court of Thorns and Roses (reread)
  • Starts with X, Y, or Z: None, but I did have two that started with W: Wintersong and The Wood.
  • Book you hugged when you finished it: Probably A Court of Wings and Ruin, haha!
  • Book you wanted to throw across a room: Empire of Storms. But not in a "I hate this book" way. More like a "I hate this book, but I also love it so much and I need the next one right now because I can't believe SJM made my poor fictional children suffer so much" kind of way.
  • Food you craved while/after reading a certain book: I definitely wanted cake while reading A Night of Cake and Puppets!
  • Book that became an instant go-to recommendation: Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor (seriously, if you haven't read this yet, RETHINK YOUR LIFE CHOICES). :P
  • Furthest out of your comfort zone: Mm...maybe Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel? It's science fiction, which I don't normally read, but the premise was so interesting, and the audiobook was phenomenal!
  • Read on a recommendation (that you may not have picked up yourself): The Bird and the Sword by Amy Harmon, though it wasn't exactly a recommendation that made me pick it up. I saw some fan art for it that was absolutely gorgeous, and that made me want to read it.
  • Forced yourself to finish: The Edge of Everything, Wintersong, and The Wood.
  • Series or author’s works you binged (whether all at once or throughout the year): Sarah J. Maas throughout the year, and then Naoko Takeuchi in December.

First…
Last…


  • Number of posts in 2017: Ha! 17 posts in 2017!
  • Number of reviews posted this year: This is super embarrassing ... I only posted 2 reviews this year! Yikes! Must do better in 2018!
  • Post with the most views (posted in 2017): The House Cup Reading Challenge sign-up information post
  • Post you wish you could rewrite: Either of my reviews. I am so terrible at writing reviews, which is probably why I only posted two this year, haha! No matter how I feel about the book, I always find it incredibly hard to sum up and put those feelings into words.

Well, there you have it! It's really cool to look back on the year and see what I accomplished in my reading life and what I want to improve on this year. I definitely want to up my reviewing game, which was seriously lacking in 2017, and I want to hit my Goodreads reading challenge goal, which I'm being even more ambitious about this year (100 books!). 2018 is going to be a year of finally getting around to the books that have been gathering dust of my shelves; it's time I made reading a priority again! In fact, I think I'll go start right now ... or as soon as I can decide on which one I really want to read. Haha!

What about you all? Did you meet, exceed, or fall short of your reading goals for 2017? What are your new goals for 2018? Let me know in the comments! And if you filled out this survey, gimme your links so I can check them out! :)






Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Countdown to Christmas: Six Days - Top Ten Books I Hope Santa Brings


Christmas is my favorite time of year, so to get festive and celebrate the week leading up to it, I'm doing a Countdown to Christmas series all this week! Today's topic coincides with the topic for The Broke and the Bookish's Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books I Hope Santa Brings.


I don't really ask for many books at Christmas time because I lack the self-control to keep myself from buying the ones I really, really want. So usually when I ask for books for Christmas, they're ones that I wouldn't normally buy for myself. 


Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban illustrated editions

In my noble quest to collect all the editions of Harry Potter, I definitely had to ask for the illustrated versions!


The Snow Queen and Other Winter Tales
I love Barnes and Noble's collectible edition books. They're so gorgeous! I absolutely love the cover on this one, and I mainly asked for it because I wanted to read E. T. A. Hoffmann's "The Nutcracker and the Mouse King," which is the story the Nutcracker ballet is based on.


The Nine Kingdoms series by Lynn Kurland
I talked about Lynn Kurland a bit in my Christmas Songs Book Tag post. I started reading her historical romance series (de Piaget) earlier in the fall, and I've really enjoyed the ones I've read so far (each book can pretty much stand on its own, so I've been sticking to the strictly historical ones in the series; there are some volumes that involve time travel that I'm not so keen on). I'm really excited to start her fantasy series now.


Caraval by Stephanie Garber
I've been wanting to read Caraval for the longest time but have just never gotten around to it. I'm thinking it'll be a good magical fantasy to read while I've got some time off from work between Christmas and New Year's.


Ever the Hunted by Erin Summerill
Ever the Hunted is another fantasy I've been meaning to read for a while, and with the sequel just out, now seems like the perfect time to pick it up!


That's it! Like I said, I usually buy most of the books I really, really want myself, so my bookish wishlist was pretty small this year. Since I don't have ten books to list for TTT, I'll end this post with a little story about my favorite book I ever received for Christmas (though not from Santa).

When I was in the third grade, my teacher read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone to our class, and it was pretty much the only thing I talked about for the next two months (this was right around the time that the books were becoming really popular in the US). So, on Christmas Eve that year, my mom let me open a present that had come in the mail from my aunt. Inside was a book, and that book was ... you guessed it, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. It was my first ever copy of a Harry Potter book, and I was so excited!

Baby Alex, featuring HP and the Sorcerer's Stone and little sis

Well, that's all for today's Countdown to Christmas post! Be sure to come back tomorrow for day 3! In the meantime, tell me what books you're wishing for this year. Or, better yet, let me know what some of your favorites book were that you received as gifts (Christmas or otherwise). See you tomorrow!



Monday, December 18, 2017

Countdown to Christmas: Seven Days - Favorite Christmas Movies


Christmas is my favorite time of the year, and since we're just one week away from the big day, I wanted to do a series of posts for every day leading up to it to share some of the things I love most about the season! So, without further ado, welcome to day one of Countdown to Christmas! Today's topic: my favorite Christmas movies!


Home Alone 2
This has always been my favorite of the Home Alone duology. (I absolutely refuse to acknowledge the existence of Home Alone 3 or any other spin-offs. If it doesn't have Macauly Culkin, it ain't Home Alone, people!) When I was little, I loved watching Kevin explore his room in the Plaza Hotel, open that giant cabinet full of candy and cookies, ride in a limousine with his very own pizza while watching The Grinch, and exploring the wonderland that was Duncan's Toy Chest.


How the Grinch Stole Christmas
The thing I remember most about watching this movie as a kid was how funny I thought it was. I seriously thought it was the most hilarious movie ever. I loved all the Grinch's funny quips, especially his voicemail message: "If you utter so much as one syllable, I'LL HUNT YOU DOWN AND GUT YOU LIKE A FISH! If you'd like to fax me, press the star key." I would crack up at this part every single time (and I still do)!


Christmas Vacation
I never get tired of watching Christmas Vacation. Like the Grinch, there are so many hilarious moments. When I lived in Indiana, we started the tradition of going to see Christmas Vacation at this little renovated movie theater that was in a small town about twenty minutes from where I used to live. They hold screenings of it the weekend before Christmas, and people go dressed up as their favorite characters and shout their favorite lines in time with the movie. It became one of my favorite things to do, and I'm really sad I wasn't be able to go this year.


The Holiday
This is such a fun, feel-good Christmas movie! And the soundtrack by Hans Zimmer is awesome. Oh yeah, and Jude Law is pretty darn adorable too. ;)


Love Actually
Apparently, over the last couple of years, it's become the new "cool" thing to do to hate on Love Actually. Whatever. I don't really get why people are such grouches (or should I say grinches?) about it, but I still love this movie despite its flaws. Bill Nighy's character is so freaking hilarious, and I love the stories about Jamie and Aurelia and Sam and his stepdad (whose name is escaping me at the moment). Plus, let's be real: it's worth watching just for that Hugh Grant dance scene alone.


A Christmas Story
If there ever comes a day when TBS no longer does the 24-hour marathon of A Christmas Story, my heart will break. I absolutely have to watch it all the way through at least once (preferably the first time it plays on Christmas Eve) and then have it on in the background until it ends on Christmas night. There were many Christmas Eves as a kid when I would be too excited about Santa to fall asleep, so I'd turn on my TV and watch A Christmas Story until I finally crashed.


The Family Stone
You know how some movies just give you a cozy feeling when you watch them? That's how I feel when watching The Family Stone. It's funny and bittersweet and filled with holiday family drama, and even though it's a bit sad at the end, it's a comforting movie for me. And the soundtrack by Michael Giacchino is so pretty. Seriously, go listen to "A Big Red Shovel," "It's Snowing," and "A Very Good Tree" and tell me that they don't make you feel all warm and fuzzy but also kind of like you want to cry at the same time. (Damn it, I just listened to them and now I am crying!)


The Polar Express
So, for reasons I can't remember now, I totally hated The Polar Express the first time I saw it in the theater. I was in the eighth grade, so maybe chalk it up to being a surly teen. Lol. Now, though, whenever I watch it, I always get a huge lump in my throat at the end when the boy (all grown up) talks about how the time comes when his little sister can no longer hear the Christmas bell Santa gave to him. UGH! MY HEART!


Elf
This is another movie that I wasn't all that crazy about when I first saw it that has now become a must-watch every Christmas. Again, must have been in surly teenager mode at the time!


Love the Coopers
This is one of my more recent Christmas favorites. I love all the flashbacks in it and the folksy Christmas music they use. (Though I could do without the family sing-along montage in the middle. Ugh. So much secondhand embarrassment! Lol!) Also, there are, like, zero gifs for this movie, so here's the trailer.

Three Days
I think I must be the only person left who actually likes this movie because ABC Family/Freeform never plays it anymore, and you can't get it on DVD, much to my disappointment. If you've never heard of Three Days, it's a made-for-TV movie that came out in 2001 about a man named Andrew whose wife dies on Christmas Eve. Andrew is visited by an angel named Lionel shortly after, and Lionel gives Andrew the past three days to live over again so that he can prove his love to Beth, who died thinking Andrew had cheated on her (ANGST! DRAMA!). It's cheesy, but I love it so darn much, and I'm so mad that you literally can't buy it ANYWHERE! This movie is also gifless, probably because I'm the only person on the planet who likes it, lol!

George Ballanchine's The Nutcracker
When I was little, I was obsessed with The Nutcracker ballet. The first time I ever saw it was when I watched the 1993 movie version with Macaulay Culkin. I loved everything about it: the party scenes, the music, the costumes, the dancing (and little four-year-old Alex may have had a crush on Macaulay Culkin as the Nutcracker Prince). To this day, one of my favorite Christmas traditions is going to see the ballet live. I'll be going to see it this Saturday for the first time in a couple of years, and I can't wait!


Phew! That was a lot of movies! Now you all tell me what some of your favorites are!
And be sure to come back tomorrow for day two of Countdown to Christmas! :)



Thursday, December 14, 2017

The Year of Conquering My TBR: Beat the Backlist Challenge 2018



Well, it's that time of year again. 2017 is coming to a close, and it's time to look back and reflect on all the awesome books I got to read ... and avoid staring at all the books on my shelves that I still haven't gotten around to reading.


In 2018, I'm endeavoring to do better! It's time to get serious about my ever-growing collection of books and make time to read some that I've been meaning to read for a long, long time. That's why I'm so excited to be participating in Novel Knight's Beat the Backlist challenge! The goal of the challenge is simple: clean out those backlist books from your TBR pile.

This challenge coincides perfectly with one of my own personal reading goals for 2018, which is to finish or catch up on several series that I've been the process of reading (or have been meaning to start) for years. Because of that, I'm setting a pretty lofty goal and challenging myself to read 45 backlist books in 2018. My total reading goal for the year is 75 books, so I think this will give me a good balance of new and older titles. 

I have to admit it's sort of terrifying to officially announce those goals, especially since the most books I ever read in one year since I started doing the Goodreads Reading Challenge was 63. But I've been so inspired over the last few weeks by seeing people announcing that they've hit their goals of 100, 150, 175, or even higher, that I really want to go for it next year. After all, I love books. I love reading. I just need to make it a priority again and make sure that I'm setting aside time to do it instead of whiling away the hours on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook feeds.

Now, on to my (potential) TBR list! (Who knows if I'll actually stick to this or not. I'm a total mood reader, and I have a ton of backlist books in my TBR pile!)

Series:

  • The Infernal Devices
    • Clockwork Angel
    • Clockwork Prince
    • Clockwork Princess
  • The Mortal Instruments
    • City of Fallen Angels
    • City of Lost Saints
    • City of Heavenly Fire
  • The Dark Artifices
    • Lady Midnight
    • Lord of Shadows
  • Throne of Glass
    • The Assassin's Blade
    • Tower of Dawn
  • Falling Kingdoms
    • Falling Kingdoms
    • Rebel Spring
    • Gathering Darkness
    • Frozen Tides
    • Crystal Storm
  • Air Awakens
    • Air Awakens
    • Fire Falling
    • Earth's End
    • Water's Wrath
    • Crystal Crowned
  • Six of Crows
  • The Kiss of Deception
  • Caraval
  • Red Queen
  • Nevernight
  • Red Rising
  • The Star-Touched Queen
  • The Falconer
  • This Savage Song
  • Scythe
  • An Ember in the Ashes
  • The Queen of the Tearling
  • The Great Hunt
  • The Winner's Curse
  • Legacy of Kings
  • The Diviners
  • Angelfall
  • The Crown's Game
  • The Imposter Queen
  • The Orphan Queen
  • The Girl at Midnight
  • The Jewel
  • Truthwitch
  • Three Dark Crowns

Standalones:

  • This Is Where the World Ends
  • The Darkest Part of the Forest

Are you participating in the challenge? What are your goals and what do you plan on reading? And let me know if we're on the same team (Book Bards)!