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)!


Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Christmas Songs Book Tag



If you haven't already heard, Jana of That Artsy Reader Girl has created this super cute Christmas Songs Book Tag as part of her A Bookish Little Christmas blog series. It sounded so fun, so I definitely had to fill it out myself. For more details on the book tag or the blog event, be sure to check out Jana's blog!

1. "All I Want for Christmas Is You": Favorite bookish couple
Basically any couple in Sarah J. Maas's books. Lol! But there is a special place in my heart for Feyre and Rhysand from A Court of Mist and Fury.

2. "I'll Be Home for Christmas": Name a book where a character is away from home (school, vacation, etc.)
Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor. Lazlo travels from the home he's known his whole life to the legendary city of Weep. (Seriously, if you have read this book yet, get on that!)

3. "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas": Name your favorite "little" book (children's book, short story, novella)
I was trying to think back to Christmas books I loved as a little kid, and the first one that popped into my head was The Amazing Christmas Extravaganza. My mom used to read this picture book to me and my little sister before bed leading up to Christmas.

4. "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town": What books do you hope Santa brings you this year?
I don't normally ask my family for books for Christmas because I have zero self-control and usually end up buying the books I really want on my own. But this year, I've asked for the Nine Kingdoms series by Lynn Kurland. I fell in love with her medieval romance novels earlier this fall, and I'm really excited to check out her fantasy series.

5. "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer": Which book turned your nose red (made you cry)?
A Court of Wings and Ruin. I was a total mess for about the last 200 or so pages. Literally just nonstop tears streaming my down my face, and at a few points, ugly, heavy sobs (page 666, anyone? Such a fitting number considering that page was pure evil).

6. "The Most Wonderful Time of the Year": Your favorite book/kind of book to read during the holidays
Every year I try to find a fluffy Christmas romance or family drama to read, but so far I haven't had much luck finding any that I like. So when that fails, I like to turn to fantasy or books with magic—nothing too dark though!

7. "We Three Kings": Your favorite trilogy
Right now it's A Court of Thorns and Roses. The characters in these books have my heart in a vice grip!

8. "Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!": A character you would love to be snowed in with
Rhysand from the ACOTAR series. I mean, he is my fictional husband after all, and he does have that cabin in the mountains...

9. "Last Christmas": A book that seriously let you down
An Enchantment of Ravens. I hate that I feel this way because I really, truly was looking forward to it so much! It just didn't live up to my expectations. :(

10. "White Christmas": An upcoming release you're dreaming of
A Court of Frost and Starlight! OMG! More Feyre and Rhys? Yessss! But May is so. far. away! I need this book pronto. And just so it doesn't look I've only talked about Sarah J. Maas books in this post, I'll also add that I'm super excited for Ash Princess by Laura Sebastian and The Queen's Rising by Rebecca Ross!


Sunday, December 3, 2017

Reading Manga by Moonlight: Rereading Sailor Moon

Thanks to my awesome #TBTBSanta, Emma, for the adorable Sailor Moon Funko!

Like a lot of '90s kids, I grew up watching Sailor Moon, and she was one of the first kick-ass heroines I was introduced to (though, in all honesty, I think five-year-old me was waaaay more interested in flowy dress-wearing, handsome prince-winning Princess Serenity than her modern-day evil-fighting counterpart). Still, I'm absolutely positive that watching Sailor Moon as a kid is what has made me so interested in magical stories with awesome heroines at their hearts.



So why am I talking about Sailor Moon? Well, I'm trying desperately to complete my Goodreads challenge of 40 books, and with December being such a busy month, it's prooobably not likely that I'm going to have time to read eight more novels before the year's over. So, instead of stressing myself out by trying to cram in a bunch of long novels I won't end up finishing, I've decided to do something I haven't done in a while ... something a little more fun, and easier to fit into the craziness of the holiday season. 

I'm going to reread the Sailor Moon manga series!


I first read it as a middle schooler, and it blew my mind, you guys. I'd seen part of the American dub as a little kid, as well as the three movies, but it wasn't until they started playing the anime on TV before school when I was in seventh grade that I realized it was not only a five-season series but also had an entire manga series too (thank you, Internet!). Luckily my public library had the whole series in their catalog, so I checked out as many as I could in one trip and breezed through it. 

To make my reread even more fun, I'm going to live tweeting as I go along, and I'll probably do some longer reactions posts too. If there are any other Sailor Moon fans out there itching to reread the series, or maybe even read it for the first time, I'd love to have you join me! This is going to be really informal, though, and I don't have a set timeframe for when I'll get to each volume. If you want to follow my progress or read along, I'll be tweeting with the hashtag #SailorMoonReread.

Even if you don't plan on reading along this time around, you can still fangirl with me in the comments! Tell me, who's your favorite sailor scout/senshi? Do you prefer the anime to the manga or vice versa? Have a favorite version of the anime (dubbed, subbed, original, or reboot)? Let's talk!

In the name of the moon,




Friday, December 1, 2017

Review: An Enchantment of Ravens


An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Pub. Date: September 27, 2017
Source/Format: Purchased/Hardcover

"One raven for uncertain peril. Six for danger sure to arrive. A dozen for death, if not avoided. The enchantment is sealed."

**This review is NOT spoiler-free.**

Seventeen-year-old Isobel lives in Whimsy, a world inhabited by humans and fairies, and makes a living for her family by performing her Craft: painting portraits for the fairy nobility. The Fair Folk, who are unable to create such works of their own or experience human emotion, desire Craft over all else, and they flock to Isobel to have their portraits done. When Isobel is visited by Rook, prince of the Autumn Court, she discovers the human emotion of sorrow in his eyes and captures it in his portrait. When the painting is unveiled before his court, Rook's weakness is put on display, thus placing his legitimacy to rule in jeopardy. Enraged by this slight, Rook steals Isobel from her home to bring her to stand trial for her unwitting crime. But their dangerous journey to the autumn court is filled with detours and distractions, and soon Isobel and Rook find themselves in danger of breaking an even more dangerous rule—for above all else, fairies and humans must never fall in love.

An Enchantment of Ravens was one of my most anticipated new releases of 2017, not only because the premise sounded amazing but because of the comparisons that were being drawn between it and A Court of Thorns and Roses (which, as you may know, is my favorite series at the moment), and the fact that artist Charlie Bowater, who helped design the A Court of Wings and Ruin cover and has made other amazing ACOTAR fan art, did the cover art. So I went into AEOR with a lot of excitement and high hopes. Unfortunately, it fell somewhat short of my expectations.