Saturday, January 20, 2018

The Rules of Magic Review

Hello, all!

It's no surprise that I love to read. Every year I set a reading goal for myself, and I love to read anything from sci-fi and YA to historical fiction and graphic novels. One that I just recently finished was The Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman and from the first chapter I was hooked.

If you're familiar with the 1998 film Practical Magic starring Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman, than you already sort of know the characters in this story. Whereas Practical Magic dealt with the lives of Sally and Gillian Owens, The Rules of Magic is all about their aunts, Franny and Jet Owens.

It's New York City in the 1960s, and Francis (Franny), Bridget (Jet) and their younger brother Vincent are no strangers to the fact that they're a bit different from the rest of their peers. Franny with her blood red hair and milky white skin has the ability to call birds to her with just the lift of her hand; Jet, who is as shy and beautiful as they come, can read people's thoughts; and brash Vincent has been using his charm to woo people into things since he was a baby. From the beginning, their mother Susanna has put down some very firm rules: No walking in the moonlight, no red shoes, no wearing black, no crows, no cats, no candles and no books about magic. And the most important rule of them all, never, ever fall in love. All that changes when the three siblings visit their mysterious Aunt Isabelle who lives in a small Massachusetts town where the Owens family has been blamed for every misfortune and they begin to discover who they really are.

During their time with their aunt, they learn all about themselves and the powers they possess, but they also discover the curse that's been on their family for generations. Their ancestor, Maria Owens, was charged with witchcraft for loving the wrong man, and ever since disaster has befallen any man who dares fall in love with an Owens.

The Owens siblings cannot escape from love no matter how hard they may try, and each try to side step the curse for as long as they can, but it all catches up to them eventually. Along with magical elements, Hoffman ties in real world elements such as the Vietnam War, the Stonewall riots and San Francisco's Summer of Love to make a lovely mix of fairy tale and real life. The Owens's can't change who they are, they can't escape the pains of love and affairs of the heart, but they can figure out how to use their powers for good and how to make the best out of it.

I loved the movie Practical Magic and now knowing the whole backstory of the Aunts (and how they had a brother!) and how they came to be, and the things that they had to go through just makes me love it even more. The Rules of Magic is delightful and dreamy and a must read even if you aren't a fan of its predecessor.

Has anyone read anything good lately? Lemme know!

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Top 5: Cozy Movies

Hello, all and Happy New Year!

I figured what better way to ring in the new year than with my favorite thing: lists. And with all the snow that's hit the North East lately, I thought that it should be dedicated to those movies that just make you want to curl up under a blanket and get comfy.

1. Pride and Prejudice: I don't really know what it is about the snow, but whenever it starts coming down, I automatically want to get the biggest blanket I can find, make a cuppa tea and watch this movie. I know everyone loves Mr. Darcy, and don't get me wrong I do love me some Darcy, but I just can't help but love everything about how adorably awkward Mr. Bingley is.

2. You've Got Mail: Oh, Tom Tom Tommy Hanks, how I love thee. This is one of those movies that whenever it's on TV, no matter what I'm doing, I have to stop and watch it.

3. The Holiday: Now, there are some points to this movie that annoy me. Namely, the time frame. Like, you hear Kate Winslet say that her and Cameron Diaz are swapping houses for two weeks, yet how is it possible for her to befriend and get Arthur into shape for his Screenwriters' Guild celebration in that short of a time frame?! I can never get over that, but boy, do I love this movie regardless.

4. Great British Bake Off: Ok, so I'm cheating a tad with this one since it's a TV program, but I just love it so much! I've been baking since I was young and it's one of my favorite things to do, and I'm obsessed with baking shows. I'm also in love with most British things, so when you put the two together it's just the best. Plus, Mel and Sue just have the best puns and you know how I love me some puns.

5. Harry Potter Series: As if I was gonna have a list of cozy movies without adding Harry Potter. You can throw on any of these movies and I would be the happiest. Even Goblet of Fire which isn't my favorite cause I just can't with Harry and Ron's hair. Everything about Harry Potter is just instantly calming and comforting to me, so really just any excuse for me to put one on is good enough for me.

Do you have any specific movies you like to watch? Lemme know!

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Owl Crate December Review

Hello, all!

I hope everyone's getting ready for their Christmas holiday. All I have left to do is wrap gifts, but since I'm completely horrid at wrapping, I keep putting it off so I thought it was the perfect time to review this months Owl Crate.

The theme this month was "Seize the Day", so let's get right into it!

The first thing I pulled out was this cute wooden ornament from Juniper & Ivy Designs based off the book Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon. This was so detailed and pretty, I automatically rushed to put it on my tree where everyone could see it.

I love a candle. It's so weird, I never used to like them, but now I have stacks of candles that I change throughout the year depending on scents. This one by Novelly Yours is definitely going to get heavy rotation. It has such a lovely apple scent which is one of my favorites. It said this candle was inspired by The Names They Gave Us by Emery Lord, and I've never read that but based on the candle alone, I feel like I need to.

Just like a candle, I love myself a bookmark. I feel like they're one of those things you just can't have enough of, and this double sided one by Little Inklings Designs is perfect to add to my collection. One side of the bookmark has a quote from The Serpent King (another I've never read, but which is going onto my Reading list) and the opposite is from The Perks of Being a Wallflower.

I've mentioned my love of the Percy Jackson series/Greek mythology before, so getting this magnet inspired by that same series was perfect. It was created by Ink & Wonder Designs and it's so pretty. I mean, just look at all those colors!

Now, to my favorite item in this box-- a Harry Potter tote! This tote, designed exclusively for Owl Crate by Bookworm Boutique, is so perfect. Not only does it have the cutest deign and quote, but it has extra long handles and a decent size which makes it the best trip-to-the-book-store bag.

I kept saying that I wanted to be one of those people who had planners and were super organized, and now I can finally make it happen! This lovely 2018 planner/reading journal was a partner design between Owl Crate and Blue Star Press, and features quotes from previous Owl Crate book picks, spaces to fill in your favorite books, and even a rating system to keep track of all that you've read so far. I'm excited to use this, I usually keep track of books I've read on little scraps of paper, so it'll be nice to have them all in one place now.

The book for this month is called Foolish Hearts by Emma Mills. When Claudia is caught eavesdropping on a conversation that was only meant for two people, she gains an enemy in Iris, one of the meanest girls in her school. If that wasn't worse enough, the two of them are then forced to participate in the school's production of A Midsummer Night's Dream. The whole story revolves around first loves, finding friends in unlikely places, and learning to step out of ones comfort zone. It all sounds a bit Sarah Dessen-ish to me, and she's one of my favorites, so I feel like this will be right up my alley. It also came with a little patch, and we all know I do love a patch.

I hope everyone has a lovely holiday!

Friday, December 15, 2017

Top 5: Christmas Horror Movies

Hello, all!

So Christmas is rapidly approaching, and when everyone else is curling up on the couch watching Freeform's 25 Days of Christmas, here are a few *ahem* less family friendly films to get you through the festive season.

1. Silent Night, Deadly Night: After witnessing a man in a Santa suit kill his parents on the side of the road when he was 5, Billy isn't the biggest fan of Christmas/Santa in general. Now a young man, Billy is asked to stand in as Santa at the little toy store he works at, things go awry and something snaps in Billy, leading him to go on a killing spree, including impaling a lady on a set of deer antlers hanging on a wall, decapitating a sledder and shouting "Naughty!" at everyone before he dispenses his Yuletide justice.

2. Jack Frost: No, I'm not talkin' about the weird family movie where Michael Keaton dies and then comes back as a snowman to have another chance at being a good dad. I mean, it's sorta the same, someone does come back to life as a snowman, but it's a serial killer (aptly named, Jack Frost) who crashes into a truck full of "genetics material" on his way to his execution. What ensues next is what B-movie dreams are made of: a killer snowman terrorizing the quiet town of Snowmonton.

3. Rare Exports: Ok, I have to admit, I had no idea what was going on throughout this entire movie, but I do know it was cuh-reepy. It's a Finnish movie and even with the subtitles, I really couldn't understand much, but the gist is that a research group was drilling on top of what ended up being an ancient burial chamber which a young boy thinks is Santa's, who in this story is a horned being who beats naughty kids and boils them in his cauldron. Then there's some slaughtered reindeer and a bunch of naked Elves running in the woods, and plans to blow up Santa before he can do anymore damage. This one left me with no words except for, "HUH?"

4. A Christmas Horror Story: Unlike the others on this list, this is more of an anthology movie, and the thread that holds all four storylines together is William Shatner as a radio DJ who pretty much just talks throughout the entire thing. Since it's a bunch of different stories together, there's a creep factor for almost everyone: you got your ghost possession, evil clones, Krampus and zombie elves...and a partridge in a pear tree.

5. Gremlins: This is my favorite Christmas horror/but not really horror movie. It's definitely the most family friendly on this list, but it's still got some scare elements to it. Like, I dunno what's worse finding out the smell coming from your chimney wasn't a dead animal or listening to a bunch of bat-eared leathery green reptile thing-a-majigs screech out some Christmas carols on your front porch. There's also a ton of comedy in the movie as well, the entire scene of the Gremlins in the movie theater watching Snow White kills me as well as Corey Feldman just delivering Christmas trees while dressed as a tree.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

National Geographic: Ocean Odyssey Exhibit

Hello, all!

When I was younger, I wanted to be a marine biologist. I mean, I was just obsessed with the idea of working with sea animals, specifically sharks (thank you, Jaws). I used to spend hours at the library tracing sharks out of books and labeling their anatomy. I read every single book I could find on different sea life, and copied little notes for myself in notebooks. My Mom even adopted me a whale one year for my birthday.

My marine biologist dream were dashed once I got to high school and I realized just how crummy I was at science, and how my asthma would get in the way of trying to scuba dive. But my love of sea animals never went away, so once I heard that National Geographic was having an exhibition in the City called Ocean Odyssey, I knew I just had to go and see it. Unfortunately, it really wasn't what I had dreamed it would be.

I was picturing lots of actual physical exhibits or maybe objects discovered on dives, or videos of animals in their natural habitat or pictures from expeditions. What I got was a bunch of computer generated videos and a 3-D movie of a humpback whale eating some fish.

I think this exhibit might be geared more towards younger kids, because at the end of the tour, one of the guides gave out a little scavenger hunt sheet for them to do. Another thing I wasn't too keen on, was that you weren't allowed to walk through it on your own, you had to stay in your designated group. You would think that that would make the visit slower since you have to wait for every single person, but we were still in and out in about an hour.

There were some cool bits though. There was a room that was set up as a maze with mirrors and floor to ceiling sea kelp and you had to maneuver your way out. And once you finally did, there was a room with little circles on the ground that once you stepped in the middle of it, a computer generated sea lion would show up on the screen before you that you could interact with by lifting up your arms.

It may not have been all that I thought it would be, but I can see how amazing it would seem to a young kid. All the kids that were in my group were loving life and really enjoying all the interactive screens that showed characteristics of a few animals, and there was also a room that the floor was designed as a coral reef and when you stepped in certain spots little bioluminescent bits would glow which reeeeally got their motors running. It was definitely an exhibit that is original and super immersive, I just think I had higher hopes and expectations.

I took a few pictures of the actual displays they had up, so enjoy!

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Owl Crate November Review

Hello, all!

I think this months Owl Crate box was my favorite so far. The theme was Castles, Courts and Kingdoms and it was chock full of wonderful goodies, so without any further ado, let's get to it!

Ohhhhhh yessssssssssss. I love a good bobble hat and what better way to fight off the cold (and some pesky Dementors) than with this one?! This was a exclusive to Owl Crate and I love it so much.

Next up was this brooch pin made by Juniper and Joy Designs based on Leigh Bardugo's great Grishaverse. I loved the whole Grisha series and I have to admit, while reading them I did wonder about which order I'd be in, and now I know! Owl Crate sent out three different versions of the pin and I got the Durasts, which are part of the Materialki order, who can manipulate anything solid such as glass, steel, wood, stone, etc. Jesper was a Durasts and he's one of my favorite characters, so I was all about this pin. Also, Durasts usually wear purple and gray, which just so happens to be the color scheme of my room, so I thought this was super appropriate.

My lips are pretty much permanently chapped, and I never go anywhere without chapstick, so this little guy is perfect for me. It's also sporting my favorite house and a nice blackberry mint flavor, so that's going right into my handbag.

This was another exclusive from Fizzy Fairy Apothecary and it's based on the Elven bread from Lord of the Rings. It has a nice cucumber and mint scent which is really refreshing, a perfect way to start your journey though Middle Earth.

One of my favorite new series recently has been A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas, so I was pumped to receive this notebook with a quote from A Court of Mist and Fury. I love notebooks, like I have a stack of notebooks all half used because I'll be in the middle of using one and then I find another one and start using that one instead and then the cycle continues, so I'm excited to add this one to the pile as well. Plus, the artwork by Stella's Bookish Art is just so nice.

The book this month was The Glass Spare by Lauren DeStefano. The story follows Wit, the only daughter of a power-hungry king, who is forced to live in the shadows as a spy for her kingdom. Then, one day while her life is at risk, Wit finds out she has the power to turn living things into gemstones just by touching them. But Wit is forced to flee once her powers cause a tragedy. On her hunt for answers and a cure, Wit meets a prince from an enemy kingdom who has a curse of his own. DeStefano's tale is a beautiful fantasy story all about the bonds of family and where loyalties lie.

I can't wait to dive into this story. Has anyone read it? Lemme know!

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Book Haul

Hello, all!

It's been quite some time since I did a book haul, and I recently picked up some new ones, so I figured now's as good a time as any to bring it back. Also, it's starting to get really chilly here now, so it's the perfect time to stay inside, curl up under the blankets with a cuppa tea and good book, so here we go!

Lost Boy: The True Story of Captain Hook- Christina Henry: Peter Pan is one of my favorite stories, and this take on it seemed right up my alley. I had never really read anything that revolved around Captain Hook and how he came to be Peter's most hated foe, so this was an instant stand out for me. Henry paints a great picture of two friends who once meant the world to each other, and the lies and secrets that slowly tore them apart.

Turtles All The Way Down- John Green: I'm a fan of John Green; I haven't read anything of his that I haven't liked. I just feel like the way he approaches his characters seems genuine, and always seem relatable. This story follows 16-year old Aza and her best friend Daisy as they try to uncover clues about the disappearance of the fugitive billionaire, Russell Pickett. All the while, Aza has to try to fight the ever tightening spiral of her own thoughts and anxieties.

Murder on the Orient Express- Agatha Christie: My job has this little book fair about twice a year (which totally lets me re-live my Scholastic Book Fair high of when I was young), and I picked this up since: A. I had never actually read anything by Agatha Christie and B. I wanted to read it in case I saw the movie. Plus, who doesn't like a good murder mystery every now and again?

The Winter People- Jennifer McMahon: Keeping with the sort of mystery vibe, I picked up this by Jennifer McMahon. There was a quote on the back from a review from USA Today which called this, "Crisp, mysterious and scary... Reminiscent of Stephen King." How could you go wrong with that?! The story starts off in 1908 in West Hall, Vermont, where a woman named Sara was found dead in a field behind her house just months after the tragic death of her daughter. Then the story jumps to present day where a family lives in Sara's old farmhouse and one morning they wake to find their mother has disappeared, and in her search for clues, 19-year old Ruthie stumbles upon Sara's hidden diary which might unlock the mystery unfolding around her.

Anyone read anything good lately? Lemme know!