Everything & Anything · Top Ten Tuesday

Blogmas Day Eleven – Top Ten Tuesday Freebie

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together. Each week we talk about our top ten with a different topic provided by Jana. This week’s topic is a freebie, so I’ve chose one of my favorites that we did years ago. Top Ten Bookish Quotes. So here are ten quotes that really resonate with me, in no particular order.

1.

Perhaps bravery is simply the face humanity wraps around its collective madness”

Illuminae by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

2.

I missed you every hour. And you know what the worst part was? It caught me completely by surprise. I’d catch myself just walking around to find you, not for any reason, just out of habit, because I’d seen something that I wanted to tell you about or because I wanted to hear your voice. And then I’d realize that you weren’t there anymore, and every time, every single time, it was like having the wind knocked out of me. I’ve risked my life for you. I’ve walked half the length of Ravka for you, and I’d do it again and again and again just to be with you, just to starve with you and freeze with you and hear you complain about hard cheese every day. So don’t tell me why we don’t belong together,” he said fiercely.

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

3.

Fire needs air to live. Air fuels fire, stokes it, and makes it burn brighter and hotter than it ever could alone. But too much air will snuff it completely, just as too many flames will consume all the air. They are far greater than the sum of their parts together, but are equally as dangerous to each other’s existence.”

Air Awakens by Elise Kova

4.

If you see something wrong with the world, fix it. But what if it’s the whole world that needs fixing?”

Only Human by Sylvain Neuvel

5.

One of the challenges with pain–physical or psychic–is that we can really only approach it through metaphor. It can’t be represented the way table or a body can. In some ways, pain is the opposite of language.

Turtles All the Way Down by John Green

6.

Do not give up on yourself, on the truths you have realized. Do not give in to those who would crush your dreams like nutshells. And never turn away from forever love.

Burned by Ellen Hopkins

7.

Be glad of your human heart, Feyre. Pity those who don’t feel anything at all.

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

8.

“Libraries were full of ideas—perhaps the most dangerous and powerful of all weapons.”

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

9.

When adults say, “Teenagers think they are invincible” with that sly, stupid smile on their faces, they don’t know how right they are. We need never be hopeless, because we can never be irreparably broken. We think that we are invincible because we are. We cannot be born, and we cannot die. Like all energy, we can only change shapes and sizes and manifestations. They forget that when they get old. They get scared of losing and failing. But that part of us greater than the sum of our parts cannot begin and cannot end, and so it cannot fail.

Looking for Alaska by John Green

10.

The worst part about doing something inexcusable is that you can never take it back. It’s like breaking a glass. It can’t unbreak. The best you can do it sweep it up, and hope you don’t step on the slivers you left behind.”

Dry by Neal Shusterman & Jarrod Shusterman

What are some of your favorite bookish quotes? Let me know in the comments!

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Blogmas · Everything & Anything

Blogmas Day Ten – Christmas Traditions

Hello, book friends! Today we will be talking about our favorite Christmas traditions, things we hope to turn into traditions, all things we love doing every year around the Christmas season!

Amanda’s Christmas Traditions

This is the first year that I will not be celebrating Christmas in my hometown. My husband and I usually fly/drive/however we travel back to our hometown and celebrate with our families, splitting our time between our two families. Earlier this year, I gave birth to our daughter, Olivia, so this is the first year that we are really our own family for the holidays. Because of this, we will not be traveling for Christmas and we will be having our first Christmas together as just our little family. I’m honestly so excited for our first holiday together. This first year is when we will figure out which traditions we want to continue and which we want to create for our family.

One of my favorite parts of the holidays are all the ridiculous and silly movies there are to watch. There will be a separate post about our favorite movies, but they’re an important part of the holidays so they need to be mentioned. Watching the various Christmas and holiday movies are the first step of getting in the holiday spirit!

The next step is getting a Christmas tree and decorating the house! My husband and I have decided on low-key decorations on the outside of the house. We have put up white, icicle looking lights. Festive, but not overboard. Next, the Christmas tree. This was our first disagreement of the season. He grew up with a fake tree, but I grew up going to the tree farm, running around with my siblings-hiding in the trees- trying to find the biggest most ridiculous tree there was. Taking it home and decorating with buckets of ornaments and lights and the scent of pine filling the room. I won this battle this year, but I think I will have to convince him every year that we need to have a real live tree. There’s just something about the smell of a Christmas tree that gets me in the true Christmas mood.

Now that I have a child of my own, I’d like to create a few new traditions. The most important one is going to be Christmas Eve. Though my daughter will only be four months old, I’m still going to do it. She will be getting a new pair of pajamas and a book to open (or be opened for her) on Christmas Eve so we can read a new book together before bed (and she can get excited for new books as she gets older.) I already have several books purchased and wrapped for Olivia’s gifts this year, but I am excited to picking one and spending time reading it together on Christmas Eve. I am excited to start our own family traditions.

Another favorite tradition is Christmas treats. I love to bake, regardless of the time of year it is. But Christmas allows for so many different kinds of delicious treats. Cookies, brownies, pies, candy, hot coco with marshmallows! All the goodies. I am excited to come up with my own ideas for yearly treats, especially once Olivia gets older and we can start baking together.

Finally, Christmas morning. Waking up, making coffee, gathering together with sleep in our eyes in our coziest pajamas. Opening gifts, making breakfast. Spending time with loved ones. It will be interesting this year not gathering with my whole family in the afternoon for a wonderful dinner full of good food and family. I’m looking forward to seeing how this holiday plays out. I’m sure my husband will cook a wonderful dinner, we will probably cook it together. Ending the day with one last Christmas movie and some snuggles on the couch.

Antonia’s Christmas Traditions

I don’t have nearly as many traditions as Amanda. My family had tons growing up but now that we all live apart we don’t really follow them anymore. However, there are a few that my husband and I have.

Christmas pajamas. This was one from my childhood that I introduced my husband to. My mother still sends me and my siblings (and the grandkids) pajamas every year to open and wear on Christmas Eve. It continues to be one of my favorite parts of the season.

Another one is waking up early on Christmas morning. This was something my siblings and I did since before I can remember. My oldest brother would wake all of us up around 4 or 5 in the morning and we would sneak downstairs to find our stockings. It was the only thing we were allowed to touch before our parents woke up and we had so much fun quietly playing with the little toys by the light of the Christmas tree. Now that I’m an adult, I don’t wake up quite that early anymore but it’s never going to be a day when I sleep in.

The last tradition is waffles. After our parents finally woke up, mom would get out the waffle maker (it was basically the only day each year that it got used) and we would have a giant waffle breakfast together before opening presents. My husband and I do this still (and it’s still pretty much the only day the waffle maker comes out of its box).

What are your favorite things to do around the holidays? Do we share any traditions? What are you looking forward to the most this holiday season?

Amanda's Adventures · Blogmas · Everything & Anything

Blogmas Book Review – Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

Summary:
Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight. Now Simon is actually being blackmailed: if he doesn’t play wingman for class clown Martin, his sexual identity will become everyone’s business. Worse, the privacy of Blue, the pen name of the boy he’s been emailing, will be compromised.
With some messy dynamics emerging in his once tight-knit group of friends, and his email correspondence with Blue growing more flirtatious every day, Simon’s junior year has suddenly gotten all kinds of complicated. Now, change-averse Simon has to find a way to step out of his comfort zone before he’s pushed out—without alienating his friends, compromising himself, or fumbling a shot at happiness with the most confusing, adorable guy he’s never met.
Review:
I have heard so much hype about this book. I knew I was going to read it because I want to see the movie too and I always have to read the book first. It was just a matter of when. So. I ended up picking it up at Target at some point recently and I put it on my TBR list for the Bookish Bingo reading challenge that I’m participating in to try and force myself to pick it up.
I’m super glad I did. This was SUCH a fun book. I really enjoyed all the characters. I enjoyed the whole story. All the craziness. Simon was so so funny even when he was in his low points and really struggling through some stuff he mostly put a smile on or made a joke for found something to look forward to. I liked Simon as a character very much. He was entertaining and super relatable. All of the characters were relatable really. They were mostly typical high school kids. I liked that this story wasn’t overly complex or full of crazy plot twists. It was a nice and enjoyable story about high schoolers and some of the struggles they face, Simon facing some harder ones because of his sexual orientation.
I can’t speak about the accuracy of Simon experiences in this story, but I definitely feel like I learned via this view into the young boys mind. The circumstances surrounding him coming out to his friends and family was a really interesting one, that I think helped me see a different view that I’d seen before.
I liked this book for sure! It was a super quick and entertaining read. I think it’s going to be one that I reach for again in the future without a doubt.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

*Want to buy this book? Just click the image of the book cover! As Amazon Affiliates we will get a percentage of any purchase, feel free to support us.

Blogmas · Everything & Anything

Blogmas Day Nine – New To Me Authors

Another day, another bookish list. Today’s list is going to talk about the books we’ve read this year written by authors that are new to us. We’ve read a fair bit of books by authors we’ve never read before. This list is going to include new authors that we liked and plan to read more of their writing.

Amanda’s Authors

Jay Kristoff & Amie Kaufman
Illuminae Files

Becky Albertalli
Simon vs. the Homo Spaiens Agenda

Taylor Jenkins Reid
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo

Marisha Pessl
Neverworld Wake

Samantha Shannon
The Bone Season 

Hank Green
An Absolutely Remarkable Thing

Naomi Novik
Uprooted

Erin Morgenstern
The Night Circus

Sylvain Neuvel
The Themis Files

Liane Moriarty
Big Little Lies

Rin Chupeco
The Bone Witch

Elise Kova
Air Awakens

Antonia’s Authors

Kendare Blake
Three Dark Crowns

Renee Ahdieh
The Wrath and the Dawn

Sarah J. Maas
A Court of Thorns and Roses

Josie Jaffrey
The Gilded King

W. Bruce Cameron
A Dog’s Purpose

Elise Kova
Air Awakens

Charlie N. Holmberg
Paper Magician

Amy Plum
Die For Me

Leigh Bardugo
Shadow and Bone

Agatha Christie
The Mysterious Affair at Styles

K.M. Shea
Beauty and the Beast

What authors did you read for the first time this year?

Amanda's Adventures · Blogmas · Everything & Anything · The Readers Favorites

Blogmas Book Review – Dry by Neal Shusterman & Jarrod Shusterman

Summary:
Everyone’s going to remember where they were when the taps went dry.
The drought-or the Tap-Out, as everyone calls it-has been going on for a while now. Everyone’s life has become an endless list of don’ts: don’t water the lawn, don’t fill up your pool, don’t take long showers.
Until the taps run dry.
Suddenly Alyssa’s quiet suburban street spirals into a war zone of desperation; neighbors and families turning against one another in the hunt for water. When her parents don’t return, and she and her brother are threatened, Alyssa has to make impossible choices if she’s going to survive.
Critically acclaimed author Neal Shusterman teams up with Jarrod Shusterman in this story of survival, when the California drought escalates to catastrophic proportions.
Review:
Dry was one of my most anticipated released of this year. I’m a sucker for any sort of dystopian. I’m also a sucker for books that take place in settings I’m familiar with. I lived in San Diego for a few years where the reality of the drought is slowly creeping up on people and its all too real. I also was so easily able to picture this story happening because I was familiar with the area the story happens in. I love stories like this, or ones with vague-ish settings so I can fill in the blanks with places I know.

“People can be monsters. Whether it’s just their actions, or whether it’s who they really are, it doesn’t matter. The result is the same.”

This story is told through a few different perspectives. I really enjoyed this because we got to see into the minds of all the players in our story. So we got to see what was going through their heads before/during/after some of the seriously crazy things that happened. We also occasionally had some updates from around the city from helicopter pilots, power plant employees, other minor characters we meet in the story, truck drivers transporting water, and various news outlets. All of these various snippets ended up being tied into other important parts of the story and I liked how creatively this was done.

“But there’s that moment when you realize they’re not superheroes, or villains. They’re painfully, unforgivably human. The question is, can you forgive them for being human anyway?

I liked Alyssa, the first character we meet. She’s just trying to protect her little brother. Even though she mostly has no idea what’s going on, she quickly realizes that things are just going to get worse and worse. She tries to stay positive for Garrett (her brother) even when things were pretty much consistently falling apart and I liked that about her. Being able to put on a brave face for her brother though she knew nothing good was coming is admirable. Her little brother Garrett was a little trouble maker. He kept disappearing which sometimes complicated things and sometimes ended up helping things. I liked him because he made me relate to Alyssa more. (I have two little brothers and a little sister. They’re all older than Garrett, though I’d want to protect them no matter their age.)

“Why don’t they do something about it instead if spending time blaming people?”

Kelton, the neighbor, was a character that grew on me. I feel like he had the most development. He went from putting up a front, acting like he was a big bad tough guy that knew everything to a kid that has seen some real bad shit and might actually be that tough guy. I felt really bad for Kelton. He got the shittiest end of the stick in this story. Though his family was the most prepared for the Tap-Out, the worst befalls them.

“Tomorrow is going to have to take care of itself for a while,” Alyssa says. Then she adds, “Yesterday, too.”

Jaqui was our designated bad girl. Independent, sassy, reckless, and a little wild. I think I wanted to like her more than I did, until the end. She didn’t want to get attached to anyone at any point. But in the end, UGH. I can’t even talk about it. She redeemed herself and that’s all I’m going to say.

“Wasn’t it Jacqui who told us the human body is sixty percent water? Well, now I know what the rest is. The rest is dust, the rest is ash, it’s sorrow and it’s grief…But above all that, in spite of all that, binding us together…is hope. And joy. And a wellspring of all the things that still might be.”

Henry is trash. 100% nothing but trash. Every time I started to like him, he would screw things up again. He was self serving and screwed up a really good thing. He could have been part of the squad, but instead messed shit up over and over again.

“The worst part of doing something inexcusable is that you can never take it back. It’s like breaking a glass. It can’t unbreak. The best you can do is sweep it up, and hope you don’t step on the slivers you left behind.”

Overall, Dry was one of my most anticipated released of the year and it absolutely did not disappoint me. I love a good dystopian and this was exactly that. Set in the distant-ish future, but realistic to really bring some fears to the surface. It’s a story about how quickly people can and will shed their humanity in the face of disaster. A story that touches on fears that are all too real. This is an incredible story that is so much more than it seems. Written by a father/son duo, the Shusterman’s have outdone themselves with this, one of my new favorites without a doubt.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

*Want to buy this book? Just click the image of the book cover! As Amazon Affiliates we will get a percentage of any purchase, feel free to support us.

Amanda's Adventures · Blogmas · Everything & Anything

Blogmas Book Review – City of Fallen Angels by Cassandra Clare

Summary:
The Mortal War is over, and sixteen-year-old Clary Fray is back home in New York, excited about all the possibilities before her. She’s training to become a Shadowhunter and to use her unique power. Her mother is getting married to the love of her life. Downworlders and Shadowhunters are at peace at last. And—most importantly of all—she can finally call Jace her boyfriend.
But nothing comes without a price.
Someone is murdering Shadowhunters, provoking tensions between Downworlders and Shadowhunters that could lead to a second, bloody war. Clary’s best friend, Simon, can’t help her. His mother just found out that he’s a vampire and now he’s homeless. Everywhere he turns, someone wants him on their side—along with the power of the curse that’s wrecking his life. And they’re willing to do anything to get what they want. Not to mention that he’s dating two beautiful, dangerous girls—neither of whom knows about the other one.
When Jace begins to pull away from her without explaining why, Clary is forced to delve into the heart of a mystery whose solution reveals her worst nightmare: she herself has set in motion a terrible chain of events that could lead to her losing everything she loves. Even Jace.
Love. Blood. Betrayal. Revenge. The stakes are higher than ever in City of Fallen Angels.
Review:
Once again, I’m underwhelmed by this book. I honestly remember loving these books so much. I thought I would start to enjoy them more now that it wasn’t icky for Jace and Clary to love one another. That was not the case. Clary was still as annoying as ever and Jace joined her ranks in this book. It was one of my least favorite tropes where a character keeps information from another character ‘for their own good.’ But it’s NOT for her own good. It just causes drama and makes me annoyed at the characters I’m supposed to love. It honestly seemed like Clary developed more in City of Fallen Angels and Jace regressed into an insecure teenage boy. This was annoying because I previously liked Jace a lot.
I listened to the audiobook for this one and I think I will continue to do so with the rest of the series. I liked the alternating narrators. The only complaint was that the male narrator read a little bit faster than the female, so listening on 1.5 speed was perfect for the female narrator and just a smidge too fast for the male narrator.
I enjoyed seeing Clary develop further into her role as a Shadowhunter. I liked seeing her  finally come into this world she so desperately wants to be a part of. The fact that she is being trained in this story was something I enjoyed because all too often characters just are suddenly good at things, but that wasn’t the case here. She was taught things like fighting and languages and other essential knowledge.
Once again, I love the supporting characters. Alec and Magnus are goals, even when they’re fighting they’re still more interesting than Clary and Jace. Isabell is still a kick ass girl that exudes confidence and fearlessness and takes no shit. Simon is honestly my favorite. His story arc is the most interesting to me out of all the characters. He just wants to be a normal guy and can’t seem to catch a break.
The villain in this book is similar, but still different from the first books. He is such a hated villain. He’s honestly just pure evil and he’s up there with Voldemort for most hated in my opinion.
Overall, I didn’t love this book. I liked it, didn’t love it. I’m hoping I like the next books better or I might just lose faith in the reader I used to be.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

*Want to buy this book? Just click the image of the book cover! As Amazon Affiliates we will get a percentage of any purchase, feel free to support us.

Blogmas · Everything & Anything

Blogmas Day Eight – Holiday Movies

Happy Blogmas day eight. Today we’re going to talk about our favorite holiday movies to watch around this time of year. Movies are one of the first things we do to get into the holiday spirit. There’s nothing better than the tradition of watching some sweet, some funny, and some favorite holiday movies.

Amanda’s Favorites

I have a few movies that I watch every year with my family. Every year I start the holiday season by watching Christmas or winter themed movies. I love to start with the silly movies that are on Netflix or the Hallmark channel.  These kinds of movies always get me in the holiday mood. This list, for me, will only include the favorites that I watch every year without fail.

Eight Crazy Nights – Never fails to make me laugh. I have great memories of watching this with my older brother and laughing until we cried the first time we saw this.

Polar Express – I watch this one with my dad and little sister. We’ve watched it together since she was little and now that she’s older and almost a real adult it gives me all the nostalgic feels.

The Grinch – Who doesn’t love the Grinch?

The Nightmare Before Christmas – I watch this twice a year, Halloween and Christmas.

Elf – “I’m singing, I’m in a store and I’m siiiiiingiiiiing! I’m in a store and I’m siiiiiingiiiiing!”

A Charlie Brown Christmas – All the Charlie Brown’s for all the holidays.

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer – Had a very shiny noooose!

Frosty the Snowman – A classic, for sure.

The Year Without Santa Clause – Probably my absolute favorite classic.

Antonia’s Favorites

These are some of the ones I usually watch every year but I also love the Netflix/Hallmark Channel ones. Christmas is my favorite so I rarely say no to anything that involves the holiday.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas – Both the original cartoon and the live-action. It’s my husband’s favorite so we’ll sometimes watch them more than once.

Love Actually – Another one my husband and I always watch together.

The Santa Clause – Including the sequels, but the first will always be my favorite.

Elf – This adorable movie is impossible not to like.

The Nightmare Before Christmas – I also watch this for both holidays.

The Holiday – I don’t know what it is about this movie but it gives me all the feels.

What are your favorite holiday movies?