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3 Book Series to Get Lost in This Winter

January 11, 2018
3 Series to Read This Winter

I had mentioned that I went above and beyond my reading list for this past Fall and boy did I ever! I’m well into my winter list now (one more book to go!). The difference? I finally, finally got a library card! What’s even better is that my city is really generous with their online library resources as well. I have so many more options now that aren’t Kindle Monthly Deals! Not that those are bad, but the choices are intoxicating here. Here are some new series that I read recently that offer a good distraction on a dark winter evening.

-3 - Series to Read This Winter - Lunar Chronicles

The Lunar Chronicles

So the Lunar Chronicles series is a bit of old news.  Starting with Cinder, the Lunar Chronicles retells the stories of Cinderella, Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel and Snow White in a new, futuristic way. There is also a fifth book, Fairest, which focuses on the evil queen of the series, though I haven’t finished that one yet. I’ve had them sitting in my kindle library for a while, but only started reading them on a plane ride. They are definitely more of a young adult series, but I have never let that stop me. They deal with surprisingly grown up concepts like matters of diplomacy, racial tensions, plagues, etc… At some points, they were quite stressful to read, just because you were so invested in the characters with no foreseeable happy ending.

I enjoyed the way that Meyer took the source material and adapted it for her purposes. Fairy tale retelling can get pretty old if they’re not original, but felt like this series handled it well. The futuristic, cyberpunk sort of theme was interesting and engaging, and the stories blended into each other in a way that I thought was very clever. I also appreciated that each female character had a distinctly different personality. This book passes the bechdel test, no question! So if you were like me and looking for some diverting travel reading, this series is a great place to start.

3 Series to Read This Winter -Paper Magician

The Paper Magician Series

The Paper Magician series was a kindle deal in the young adult section last month. It takes place around the turn of the century as far as I can tell. In this series, young students train to be magicians, but can only exert their power over one man made medium. Ceony Twill’s dreamed of working with metal, but due to a shortage of paper magicians, she gets assigned to work with paper. At first, Ceony is disappointed by her somewhat ordinary medium, but she soon learns it’s surprising usefulness. 

You will want to do origami while reading this series, so you’ve been warned. It’s really best taken as a whole, rather than 3 separate books, though each book does progress in significant ways. It seems that a fourth book is scheduled for May of 2018, but everything seemed pretty wrapped up by then end of book 3, so we’ll see what that is about.  The only issue is that it involves to teacher/student sexual tension, and I’m not about all that. To be fair, Ceony is not underage at any point in this book. I just worry that this book could be seen as permission for a teenage student to crush on an older teacher, and please don’t draw that conclusion because it is the worst idea. Other than that annoying point, the who series is inventive and entertaining.

3 Series to Read This Winter -Lady Hardcastle

Lady Hardcastle Mysteries

I’m sure that by now my love of murder mysteries is clear. It’s not thrillers, but good, old fashioned who-dun-its that I like. If you’re the same way, I cannot recommend the Lady Hardcastle Mystery series enough! Lady Hardcastle is a lively widow with a knack for mischief. Florence Armstrong, Lady Hardcastle’s maid, is her protector, caretaker, and closest friend. The pair have a long history of working as spies to avenge the death of Lady Hardcastle’s husband. They have moved to a quiet house in the county in the hopes of leaving all of that behind, but they just can’t seem to give up their meddling ways.

The rapport between Armstrong and Lady Hardcastle is delightful. These books would translate wonderfully into a show or movie (preferable starring Kate Beckinsale)! They are far more familiar with each other than a proper lady and her maid should be, but that never stops them. Together, the pair solve mysteries in their little country town and end up finding a much more exciting life than they bargained for.  There’s a good bit of feminism, a lot of humor and of course, many mysteries solved. These books are good for people of all ages, and are excellent when you need a piece of fluff to read. 

Books Seasonal

2017 Reading List Reviewed

November 30, 2017
2017 Fall Reading List Reviewed

Well, Thanksgiving has passed, so I think we can consider Fall to be over. I’m sure it’s not technically over, but everyone is going crazy about Christmas, so it feels like Winter. I made quick work of my Fall Reading List and then some! I’ll talk about the “and then some” later, but I wanted to give a recap of the books of my Fall Reading List and let you know how I liked them!

2017 Fall Reading List

Dreamland Burning by Jennifer Latham

10/10, Do recommend. Dreamland Burning switches perspectives between past and present, highlighting racial tensions in Tulsa, Oklahoma. I thought that Dreamland Burning was thoughtfully done. It was well written and did not shy away from complex and difficult situations. This book would be really interesting to see taught in a classroom setting. That being said, it will definitely piss off whatever rascist old relative you have, so read and recommend thoughtfully.

2017 Fall Reading List

Uninvited by Lysa TerKeurst

I expected this book to be a good ol’ Christian Woman Encouragement Book, and I was right. Uninvited deals with those who feel a little distant from others and handles those feeling of not fitting in. It was nice and obviously close to the author’s heart. You can see her passion for reaching the left out. It’s sweet and encouraging but not a bit of it stuck with me. It’s a nice read where you’re in need of encouragement, but it probably won’t change your life.

2017 Fall Reading List

The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney

This book did not do much for me. The Nest revolves around four (wretched) siblings and their separate hopes and dreams for their nest egg inheritance. When one sibling wrecks their dreams by using up the money, they all have to deal with the consequences. I found this book to be tiring. Everyone in it is irritated, all the time. They’re all fairly selfish and perhaps that is the point. It just came across to me as a book that is trying hard to be an Adult Book for Grown Ups because nobody is happy and everyone drinks. Also, I found that there were a lot of characters to follow, especially since I didn’t care what happened to any of them.

2017 Fall Reading List

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children By Ransom Riggs

I enjoyed the concept of this book as well as the addition of vintage (creepy) pictures. Riggs does a fairly convincing job of integrating this fantasy into the normal world. The characters are interesting and complex for children. The only issue that I have with this book is the cliffhanger ending. It’s really more of a chapter ending than a book ending. I know the author does this on purpose, but it’s still annoying to me and seems cheap. I’m reading the second book in the series, so I’ll let you know how it goes.

2017 Fall Reading List

The Murder at the Vicarage by Agatha Christie

Agatha Christie is always delightful. I have no complaint here. Her stories are like good rainy day reading. They are comforting, despite the facts that at least one person is usually dead. They don’t require a ton of emotional investment and they don’t stress me out. I usually give up on trying to guess the murderer, because I’m always wrong. I think that I prefer Christie’s Poirot mysteries to Miss Marple, but that didn’t stop me from enjoying this book one bit.

2017 Fall Reading List

North and South by Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell

Think Pride and Prejudice, but with a lot more class consciousness. Margaret Hale must adjust her county sensibilities to a new life in a manufacturing town. Margaret is much more of a proper lady than Elizabeth Bennet. She is less snarky, a little more noble and long-suffering, but every bit as tenacious. I enjoyed North and South, though it got a little slow in a few sections. A lot of depressing things happen to Miss Hale, which can be a bit of a downer, but I like that Gaskell didn’t shy away from the darker parts of manufacturing towns. 

2017 Fall Reading List

Serafina and the Black Cloak by Robert Beaty

This is a kids/young adult book that takes place at the Biltmore Estate. Since I’ve visited the Biltmore, I found that this was extremely interesting. Even if you haven’t seen the actual setting, this book was fun and engaging. It was not overly simplistic for a kid’s book. The suspense felt read and I enjoyed the main character, Serafina. I would recommend this to a younger child or any adult who is young at heart.

2017 Fall Reading List

Emma by Jane Austin

I am officially a good Austinite again, as I have read Emma. And man is she annoying! I think that’s the point, that Emma is a bit of a know-it-all, but she’s definitely a harder character to root for than Pride and Prejudice’s Elizabeth Bennet. But it’s still Jane Austin, and even if Emma is kind of annoying, so still want her to end up happy. Emma is humorous without compromising real emotion, and I still enjoyed the read.

2017 Fall Reading List

All is Grace by Brennan Manning

Brennan Manning is a broken man who still proudly proclaims his message that God loves you just as you are, not as you should be. I found his memoir to be honest and endearing. It is clear that Mr. Manning does not have any illusions about who he is as a person. He is brutally honest throughout the memoir about his alcoholism, his denial of it, and the effect that it had on his loved ones. He does not hide his selfishness as his tells his life story, and I appreciate the complexity of his journey. Brennan Manning would be the first to tell you that he is a walking contradiction, but he would also be the first to tell you that peace from that can be found with God.

2017 Fall Reading List

You are Free by Rebekah Lyons

I’ll admit, I tried to read this on the plane on the way home from San Francisco, but I couldn’t do it. It was too much. It found it to be too trite, too sugar coated. Maybe at another time it will be a good fit, but I didn’t jive with me.

Along with these books, I have read scores of others. I may include my favorites in a separate post, because I’m not exaggerating when I say that there have been at least three separate series and a few other unrelated books. I just recently got a library card since moving to my city over a year ago, so let me know if you have recommendations! I’m currently into young adult fiction, because I’m tired of adult books needing to seem so grown up and cynical about everything. What are your favorites?

Holidays Lifestyle Seasonal Uncategorized

A Fantastic Halloween and How to Make it

November 2, 2017

Oh my goodness, it’s November already. October was such a whirlwind. I spent a lot of time putting together our fantastic Halloween costumes and trunk for my church’s annual Trunk or Treat, so October flew by. I’ve been super excited to share with you everything that we did for Halloween. With getting married last November,  I didn’t have a lot of time to think about Halloween last year. I was glad to get back to it again.

This year’s Halloween theme was from the  movie Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. If you haven’t seen the movie, you totally should. It’s not as good as Harry Potter (because what is?) but it’s still delightful and charming and cute. The Hubs immediately took to Newt Scamander, because he is a fellow Softie Towards Animals, and also because his clothes were cool. So we just took the theme and ran with it! 

Newt Scamander’s Costume

Fantastic Halloween 1

The Hub’s costume is made up of a LOT of parts, and we even skipped a few. In total, the costume included:

You have already seen the Hufflepuff Scarf, so you know that I made that. I also made the vest using the Butterick B6502 Pattern.  I say that I made it, but really my mom provided a lot of help. We simplified the pattern by not making real pockets, and we only did 4 button holes rather than 6 to give The Hubs a little wiggle room. The coat and bow tie are both by elope, which you can find either on Amazon or Ebay. The tweed pants were bought off Poshmark, and hemmed. The wand was also from Amazon. The suitcase was a gift from my Grandpa and I have been using it to store yarn. It made a great candy holder on Halloween

I mentioned skipping some parts of the costume, and that mainly refers to the suit jacket that Newt wears under his coat. Some fine sleuths online had discovered that the jacket is in fact NOT the same material as the pants(though still tweed) and we were worried that it would be too bulky under the coat. I also skipped a few embellishments on the vest, due to time constraints.

Porpentina Goldstein’s CostumeFantastic Halloween 2

My costume was much simpler to deal with. I chose to use Tina’s flapper look. To do so, I used:

The dress is an  Adrianna Papell beaded dress off Ebay. I added the signature strappy bits myself using a sequenced elastic that I folded in half and hot glued (because I’m classy light that!). The shoes were on sale at Payless a few weeks ago (and they’re 3 1’2″! Yikes!). The wig is the Skyelar Classic wig from Arda Wigs in Deep Brown. I paid one of my friends who used to be a hairdresser to trim the wig for me. The wand is make from a clearance knitting needle, clay and acrylic paint

The Trunk

Fantastic Halloween 3

Oh gosh the trunk. This is where my crazy really comes out. The trunk actually came out looking pretty close to my vision, and meshed elements of Fantastic Beasts and Harry Potter. I spent about a month collecting paper towel and toilet paper rolls to make my floating candles a la this tutorial. They were a little precarious as first, but we found that taping the invisible thread to the sides of the candles helped to stabilize it. I was glad we had our candles, because as the night got darker, they helped us to see the balls for our little quiddich game.

Most Trunk or Treats recommend that you have a game for kids to play at your trunk. This is mostly to:

  1. entertain the children; and
  2.  slow the stream of candy.

We chose to make little quiddich hoops for the kids to throw balls into. I bought a three pack of bug nets and cut the nets off. We stuck the nets into tin flower pots filled with concrete. This worked out really well, since the bug nets could still telescope and we could vary the heights of the hoops. It would also work great for quiddich pong, which I’ve definitely never played. And yeah, we totally used ping pong balls for this game. They can be found at Dollar Tree.

Fantastic Halloween 4

Other trunk additions included in our trunk was a plush niffler on a pile of gold, and some silver occamy eggs.  I also made a bowtruckle using floral wire and tape (also from the dollar tree). The tutorial can be found here. Finally, I included a Monster Book of Monsters, which is more Harry Potter than Fanstastic Beasts, but it was fun to make. There’s lots of tutorials out there, but I used this one.  Most of the other embellishments to my trunk were printed from the internet.