Halloween, Art Show & America's Next Top Bookshelf

Happy Halloween! 

Can't stop listening to this entire album lately, very fitting considering the current holiday. 
I'm pretty biased since The Maine is my favorite band, but seriously this song is the best, you should totally check it out (the entire album too!)

Little monsters walking down my street
In this place I'll be anything but me
So you be brave and I'll still be eighteen

My posts on the blog have been lacking lately, but this month was filled with multiple math tests (I still don't understand why we need to figure out problems with imaginary numbers, seriously?!) and midterms. 
4 year old me dressed as Belle.

I also was accepted into my very first art show! It's in the beginning of December and I need to get around twenty pieces ready... I have a ways to go! So my posts may be a little art centered in November, but I'm trying to squeeze some reading in between equations and painting! 

I still am reading Spell Bound (Hex Hall 3) by Rachel Hawkins. I started it in September and keep going "Oh! I'm definitely going to read a couple chapters tonight!" Then I end up watching America's Next Top Model. It's a guilty pleasure, I don't get the appeal either, but it's oh so addicting. Although I really need to stop watching it before bed, unless I want to keep dreaming of  America's Next Top Bookshelf. A grueling competition of beautiful bookshelves jammed packed with all the books anyone could imagine. I didn't win, someone girl with a loose bun and big glasses named Pepper did. My shelves out in the woods guarded by fairies and the dreamy Captain Hook (okay I've been watching lots of Once Upon A Time too...) just couldn't compete with the hipster girl's fancy color coded, Beauty and the Beast-esque library. I was totally bummed that Tyra didn't think my bookshelf was fierce!

Yeah, after that I definitely think returning to reading will be for the best. I can't deal with anymore "Is that character on your book cover smizing?" dreams. Anyways...

I'd totally love it if you checked out my guest post over on the amazing Momo's blog, Books Over Boys. You can click here to check it out! It's Momo's three year blogoversary and she's having one epic giveaway too! She's seriously one of the sweetest people ever, I'm so happy to call her a friend!

I hope your day is filled with treats, jack-o-lanterns and everything spooky! 

Review: Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins

I use Grammarly for proofreading because what's more annoying than stumbling over a sentence full of "omgz" and "lolz"?! 

Bought from Amazon.
Publisher: Hyperion Books
Published: March 2, 2010
Series: Hex Hall
Amazon - Goodreads

Three years ago, Sophie Mercer discovered that she was a witch. It's gotten her into a few scrapes. Her non-gifted mother has been as supportive as possible, consulting Sophie's estranged father--an elusive European warlock--only when necessary. But when Sophie attracts too much human attention for a prom-night spell gone horribly wrong, it's her dad who decides her punishment: exile to Hex Hall, an isolated reform school for wayward Prodigium, a.k.a. witches, faeries, and shapeshifters.

By the end of her first day among fellow freak-teens, Sophie has quite a scorecard: three powerful enemies who look like supermodels, a futile crush on a gorgeous warlock, a creepy tagalong ghost, and a new roommate who happens to be the most hated person and only vampire student on campus. Worse, Sophie soon learns that a mysterious predator has been attacking students, and her only friend is the number-one suspect.

As a series of blood-curdling mysteries starts to converge, Sophie prepares for the biggest threat of all: an ancient secret society determined to destroy all Prodigium, especially her.
-synopsis from goodreads-
I honestly can't even tell you what took me so long to pick up Hex Hall. Despite it taking me forever to finally start this series, I absolutely loved every minute of it. From the sarcastic main character to the incredible world building, I'll never be able to get enough of the amazing story Hawkins created.

The book starts with Sophie Mercer trying to help a fellow classmate at prom. Despite Sophie's good intentions, the spell doesn't go as planned. Since this isn't the first time Sophie has misused her magical gift, she's sent off to Hecate Hall (known by the students as Hex Hall) which is located on a remote island. Hex Hall is a boarding school for misbehaving prodigium (witches, warlocks, fairies and weres.) Recently after the new school years starts, students start getting attacked by an unknown monster.

 I absolutely loved Sophie. She's brave, sarcastic and I just adored her from the start. I love that how almost everything she does, she does with good intentions, even if not everything comes for the best. Sophie never stops searching for who she really is and who is going around hurting her classmates. I totally love her sass and witt. She's definitely an all time favorite leading lady for me.

The supporting characters were also a plus for me in this book. They all are so different and offer something unique to the story. They're all not the 'stereotypical' fairy, witch, etc. I loved Jenna, Sophie's best friend, roommate and the only vampire on campus. Jenna is incredibly loyal and has a fierce love for pink! Also, Sophie's crush, Archer Cross, is definitely swoon-worthy and funny too!

One of my absolute favorite parts was Rachel Hawkins amazing world building. I seriously feel like I've roamed the haunted halls of Hecate Hall with Sophie and Jenna. Whether Hawkins was describing the surroundings or just different concepts of magic, all of her descriptions were flawless and easy to follow.

Awesome Quote:
" This room looked like it had been decorated by the unholy love child of Barbie and Strawberry Shortcake." 

I am one-hundred percent in love with the Hex Hall series. I've already started on book three and let me tell you, it just keeps getting better and better with each book! Rachel Hawkins world building is absolutely amazing. I've loved spending time with Sophie and discovering the secrets of Hex Hall with her. Once you start this book, you'll have trouble stopping until you've finished the entire trilogy, it's just that amazing! 

*This post was sponsored by Grammarly, but all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.

The Lowdown: Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea by April Genevieve Tucholke

Ever want to know just the quick, simple details of a book? The Lowdown is just that: just the gist, just an overview. Let me know in the comments if you'd like to join in on The Lowdown fun! If so, I'll create a linky for next week's Lowdown! 

Title and Author:
Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea by April Genevieve Tucholke

Between: Book 1


Mini Summary: 
(from book)
"Violet is in love with River, a mysterious seventeen-year-old stranger renting the guesthouse behind the rotting seaside mansion where Violet lives, but when eerie, grim events begin to happen, Violet recalls her grandmother's frequent warnings about the devil and wonders if River is evil."

Paranormal, Mystery


Point of View: 
First person (Violet)

Citizen Kane (the mansion where Violet lives) in Echo

3 Words/ Phrases to Describe the Books: 
Eerie. Lyrical. Full of mystery.

Main Character: 
Violet White


Love Interest(s):
River West

Top 3 Supporting Characters: 
Sunshine (best friend)
Luke (brother)
Freddie (dead grandmother)
There's definitely a couple other characters that play a huge role, but I don't want to spoil anything! 

The awesome thing about this book is you don't really know who is the antagonist until the very end. Throughout the book it changes and can even be more than one person... It's a mystery and it's freaking great!

The Lowdown: 
In the small, gloomy town of Echo, Violet White meets River West and everything changes. Not necessarily for the good. Violet's deceased Grandmother always warned her about the devil and his disguises, could River be just that? Through beautifully eerie writing, Tucholke tells the tale of the mysterious occurrences happening in Echo just after River arrives into town. Violet must uncover the truth behind River's lies and decide for herself, just who is the devil in disguise.

Check out Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea on Amazon and Goodreads!

Psst! This book would be great  if you're looking for the perfect Halloween Read!

Review: White Cat by Holly Black

6087756Bought from bookstore.
Publisher: McElderry Books
Published: May 4, 2010
Series: The Curse Workers
Amazon - Goodreads

Cassel comes from a family of Curse Workers - people who have the power to change your emotions, your memories, your luck, by the slightest touch of their hands. And since curse work is illegal, they're all criminals. Many become mobsters and con artists. But not Cassel. He hasn't got magic, so he's an outsider, the straight kid in a crooked family. You just have to ignore one small detail - he killed his best friend, Lila, three years ago.

Cassel has carefully built up a facade of normalcy, blending into the crowd. But his facade starts to crumble when he finds himself sleepwalking, propelled into the night by terrifying dreams about a white cat that wants to tell him something. He's noticing other disturbing things too, including the strange behavior of his two brothers. They are keeping secrets from him. As Cassel begins to suspect he's part of a huge con game, he must unravel his past and his memories. To find out the truth, Cassel will have to out-con the conmen.
-synopsis from goodreads-

White Cat my first book that I've read that's written by Holly Black. I've heard tons of amazing things about her writing and was excited to finally be transported into one of her worlds. In the beginning, I had a little trouble getting into the story, but that soon changed when the plot picked up.

I really liked the main character, Cassel Sharpe, he's a con artist who runs an underground betting system at his school. He was born into a family of curse workers (people who can perform curses on people) and he's the only one who doesn't have the power. Because of this Cassel's left out on a lot of family secrets and feels like a bit of an outcast in his family.

My favorite part of the book was the curse worker aspect. Everyone wore gloves because that's how curses are performed, by skin to skin contact. There's different kinds of workers: memory, transformation, physical, love and more.

I loved the vibe of White Cata little dark and a little mysterious mixed in with the paranormal aspect of curse working. I enjoyed how there were secrets that Cassel had to uncover and that he never really knew who he could trust. It was fun watching Cassel discover things about his life that he never knew about before and how memory was discussed in this book.

Awesome Quote:
"There's a tipping point with lies, a point where you've said something so many times that it feels truer than the truth."
White Cat was the perfect introduction to the Holly Black's writing. It's an awesome read that had great world building and brought something brand new to the paranormal genre in the form of curse working. I loved how deception, family and secrets played a big role in the book. Even though some parts were easy to see coming, it still captured my attention and left me wanting to read the next book in the trilogy, Red Glove.

Katie Cooks: Halloween Sugar Cookies

Following my October Goals, I decided to try making a batch of Halloween sugar cookies! I've never made cookies before, okay well other than the Tollhouse kind you just plop on a pan, so it was definitely a learning experience.

Left with the house all to myself I set out to determined to make a perfect (ehh, okay edible) batch of holiday cookies. I turned up my music, lit our yummy smelling Fall candle and was off! I definitely hit some speed bumps along the way, but was able to manage. The biggest problem was the icing, I'll get more into that later...

I'm not a huge fan of sugar cookies, but I must say, these were pretty good! I didn't know such a thing was possible, but I think there might have been a little too much sugar in there. Next time I think I might cut back on the recipe a bit or maybe just try another recipe entirely.

I absolutely adore the cookie cutters I found! They came in a pack of four from Michael's (40% off!) There was a ghost, black cat, bat and pumpkin. I decided to use the last two for my cookies. I also found fun Halloween sprinkles and eyes! 

Things I Learned/ Need to Remember:
-Before making these cookies I didn't even know that there's different types of icing, just different flavors. The thing I learned about Royal Icing is that it hardens after a while. So if you leave it sit too long (like when you're slowly frosting other cookies) it'll get lumpy. *See bats for example*

-Referring back to point one and that little tidbit of knowledge on how Royal Icing hardens, one should put on sprinkles/eyes before it hardens. If not you'll end up jamming the eyes into the frosting and them still not sticking.

-Confectionary sugar is just a fancy name for 'powdered sugar'. This type of sugar is used for icing, not the sparkly kind of sugar. If you use the sparkly kind of sugar, it will look gross, like this: 

-Remember to take butter out of the fridge so you don't have to microwave it, turning it into a big melty mess that doesn't make good icing.

-Put the dry ingredients in a smaller bowl than the wet ones. You add the wet to the dry, hence bigger bowl. At least I think this is the right way.

-Our oven definitely doesn't cook evenly (or I should maybe flip the cookie sheet around?). Some cookies were finished before others, but it added some hard to soft variety to the cookies.

-Since I'm new to baking/cooking I need to pretty much clear away the whole day just to make twelve cookies. I started around eleven in the morning and finished around six at night. Though that did include the 'chilling' period for the cookies and me going to the store to buy Halloween cookie cutters. 

I'm planning on baking again this weekend! Right now I'm hoping to make Pumpkin Whoopie Pies and possibly an Apple Pie later in the week. Have any suggestions for what I should try next? I'd love to hear them!

Cover Reveal: Hollow City (Miss Peregrine 2) by Ransom Riggs

Title: Hollow City
Series: Miss Peregrine #2
Author: Ransom Riggs
Publisher: Quirk Books
Release Date: January 14, 2014
Amazon - Goodreads - Quirk Books

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children was the surprise best seller of 2011—an unprecedented mix of YA fantasy and vintage photography that enthralled readers and critics alike. Publishers Weekly called it “an enjoyable, eccentric read, distinguished by well-developed characters, a believable Welsh setting, and some very creepy monsters.”
This second novel begins in 1940, immediately after the first book ended. Having escaped Miss Peregrine’s island by the skin of their teeth, Jacob and his new friends must journey to London, the peculiar capital of the world. Along the way, they encounter new allies, a menagerie of peculiar animals, and other unexpected surprises.
Complete with dozens of newly discovered (and thoroughly mesmerizing) vintage photographs, this new adventure will delight readers of all ages.

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children is seriously unlike anything I've ever read. Ransom Riggs incorporates beautiful photography with his incredible writing to create a story that sticks with you. I just love the whole feel of the book.You can check out my full review of book one here.

I love the covers of these books, especially of Hollow City! It's eerie and makes you want to pick up the book so you know what the photo is all about. Also, got to love the black and white!

I'm SO excited to read the sequel, Hollow City! The release date is marked on my calendar and I can't wait to see what happens next in Jacob's story!

Also, did you hear that Miss Peregrine is going to be made into a movie?! Not only is that totally awesome, but the Tim Burton is directing it!!! *squeal!* It's set to come out July 31, 2015!

Books Read in September

I'm a little late posting this, but I wanted to make a fun video to celebrate all the reading I did in September, but I just realized I wrote 'August' everywhere instead of September. Yeah, it's been one of those days. I thought about not posting it, but I worked hard on it and nothing is ever perfect so I just decided to go with it!

1. Shades of Earth (Across the Universe 3) by Beth Revis
2. Wake (Dream Catcher 1) by Lisa McMann (my spoiler-free review of the trilogy here.)
3. Fade (Dream Catcher 2) by Lisa McMann
4. Gone (Dream Catcher 3) by Lisa McMann
5. Scarlet (Lunar Chronicles 2) by Marissa Meyer
6. White Cat (Curse Workers) by Holly Black
7. Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea (Between) by Genevieve April Tucholke
8. Hex Hall (Hex Hall 1) by Rachel Hawkins
9. Demonglass (Hex Hall 2) by Rachel Hawkins

I seriously can't remember the last time I read this many books in a month. I read those mostly in the beginning to early middle of the month. I just hadn't read in a while and I was in the mood to read so, bam! I'm a couple chapters into Hex Hall #3, Spell Bound, but I haven't touched it in over a week. It's great, I'm just not in the 'reading mood' lately, that and my Global Sustainabilities professor is assigning papers like crazy, but in an odd way I'm really enjoying the class!

These were the books I pulled from my To Be Read jar (got the idea from the awesome booktuber, Katytastic.) I was only planning on pulling one, but then I went crazy and read a whole series then pulled two more books after that. I must say though, I absolutely loved Scarlet and can't wait to read the next book after White Cat! Reviews will be coming soon (I've written them down, now I just have to remember to type them up for the blog.)

Hope you all had an awesome book-filled September!

Happy October!

Happy October, everyone! 

I've been working a lot on setting goals for myself and just really trying to discover who I am as a person. Maybe more so than goals, the list below is just of things that I want to keep in mind throughout October. This year, I just really want to embrace the beauty of Fall! 

So here's my list for this October:

-Be mindful. 
-Slow down, be present. 
-Look for something beautiful in each day. If it's something that can be photographed, photograph it. 
-Embrace creativity. 
-Try (at least) two new recipes.  
-Journal (at least) three times a week.
-Blog (at least) two times a week. 
-Eat healthier. 
-Complete the #FMSPhotoADay (hosted by FatMumSlim) challenge on Instagram. I'm @CrazyKatieMarie on there if you'd like to follow along or join in on the fun!

Max posing next to his nose art on the just-cleaned-window.
How can you be mad at that cute little face though?!

I'll post at the end of the October saying how this month's explorations went. I'll also do write about the two new recipes I plan on trying. I'm just learning how to cook, so it should be fairly interesting to see the finished product and all the craziness that happened along the way.

Here's to a month full of pumpkin flavored drinks, fallen leaves that crunch under our feet and the eerie decorations on our front porches. Cheers!