Here.


I've had this post in my drafts all weekend and still can't find words for last week. It's not that it was bad, it was just simply there. Nothing extraordinary happened, but nothing horrible happened either.

I feel like I'm stuck again. Like I'm doing just enough to not fall back into my old ways. I'm doing my homework, my chores, getting out of the house, being 'social', but somehow I'm not fully here. It seems like I keep losing myself to my thoughts, my worries, my doubts.

These past few weeks I've stopped making goals for myself. Whether it's something like getting out of the house by going to the bookstore, making a meal at home or even just painting my nails, I feel like it's the little goals that add up for me. That make me feel more than only here. So this week I'm making goals for myself, goals that are outside of my studies. Goals that make me feel calm; that simply make me feel here. 




Review: Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge

15839984Received e-galley for review.
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Published: January 28, 2014
Series: Cruel Beauty Universe
Amazon - Goodreads



Graceling meets Beauty and the Beast in this sweeping fantasy about one girl's journey to fulfill her destiny and the monster who gets in her way-by stealing her heart.

Based on the classic fairy tale Beauty and the Beast, Cruel Beauty is a dazzling love story about our deepest desires and their power to change our destiny.

Since birth, Nyx has been betrothed to the evil ruler of her kingdom-all because of a foolish bargain struck by her father. And since birth, she has been in training to kill him.

With no choice but to fulfill her duty, Nyx resents her family for never trying to save her and hates herself for wanting to escape her fate. Still, on her seventeenth birthday, Nyx abandons everything she's ever known to marry the all-powerful, immortal Ignifex. Her plan? Seduce him, destroy his enchanted castle, and break the nine-hundred-year-old curse he put on her people.

But Ignifex is not at all what Nyx expected. The strangely charming lord beguiles her, and his castle-a shifting maze of magical rooms-enthralls her.

As Nyx searches for a way to free her homeland by uncovering Ignifex's secrets, she finds herself unwillingly drawn to him. Even if she could bring herself to love her sworn enemy, how can she refuse her duty to kill him? With time running out, Nyx must decide what is more important: the future of her kingdom, or the man she was never supposed to love.

I've been reading quite a few retellings lately and even though Cruel Beauty isn't an absolute favorite for me, I still really loved it! The main character, Nyx, was raised to be an assassin to save her people by being sent off to marry (and kill!) the Gentle Lord, also known as Ignifex. I loved how the lines of good and evil were blurred and you had to continue reading to really help define those lines, but even at the end of the book there still wasn't this super defined line, which was one of my favorite parts of the book!

I really enjoyed that Hermetic elements (fire, water, earth and air) were in the book and that Nyx was well educated in the subject. I've never read a book with that aspect to it, so I was so happy to see Hodge's writing perfectly added that bit to the storyline. I also was really fascinated by the castle Nyx was sent to live in! It literally had a mind of its own, seriously! It can move rooms around and things that were once there might not be there when you turn around, it's crazy!

I loved how I really didn't know exactly who the villain of the story is or if I thought it would be someone, everything would get turned upside down. I really enjoyed the unexpected twists that the author added to the story and just the complete uniqueness of those surprises.


Cruel Beauty was an amazingly unique retelling of Beauty and the Beast that had me needing to know what Nyx's decision was going to be. Hodge's writing was eerie and just descriptive enough to start your imagination off on helping create this brand new world she imagined. I'll definitely be reading Rosamund Hodge's novella, Gilded Ashes, which is a retelling of Cinderella and takes place in the same world as Cruel Beauty is set in. If you absolutely love retellings, Cruel Beauty is an absolute must-read!







*I received this egalley from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.

Coffee, Cookies & Candles


I baked a lot of cookies, drank way too much coffee and burned a lot of candles, but I made it through last week. 

Reading: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
Watching: Scrubs (Season 6)
Listing to: Florida Georgia Line's album Here's to the Good Times 
Drinking: Starbucks' Cinnamon Dolce Latte
Loving: Essie's Chinchilly nail polish and Bath & Body Works' 3-wick candle, Raspberry Peach Macaron.
Wishing: The snow would go away and warmer weather would take its place.
Wanting: A new astronomy professor... and a Mac.
Needing: Patience and motivation. (More coffee would be good too...)

Links lead to goodreads, Amazon, iTunes, Starbucks, Essie and Bath & Body Works.




Review: Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children: The Graphic Novel by Ransom Riggs & Cassandra Jean

Received for review.
Publisher: Yen Press
Published: October 29, 2013
Series: Miss Peregrine's #1
Amazon - Goodreads



Ransom Riggs' haunting fantasy bestseller adapted to a graphic novel! As our story opens, a horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores its abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that the children were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a deserted island for good reason. And somehow-impossible though it seems-they may still be alive.









This was the first time I've ever read a graphic novel and I must say, I'm totally regretting not experiencing this genre until now! I'm so happy that Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children: The Graphic Novel was my first dip into this new reading experience.

I loved when Jacob was with the peculiars that the illustrations would be in vibrant color versus the black and white pallet when he was outside of the loop. I thought it added a little something extra special to the book that showed how Jacob really comes alive when he's with his friends.

So many times during this graphic novel I found myself absorbed into Cassandra Jean's absolutely beautiful drawings. The color, style and just overall vibe did a seriously incredible job at capturing the overall peculiar feeling of the Miss Peregrine's series.

If I hadn't read Ransom Riggs' novel before reading the graphic novel I don't know if I would have enjoyed it as much, but that's probably only because I loved Riggs' detailed writing and getting in-depth details about the characters.


I wasn't sure how I'd like Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children: The Graphic Novel, but I ended up totally loving it. The combination of Ransom Riggs authentic writing style and Cassandra Jean's incredible illustrations just completely blew me away. The graphic novel added a completely new view to the original book that I couldn't help but adore. This book is an awesome artistic addition to Riggs' writing that would be perfect for lovers of the original novel and even to someone who hasn't read the book, but loves (or wants to try out) graphic novels. I'll definitely be looking into other graphic novels by Cassandra Jean!





*I received this egalley from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.

Labels


Today definitely wasn't the greatest of days.
I've been struggling with my astronomy class and how completely unorganized my professor is with our assignments. I literally spent five hours reading about thirty pages and taking notes. I even did those stupid paperclip on a string and golf ball experiments that the book 'suggests' to do. Overkill on my part much? I think the issue is more on my side than it is on his horribly unorganized side. (It's just easier to blame him…)

Ever since I got accepted into my college's honor society I can feel myself going back into my old high school ways. Wanting not just an A, but a one hundred percent. Wanting to go above and beyond the assignment even if I'm overworking myself. Somehow it's like I think I have more time in the day than everybody else.

Labels, even if they are deemed 'good' by society's standards, such as 'honor student,' I think still have the potential of hurting us.

Somehow now I think I have to work all day and take extensive, borderline-unnecessary, amounts of notes all because I'm in this group because for some reason my brain thinks that 'that's what honor students do!' That I have to spend all my time doing homework and studying when really I can already feel that I’m hurting myself. I'm stressing out, I'm more irritable and I'm more negative. I can feel myself slipping back into my old high school ways of wanting to be absolutely perfect and doing things to the extreme.

I need to remember that I still managed to do well and work hard in my previous semesters in college, those very same semesters that got me into this honor society. I balanced my schoolwork better and had a better understanding of my limits and time. I can't be someone who gives one hundred percent to school, I have to take care of me and I just have to do things that make me happy; like make time for art or reading or just some one-on-one time with Netflix!

It might not sound like it'll benefit my educational career, but I know in the long run it will. It's only the third week of Spring semester and I've already broken down about all the work and excess time I spent working on an assignment, an assignment that could have gotten done in half the time all because I'm striving for nothing but perfection.

I need to remember to put my health, my well being, first.
I need to know that just because school doesn't get all of my time doesn't mean that I'm somehow dismissing its importance. What works for others doesn't necessarily mean that it'll work for me. In order to do well I've learned that I need to balance my time. I need to trust in the things I've learned about myself since high school.

Worst case scenario: I'm not in the honor society anymore.
In all honesty though, I don't think that could be the worst thing to come out of this. I still need to be aware of the opposite of that scenario; that I remain in the honor society because I overwork myself and end up losing all the progress I've made.

I am more than my grades.
I am more than the numbers in red at the top of a piece of paper.

Now, I just need to remember this when I start working on my homework tomorrow and feel the need to be nothing but perfect.







Hello February: Photos, Geeking Out and Books Read in January



Instagram

I've been in a decorating mood lately. 
Whether it's lights, heart shaped everything or just enjoying some funny 'Man Candy' in the store line, I'm totally into all the red and pink of Valentine's Day. All our decorations are up and I am totally loving it! I even made some new additions: little hearts that hang in the window between our kitchen and dining room. I just used some red cardstock and playing cards that I punched hearts out of, then I strung them up! Super easy and totally cute!

On Wednesday a friend and I went to Olive Garden, it was so much fun! We spend a few hours just chatting and ordering a ton of different food. We finished off our meal with an absolutely delicious mocha cappuccino that came in a fancy cup, it was awesome!

There's been so much snow lately that we're running out of places to put it! In some areas it comes up to my shoulders! After helping shovel I had one of my favorite Ben & Jerry's ice cream, Half Baked. (Being cold and then eating something frozen is just so brilliant, ha!) The name got a smile out of me, it reminded me of the first Phi Theta Kappa meeting from earlier this week. We had ice-breaker charades and someone had to act out the movie Half Baked, it was hilarious!

Want more? Check out my instagram for daily photo craziness!



1. Portrait of a Spore (Starters 1.5) by Lissa Price (My Review
2. Splintered (Splintered 1) by A.G. Howard (My Review) 
3. Masquerade by Nyrae Dawn 
4. Obsidian (Lux 1) by Jennifer L. Armentrout 
5. Onyx (Lux 2) by Jennifer L. Armentrout 
6. Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge 
7. Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children: The Graphic Novel by Ransom Riggs and Cassandra Jean

 
Spring Semester started recently and I'm still getting the hang of the class load, but I made a list of all the blog posts I want to get posted for this week. Expect Cruel Beauty and Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children: The Graphic Novel reviews this week! I really loved both of these books so I can't wait to actually write reviews for them!

Louis Pierson. Countess Castiglione, c. 1860. Albumen print.
Source
One of the classes I'm taking is History of Photography, which is definitely more work than expected, but I'm finding it really interesting! I'm totally in love with the above photo, Countess Castiglione, by Louis Pierson. It's a portrait of Napoleon III's mistress and rumored Italian spy from 1860. Due to long exposure times in the beginning of photography, most photos only captured their sitters in stiff positions, but this portrait really captured the personality of the sitter, I love it! It's clean and detailed, but it also shows the viewer a look into her unique personality. I love the use of the oval picture frame too, it adds to the playfulness of the photo, but I think it might possibly play on the Italian spy rumors with her peeking through the hole making direct eye contact with the viewer. 

Okay, enough with me geeking out, I have homework to do! 


Happy February! 






January Book Haul

I thought being pretty much trapped in my house because of the crazy amounts of snow we've been getting would result in me buying less books. That, however, definitely wasn't the case! After discovering Book Outlet and now that I'm using my Kindle more, I went a bit overboard with books/ebooks this month. It's not totally horrible, since the prices were discounted by a lot and I haven't bought books in a few months, so I just need to be sure I actually read what I bought! In February I only have a couple books I plan on buying and I'm going to stick to that list... well hopefully!



-Ruby Red (The Ruby Red Trilogy 1) by Kerstin Gier
-Tiger's Curse (The Tiger Saga 1) by Colleen Houck
-The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides
-How They Met and Other Stories by David Levithan
-Liesl and Po by Lauren Oliver
-Sever (The Chemical Garden Trilogy) by Lauren DeStefano
-Great Expectations by Charles Dickens


I went to Half Price Books twice this month! I found Ruby Red and Tiger's Curse during the first trip and couldn't resist! I've heard so many positive things about both books and I definitely want to see what all the hype is about! During the second trip I found Great Expectations in seriously perfect condition for only one dollar!! So, of course, I had to buy it!

The other books I bought from Book Outlet. They were books that had been on my wishlist for a while so I decided to treat myself! I think How They Met and Other Stories will be the perfect read for Valentine's Day!




-Obsidian (Lux 1) by Jennifer L. Armentrout
-Onyx (Lux 2) by Jennifer L. Armentrout
-The Moth in the Mirror (Splintered 1.5) by A.G. Howard





I read both Obsidian and Onyx and I really loved both books! I was hesitant about reading them because the covers kind of put me off, but I'm so glad I finally decided to read them! I can't wait to read book three!



-Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children: The Graphic Novel by Ransom Riggs and illustrated by Cassandra Jean
-Hollow City (Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children 2) by Ransom Riggs
-Cruel Beauty (Cruel Beauty Universe 1) by Rosamund Hodge





I totally love Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children so I was thrilled that I was able to receive the graphic novel and the sequel from the publisher. This was the first graphic novel I ever read and it was so good! I'm in the middle of Hollow City right now and am really enjoying it so far!
Thank you to Eric from Quirk Books for these two awesome books!

Briana from Bree's Books has seriously awesome taste in books and recommended Cruel Beauty to me. I immediately requested an egalley from Edelweiss and was lucky enough to get approved! I read this last week and it was absolutely amazing!!
Thanks so much, Balzer + Bray!

All of these books are now available to buy and I definitely recommend each one of them!
Get ready for reviews on all three of these books coming soon!





-Something Like Normal by Trish Doller
-Me Before You by JoJo Moyes





Like I said above, Briana from Bree's Books has awesome taste in books! For the new year we decided to exchange booky gifts and she was sweet enough to send be these two beauties my way! I honestly cannot wait to read them! They're sitting on my nightstand just wanting to be read!
Thank you so much, Briana! They are absolutely perfect!!


I hope you all had an amazing January!





I'll be linking up with Stacking the Shelves.