Friday, January 19, 2018

Alexa's Adventures #6

It's been forever and a day since I've had the chance to talk about what's been going in my personal life on this little blog of mine the way I used to. Of course, you still get a glimpse of what's happening in my monthly recaps and you also got a chance to see everything that went on in my yearly recap. But because it's a new year, and I'm feeling the urge to share, here we are, talking about what's been happening so far in the first few weeks of the year.

This show is my new sh┼Źnen obsession, y'all. | photo credit
Here's the truth: I really haven't been up to all that much so far this year. I tend to hibernate during winter, as I'm not the biggest fan of the cold (and it always makes me feel extra sleepy). We had a quiet New Year's Day at home, just me, Macky and my sisters, which was a lovely break after our very busy Disney Christmas. After a single day back in the office, I got so sick for three days. It was not fun to start off with a stomach bug and then have it turn into the flu. *shudders* I could barely eat or bring myself to get out of bed for the entire time I was sick, so I wound up just binge watching tons of episodes of Friends with my sister (that show still makes me laugh and cry), binge watching episodes of Bleach with Macky (which totally revived my spirits) and sleeping a lot.

This movie was so much fun!
The cast was phenomenal.
photo credit
Thankfully, I was sort of recovered by the weekend, enough at least to go and see my first movie in theaters for the year - Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle. I have a soft spot for the original film, and I was slightly worried that this one wouldn't do it justice but slightly optimistic because of the cast. And you know what? It was a delight to watch! It was funny and lighthearted, and I giggled a lot during certain scenes. But it also had a lot of heart, as the characters each have their own troubles to face or obstacles to overcome by the end of the film. I definitely enjoyed this film, and would highly recommend going to catch it if you can.

In other news, my sisters and I decided to start maintaining a Korean skincare routine this year. It's an investment we've been thinking of making for some time now, and Mel and I finally took the plunge and picked up the basic products we needed to make it happen in December. We convinced Rachel to try it alongside us, and we've all been really into it so far! It's calming to go through the routine each night and morning, and to do it together. I've noticed that my cheeks feel smoother to the touch, and the skin around my eyes is a little less dry. I'm going to wait till at least a quarter of the year has passed before I go into specifics about the products we use, but I hope the routine continues to help improve the quality of my skin.

I love collecting editions of Grimm's Fairytales.
As for other beauty related things, I have a new lipstick favorite! I decided to try out Jeffree Star Cosmetics, specifically their liquid lipsticks in the shades Christmas Cookie and Rose Matter. I love how they look on me, and I'm excited to try the red shade I picked up as well to see how I feel about that one! The one thing I will say is that my lips tend to feel a little dry, so I usually swipe on a bit of my Balm DotCom from Glossier to remedy that.

Another new thing I've been getting into is thrift shopping, and that's mostly because of my youngest sister Rachel (who has the best Instagram game of us three and also has her own blog). I've only gotten to visit Urban Jungle in Brooklyn with her (twice, and both times were A+ because I snagged awesome things), but I definitely see thrifting becoming a part of our sisterly hangouts every month. It's fun to try and find a good deal, and it's always great for the wallet too. Of course, you have to be extra careful about how you wash the stuff you get before using it, but that's not so difficult to manage.

Rachel also inspired me to step up my game on Instagram, and I've been having so much fun with it. I've always wanted to improve the photos I share on that platform! I'm still learning the ropes when it comes to flatlays and creative ideas, but it's definitely something I'm glad she's around to give me advice on. Here's to continuing to learn and improve at things I genuinely enjoy doing in 2018!

We had dinner at Outback last Friday - yum!
Anyway, speaking of my sisters, I think it's been so fun to start this year off just living with both of them under the same roof as Macky and myself. It's like having an even bigger little family unit in New York, and that makes me less homesick (though I miss our family in the Philippines, of course)! Since Mel finally got her car last December, we've taken advantage of that by going to get Korean BBQ, running errands at Target, and just generally driving to places that are now within reach. Because the car is now a staple in our lives, the rest of us are determined to practice driving so we can all get our licenses and drive it as well.

The last thing I want to mention in this already long and rambly post (and if you've made it this far, thank you, thank you, thank you) is that Macky, Rachel & I went to see Mary and the Witch's Flower during its premiere event last night at the theater near us. It was such a delightful little film, and the animation was lovely! The story was simple but heartfelt, the characters were wonderful and though there were definitely odd elements, it was fun to watch. I'd wait until this one came out on a streaming site (like Netflix) or until you could rent it, but I'm glad we went to see it.

Whew, okay, that's the end of this rambly update from me! I didn't realize just how much I wanted to talk about, but I'm not complaining. I'll be back in two weeks or so (if I stick to my planned schedule, which reminds me that I also wanted to talk about the planner and journals I'm using this year at some point) with another round of this, so you'll have that to (hopefully) look forward to!

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Abbreviations #42

Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie
Series: Hercule Poirot #10
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Publication Date: January 1, 1934
Source: Purchased the Kindle book
Buy the Book: Book Depository | IndieBound | Barnes & Noble | Amazon

I wasn’t planning on indulging in a second Agatha Christie book until 2018, but when I was randomly browsing my Kindle library recently, Murder on the Orient Express caught my eye. I’m glad I decided to read it, because I enjoyed it! I really enjoy the storytelling style that Christie employs here, where the evidence, the players and the setting are limited and where the result is conclusive by the end. It was interesting to see how the murder investigation unfolded, and as a novice mystery reader, I honestly didn’t know what the results would be until it was revealed. The novelty of this genre (to a newbie reader) and the cleverly plotted mystery won me over, and I’ll certainly be reading more Christie in the years to come.

Series: Valkyrie #1
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Publication Date: January 2, 2018
Source: ARC received from the publisher (Thanks!)

I’m not a big urban fantasy reader, but I certainly enjoyed Between the Blade and the Heart. This new series starter centers around Malin, a Valkyrie-in-training, who discovers that her mother failed to kill an immortal she was assigned to and who is affected by all the consequence of that choice. Sounds fun, right? And in many ways, it was fun. I enjoyed Malin’s journey to resolve the big, world-ending, life-threatening problem that she faces, especially when she gets to team up with some of her friends (old and new, mind you). I thought the world was a touch overwhelming (it’s immortals from all sorts of lore – including Filipino!), but also immensely fascinating because of the possibilities it offered. I was flying through the earliest chapters of this story, thanks to the easy-to-read writing… And then, it hit one stumbling block for me – the romance. It’s not that I didn’t enjoy parts of the romance, because I did. But it was the way that I felt like it wasn’t particularly necessary to the progression of the actual story and would much rather have just focused on the primary plot instead. Still, overall, it was a pleasant read and I do think I’m going to be picking up the sequel to discover what happens next.

Melting Stones by Tamora Pierce
Series: The Circle Reforged #2
Publisher: Self-published
Publication Date: January 1, 2007
Source: Purchased the Kindle e-book
Buy the Book: Book Depository | IndieBound | Barnes and Noble | Amazon

I’m pleased that I finally had the chance to read Melting Stones this year! This is the first novel in the Emelan/Circle series that centers around a protagonist other than the four main mages of the series, as it focuses on Evvy as she and Rosethorn journey to the Battle Islands to try to help the island’s inhabitants figure out why there are dead trees, acidic water sources and less magic. It’s a neat little adventure tied up in a bow, and I thought it was real fun to read. It’s deceptively light in tone (especially considering it occurs post-Battle Magic events), but that doesn’t mean the reader doesn’t get a sense of the gravity of the situation. Pierce successfully weaves together a story that is easy to devour and compelling, filling in the spaces with familiar faces (Evvy, Rosethorn and Luvo) and some new characters. Even though this one pales in comparison to its predecessor, I still thought it was worth the read to spend more time in this world and with these folks. It’s definitely something to check out if you’re a fan of the Emelan/Circle series!

Monday, January 15, 2018

Gift Guides for Jude + Cardan | #CruelPrince (+Giveaway)

FTC Disclosure: Thanks to the lovely team at the NOVL, I received a copy of The Cruel Prince and have an exciting giveaway to share with all of you!

If you've been following my blog (or our YouTube channel or my Instagram account) for a few months, you'll know how much I adore The Cruel Prince! I read it for the first time around June last year (Thanks to a big push from my lovely pal Kristin of Super Space Chick!) and fell head over heels in love with Holly Black's portrayal of a human girl trying to navigate the complicated, brutal world of the fae. I loved it so much that I reread it again as my first book of 2018 (spoiler: it was still just as amazing as the first time I read it) and will continue to recommend it to everyone and anyone! 

I'm really thrilled to be partnering with the NOVL team for this fun post and a giveaway. Before we get to the goods (and it's definitely a prize pack you're going to want to get your hands on - trust me!), I'll be sharing a fun little gift guide I put together for Jude and Cardan, the two central charactesr in The Cruel Prince, in the hopes that you'll enjoy getting an idea of these two personalities!

Absinthe | It's a fact that Cardan and his crowd enjoy indulging in a drink or two (or ten). While I'm not necessarily fond of alcohol myself, I do feel like Cardan would rather like absinthe. It would suit his tastes, I'd like to say, both in terms of taste and aethestic.

Silver fox mask | While I'm sure most fae folk can create glamours to serve as their costume, there's still something to be said for a traditional masquerade where all in attendance must don actual masks. Silver, and a tricksy sort of animal? This mask would certainly suit our prince.

A red velvet coat | Honestly, I just feel like Cardan would be the type to wear velvet and look smashing in it! It would probably suit him as part of his everyday wardrobe, particularly with his dark looks and his princely bearing.

A deck of cards | Cardan, as with many of the fae, is fond of games. While his tend to toe the line between reasonable and violently passionate, I do think he'd be a clever, savvy card player. He would certainly be an entertaining (and potentially difficult) opponent.

The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas | A story that centers around a man hellbent on exacting revenge on those that wronged him? This sounds like a novel that is right up Cardan's alley, particularly considering the circumstances.

Sword letter opener | While Jude obviously has her own sword to use in an actual duel, I think she would get a kick out of owning one of these. It would be perfect for going through her correspondence, and through certain other documents she might have to go through...

Gold acorn necklace | While it wasn't specifically significant to Jude initially, I feel like she would appreciate owning a gorgeous piece of jewelry. It would symbolize a moment that is extremely important in the course of Jude's story, and would serve as a subtle reminder to other folk in the know.

Elf ears | Jude longs to be more like the fae that surround her day in and day out. These might not be the real deal (yet), but it would be a substitute that brings her desire to look like them a little bit closer and also just looks really damn pretty.

Starbucks gift card | Even though she lives in the world of Elfhame, it's a fact that Jude (and her sisters) often slip away to the human world. One of the things that Jude absolutely loves is a mocha, and it would be a pleasure for her to have the funds to feed her habit.

Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll | When Jude and her sisters were children, their mother would read them this story. It would mean a lot to Jude to own her own copy of this book, particularly if it looks as beautiful as this one.

I had so much fun coming up with these present ideas for Jude & Cardan! I hope I've intrigued you sufficiently, enough so that you want to meet these two for yourself. Luckily, the team over at the NOVL is partnering with me to give one lucky winner the chance to win this incredible prize pack!

The Queen of Faerie

Join Holly Black, the Queen of Faerie!
To get in the mood for a little magic and mayhem, one (1) winner receives:

Copy of The Cruel Prince
Copy of The Darkest Part of the Forest
Fairy Dust
Fairy Dust Manifestation Ritual Candle

Giveaway open to US addresses only.
Prizing and samples provided by NOVL.

In case you also wanted to know a little bit more about The Cruel Prince and Holly Black, you can check out the book details, author info and relevant links below.

The Cruel Prince by Holly Black (Follow Holly Black on Twitter and Instagram!)
Series: The Folk of the Air #1
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: January 2, 2018
Watch The Cruel Prince body paint tutorial!
Visit! Follow NOVL on Twitter and Instagram

By #1 New York Times bestselling author Holly Black, the first book in a stunning new series about a mortal girl who finds herself caught in a web of royal faerie intrigue.

Of course I want to be like them. They're beautiful as blades forged in some divine fire. They will live forever.

And Cardan is even more beautiful than the rest. I hate him more than all the others. I hate him so much that sometimes when I look at him, I can hardly breathe.

Jude was seven years old when her parents were murdered and she and her two sisters were stolen away to live in the treacherous High Court of Faerie. Ten years later, Jude wants nothing more than to belong there, despite her mortality. But many of the fey despise humans. Especially Prince Cardan, the youngest and wickedest son of the High King.

To win a place at the Court, she must defy him—and face the consequences.

In doing so, she becomes embroiled in palace intrigues and deceptions, discovering her own capacity for bloodshed. But as civil war threatens to drown the Courts of Faerie in violence, Jude will need to risk her life in a dangerous alliance to save her sisters, and Faerie itself.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Holly Black is the bestselling author of contemporary fantasy novels, including Tithe: A Modern Faerie Tale and the #1 New York Times bestselling Spiderwick series. She has been a finalist for the Mythopoeic Award and the Eisner Award, and the recipient of the Andre Norton Award. Holly lives in Massachusetts with her husband, Theo, in a house with a secret library.


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