Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Summer of Sailor Scouts: The Sailor Moon Book Tag (+ Giveaway)

Earlier this year, Cee of The Novel Hermit, Cristina of Girl in the Pages, Kristin of Super Space Chick, Sierra of SDavReads & I all discovered that we shared a mutual love and appreciation for Sailor Moon! After exchanging plenty of flailing tweets and constantly bringing up our love for this magical girl story, we felt it was only right to celebrate it - and that's what happening this July. Every week will feature a brand new blog post per day from each of us, and we're so excited to be sharing the Sailor Moon love with all our readers.

If you're curious about what to expect from Summer of Sailor Scouts, here's the official schedule:

June 29: Announcement + The Sailor Moon Book Tag (Today!)
July 4-8: Sailor Scout Book Recommendations
July 11-15: Sailor Moon Favorites
July 16-22: Sailor Moon Swag
July 23-29: Sailor Moon Manga (Vol 1.) Read-along + Discussion

Also, the event will be going from blog to blog, so please make sure you're following all of us! 
Here's the posting schedule:

Monday: Alexa
Tuesday: Kristin
Wednesday: Cee
Thursday: Cristina
Friday: Sierra

And that's it! I really hope you'll be joining us in celebrating our love for Sailor Moon.

We're actually kicking it off today by doing an original book tag that we created - The Sailor Moon Book Tag. Check out the video below to see all of my answers, and I'll be including the questions below and in the description for the video. And to make it official, I'm tagging Rachel of Hello, Chelly & Bonnie of A Backwards Story to do the tag!

Moon: A book that makes you hungry
Mercury: A book that features science and technology
Venus: A book that makes you want to play video games
Mars: A book inspired by mythology or folklore
Jupiter: A book that gave you strong feelings
Saturn: A post apocalyptic book you love
Pluto: A time travel book
Uranus: A book featuring elemental magic
Neptune: A book featuring music
Tuxedo Mask: A book with masquerades or hidden identities
Rini/Chibi Moon: A favorite middle grade book
Luna, Artemis & Diana: A book for animal lovers

Don't forget to check out the official event giveaway as well, which kicks off today! We're giving away two (2) Sailor Moon Funkos of your choice to one lucky winner. Giveaway is US only, and all you need to do is enter via the Rafflecopter form below!

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

{Bookish} Travel Buddies: Emery Lord

I wanted to come up with a way to combine my love for books with my love for travel, and thus {Bookish} Travel Buddies was born. It's quite simple, really, as I'm pairing up characters from books I've loved + the places that I'd love to go visit with them. I've hung out with the Queen of Shadows gang, went on adventures with the Winter crew, and traveled to new places with the Anna and the French Kiss group.

For this month, I thought it'd be fun to feature one of my favorite authors' books, and I decided to go with Emery Lord. She's written three novels that I love from the bottom of my heart - Open Road Summer, The Start of Me and You and When We Collided. I've taken the main couples from each novel (plus one bonus character), and I'll be traveling with them today!

photo credit: Rachel
Dee + Reagan + Matt | New York City
I immediately decided that this trio would visit the Big Apple together! It's not only because I can see both Dee and Matt headlining a tour that plays in the city, but also because there is so much you can do here. And they'll each certainly find something that appeals to their personal interests! Whether it's hunting down some ice cream, visiting music shops and photography stores, these three will have a really good time together for sure.

"Big Ben at Night" by Ben Cremin is licensed under C.C. BY 2.0
Paige + Max | London
Of all the pairings I've included here, this is the one that I came up with just on a hunch. I feel like these two would enjoy the mix of history and modernity they would encounter in London. I also think that they'd have fun doing all of the little day trips out of the city, and it would give them endless possibilities to explore. Whether they're running off to explore Austen's home or to the studio tour for Harry Potter, it's safe to say that these two would enjoy a visit to London!

photo credit: Rachel
Vivi + Jonah | Venice
I was originally just going to say Italy, since I feel like these two would really enjoy hopping around the Italian nation. They'd just go from city to city, with Jonah introducing Vivi to all sorts of delicious dishes and Vivi finding herself fascinated and inspired by the art. But Venice was my favorite Italian city I visited this year, and also the city that I could see these two really enjoying together too. 

Monday, June 27, 2016

Books in Real Life, Episode 13: When We Collided

If this is the first time you've come across a Books in Real Life post, welcome! Rachel of Hello, Chelly & I created this collaborative feature as a way to encourage ourselves to actually do the things we've read about in books in real life. We've been at it for a little over two years, and we've definitely had some fun adventures! 

This edition was inspired by When We Collided, the third novel from author Emery Lord. I fell in love with the story of Vivi, a vibrant girl determined to have a summer of freedom, and Jonah, a boy dealing with the burden of grief and responsibility and how their paths cross and their lives are changed forever. It's a beautiful story, and I absolutely loved it. It was an instant choice for a Books in Real Life post, and you'll see why soon enough!

In the novel, Vivi has a summer job at the pottery shop called Fired Up! Visitors can come in and paint pots. (It's actually how she and Jonah meet, as Jonah takes his little sister there for a treat.) We were inspired to do some painting of our own, and so we visited Doin' Dishes over in Montclair! We wound up painting two coasters a piece, and we chose to design them with the novel in mind. It was really fun (if a little messy) to get creative and paint however we chose to! Even though I'm not necessarily the most artistic person, I'd like to think I did pretty well!

After painting, it was lunchtime and so we went off to Leone's Restaurant to grab some pizza! This, too, was inspired by the book, as Jonah works at Tony's, a restaurant that was originally as a pizza joint. It was a lovely day to sit outside (in spite of the light drizzle that lasted a couple of minutes), and we definitely enjoyed our slices of pizza.

1. What was your favorite part or a memorable moment? I honestly was surprised to discover that I really liked painting! I was actually quite intimidated by the idea of getting creative, particularly because painting is not my forte. But I am quite proud of how my coasters turned out!

2. Anything you wish you'd known beforehand? I wish I'd realized I'd have to be extra steady when I was doing the lettering on my coasters! I also wish I'd been more deliberate in designing my coasters; I just went with the flow for the most part.

3. Would I do this again? Absolutely! There was a TARDIS piggy bank that I really wanted to paint, and I would also like to try doing a patterned plate too.

Here's a little vlog of our When We Collided adventure for your viewing pleasure!

Friday, June 24, 2016

Tunes & Tales: Road Between

The album I'm going to be sharing today is one of my favorites to listen to from start to finish, particularly during the warmer months of the year. Why? Because the vibe it gives me is so summery. If you're wondering what album I might be talking about, let me tell you: Lucy Hale's Road Between. I'm obsessed with her catchy tunes and clever lyrics, and will definitely have this album on rotation this summer (as I did last year).

VIBE: pop country, with a combination of upbeat tunes and slower songs
WHY: It's a fun summer soundtrack!
TRY: Kiss Me & Loved are my two favorites, but You Sound Good To Me is the song I heard first!

You Sound Good to Me / Shuffle, Repeat
I could just sit and listen to you talkin' all night
When you whisper
Yeah, baby, when you lean in
I get a crazy, crazy good kind of feelin' [...]
Tell me
All of your stories
And don't you leave nothin' out 'cause baby, I ain't in a hurry
Every little thing you say
Got a real nice ring to it
The way it rolls off your lips
And oh, when you give me that kiss

From the Backseat / Amy & Roger's Epic Detour
You can see for miles
You can reach the dials,
Sit back and smile from the front seat
You can chase the sun
You can feel the hum of the axles underneath your feet
When you're sitting shotgun,
You're sittin' pretty and free

Nervous Girls / Winning
I'm that girl you think that's got it figured out.
But I walk around, with a head full of doubt.
The cruelest words about me, come from my own mouth

Red Dress / Me Before You
If I close my eyes, and Imagine you are here.
It'll last for awhile, before you disappear.
So I close my eyes, cause the only thing I fear
Is waking up one day, forgetting you were ever here
Darling, it's you I remember with your red dress on

Goodbye Gone / Dirty Deeds
You let me go and I’m losing sleep, 
Counting your lies like I’m counting sheep.
Now it’s time to right this wrong, 
Boy, I’m gonna getcha goodbye gone. 
I can stay out late if it makes me happy, 
Flirt with the boy who’s looking at me. 
Whatever it takes to break this heartbreak, 
I’ve had way too long

You talk to some girl
I dance with some guy
Catch each other's eye and we pretend
Like we don't care
But I know you know I know
We ain't really let this go, no [...]
Don't you know I want you with me
And it ain't just cause I'm tipsy
You can act like it's still over
And you don't miss me
Or you could just kiss me

Road Between / Just One Day
I'm still getting to the good part
The breaking down
Learning how to write my story
And I'm in the middle of the madness
The live and lose
Finding who I'm gonna be
From the start till the end
I'm still learning the road between

Lie A Little Better / Wanderlost (Rachel suggested this!)
Been trying to cover
This heart out on my sleeve
Been set on playing this down but
I think you're catchin' on to me
The truth is I'm fallin' to pieces
Anytime that you're around
Trouble is the truth keeps slippin' out
Can't seem to hide what I'm feelin'
Can't believe what I'm sayin' out loud
Truth is there's no turnin' back now
Well, I guess I should have learned how to lie a little better

That's What I Call Crazy / Summer of Sloane
I've been seeing red since you said goodbye
I might break a thing or two sometimes
If you think that sounds crazy, then you should've seen me
Sitting by the phone, all those nights alone [...]
That's what I call crazy

Love Tonight / The Perfect Stranger
I kind of like the way you smile
And maybe that is all I need to know about you right now
Imagination running wild
We can make this whatever we want it, 
Whoa-oh oh-oh
Whatever you're selling, I've already bought it, 
Whoa-oh oh-oh
Whatever this is
Oh, baby, let's not chase it
It's only a kiss
Oh, we don't have to complicate it

Just Another Song / Forever, Interrupted
It's a good day, good cup of coffee to drink
It's a good day, no dishes piled up in the sink
I'm a long way from the place I used to be
It's a good day
Oh, teardrops have gone
Oh, then I hear that song
It takes me back to me and you
Black and white movie I made you watch, then we kissed
Oh, I knew I was falling for you

My Little Black Wedding Dress / I Wish You Were Mine (Rachel suggested this!)
I'm ushered in, I take my place on the bride's side of the church
And it fits me like a glove,
Holds me just tight enough
It's nothing new but it still turns head
My little black wedding dress

Ten years old, hair running wild
Dirt on my face and a naughty smile
I was so in love with the place that I called home
Fourteen, growing up fast
Chasing boys and skipping class
Double daring on the kiss me back, scared down to the bone
'Cause there's no one that I gotta be, it all comes down to the simple things
It feels like home and family, my feet in the red clay
My heart runs like the Mississippi, all the way back from the big city
When the sun goes down at the end of the day, nowhere else can make me feel this way
It feels like home

You could rope the moon and bring me all the stars in heaven
It won't change how I feel
You don't have to be a modern-day Shakespeare
You don't have to be anything you're not
You don't have to give me diamonds to impress me
Just give me your heart
Make me feel loved, make me feel beautiful
Make me feel dance-around-the-room, Cinderella kind of magical
Make me believe I'm all that you'll ever need
Hold me close and make me feel a million kinds of wonderful
Baby, your touch, it's more than enough
Make me feel loved

Thursday, June 23, 2016

My Pick, My Choice, My Love

I finished reading the first three novels of this series much earlier this year (and I thoroughly enjoyed them!). Even though I could have already grabbed a copy of The Heir, I thought it would be prudent to wait until the sequel (and the series finale) The Crown was finally out in the world. It was a good decision, as I would probably have lost my reading momentum if I’d had to deal with the way that first novel of this duology ends (and I don’t know how everyone else did it, so props to you guys!). I wound up reading them back to back, and I think that enhanced the reading experience a whole lot more! (P.S. Stop here if you don’t want any spoilers.)

The Heir and The Crown are centered on Eadlyn, the eldest daughter of Maxon and America Schreave (also known as the couple in the first three novels). She’s been groomed all her life to be the future queen, a responsibility that she has accepted and wants to do well, and a burden that has made her life a little more strait-laced and difficult than it might have been otherwise. When revolution from a rebellious faction threatens to overturn everything her parents have worked so hard for, Eadlyn agrees to host her own Selection as a distraction for the people. She’s not keen on finding her one true love, especially via this route, and so, she enters the Selection with a plan to help her stay in control. But when a group of boys unexpectedly invades her home (and her heart), the possibilities suddenly become endless.

I’ve decided that it would be easiest to pattern this series review after the way I reviewed the original trilogy. So, without further ado, let me tell you what I really liked about these two novels:

  • Eadlyn is incredibly different from both her parents, though you can see some of their qualities in her. She’s stubborn, headstrong and determined to do things the way she sees fit – even running a kingdom. Even, in fact, choosing a husband… or not doing so. It is, admittedly, really hard to understand her choices and her words sometimes, because she’s erected a wall that keeps everyone out of her heart and she tends to act of her own volition. But she grew on me. I learned to respect her personality, and to even like it at times, and I do think that she’s a breath of fresh air when it comes to the characters of this series.
  • Eadlyn’s relationship with the members of her family is so freaking adorable. I loved how deeply she cared for her parents, how she would confide in Maxon and seek comfort in America. I adored her relationship with her twin brother Ahren, who was basically the yin to her yang. And she was an excellent older sibling to her little brothers Kaden and Osten, there for them even when so many things might have demanded her time. I thought it was so lovely to see this family really go out of their way to be there for each other in spite of their duty to their kingdom, and you could totally feel the affection between them.
  • Maxon and America were darling to read about. While I would never say no to more of these two, the snippets of their lives and their story that Cass chose to share were so wonderful. They painted a lovely picture of their marriage, their rule and their home life, and I absolutely loved it. Honestly, just seeing them be so happy together (in spite of what gets thrown their way) is so beautiful. They truly got their happy ever after!
  • There were certain boys in the Selection that I really, really enjoyed reading about. I have my favorites in the group, and I love that majority of those favorites got a ton of screen time in the pages. It was really interesting to gauge their character based on what Eadlyn knows about them beforehand and her shared experiences with them. There were definitely a ton of great candidates for Eadlyn’s hand in marriage in this group of guys!
  • I liked the reverse look at the Selection process. In the first three novels, we were following America’s story as one of the girls participating as a candidate in the Selection. So, we basically got a contestant’s point of view. In these two novels, we are following Eadlyn’s story as the girl who will choose her future husband from the Selection. It was really cool to sort of get an idea of what it might have been like for Maxon by seeing what it was like for his daughter.
  • I appreciated the moments of female empowerment. Eadlyn herself is a strong female character, but there are other individuals in her story that are strong females too. They are all very different in temperament and personality, but the core of steel that runs through them all is something they have in common. From America to a few familiar faces and a few new ones, there are a lot of admirable ladies in this story.

While I did enjoy a lot of things about The Heir and The Crown, I did have a couple of reservations. Here’s what I wasn’t particularly fond of:

  • The length of the novels didn’t work for me. I honestly believe that these two stories could have been combined into one book, and it might have turned out even better.
  • The lack of focus on the political part of the plot threw me. There’s hints of rebellion and revolution, mentions of unrest and discontent. But we barely have any time spent on resolving these issues, particularly in the second novel. Instead, there’s a big decision that effectively “solves” the entire thing.
  • There’s an unexpected shift in plot focus. The first novel balances a lot of different things for Eadlyn, and it felt just about equal to me. But in the second, the focus is solely on the Selection and the romantic aspect of it. It does make sense in the context of it being the one thing people in the kingdom are looking forward to and are invested in, but it just made the rest of the plot seem underdeveloped to me.

In spite of these reservations, I’m hard-pressed to say that I didn’t enjoy The Heir and The Crown… Because, in the end, I did. I was sending frantic text messages in all caps to my best friend, swooning over a few choice moments and getting the warm fuzzy feels over others – and I can’t discredit that when talking about these series. Though I do feel like there was room for improvement, I’ve got to give props to Kiera Cass for, again, writing books that I simply flew through until I hit the very end… and that I enjoyed tremendously.

The Heir / The Crown by Kiera Cass | Series: The Selection #4-5
Publisher: Harper Teen | Publication Dates: May 5, 2015; 
Source: Hardcover borrowed from the library; hardcover borrowed from Danica


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