Thursday, October 11, 2018

Alexa's Adventures #12 | Walt Disney World + New York Comic Con

The last two weeks have been jam-packed with all sorts of fun things! I've been having a stressful time at work lately (though I think things may have eased up on that front as of right now), so it's been really nice to be able to take some time away from it to do things with folks I love. I'm really excited to share what's been going on with all of you today!

Walt Disney World
Macky & I are both huge Disney fans, having both grown up immersed heavily in all things Disney. It's no surprise that we always try to make a trip to the park in Orlando when we can manage it. We went to celebrate our fifth wedding anniversary and thirteenth relationship anniversary, and had the best time ever! Apart from the fact that we took full advantage of being on vacation by sleeping in and napping on the regular, we also just really took things nice and easy. We had things we wanted to do - visiting Disney Springs, going on the Avatar Flight of Passage ride, hanging out at the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival - and we managed to do it all, and then some. Plus, we got to spend some real quality time together away from our day-to-day lives and that was really wonderful too! Unsurprisingly, we're already dreaming about our next trip back...

New York Comic Con
We weren't originally planning to attend NYCC this year, mostly to save on vacation days and spending more money. The joke that we often made whenever anyone asked was that we would only go if David Tennant was announced as a guest. Guess what happened a few months out from the event? David Tennant was confirmed to be in attendance. We obviously had to attend - and to grab the chance to meet him, both through the autographing line and through photo ops. He is such a lovely human being and it was such a thrill to meet him (even though he is one of the very few people I have had the pleasure of meeting who left me speechless, along with JK Rowling and Matt Smith). We also got to see both Alex Kingston (who commented on my name and cheered about the fact we shared the same name, and I basically died of excitement internally) and Matt Smith (who complimented my skirt and just smiled at me, and I also basically died of feels), visited Artist Alley and did a turn around the floor.

- Rachel and I had another day out together. It was a bit rainy, but we went to Saltwater Coffee (which has an adorable aesthetic), the Strand (and I maaaaay have gotten some pretty classic) and did some clothes shopping in SoHo. I never take it for granted that my baby sister is currently spending time in New York with us, and I'm so glad for any moments we get to share.
- I visited the "Harry Potter: A History of Magic" exhibition with Macky and our friends Pat & Ian. This compact exhibit is a wonderful look into the process and the inspiration for the series and some of its elements. I thought it was clever for them to use the Hogwarts school subjects (or most of them) to distinguish each room, and it was really cool to see all the bits of Rowling's work as she built the series. It gave me all of the Potter feels, and I'm so glad I could share it with Macky and with Pat (we've been friends for as long as the first book has been out in the world)!

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

5 Reasons to Read | The Last Magician + The Devil's Thief

I just completed my reread of The Last Magician (which is still just as immersive and compelling as it was the first time I read it, and it was actually less slow-paced than I remember) and dove right into the sequel, The Devil’s Thief (which is out today!). I’m only partway through it, but I’m invested hook, line and sinker in finding out how everything will play out since the game board has changed dramatically from where it was at the start of the series. You’ll be seeing my thoughts on this sequel at a later date, but for today, I wanted to give you five reasons to read this series.

ONE | setting
Majority of the books are set in 1902 New York City, a time when gangs ran rampant on the streets and immigrants were coming to the city in the hopes of building a new life for themselves, when those with money and power were running the show. I haven’t read a ton of stories set in this time, but I felt like Lisa Maxwell did a really great job making this one so immersive. I was right there with Esta, Harte and the rest of the gang as they navigated the streets, and experienced the ups and downs (and in betweens) of life at that time. From what I’ve read so far of the sequel, it has that same strong setting in it and the bonus of expanding the setting just a little bit more.

TWO | characters
This story actually follows a number of POVs, and you never really know who it’ll be until you get to a chapter. The two main ones are Esta, a girl who has the power to manipulate time and who is on a mission to help her own kind, and Harte, a Mageus who has made a career as a magician to better his life. Both of them are such richly written, complex characters! Their motivations and emotions pop off the page when you’re reading the book - and I love that a lot. The same can be said for a ton of the secondary characters, who manage to be distinctive and memorable all throughout the story. There's also a great mix of genders, races and romantic inclinations among these personalities, which is always a wonderful thing to see. 

THREE | relationships
One of the best (and most interesting) parts of this series is the relationships the characters have. With all the secrets and plotting, all the disguises and necessary lies, it’s hard to imagine anyone actually getting along or trusting each other. Yet Maxwell manages to portray how relationships shift with shared experiences. There are friendships of all sorts, family you’re born into and family you choose and even the slight hint of budding romances. I really think that part of the reason this series is such a success to me personally is because I find the way the characters relate to one another so fascinating and well done, and that continues to be true in the sequel.

FOUR | plot
There’s a little bit of everything in this story - history, science, magic, heists and romance. I’m really impressed by how Lisa Maxwell takes a simple enough set-up (a girl sent back in time to steal a book to save all magic in the future) and spins it into an intricate web with other underlying stories. There wasn’t a point where I didn’t find the different narratives intriguing, and that, to me, is the mark of strong storytelling. Plus, seeing it all come together is so darn fascinating!

FIVE | themes
I love a YA novel that can make me think about things. In the case of this series, it’s questions of power and who has the right to it, morality and if there really is such a thing as good or bad, and even questions about immigration and discrimination and abuse. It’s a lot of food for thought (on top of all the entertaining bits)!

If you can’t already tell, I think The Last Magician (and what I’ve read of The Devil’s Thief so far) is really very impressive in both scale and execution. Lisa Maxwell has truly woven together a story that’s entertaining and clever, and that happens to be filled with characters that are all too easy to like. I’d certainly recommend checking out this series (and I can’t wait to finish The Devil’s Thief!)

The Devil's Thief by Lisa Maxwell
Series: The Last Magician #1 | Previous Book in Series: The Last Magician
Publication Date: October 9, 2018 (today!) | Publisher: Simon Pulse

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Swag Pack with Bookmarks, Stickers, and Tattoos
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Friday, October 5, 2018

What I Loved: September 2018

I've always loved sharing the new things I'm into with my friends, so I'm excited to keep sharing my monthly favorites with you all! Here are some of the things I loved during the month of September.

image credits: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
Ready Player One | I actually technically watched this one at the very end of August, but I wanted to throw it into this post because I really enjoyed it! I had already figured that the format of this story - which is basically a bunch of gamers trying to figure out clues to find a prize hidden within a video game - was going to be appealing to me. What I wasn't expecting was to really enjoy the actual visual execution! I could have done without that romantic angle, but all in all, it was enjoyable.

X | Macky and I binged the entirety of this one season anime series, and it was so good. So brutal on the heart and the feels, particularly as the big conflict in the story continued to escalate, but so impossible to look away from. I also just enjoy the animation and art style of the team at CLAMP, especially because they bring such fantastic looking characters to life.

The Good Place (S2) | Rachel & I finally caught up on The Good Place, and it was wonderful! I have really enjoyed this one since the beginning and it's nice to see that a show can stay consistently entertaining, thoughtful and fun. I can't wait to see where they take the story in the next season!

This Feeling by The Chainsmokers & Kelsea Ballerini | The first thing that really made this song stand out to me is the excellent melody and beat, but I also quite enjoyed the lyrics once I gave it a proper listen. It's just the type of song that would inspire a mini fanfic in my head, and I love those!

Head Above Water by Avril Lavigne | I just really find the lyrics to this song really powerful on a personal level because it describes how I feel some days to a tee. I haven't really listened to a lot of Avril Lavigne in recent years, but I certainly was pleasantly surprised by this new release from her!

Black Fjällräven KÅNKEN Backpack | I've owned a pink version of this backpack since early this year, but I had always wanted to grab a black one. I finally took the plunge and purchased one and I've been loving it. It goes perfectly with the rest of my wardrobe, and it's still as practical and wonderful as the one I previously owned.

Puzzles | My sister Mel and I used to enjoy doing puzzles back in the day, and it's only thanks to Rachel that I was reminded to pick up the habit again. I recently bought a Tangled puzzle, and my sisters and I spent an entire afternoon finishing it. It was so much fun, and we're already picking out the next one we want to do together.

Octopath Traveler | I definitely think Kristin and Andrew are the reason why I ended up buying this game! It's basically a game where you get to play eight different player's stories to completion, and I'm really enjoying it. I haven't gotten very far into it, but I'm definitely liking the character I picked out to start with and can't wait to keep going.

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Harry Potter and the Cursed Child | Macky, Mel and I finally got to see both parts of this show last month and it was so brilliant. Everyone talks about how magical the show is, but it's totally different when you actually get to witness it for yourself. The cast was fantastic (especially Scorpius), the staging was brilliant and I really enjoyed it all!


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