Friday, May 25, 2018

Spring Shopping Haul

Longer days, warmer weather, flowers in bloom – all the signs point to spring finally being here. (This is a welcome change in the seasons considering it SNOWED when I shared my spring survival kit last month.) It probably won’t surprise long-time readers of this blog to know that I’ve been eagerly anticipating spring, as I’m a warm-weather-sunshine-and-blue-skies kind of gal. But there’s another reason I’ve been excited for the turn of the season: new additions to my closet! 

My personal style tends to shift with the seasons. While I do have the tendency to keep my favorite pieces in rotation to wear until they fall apart, it’s always fun to add something new to the mix. From breezy dresses to loose-fitting pants to dressier blouses, I thought it’d be fun to share a look at what I bought to add to my spring wardrobe this year!

The one staple addition to my closet for the warmer seasons? A new dress! I’ve always been comfortable in dresses, particularly if they happen to be fit and flare (which is my favorite style!). I found five new dresses to add to my closet this year, and they’ll be in regular rotation as the weather continues to heat up. (Forever 21 polka dot flounce dress | Express denim ruffle front dress (also have this in a yellow floral print!) | Shein open back princess seam gingham cami dress | Shein florals embossed fit and flare dress | Shein contrast collar polka dot dress)

I’ve never really gravitated towards blouses before, since I’m usually a tees-and-tanks girl. But I’ve discovered lately that dressing up just a little bit for work helps motivate me even more to get into ‘work mode’ even before I get into the office. Putting on a nice blouse with my jeans is usually enough to make me feel a little more put-together, so I grabbed a couple to add to my closet. I normally have a difficult time finding blouses that (1) have cute prints and (2) have a flattering fit, but I got lucky with these! (Madewell wrap top in star scatter | Forever 21 sheer chiffon ruffle shirt | Forever 21 heart print shirt | Shein tulip sleeve scallop trim keyhole top | Shein frill trim open back bow tie detail striped top | Shein calico print frill trim angel sleeve shirt)

I still couldn't resist picking up these cute shirts when I spotted them online! I do own a ton of fandom shirts, so I tried to steer clear of those when I was snagging things to add to my closet. Here are a couple of fun additions to my warmer weather wardrobe! (Shein letter print dolphin hem tee | Shein knot front cuffed sleeve stripe tee | Shein letter print striped boxy t-shirt)

I honestly didn’t feel a significant need to add more jeans to my closet, since I’ve amassed a decent collection over the years. But I did find two new bottoms to add to my wardrobe that I’m excited about. (I’m still on the hunt for a new pair of shorts, a midi skirt and more of these loose-fit pants, so wish me luck!) (Chicwish Myth of Stars mesh tulle midi skirt | Shein tie waist wide leg pants | Shein vertical striped self tie wide leg pants)

I have a lot of staples within my wardrobe that I don’t go out of my way to add to. But if I just so happen to see something that fits my aesthetic, and if it just so happens to work out (for price and fit), well, I’m usually quick to throw them into rotation as well. Here are some odds and ends that I grabbed from a variety of shops that have already gone into regular rotation for me!  (Converse Chuck Taylor All Star high top | Shein heart detail flap crossbody bag | Shein bow decorated straw crossbody bag | Shein heart decor zipper front backpack | Shein color block elastic waist drawstring jacket)

Do you like to add new things to your closet when the seasons change? 
Have any exciting new acquisitions for spring (or summer, since it's so close now)?

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Abbreviations #54 | Aru Shah and the End of Time, Be with Me + The Secret Science of Magic

Here are the things you need to know about Aru Shah and the End of Time: (1) it's the first release in the debut series of the Rick Riordan Presents imprint, (2) it's centered around Hindu mythology, (3) it's about twelve-year-old Aru and the fantastical adventure she finds herself on after she lights the Lamp of Bharata, frees a demon called the Sleeper and has to find a way to fix things before the world as she knows it ends. Friends, I really, really, really enjoyed this one! It has the same vibe as Riordan's own novels, but Roshani Chokshi's voice manages to differentiate this story from anything he's ever written. She succeeded in creating a whole host of characters to love (even the 'bad' guys, because who doesn't love a compelling bad guy?), in writing a middle grade adventure that was, all at once, entertaining, heartfelt and funny, and she made Hindu mythology really accessible to the reader. What more could I ask for? (Just the second book in my hands already, perhaps?) Anyway, this novel was an utter delight to read, and I can't wait for more - of this series and of this imprint.

Aru Shah and the End of Time by Roshani Chokshi | Series: Pandava Quartet #1 | Publisher: Rick Riordan Presents | Publication Date: March 27, 2018 | Source: ARC received from the publisher (Thanks!)

I'm such a fan of the romance trope where the little sister falls in love with her big brother's best friend, and that's exactly what happens in Be with Me. Teresa Hamilton, little sister to the main love interest of the first novel in this series, is in love with Jase Winstead. While she's recuperating from an injury that could decide the future of her dance career, Teresa is exploring her options at college. It seems inevitable that she and Jase will constantly see each other, and as her feelings grow, she's determined to make him see that it's not impossible for them to be together for real. What she doesn't know, however, is that Jase has a couple of secrets of his own. I've made this plot sound truly dramatic, and in quite a few ways, it is. It's not usually my cup of tea, especially with my contemporary romances, but I really loved Tess and Jase, and so, I was invested in the outcome of their story. The vested interest I had in the two main characters is unsurprising, as Armentrout usually does a bang-up job bringing her characters to life. Plus, as with all Armentrout novels I've read, this was compulsively readable! I'm glad I finally picked up this one, and get to cross off another title on my JLA reading list.

Be With Me by Jennifer L. Armentrout | Series: Wait for You #2 | Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks | Publication Date: February 4, 2014 | Source: Purchased the Kindle e-book

After reading all of Melissa Keil's YA novels, I know to expect charming little stories populated with quirky main characters. That is exactly how I would describe The Secret Science of Magic! Sophia is a genius who finds herself unprepared for the messiness of real life. Joshua is an amateur magician (among other things) who is trying to figure out how to woo Sophia. Will Sophia and Joshua be able to make sense of the complicated things known as real life and romantic relationships? Honestly, this story? Adorable. It is exactly what the summary makes you think it might be: two teens trying to make sense of themselves and their lives, even as they also try to navigate a newly budding relationship. It does get off to a bit of a slow start, seeing as how Sophia and Joshua are not narrators that I could easily get into as a reader. But once I got into the rhythm of their points of view (which were distinctive, and that's always a bonus), I flew through the pages of this character-driven YA read. It's fun, it's #AussieYA and it's well-written, so I'd recommend giving this one a try.

The Secret Science of Magic by Melissa Keil | Publisher: Peachtree Publishers | Publication Date: April 1, 2018 | Source: ARC received from the publisher (Thanks!)

Monday, May 21, 2018

Macky Reads Red Right Hand + Black Goat Blues

I saw Levi Black for the first time in 2017 at BookNetFest on a writing panel. He was particularly inspiring in that he referenced that moment where most would-be writers are in the middle of reading a book and go, “I could write better than this.” I’m so glad he did. Otherwise, I would not have been inspired to pick up his first two books Red Right Hand and Black Goat Blues.

2016-2017 was my banner year to get into the HP Lovecraft mythos through playing games like Elder Signs and Pandemic: Cthulhu. I haven’t read the original texts and was more drawn to the lore than the actual narratives. So, to have a very contemporary setting for these elder gods to play out their eternal games, is a treat. And to have the narrative center on a pretty strong female character is just so enjoyable.

Trigger warning though, as our main character Charlie Moore has a pretty traumatic past. And though I know every survivor story is different, the books do allude to some details of her past which, if anyone has ever gone through something like that could be a trigger point. Still, that a girl who has decided to pursue power, healing and survival gets a chance to wield real, actual power is quite the narrative. 

To me, both books play out like a really good action horror mini-series, with rich characters, grotesque and macabre creatures/visuals, and a fast paced “tell-me-what-happens-next-already!” vibe that just keeps pounding. 

If you want to shut your brain off and enjoy the ride, you can. If you want to geek out at all the Lovecraft elements, knock yourself out. But from the moment the Man in Black tears into Charlie’s life with his red right hand, Charlie’s world just goes downhill into a chasm of Magick, mayhem and high stakes of apocalyptic proportions. 

And interestingly enough, both books, though clearly ending on a note that can be counted as cliffhanger-y left me pretty satisfied. Calm but absolutely eager to see what happens next. Great cast of characters, absolute fun, and some pretty well placed eldritch horror, really, what’s not to love?

Red Right Hand & Black Goat Blues by Levi Black | Series: The Mythos War #1-2
Publisher: Tor Books | Publication Date: July 26, 2016 + November 7, 2017
Source: Finished copies received from the publisher (Thank you!)


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