Monday, October 31, 2016

Music Monday (3) Halloween Edition

  • Music Monday is a weekly meme hosted by Lauren Stoolfire at Always Me, that asks you to share one or two songs that you've recently enjoyed. For the rules, visit the page HERE 

First of all, happy Halloween everyone! October flew by so fast, and it seems like just yesterday that I started Inktober. By the time this post goes up, I'll probably be working on my last Inktober drawing. I have to say that I had more fun with it than I expected, and I look forward to participating next year. And since tomorrow is the start of November (and while I'm not joining myself), I want to say good luck to anyone participating in NaNoWriMo. I'm rooting for you!

With that out of the way, I'm going to jump back to the topic of this post. Today, I'm doing a Halloween edition of Music Monday. When I sat down to write this post, I sort of realized that I have and know about a lot of Christmas music, but my Halloween collection was severely lacking. Anyway, here is my list...
  1. Emperor's New Clothes by Panic! At the Disco--I think we all remember last year when Panic! At the Disco released that spooky good music video for the Emperor's New Clothes. So, of course, that was going to make it on my list. Listen to Emperor's New Clothes HERE
  2. I Put a Spell on You by Jay Hawkins--I remember this song from Hocus Pocus. Plus Bette Midler's performance in the movie was phenomenal. Nina Simone also did a version of I Put a Spell on You, which is just fantastic. Thus, this song as one of my favorites.
  3. Ghostbusters by Ray Parker Jr.--I like the original Ghostbusters movies, and I also like the theme song by Ray Parker Jr. Listen to Ghostbusters HERE
  4. Wicked Moon by Angel Haze--Wicked Moon is a song that definitely fits with October. Its kind of spooky, and the beat is pretty awesome. Listen to Wicked Moon HERE
  5. This is Halloween from The Nightmare Before Christmas--When a song has Halloween in its lyrics, you know that it has to make this list. I also like the version of the song performed by Panic! At the Disco.
What are you listening to this Halloween?

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Creatures of the Night Book Tag

Today, I'm going to do the Creatures of the Night Book Tag. I couldn't really find another one that specifically related to Halloween, other than the Fall Time Cozy Time Book Tag. This tag seemed fun and festive. This tag was created by Kat O'Keefe from Katytastic. You can check out the original video HERE. And don't forget to check out her channel HERE. Lets get started...


The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa
I might not have liked the second book, The Eternity Cure, as much as I liked The Immortal Rules, but the opening to this series was fantastic. I liked Kagawa's take on vampires just as much as her version of the fey.

Need by Carrie Jones
I really liked Need. Yeah, some parts were a little cheesy, and at times the main character had questionable decision making skills, but I still liked the book. Need has a very interesting mixture of supernatural elements, from fairies to people who could change their shapes. And since, it does have a werewolf, Need totally fits the bill for this one.

Hourglass by Myra McEntire
While Hourglass had mostly science fiction themes that took up the bulk of the story, there were still ghost like entities that played a role in the book. And since they were ghostly, Hourglass seems like an appropriate answer for this one.


Wintersmith by Terry Pratchett
Wintersmith was one of those books that actually made me laugh out loud. There were some instances that were so ridiculous and spontaneous that I couldn't help but laugh. However, its not for the humor that Wintersmith is my answer for this one, but rather the main character, Tiffany Aching, who is a witch.

The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black 
I could have picked a number of books/series for this one (like Julie Kagawa's Iron Fey series, Need by Carrie Jones, The Torn Wing by Kiki Hamilton, Melissa Marr's Wicked Lovely, even The Spiderwick Chronicles or Artemis Fowl). Oh, the choices (I've read a lot of fantastic books that have the fey in prominent roles). However, I went with The Darkest Part of the Forest. Holly Black is one of my favorite authors, and I really enjoy her take on the fey. I wasn't sure if I would like The Darkest Part of the Forest, but I ended up really enjoying the book.


Cambion Chronicles by Jaime Reed
While the main themes of this series doesn't necessarily involve demons, there are some present in the story. I won't say too much on that, because it would be one massive spoiler for book 2 and 3.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
My answer for this one is Daughter of Smoke and Bone because, honestly, I haven't read that many books that feature some kind of angel. Regardless, Daughter of Smoke and Bone is one of my favorite books.

Gravity by Melissa West
It has been so long since I read Gravity, but I remember really enjoyed the book. I read the second book of the series, but have yet to get around to the last book (I need to, eventually). But, to say the least, Gravity has aliens, and I liked West's take on the subject.

Superpowered human:
Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin
Wolf by Wolf was one of my favorite 2015 reads, and what qualifies it for this part of the tag is the main character, Yael, and her ability to change her features.
And that's it! As usual, I'm not going to tag anyone specifically, but if this seems like something you want to participate in, then go for it, I tag you. Happy reading! 

Friday, October 28, 2016

The Friday 56 (82) Nightmares! by Jason Segel & Kristen Miller, illustrated by Karl Kwasny

The Friday 56 is a weekly meme hosted by Freda's Voice where every Friday you pick a book and turn to page 56 or 56%, and select a sentence or a few, as long as it's not a spoiler. For the full rules, visit the the page HERE
20172134Synopsis from Goodreads...

Sleeping has never been so scary. And now waking up is even worse!

Charlie Laird has several problems.
1. His dad married a woman he is sure moonlights as a witch.
2. He had to move into her purple mansion, which is NOT a place you want to find yourself after dark.
3. He can’t remember the last time sleeping wasn’t a nightmarish prospect. Like even a nap.

What Charlie doesn’t know is that his problems are about to get a whole lot more real. Nightmares can ruin a good night’s sleep, but when they start slipping out of your dreams and into the waking world—that’s a line that should never be crossed. And when your worst nightmares start to come true . . . well, that’s something only Charlie can face. And he’s going to need all the help he can get, or it might just be lights-out for Charlie Laird. For good...
"Cypress Creek Elementary was a four-story brick box with big square windows. The whole building looked like it was made of Legos."--Nightmares! by Jason Segel & Kristen Miller, illustrated by Karl Kwasny
Comments: I've wanted to read Nightmares! for a long time. I read this book earlier in the week, and I have to say that I really enjoyed it. I now want to see if my library has the next two books in the series.

What new series have you recently started?

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Review: The Witches by Roald Dahl, Illustrated by Quenten Blake

The WitchesTitle: The Witches
Author/Illustrator: Roald Dahl; Quenten Blake
Source/Format: Borrowed from the Library; Paperback
More Details: Middle Grade; Fantasy
Publisher/Publication Date: Scholastic inc.; First published in 1983

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Synopsis from Goodreads...

This is not a fairy-tale. This is about REAL WITCHES. Real witches don't ride around on broomsticks. They don't even wear black cloaks and hats. They are vile, cunning, detestable creatures who disguise themselves as nice, ordinary ladies. So how can you tell when you're face to face with one? Well, if you don't know yet you'd better find out quickly-because there's nothing a witch loathes quite as much as children and she'll wield all kinds of terrifying powers to get rid of them...
You know, it seemed like the appropriate time to read Roald Dahl’s The Witches, since it's October and all. This is the first time I’ve read this book, but parts of it seemed familiar to me. At first, I didn’t remember where I’d heard about it before seeing it on Goodreads. Then I sort of realized that I’d seen the movie a really—extremely—long time ago, which explained a lot.

So, did I like the book?

My answer to that is yes. There were things that I really enjoyed about The Witches. For instance, the writing was good—Dahl’s style was a perfect fit for the story. It wasn’t that long of a book, but the story was done really well. One thing I especially liked was Dahl’s version of magic and witches. That part of the story was highly imaginative, and the witches themselves were as fantastic as they were spooky. The other characters—such as the narrator and his grandmother--were just as interesting as the witches. I liked them, and their respective quirks gave them personality.

I haven’t read anything else by Roald Dahl, but I would definitely consider it, because The Witches was a fun and incredibly timely October read. (Actual rating 3.5)

Monday, October 24, 2016

Music Monday (2) Rny Weaver & Tove Lo

  • Music Monday is a weekly meme hosted by Lauren Stoolfire at Always Me, that asks you to share one or two songs that you've recently enjoyed. For the rules, visit the page HERE 
This week, I'm listening to Ryn Weaver and Tove Lo. I've known about Tove Lo for a while, and her Queen of the Clouds album is one of my favorites. Ryn Weaver is a relatively new artist to me. I happened to be listening to google radio when I heard her song Promises. I basically spent the last week discovering Ryn Weaver's music. 

From Tove Lo...
Listen to Thousand Miles HERE
Listen to Moments HERE

From Ryn Weaver...
Listen to Promises HERE
Listen to Octahate HERE

What are you listening to this week?

Friday, October 21, 2016

The Friday 56 (81) The Witches by Roald Dahl

The Friday 56 is a weekly meme hosted by Freda's Voice where every Friday you pick a book and turn to page 56 or 56%, and select a sentence or a few, as long as it's not a spoiler. For the full rules, visit the the page HERE
6327Synopsis from Goodreads...

This is not a fairy-tale. This is about REAL WITCHES. Real witches don't ride around on broomsticks. They don't even wear black cloaks and hats. They are vile, cunning, detestable creatures who disguise themselves as nice, ordinary ladies. So how can you tell when you're face to face with one? Well, if you don't know yet you'd better find out quickly-because there's nothing a witch loathes quite as much as children and she'll wield all kinds of terrifying powers to get rid of them.
"I sidled cautiously into the room. What a lovely secret silent place it was."--The Witches by Roald Dahl
Comments: This week, I visited my local library. The Witches is one of the books I picked up while I was there. I've heard a lot of good things about it, and was excited to finally give it a read. 

What are you reading this week?

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Review: Grand Forks (A History of American Dining in 128 Review) by Marilyn Hagerty

Grand Forks: A History of American Dining in 128 ReviewsTitle: Grand Forks: A History of American Dining in 128 Reviews
Author: Marilyn Hagerty 
Source/Format: Purchased; Paperback
More Details: Nonfiction; Food & Drink
Publisher/Publication Date: Anthony Bourdain/Ecco; August 27, 2013

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Synopsis from Goodreads...

A legendary 86-year-old food critic brings together a collection of the best down-home, no-nonsense restaurant reviews-from Red Lobster to Le Bernadin-culled from her fifty year career...

Writing for her local North Dakota newspaper, the Grand Forks Herald since 1957, Marilyn Hagerty went from obscurity to overnight sensation in 2012 when her earnest, admiring review of a local Olive Garden went viral. Among the denizens of the food world-obsessive gastronomes who celebrate Alice Waters and Michael Pollan, revere all things artisanal, and have made kale salad a staple on upscale urban menus-Hagerty's review ignited a fiery debate over the state of American culture. Anthony Bourdain defended Hagerty as an authentic voice of the larger American culture-one that is not dictated by the biases of the food snobbery that define the coasts.

In this refreshing, unpretentious collection that includes more than 200 reviews culled from a voluminous archive spanning over fifty years, Hagerty reveals how most Americans experience the pleasure of eating out....
Just a quick disclaimer: this is the kind of book that will make you hungry.

I picked up Grand Forks just because I happened to come across a copy, and decided to just go ahead and buy it. I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed reading 237 pages worth of reviews about restaurants and food, written by Marilyn Hagerty.

Grand Forks is probably one of the more interesting nonfiction reads I’ve come across this year—not because it wasn’t science, history, or environment related (it’s not even a cookbook). Those subjects are fine, but Grand Forks was just different. It was filled with a compilation of restaurant and food  reviews.

Grand Forks was all about the food from the various restaurants that Marilyn Hagerty visited. She also described the décor, the atmosphere of those places, and her overall dining experience. Hagerty’s descriptions of the food she tried often made me wish I had a plate of it too.

I liked how the reviews centered largely on Hagerty’s community restaurant scene, and how some of the places were reviewed more than once. On the surface, Grand Forks doesn’t appear to tell the history of much. But, actually, it was kind of a history of American dining. One of the earlier reviews in Grand Forks comes from 1987. So, 1987 all the way up until 2012. That’s a long enough time to establish some kind of history. As the book progressed, it kind of illustrated the changing times in Hagerty’s community. New restaurants opened, old favorites closed down or altered their menus and dining rooms—while some things almost stayed basically the same.

So, Grand Forks was a very entertaining read. I liked it a lot.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Music Monday (1) Halsey

  • Music Monday is a weekly meme hosted by Lauren Stoolfire at Always Me, that asks you to share one or two songs that you've recently enjoyed. For the rules, visit the page HERE 
A while ago, I tried out a meme called Thursday Tracks, but it just didn't work out for me. So, I wanted to try out something music related on a different day of the week. While participating in the Friday 56 meme, I stumbled across Music Monday on one of the blogs I visited. In the end, I decided to re-purpose the art I'd made for the Thursday Tracks, since I still wanted to use them. 

I'm still going to participate in Musing Monday, but I wanted to do something not related to books too.
Recently, I've listened to a lot of Halsey's music. I've basically had Badlands on repeat. My three top favorite songs off the album are Young God, Control, and Gasoline.

Listen to Young God HERE
Listen to Gasoline HERE
Listen to Control HERE

What are you listening to this week?

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Weekend Tidbits {#8} Its October

It has been so long since I did a Weekend Tidbits post. Its seems like forever. However, since I have some stuff to talk about today, well, here it is...
It's October, and while the year is almost over, I can't help but get into the season. I love all the seasonal apparel, items, and food. And while I do love the change of the season, I can't make an entire post dedicated to it. No, I've got some other stuff to talk about today. Namely, Inktober.

October doesn't just mean Halloween to me, it also means Inktober, a month long challenge to draw something in ink every day for 31 days. This is the first year I've kind or sort of participated in Inktober. I haven't posted my art online, but, I have been keeping up, spending a few hours a day working on quick pieces of art, sometimes even less time than that. The prompts have been super helpful. And so far, I haven't found the challenge difficult, but then, it's only like 16 days in. So, I'll have to see how the rest of the month goes.

Usually, I stay out of challenges in general. However, I decided to do Inktober this year because it seemed like a great way to motivate myself to work on improving my drawing habits. I've stuck to more traditional mediums this time around, but if I decide to do Inktober next year, then I might also incorporate pieces done entirely digitally. 

Other stuff...

And since it's so late in the year, I've started looking ahead to 2017 already. There are books that I want to read, from debuts to long awaited sequels. I'm sure that list is going to keep growing. So, it would serve no purpose to share it here today. I'll probably save that until at least the beginning of next year. All I can say, so far, is that 2017 is looking very promising. As for 2016, I still have other books I'm looking forward to: Blood for Blood by Ryan GraudinIceling by Sasha Stephenson (I actually have an eARC of this one, and I'm really excited to finally get a chance to read it); The Blazing Star by Imani Josey

My pick for today is one of my favorites: Goji Raspberry green tea. 

Friday, October 14, 2016

The Friday 56 (80) The Snow Queen by Hans Christain Andersen, illustrated by Sanna Annukka

The Friday 56 is a weekly meme hosted by Freda's Voice where every Friday you pick a book and turn to page 56 or 56%, and select a sentence or a few, as long as it's not a spoiler. For the full rules, visit the the page HERE
24385896Synopsis from Goodreads...

Hans Christian Andersen's magical tale of friendship and adventure is retold through the beautiful and intricate illustrations of Finnish-English illustrator Sanna Annukka. Cloth-bound in deep blue, with silver foil embellishments, The Snow Queen is a unique work of art.

Sanna Annukka is familiar to many from her collaborations with Marimekko and her artwork for Keane's album, Under the Iron Sea. For her second book project, she illustrates Hans Christian Andersen's classic fairy tale, The Snow Queen...
"The boxes were very high, and the children knew that they were not to climb about them, but they were often allowed to take their little stools out on the roof under the roses, where they had a wonderful time playing together."The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Andersen, illustrated by Sanna Annukka
Comments: This is one classic I've been meaning to read for a long time. I finally got a copy last week. This quote comes from page 6, since 56 was too far into the story, almost at the end (the book is very short).

What classics have you recently read?

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Review: Hourglass by Myra McEntire

Hourglass (Hourglass, #1)Title: Hourglass
Author: Myra McEntire
Source/Format: Purchased; ebook
More Details: Young Adult; Science Fiction
Publisher/Publication Date: Egmont USA; June 14, 2011


Synopsis from Goodreads...

One hour to rewrite the past…

For seventeen-year-old Emerson Cole, life is about seeing what isn't there: swooning Southern Belles; soldiers long forgotten; a haunting jazz trio that vanishes in an instant. Plagued by phantoms since her parents' death, she just wants the apparitions to stop so she can be normal. She's tried everything, but the visions keep coming back. So when her well-meaning brother brings in a consultant from a secretive organization called the Hourglass, Emerson's willing to try one last cure. But meeting Michael Weaver may not only change her future, it may also change her past. Who is this dark, mysterious, sympathetic guy, barely older than Emerson herself, who seems to believe every crazy word she says? Why does an electric charge seem to run through the room whenever he's around? And why is he so insistent that he needs her help to prevent a death that never should've happened?
The synopsis says “One hour to rewrite the past…” and that pretty much sums up the point of the book in one perfect six word sentence. Let me get into that a bit…

Recently, I was in the mood for something more paranormal than fantasy, which is why I picked up Hourglass by Myra McEntire. What I got was a hefty dose of time travel and related theories. This book leaned more towards science fiction, and that was perfectly fine even if that wasn’t what I was exactly looking for. Don’t get me wrong though, the book wasn’t a bad one. In fact, I actually really liked it.

Emerson Cole was a pretty strong narrator. The book was written in first person, thus it was her story. I liked the descriptions and the dialogue between the characters. For the most part, I liked Emerson as a character, even when Michael Weaver showed up on the scene. I didn’t mind his character for the most part; however, I have one complaint. From there, the middle section of story kind of turned into this sort of tug-a-war thing between Michael and Emerson. One pet peeve of mine is when characters withhold vital information for reasons just…well, because. It’s vital for a reason! And that same sort of situation temporarily popped up in Hourglass. However, Hourglass has some really neat twists going for it, ones that I wasn’t expecting, and that’s good writing in my book. What happened wasn’t what I thought would go down, and the last handful of chapters were, in my opinion, the best part of Hourglass.

The setting wasn’t really anything different. It had a small town vibe to it, but it was interesting how McEntire used it to develop the abilities of the characters and set up plausible situations where these things could happen. All in all, a very interesting take on time travel.

Hourglass was a very good opening to the series. Currently, I don’t have any more of the books, but I would be interested in other works by Myra McEntire.

Monday, October 10, 2016

ARC Review: Cloudwish by Fiona Wood

CloudwishTitle: Cloudwish
Author: Fiona Wood
Source/Format: The NOVL; Paperback ARC
More Details: Young Adult; Contemporary
Publisher/Publication Date: Poppy; October 18, 2016

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Synopsis from Goodreads...

For Vân Uoc, fantasies fall into two categories: nourishing or pointless. Daydreaming about attending her own art opening? Nourishing. Daydreaming about Billy Gardiner, star of the rowing team who doesn't even know she's alive? Pointless. So Vân Uoc tries to stick to her reality--keeping a low profile as a scholarship student at her prestigious Melbourne private school, managing her mother's PTSD from a traumatic emigration from Vietnam, and admiring Billy from afar. Until she makes a wish that inexplicably--possibly magically--comes true. Billy actually notices her. In fact, he seems to genuinely like her. But as they try to fit each other into their very different lives, Vân Uoc can't help but wonder why Billy has suddenly fallen for her. Is it the magic of first love, or is it magic from a well-timed wish that will eventually, inevitably, come to an end?
After reading the synopsis for Cloudwish by Fiona Wood, I decided to give it a fair chance. I read it, and it was an okay read. This book certainly had its strengths and weakness—elements that I liked, and others that were just sort of meh. So, yeah, I had some mixed feelings about it.

Cloudwish was about Vân Uoc and how she makes a wish for her crush to notice her. Sounds fine, right? Well, the idea itself wasn’t bad, and there were so many ways that kind of concept could have gone. And, for the most part, the plot was okay. The story wasn’t bad. The writing was fine and the pacing was good, but I did have some problems with it.

One thing I didn’t like was Billy Gardiner’s character. The way he behaved just sort of left a bad taste in my mouth, and at some points I wondered what it was about him that Vân Uoc found so appealing. He was described as being something along the lines of model-worthy handsome, an outstanding athlete, and smart. But he was also kind of a jerk. There was character growth, but in my eyes, it didn’t really redeem him much. There were also some parts that seemed a little stereotypical in terms of expectations and family/home life for Vân Uoc.

What I did like was Vân Uoc’s skepticism about Billy’s sudden attention. There was something refreshing about seeing her resist his advances—especially when they were otherwise without good reason—rather than just give in and accept her sudden unexplained stroke of luck. There wasn’t much of a magical aspect to it, but I did like the wish part. It was simple, nothing flashy about it, but still nice. Plus, Vân Uoc’s friends were interesting, and I especially enjoyed the scenes when they were present.

So, Cloudwish wasn't all bad. I haven’t read anything else by Fiona Wood so there is a possibility that I would consider giving another one of her novels a try, only if it seems like something of interest to me.
This copy of the book was provided by The Novl (Newsletter; Publisher) for this review, thank you!
About the author...

Fiona Wood is the author of young adult novels, Six Impossible Things and Wildlife. Her third book,Cloudwish, will be published in the US in October. Before writing YA fiction, Fiona worked as a television scriptwriter for twelve years, writing everything from soap, and one-hour adult drama, to children’s drama. Prior to this she dropped out of law and completed an arts degree, both at Melbourne University, worked in marketing and in arts management, did some freelance journalism, and studied screenwriting at RMIT. She has served as a judge for the AWGIE Awards (Australian Writers’ Guild) and is an ambassador for The Stella Prize Schools Program. She has two YA children, and lives in Melbourne with her husband...
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