Bucket List Update!

We are almost halfway through the year, and I thought it would be fun to see how far I’ve progressed on my 2017 Bucket List :)

  1. Eat at 10 local restaurants – We’ve probably eaten at 5 or 6 local restaurants, including 1 or 2 new ones.
  2. Go berry picking – Yes! Killian and I finally did this and it was such a lovely afternoon. We picked blackberries at Lewis Farms a few weeks ago and it was the perfect time to go. There were so many ripe berries, and Killian was a natural at picking them. Afterwards we ate some homemade blueberry ice cream and it was absolutely delicious. Lewis Farms just closed for the season :( but next year we’ll be back!

  3. Read at least 10 classics from my Classics Club list – Well I’ve been slacking on this one! I’ve only read 8 classics this year, and only 3 were on my Classics Club list. I’ve been halfway through Cranford for nearly two months now…
  4. Gardening – I definitely enjoyed some gardening time earlier this spring! I planted a lot of flowers in the front yard and my husband and I started an herb and vegetable garden in the back yard. We’ve already eaten the first round of radishes (they were too spicy for me but my husband loved them) and we’ll be able to eat some green beans soon! It’s nice to be able to go outside and pick some herbs to season dinner with, and gardening itself is very relaxing.

    The petunias around the mailbox are HUGE now,, and so are the plants in the back yard.

  5. Write a novel! –I think the reason I’m actually writing this blog post is because I’m procrastinating on my book. But I really am writing a novel this year! At first I was going to write about this one book idea I had been musing over for almost 3 years, but then one day about 6-8 weeks ago I got a new idea that started consuming me. I outlined it and wrote several scenes within a week, and then I decided to just put the other story on the table for now. I don’t have a title for the book I’m currently working on, but I can tell you that I’m about 30 pages in and it’s of the time travel/historical fiction persuasion. My goal is to have the first draft completed by the end of the year, hopefully sooner :)

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    This quote has been really inspiring to me while I hash out my first draft.

  6. Take a week off– We’re planning on taking a week vacation around labor day, hopefully to the mountains or someplace refreshing and secluded.
  7. See Hamilton! – Ha, ha, silly me got the dates wrong for this tour. Hamilton is coming to Charlotte next year :( but speaking of musicals, has anyone else become obsessed with Dear Evan Hanson? My husband and I fell in love with this performance at the Tony’s and now we can’t stop listening to it!
  8. Finish decorating my library – I did this! My happy place is all decorated and organized (with the exception of a couple of boxes), and I do most of my writing up there, now. It still serves as our guest room, so I try to use it as much as possible when we don’t have guests, but I also write a lot at the local library.
  9. Finish reading Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and Order of the Phoenix with Matt – Ha, I forgot that I put this on my bucket list. We did finish GoF, but we are only two chapters into OotP. I need to start reading it again!
  10. Volunteer more – This is still something I need to work on. I’ve done more volunteering at the library, but I’m still looking for some new organizations to volunteer with.

So I’m about halfway through after all! 4.5/9 bucket list items, since #7 isn’t applicable this year, unfortunately. But I’m excited that I’m actually making progress :)

Love & Friendship Movie Review

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Set in the 1790s, Love and Friendship centers on beautiful widow Lady Susan Vernon, who has come to the estate of her in-laws to wait out colorful rumors about her dalliances circulating through polite society. Whilst there, she decides to secure a husband for herself and her rather reluctant debutante daughter, Frederica. (Synopsis taken from imdb)

Based on the unfinished epistolary novel, Lady Susan, by Jane Austen.

My friend Hamlette has been hosting an “I <3 Jane Austen” event on her blog this week, and I’m really excited to be able to join in on the Austentatious fun with a movie review of Love & Friendship!

The most recent Jane Austen movie adaptation came out last year, but I wasn’t able to see it until just recently (thank you, Amazon Prime!). Unlike most of the other Jane Austen adaptations I have seen, I did not enjoy Love & Friendship upon first viewing. The main character Lady Susan, played by Kate Beckinsale, is abominable. She’s the exact opposite of the typical heroine you’d expect from Jane Austen. As the movie’s tagline boasts, she’s “opportunistic, devious, shrewd, calculating, cunning, unprincipled.”

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But, I really wanted to like this film regardless of Lady Susan’s character, so I gave it another watch and I’m really glad I did. I enjoyed the movie much more the second time around. The supporting characters are really entertaining, especially James Martin, who is so foolish you can’t help but laugh.

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There are some terrific puns and subtle humor in this movie, and if you don’t pay close attention to the dialogue you’ll miss some really funny lines. Also, the costumes are lovely! One detail I appreciated was how oversized James Martin’s coat buttons were; it fit well with his overall ridiculousness.

As far as Jane Austen adaptations go, Lady Susan is intriguing and humorous, and at times it felt like watching Mansfield Park told through Mary Crawford’s point of view. And just as Ms. Austen would prefer, all the characters get their “comeuppance” and due rewards at the end :) I know the movie is critically acclaimed, but it may take multiple viewings for you to enjoy it. I’m really glad I gave it a second chance because it could easily become the type of movie I quote whenever a subtle sarcastic comment is called for…

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Here’s the trailer!

 Stop by Hamlette’s Soliloquy to discover more I <3 Jane Austen posts!

Top Ten Tuesday: Little Baby French Fry’s Favorite Picture Books

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Even though he doesn’t know how to read, my son is about to share his first ever post on my blog! This week’s Top Ten Tuesday is about visual books, and I decided to share some of my son’s favorite books, especially since he probably has as many books as I do.

Top Ten Tuesday: Killian’s Favorite Picture Books

 

Cache Cache des Grosses Bêtes by O. Latyk – This is the book that taught Killian how to roar like a lion (ok, technically taught him, but the book helped a lot!).

Où Est Mon Chien by Fiona Watt – Usbourne books are fantastic, and this one is in French! My in-laws send Killian touch and feel books from France and he loves them all. This one he loves so much that he literally destroyed it (it’s in three pieces) but he still reads it so I don’t have the heart to throw it away.

Pout Pout Fish by Deborah Diesen – I bought this book as a stocking stuffer for Killian and we both fell in love with it right away. The other day he actually brought me this book to read it to him, and then asked me to reread it twice more. I can’t explain how much I love that my son is growing up to be a bookworm just like me :)

Dinosaurumpus by Tony Mitton and Guy Parker-Rees – This book is so fun to read! I used to read it to Killian before his nap times and honestly I probably enjoyed it more than he did, but I know he liked it because he would sit through the whole book while I read it to him. Dinosaurumpus has lots of fun sounds and rhymes to hold little baby attention spans.

You Are My Sunshine by Jimmie Davis and Caroline Jayne Church – This may have been the first book I bought for Killian. My mom used to sing this nursery rhyme to me when I was little and I always loved it. The song calms Killian down, too, and the illustrations are really pretty.

Une Souris Verte by Olivia Cosneau– Killian has a collection of 3 of these French “comptines” aka nursery rhymes, but this one is his favorite. It’s also super creepy: a green mouse is running in the grass, I grab him by his tail and show him to these gentlemen who tell me to dunk him in oil and then in water, and he’ll turn into a warm snail. That’s only the first verse.

The Berenstain Bears’ Sleepy Time Book by Mike Berenstain – Another book I like to read to Killian before bed or nap time. I loved the Berenstain Bear books when I was a kid, and so far Killian does, too.

5 Minute Pixar Stories – Here’s another book that is able to hold Killian’s attention for longer periods of time.

Mes Grosses Bêtes by Marion Billet – Each of the animals makes a noise when you press on their button, and the all have textures, too. Killian loves this book so much, especially the gorilla. As much as I don’t like gorillas, I was really proud when Killian began chanting “hoo hoo hoo!”

Your Baby’s First Word Will Be Dada by Jimmy Fallon – Although there isn’t much to this book, it’s still one of our favorites. Killian loves all the animal sounds, and one time I tried to change “dada” to “papa” because that is what my husband prefers to be called, but Killian corrected me right away. Such a book purist.

Top Ten Tuesday: 2017 Bucket List

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This week’s Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, is a freebie! So I thought I’d use this opportunity to finalize my bucket list for the year :)

I tried doing a bucket list two years ago to celebrate by 25th birthday, but I didn’t quite get around to crossing off all those items (although looking at it now, I’ve been able to do several more of those goals since I turned 25!).

So here are the Top Ten Things on My 2017 Bucket List:

  1. Eat at 10 local restaurants – Wilmington has so many locally owned restaurants and I have been dying to try more of them out. We don’t eat out often because it’s cheaper to eat at home, but I’d like to try out ten different local restaurants here in town this year.
  2. Go berry picking – I’ve had berry picking on my bucket list for two years now, and this year I’m finally going to do it. The berry picking farm always closes way earlier than I think it will, so last year I missed out because we didn’t go early enough. The summer before, I was pregnant, and the last thing I felt like doing was walking around in the heat. I’m gonna make it happen this year, though!
  3. Read at least 10 classics from my Classics Club list – I’m supposed to have finished 50 classics off my Classics Club list by the end of next year, and I’m just a little over halfway there. I have some real chunky classics I need to read (or finish reading *coughWarandPeacecough*), so I hope to get through at least 10 this year!
  4. Gardening – Our front yard is pretty bare and I’d love to put in some low maintenance foliage to make it look more inviting. I am NOT a green thumb, though, so I’m going to have to do some research about which plants will do well before going through all the trouble of planting them.
  5. Write a novel! – My biggest goal for 2017. It’s been forever since I’ve written anything, and I’ve never written anything longer than 30 pages, but I’m taking a few online writing classes so hopefully that helps. I’m still in the outlining phase but I’m really excited to see what I end up with :)
  6. Take a week off– Vague, I know. My husband and I really want and need to take a week-long vacation this year. We haven’t decided a destination, yet, but if I had my way it would be to PEI, Canada so I could really feel like Anne Shirley.
  7. See Hamilton! – Hamilton is coming to Charlotte in November and I am desperate to get my hands on some tickets when they go on sale. But only if they aren’t as expensive as Broadway tickets, because then I might as well just go up to NYC (and cross off #6 and #7 at the same time).
  8. Finish decorating my library – I love my library/guest room. It’s my favorite room in the house. But I still have some decorating to do :)
  9. Finish reading Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and Order of the Phoenix with Matt – My husband has never read the HP books, so two years ago we started reading them aloud with each other. We’ve gotten stuck on Goblet of Fire (because it is significantly longer than Prisoner of Azkaban), but I’d love to finish it and Order of the Phoenix this year.
  10. Volunteer more – Another vague one. I already volunteer at the library on Saturdays, but I’d love to volunteer at other places, too, especially in areas that challenge me.

There you have it! Check back at the end of the year to see how well I did at accomplishing these wishes for 2017 :)

2017 Reading Challenge

Happy New Year! It’s the time for reflections and resolutions. I’m already excited about 2017 because this year I plan to write a book! I hope to eventually post it on my blog (as like a modern serial) after it’s written and revised, but let me stop from getting ahead of myself! This post is about my reading goals for 2017.

Modern Mrs. Darcy is one of my favorite bookish blogs to follow. She is also one of the rare blogs I follow by email because she sends out a list of the daily kindle e-book deals. Since I’ve been wanting to branch out of my reading comfort zone, I’m so happy she’s created this 2017 “Reading for Growth” reading challenge for 2017.

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I haven’t picked out all the books I want to read yet, but I am excited about these categories! Some of the books I do know I want to read are Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (ok, not really outside of my preferred genres, but I’ll probably read some other plays or poetry, too), The View From Saturday (Newbery Award winner) and All the Light We Cannot See (Pulitzer Prize winner).

Any recommendations for me? Please share!

  • A Newberry Award Winner or Honor Book
  • A book in translation – The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas
  • A book that’s more than 600 pages – Middlemarch by George Eliot or War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
  • A book of poetry, a play, or an essay collection – The Comedy of Errors by William Shakespeare (finished 2/15/17)
  • A book of any genre that addresses current events
  • An immigrant story
  • A book published before you were born – Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury (finished 1/14/17)
  • Three books by the same author – Emily of New Moon series by L. M. Montgomery
  • A book by an #ownvoices or #diversebooks author – Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon (finished 5/3/17)
  • A book with an unreliable narrator or ambiguous ending
  • A book nominated for an award in 2017
  • A Pulitzer Prize or National Book Award Winner – All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doer or The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz

2016 Reading Superlatives

  1. Number Of Books You Read: 54 (58 if you count individual short stories)
  2. Number of Re-Reads: 4 (The Cask of Amontillado, Pride and Prejudice, Northanger Abbey, and The Choice)
  3. Genre You Read The Most From: I read 13 Classic novels/short stories this year and 21 Young Adult books (divided into contemporary, sci-fi, and fantasy categories)

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  1. Best Book You Read In 2016?: THIS IS IMPOSSIBLE! If I have to pick just one, excluding rereads, it would have to be Time’s Edge, because I kept thinking about that book for weeks afterwards.
  2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?: Never Always Sometimes by Adi Alsaid. I didn’t even finish it…
  3. Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read?: The Husband Secret by Liane Moriarty. I was totally expecting some dark mystery novel and it was really a romance novel with some suspense. I read it with my book club and I think we were all disappointed. Some of us didn’t even finish it.
  4. Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did)?: I got at least 2 friends to read Timeline by Michael Crichton :)
  5. Best series you started in 2016? Best Sequel of 2016? Best Series Ender of 2016?: The Chronos Files series by Rysa Walker has become a new favorite of mine! I devoured all three books (plus most of the novellas). Winter by Marissa Meyer was a fantastic series ender, as well.
  6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2016?: Probably Rysa Walker.
  7. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?: I read a lot of high fantasy this year, which was sort of new for me. Graceling by Kristin Cashore and Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake were intriguing.
  8. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?: I guess I’d have to say And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie. I read the whole book in a day because I had to know “whodunnit?”.
  9. Book You Read In 2016 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?: It’s a toss up between Timebound by Rysa Walker and Winter by Marissa Meyer. Although Pride and Prejudice is a book I could reread every year.
  10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2016?: Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake. Look at it!
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  11. Most memorable character of 2016?: Demelza Poldark! New role model for me :)
  12. Most beautifully written book read in 2016?: The Light Between Oceans by M. L. Stedman. It will pull on your heartstrings. (Honorable mention: Graceling by Kristin Cashore has a very beautifully written love scene, despite the fact that I thought the majority of the book was written very bluntly).
  13. Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2016?: I read some very good books this year, but none that I would define as “life-changing”; however, the Poldark books introduced me to two amazing female characters (Demelza and Verity) who I would now consider as fictional role models.
  14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2016 to finally read?: Timebound! Ugh, why didn’t I read it when I bought it back in 2014??
  15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2016?: I’ve been so bad at writing down favorite quotes! Here’s one of my favorites from The Secret Garden that really spoke to the Anne Shirley side of me:

    “I’ve seen the spring now and I’m going to see the summer. I’m going to see everything grow here. I’m going to grow here myself.”

  16. Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2016?: Shortest: 2092 by Rysa Walker (48 pages), although The Oval Portrait by Edgar Allan Poe is only a few pages long, but I read it as part of a collection of his work. Longest: Winter by Marissa Meyer (832 pages).
  17. Book That Shocked You The Most: The ending to Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake really surprised me (in a good way). It’s probably the only reason I’ll read the sequel.
  18. OTP OF THE YEAR (you will go down with this ship!): I was a huge Kate/Kiernan shipper while reading The Chronos Files series.
  19. Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year: Cinder and Thorne from The Lunar Chronicles Series.
  20. Favorite Book You Read in 2016 From An Author You’ve Read Previously: Timeline by Michael Crichton. I read that book and then read two others by him because his writing is fantastic.
  21. Best Book You Read In 2016 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure: There were several, but Graceling is probably the one I enjoyed the most.
  22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2016?: Kiernan Dunne from The Chronos Files. He’s Irish and from the early 1900s so double win.
  23. Best 2016 debut you read?: I didn’t read any 2016 debuts (I don’t usually)!
  24. Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year?: I hate repeating myself so many times, but I loved all the time travel in The Chronos Files. So well researched.
  25. Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read?: Happy Again by Jennifer E. Smith was a fun novella! I love her writing.
  26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2016?: Speaking of Jennifer E. Smith, her book, The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight had me crying at one point. There’s a sweet moment between the main character and her father that was really touching.
  27. Hidden Gem Of The Year?: Civil War: The Amazing Spider-Man. One of two 5-star rated reads I haven’t mentioned yet! (The other is also a graphic novel: Out of the Past (Once Upon a Time #3). I love Spider-Man, and I really liked Captain America: Civil War, so I shouldn’t have been surprised at how great this comic book was. It was just a collection of the Spider-Man Civil War editions, but it’s by far the best comic book/graphic novel I’ve read since I started reading comics and graphic novels a few years ago. I couldn’t put it down and my mouth was literally hanging open after the cliff hanger at the end. SO good.
  28. Book That Crushed Your Soul?: The Light Between Oceans, as expected. I wonder if I would have felt the same way had I read this book before I became a parent.
  29. Most Unique Book You Read In 2016?: The Murders in the Rue Morgue by Edgar Allan Poe, not because I enjoyed it a lot, but because it was one of the first (if not THE first) detective stories ever written.
  30. Book That Made You The Most Mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)?: Hmm…it didn’t make me extremely mad, but Forbidden by Ted Dekker had a really stupid death it that I haven’t entirely gotten over. Maybe that’s why I haven’t finished the series, yet.

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  1. One Book You Didn’t Get to In 2015 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2017?: Stars Above by Marissa Meyer! I’ve already started it :)
  2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2017 (non-debut): I really want to read the Time Trial graphic novel (part of The Chronos Files universe).
  3. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging Life In 2017?: Write a book! I’ve had a couple of stories rolling around in my mind, and I think 2017 is the year I’m finally going to stop being afraid of not getting them right and just write one of them already. I’m also taking a few online writing classes which I’m excited about. In my reading life, I plan on branching out of my comfort zone by reading more non-fiction and literary books. Last year I read a lot of YA, so I think I’d like to read more books directed towards adult readers.

 

Top Ten Tuesday: Recent Additions to My ‘To Be Read’ List

toptentuesdayToday I am thankful for slow work days because that’s why I was able to get this post up today ;) I’ve missed making my weekly Top Ten Tuesday lists! With Christmas coming up lately, I’ve been updating my wish lists and most of those lists include books. Here are some of the recent additions to my To Be Read list, and if you’ve read any of them, please let me know what you thought!

Top Ten Recent Additions to My TBR List

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Time Trial: The Graphic Novel by Rysa Walker I still need to post my review for Time’s Divide, the final book in Rysa Walker’s Chronos Files series, but Time Trial is a graphic novel spin-off of sorts. I already think this series would be beautiful to see visually, so I’m excited to get my hands on this collection of comic books sometime soon!

Windfall by Jennifer E. Smith The newest book from one of my favorite YA authors comes out next summer! I honestly don’t even know what this book is about, but Jennifer E. Smith is an auto-read for me.

Seraphina by Rachel Hartman My OTSP Secret Sister sent me this book last month after I asked for some fantasy recommendations. All I know is this book is about dragons, and I can count on one hand the number of books I’ve read that feature dragons. I’m excited to read it later this month.

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss Clearly I’m trying to branch out in the fantasy genre. I’ve never read anything by Patrick Rothfuss, either.

Everyone We’ve Been by Sarah Everett – I’ve been straying away from YA Contemporary lately, but this one has a mystery aspect to it that sounds really interesting.

Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson – I found a “like new” used hardcover copy of this book a couple of months ago, and although I’ve never read anything by Brandon Sanderson, I know he’s a favorite author among fantasy-lovers.

Saga #1 by Bryan Vaughan – This graphic novel was also recommended by my Secret Sister. It sounds like Game of Thrones meets outer space.

Ink and Bone by Rachel Caine – Another Secret Sister recommendation :) They have this series at my local library, so I’ll try to read it before the end of the year!

Ruined by Amy Tintera – I haven’t read any reviews of this book, or seen it in bookstores or libraries, but something about it sounds super intriguing to me. Has anyone read it? I’d love to know your thoughts!

The Delphi Effect by Rysa Walker – The first installment in Rysa Walker’s new series just came out last month! I devoured her previous series, and I’m sure I’ll do the same with this one. It’s also been a long time since I’ve started a current series, so it’ll be interesting having to wait for the sequels :)