January Highlights

It’s hard to believe February is upon us. January didn’t necessarily fly by for me, but a lot of things happened in my life and I know February is going to be just as eventful.

So here’s what I was up to last month!

I read 12 books!

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                                             mara dyer theevolutionofmaradyer

This was a huge surprise for me, because last month I was all upset that I couldn’t find enough time to read as often as I did before finding a full-time job.

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Top Ten Tuesday: Book Club Reads – I had so much fun chatting with other bloggers about these books! Tuesday’s posts always bring the best conversations :)

What I Watched

Gilmore Girls – Ok, HUGE surprise to everyone: my dad has gotten hooked on Gilmore Girls. My mom and I started watching the show back in September, but we’ve been taking our time. And this month we started watching it again and my dad watched one episode with us and was completely pulled in. So much so that he’s gotten upset when we watched episodes without him. I feel like I’m in some alternate universe where my dad, whose favorite shows are The Walking Dead and Forensic Files, suddenly enjoys Gilmore Girls. But hey, I’ll take it!

East & West Vlog – A new YouTube series based on Elizabeth Gaskell’s North and South. It’s just starting, but I really enjoy the actress who plays Margaret (also, she goes by Maggie!). I’m looking forward to seeing what the creators have in store for this one.

The Writing Majors – Another new YouTube series, but this one is really unique! It imagines Jane Austen, Emily Dickenson, and Oscar Wilde as grad school roommates. The actors are incredible and the episodes so far have been very enjoyable.

What I Listened To

This month I really dived into audiobooks! With my long commute, I’ve been trying to use the time for books, and it’s only taken me a couple of months to really get adjusted to listening to audiobooks. It’s amazing how weak my listening skills have become over the years. I have to really concentrate to actively listen, but I think it’s a good exercise :)

I also listened to Serial! For those who know me, when I discover something I love, I completely binge watch/read/listen. So, I listened to the first Serial podcast on my way to work last Friday, and I finished it just after midnight on Saturday. I HAD to know how it ended. The story-telling was so captivating that it’s hard to stop listening.

January Highlights

  • Watching Gilmore Girls with my family!
  • Starting to find my feet in my new job – things are finally starting to make sense!
  • Having deep conversations (or just really interesting conversations) with fellow bloggers! Meeting and conversing with other readers and bloggers is my favorite part about having a blog :)
  • Feeling more “adult” – This month we bought a car and paid off more bills, and I also just did a lot more “adult” things, like wine-tasting and making more independent decisions.

January Challenges

  • Although we moved back to the States at the end of August, we’re still transitioning. We’ve had to make big decisions about our future, and although I can’t reveal them yet, I am excited about them & about sharing them with the blogosphere in a month or two :) (and before anyone speculates, NO, it’s not about a baby).
  • Trying to multitask less. I read this blog post from I’d Rather Be Reading about singletasking, and it really helped me grasp how attached I am to multitasking. If I’m not doing two or more things at a time, I literally feel like I’m wasting time. So I’ve been actively trying to only do one thing at a time sometimes, for instance, while I’m eating. Lunch time at work is a great time for me to just take a step away from the computer or my phone or even from reading. It gives me a half hour of reflection time instead, and it’s also nice to detach from technology, too.
  • I almost forgot this one: we bought a new car!New Car

In February I’m Looking Forward To

  • Crossing off as many things from my 25 Things List as possible! I feel so behind, but some of those things I’ve known for a while I won’t be able to do (like visit England), and that’s ok. I made this list thinking we would still be in France and hopping on a train to the UK was easy to achieve. Instead I’m trying to enjoy the bucket list items I am able to cross off. Right now I’m crocheting myself a nice afghan :)

February To Be Read

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I’m still getting through My True Love Gave To Me for my book club (our next read is A Thousand Pieces of You which I’m stoked about!). I’ve also started the last book in the Mara Dyer series, but I’m sad for it to be over so I’ve been taking my time.

What were some of your highlights from January? Are there any books you’re looking forward to reading this month?

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The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet by Bernie Su and Kate Rorick

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“I think that you wouldn’t believe the problems that can be resolved just by people taking the time to talk to one another.”

The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet by Bernie Su and Kate Rorick
Published June 24, 2014 by Touchstone
New Adult/Re-adaptation/Romance
Format: Hardcover; 400 pages
Also By These Authors: The Epic Adventures of Lydia Bennet (pub. 2015)
                                                     Goodreads | Amazon
                                                     My Rating: ♥♥♥♥

I have slowly been making it through the library haul I brought home in early December. I seriously overestimated the amount of time I would have to read once I started working full-time.

But I have finally made it through this stack of library checkouts (I only DNF one; I hate not finishing a book and I only do it if it’s at least 75% unenjoyable) and I am happy to say that The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet lived up to my expectations!

Synopsis

Based on the Emmy Award winning YouTube series The Lizzie Bennet Diaries.Twenty four year old grad student Lizzie Bennet is saddled with student loan debt and still living at home along with her two sisters, beautiful Jane and reckless Lydia. When she records her reflections on life for her thesis project and posts them on YouTube, she has no idea The Lizzie Bennet Diaries will soon take on a life of their own, turning the Bennet sisters into internet celebrities seemingly overnight.

Featuring plenty of fresh twists to delight fans and new readers alike, The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet expands on the web series phenomenon that captivated a generation and reimagines the Pride and Prejudice story like never before.

Thoughts:

If you are not familiar with the YouTube sensation The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, stop reading and watch this video (seriously, the rest of this post won’t make sense if you don’t).

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At first I thought it was a little strange to make a diary based off a YouTube series that’s based off a book, but there were some incentives to reading this diary, namely the extra scenes that we only get to see Lizzie & co. re-enact via costume theater on her vlog (which was a fantastic element to the show, don’t get me wrong). My favorite of these bonus scenes is the San Francisco tour date Lizzie went on with Gigi and Darcy. We don’t hear anything about that on the show so it was fun getting to swoon a bit over the awkward cuteness that is “Dizzie”.

My least favorite of these scenes involved Jane. I don’t want to go into full detail because there was definitely an element of surprise to it (this particular event isn’t even whispered about on camera, so it’s obviously a very private matter). It shocked me a bit because it felt very un-Jane like. Jane, to me, is in the same category as Eleanor Dashwood and Fanny Price (and we could even include Jane Eyre for her personal moral convictions), and I had a hard time picturing this “shock” happening to Jane Bennet. I know I’m being extremely vague–has anyone else read this book and felt the same way that I did about Jane’s “secret”?

I didn’t have time to watch all of the episodes along with reading their corresponding diary entries, but I think it would be fun to do if you’re in the mood for a LBD rewatch. I did watch a handful of my favorite episodes towards the end of the book when the plot started to thicken. This is my favorite episode, although Episode 83 – “Corporate Interview” is a very close second.

Read This Book If…:

…you have already watched (and loved!) The Lizzie Bennet Diaries. Or if you are going to watch and read the diary together. The diary will only be enjoyable if you’re familiar with the YouTube episodes.
…you love Jane Austen retellings!
…you enjoy epistolary reads–each entry is pretty short so it makes for good reading if you don’t have time to sit and read for long periods of time.
…you want a book that makes you feel warm and fuzzy (seriously, you’ll want to hug your sisters, mothers, and best friends after finishing this book).

“People look different when you know their secrets. And they look differently at you.”

Final Musings

There’s nothing like reading this book to get you in the mood for a Lizzie Bennet Diaries marathon! I also know that Ashley Clements, a.k.a. Lizzie B herself, narrated the audiobook. It was already easy to hear in my head all of the different characters reading their lines, but I would love to hear Lizzie do her costume theater interpretations of Darcy, Ms. De Bourgh, and of course Mrs. Bennet.

Top Ten Tuesday: 2014 Releases I Wanted To Read But Didn’t

toptentuesdayToday’s Top Ten Tuesday, brought to you by the bloggers at The Broke and the Bookish, is all about 2014 releases that I didn’t get a chance to read! Most of these are on my priority list of books to read this year, and some of them I have already started!

Top Ten 2014 Releases I Plan On Reading In 2015

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The Mara Dyer series – I didn’t even learn about this series until the final volume, The Retribution of Mara Dyer, came out just before YALL Fest. But I got to meet author Michelle Hodkin and I’m so happy I did because I just finished reading The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer and I am obsessed! Favorite book of the year so far (I know it’s early but I don’t care). Can’t wait to finish this series, but I already know I’m going to have a major book hangover.

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Meeting Michelle Hodkin at YALL Fest in November :)

The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet – I checked this book out from the library WEEKS ago, but I still haven’t gotten past the first couple of chapters (not because I don’t want to read it!). I know that Ashley Clements, the actress who plays Lizzie in the YouTube series, has narrated the audio book and I’m so tempted to just listen to that during my commute.

Open Road Summer – My friend Regina lent me her copy of Emery Lord’s celebrated debut novel, but I haven’t gotten a chance to read it yet!

Broken Hearts, Fences, and Other Things to Mend – I got this for Christmas so I will be reading it soon!!

A Thousand Pieces of You – I can’t wait to get my hands on this gorgeous novel. I hear it’s a series, too?

Elevated One Safe and Sound Here and Now MTLGTM

Elevated – I think the only reason I didn’t buy this book the moment I heard about it is because it’s written in verse and I have to be in the mood for those types of books. BUT, I still want to read it :)

The Selection series – Now that I finally own The Selection (thanks to my TBTB Secret Santa), I can work on reading this series!

Safe and Sound – Ever since connecting with T.S. Krupa on Twitter I’ve been wanting to read her book. Plus this book takes place in North Carolina and I love that state.

The Here and Now – I love science fiction/fantasy and I love Ann Brashares. I got her to personalize this book for me while I was at YALL Fest so I’m even more excited about actually reading it :)

My True Love Gave To Me – I know, Christmas is over, but we’re reading this book in my Book Club this month and I’m excited! I was also thrilled when my mother-in-law gave it to me for Christmas! I’ve been wanting it for so long.

Are any of these books on your To Be Read List as well? What are some books that were released within the past couple of years that you’re still wanting to read?

Top Ten Tuesday: Winter Reads

toptentuesdayEven though winter is still a good month away, I’m glad this is the topic for TTT this week! It gives me a chance to get excited for winter vacation and catching up on my reading!! I feel like since I started working full-time, it now takes me a week or more to read 1 book when it used to take 2-3 days. But no complaining! I’m so thrilled and thankful to be employed again, I just wish I could read all night instead of having to sleep ;)

So, here you go!

Top Ten Books On My Winter TBR List:

FullSteamAhead MatchMadeInTexas MontanaChristmas LifeIntended Legend

Full Steam Ahead by Karen Witemeyer – For some reason I LOVE reading western historical romances during Christmastime. I think it’s the weirdest thing since most of them take place during the summer, but then again I think they’re the perfect reads since they instill that warm, family-time mood. Karen Witemeyer is one of my favorite authors, and I actually just checked out Full Steam Ahead from the library yesterday! I may read it BEFORE winter starts ;)
A Match Made in Texas – To continue on with the western historical romances theme, this book is a compilation of novellas by four different authors: Karen Witemeyer (Full Steam Ahead, The Short Straw Bride, To Win Her Heart), Mary Connealy (Kincaid Brides series, Lassoed in Texas series), Regina Jennings (Ladies of Caldwell County series, A Most Inconvenient Marriage–which I’m reading during Thanksgiving break!), and Carol Cox (Truth Be Told, Trouble in Store). I’m particularly excited about reading Witemeyer’s novella since it is a spin-off of The Short Straw Bride, my favorite book of hers.
A Sweet Montana Christmas by Roxanne Snopek – I don’t know much about this book or the author, but I saw it on Netgalley as a Read Now and decided I needed to read it during Christmas :) Like I said, I’m a sucker for western romances this time of year.
The Life Intended by Kristin Harmel – The Goodreads synopsis compares this book to P.S. I Love You only a bit darker. I requested this book to review and I’m excited to actually open it up!
Legend by Marie Lu – I just checked this out from the library yesterday as well! I’ve heard so many good things about it and picked it up on a whim.

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The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet by Bernie Su and Kate Rorick – I was a HUGE fan of The Lizzie Bennet Diaries (and it’s what got me into watching YouTube series). This diary came out earlier this year but I never saw it anywhere because I was in France. But yesterday at the library I saw it on the “New Fiction” shelf and grabbed it up in a heartbeat. Can’t wait to dive back into the sarcastic and theatrical mind of Lizzie Bennet!
Can’t Always Get What You Want by Chelsey Krause – I know, this book cover does not fit the typical winter read, but it’s on my shelf for review and I think I’m going to enjoy it. It’s all about letting go of your past and healing broken hearts.
Soulprint by Megan Miranda – The book summary describes Soulprint as part Minority Report and part Looper, both of which are movies I really enjoyed. So that means I should love this one! Plus, the cover is pretty :)
The Dress Shop of Dreams by Menna Van Praac –
This book sounds like a warm and fuzzy read, and those are the types of books I love reading in the winter! Maybe it’s to help overcome the cold ;)
The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty –
Ok, my Secret Santa sent me this book last December, but I never got around to reading it :( But now that Liane Moriarty’s other novel has been out for a while and it also looks like an interesting read, I actually want to read The Husband Secret and find out if this is the type of author I’m going to enjoy.

What books are on your winter TBR list? Is there a specific genre you find yourself turning to whenever it’s cold outside?