Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Book List: My 5 Most Anticipated Releases for November & December

The list of books I'm anticipating for November and December is shorter than it was for September and October. And that's a good thing, considering the fact that my to-be-read list is piling up. I've only managed to get to one book from September/October list (and it will shock no one that is was Tamora Pierce's latest offering), but I'm going to get to them soon. I promise. Unless I get my hands on one of these books first, then who knows what will happen. This set of books includes another favorite author, and a few books that I've added to my list in an attempt to expand my horizons. The exciting news for you guys is that only one of these is a continuation of a series. So here we go:

Technically Cold Spell, which comes out November 5th, is the fourth book in Jackson Pearce's Fairytale Retelling series. But as far as I can tell, while those books are connected in theme, they can each stand alone. Cold Spell is based on the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale The Snow Queen (Disney is releasing their adaptation of this story, Frozen, a few weeks after this books is released). One of the great things about the original fairy tale is that, unlike a lot of the most popular ones, it the female protagonist does most of the hero-ing. It's the story a girl rescuing her childhood friend, who has been taken by the titular Snow Queen. I'm very excited to see how this is adapted, because I can't recall coming across any other versions of it, despite my many ventures in the fractured fairy tale genre.

As I've previously mentioned, it doesn't make much for a book to turn me into a sobbing mess. And there are few themes that turn me into an emotional wreck as much as cancer stories. Therefore, I'll probable save The F- It List by Julie Halpern for a day when I don't have to worry about getting hysterical at my work desk. Coming out November 12th, it's the story of two estranged friends who, after one of them is diagnosed with cancer, come to together to complete her bucket list. I love stories that are mainly about friendship, so I might even risk the tears at work for this one.

Generally speaking, I'm not much of a science fiction reader. I've always stuck mostly to fantasy books, with a decent amount of realistic fiction as well. In the last couple of months, I've made it a goal of mine to broaden my reading horizons, both in terms of types of characters and genres. And science fiction seems like a promising way to do this (as opposed to the horror genre, which I will probably never be able to read. I'm a huge scaredy cat). December 10th is the release date for Amie Kaufman's These Broken Stars, which tells the story of two people from different walks of life who's spaceship crash lands on another planet. Together, they try to find a way off the planet but even if they do, they won't be the same people who landed there.

December 10th is also the release date for Tammer Stein's Spoils. Leni's family one the lottery when she was a child, and managed to go blow through all that money before she turned 18. Now all that remains in the large trust fund she'll inherit on her upcoming birthday. But before she can give that money to her parents, Leni's sister lets her in on a big secret that could destroy the whole family. Leni needs to fix things, but she's not sure how. I'm really excited for the family aspect of this book. A lot YA books downplay the importance of family, so I'm glad to see one where the major focus is on family.

Finally, December 31st sees the release of Taste of Darkness, the final book in Maria V. Snyder's Healer trilogy. In the few years since I started reading Snyder's books, she's become one of my favorite authors. She comes through on my favorite story elements of richly developed fantasy worlds and well-developed female characters. If you're a fan of Tamora Pierce, you should definitely check out her books. You won't be disappointed.

And that's it. Those are my most anticipated books for the rest of the year. I can't believe we're so close to the end of the year. I did not put a big enough dent in my reading list and there are so many exciting books coming out next year. I'm really looking forward to it. So tell me, what are you hoping to read between now and the end of the year?

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Lust List: Dresses & Tights

My go-to outfit for the fall and winter is a dress and tights. I work in an office that tends to run cold, no matter how much I play with the thermostat so the tights are a necessity, even if I'm only out in the elements for all of two minutes moving between the house or office and my car. My dress collection is always expanding, and dresses are always on my list of things I need more of. I'm a sucker for the fit and flare style, as it's so flattering on my straight up and down body, but I'm hoping to expand a bit beyond that in the coming months (knowing me, that means buying 1 dress in a different style and whole bunch that are the same). Fortunately, the variety of dresses on my favorite shopping sites is never really low. Or unfortunately, if you consider my bank account!

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White Pout Dress     $115
I Dusk Be Off Dress     $109.99
Deep Space Diver Dress     $54
Everyday Valentine Dress     $69.99
Mono Stripe Skater Dress     $35.60
Pansy Print Dress     £34
Sunnyside Up Dress     $59.29
Sleeveless Dress     $49.95
Splash Dyed Hand Painted Tunic     $62
Theater Printed Midi Dress     $41.92 (marked down from $42.50)

When it comes to tights I tend to prefer solid and opaque pairs, but some of these are subtle enough that I'm tempted by them. And of course, with temperatures dropping, they need to be warm. My favorites are the Tights for Every Occasion (top row, third pair) from ModCloth, which I own in navy, dark gray, and red. Surprisingly, I don't own a plain black pair of tights, so those will probably be included in my next ModCloth purchase.

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Ribbed Cable Tights in Gray     $12.90
Ombre Tights in Blue/Black     $40 ($47 plus size)
Tights for Every Occasion in Black     $14.99 (more colors available)
Velvet Floral Leggings in Navy Blue     $16.99-18.99
Classic Tights in Olive     $5.80
Paris Skyline Tights Plus Size     $14.24
Cozy Collaborating Tights     $17.99
Opaque Tights Plus Size in Coral     $6.80
Polka Dot Tights in Caramel     $12.99
Burgundy Tights Plus Size     $10.68

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The Happy List

This post isn't going up until Wednesday, but I'm currently typing it out at 11:30 AM on Sunday. Normally I don't work weekends, but I decided to cover for the weekend girl in order to compensate for a day I'm taking off in a couple of weeks. I'm excited for that day off, but it's not making today any easier to get through, especially with the knowledge that I'll be working 6 days in row, as opposed to my usual 5. So I figured today would probably be a good day to list all the things that make me happy. I'm going to need it to get through the next 5 and a half hours.

  • when no one is in the office and I can watch YouTube videos or listen to music
  • waking up to discover I still have a few hours until my alarm goes off
  • Caramel Apple Spice from Starbucks (I just tried a similar homemade version and it was not up to snuff)
  • freshly laundered sheets and pajamas
  • petting dogs and cats
  • finishing a run without feeling like I'm about to keel over and die
  • blog comments and tumblr ask messages (sorry, I couldn't resist)
  • when someone tells me that they saw/hear/read something that reminded them of me
  • long naps
  • ordering clothes online that end up fitting me perfectly
  • when something you worked really hard on gets good feedback or a good grade
  • my new paycheck being deposited to my back account
  • wrapping up in a million blankets and reading in bed
  • when our electricity came back on after Hurricane Sandy
  • visiting friends from out of town (or having friends from out of town come visit)
  • running on the beach (when it's not insanely hot)
  • traveling to new places
  • when bands I love release new albums
  • going to concerts
  • train travel through the countryside
  • making lists
  • crossing things off of my lists
  • a long, hot bath after coming in from the cold
  • getting something in the mail
  • the smell after it rains
  • not having to set alarm for the next morning
  • falling asleep during a storm
  • when something i've had my eye on goes on sale
  • getting compliments
  • Thanksgiving dinner
  • Intense discussion of television and books
  • airports (not to be confused with actual airplane flights)
  • cozy sweaters
  • New York pizza
  • bagels breakfasts at the office
What would you put on your happy list?

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Book List: Adult Department

When it comes to my reading choices, I'm guilty of sticking mostly to young adult books. They're such great reads and they don't deserve the bad rap they sometimes get. Still, I could benefit from expanding my reading choices. And I have been. This year the number of adult books I've read has increased greatly, and things have been a bit more varied that what I read from young adult (look, there's even a non-fiction book). And I've loved nearly all of the ones I've read, which is probably a sign that there's a lot out there for me to enjoy. These are some of my favorites:

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The Girl Who Chased the Moon by Sarah Addison Allen
Karma Girl by Jennifer Estep
Daughter of Troy by Sarah B. Franklin
A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness
The Greedy Bastard Diary: A Comic Tour of America by Eric Idle
Life on the Refrigerator Door by Alice Kuipers
Enchantment Place edited by Denise Little
Graveminder by Melissa Marr
Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder
Stray by Rachel Vincent

I'm trying to expand on the genres, departments, and characters that I read. I think I've been stuck in a bit of a rut for the last couple of years. So let me know what you're currently reading, I'd love to check it out.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Lust List: Autumn

It's the middle of October, which means it's technically been autumn for nearly a month. But summer seemed desperate to stick around as long as possible, so it hasn't felt like fall until recently. We've had a few chilly days here on Long Island, but it always seems to bounce back to warm. Hopefully the chill we have now sticks around for a while (and doesn't flip immediately the freezing). In honor of the cooling temperatures, I've rounded up some of my autumnal items from some of my favorite online shops.

Mono Striped Shirt     $64.07
Draped Skirt     $29.95

Fox Mittens     $46
Achillea Bag     $39.98 (marked down from $55)
Puddle Reflection Heel     $59.99 (I own these and they are my favorite shoes in my collection)

What are you looking to buy for autumn. I'm trying to stick to cute dresses and tights, which I actually need more of, but somehow I always end up purchasing more booties. Also, where are your favorite places to shop online? 

Monday, October 14, 2013

A is for Apples & Autumn

Over the weekend, my parents and I headed upstate (all of New York is upstate compared to Long Island) to visit my younger sister at college. I slept through most of the drive there, but my parents said the autumn foliage was great, although slightly past peak. While we were there we got to partake in one of my favorite fall activities, apple picking.

We went to Apple Hills, which is about 20 minutes away from my sister's apartment. When we drove up to the orchard area, it had a fantastic view:

There was a guy at the front of the orchard, explaining all the different types of apples they grew and which ones were best for baking or just eating. He was very helpful in directing us towards the apples we wanted, although everything was marked very clearly. He also encouraged us to eat apples while we were picking, in order to see which ones we liked best. We picked up some Crispins (my favorite), Red Delicious, and Jona Gold for eating, and my sister got some Cortlands for baking. Apple Hills also had a lovely little shop full of jams, apple goods and a small bakery. It seemed like there was also a spot for eating lunch out on their porch. Plus, there were some farm animals and Halloween themed activities for kids. All in all, we had a great time.

My all-time favorite orchard for apple picking is Becker Farms in Gasport, New York (near Buffalo). They also have a vineyard where they offer tastings of some of their delicious fruit wines. The Spiced Apple and Becker Blue wines are my favorite. I'm hoping to visit them again when I'm in Buffalo next month. They also sell jams, fudge, baked goods and apple cider (if I remember correctly). One of my favorite ways to drink apple cider is heating it up and throwing in a shot of cinnamon schnapps (I think cinnamon whiskey would work well too). I've already more than a few glasses so far this autumn. In college I would go through a gallon of apple cider a week, I was so in love with the stuff.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Booklist: Ten Years or Older

I've mentioned before that I keep a long, running list of all the books I'd like to read. Generally, any additions I make to the list are upcoming or recent releases. But there are plenty of gems out there that were released years ago, and I would benefit from looking at those more. If you fall into the same habits as I do, you probably will too. So here are my favorite books that were published at least 10 years ago. Some I read around the time they were released (I was 13 ten years ago, FYI), and others I've stumbled across more recently. I tried to stick to books and authors that I feel are lesser known, with a couple of exceptions. After all, the first Harry Potter book was originally published 16 years ago (15 in the USA), and I don't think you need me to recommend that to you.

Alanna: The First Adventure by Tamora Pierce
After the Dancing Days by Margaret I. Rostkowski
The Only Alien on the Planet by Kristen D. Randle (deals with abuse)
Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine
The Raging Quiet by Sherryl Jordan
Stop Pretending: What Happened When My Big Sister When Crazy by Sonya Sones (deals with mental illness)
The Hunter's Moon by O.R. Melling
Old Magic by Marianne Curley
Summers at Castle Auburn by Sharon Shinn
Never After by Rebecca Lickiss

Monday, October 7, 2013

Lust List: 10 Etsy Picks for October 7th

This is it, you guys. I have scoured my entire Etsy wishlist for the best of the best, and now I have run out of items. These are the 10 things I am most lusting over from the last third of my list. And that means, for the time being, I have run out of Etsy items for the Lust Lists. So I'm adding a poll at the end of this post, to get an idea of what themes you'd like to see next. Please answer and share any other suggestions you may have. That way, next week's Lust List will be equally awesome as these three have been (and you will all get a real picture of exactly how much time I spent online window-shopping. Which is a lot).

Cantaloupe Bowl from vegetabowls     $24
The Marauders Shirt from evietees     $21.50
Eiffel Tower Beaded Headband from bethanylorelle     $23
Antique Damascene Ship Brooch from Grace Paradise     $62
I Like You and Naps Card from sadshop     $5
Starfish Hair Clips by ShepherdoftheSea     $19
Sea Shell Necklace from seragun     $35
Brass Armor Ring from Olympias     $50
Create Your Own Reversible Peter Pan Collar from melissahojnacki     $20
Gourment Caramel Hot Chocolate Mix from tenoncocoacompany     $12

What themes would you like to see in the future?
pollcode.com free polls 

Friday, October 4, 2013

Things I Loved in September 2013

I can't believe that there are only 3 months left in the year. I have not made nearly enough progress on my New Years Resolutions for it the be the beginning of October already. Unfortunately, my calendar is not lying to me, so here are some of the things I enjoyed this month:

I am in grad school, and I live with my parents in order to save money. I live rent free, but part of the deal is that I have to cook dinner once a week. This recipe is the only one to make multiple appearances on my dinner menu (I think I've actually made it 4 times). When I make it with the chicken, as in the recipe, I buy a pre-cooked rotisserie, shred it, and use that. However, I think I like it even better when I don't use chicken and just include more veggies (personally, I use a frozen carrot, pea, corn, and green bean medley). What's even better, is that it's a big enough recipe to leave me with leftovers for lunch the next day, saving me from yet another sandwich. I wish I'd known this recipe when I was in college, because it's easy, delicious, and still a lot healthier than most of what I was eating back then.

Jack's Mannequin put out fantastic seasonal albums. Everything In Transit is perfect for driving with the windows down in the summer, The Glass Passenger is perfect for fall, and People and Things is my go to album for autumn. Andrew McMahon is my favorite musician, and this album, which was released 2 years ago, is full of beautiful songs. I love singing along to it as I drive to and from work/school. My favorite tracks are "Television," "Amy, I," and "Platform Fire."Also, check out the short films created for each song on youtube.

Fall tv shows are starting up again and, after three episode, I am in love with Sleepy Hollow. As I've mentioned before, I'm a sucker for retellings of famous story, and this is shaping up to be an excellent take on the headless horseman story. It has an eerie but gorgeous setting, complete with an interesting apocalyptic mythology and creepy creatures (which are amazing quality for a tv show). Normally, I shy away from all things horror, but Sleepy Hollow has the perfect amount of scary to keep me on edge without keeping from sleep afterwards. And the best part? That would have to be protagonist Abbie Mills. She's a competent police officer, confronted with the existence of the supernatural (and not for the first time). Abbie is complex, a compelling mixture of strength and vulnerability that you don't get to see in a lot of ladies on tv. I'm excited to watch see more of her, especially in terms of her past relationship with father-figure Sheriff Corbin, and in future interactions with her sister, Jenny.

Crown of Midnight is the second book in Maas's Throne of Glass series. It tells the story of Celaena Sardothien, an assassin in a realm where the king has completely done away with magic. Celaena spent a year as a slave in a mine, which she had been sent to for an unsuccessful murder attempt. I can't tell you much more than that without giving away the plot of the first book, but I'll tell you a few of the elements I enjoyed. The world Maas has created is very vivid, and the circumstances regarding the disappearance of magic are revealed in an intriguing way. Celaena is a well developed protagonist, with realistic skills and faults. She has a grim job, but certainly enjoys the finer things in life. Her job as an assassin doesn't bog her down in darkness, although she has her own demons. She has loved and lost, and that has a huge impact on her mindset and actions in the books. The romance angle within the books is handled very well, with no one shaming Celaena for her past relationships. There is a love triangle, which I normally hate, but it's executed well, in a way that doesn't hurt the characterization of any of its participants. I will now be anxiously awaiting the third book in the series.

All About Me is a bright pink lipstick that adds the perfect pop of color for my work outfits. It goes on smooth and even, isn't too drying and lasts well on the lips. I usually touch it up once after lunch and again at the end of the work day, if I have plans for later. The Convertible Colors are hands down my favorite cream blushes (I own 4), as they aren't too shiny on my oily skin, are easy to blend, and last all day. Gerbera is a very subtle peachy color, which always pairs well with my beauty staple, the bold lip. Finally, I'm pretty sure that there's some sort of magic inside Oribe's Dry Texturizing Spray (which I mentioned purchasing in my first ever blog post). My hair is thick, heavy, and prone to being dragged down by its own weight. This spray gives it so much volume, without sacrificing movement. It gives me perfect second day hair, reviving my curls which have usually been flattened by a good night's sleep. I know it's expensive, but I'm so in love with it that I won't be hesitating to repurchase it when my travel size bottle runs out.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Booklist: Books That Made Me Sob Like A Baby

In the interest of full disclosure, I'll tell you this: it does not take much to make me cry. I cried while watching a cartoon the other night. I have cried over commercials (not just the ASPCA ones). I have cried over multiple Taylor Swift songs. And, of the last 20 books I read, I've probably shed tears over more than half of them. So this is not a list of all the books that have made me cry, we do not have the time or the space for that. Plus, it's a common enough occurrence that I don't even remember all of them. What I am going to share with you is the eight biggest offenders. These are the books that I vividly recall turning into a blubbering mess over. One of these books made me cry so hard that  the man sitting across from me on a train became visibly uncomfortable. Another one made me audibly sob at my desk at work (thankfully no one was around at the time to see or hear me). And a third made me cry so hard that I woke my parents up in the middle of the night. So I won't tell you to enjoy these reads, but rather to let them torture you in the best way possible.

Sisterhood Everlasting by Ann Brashares
Postcards from No Man's Land by Aidan Chambers
If You Could Be Mine by Sara Farizan
Summer of My German Soldier by Bette Greene
The Probability of Miracles by Wendy Wunder
The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Is there a particular book that made you cry more than any other? Let me know in the comments; I'm looking for some new books to read. Also, let me know what theme you'd like to see for next week's Booklist.