November 2015: Recap + On My Shelves

Nov 30, 2015

Well, we're closing in on the end of 2015! I say this almost every month, but I can't believe how quickly this year is flying by. I thoroughly enjoyed November, even if I didn't find my blogging mojo this month! Hopefully soon...

1. I'm Having a Baby - I've technically known this exciting news for weeks (so it's not totally a "November" highlight), but I'm so excited that it's not a secret anymore! May 2016 is going to be here before I know it, and then a whole new adventure begins... In the meantime, I'm ready to start building a baby book library!

2. Sephora VIB Sale - If you spend too much money at Sephora (like me), you can become a VIB member of their rewards program. The most exciting part is the VIB sale where you can get 20% off your purchase. Beauty products aren't cheap (and rarely go on sale), so I took advantage and stocked up on new goodies.

3. #OTSPSecretSister Spoiled Me - My secret sister continues to send some of the most generous surprises my way! Seeing a package on my porch never fails to brighten my day, and I love all the thought behind the amazing things inside. My favorite part of the November box? A new Anne of Green Gables for my collection!

4. Mockingjay Part 2 - I'm a total and complete fangirl of The Hunger Games series, so I've been anxiously awaiting (and dreading) the release of the final movie. While I think the books are better than the movies, I've always been so happy with these adaptations. So, I took the day off work to see the movie with my dad!

Read 8 Books | Favorites:
The Immortal Heights by Sherry Thomas
Shadowfell, Raven Flight and The Caller by Juliet Marillier
Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum
The Mirror King by Jodi Meadows

Challenge Progress:
7 Fantasy for Flights of Fantasy Challenge
 2 Re-Reads for The Re-Read Challenge
1 Diverse Read for Dive into Diversity
3 Series for Series a Month
"You have been all my moments of grace."
The Immortal Heights by Sherry Thomas

“It seemed to me it would be better to die standing up to a tyrant than to survive as a tool of his will.”
Shadowfell by Juliet Marillier

 “Because if I see you defeated, then I think I will see Alban defeated,
and if that happens, none of us can go on. To guard you is to guard the heart of this land of ours.”
Shadowfell by Juliet Marillier

 “Let there be a time in the future, I prayed, when he laughs with his children,
and plays on the shore with them, and spends all his nights in loving arms. Let us have that.
To whom I was praying I did not know. The future was in our own hands.
If we wanted a world where such things were possible, it was for us to make it.”
Raven Flight by Juliet Marillier

 "She will never see who I grow up to be - that great mystery of who I am
and who I am meant to be - finally asked and answered."
Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum
Review: Walk on Earth a Stranger by Rae Carson
1. Bookshelf Style by Rachel from Hello, Chelly - I loved getting to look at Rachel's bookshelves and see how she styled them! My shelves are currently packed with books, but I'd love to follow Rachel's lead and make some room so I can decorate them. Another series of November posts, Shelfie Hop, was great inspiration, too!

2. The Difference Between Readers and Bloggers by Lauren from Bookmark Lit - I've posted before about my reading habits before blogging, so I loved Lauren's post about the differences between readers and bloggers. I relate to all of her points, and it made me think about what I can change to get back to my pre-blogging self.

3. The Problem with Hollywood Casting a Novel by Kathleen from Forever Young Adult - I found this post so fascinating, and it was probably one of my favorite things I read all month! I don't really mentally cast books while reading, but I love this argument in favor of slowly building a picture of a character while we read.

Favorite Album: 25 from Adele
I've always admired Adele's talent (and loved when her song's come on the radio),
but I never bought one of her albums. But I succumbed to the 25 hype, and now I'm in love!

Favorite Song #1: "Something in the Way You Move" by Ellie Goulding on Delirium
I absolutely love Ellie Goulding, and I couldn't wait for the release of her new album.
The new album still growing on me, but this is definitely one of the songs I've had on repeat!

Favorite Song #2: "Sorry" by Justin Bieber on Purpose
I've always been a big fan of Justin Bieber, but I swore him off after all the drama.
But I couldn't resist giving his new album a shot, and I can't deny that I really like it!

Mockingjay Part 2 starring Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth - I know I already mentioned this movie in the What I Loved section, but I had to include it here, too! I absolutely loved the final installment. Seeing the epilogue on screen was everything I wanted and more, and I can't say enough about how impressed I was with Josh Hutcheron's performance as hijacked Peeta! ALL THE FEELINGS.

Grey's Anatomy, Seasons 1-3 - With all my TV shows taking a break for the winter, I figured it was the perfect time to binge watch an old favorite. I knew immediately that I wanted it to be Grey's Anatomy! I'm a big fan of this show, despite the ups and downs, and it's been to fun to revisit the early years. I love these characters!

Mad for Marillier: Dreamer's PoolTower of Thorns and Heart's Blood by Juliet Marillier

Pre-Ordered: Winter by Marissa Meyer

Gifted: The BabyLit books by Jennifer Adams (Thanks, Mom & Dad!) and Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery (in What I Loved)

Cassie & Hannah's Holiday Gift Guide

Nov 25, 2015

Y'all, I'm so excited about today's joint gift guide with one of my favorite people, Cassie from The Casserole. When she mentioned that she was thinking about doing this kind of post, I immediately volunteered to join her! Why? Because we both love very different things, so it only made sense to highlight as many gift categories as possible! (And, you know, I love doing blog stuff with her.) We each created gift guides based on the things we love most. For Cassie, that's fitness, food, tech, books and coffee. And for me, it's beauty, decor, books, entertainment and fashion. We hope you'll find something for everyone on your list this year!

1. For the Eyes (Tartelette Eyeshadow Palette - $45): Personally, I don't think you can go wrong with an eyeshadow palette! There are so many to choose from, including special limited edition holiday ones. I recently bought myself this matte eyeshadow palette, and I'm in love! No matter your budget, there's an option.

2. For the Lips (Buxom Lip Polish Collection - $32): Another great gift idea is lipsticks or lip glosses. And it's the perfect time to buy them! So many brands release sets for the holidays - some with full sizes and some with smaller "sample" sizes. This is one set that I've got my eye on and would love to find under the tree this year.

3. For the Bath (Lush Festive Friends Wrapped Gift Set - $29.95): I absolutely love taking a bath, so bath products are one of my favorite things to gift and to receive! You can't go wrong with LUSH (in my opinion) - whether you're picking them out yourself or buying a prepackaged set with some holiday favorites!

4. For the Nails (Butter London RSVP Nail Lacquer Set - $29): It's not secret that I love painting my nails, so I think nail polish makes a great gift! Sometimes I'll pick out a few colors for someone based on their preferences, and sometimes I'll turn to a set like the one featured here. These colors are classic - you can't go wrong with them!

5. For the Skin (GLAMGLOW Dazzling Hydration Set - $69): Skincare products can be hard to buy for someone else, particularly if they have sensitive skin or are prone to breakouts, but it's still worth considering! I just bought myself this set, and I'm obsessed. My skin is usually dry, especially in winter, and this has helped so much.

1. For the Wall (As Soon As I Saw You Vertical Wood Sign - $160): If you know someone's decorating taste, it can be so fun to buy them something they can hang in their house! There are fun prints from Society6, funky mirrors, statement pieces like this wood sign... I love bookmarking this type of stuff when shopping online!

2. For the Living Room (Pendleton Wool Fringed Throw - $109): You can never have too many throw blankets! At least, that's my personal philosophy. I have a basket in the living room with several stored and within easy reach. But when I've got a beautiful one (like this blanket!), I'll fold it over the back of a chair to show it off.

3. For Odds and Ends (Kate Spade Trinket Tray - $60): This Kate Spade tray is on the more expensive end, but there are so many fun trays and bowls that you can buy for someone to store their odds and ends! For example, I have little dishes for my earrings and rings in my bathroom, kitchen and next to my bed.

4. For the Coffee Table (Habitat by Lauren Liess - $35): Of course, I had to include a decorating book in this section! Even if I don't love everything in the book, they just look so good on a bookshelf or coffee table. This recent release is on my Christmas list - it looks gorgeous inside and totally inspiring!

5. For Making Home Smell Lovely (Tocca Brigitte Candle - $38): When it doubt, buy a candle. The only condition? Make sure it smells good! I'm the worst about actually lighting candles... I often treat them like they're on display and can't be used. If I was buying one, I'd go for this lovely one in my favorite Tocca scent.

1. For Marking Pages (Sea Otter Magnetic Bookmarks - $4.62): Every book lover needs something to save their spot! I've been guilty of using paperclips, receipts, rubber bands and other random items as placeholders... at least until I discovered magnetic bookmarks. And now I'm obsessed! They work so well - and look so cute!

2. For Displaying Nerdiness (Anne of Green Gables Print - $16+): I mentioned this in the decor section, but there's something so fun about giving (and receiving) a bookish print! I have a gallery wall in my home office with lots of book-related images, and I love adding to it. Browse Etsy and Society6 for ideas!

3. For Claiming Books (Bookplate Stamp - $25+): I've never had a book stamp before, but I totally want one. For some reason, I hate writing in books but love the idea of claiming them as my own by stamping them inside. There are some really gorgeous bookplate stamps on Etsy, and this one is currently my favorite.

4. For Collecting Favorites (Folio Society Sense & Sensibility - $59.95): This won't apply to all book lovers, but I know it definitely does to many book bloggers! If someone collects copies of a specific book, it can be so much fun to add to their collection. It's thoughtful and it doesn't add to their TBR. That's a bonus, right?

5. For Styling Books (Agate Geode Bookends - $29.99): When I was brainstorming bookish gifts, I immediately thought of bookends! Most of my books are on bookshelves, but I love being able to decorate with books by displaying them around my house. And a gorgeous pair of bookends would be perfect for that...

6. For Wearing Words (Persuasion Book Scarf - $48): And finally, consider gifting someone something they can wear! There are so many options - scarves, necklaces, bracelets, t-shirts, socks, tote bags... No matter the reader, I'd be willing to bet you could find something for almost everyone in this category!

1. For Bingeing (Parenthood: The Complete Series - $78.57): Netflix is great, but I'm totally a sucker for owning my favorite TV shows on DVD. I love being able to grab a disc and pop it in while I'm doing laundry, cleaning the house or just in the mood for a binge. I'm totally guilty of asking for TV boxsets for Christmas!

2. For Remembering Favorites (Luke's Diner Mug - $14.05+): As with book-related items, there are so many fun ways to remember favorite movies, TV shows and more. Honor someone's obsession with a silly gift related to it. For example, the Gilmore Girls lover in your life would probably die over this Luke's Diner mug. 

3. For Collecting (Hunger Games Katniss Funko Pop - $10.99): If you have someone that loves action figures and other collectibles, consider adding to their collection! For example, I like certain Funko Pops and would love to find a few favorites in my stocking this year. Just try to find out what someone already owns first!

4. For Listening (James Bay's Chaos and the Calm and Joy Williams' Venus - $9.99): Although I have a Spotify Premium account, I love receiving iTunes gift cards or albums on my wishlist. The ones in my post are two of my favorite albums released this year. I've had them on repeat for months and haven't gotten sick of them yet.

1. For the Ears (Brooke Worthington X Studs - $40): I'm always hesitant to buy someone clothes, but I love getting them a little bling! If someone is an earring lover, consider a great pair of classic studs or a a funky pair of statement earrings. This pair is on my wishlist this year, and I'm hoping Santa *cough*Nick*cough* is listening.

2. For the Wrist (Kate Spade Metro Scalloped Watch - $195): I don't own many watches, but they can make such a great Christmas gift! Or, if you're looking for something more budget-friendly, consider gifting some great bracelets. I love wearing a big stack of mismatched bracelets, so it's always fun to add more to it.

3. For for the Eyes (Ray Ban Highstreet Sunglasses - $160): Some people only buy cheap sunglasses, and I can totally understand why. I can't tell you how often I think I've misplaced my favorite pair! I don't know about most people, but I usually own at least two or three styles because I prefer having different options.

4. For the Stuff (Rebecca Minkoff Mini Avery Tote - $325): I always want to buy a new handbag, but if I'm feeling patient I'll wait and ask for my most coveted bag for Christmas. You know, if I was able to resist the temptation to splurge throughout the year... I usually favor neutrals, but I'd love to own a purse in this cranberry color.

5. For the Hands (Leah Alexandra Stone Ring - $115): If I had to guess, I'd say that there's probably a ring on my wishlist almost every single year. Sometimes it's a small, delicate one and other times it's a little bolder... but rings are my favorite piece of jewelry to wear. So, I had to include them on my gift guide!

6. For the Feet (Lucky Brand Basel Booties - $129): Shoes (like clothes) can be tricky as a gift because the fit can be so hard to predict (even if you know someone's size). But I figured I had to include them because sometimes it's the perfect gift. I bought myself these boots earlier this year, and I basically want a pair in every color now.

What's on your wishlist this year?
And check out Cassie's post for more ideas!

The Thankful List

Nov 24, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and The Bookish. Every week they post a new topic and invite everyone to share their answers. I'm so obsessed with lists - so I obviously love this feature!

Top Ten Things I'm Thankful for This Year
1. The Re-Read Challenge with Kelly from Belle of Literati - When I was reviewing my reading habits last year, I noticed a decline in the amount of books I re-read. Re-reading has always been important to me, especially when I was growing up. I'd return to my favorites constantly! I'm thankful for The Re-Read Challenge because it motivated me to make this a priority again - and I haven't regretted it!

2. The Picky Pledge with Alexa from Alexa Loves Books - This is another blogging project that came out of reviewing my reading habits! In addition to re-reading less, I noticed I was buying a lot of books and spending more time on review reads. Both things are totally fine - in moderation - but I'd lost sight of why I started blogging in the first place. The Picky Pledge has helped me get back on track, and I'm so glad it's worked out.

3. Friends Discovered Through Blogging - Of course, this item is a given! No list of things I'm thankful for would be complete without mentioning the friends I've made through blogging. I love finding people who share my passion for reading - and who become "real life" friends, too! I'm so thankful for their support and for the laughter and fangirling and kindness they bring into my life on a daily basis.

4. A Creative Outlet That Inspires Me - I've been a little checked out of the blogging world lately, but that doesn't mean this doesn't still deserve a place on my list. I hate being in a bit of a blogging slump, but I'm hoping the holidays will give me a little more creativity and energy! Either way, I'm thankful I have an outlet to share my thoughts on books and all the other things that I love and am so obsessed with.

5. Finding Books That Bring Me Joy - It sounds silly, I'm sure, but I'm just so thankful for the fact that I'm continually finding new books that bring me joy! I still go through reading slumps or read books that just don't work for me, but I'm always amazed that I never run out of books to read and love. It's so lovely to see my favorites shelf expand and to see how my tastes change (and stay the same) over time.

6. Acquiring Amazing New Reads -  In addition to finding books that bring me joy, I'm thankful for the ability to acquire so many amazing books. Whether it's collecting new editions of my favorites or buying a finished copy of a review book that I loved, I'm thankful I can do it - and that my husband doesn't mind being surrounded by books! And I'm learning to be more thoughtful about what I buy, and that's been nice, too.
7. The Baby on the Way - If you saw my post on Twitter (or Instagram), then you probably already know I'm having a baby! I don't have the words to describe how excited I am for our new arrival in May 2016. I've always wanted to be a mom, and the journey to becoming one has been nothing like I expected. It's made me even more thankful for what's to come - and given me an important lesson in patience and prayer.

8. My Hardworking Husband - My husband is one of the most hardworking people I know, and I'm so thankful for him! I couldn't imagine how my life would change when I met him seven years ago, and the reality has been so much better than anything I could have dreamed for myself. As I reflected earlier this year - it's not always perfect, but it's worth it. And I can't wait to see him with our baby!

9. A Home that I Love - With a baby on the way, I've been dreaming about (and planning) the nursery. It's been fun to pick out things for the room - and to imagine who will soon live in it! But it's also reminded me of how much I love my home and how thankful I am to live where I do. It's my favorite place, and there's nowhere I'd rather be. Honestly, that's such a wonderful feeling! And I'm glad my family is right down the road...

10. Fun Trips with Friends and Family - Finally, I'm thankful for the trips I've taken this year! I've gone to the mountains a few times, which was relaxing and refreshing. I went to the beach with my best friend, which was exactly what my heart needed and was so incredibly fun! Then, I went to the beach for family vacation (HEAVENLY). And for my mom's birthday, my brother and I took her to Chicago. It's been an awesome year!

What are you thankful for this year?

I Can't Stop Collecting Quotes

Nov 17, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and The Bookish. Every week they post a new topic and invite everyone to share their answers. I'm so obsessed with lists - so I obviously love this feature!

Top Twenty-One Quotes I Loved 
From Books I Read the Last Year or So
“We will never accomplish anything worthwhile in life if we require the guarantee of success at the onset.” 
The Burning Sky by Sherry Thomas

"Open your eyes and see what you can with them before they close forever." 
All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

"But knowing what happens isn't the same as knowing how it happens. Getting there is the best part." 
The Start of Me and You by Emery Lord

"We're scared of all sorts of things that won't kill us, aren't we? The things we live our lives around avoiding. Then,
we realise when we get to the end that what we should've been afraid of was a life lived by avoiding things." 
Here's Looking at You by Mhairi McFarlane

"But the things we remember are what we hold on to, and what we hold on to becomes the story of our lives. 
We only get one story. And I am determined to make mine a good one." 
Happiness for Beginners by Katherine Center

"We're all of us afraid of many things, but if you make yourself smaller or let your fear confine you, then you really aren't your own person at all – are you?" 
Circling the Sun by Paula McLain

"Life is where you sleep and what you see when you wake up in the morning, 
and who you tell about your weird dream, and what you eat for breakfast and who you eat it with. Life isn't something that happens to you. It's something you make yourself, all the time." 
Goodbye Stranger by Rebecca Stead
“You know not, yet, the sort of love that strikes like a lightning bolt; 
that clutches hold of you by the heart, as irrevocably as death; 
that becomes the lodestar by which you steer the rest of your life. 
I would not wish such a love on anyone, man or woman, 
for it can make your life a paradise, or it can destroy you utterly.” 
Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier

“I suppose all couples feel this way at some point—
that their bond is the most special, the strongest, the Greatest Love of All. 
Not all the time, just in those few and far between moments 
where you look at the person you’re with and think: Yes. It’s you.” 
Before I Go by Colleen Oakley

"Over the past year, I've chipped away at the mythology of my beliefs 
to discover that love is not reasonable or measured. It undoes you. 
It's in the imperfections in each other, in ourselves, where we find our humanity. 
It's in our dents and scars where the deepest connections are made. 
Real love resides in the parts of me I think no one wants to see." 
Girl Before a Mirror by Liza Palmer

"My soul sees its equal in you." 
The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh

“I might like to have someone courting me. 
But it would have to be someone who is a square shooter and who has a train load of courage. 
And it would have to be someone who doesn't have to talk down to folks to feel good, 
or to tell a person they are worthless if they just made a mistake. [...] 
Maybe he'd have to be pretty stubborn. I don't have any use for a man that isn't stubborn. 
Likely a stubborn fellow will stay with you through thick and thin, 
and a spineless one will take off, or let his heart wander.” 
These is My Words by Nancy E. Turner

"I know there may be universes out there where I made different choices
 and they led me somewhere else, led me to someone else. 
And my heart breaks for every single version of me that didn't end up with you." 
Maybe in Another Life by Taylor Jenkins Reid

“I spent centuries wandering the world, from empires to kingdoms to wastelands, 
never settling, never stopping—not for one moment. I was always looking toward the horizon, 
always wondering what waited across the next ocean, over the next mountain. 
But I think… I think that whole time, all those centuries, I was just looking for you.” 
Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas
"It gave me hope: if you could make a beautiful piece of art from discarded newspapers 
and old matchbooks, then it meant everything had potential. And maybe people were like collages - 
no matter how broken or useless we felt, we were an essential part of the whole. We mattered." 
I'll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios

"Some people are dotted lines and other people are destinations. 
Some people get you somewhere and some people are just a place to be, all in themselves. 
But you cannot force those dotted lines into destinations." 
If You Find This Letter by Hannah Brencher

“In friendship we are all debtors. 
We all owe each other for a thousand small kindnesses, for little moments of grace in the chaos.” 
The Start of Me and You by Emery Lord

"Maybe what matters is not so much the path as who walks beside you." 
Under a Painted Sky by Stacey Lee

"There’s a Korean word my grandma taught me. It’s called jung. 
It’s the connection between two people that can’t be severed, even when love turns to hate. 
You still have those old feelings for them; you can’t ever completely shake them loose of you; 
you will always have tenderness in your heart for them." 
P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han

"Granny then said that the real trick of life was that almost no one is entirely a shit and 
almost no one is entirely not a shit. The hard part of life is keeping as much on the not-a-shit side as one can." 

"I have seen the aftermath of death, the incredible mechanism of the body laid bare, 
and I know now that each person is a kind of miracle. A spark nestles like a bird inside our chests, 
so deep that we can't find where it lives, but it is everything. It's what makes us dream and think 
and feel and laugh and sing. And it is a mystery, and it is mundane, and, above all, it is fragile. 
Any moment could be our last." 
Every Word by Ellie Marney

Any of these quotes make your list?
Add any books to your TBR based on quotes?

I'd Find You Anywhere

Nov 13, 2015

Ten Thousand Skies Above You by Claudia Gray

Release Date: November 3 2015
Publisher: HarperCollins; Harper Teen
Pages: 432 pages
Source & Format: Publicist; ARC
Series: Firebird #2
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Summary (from Goodreads)
Ever since she used the Firebird, her parents' invention, to cross into alternate dimensions, Marguerite has caught the attention of enemies who will do anything to force her into helping them dominate the multiverse—even hurting the people she loves. She resists until her boyfriend, Paul, is attacked and his consciousness scattered across multiple dimensions. 

Marguerite has no choice but to search for each splinter of Paul’s soul. The hunt sends her racing through a war-torn San Francisco, the criminal underworld of New York City, and a glittering Paris where another Marguerite hides a shocking secret. Each world brings Marguerite one step closer to rescuing Paul. But with each trial she faces, she begins to question the destiny she thought they shared. 

The second book in the Firebird trilogy, Ten Thousand Skies Above You features Claudia Gray’s lush, romantic language and smart, exciting action, and will have readers clamoring for the next book.

Thoughts on Ten Thousand Skies Above You
I fell in love with the cover of A Thousand Pieces of You last year and then discovered that the story inside was just as lovely. Almost as soon as I started reading, I became immersed in Marguerite Caine's journey as she traveled through parallel universes, uncovered startling secrets and fell in love.  I didn't know it was a series when I began it, but I was excited when I learned that was going to be more to the story. It ended with some closure, but I had a feeling the action was just getting started.

Ten Thousand Skies Above You reaches for new heights - and takes you to entirely new destinations. Once again, Marguerite is on a mission. Her boyfriend, Paul, is attacked and has his consciousness scattered across multiple dimensions. Marguerite begins the search for the splinter's of his soul and for the cure to Theo's rapidly deteriorating condition. In the process, she visits a war-torn San Francisco, the criminal underbelly of New York City, and gorgeous Paris. She believes she and Paul are destined to be together... but what if she's wrong?

In the previous book, I wasn't connected to the story until Marguerite was transported to Russia. There was a shift in the tone, and I became much more invested. There was something about the romance that made the experience so magical! However, I never really understood the science behind everything. I was drawn to the relationships, and I was hoping for more of those in Ten Thousand Skies Above You.

And while I liked the book, I ended up feeling a bit disappointed overall. The focus was definitely on the science and the threat of the "bad guy" who wants to use the alternate dimensions to his advantage. It kept the pacing pretty quick, but I wanted more of what I'd loved in the first book! There were elements of the world that seemed overly complicated, and I didn't find any of the twists that surprising.

But I think Marguerite herself was the most frustrating aspect of the book for me. She was driving me crazy! She was attached to the idea of destiny and fate that she refused to believe that there could ever be a world where things work out any other way for her. I found it confusing! If the parallel universes represent worlds where you make different choices, wouldn't it stand to reason that there are worlds where you make poor decisions or have bad judgement or end up with something else? She clung so tightly to her ideas about the other worlds (and what that meant about the people in her life) that I found myself losing patience with her.

As with the first book, I still found the setting to be one of the strongest elements. I loved traveling to different universes and seeing what had changed or stayed the same. It's interesting to imagine, and Gray had me wishing I could be there right beside Marguerite! Well, aside from when she's in danger...

I'm still very curious to see how this series will end, and I have no doubt I'll read the last book in the series. I'm hoping that it will bring back more of what I loved about the first book! I look forward to seeing how Gray finishes the story. If you were a fan of the first book, you'll definitely want to pick up this installment, too.

So Quotable
“That kind of sorrow never gets any lighter, but you grow accustomed to the weight as you carry it on.”
*I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review consideration. This did not affect my opinion of the book or my review.

'When there’s gold to be had, you can’t trust anyone.'

Nov 9, 2015

Walk on Earth a Stranger by Rae Carson

Release Date: September 24, 2015
Publisher: HarperCollins; Greenwillow Books
Pages: 432 pages
Source & Format: Publisher; e-ARC
Series: The Gold Seer Trilogy #1
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Summary (from Goodreads)
Gold is in my blood, in my breath, even in the flecks in my eyes. 

Lee Westfall has a strong, loving family. She has a home she loves and a loyal steed. She has a best friend—who might want to be something more. 
She also has a secret. 

Lee can sense gold in the world around her. Veins deep in the earth. Small nuggets in a stream. Even gold dust caught underneath a fingernail. She has kept her family safe and able to buy provisions, even through the harshest winters. But what would someone do to control a girl with that kind of power? A person might muder for it. 

When everything Lee holds dear is ripped away, she flees west to California—where gold has just been discovered. Perhaps this will be the one place a magical girl can be herself. If she survives the journey. 

Thoughts on Walk on Earth a Stranger
I fell in love with Rae Carson's The Girl of Fire and Thorns series a few years ago, and I've been eagerly anticipating her newest release ever since. And the best part? It's one of my favorite genres - historical fiction (mixed with a dash of fantasy for a little extra fun). I was thrilled to get the chance to read it for review, so you'll have to forgive me for not reviewing it sooner. This blogging slump lately has been killer!

To be honest, I didn't think I was a huge fan of Westerns, but Walk on Earth a Stranger marks the fifth one I've read this year. (SIDENOTE: If you're looking for more Westerns after reading this book, I highly recommend Under a Painted Sky by Stacey Lee for YA and These is My Words by Nancy E. Turner for adult. Both of these books are new favorites for me!) This novel has the most gorgeous cover of all, if I do say so myself. I know they say you shouldn't judge a book by its cover, but I couldn't help myself with this one. Thankfully, this cover won't lead you astray. The story inside is just as good!

Walk on Earth a Stranger is the story of Leah Westfall, a young girl with a dangerous secret: she can sense gold in the world around her. For most of her life, Leah has felt safe and secure. She loves her home and family, and she's got an awesome best friend. But tragedy strikes, and everything changes. Suddenly, Leah is on her own - and on the run. The news of gold in California holds the hope freedom, but will she survive the journey?

I had two favorite things in Walk on Earth a Stranger: the setting and the characters. The book starts in Dahlonega, Georgia, which I loved because I've lived in Georgia my entire life. It was fun to see the state in its early days - and learn a little about its gold rush history! Once Leah goes on the run, she's traveling across the country in the hopes of reaching California. As expected, it's a dangerous journey. I enjoyed taking the trip with her and "seeing the sights," if you will, but I also liked the people she meets along the way.

And that leads me to the characters! Leah was an amazing heroine, and I really enjoyed her best friend Jefferson. For me, they were the most developed characters in the book. I felt like a few of the secondary (or even more minor) characters were a little undeveloped, but I could see some of that improving throughout the rest of the series. I was expecting a bit of romance, but there was really only the barest hint of it in this story. However, I'm hoping that will change! Elisa and Hector in The Girl of Fire and Thorns series are one of my all-time favorite couples, and I need another Carson couple to root for!

The story itself kept my attention, though I had a few issues with pacing. This book definitely seems to be setting up the action for the rest of the series, so it was a lot slower than I'd anticipated. But I was engaged the entire time I was reading, and I can't wait to see what will happen next! The fantasy element was very minor, so you might be disappointed if you're expecting that to play a larger role in the plot. 

All in all, I was quite pleased with Walk on Earth a Stranger. It's a solid start to a new series that I could see becoming a favorite for me, and I'm excited to follow Leah (and Rae Carson!) on the journey. While I had a few issues with pacing, the setting and characters grabbed my attention. The second book can't get here soon enough! If you're a fan of Westerns, this book might be the gold you're seeking!

So Quotable
“But there's plenty I love about my life that makes it all just fine: the sunrise on the snowy mountain slopes, a mama and daddy who know my worth, that sweet tingle when a gold nugget sits in the palm of my hand.”
*I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review consideration. This did not affect my opinion of the book or my review.

October 2015: Recap + On My Shelves

Nov 3, 2015

I kept expecting my blogging momentum to pick up in October, but it never did. It ended up being a month where I spent more time reading and watching TV, and that's okay, too! Maybe November will turn the tide...

1. Bean Boots - I've been wanting a pair of L.L. Bean Duck Boots for a while now, and I finally took the plunge and ordered a pair in October! They're usually backordered for weeks, but I lucked out somehow. We don't have very cold weather winters in Georgia, but they're often rainy and gross. So, these are perfect!

2. #OTSPSecretSis Gift - My secret sister just keeps spoiling me! I loved this month's package of fall goodies, as well as the fun little extra Halloween surprise that arrived later. I'm excited for this Young Adult book from my wishlist and devoured the candy. Starbucks' seasonal drinks are back, so the gift card is perfectly timed, too!

3. Lindsey Loves Mindy (& Me!) - Lindsey knows that I love Mindy Kaling, and she recently started watching The Mindy Project. I've had so much fun discussing it with her! So, I was thrilled when I opened this adorable surprise. I'd seen a photo of the tote bag on social media but didn't know how to get one for myself. NOW I HAVE ONE!

4. Mail from Morgan - I recently fell in love with the Every series by Ellie Marney, and I was lamenting the wait for the third book. Thankfully, Morgan generously sent me her Australian copy to read! Y'all, it was so good. I basically dropped everything else on my TBR to read it first. My Wattscroft-obsessed heart is so happy.

Read 10 Books | Favorites:
First & Then by Emma Mills
Every Word by Ellie Marney
These Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly
Every Move by Ellie Marney

Challenge Progress:
1 Fantasy for Flights of Fantasy Challenge
2 Re-Reads for The Re-Read Challenge
0 Diverse Read for Dive into Diversity
2 Series for Series a Month
"I have seen the aftermath of death, the incredible mechanism of the body laid bare,
and I know now that each person is a kind of miracle. A spark nestles like a bird inside our chests,
so deep that we can't find where it lives, but it is everything. It's what makes us dream and think
and feel and laugh and sing. And it is a mystery, and it is mundane, and, above all, it is fragile.
Any moment could be our last."
Every Word by Ellie Marney

 "She wanted a smile that was meant only for her."
Monstrous Beauty by Elizabeth Fama

+ a bunch of These Shallow Graves quotes that I forgot to write down...
[Most Popular]
Review: Every Breath and Every Word by Ellie Marney
Discussion: "I just want YOU." {Anne + Gilbert's Love Story}

[Personal Favorite]
Overall: The Anne & Gil post, linked above!
Review: Anne of Green Gables Series by L.M. Montgomery
Discussion: Book Boy Roulette
1. The Literary Shopaholic: You Can Never Get A Cup Of Tea Large Enough by Jen from Pop! Goes the Reader - I'm a huge fan of Jen's shopping posts, even though the end result is often a long list of things I wish I could buy. This edition - featuring mugs - is no exception! I think this mug is my favorite featured in the post.

2. Is Twitter Replacing Blog Interaction? by Holly from The Fox's Hideaway - This topic has been on my brain lately because I've noticed the shift from comments to tweets. I loved Holly's thoughtful reflection on the topic, and I agree with so much of what she wrote. For better or worse, book blogging is evolving in many ways.

3. Voices in Fantasy by Alexa from Alexa Loves Books - I knew about this feature before it debuted on Alexa's blog (yay behind-the-scenes brainstorming sessions!) and couldn't wait to see it live. As expected, it was even more fun once it was real! I enjoyed hearing from favorite fantasy authors about their love for the genre.

Favorite Album: Revival from Selena Gomez
I've never been a huge fan of Selena Gomez, but I can't stop listening to her new album.
It's so addicting! My favorite songs are "Hands to Myself," "Same Old Love" and "Sober."

Project Runway, Season 14 - I used to love watching Project Runaway, but it's been a long time. I happened to catch the premiere of the new season, and now I can't stop watching. I'm not super impressed with any of the designers (though Kelly is probably my favorite), but I still can't wait to find out who wins in the upcoming finale.

Reign, Season 2 - I was addicted to Season 1 on Netflix, even though I thought it was absolutely ridiculous, and started watching Season 2 live last fall. I made it through a few episodes before I took it off my DVR. But when I got an email that it was added to Netflix, I decided to dive back in and binge. Now, I'm hooked again...

Bought: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone: The Illustrated Edition by J.K. Rowling, The Immortal Heights by Sherry Thomas, These Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly and First & Then by Emma Mills, 

Gifted: Mosquitoland by David Arnold (in What I Loved) and The Diary of Lizzie Bennet by Bernie Su and Kate Rorick (Thanks, Mom!)

Borrowed: Every Move by Ellie Marney (in What I Loved)

For Review (ARC / NetGalley): Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum, The Imposter Queen by Sarah Fine and First & Then by Emma Mills
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