september wrap-up

It’s that time of the month…

September just flew by! I’ve been keeping busy with my multitude of personal projects–they seem to be getting out of hand lately! Writing, crochet, blogging, keeping up with my TPT store, reading, working out…it’s been A Lot.

But it’s been a good month, and I finally feel truly ready for fall. (If only it’d stop being so abnormally hot around here…) I’ve been productive and busy and overall pretty positive about life. Which is great!

Read on for my monthly wrap-up.

Continue reading “september wrap-up”

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i’m so giddy thinking about these books | anticipated releases for the last third of 2017

Happy Wednesday, everyone!

This post is basically just what the title says: 10 books that are coming out in these remaining few months of 2017 that I’m SUPER pumped about! I know people tend to do these types of posts quarterly…or perhaps just twice a year…but I’m going to be original and cut the year into thirds. Yes, I know I’m weird awesome.

ANYWAY, here we go, 10 upcoming releases and why I’m excited about them!

Continue reading “i’m so giddy thinking about these books | anticipated releases for the last third of 2017”

i’m very glad my childhood was not so creepy | book review

the ocean at the end of the lane by neil gaiman

A man returns to his hometown to attend a funeral, and while there, old memories resurface. He finds himself making his way back to a farm where he met a girl and her family, who protected him during a most mystical time in his life, that he didn’t even remember until now. This book is the story of that time, during which the man was just a boy trying to escape an evil being that had been accidentally let loose.

Recommended if you like:

  • whimsical and nostalgic short stories
  • a sort of witchy, mysterious, and unexplained magic
  • brave little boys who try their best to overcome evil

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My Spoiler-Free Review

This was my very first Neil Gaiman read, and I’m pleased that I really enjoyed it. I wasn’t sure what to expect from this 181-page story, but it certainly wasn’t what I got. This book is freaky, mystical, and somehow also nostalgic and sweet. Only a master writer could evoke all of those feelings at once.

The things the little boy goes through in this book make me very glad my childhood was normal and free of fantastical happenings. He has a hard time of it! (And he doesn’t even have a name…this poor child!) I mean, goodness, the story begins when his best-buddy kitten gets run over. That was enough to make me sympathetic, and that’s only the beginning.

Thank goodness our little boy makes a friend with one Lettie Hempstock, and together they learn all about bravery and defeating evil.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by 6vedik
art by 6vedik

Beware the freakiness in this book. If you’re looking for a great thrillery, strange, Halloweeny read, I would definitely recommend this. I was honestly scared at more than one point in the story. The magical realism is so mysterious that you’ll want to keep reading for more of it. The writing is so lush and vivid, it’ll make you think of your own childhood.

My only major disappointment with this read is that I didn’t have a huge emotional connection to the story–probably because it was so ~out there. I also wished there was a bit more of a definite conclusion at the end. I’m all about vague endings, but in this case I wanted a bit more.

My Rating: ★★★☆☆

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What books have you read that make you thankful for a normal childhood? Leave your thoughts below!

Until next time,
Brianne

to library or not to library | discussion

I, personally, am a huge fan of libraries. I’m even considering librarianship as a career! I don’t know how many hours I’ve spent at the library, browsing shelves and studying. I’m lucky enough that the library nearest my home is really nice, with tons of cozy, quiet spaces, fully-stocked shelves, and plenty of friendly librarians. I also have quite a lot of locations within a half-hour radius from me–such easy access!

That said…libraries can suck sometimes. Books from libraries can suck sometimes. Libraries make me want to pULL OUT MY HAIR sometimes.

So, what do you think? Yea or nay to libraries? Let’s break this down a bit.

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  • Free books! I said free!!!
  • MOST books usually available in some format–print, ebook, audiobook, etc.
  • Cozy place to read, quiet place to study
  • Used books sales!
  • Community events!
  • Real Humans to help with finding books, research, and more
  • Recommendations from librarians, fliers, or other community members
  • Reading programs! Rewards for reading = best thing ever
  • A place where people love books and reading–basically a second home for us bookworms ❤️  ❤️  ❤️

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  • Sometimes books look like they’ve come from the sewer — the quality is terrible
  • Sometimes books are falling apart — they’re super old
  • Books might not be available upon release date. What do you mean the library has to process books before lending them out?!
  • Book holds might take MONTHS to come through…especially when peOPLE HANG ONTO THEIR BOOKS LONG PAST THE DUE DATE (YES, that’s happened to me, could you guess?)
  • Older releases or less popular books aren’t always available
  • You can’t keep the books forever, unfortunately. Which means no pretty bookshelves in your bedroom.
  • OVERDUE FINES 🔪 🔪 🔪

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pros and cons of libraries

As I’ve mentioned before on this blog, I am seriously always looking for a deal. FREE BOOKS is a fantastic deal. I mean, I can read as many books as my heart desires for no cost to myself! (Other than time and gas money…and possible overdue fines.) That is the best deal ever, and it trumps pretty much any con on my list. Sure, those cons I listed can be frustrating (and sometimes depressing, because who DOESN’T want a shelf of gorgeous and beautifious books on their shelf at home?!), but in the end: BOOKS.

Yea to libraries for me.

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What do you think? Do the cons outweigh the pros? Have I forgotten any important points?

Discuss with me below! 

Until next time,
Brianne

top 5 wednesday | september 20

I’m back again for another Top 5 Wednesday!

Top 5 Wednesday is run by Sam at thoughtsontomes. Check out the Goodreads group if you’re interested in learning more or joining in on the fun!

Today’s prompt: Favorite Fancasts

Fancasts can be tricky things. Oftentimes, I find myself neither satisfied by fancasts nor pleased about actual castings. This is possibly became I don’t tend to picture detailed characters when I read. They’re more like blurry, faceless people. (I know, I’m weird.) Blurry, faceless people are rather hard to come by when looking for actors for TV and film.

That said, there are a few fancasts that either I’ve thought of myself or I’ve seen around the interwebs that do totally work for me. Read on for some of my favorites!

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Richard Harmon as Sevro

from the Red Rising series by Pierce Brown

Richard Harmon seems like such a perfect Sevro to me, other than his hair color–but dying hair isn’t so hard a change, right? He can pull off weird, threatening, sassy, and fierce so well. Plus, he’s slighter and shorter–both necessary characteristics for Sevro. Kinda scary, kinda awesome. He’d be so great playing a gritty, emotional character like Sevro.

Reece King as Ronan

from The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater

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This guy has basically BECOME Ronan on Tumblr. I’m not sure if Reece is even an actor or just a model, but so many fans–me included!–think he has just the perfect vibe for Ronan. He looks dangerous, bored, snarky, and arrogant. Now, Ronan is supposed to be pale and Irish…but sometimes the fit of a character and actor goes deeper than skin color.

Plus, he knows fans like him as Ronan…and seems generally positive about the idea.

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Neelam Gill as Inej

from the Six of Crows duology by Leigh Bardugo

Another Tumblr favorite! Again, any fancast or ~aesthetic post on Tumblr for Six of Crows of Crooked Kingdom has Neelam Gill as Inej, and I love it so much. She has a fantastic presence–a confident yet demure way about her. Plus, she’s small, and (I believe) the right ethnicity look for Inej. She’s another model, but boy is she a great fit in my mind.

Luke Pasqualino as Kaladin

from The Stormlight Archive by Brandon Sanderson

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*drools*

Okay, okay. This is a fancast that I found on the publisher’s website, created by Sanderon’s beta and gamma readers. Sanderson described the Alethi as a mix of Asian, Arab, Polynesian, and possibly more–a race not easily definable to us. Luke Pasqualino was listed as their honorable mention, but I think he fits the part so well. He can play conflicted so well, though he might have to bulk up a bit for the role! Plus, he’s just beautiful, and I wouldn’t mind watching him onscreen for the adaptation of 5/10 books. Just saying…

Honorable mention (also stolen from the Tor post linked above): Evanna Lynch as Syl, Kaladin’s wind spren sidekick. HOW PERFECT would that be?! I think I may have actually read Syl’s dialogue in her voice without realizing.

Hunter Parrish as Nikolai Lantsov

from the Grisha trilogy by Leigh Bardugo

So this is one I came up with myself?! Still not entirely sure how I feel about it, BUT. I just love Hunter Parrish. I first saw him in Weeds, in which he plays a cocky, sexy, intelligent character. As Nikolai is so similar, it occurred to me that Hunter Parrish would be an excellent fit! Plus, he has a classically beautiful face (in my opinion, anyway), which looks quite princely. I would love to see him as Nikolai if these books ever become movies (which, by the way, WHY hasn’t that happened yet?!).

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There you have it! My top 5 fancasts. What are some of your favorite fancasts? Comment down below!

Until next time,
Brianne

when a prince’s bastard son becomes a royal assassin | series review

the farseer trilogy by robin hobb

Series Rating: ★★★★☆

Within the series: Assassin’s Apprentice (#1), Royal Assassin (#2), and Assassin’s Quest (#3)

A six-year-old boy is dropped off at a keep, returned by his family to the prince who fathered him. This boy comes to be known as FitzChivalry, the bastard son of Prince Chivalry, next in line to the throne. Fitz becomes a catalyst to a series of events that occur in the land of the Six Duchies throughout his growing years. Invaders from the sea, tension within the royal family, and mysteries of magic and Elderlings create the chaos in which Fitz tries to find his place, and eventually realizes that while here is a mere boy, he’s also a piece of a larger puzzle.

Recommended if you like:

  • coming of age stories
  • dynamic characters and relationships
  • subtle yet complex fantasy
  • long, winding plots and descriptive writing

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My Spoiler-Free Review

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This series is our hero’s backstory, and a tragic backstory it is. Fitz’s childhood is tough, heartbreaking, and challenging.  The story begins when the only family he’s ever known basically abandoning him, and continues as he tries to find his place as the bastard son of a prince in a world that doesn’t care about him. If you’re looking for a warm and fuzzy boyhood story, this series isn’t it.

That said, Fitz’s story will tug at your heartstrings in the very best way. Hobb accomplishes this by writing a cast of complex, developed, interesting characters, including Fitz himself. He grows from an innocent young boy to a slightly exasperating teen, and finally a matured young man. Other characters, though not protagonists or evolving in such a dramatic way as coming of age, still shift and complete their own character arcs and development in satisfying ways. More than anything, Hobb excels at character development, dynamics, and relationships.

Throughout the series, Fitz brings together a found family of sorts, and his relationships with these people are deep yet complicated. He clashes with these people and he doesn’t like them all the time, but they are his people. These characters and their relationships not only make you fall in love with this trilogy, but want to continue reading the entire Realm of the Elderlings series.

The plot, though slow and perhaps meandering at times, has many shades to it as well. There are two major conflicts within the series: the first and foremost, a war with invaders from across the sea. The second and more subtle: tension within the royal family itself. When Fitz begins training as an assassin, a King’s Man for his grandfather King Shrewd, he is inexplicably drawn into this tension, and as he grows older, he plays his own part in it. As a bastard, he inevitably creates unique situations and tension himself, and it’s all deliciously suspenseful and dramatic.

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Hobb’s writing is a delight. Though she tends to be overly descriptive, you can’t say she doesn’t write a vivid world. The details and pictures she gives makes the world of the Six Duchies come alive, and as you read through the series, each new location featured is just as vibrant as the rest.

The magic in this fantasy world is subtle yet interesting. There are two types of magical abilities. First is the Skill. This ability allows someone to read another’s mind, see through their eyes, and also speak to them in their mind, sway their thoughts, or cause them to see an illusion. This Skill is found mainly in the royal bloodline, so Fitz, although he’s a bastard, could develop it. The second type of ability is called the Wit; in many ways, it’s the opposite of the Skill. This ability allows one to bond and communicate with animals. However, it is seen as a perversion and not encouraged or fostered by any civilized person. Both abilities are featured in this series, and you can imagine how they could create some conflicts.

In sum, pick up this series for a magical, political, suspenseful story. You will fall in love with the characters, delight in Hobb’s descriptive writing, and wonder at the magic of it all.

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Have you read The Farseer Trilogy? What did you think of it? Leave your thoughts below!

Until next time,
Brianne

i’ve made some health and fitness goals

I’m once again here with a Friday post that expands the bounds of this blog. What can I say, I like to babble about whatever’s on my mind. I’m into it.

Anyway, today’s topic is health and fitness.

The backstory

A few years ago, I began my career as a teacher and had not a thought in my mind about health and fitness. I was much too preoccupied with lesson planning, grading papers, and catching up on sleep. Plus, I was on my feet all day long and most likely hit at least 10,000 steps a day–not that I had the tracker to prove it. Regardless, my unhealthy eating and lack of thought in the fitness department wasn’t affecting me too negatively.

About a year ago is when I decided to take a step back from teaching, move back in with my parents, and find a new job. I was no longer getting all those steps in, but I had a ton more time to do my favorite free time activities–read and surf the interwebs. Neither activity is particularly active, as I’m sure you all know. Unfortunately, these activities, combined with everything else happening (or not happening) in my life, made me progressively less fit by the day.

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Now that I’ve been working at the same job for four months, and am planning to stay on for longer, I have settled into a routine and realized just how gross I’ve been in terms of health and fitness. I’m not necessarily talking about weight here; just in general, I wasn’t thinking about what I was eating or being active. Simply put: I got lazy.

Then, a month or so ago, my best friend got engaged. I won’t say this was my motivation to start being better about health and fitness, but it may have been the catalyst. My younger sister and I both realized that if we wanted to look dang good in wedding photos, and feel good about ourselves in general, we would have to start taking action. And so we have!

How I’m taking action

I started by tracking my calories. Notice I don’t say “counting” like most others would. I like thinking about it as tracking, simply seeing what I’m eating, where the nutrients are coming from, if I’m getting enough protein and fiber in a day, etc. To start, I wasn’t even concerned with going over my “calorie limit.” I just wanted to get a look at what I’m working with and see if I could notice any trends.

I use the My Fitness Pal calorie counter, and you’d be surprised by how fun it is, especially if you get friends or family to do it with you. Yes, it can be depressing. It can be shocking when you learn just how much sugar is in that smoothie you just ordered, or how many calories are in a burger at your favorite restaurant. But it’s also extremely informative. It has helped me learn that I hardly ever get enough protein, I usually consume too much sugar, and I only get enough nutrients if I eat my fruits and vegetables. Sometimes easier said than done.

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Finally, the fitness. My sister and I both agreed that we would be more motivated to get active if we had the opportunity to do things together and possibly take some classes. So, our conclusion was to get a gym membership. It’s expensive, but I already feel that it’s worth it. So far, we’ve been going three times a week–two times to do our own thing (walk, use the bikes and other machines) and once to take a Zumba class. I think it’s been going great.

The number one reservation people seem to have about joining is a gym is worry over making time for it and getting their money’s worth. I’ve found that somehow I feel like I have even more free time in my days now that we’ve been going to the gym–how does that work? I suspect it all comes down to scheduling and prioritizing. When you make the time for something, you don’t notice that a little bit of your free time is gone. You still fit in all you want to do at some point in the week. And when you start to feel restless and ready for another workout, it’s a positive, doable thing, not something negative that will take time away from whatever else you’d like to do.

My overall goals

As I’ve gone through this experience in the past month or so, some overall goals have shaped themselves. This has been a real discovery process for me, and I am so pleased that it began in the first place and that it began organically, if you will. For the most part, anyway.

My goals aren’t anything specific; I think that’s where I would start getting frustrated with myself and possibly too obsessed with results. I’m thinking of a broader picture, here. This isn’t just a thing I want to do to lose weight right now. I want to make a lifestyle change.

So, my goals are simple:

  • Eat clean (aka cut out processed foods as much as possible)
  • Eat balanced meals
  • Be active (ideally, working out 3 times a week)
  • Do what works for me

That last one is the kicker. As I’ve read blogs, watched Youtube videos, and started my own fitness journey, I learned one important thing: There is not just ONE way to go about being fit and healthy. There are many ways. It’s up to me to figure out what works for me, and that will take some experimentation.

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Having this mentality is what will, I believe, give me perseverance with this life change. It has kept me positive and excited about it so far! I won’t deny that I’ve been stressed a few times, but I’m learning how not to be. It’s a process, and it’ll be a long one, but it will be worth it.

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Do you have any health or fitness tips to share? And what are your favorite ways to eat veggies? That’s honestly what I need the most help with right now! Comment down below!

Until next time,
Brianne