Friday, February 28, 2014

February Wrap-Up

Happy end of February to you all! The month has flown by in a flurry of hot and cold days. I'm currently battling a head cold, which is no fun to deal with the week before Mardi Gras and two weeks before midterms and papers. Cheers to the end of February, and bring on March!

February in One Word: Short!

My Favorite Memories in February 2014:
  • A beautiful, romantic, wonderful Valentine's Day and 18 month anniversary weekend
  • Making chocolate covered strawberries with Steph
  • Spending the first warm day in months outside at JSJ writing a paper
  • Many, many weekends in New Orleans
  • The birth of the beautiful and perfect Coryn Broussard!
Books I Read this Month:
  • Outlander by Diana Gabaldon (Review)
  • Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell (Review) 
  • The Reason I Jump by Naoki Higashida
In Case You Missed It:
Favorite Posts from the Month:
Songs that were Popular on my iPod: 
(I did A LOT of driving to New Orleans this month… so these songs are all songs that kept me awake on the road.)

New Obsessions:
  • Baby Coryn Broussard. Because she's so little and beautiful, and babies are pretty awesome to snuggle with.
  • House of Cards. Oh. My. Word. I love Scandal, and this show is a more political, more messed up, more ambitious version of Scandal. On Sunday, February 23rd, I may or may not have sat on the couch and watched 10 episodes straight. (Thank you, Netflix.)
  • Notecards. Tests. Multiple choice questions. Never ending notecards.
3 Things I'm Sad to See Go with February:
  • The cold. I hate winter, truly, but this winter I've come to love big cozy, comfy sweaters. I'll miss wearing those.
  • Weekends in New Orleans. I love having Jeromy in Lafayette, but I'll be a little sad to not spend every weekend in New Orleans.
  • The easy part of the semester. March begins crunch time.
3 Things I'm Looking Forward to in March:
  • Another month with Jeromy being in Lafayette on a client. It's so nice to have him around.
  • Mardi Gras (mostly the few days off when I'm allowed to be lazyyy)
  • My last full month of being LESS THAN A QUARTER CENTURY OLD. Whew.
Favorite Quote from a Book I Read this Month:

“I can bear pain myself, he said softly, but I couldna bear yours. That would take more strength than I have.”
― Diana Gabaldon, Outlander

Friday, February 21, 2014

Book Review: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

“In new situations, all the trickiest rules are the ones nobody bothers to explain to you. (And the ones you can't Google.)” 
― Rainbow RowellFangirl

Book Title: Fangirl
Author: Rainbow Rowell
Publication Date: 2013
Genres: New Adult, Realistic Fiction, Chick Lit
How I Found It: Recommended by The Perpetual Page-Turner
Goodreads Rating: 4.22 Stars 
My Rating: 3.25 Stars

Book Review: Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

“But just then, for that fraction of time, it seems as though all things are possible. You can look across the limitations of your own life, and see that they are really nothing. In that moment when time stops, it is as though you know you could undertake any venture, complete it and come back to yourself, to find the world unchanged, and everything just as you left it a moment before. And it's as though knowing that everything is possible, suddenly nothing is necessary.” 
― Diana GabaldonOutlander

Book Title: Outlander
Author: Diana Gabaldon
Publication Date: 1991
Genres: Adult Fiction, Historical Fiction, Romance, Fantasy
How I Found It: Book Club Choice
Goodreads Rating: 4.12 Stars 
My Rating: 4 Stars

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

How to Pick a Book...

….for Book Club. (Obviously, if you need any help choosing a book to read, you can check out my Book Recommendations page or read my Book Reviews)

This month, it was my turn to choose the novel for our book club to read. Of course, every book club has its own routine, and often, book clubs will go with certain genres, like YA lit or mystery. Our book club (aptly named A Novel Bunch… hehe) is much less structured and formal. Everyone in the group joined because they want to read novels outside of their comfort zone and they want to have an excuse to drink and talk books.

Each month, a different person chooses the book to be read and the place we are meeting. Last month, we switched it up a bit and read our choice from three different historical fiction novels. (We all ended up reading The Other Boleyn Girl, with a few people reading more than one novel.) This month, it was my turn. I still haven't figured out where we are meeting yet (although I do love Indulge..), but we did pick our book.

There's a process I go through to choose books to be presented for book club. First, I choose a few criteria: it has to be readable within a certain length of time, it has to be something that is interesting enough and deep enough to provide us with some discussion topics, and it has to fit in a chosen genre or topic.

The first time it was my turn to choose the novel, I used the 2013 Tournament of Books to shortlist novels that we might use. We ended up choosing The Orphan Master's Son, since it beat out The Fault in Our Stars and won the Tournament (for a good reason!). It turned out to be one of the best books that we have read in book club, in my opinion, and is one of the books we talk about the most still to this day. (North Korea is a sketchy place, yall.)

This time, I decided to choose books that start a series that feature a strong female heroine. Finding a novel that fit all of the criteria was surprisingly difficult. I first looked at YA fiction series, because so many popular series are YA. However, after reading reviews, I noticed that so many people were commenting that even though the protagonist was female, she was a stereotypical character or the novel focused more on a love story and Prince Charming, rather than the strength of the female in her own right. Now, I love a good Prince Charming story, for sure, but that wasn't what I was looking for this month.

Finally, I stumbled into the depths of the Goodreads Forums and came across a thread started by someone who was looking for precisely the same things I was. Thus, I found six different series that fit the mold (sorta...)

I brought a print up that detailed the covers of the books, the publisher's summaries, and the Goodreads ratings of each of the novels to the last book club meeting. From there, we narrowed it down to twoe novels: Outlander by Diana Gabaldon and The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley. (Interestingly enough, each of these are also historical fiction with a touch of fantasy, and are now all on my To Read list!)

From there, we posted a poll on our Facebook group for everyone to vote, since we were missing a couple of people at our last meeting.

That is how I ended up reading Outlander for the last two weeks (soooo maybe this book was a bit longer than anticipated.. I'm not complaining!

I got the book from the library, and I was immediately impressed by how beautiful it was! Hardcover, ribbon bookmark, CD of classical music, and A MAP! (Something that everyone in book club feels is an indication of a great book.)

Isn't it pretty? It was wonderful, and I'll have the review up on Friday!

Monday, February 17, 2014

Bacchanal Wine Date Night

In case you weren't aware, Valentine's Day was last Friday. I love Valentine's Day! Of course, I haven't had a Valentine's Day single since 9th grade, but that's besides the point. I love the love that pours out of everyone on this day, as if we were all reminded that it is okay to tell people how much you care about them.

Last year, I gave Jeromy a present every day leading up to Valentine's Day. This year, I was not as ambitious. He, however, outdid himself with an awesome evening and tickets to go see Kings of Leon and Local Natives in New Orleans the day after my birthday! :)

Friday night, we went to a local wine.. bar? restaurant? store? All of the above. Bacchanal Wine was the perfect setting for a great evening.

This is how they describe themselves:
Bacchanal is a wine laboratory where food music and culture collude with Holy Vino to create the most unique evenings you will ever experience in New Orleans Ninth Ward.
Yep, the Ninth Ward. Pre-Katrina, the Ninth Ward was the scariest place in New Orleans. Seriously, even the police didn't want to go around there. In fact, this is where Lil Wayne grew up. Luckily, the Bywater was one of the only places that didn't flood in the Ninth Ward when Katrina hit. Today, the Bywater is a bustling hipster area, with local musicians and artists abounding.

When you walk into Bacchanal Wine, the first thing you'll see is racks and racks of bottled wine. The entrance is a store where you can purchase local and imported wines. When you purchase your wine and cheese plates, they give you wine glasses for you to use for the night. Thus, everyone is walking around drinking their bottles of wine and it's awesome.

Walk outside to the backyard, where mismatched tables and chairs sit under a canopy of lighted trees. Finding a table outside was difficult, since they had a live jazz band playing and oh, it was Valentine's Day. We waited in line to order food from their gourmet menu. We decided on the hanger steak, which was OMG amazing, but definitely not enough for us to split for supper. Once we ordered, we made our way upstairs to the recently renovated bar and seating area.

The bar has a few cocktails, which is the route we decided to go. I got the Bleeding Heart (irony!) and Jeromy ordered the Infidel. Both were yummy, but I think I liked Jeromy's better. Then we found a seat in the candlelit room. It was beautiful and romantic and perfect.

I am in no way affiliated with Bacchanal Wine, but my goodness, I recommend it wholeheartedly. It's a great place to go on a date or with a group of friends. It has the upstairs tables for a romantic view, or the backyard lounge that is perfect for hanging out with friends.

*Disclaimer: All of these photos were found via Google because Jeromy and I had a no phones policy during this date!*

Friday, February 14, 2014

Happy Valentine's Day!

Yesterday, I sat down and wrote a blog post on Valentine's Day and how important it was to tell people that you love them.

Then I reread it, and realized that the blog post that I wrote would be much better suited for a personal card to those people I love, rather than a blog post for the world to read. So instead, I'll just share with you this wonderful message from Dove. I think that it sums up everything I've been feeling the last few weeks. Happy Valentine's Day to all of you.

"Happiness is in the heart, not in the circumstances."

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

A First Reading of TFiOS (via Snapchat)

Last week, we had a few snow days here in South Louisiana. Personally, I spent quality time with Netflix, my pjs, and my cats. On Wednesday evening, my cousin Allie texted me..

That text led to this wonderful post, where you can live through Allie reading the novel for the first time. 

THERE WILL BE SPOILERS. If you have not read the book yet, WHY ARE YOU READING MY BLOG? Go away from your laptop and read this novel now.

For the rest of you, continue on.

Nook edition (Aren't you so glad I convinced you to buy a Nook, Allie?)

Augustus reading An Imperial Affliction for the first time. Enjoy all of the laughs.

“Okay,” he said. “I gotta go to sleep. It’s almost one.” 
“Okay,” I said.
 “Okay,” he said. 
I giggled and said, “Okay.” And then the line was quiet but not dead. I almost felt like he was there in my room with me, but in a way it was better, like I was not in my room and he was not in his, but instead we were together in some invisible and tenuous third space that could only be visited on the phone. “Okay,” he said after forever. “Maybe okay will be our always.”
 “Okay,” I said.
 It was Augustus who finally hung up.” 

 Allie, what part are you on?

(Hey guys, she's single.)

Ah, the Orange Date. Otherwise known as WE ARE GOING TO AMSTERDAM!

Yes it is...

(Notice the black and white, folks. That's called foreshadowing.)

(I did say there would be spoilers...)

No words.

Mascara and tears for days.

There's no better way to describe it.

Allie, thank you for letting me live vicariously through you as you read this novel for the first time. It's beautiful and heartbreaking and still sitting firmly at the top of my list.

Wednesday was also the day that the preview for the movie came out, which left me breathless and in tears and I absolutely cannot wait for June 6th.