Wednesday, April 30, 2014

April Wrap-Up

April is over.. Can you believe it? What a month it has been! My birthday was everything I expected it to be, with lots of fun with friends and family and only one or two major "OMG I'M 25" breakdowns. Spring break ended the month, with Festival and a beautiful wedding.. What a wonderful month!

April in One Word: Birthday!

My Favorite Memories in April 2014:
  • Girls' supper with Kay and Simone and our mommas
  • Learning to use Photoshop and Illustrator
  • Pre-birthday weekend full of fun with the family and omg-amazing food
  • Kings of Leon and Local Natives concert in New Orleans!
  • Finishing CESIM and all required essays for the semester
  • A looooong Easter ending with a night with friends
  • Cat sitting Theo while Abby and Jordan road tripped, and binge watching Game of Thrones
  • Relaxing during Spring Break
  • Festival International and fun with friends!
  • The Broussard/Songy weddingWatching one of my oldest friends get married!
Books I Read this Month:
  • Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein (Review)
  • Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi
  • Hate List by Jennifer Brown (ReRead)
  • Side Effects May Vary by Julie Murphy
  • The Museum of Extraordinary Things by Alice Hoffman (Review)
In Case You Missed It:
  • New feature on the blog! Book recommendations! If you recommend it, I will read it. Guaranteed. (I pray I won't end up regretting that guarantee down the road…)
  • I turned 25.
  • Top Ten Tuesday, where I put together an If you liked, then you'll love... post with book, movie, and blog favorites.
Favorite Posts from the Month:
New Obsessions:
  • These new cardigans from Old Navy. And this dress from J. Crew. It was a great shopping month.
  • Houses and rent houses and apartments and places to live. Zillow and
  • Game of Thrones, my Nook, and anything that can distract me from homework.
3 Things I'm Sad to See Go with April:
  • My birthday. I'm such a birthday diva.
  • Spring break and Easter
  • A little buddy that left.
    3 Things I'm Looking Forward to in May:
    • The end of the semester!
    • Weekend fun… anniversary celebrations, graduations, and another part of the CPA exam being finished
    • Packing up my life. For some reason, I'm so looking forward to it!
    Favorite Quote from a Book I Read this Month:

    "Just like there's always time for pain, there's always time for healing."
    - Jennifer Brown, Hate List

    Tuesday, April 29, 2014

    Top Ten Tuesday: If You Liked, You Will Love...

    Hey y'all! Every week, The Broke and the Bookish blog hosts a linkup where book bloggers post their Top Ten Tuesdays. This week's theme is If you liked, then you will love…

    And of course, I jumped on the opportunity to bring some information to all of you!

    So, without further ado.. Top Ten Tuesday!

    The Book Thief by Markus Zusak was an instant classic when it hit shelves in 2005. If you loved The Book Thief, check out Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein. The two books feature the same setting (WWII), and really interesting female main characters.
    If you loved Breaking Bad and looking to satisfy your withdrawals, check out the novel Go Ask Alice. This novel is written in diary format, which makes for a very personal experience, and it chronicles a teen's spiral into drug addiction during the 70's in a very raw and honest way.
    Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert was an instant bestseller that chronicles the author's journey around Europe and Asia in an effort to find herself. While The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce is fictional and features a very different sort of journey, I found that the outcome of discovering yourself along the way was very much the same between the two novels.
    Personally, I was not a fan of Fight Club, but I can't deny that the movie has gained a cult following. For those of you who haven't read the book, check out some of Chuck Palahniuk's other works. For book club, we read Survivor, and it was one of the most unique novels I have ever read.
    Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn is a wildly popular novel (soon-to-be movie!) that has had people raving since its debut in 2012. Readers love the psychological intrigue and startling twists that the novel brings. A novel that I read many, many years ago, Thr3e by Ted Dekker, had the same lasting impression on me that Gone Girl has due to its psychological nature and big changes throughout the novel.
    The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini is another modern classic that nearly everyone has read (except me, because this.) My favorite part about The Kite Runner was the interesting perspective it gave into the Middle Eastern world, unskewed by media and prejudices. I Am Malala, a nonfiction novel, provided the same insight with even more clarity. I was impressed by how entrapped I became with this novel.
    I've been following the Postsecret blog for many, many years now. There's something captivating about seeing people spill their deepest secrets, and finding how well I relate to so many of them. If you like the Postsecret books or blog, check out It's Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini. The insight you gain into the main character's mind, coupled with some very humorous and very serious moments really makes this novel stand out.
    Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson was a book that I read in high school that I took with me through my adult life. The main character goes through rape, which leaves her emotionally crippled and without friends to talk to. The change she undergoes throughout the novel is really inspiring. Another novel that features a situation like this is Hate List by Jennifer Brown. Here, the main character's boyfriend brings a gun to school, and she has to deal with the aftermath.
    If you haven't read Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher, go read it now. NOW. If I Stay by Gayle Forman is a favorite of book bloggers and features a lot of the same emotional struggles that the main character in Thirteen Reasons Why faces. (Plus, If I Stay is being made into a movie, and the trailer is just beautiful.)
    When Robert Pattinson signed up for the movie version of Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen, the novel exploded in popularity. Whether you are a fan of the book, or the movie, or both, The Museum of Extraordinary Things by Alice Hoffman will bring you back to the same time period as Water for Elephants, but with more intriguing characters and points of view.

    Hope you enjoyed my first foray into Top Ten Tuesdays! As always, if you have any book recommendations for me, send them via that little form on the sidebar!

    Monday, April 28, 2014

    Book Review: The Museum of Extraordinary Things by Alice Hoffman

    “Love like this wasn't what he'd planned or wanted or expected, surely it was indeed a trap, for even when you tried to run away, it followed you through the grass and lay down beside you, it overtook common sense and willpower.” 
     ― Alice Hoffman, The Museum of Extraordinary Things

    Book Title: The Museum of Extraordinary Things
    Author: Alice Hoffman
    Publication Date: 2014
    Genres: Adult Fiction, Historical Fiction
    How I Found It: Book Club Choice
    Goodreads Rating: 3.82 Stars 
    My Rating: 3.75 Stars

    Thursday, April 10, 2014

    25 Years Wiser

    Today, I am a quarter of a century old. Ten years ago, I would have been appalled by who I am today. I'm not married, no babies, and I'm in school for business. There is not much about my life today that my 15 year old self would have planned out. But you know, there are a few things that I think my 15 year old self would have been proud of -- a wonderful relationship with a pretty special guy, the guts it took to come back to school, the freedom I have that comes from not having children quite yet.

    In the spirit of being 25 and all of the infitite wisdom that comes with it, I decided to put together a list for my 15 year old self that might make life a bit easier in those terrible high school years.

    No one is an adult.

    Honestly. No one feels like an adult. I can assume that as you get older, you get more used to having knowledge and being looked upon as someone who knows a thing or two, but in reality, the older you get, the less sure you are about everything. When you're 15, you know everything. The older you get, the less you know.

    As you get older, they get younger.

    I swear. When I was 15 years old, the 16 year olds were adults who could drive. When I was 20, the 16 year olds were the young adults on the precipice of the time of their lives. Now that I'm 25, I see that the 16 year olds are just babies who have so much left to experience.

    Plans change.

    Don't spend too much time trying to fit your life into the mold of what it should be. Instead, take every opportunity that comes your way and let your life path fill itself out.

    The future is scary.

    That being said, I have a 5-10-15 year plan. The future is scary without a plan, and without goals, there's not much point to it all. Know what you would like to achieve with the understanding that you might have to take the long way and work hard to make it happen.

    Love your body.

    It easy to fall out of the routines that high school offers. Just because you aren't playing sports anymore (ahem, dancing is a sport!) doesn't mean you can be a lazy bum. Keep exercising, stop eating so much pizza, try salads. It's never too early to love your body, and the sooner you start the healthy habits, the easier they will be to continue.

    Your passion won't always be your career.

    I love books and dancing. My career will likely not be anything to do with either. While having a passion is amazing, it's not necessarily going to translate into a profitable career path. (Kudos to those of you who are able to make a career of something you're insanely passionate about!) Like your work. Love your hobbies. Both will keep you sane.

    Your parents are your best friends.

    Seriously. I'm not kidding. They are your biggest fans, strongest support system, and financial supporter when you are stuck trying to decide between eating food or living under a roof. Take advantage of their help, their love, and their guidance. They want what's best for you.

    Cherish your friends.

    Sure, getting calls at 2 am to pick them up from the bar is not always the funnest experience. But if you ignore them, don't make an effort, and don't listen to them, you will lose them. You will find yourself without support, without a listening ear, without a friend to take to see the newest novel-turned-movie. Don't let those friends go.

    Don't be afraid to make new friends.

    There will be times in your life where you are stuck in a place that you know no one. Don't be scared. Take advantage of those opportunities. I promise, I could not make it through grad school without having friends/teammates/tutors in every single class.

    Life won't always be easy.

    No matter how much planning you do, there will be curve balls. You will have to break up with your boyfriend of 8 years. You will realize that teaching in a high school isn't right for you right now. You will decide to go back to school. You will suffer heartbreak and rejection and you will come out stronger for it. Remember that you are a strong woman with a logical brain. You will survive, you will be even better for the trials and struggles.

    Don't rush your life.

    There will be plenty of time to be an adult. There will be plenty of time to have babies and settle into your life. Don't rush it. Enjoy your ability to plan spontaneous vacations and move every year. Take your time, enjoy the little moments, and cherish every breath. The struggles are worth the rewards, and life goes on.

    Tuesday, April 8, 2014

    New Feature!

    Yesterday, I posted a question on Facebook stating that I was looking for really awesome realistic YA fiction novels. And I got not one single response. That left me scouring the interwebs for some way to find new novels that I might be interested in that will suit my mood. (I realized that our book club novel for the month might fit the bill, so that fixed that problem.)

    However, I decided to add a gadget to my blog that will allow you to recommend books to me. I will read just about anything (with the minor exception of horror… I just can't.) PLEASE recommend novels to me! If I get a recommendation, I will guarantee that I will read the novel, plus write a review on it.

    Check it out over there! ------>

    Wednesday, April 2, 2014

    Book Review: Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

    “KISS ME, HARDY! Kiss me, QUICK!” 
     ― Elizabeth Wein, Code Name Verity

    Book Title: Code Name Verity
    Author: Elizabeth Wein
    Publication Date: 2012
    Genres: Young Adult Fiction, Historical Fiction
    Series: Code Name Verity #1
    How I Found It: Recommended by The Perpetual Page-Turner
    Goodreads Rating: 4.13 Stars 
    My Rating: 4.5 Stars

    The Characters:
    Maddie Brodatt - AKA Kittyhawk - Female British pilot and tomboy
    Julia Beaufort-Stuart - AKA Queenie, Eva, or Verity - "Wireless Operator" for the British and Maddie's best friend
    From the Publisher: 
    I have two weeks. You’ll shoot me at the end no matter what I do.

    That’s what you do to enemy agents. It’s what we do to enemy agents. But I look at all the dark and twisted roads ahead and cooperation is the easy way out. Possibly the only way out for a girl caught red-handed doing dirty work like mine — and I will do anything, anything, to avoid SS-Hauptsturmf├╝hrer von Linden interrogating me again.

    He has said that I can have as much paper as I need. All I have to do is cough up everything I can remember about the British War Effort. And I’m going to. But the story of how I came to be here starts with my friend Maddie. She is the pilot who flew me into France — an Allied Invasion of Two.

    We are a sensational team.
    My Thoughts:
    First off, this novel is historical fiction and set in WWII, which, if I'm being completely honest, is my least favorite time in history, simply because it's so damn sad. While I love historical fiction, I find that WWII historical fiction focuses so much on the Holocaust/Jews aspect of it, which is just way too heartbreaking for me, or it focuses on the WAR as in THIS IS A WAR BOOK and there's far too much fighting and dying and violence and technical terms.

    This novel was NOT THAT. First off, it's written from two points of view, WHICH I LOVE. First is Queenie's (Julie, Verity... they have so many code names!) point of view, and she writes from prison where she is captured by the Gestapo in Nazi-occupied France after her plane goes down. She is supposed to be writing a full confession, including as much as she knows about the British War Effort. This, unfortunately, leads to a lot of aviation terminology and some drudgery. It also introduces us to Maddie Brodatt, who is a pilot and quickly becomes Queenie's best friend. Throughout Queenie's portion of the book, it's hard to really sympathize with her. Sure, she is quirky and funny and seriously engaging. However, all of the other prisoners despise her because she is writing a full-blown confession with details and code revealed to the Germans.

    Then the novel switches to Maddie's point of view, picking up from the time of the plane crash. Here is where things get really interesting. Much is revealed about Queenie's confession. That's all you get about the second half so I am not spoiling anything!

    Honestly, this novel showed what true friendship means, as well as put WWII into a new light for me. The bravery and heroism of the War generation was astounding. I have no idea if I could live through that and go through what those girls went through with such dedication and still come out making jokes and living a life. I wasn't expecting to like this novel so much. It's one of those $6 books at Target that is worth so so so much more!

    Who do I recommend this to? Everyone. Although it's a "YA" novel, these characters are relatable, hilarious, brave, strong, and loyal. Honestly, it's hard to describe this novel in words because it is so touching and heartfelt and different from anything else I've read. It is going to go up there with Gone Girl and The Fault in Our Stars as books that I will recommend to anyone who is looking for a good read.
    The Pros:
    Two Points of View
    First Person Point of View
    Strong Women
    Strong Friendships
    Different Plot Line
    The Cons:
    Some Technical Talk
    Slow to Start
    Favorite Quotes:

    "Careless talk costs lives."

    “I am no longer afraid of getting old. Indeed I can't believe I ever said anything so stupid. So childish. So offensive and arrogant. But mainly, so very, very stupid. I desperately want to grow old.”

     “But a part of me lies buried in lace and roses on a riverbank in France-a part of me is broken off forever. A part of me will be unflyable, stuck in the climb.”

     “But I have told the truth. Isn't that ironic? They sent me because I am so good at telling lies. But I have told the truth.”


    “A whore, we've established that, filthy, it goes without saying, but whatever else the hell I am, I AM NOT ENGLISH.”

    “It’s awful, telling it like this, isn’t it? As though we didn’t know the ending. As though it could have another ending. It’s like watching Romeo drink poison. Every time you see it you get fooled into thinking his girlfriend might wake up and stop him. Every single time you see it you want to shout, 'You stupid ass, just wait a minute,' and she’ll open her eyes! 'Oi, you, you twat, open your eyes, wake up! Don’t die this time!' But they always do.”