Geekgasm Swap Show Off!

Friday, July 29, 2016

I recently participated in the Geekgasm Swap hosted by Chaotic Goddess Swaps! I was partnered with Katy from Plays Well With Coffee! This was SUCH a fun swap! I usually hold out to just do their bookish swaps, but this one just sounded so cool that I had to do it!

So, sometimes I like to call myself a photographer (LOL) and then this is the type of picture that I choose to post of my goodies?? Ha! In my defense, I'm letting July be my super lazy blogging month so that's the excuse I'm going with!

Anyway! So this fabulous package included:

-Game of Thrones Sansa Stark Funko Pop

-Harry Potter Luna Lovegood Funko Pop

-Game of Thrones Magnetic Bookmarks (Including: Arya Stark, Jamie Lannister, Daenerys Targaryen, and Tyrion Lannister)

-Legend of Zelda Mug

-Decal that I have yet to figure out what it is of. I gave Katy a list of my fandoms so clearly I'm not a real fan of whatever it's from! Haha! Oops!

-Hogwarts Crest Necklace

-Play-Doh!!! <3

-Not Featured: A Bag of Skittles that are now all gone. :)

I love everything so much! This was such a great swap, I hope there are more like this because I love this geeky stuff! I'm so excited to wear the necklace to the midnight release party of The Cursed Child tomorrow night! It's gonna look rad with my Hufflepuff robes!!

Thank you so much Katy for all the amazing goodies! This was such a fun swap and it was super fun to get to know you!

Check out the CG Swaps link at the top of this post to see everyone else's show off posts!

Waiting on Wednesday: August Releases!

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

I decided that I'm going to change up Waiting on Wednesday. Instead of doing one every week, I'm just going to do one once a month and feature all the books coming out the next month that I'm salivating for.

Here are the books I'm looking forward to in August!

A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir
An Ember in the Ashes #2

A Torch Against the Night takes readers into the heart of the Empire as Laia and Elias fight their way north to liberate Laia’s brother from the horrors of Kauf Prison. Hunted by Empire soldiers, manipulated by the Commandant, and haunted by their pasts, Laia and Elias must outfox their enemies and confront the treacherousness of their own hearts.

In the city of Serra, Helene Aquilla finds herself bound to the will of the Empire’s twisted new leader, Marcus. When her loyalty is questioned, Helene finds herself taking on a mission to prove herself—a mission that might destroy her, instead.

The Beauty of Darkness by Mary E. Pearson
The Remnant Chronicles #3

Lia and Rafe have escaped Venda and the path before them is winding and dangerous - what will happen now? This third and final book in The Remnant Chronicles is not to be missed.

Bestselling author Mary E. Pearson's combination of intrigue, suspense, romance and action make this a riveting page turner for teens.

Nevernight by Jay Kristoff
The Nevernight Chronicle #1

The first in a new fantasy series from the New York Times bestselling author.

In a land where three suns almost never set, a fledgling killer joins a school of assassins, seeking vengeance against the powers who destroyed her family.

Daughter of an executed traitor, Mia Corvere is barely able to escape her father’s failed rebellion with her life. Alone and friendless, she hides in a city built from the bones of a dead god, hunted by the Senate and her father’s former comrades. But her gift for speaking with the shadows leads her to the door of a retired killer, and a future she never imagined.

Now, Mia is apprenticed to the deadliest flock of assassins in the entire Republic—the Red Church. If she bests her fellow students in contests of steel, poison and the subtle arts, she’ll be inducted among the Blades of the Lady of Blessed Murder, and one step closer to the vengeance she desires. But a killer is loose within the Church’s halls, the bloody secrets of Mia’s past return to haunt her, and a plot to bring down the entire congregation is unfolding in the shadows she so loves.

Will she even survive to initiation, let alone have her revenge?

Poisoned Blade by Kate Elliott
Court of Fives #2

Jessamy is moving up the ranks of the Fives—the complex athletic contest favored by the lowliest Commoners and the loftiest Patrons in her embattled kingdom. Pitted against far more formidable adversaries, success is Jes's only option, as her prize money is essential to keeping her hidden family alive. She leaps at the chance to tour the countryside and face more competitors, but then a fatal attack on Jes's traveling party puts her at the center of the war that Lord Kalliarkos—the prince she still loves—is fighting against their country's enemies. With a sinister overlord watching her every move and Kal's life on the line, Jes must now become more than a Fives champion...She must become a warrior.

I didn't really like the first book in this series, but I'm hoping that the second one will be better!

What books are you waiting for in August?

Top Ten Tuesday (#52)

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature created by The Broke and the Bookish!

This week's topic is Ten Things That Books Have Made Me Want To Do Or Learn About After Reading Them!

I spent a lot of time on this post and only got to 5, but they are five things that I put a lot of thought into!

Here we go!

1. I just recently read Ape House by Sara Gruen. If you haven't read my review, a fact about me is that I have never liked apes/monkeys of any kind. Don't know why. I just don't like them. But I loved this book and I loved the apes in it. It made me yearn to check out someplace similar to the Great Ape Language Lab that is featured in this book.

Turns out that the place where Gruen did her research for this book is located in Iowa, which is just below South Dakota so yay! I think it's called the Ape Cognition and Conservation Initiative. I say I think because in my research on the place, it seems that it has changed names and such a lot in the last few years.

The Ape Cognition and Conservation Initiative (ACCI) is dedicated to the conservation and protection of Great Apes worldwide, as well as responsible and sustainable research aimed at uncovering the evolutionary origins of human language, cognition, and behavior. We aim to use the knowledge we gain from studies with great apes to better humanity by increasing public knowledge of our species’ origins and our connection with the natural world. With a focus on Science, Conservation, and Civic Engagement, ACCI is uniquely positioned to emerge as a leader in a new era in great ape cognition and conservation research.

I'm not sure if they still have tours, one of the old websites for the facility said you can register for a tour, but I would love to do that! It even says that you can get a presentation from some of the apes at their own discretion.

I just think that being able to communicate with the apes would be so cool! This book also made me want to brush up on my sign language. I don't know a lot, but I took a class for it in college!

2. Another of Sara Gruen's books, Water for Elephants, made me really want to join a circus! Especially to work with the elephants!

This is my own picture from the Shrine Circus a few years ago.

I know that circuses and elephants aren't really a good mix, but how amazing would it be to work with elephants?!

Reading this book also made me look up volunteer abroad trips to places where it would be possible to work with elephants. I think the one that I found offered was in Thailand! I would love to go work with elephants in Thailand! Also one time I saw a video of an elephant painting a tree and it renewed my zeal for wanting to work with them!

3. Okay, for real, who didn't want to explore Paris after reading Anna and the French Kiss? I have always wanted to visit Paris, but this book made me want it even more! Also, another thing that made me desire a trip to Paris quite badly was watching this PBS show where this guy goes to different countries and eats his way through them. On the episode I saw, he was eating his way through Paris in pastries and desserts.

Click photo for source

I want to eat my way across Paris!! D: I also would LOVE to see the Eiffel Tower. That would be so amazing!

4. Reading the book Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys made me want to learn everything that I could about the sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloff. It's the worst maritime tragedy in history and I had never heard of it before picking up this book! Around 9,000 people died! You can learn more about this by checking out my first A Glimpse Back in Time post, which you can find here.

When I was looking up stuff about this event, I was seeing stuff about diving to check out the wreckage of this ship, which would be SO rad, but also sad. You can't dive to this shipwreck, but looking it up made me want to also dive at other shipwreck sites. I just can't even get over how cool it would be to see something like that.

5. This is my favorite book ever so I have to try to include it somehow. This book made me wanna go on a road trip so bad! And like not a family road trip either. One with friends!

I think I'm going to do just that next year too. My aunt and my grandma planned a trip to Indiana to see my mom without my sister and I! I mean, we did get invited, but they're also going through another state to see other family that I don't really know so I'm going to pass on that.

But it's like a 1600 mile round trip with just me and my sister and no responsible adult so it's a darn good thing I have a GPS. Because honestly, I got myself so so so lost one time (like half an hour away from where I grew up) that my friend that was with me had to call her mom so she could find us on google maps and give us directions to get home. We were almost on the state line and into Minnesota!

So these are just a few things that books have made me want to do after reading them! What are some books that have made you want to do something cool?

Pokemon Indigo League #ReadThemAllThon Sign Up + TBR

Monday, July 25, 2016

With all the hype surrounding Pokemon Go and the fact that I spent 3/4 of last weekend trying to catch them all, I'm not sure how I can pass up this read-a-thon! This fantastic read-a-thon was created by Aentee from Read at Midnight! All graphics are made by her as well. She is kind of the queen of Pokemon reading challenges now. :)

All the information about read-a-thon is in the link above so you should probably check that out so you can learn about the point system in place for this challenge! It's pretty impressive.

This challenge runs from August 14th to September 4th and coincides with a lot of ARC August so hopefully a lot of my ARC August TBR will work out with the prompts for the gyms!

For the Boulder Badge, I think I'm going to read...

Spells and Sorcery by S. Usher Evans! It's the first in the Lexie Carrigan Chronicles series! And it's also on my ARC August list so two birds with one stone right there.

386 pages - +38 CP

I've heard from pretty much everyone that The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner is a tearjerker so now would be the perfect time to read it! It doesn't work with ARC August, but I think this reading challenge is more fun so.. you know.. priorities.

384 pages - +38 CP

I can't think of a single book in the history of ever that I personally saw so much hype for as Truthwitch by Susan Dennard. I've had this book since January when I went to the PassTruth Tour. I think it's about time to read it.

416 pages - +41 CP

I think I'll finally read The Rose and the Dagger by Renee Ahdieh for my diversity slot! I've been getting really behind on my 2016 releases so I'm happy to include this one!

416 pages - +41 CP

Dreamology by Lucy Keating seems like it has a pretty epic sounding romance. And another 2016 release will be finally read!

322 pages - +32 CP

Stealing Snow by Danielle Paige has fantasy elements and is also on my ARC August list! I'm so excited to read this one!

384 pages - +38 CP

Wrecked by Maria Padian is going to be my 'Red' book. Pink is just a tint of red, so it counts right? I hope so because I'm going to count it. This one is also on my list for ARC August so I really want it to count.

368 pages - +36 CP

I'm gonna go with Flawed by Cecelia Ahern for this one. I got this one in a subscription box! Wasn't sure that it was something I wanted to read, but a list on goodreads lists it as post apocalyptic so I'll read it for this so I don't have to buy The Last Star yet!

336 pages - +33 CP

So if I manage to read all of these books, I will have earned +457 CP!

AAAAANNNNDDDD now for the Pokemon I'm going to choose for my League journey is....

CHARMANDER!! I kind of wanted to choose a water Pokemon for this just because I feel like if I was a real Pokemon trainer, I would totally be like Misty and be a water Pokemon aficionado. But I always choose Charmander for things so this couldn't be any different.

I also made a trainer card like Aentee's but I made it blue because Team Mystic.

Are you going to sign up for the #ReadThemAllThon? :)

Book Nerd Bites (#1)

Book Nerd Bites is an original monthly feature created by Becca, Cyra, Kristie, Natasha, and Valerie as part of the Book Blogger Creativity Project hosted by Nori. Each month we will be sharing exciting recipes inspired by some of our favorite books. Feel free to join in, but please make sure you link your post back to us so we can enjoy your favorite bookish delights as well!

Don't forgot to use if you want to share your food inspiration with us on twitter or instagram!

Today for my debut post for this project, I will be featuring...

The Crown's Game by Evelyn Skye!

There are so many magical foods featured in this wonderful book, but the one that I chose to attempt to recreate was the pastry swan swimming in a butterscotch lake! I am culinar-ily challenged, so this was definitely an adventure!

This recipe has three different parts that need to be made, the choux pastry for the swans, chantilly cream to hold the swan pieces together, and the butterscotch sauce for the swans to swim in!

For choux pastry:

1 cup water
1/2 cup butter
1 cup flour
1/4 tsp salt
4 large or extra large eggs

For chantilly cream:

2 cups whipping cream
4 rounded tbsp powdered sugar
2 tsp vanilla

For butterscotch:

4 tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 tsp large flake salt
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla

So, nothing too complicated so far, right? I started making the pastry first! To do that, follow these instructions:

1. Add butter and water to a saucepan and bring to a boil.

2. Reduce to medium heat and add all the flour and salt at once.

3. Cook this mixture and stir constantly for 3 minutes. Allow mixture to cool for about 10 minutes.

4. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition until batter is smooth.

5. Cover and chill thoroughly in the refrigerator.

***So, I have a bad habit of not reading my recipes close enough when I'm attempting to cook and that is probably why I will never be a chef, but I didn't do this step. Everything still turned out fine.***

6. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

7. Pipe swan pieces onto parchment lined baking sheet.

Tip: Put the pastry mix into a ziplock bag and cut off the corner. Pipe out filled in tear drop shapes and "2"s. The tear drop shapes make the wings and the "2"s make the necks and beaks.

8. Bake for 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 375 degrees F and bake for an additional 10 - 15 minutes until the puffs are golden brown.

Tip: Put the necks and teardrops on different pans because the necks will probably be done baking before the wings.

***I didn't do this, but my necks were kind of thick and they all got done about the same time.***

***I got some really random shapes on there because I got sick of piping out the correct shapes. I also did a whole tray of just blobs.***

While I did most of the pastry mix, my sister was making the chantilly cream! Honestly, I think this was the hardest part just because it takes FOREVER to beat the cream until it becomes whipped. We did it by hand because it was like 11 pm and other people were sleeping.

So basically all you do to make the cream is beat all of the ingredients together until it forms firm peaks or your arm falls off. Whichever comes first!

And finally to make the butterscotch sauce:

1. Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat.

2. Add brown sugar, salt, and heavy cream and stir with a rubber spatula until well blended.

3. Bring mixture to a boil, scraping down the sides occasionally, and boil for 4-5 minutes.

4. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla. Transfer sauce to a container to cool. 

***I also forgot to add the vanilla to the butterscotch. So basically I think I made caramel sauce instead.***

To make the swans, I just glopped some of the cream onto one of the tear drop shaped pastries and stuck another one on the other side and inserted a "2" in between them! That is not how the instructions said to do it, but once again, I didn't read the instructions on how to do it. I just went with what I felt.

And this is what I ended up with as a finished project!

They probably aren't as finely crafted as the magical pastry swans you would find in a magical glass pumpkin bakery, but I think it clearly looks like a swan. A melting swan, but a swan none the less!

If you want to create more finely crafted swans, you can look at the recipes I linked above that I used to make these!

If you want to check out what recipes the rest of the people in my group are going to feature, here is the schedule:

Monday - Cyra
Tuesday - Natasha
Wednesday - Becca
Thursday - Kristie
Friday - Valerie
Saturday - Nori

So what do you think of this feature we created? What are some of your favorite foods featured in books? Are you going to try this recipe someday? It's pretty tasty! Basically tastes like cream puffs!

Review: Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater

Sunday, July 24, 2016

The Raven Cycle #3
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Publication Date: October 21st, 2014
Rating: 5 Stars
Source: Purchase
Pages: 391

Summary (from Goodreads):

There is danger in dreaming. But there is even more danger in waking up. 

Blue Sargent has found things. For the first time in her life, she has friends she can trust, a group to which she can belong. The Raven Boys have taken her in as one of their own. Their problems have become hers, and her problems have become theirs. 

The trick with found things though, is how easily they can be lost. 

Friends can betray. 
Mothers can disappear. 
Visions can mislead. 
Certainties can unravel.

I think that writing reviews for this series gets harder and harder the deeper in I get. This book was so fantastic. Seriously, what took me so long to get into this series?!

Just like in the previous two books, this book is told in multiple points of view. You get the points of view of Blue and the Raven Boys, Blue's family, and the villain. I loved it all. While I did really enjoy getting to know Ronan more in the second book, I'm glad this one was more even again with seeing what's going on with everyone else.

So, in the last book, Maura left, only leaving behind a note saying, "Glendower is underground, so am I." Or something along those lines. So in this book, obviously everyone is worried about her and looking out for her. Also, the group gets SO much closer to finding Glendower, I bet they can almost TASTE IT! Oh, I want to know how this goes.

So, somewhere in the first book I started to really dislike Adam. I kinda hated him in The Dream Thieves. And in this book, I'm happy to say, he FINALLY grew on me. I didn't want to dislike him. I wanted to like ALL the Raven Boys. And now I finally do! I loved that he finally got mostly over his... thing... about everything anyone gives him being charity or out of pity. He seemed more accepting of letting others help him, not necessarily in ways dealing with $$. But yes. I am SO pleased that Adam evened out after the balancing thing that Persephone did with him.

Ronan... I don't know what I can say to add on to what we all got to learn about him in The Dream Thieves. I feel like you get to see a little bit more of him past his purposeful-asshole-exterior. I like getting to see deeper into Ronan just because he tries so hard to be such an ass.

Originally, when I first got into this series, one of the only things I knew about it was about Pynch. Not really anything specific, I guess, but just that they might be a thing. I have been waiting and waiting to see this come about, but I just haven't seen what I was expecting to see yet!

Like, everyone on Tumblr raved about Pynch from what I saw when I was still there. I was expecting a full on ROMANCE here, but I haven't seen that yet and I'm mildly disappointed. I love that their relationship seemed to get stronger in this book, but it's still not what I'm expecting. The closest that I felt I got to what I was expecting was when Adam mentioned something about being able to tell Ronan might have a crush on him.

I guess I have one more book to see if my expectations come about.

Now, on to my favorites, Gansey and Blue. Ahhhhh. I love them so much. I loved that in this book, you got to see a little bit moreso past Gansey's well-put-together exterior. You see a bit of doubt and fear on his part for several reasons and, I don't know. Just seeing him as not being SO perfect, made him so much more human!

With Blue, you get to see how she deals with the feelings of anger, sadness, and betrayal she has after her mom runs off. I think she seems to deal with them pretty well. Other than that, she felt to me like the same sassy, awesome, quirky girl as in the rest of the series and I LOVE her.

I love love LOVE the romance between Gansey and Blue. I love their late night phone conversations. I love their almost kisses. I love their general relationship. I love the semi-forbiddenness of their romance. I want more of this.

Noah in this book, as usual, isn't terribly present. He's in and out, but something seemed different about him in this one. His behavior was more volatile. I liked the scene with him in the counselor's office at Blue's school. I enjoyed the chaos he caused. I thought it was because the counselor was kind of crapping on Blue's dreams and he felt bad for her, but also at the same time, I'm not really sure. Hopefully in the next book, I will get my Noah fix!

Unlike the first two books, this one didn't seem to start off as slowly. More things seemed to be going on, rather than building up. The villain in this book surprised me because he was generally kind of a weenie. I thought he would be more imposing and kinda scary.

Death isn't something new to this series, but the death in this book is a lot more personal than in the previous books. It feels like the series is kind of building up the deaths to prepare you for what could be Gansey's imminent death.

Overall, the writing was on point as usual, the stakes are getting higher, the romance sweeter, and the characters more lovable. This series is so amazing and I'm going to pick up the final book just as soon as I publish this review.

Predictions for the final book:

I think that Gansey might end up dying, but if he actually does, I doubt that he will stay dead. I bet that the favor from Glendower will definitely be used to save Gansey from either dying altogether or to bring him back from the dead. If he dies, I hope it's because Blue's curse comes true. Not because I want that to happen to them, but just because I feel like that would probably be the least unpleasant way for him to go.

I hope that the people featured in the epilogue of this book get what's coming to them for doing what they did.

During the last book, something Adam said made me think that if there was only one favor from Glendower for waking him, he was going to use it for himself simply because he thought that he needed it more than anyone else would.

This book changed that thought because I think Adam realized that the person who pitied him the most was himself and he kind of got over it, but I think that he will still be the one to use the favor. Only it will be for the good of the collective group and not only his own good.

Have you read this series yet? What did you think of this installment? SO GOOD!
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