My favorite LUSH collection is always the Christmas collection but the Valentine’s Day collection is a close second. This year the collection is called Lush Crush and I’m most excited that it includes another unicorn horn. The Prince Charming shower cream is also definitely on my list since it’s a blend of pomegranate and vanilla which sounds heavenly! To view the full set and links for each of the products below you can see it on Polyvore.
I’ve already written a blog post about the reading challenges I’ve signed up for in 2016 but I wanted to make a video version as well since some people prefer YouTube to reading a blog!
On my birthday in 2015 I posted a list of goals I had set for myself that I wanted to accomplish over the course of the following year, aptly named 28 Things to Do Before 29. It’s a mix of small and big goals and I stumbled across it the other day while I was looking through my 2015 posts. So far I have to say that I’m making some really great progress! I haven’t necessarily been following this list to a T but they’re the kind of goals that I’ve had in the back of my mind so I’ve completed more of them than I thought I would’ve by this point! There are a few that I’m going to have to put forth a conscious effort to achieve by July 23, 2016 but I’m up for the challenge, and there are others that I’ve begun completing but will forever be a work in progress (ie. learning Photoshop).
1. Take the ABM Blog Life Courses
I’m almost finished with all of the lessons in the Blog Life course at this point!
2. Learn Photoshop
I’ve made a bunch of blog graphics and edited a ton of photos since I began learning Photoshop and I feel comfortable using it on my own without having to bother Andrew too much for help!
3. Read 200 books – Most of which I should already own
Since my birthday last year I’ve read 61 books so I have a long way to go on this one. Considering I read a total of 108 books overall in 2015, I’m not so certain that I’ll make this goal. I think I’ll actually lower it to 100 books from July 23 – July 23.
4. Watch enough YouTube videos to be okay at doing my own hair
Nope. I’ve mastered like two hairstyles (which is a huge improvement for me!) but I want to be able to do a few more versatile styles before my 29th birthday.
5. Outdoor movie night beneath the stars with Andrew<3
This hasn’t happened yet but there’s still time. I didn’t really think about the whole bugs and heat aspect when I set this goal so we’ll so how that goes!
6. Get engaged
:-) :-) :-) This is the best completed goal on my list and if it were the only thing I completed I would be still be happy<3
7. Utilize what’s in my closet unless I really love a new article of clothing
I’m kind of a clothes addict. I have culled some of my wardrobe but ModCloth is my weakness and I developed a Peter Pan collar affinity last Fall >.<
8. Visit Diagon Alley
Not yet BUT this is where Andrew and I are planning on honeymooning so it will happen!
9. Take a macaron baking class
Not yet. There is a place in NYC that offers macaron baking classes that I want to go to but I get really lazy about traveling into NYC on the weekend since I spend so much time commuting there during the week.
10. Create a cookbook of my favorite recipes
Not yet, but I have come up with a cover concept and I already have some recipes bookmarked (physically, not digitally!) that I want to include in it.
11. Be better about seeing new movies
I saw Star Wars: The Force Awakens on opening day (which really is the most important film of 2015)! I also saw Crimson Peak (which I didn’t love review here) and Spectre (which was pretty okay!) on opening weekend. However, I still haven’t see Mockingjay Part 2 so that’s really my only movie fail so far.
12. Eat healthy!
I *could* do better. I just really love dessert you guys!
13. Dance more
Meh. I’m giving up on this one. I’m not a dancer. I’ve tried to push myself but I mostly just feel uncomfortable.
14. See more Broadway shows
I saw Hamilton so I win Broadway shows for the year. Also, Andrew took me to Finding Neverland for my birthday and it was so absolutely wonderful<3!
15. Hit 5,000 YouTube subscribers
I’ve been on BookTube for almost one year now and I’m just about at 2,000 subscribers so there’s still hope for this one! It’s really just a fun reach goal though since I love what I’m doing on there and that’s the most important thing!
16. Attend a Harry Potter meetup
I haven’t done this yet but I’m hoping to find one soon!
17. Host another theme party
It wasn’t *technically* a theme party (unless wedding counts as a theme?) but I did have all of my Bridesmaids over to ask them to be part of my magical girl circle on the big day<3 Andrew and I do have some party ideas for our new place though!
18. Use my DSLR for photos and not just BookTube videos
I still use my iPhone for photos more than I should but I have used my DSLR 100% more than last year (which was not at all). Again, this is a work in progress.
19. Complete an outline & start writing my first novel
I tried to do NaNoWrimo in 2015 and I failed miserably. I’ve still been working on my story here and there but it’ll be much easier once I move and don’t have to leave my house at 6:30 AM for a parking spot. So I’ve succeeded on the starting part but I’m not a big outliner. I like to start writing with a general idea and see where my characters take me.
20. Be active in the NovelTea Book Club
Since I’ve previously read several of the books chosen for the club since my birthday I haven’t been super active in the Goodreads group because it’s hard to discuss a book you know the ending of without spoiling it for other people. I did however create a Spines With Wines Goodreads group with Cassie and Melissa for our bookclub!
21. Review all of the books I read
*pats self on back*
22. Save at least triple what I spend
Aw yeah! This is a thing I’ve struggled with for my entire life. I like stuff. I buy too much stuff. But this year, I’ve saved a lot more than I’ve spent and I plan to keep that momentum going!
23. Use my candles
My favorite candle I used this year is the Bath and Body Works Fresh Balsam candle which creates a lovely atmosphere while sitting around the Christmas tree with family and catching up over gluhwein.
24. Catch up on Welcome to Night Vale (stolen from Sara)
Not only have I caught up on Night Vale, but I also started and completed Limetown, and I’m roughly halfway through First Draft. I think I may start Hank and John Green’s podcast next!
25. Attend more conventions
Once Andrew and I get married this is our top priority!
26. Meet blogger friends!
I’ve met so many lovely people in the past couple of months, both bloggers and BookTubers.
27. Get back into crafts & post some DIY ideas
I have some crafts bookmarked that I want to get to, but again, it’ll be easier once I move and pick up and extra 7.5 hours a week in the morning.
28. Learn how to use my green screen
I haven’t done this yet BUT Andrew and I did use our black backdrop to create our stellar Save the Date (good job Andrew!)
Oh Red Queen you are a challenging review to write. It took me quite a while to feel ready to read my copy ofRed Queen by Victoria Aveyard despite having picked it up on it’s release date in 2015. There was so much pre-release hype surrounding Red Queen that I was really excited for it but once the reviews started coming in the general consensus was very mixed. Then I stopped hearing about it for a while and it kind of fell off of my radar but with the release of Glass Sword (the second book in the Red Queen trilogy) rapidly approaching my interest level sparked again. I ended up really enjoying Red Queen and I will definitely be picking up the sequel but I do recognize the flaws that are present in the story. Red Queen is a fantasy novel set in a dystopian world about a girl named Mare who was born into a society where people are discriminated against based on the color of their blood. Mare is a Red which is the low class but she soon discovers that she has an ability, something only seen in Silver bloods.
First of all, Victoria Aveyard can write. The story Aveyard tells is exciting, the characters are compelling, the pacing is on point and the worldbuilding is all encompassing. Red Queen is a book that hooked me from the start and I genuinely enjoyed all of my time spent in the world of the Reds and the Silvers. There are plenty of action packed scenes and there are plot twists and turns that’ll keep you on your toes. Plus, the characters are what had me invested. I like the main character, Mare, who’s your typical YA heroine complete with sass and the hope that she can change the world for the better. Mare is family oriented and makes the best choices she can in the society she was born into. We get a good feel for her home life but it isn’t until later on that we meet my favorite characters, the royals. There’s Prince Tiberias who will be the successor to the King, Prince Maven, the often overlooked younger brother, Queen Elara, the wicked stepmother with the ability to read minds, and the King himself who honestly doesn’t play too huge of a role. I also appreciated that the story is not romance heavy (at least not yet).
My main issue with Red Queen is that while I really enjoyed reading the book, I couldn’t help feeling like I had already read the same story as told by other authors. The two big series Red Queen mimics are The Hunger Games and The Selection series. There’s an event in the beginning of the book where women are competing to be the Prince’s bride which felt a heck of a lot like a condensed version of The Selection. There are several other direct parallels between each series but some of them may be argued away since they’re all dystopian so some elements (oppressive governments spewing propaganda, rebel groups looking to overturn a corrupt society, ie) are to be expected. I listened to a podcast which interviewed Victoria Aveyard after finishing the book and I learned that the world was supposed to mirror Ancient Rome which I didn’t totally get while I was reading. The only indicator were the one on one battles between Silvers where the rest of the population would spectate and I wish it had been more clear than that. I’m also hoping that Glass Sword will include a map.
Final Thoughts: Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard is an entertaining and action packed story that reads like a film. There are constant plot twists, the writing is beautiful and the characters will capture your heart. There’s no doubt that the story is derivative of other popular YA dystopians such as The Hunger Games and The Selection but it is enjoyable nonetheless. If you’re looking for a fast paced story featuring a outspoken female heroine in a well developed dystopian world you should pick up Red Queen.
This is a world divided by blood – red or silver.
The Reds are commoners, ruled by a Silver elite in possession of god-like superpowers. And to Mare Barrow, a seventeen-year-old Red girl from the poverty-stricken Stilts, it seems like nothing will ever change.
That is, until she finds herself working in the Silver Palace. Here, surrounded by the people she hates the most, Mare discovers that, despite her red blood, she possesses a deadly power of her own. One that threatens to destroy the balance of power.
Fearful of Mare’s potential, the Silvers hide her in plain view, declaring her a long-lost Silver princess, now engaged to a Silver prince. Despite knowing that one misstep would mean her death, Mare works silently to help the Red Guard, a militant resistance group, and bring down the Silver regime.
But this is a world of betrayal and lies, and Mare has entered a dangerous dance – Reds against Silvers, prince against prince, and Mare against her own heart … (via Goodreads)
One of my Bookish Resolutions for 2016 is to be more active on Bookstagram. I think I did a pretty okay job of keeping up for the first half of the month and I’m looking forward to continuously challenging myself every day to take better photos and be more creative in the process. I thought posting a bi-monthly recap would be a nice way of looking back on the photos I took and it’ll also help me hold myself accountable for actually posting on a consistent basis. I’ve always had so much fun taking, editing and posting photos in the past and I’m trying to take some pressure off myself and make being active a habit again. So far, so good! If any of you know of any February Bookstagram photo a day challenges please tell me about them because I’ve been trying to find one to join in on! I’m really looking forward to Kristin from My Life as a Teacup’s next challenge!
Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly series hosted by Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases we’re eagerly awaiting. This week I’m choosing A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas. Last week, Bloomsbury treated us to the long awaited ACOMAF cover reveal and I and completely thrilled with the new design. We get to see a bit more of Feyre’s face, but it’s her intricate outfit, the gorgeous shade of blue and of course the hand tattoo (which if you’ve read A Court of Thorns and Roses you’ll know how that got there!). This is probably the first time that I’ve ever loved a U.S. cover more than a U.K. cover which is also a huge deal. The U.S. cover has some of the buildings from the court in the distance, the stone archway and visible mist while the U.K. cover is more plain but it does keep the thorns instead of mist. A Court of Mist and Fury is definitely in my top 3 most anticipated releases of 2016 and I’m dying to find out what’s next for the characters I fell in love with last May. I’m also really excited that ACOMAF is 624 pages. I would honestly love if it were thousands of pages long!
Feyre survived Amarantha’s clutches to return to the Spring Court–but at a steep cost. Though she now has the powers of the High Fae, her heart remains human, and it can’t forget the terrible deeds she performed to save Tamlin’s people.
Nor has Feyre forgotten her bargain with Rhysand, High Lord of the feared Night Court. As Feyre navigates its dark web of politics, passion, and dazzling power, a greater evil looms–and she might be key to stopping it. But only if she can harness her harrowing gifts, heal her fractured soul, and decide how she wishes to shape her future–and the future of a world cleaved in two.
With more than a million copies sold of her beloved Throne of Glass series, Sarah J. Maas’s masterful storytelling brings this second book in her seductive and action-packed series to new heights. (via Goodreads)
Today I’m here with a video I filmed a couple of months ago! I filmed it the week Riley tagged me but I’ve just had so many other videos I’ve wanted to post that this one sat in the bank for a longer than I planned. I really like the premise of this tag because instead of just answering some questions, there is an overall purpose and that purpose is to create the ultimate Villain Squad. While it was fun to create a hypothetical super-villain team, I don’t think I could actually work with these characters under any circumstance!
Top Ten Tuesday’s are a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish in which anyone who participates creates a Top Ten list of books based on a weekly prompt they provide (the list for advance topics can be found by clicking the link above). For my own sanity my Top Ten Tuesdays will always be Top Twelve Tuesdays because the graphics just look better that way ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
This week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic is inspired by Jamie of The Perpetual Page Turner’s New to the Queue blog series. For this challenge I just went to my Goodreads page and chose 10 books that I’ve added to my TBR recently that I haven’t necessarily talked about a lot on my blog yet. I didn’t include the next book in a series if I haven’t already read the previous book and many of my choices don’t have covers yet. In fact, many of my picks are so new that you can’t even preorder them yet!
1 – Untitled (Fallen Isles Trilogy #1) by Jodi Meadows – This new trilogy by Jodi Meadows sound really intriguing. There isn’t too much information about it anywhere yet but it does involve illegal dragon trafficking so that sounds pretty promising. (Goodreads)
2 – Strange the Dreamer (Strange the Dreamer #1) by Laini Taylor – As soon as I heard Laini Taylor would be releasing a new book this year I immediately added it to my TBR. I don’t even need to know what this is about to be excited for it! (Goodreads)
3 – Three Dark Crowns (Untitled #1) by Kendare Blake – In 2015 I fell in love with Kendare Blake’s Anna Dressed in Blood duology and I’m so excited to read everything else she writes. I heard Kendare talk about her new series on the First Draft podcast and I literally paused in the middle so I could add it to my Goodreads TBR. It’s inspired by bees and it follows three sisters on a remote island but only one of them is destined to be queen. In order to claim their throne, they’re tasked with assassinating the other two sisters. (Goodreads)
4 – Kindred Spirits by Rainbow Rowell – Rainbow Rowell is an auto buy author for me so when I heard about Kindred Spirits there was no question I would be getting it as soon as humanly possible. Kindred Spirits is a novella being released for World Book Day (it’s only 96 pages!) and there is no information about it at all but I know I’m going to love it. (Goodreads)
5 – Caraval by Stephanie Garber (Untitled #1) – I heard about this book yesterday while watching Alexa’s ALA book haul and as soon as she said it’s pitched as the YA The Night Circus I added it to my shelf. Upon reading more about it, the description also says that it’s great for fans of Marissa Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles series so basically I am the target market for this magical new series. (Goodreads)6 – The Queen of the Night by Alexander Chee – This is another one that sold me when I heard that it’s a sort of novelization of Mozart’s The Magic Flute. It’s a bit out of my element as it’s adult historical fiction (it takes place in the 18th century in France) but because I loved Passenger by Alexandra Bracken so much, I’m much more willing to branch out into this new – to – me genre. (Goodreads)7 – Wayfarer (Passenger #2) by Alexandra Bracken – Speaking of Passenger… this is an obvious recent add. I am so in love with the story in the first book and the cliffhanger at the end had me wishing for 2017 because I literally need the conclusion to this duology soon or I don’t know how I can possibly go on! (Time travel + Pirates = BAE) (Goodreads)8 – Windwitch (The Witchlands #2) by Susan Dennard – Another sequel I’ll be waiting forever for is the follow up to Susan Dennard’s new series, The Witchlands, the first book being Truthwitch (which is the Spines With Wines book of the month!). Since the first book just debuted two weeks ago, we have no synopsis yet for book 2 but I NEED it. Truthwitch was an incredible first book that laid the groundwork for what is sure to be an epic fantasy series. (Goodreads)
9 – Nevernight (The Nevernight Chronicle #1) by Jay Kristoff – Nevernight is the first book in a new fantasy series by Jay Kristoff who is one half of the author duo behind Illuminae. What immediately peaked my interest in Nevernight is that it’s a revenge story. There’s something about revenge stories where the main character dedicates their entire life to exacting revenge against people who’ve wronged their families that really gets me. I think it’s because of my undying love of The Count of Monte Cristo. (Goodreads)
10 – The Cruel Prince (TheFolk of Air #1) by Holly Black – This new book by Holly Black isn’t due out until 2018 so it’ll be quite a long wait, but I’m excited that Holly is revisiting the world of the Fae. The Goodreads description has a quote by Holly stating that “this series will delve deeper into the strange, glittering, malicious courts of Faerie than I’ve gone before.” Yes, please! (Goodreads)
Yes yes yes yes yes! Although Luna Lovegood is still noticeably absent from the new lineup despite being included in the preliminary concept sketches for Wave 2, I am still over the moon about the new figures! Funko has even announced a March 15th release date for the new pops so we won’t be waiting that long! I’m most excited to add Draco, Sirius and Dobby to my Harry Potter collection but I’m sure I’ll be picking up Yule Ball Hermione and Ron too because they’re an OTP of mine. The dementor is admittedly frightening but I suppose my Voldemort needs at least one supporter on the shelf. Hopefully the other characters included in the concept art (Luna, Neville, Triwizard Harry and Gambon Dumbledore) will make up the next wave. Plus, I’m still hoping for a Ginny, Hedwig, Hogwarts Express, Fleur Delacour, Bellatrix LeStrange, Mad-Eye Moody, Cedric Diggory, and the list goes on and on!
(All images via Pop Vinyl)
Not Included in Wave 2
I feel like I often end up writing about Too Faced products on Makeup Monday’s but their products are my favorites so I can’t help it! One of the newest additions to their line of cosmetics is the Peanut Butter and Jelly palette. It’s a new mini palette and it’s actually scented! This palette is exclusive to Ulta and it’s being released in February. It has a total of 9 eye shadow shades- Jelly, Peanut Brittle and Bananas being my favorites- and I love love love the package design. It looks like a kawaii PB&J emoji. The Peanut Butter and Jelly eyeshadow palette will retail for $36 so it’s also pretty affordable which is nice!