Tea & Book Chat: Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan Matson

With all of the fantasy I’ve been reading lately, it was nice change of pace to settle in for a summer contemporary.  I’ve always wanted to read Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan Matson but it wasn’t until Maureen Keavy (one of my favorite BookTuber’s and fellow Disney lover) declared June the Month of Matson that I realized it was the best possible opportunity to pick it up and read it at the same time as plenty of other book lovers.  While there is a definite fun factor in Amy and Roger’s cross country road trip, this is not your typical light and fluffy contemporary.  You will feel LOTS of feelings and that is my official warning on that front.  I loved this book to pieces and Amy and Roger’s story has stuck with me ever since I finished it.  Amy & Roger’s is the second Morgan Matson book I’ve read (see my review for Since You’ve Been Gone) and I can honestly say she’s my favorite contemporary author.

Amy is a typically obedient teen who is dealing with a family that has slowly fallen apart due to the aftermath of losing her father.  Her mom has already moved across the country and she sets up a pre-planned road trip for Amy and Roger to follow in order to get their car from California to Connecticut.  After some initial awkwardness (because YA swoon) Amy and Roger realize that they haven’t seen much of America and they decide to set out on an epic detour, plotting their own route.  The trip quickly becomes a transformative journey for both characters who confront the issues they’ve been neglecting head on.  If you’re into slow burn romances, you will love the progression of Amy and Roger’s relationship.

Amy and Roger's Epic Detour

I love that Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour is interspersed with playlists from their journey because if you’re going to be spending that much time driving, music is a pretty important element of the journey (unless you’re into podcasts I guess).  There’s actually a few Spotify playlists set up based on the ones you can find in the book.  Another option to pass time while traveling is to play games.  Amy and Roger often opted for 20 questions and I adored Roger’s obsession with explorers because it made his desire to explore all the more meaningful.  And probably most important are the snacks you stop for along the way to give you the fuel to keep going.  Amy and Roger both had very distinctive tastes in snack food and I also loved reading about some of the local cuisines they tasted along the way.  Roger’s breakfast choices never failed to make my stomach rumble.

Final Thoughts: Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour is the heartwarming journey which Amy and Roger embark upon during their cross country road trip from California to Connecticut.  Both characters are struggling with some major issues but the slow burn relationship they develop provides the strength, courage and support they both need to face the music.  Speaking of music, the book is filled with epic playlists curated by Roger, photos and mementos from their journey, and all the feelings.  If you’re looking for a deeper contemporary and you crave adventure, you should absolutely give Amy & Roger a read.
Rating 6
Amy Curry is not looking forward to her summer. Her mother decided to move across the country and now it’s Amy’s responsibility to get their car from California to Connecticut. The only problem is, since her father died in a car accident, she isn’t ready to get behind the wheel. Enter Roger. An old family friend, he also has to make the cross-country trip – and has plenty of baggage of his own. The road home may be unfamiliar – especially with their friendship venturing into uncharted territory – but together, Amy and Roger will figure out how to map their way. (via Goodreads)
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Kristin

28 Things To Do Before I Turn 29!

Well, today is my 28th birthday!  As most birthdays go, I feel exactly the same although I have made a lot of progress toward adulting in the last few years.  I got this idea for this post from Sara of Sincerely, Sara and I think it’s a great way to goal set some small things to do in the next year (as opposed to resolutions which tend to be more lifestyle changing).  Here are all the things I’m hoping to do before I turn 29 one year from today!

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1. Take the ABM Blog Life Courses

2. Learn Photoshop

3. Read 200 books – Most of which I should already own

4. Watch enough YouTube videos to be okay at doing my own hair

5. Outdoor movie night beneath the stars with Andrew<3

6. Get engaged

7. Utilize what’s in my closet unless I really love a new article of clothing

8. Visit Diagon Alley

9. Take a macaron baking class

10. Create a cookbook of my favorite recipes

11. Be better about seeing new movies

12. Eat healthy!

13. Dance more

14. See more Broadway shows

15. Hit 5,000 YouTube subscribers

16. Attend a Harry Potter meetup

17. Host another theme party

18. Use my DSLR for photos and not just BookTube videos

19. Complete an outline & start writing my first novel

20. Be active in the NovelTea Book Club

21. Review all of the books I read

22. Save at least triple what I spend

23. Use my candles

24. Catch up on Welcome to Night Vale (stolen from Sara)

25. Attend more conventions

26. Meet blogger friends!

27. Get back into crafts & post some DIY ideas

28. Learn how to use my green screen

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Kristin

BookTube: Top 5 Wednesday: Side Characters That Deserve Their Own Series

This Top 5 Wednesday video is actually similar to a recent 5 Fandom Friday topic that we had.  (I’m a little far behind on those but I swear I’m going to be catching up soon!)  The topic is the Top 5 Side Characters That Deserve Their Own Series.  This one was so easy for me to do!

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Kristin

Four Things <3

I saw this post that Ari published on her blog, Comics and Cookies and I loved it so I decided to post one of my own!  I always love reading personal tidbits about the bloggers I read and I thought it would be a great way to share some of the things about myself that I don’t always talk about because they’re just such a part of me that I don’t really think about them!

I nominate Megan from The Nerdy Girlie, Melissa at Melificent, Kristin from My Life as a Teacup, Nina at Le Fancy Geek, Sara at Sincerely Sara, Jess from Bookworms in Dresses and anyone else who wants to share their own answers!

Four places I’ve lived: 

  • Long Island – I grew up here and now I’m back!  I think I always kind of took the Island for granted but now that I’ve been away for a while, I really appreciate all the wonderful things and small joys my little hometown has to offer.
  • New York City – I went to the Fashion Institute of Technology for college and lived in the dorms on 31st between 9th and 10th Avenue.  The area was still up and coming at the time but now there’s a eve a Dunkin Donuts on the corner!
  • Los Angeles – This is my least favorite place that I’ve lived.  I was only there for a couple of months during the filming of the TV show I was on and I barely had any freedom to explore which I think took away from the overall experience.  Maybe I would view it differently if it hadn’t been a whole big production just to do a simple task like go to the grocery store but for now I’m pretty content to stay on the East Coast instead of going back for an opinion change.
  • Brooklyn – I’ll just leave these here and here.

Four jobs I’ve had: 

  • Intern at Seventeen Magazine – I got to attend fashion shows during NY Fashion Week, intern under Atoosa (who got fired the day after my internship ended – I’m probably dating myself here), maintain “the closet” and help out photographers on shoots for the magazine all inside the beautiful Hearst building which you may recognize as OsCorp in the last two Amazing Spider-Man films.
  • Ticket seller at a local movie theater – This is still by far the best job I’ve ever had (and also the first).  My entire group of friends worked at the local movie theater during high school and we would hang out there even when we were off.  Other perks included free movies and unlimited popcorn!
  • Intern for Stan Lee’s Comikaze / Cast member on Fangasm – This is the job I moved to LA for.  It was really fascinating learning all about what goes in to planning a convention and seeing the business side of comics.  I got to do some really amazing things like pitching an original comic idea to Stan Lee, interviewing Adrianne Curry (the first winner of American Idol) and oh yeah, there was that time that George Takei appeared in my living room.
  • Video Hostess for Midtown Comics – I got to unbox toys and stuff for my favorite comic book store in NYC<3  I wish this had lasted longer but unfortunately I had to leave to go to LA!

Four things I don’t eat

  • Meat / Fish – It will be 6 years in November since I’ve eaten a piece of meat! That’s so crazy to me!
  • Pasta – I’ve never liked it! It’s so doughy and I would always feel hungry again so soon so I decided to give it up back in middle school.  I’ll have it every once in a while if there’s no other option (see: the vegetarian option at most weddings) but it’s always begrudgingly!
  • Italian Food – 1. See pasta. 2. The only other option is usually eggplant which I also don’t like.  The only exception to the Italian food rule is pizza because obviously and I don’t even count that as actual Italian food.
  • Marshmallows – This goes along with vegetarianism.  I don’t eat gelatin and sadly, marshmallows are made with it.  I’ve tasted vegan marshmallows but they were pretty gross so I just steer clear!

Four of my favorite foods

  • Pizza – No explanation needed.  I live in NY and we have the greatest pizza on Earth! As soon as I fly home from anywhere, the first meal I always eat is pizza.
  • Sushi – I love my cucumber and avocado rolls!  Also Harumaki with mango chili sauce is totally my jam.  Plus that ginger dressing on the salads is delicious.
  • Dessert (Cupcakes / Ice Cream / Macarons) – I have the biggest sweet tooth and if it were acceptable to subsist on cupcakes alone, I would absolutely do it.  Whether it’s summer or winter, I can ALWAYS go for a pint of Ben & Jerry’s although summer is great time to indulge in waffle cones<3  And macarons are just the sweetest little treat.
  • Mexican Food – Cheese quesadillas, veggie quesadillas, guac, huevos rancheros and these delicious black bean and cheese taquitos from Trader Joe’s are some of my favorite things.  Sometimes Andrew and I have veggie taco night multiple times per week!

Four films I’ve watched more than once

  • Star Wars: Empire Strikes Back – I can’t wait for the new film! I hope I love it as much as the original trilogy!
  • Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring – While my favorite film is actually The Two Towers, I always end up watching Fellowship the most because it’s the beginning and I just love how much Gandalf there is<3
  • Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban – This will always be my favorite HP film because of the Marauders.
  • The Avengers – Here’s an entire post about The Avengers will always hold a special place in my heart.

Four TV Shows I watch 

  • Pushing Daises – This show is stunningly beautiful.  I can just watch it over and over and over.
  • The IT Crowd – This is my favorite comedy television series of all time.  I made Andrew watch it a few weeks after we started dating and thankfully, he loved it too!
  • Doctor Who – There are just some go to episodes that I watch time and time again.  How could anyone not love a time traveling Doctor in a TARDIS?
  • Pretty Little Liars – I am addicted and I cannot help myself.  The show has gotten insane but I’m still watching every week. PLEASE TELL ME WHO A IS ALREADY SO I CAN BE FREEEEEE.

Four things I’m looking forward to this year

  • My birthday (which is on Thursday)!  Andrew is taking me to see Finding Neverland on Broadway and I am the most excited!
  • As I previously mentioned, I’m pretty stoked for Star Wars: The Force Awakens!
  • Getting engaged! – This is honestly what I’m most excited for! Andrew and I talk about everything and we’re totally on the same page with things so I know it’s happening this year, I just don’t know when.  I can’t wait to spend my happily ever after with the man of my dreams<3
  • Christmas – Always! (In case you weren’t aware, Christmas season begins on July 24th – the day after my birthday.)

Four things I can’t live without

  • Treinta unsweetened green iced teas from Starbucks – This is basically my lifeblood.
  • Books – I’ve always been a huge bookworm since the good ole days of Goosebumps and I’m so happy I’ve never fell out of the habit of reading.  It’s always been an experience that I genuinely enjoy and it feeds my imagination.
  • Friends and family – Life would be nothing without wonderful people to share it with<3
  • The Wizarding World of Harry Potter & Disney World – These are my happy places.

Four things about Andrew 

  • He is the kindest and most affectionate person ever and he has the biggest heart<3
  • Andrew’s spirit Pokemon is Snorlax.  He really loves sleep!
  • I love how deeply Andrew immerses himself in whatever he’s doing.  He’s extremely creative and his mind is an incredible place.  He definitely has an overactive imagination and it’s super entertaining.
  • Andrew has had a man crush on Brandon Ruth ever since he watched Scott Pilgrim with commentary and found out that he actually read the whole series.  Seeing him on Arrow this season has been a real treat!

Four places I’ve visited

  • Neuschwanstein Castle – Austria – This is the castle that inspired the castle in Sleeping Beauty.  It was gorgeous in real life and I’m so happy to be able to say that I’ve been there.
  • Marienplatz Glockenspiel – Germany – This was such an interesting show to watch!
  • Graceland – Nashville, TN – My parents took our family to Tennessee and we did a tour of Elvis’ mansion when I was in high school.
  • Niagara Falls – Ontario – Simply a breathtaking sight to have taken in.

Four pet peeves

  • When people aren’t paying attention to when it’s their turn during a game (I’m rly competitive)
  • People dilly dallying in the streets of NYC when I’m trying to catch a train (Also groups of people who spread out their group across the entire sidewalk so no one can walk past them).
  • People tying wet shoelaces – This is my “nails on a chalkboard” thing
  • My best friends often send me photos of Furbies because they know how much they scare me.

Four things I wish I could do

  • Bake macarons – One day I will take a class and be able to do it!
  • Speak Japanese fluently – I really want to visit and it would make it so much easier if I could communicate with the people who live there since directions are not my strong suit.
  • Time travel! (No one said this *had* to be practical right?)
  • Run a marathon – I’ve always HATED running and I really wish I could train to run a marathon but I just get SO bored running.  So many people are so into it and I think that’s great but it’s just never been for me.

Four subjects I studied at school

  • Fashion Art – This was a college elective and it was really fun!
  • Philosophy – I’ve always found this to be so interesting.
  • English – Obviously a favorite as I love reading!
  • Biology – I’ve taken so many Bio courses.  I was in advanced classes in high school and I was able to take AP Bio which I thought was fascinating!

Four things near me right now

  • My iPhone dressed in it’s Sailor Moon case
  • Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson – I started this on the train and I love it to pieces<3
  • Puppycat talking plush.  I’m blogging from bed :-)
  • My green LEGO alarm clock.

Thanks for reading! Leave a link to your post if you’ve done one or chose to do one in the future!

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Kristin

BookTube: Top 5 Beach Reads

It’s finally summertime which means there’s a whole lot more time to read for folks who are lucky enough to use some of their hard earned vacation time!  Here are some of my beach recommendations if you’re having trouble picking something.  Which books do you recommend for summer?

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Kristin

BookTube: Top 5 Anticipated Pre-Orders

This weeks Top 5 Wednesday topic is the top 5 most anticipated pre-order’s for the rest of the year!  There are SO many books I want to buy so it was really difficult to narrow it down to only 5, but I somehow managed!  What’re you looking forward to getting before the end of 2015?

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Kristin

Tea & Book Chat: Armada by Ernest Cline

*This book was sent to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.  This is no way swayed my opinions.*

It feels like forever that I’ve been waiting for Ernest Cline’s second book after having loved Ready Player One so very much.  I was immediately drawn in by the synopsis of the book which promised to pay homage to the best extraterrestrial pop culture of decades past because if there’s one thing Cline is known for, it’s his ability to saturate a story with references to our favorite fandoms.  The plot may initially read like that of Ender’s Game and while the beginning does draw some similarities, it is different as the plot progresses.  The novel focuses on video game aficiando Zack Lightman who is one of the many Americans obsessed with the online flight simulation game Armada.  On a seemingly normal day in high school, he’s sitting in class when he notices on the alien ships from the Armada game hovering around outside the window.  Initially he thinks he’s going crazy, but there ends up being more to the story.

Since everyone is going to be specifically waiting for me to compare Armada to Ready Player One, I’ll tell you right now thatReady Player One is a better story but Armada is still enjoyable.  If you are partial to space movies and all things alien,Armada will deliver the type of story (and the allusions that go along with it) that will please you.  The plot felt formulaic and there wasn’t enough character development for the story to make any kind of significant lasting impression but that does not detract from its pleasure factor.  You just cannot go into it hoping for Ready Player One in space.  The ending of Armadadoes leave the possibility for a sequel and if Cline does intend to write one, I would be eager to find out what happens next and I am confident that I would love the second installment more than the first.

Armada

I like that the main character Zack Lightman is your typical high school kid who becomes tasked with saving humanity.  He’s your average teenager with a wealth of pop culture knowledge which he puts to good use.  There are several plot twists that throw Zack for a loop, but overall, he is quite adaptable to change and he handles the curveballs life throws him in a very mature way.  Especially considering that he has less than 24 hours to digest everything.  My favorite character in Armada is Lex, the brilliant female gamer and programmer who can hack any system.  She, along with several other females, (some ranked within the top 10 high scorers of Armada) represent the female gaming community in a realistic way and I was thrilled to see that Cline did not fail his female audience because tbh I was slightly worried in the beginning.

Final Thoughts: Armada by Ernest Cline is your typical alien invasion story that is jam packed with references to past space franchises. It follows Zack Lightman, a typical teen with an affinity for video games who is recruited to help protect the Earth from impending doom.  If you’re looking for a classic alien invasion story, Armada will satisfy you but it does not stand out from others in its genre.  There is potential for a sequel in which case, Armada would lay the perfect groundwork for an original story.

Rating 4

Zack Lightman has spent his life dreaming. Dreaming that the real world could be a little more like the countless science-fiction books, movies, and videogames he’s spent his life consuming. Dreaming that one day, some fantastic, world-altering event will shatter the monotony of his humdrum existence and whisk him off on some grand space-faring adventure.

But hey, there’s nothing wrong with a little escapism, right? After all, Zack tells himself, he knows the difference between fantasy and reality. He knows that here in the real world, aimless teenage gamers with anger issues don’t get chosen to save the universe.

And then he sees the flying saucer.

Even stranger, the alien ship he’s staring at is straight out of the videogame he plays every night, a hugely popular online flight simulator called Armada—in which gamers just happen to be protecting the earth from alien invaders.

No, Zack hasn’t lost his mind. As impossible as it seems, what he’s seeing is all too real. And his skills—as well as those of millions of gamers across the world—are going to be needed to save the earth from what’s about to befall it.

It’s Zack’s chance, at last, to play the hero. But even through the terror and exhilaration, he can’t help thinking back to all those science-fiction stories he grew up with, and wondering: Doesn’t something about this scenario seem a little…familiar?

At once gleefully embracing and brilliantly subverting science-fiction conventions as only Ernest Cline could, Armada is a rollicking, surprising thriller, a classic coming of age adventure, and an alien invasion tale like nothing you’ve ever read before—one whose every page is infused with the pop-culture savvy that has helped make Ready Player One a phenomenon. (via Goodreads)

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Kristin

BookTube: Inside Out Book Tag

Kristina Horner had the brilliant idea to create a book tag based on Disney’ newest film, Inside Out, and I am so happy she tagged me because I really loved the film!  My favorite emotion is Joy (as you probably know if you’ve been reading my blog for a while since I’m always using so many exclamation points which I swear I’m not abusing, I just get really excited about things!)

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Kristin

GIVEAWAY: Trollhunters by Guillermo del Toro & Daniel Kraus

Guillermo del Toro’s film Pan’s Labyrinth has always been a favorite of mine because despite having only watched it once, the beautifully haunting images have made a lasting impression on my mind.  Also Pacific Rim is bae.  So when I heard that del Toro would be changing it up and releasing his first YA novel, I was incredibly excited!  His new book was written with Daniel Kraus and illustrated (in color!) by Sean Murray.  I’ve already been sent a copy of the book to read and review and let me tell you, it looks awesome!  You can enter below to win a prize pack provided by Disney-Hyperion or order a copy of your own on Amazon.  Here’s the synopsis:

“You are food. Those muscles you flex to walk, lift, and talk? They’re patties of meat topped with chewy tendon. That skin you’ve paid so much attention to in mirrors? It’s delicious to the right tongues, a casserole of succulent tissue. And those bones that give you the strength to make your way in the world? They rattle between teeth as the marrow is sucked down slobbering throats. These facts are unpleasant but useful. There are things out there, you see, that don’t cower in holes to be captured by us and cooked over our fires. These things have their own ways of trapping their kills, their own fires, their own appetites.”

Jim Sturges is your typical teen in suburban San Bernardino— one with an embarrassingly overprotective dad, a best friend named “Tubby” who shares his hatred of all things torturous (like gym class), and a crush on a girl who doesn’t know he exists. But everything changes for Jim when a 45-year old mystery resurfaces, threatening the lives of everyone in his seemingly sleepy town. Soon Jim has to team up with a band of unlikely (and some un-human) heroes to battle the monsters he never knew existed.

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ABOUT THE AUTHORS

Guillermo del Toro is best known for his critically acclaimed feature films, such as Pan’s Labyrinth, Helllboy, The Hobbit, andPacific Rim, as well as his best-selling Strain Trilogy.

Daniel Kraus is the award-winning author of Scowler and Rotters, and is the director of six feature films. He lives with his wife in Chicago.

From Pan’s Labyrinth to Hellboy to his best-selling novel The Strain, del Toro has captured the imagination through his works. His co-author Daniel Kraus is another award-winning author and filmmaker with a penchant for horror stories. Kraus’ debut novel, The Monster Variations, was selected for New York Public Library’s “100 Best Stuff for Teens.” Fangoria called Rotters, his Bram Stoker-finalist and Odyssey Award-winning second novel, “a new horror classic.” Kraus’ 2013 title, Scowler, also won an Odyssey Award for best audiobook produced for children and/or young adults.

ABOUT THE ILLUSTRATOR

Sean Murray is an illustrator, concept artist, author and teacher known for his work on video games such as Dungeons & Dragons Online and The Lord of the Rings Online, as well as the creator of The World of Gateway, which includes his fantasy guidebook Gateway: The Book of Wizards and the upcoming card game Gateway Uprising.

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Here’s an illustration from the book!

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TOP OF THE FOOD CHAIN prize pack

Avoid becoming a monster’s next meal! One (1) winner will receive:

  • Branded Trollhunters zip-up hoodie;
  • Branded Trollhunters pin;
  • Candy bones and brains;
  • and a copy of Trollhunters.

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a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck!

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Kristin

Make Up Monday: Mi Vida Loca Remix Palette by Kat Von D

Last week, Kat Von D released photos of her new Mi Vida Loca Remix eyeshadow palette on instagram and it’s beautiful!  It has every color of the rainbow, 24 highly pigmented shades in all.  Kat’s inspiration was to “create a sentimental esthetic to vinyl records.”  The palette slides in and out of a sleeve which depicts Kat’s artwork and it will be available at Sephora for Holiday 2015.  I usually tend to stick to neutral eyeshadows (like the Urban Decay Naked palettes), but I love having the option of color for when the mood strikes.  Considering I just cleaned out my makeup drawer and junked all the MAC eyeshadows I’ve been hoarding since high school, I’m in the market for new bursts of color!

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Kristin

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