Hello December ❄️

… And hello Everyone!

Can you believe that we are already on the last month of the year? I have no idea where the time has gone, but I know it’s been a whirlwind!

I wanted to talk to you all today about my goals for my blog. Since June, I’ve been trying really hard to be more active here and on social media, and I’m loving being a part of the amazing the bookish blogging community. I made it a goal to post every other day, and to push myself to read as many books as I could in November- knowing this would be tough due to my day job work schedule being at it’s busiest. It was a little stressful, I’ll be honest, but I’m proud that I made it happen!

But now, I need to recharge a little, and I think that since the holidays are near, it’s time to give back some of the love you’ve all shown me. So this month, I’m going to do my first ever giveaway (!!!) and do more on my social media accounts. I’m also cutting my posts back (just a little!), in the hopes that I’ll be able to give myself some time for more social aspects of the holiday season- time with my family, evening gift exchanges with friends, and maybe the occasional outdoor adventures to enjoy this seasonal weather we’ve been having in the Bluegrass. On a more personal note, I’ve also put myself on a book buying ban for the month of December (Lord knows I bought enough to last me the winter this past month!) and am doing a no-spend month. The holidays, to me, are about giving, NOT getting, so I’m trying to give more than I get!

On that note, I need some help from you all. I have some giveaway ideas, but what would you recommend as good prizes? Comment below with your suggestions, or message me on Twitter or Instagram!

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Texts From Jane Eyre by Mallory Ortberg

Texts From Jane Eyre is another very witty and clever book that I highly recommend for a change of pace and a good laugh. The book is comprised of short “screenshots” of text conversations between some of literature’s most memorable characters and authors, including Jane Eyre (hence the title), some done in a modern style and some retaining their classic voices.

Because it’s such a short book and again, I don’t want to spoil it for you, here are just a few classic characters you will “chat” with:

  • Circe:
    • “where did the pigs come from Circe?”
    • “i don’t know, a pig farm, a pig mommy and a pig daddy who loved each other very much…”
  • Jane Eyre:
    • “I KNEW IT. DID YOU LEAVE BECAUSE OF MY ATTIC WIFE IS THAT WHAT THIS IS ABOUT”
    • “yes. Absolutely.”
  • Hamlet:
    • “darling i don’t mean to criticize but you really hurt your father’s feelings last night”
    • “hes not my real dad. why do you even like him”
  • Nancy Drew:
    • “do you think you can come get me?”
    • “are you tied up again?”
    • “i’m just over at the cave by the old mill”
    • “so you’re tied up…in a cave.”

If you giggled at any one (or all!) of these, then you’ll really enjoy the rest. It’s a perfect way to get to “connect” with some of your favorite literary characters in one place. It’s fast paced, light fare, and well worth checking out!

 

 

 

 

Book Tag- #toptenbookishcreatures

I was tagged to do the #toptenbookishcreatures tag by @a_nargle_walks_into_a_bar on Instagram, and was so excited to answer, but I had to take a minute to narrow down my top ten. There are so many awesome magical creatures out there! So, without further ado: 

  1. Unicorn/ Pegasus – I’ve ALWAYS wanted one, being a horse girl and all. Wings or no wings, I’m not too picky 😂
  2. Bowtruckle – They’re just so cute and little and handy!
  3. Niffler – even though they would be a pain to keep track of, haha.
  4. Dragon – Obviously!
  5. Direhorse – I realize this isn’t technically a bookish animal but the creatures on Pandora are freaking cool and I want one so I added it to my list.
  6. Mountain Banshee – see reasoning above, #5. 
  7. Merpeople – I would be okay with being a merbabe, just sayin’.
  8. House Elves – I just adore Dobby and Kreature (post locket gift). So like an army of Dobbies and happy Kreachers.
  9. Ymbrynes- times travel and flight is cool!
  10. Genies- I have no idea what three wishes would be though. 

So there you have it! My top 10 bookish creatures! What are yours?!

Wild Ride by Ann Hagedorn Auerbach

I’ve been wanting to read Wild Ride for almost four years now. Maybe three months after I moved to Lexington, a friend and coworker was reading it and said it was really good. Fast forward four years, and I finally got the chance to read it, and I honestly think that I wouldn’t have appreciated the book as much as I do now.

See, being in the Bluegrass has really broadened my Thoroughbred knowledge, and I’ve gained a deeper respect for the industry in the area. Despite what you read in the media- because there is always a dark side of each industry- it is truly regarded as the Sport of Kings for good reason. Generations of families taking the chance on the next superstar, and pouring hours, years, lifetimes of dedication (and money) into their horses. Not only have I gained a deeper understanding of the industry, but I’ve also learned my way around (for the most part) Lexington and the surrounding area. I haven’t gone full local (because I still can’t stop acting like a tourist or shake my New England accent), but while reading Wild Ride, I could easily picture the locations mentioned, or the events occurring.

The byline of Wild Ride is “The Tragic Fall of Calumet Farm, Inc., America’s Premier Racing Dynasty”, but Auerbach doesn’t just rehash the demise- she delves into the history of Calumet from the very origins of it’s founder, William Monroe Wright.

The reader learns about the self-made businessman who eventually decided to move from Chicago to the Bluegrass and start his own harness horse breeding operation. From there, his son Warren takes over the family operation, despite being at odds with the way his father ran the place. He converts what becomes Calumet Farm into a thoroughbred operation, and an empire is born. Though strong in business practice, the younger Wright had a lot of horsemanship skills to learn, but his progress turned out derby winners and two Triple Crown winners. Unfortunately, his health took a turn for the worse, and when he passed on, his wife and son became benefactors of his estate, and his wife Lucille inherited the farm, along with gigantic sums of money.

Lucille decides to keep the farm, and in doing so blossoms into one of the social elite. She meets Gene Markey and remarries, and the Markeys, adding a touch of glamour that the Wright men did not achieve, take Calumet to up the social ladder. While Lucille enjoyed being  Lady of Calumet, her son Warren Jr. was moved to the wayside. He didn’t care for the farm life, and had many peculiarities that made him difficult to work with. On top of that, there was some discrepancies about him being the legitimate son of Warren Wright Sr. Lucille did very little to defend her son because he was seen as an embarrassment in her circle. This feud caused much heartache for his wife and four children, and eventually the Wright family became estranged to the Markey family, most so after Warren Jr. succumbs to an early death.

Knowing fully about the family feud, Warren Jr.’s eldest daughter, Cindy, marries a man named J.T. Lundy. Determined to run Calumet, he pressures and fights with Lucille to run the farm. Lucille and Lundy stubbornly spar, neither one giving up, until Lucille’s age catches up to her. Through the will of Warren Sr., the farm is finally turned over the Wright children, and because of their disinterest in the farm due to all the past heartache, Lundy takes over in care of the Wrights. From here, as secretary Margaret Glass notes, Armageddon begins with the fall of Calumet.

If you live in the area, you can still drive past the farm, and see for yourself the images that Auerbach describes- the white double fencing, the devils-red trim on white washed barns, the acres of famous Kentucky bluegrass dotted with horses. But the Calumet you see isn’t the dynasty that existed prior to 1990, and reading about the fall brought chills to my spine.

If you’re a horse junky like me, or interested in historical novels (Kentucky history in particular), horse racing and breeding, or crime novels, Wild Ride is a must read.

The Diary of a South Beach Party Girl by Gwen Cooper

Alright, so if you’ve already judged me for reading this, get out. (Ha ha just kidding, you can stay.)

I’ve been reading a lot of good, heavy hitting books (and watching a ton of drama-series reruns on TV while repainting my house), so I decided what I needed was a little fluff. So, while cleaning and sorting through my book stacks, I pulled out “Diary of a South Beach Party Girl”. I don’t know how I came to own it, and I don’t remember reading it before, but I figured it would give my emotions a break and be perfect for spring break.

I’m assuming this book is based partly on the life of the author, Gwen Cooper. Her main character is Rachel Baum, a Miami native to finds herself bored with her traditional life. So after quitting her non-profit job and breaking up with her long term boyfriend, she heads to South Beach to start anew. She moves in with fast friend Amy, who introduces her to the South Beach party scene.

Night after night, Rachel works her way up the South Beach social ladder, and eventually finds herself becoming the girl she wished she could be- sexy, frivolous, and admired by those around her…a social celebrity. As she mingles, she makes friends with Ricky, Mike, and Kojo, and they become a tight group that picks each other up when South Beach life knocks them down- through job losses, bankruptcy, and long strings of bad boyfriends. Rachel also finds herself hopelessly attracted to John Hood, local transient bad boy with a questionable criminal and drug history.

After a few years of living the life she thought she wanted, Rachel starts to see that South Beach isn’t a long term place for a girl like herself. So, she decides to take on New York City, where everything finally ties together.

Like I said, pretty fluffy stuff here. Even though it’s all drugs, sex, and rock n’ roll, it’s a pretty predictable book. Closet party girl wants to party, goes through transformation as a popular party girl, and then decides that she’s ready to move on from the party scene for something bigger and better. *Insert eye-roll here*. Oh, I should also note that it was written in 2007, but the story really takes place between 1998 and 2000, so there are a lot of references to people and songs that were a big hit in that time frame… which is a little funny to ready. *NSYNC anyone? So yeah…I wouldn’t recommend this book unless you were really looking for a pool side/ beach side read.

 

Summer Sisters by Judy Blume

This book was a quick read, an easy attention grabbing novel that helped me get out of my Potter phase without too much to-do. You know when you pick up a Judy Blume, you’re going to get a little emotional, but this one was quick paced enough that there was no need for the tissue box. Fair warning, I’d say the content is definitely PG-13. But Blume knows how to hit the sweet spot “coming of age” stories.

This novel takes place around two main characters- Victoria (Vix) and Caitlin- from Victoria’s point of view. Vix meets popular new girl Caitlin, at the tender age of 12, and surprisingly, Caitlin invited Vix to spend the summer with her in Martha’s Vineyard. Excited and nervous at the invitation, Vix is ready to see what life is like beyond Santa Fe. Though uncomfortable at first, Vix and Caitlin become close friends, dubbing themselves “summer sisters”. As the years go by and the girls continue to return to the Vineyard, they find themselves exploring the boundaries of summer love, the difficulties of family heartbreak, and the growing pains of life.

Overall, I think this is a good, fast paced book with plot twists that I definitely wasn’t expecting. Character development is excellent, and the Blume life lesson is obvious- true sisterhood and friendship means loving the best and the worst of a person. It’s perfect for beach or pool-side reading, and it’ll make you want to call your best friend and tell them how much you appreciate their friendship. ♥

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by JK Rowling

I’ve had a lot of downtime at work this past week, and managed to knock out the fifth novel in the Harry Potter series. I know I mentioned that I was skipping the fourth since I had read it earlier this year in my last review. So without further ado:

  1. Things progress in the novel relatively accurate as in movie for the first two hundred pages, but then as we get introduced to Luna Lovegood, we see some major differences. First off, Luna is a Ravenclaw, not a Gryffindor. Second, Ginny introduces her with the gentleness that Hermione in the movie portrays. In the novel, Hermonie (unlike the movie) is rather rude to Luna, and they butt heads many times. Their first non-abrasive moment happens at the end of the novel.
  2. Ron tries out for the Gryffindor quidditch team in their fifth year, not sixth. At this time. Harry is not captain- in fact, he’s in detention for Professor Umbridge and doesn’t really see Ron’s tryout. The confundus charm movie Hermione does, didn’t happen in the book. Also, Ginny isn’t on the team yet. Fast forward a few hundred pages, Harry, Fred and George are banned from playing quidditch at Hogwarts, and Ginny becomes a substitute for Harry (though eventually she wants to become a chaser.) And, because it isn’t mentioned, Gryffindor wins the quidditch cup that year.
  3. The formation of Dumbledore’s Army and Harry teaching students defense against the dark arts is a little different than the movie. The movie does a decent job on summarizing it, but initially Hermione brings it up to Harry, and he goes off on them, and he sits on the idea for a while. Then they decide to hold the meeting in the Hog’s Head. Hermione gets students to sign their name like a contract, and then charms it to know if they tell anyone about it. And Dobby, not Neville, tells Harry about the Room of Requirement.
  4. I’d have to rewatch the movie to double check, but I believe they don’t mention that Umbridge was watching the Floo network, intercepting owls, or had her make the confession about the dementors that attacked Harry and Dudley.
  5. I felt that this was brilliant:  ‘…said Ginny angrily “Seeing as you don’t know anyone but me who’s been possessed by You-Know-Who, and I can tell you how it feels.” Harry remained quite still as the impact of those words hit him. Then he wheeled around. “I forgot,” he said. “Lucky you,” said Ginny coolly.’ As everyone in the potter fandom knows, Ginny is so tough- she had to be with so many brothers. So when Harry is having his nobody-understands-me moment, she is the perfect character to snap him out of it. The movies needed more Ginny to balance out the emo-Potter.
  6. The Quibbler Article- unmentioned in the movies, this is really what starts to change people’s perception of Harry. Although the publication was typically a laughing stock, Harry’s account of what happened when Voldemort returned make those in denial or unsure understand that his story was unwavering.
  7. The removal of Hagrid from Hogwarts. The book describes such a horrible scene. I’m surprised that kind of action didn’t make it into the movie. But then again, I probably would’ve cried seeing McGonagall get hit like that.
  8. I had forgotten how emotional Order of the Phoenix is towards the end. I always hated that Sirius dies, but I apparently blocked out how much anger and emotion Harry lets out afterwards, especially while talking with Dumbledore about prophesy.

Alright, that’s all for now. I definitely won’t be squeezing in book 6 (Half Blood Prince) before the holidays. So again, thank you to the followers who have stuck with me this year, and I hope you all have a festive season and a Happy New Year!