Les Petits Bonheurs #34…

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Christmas is coming…

In my family, the minute the calendars are flipped to November 1st, it’s Christmas time in our house. Holiday baking commences, Christmas albums come out of storage, and the decorating soon follows. Thanksgiving and Christmas are my favorite time of the year, and every year I am determined to make them last as long as possible, which is why I have already begun purchasing holiday clothing (AKA the ugly Christmas sweaters) this month.

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Everything about the this winter season makes me super nostalgic and happy, and I can’t wait until it’s time to go see Christmas lights.

How about you? What are some of your family traditions?

Les Petits Bonheurs #27…

Labor Day weekend was pretty crazy this year! School and work have kept me busier than I would like, and I wish that I had the energy to read for fun after finishing work and studying. Sadly, it has been about a month since I have picked up a book for enjoyment, but that did not stop me from going crazy at Barnes and Noble this last week with buying every book and vinyl record that I could get my hands on. Yeah, call me greedy, but when there are amazing sales and 40% off the vinyl soundtrack of Disney’s”Cinderella,” one must become a little cupide, as the French say. And let me tell you, the music from “Cinderella” has never sounded better than it does on vinyl, and I just adore relaxing to this classic soundtrack!

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Over the weekend, I also decided to get another vinyl by one of my favorite artists, and I might have also bought, like, five other books. For blog related research, of course…

I’m still cringing at how much I spent, but seriously, how can a girl resist the most magical store on earth when it has a 40% coupon just calling her name? It came to the point where my battery had to die on my computer before I could stop purchasing books and vinyl albums.

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Yeah, we’re going to be paying those items off for a little bit, but it was a wild ride! Thanks for visiting my blog today, and hopefully I’ll see you soon with a new review!

Ashley Townsend Interview: Part 1

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Today’s post is very special to me because I am writing my first author interview. I joined the Double Decker Books blog tour for Ashley Townsend, and here we are! Alright, here is Ashley’s interview with Double Decker Books!

Q: What are the major themes of your work?

A: I crafted the entire series around the fact that forgiveness is never too far from reach and also the idea that everything we do is a choice—that we aren’t victims of fate or circumstance, but that we can choose to turn our lives around. This comes up more than anything in “Chasing Shadows,” and nearly every character at some point references how they “don’t have a choice” in life, while their circumstances say otherwise.

Q: What’s your inspiration or who is?

A: Pretty much anything can spark my interest and inspire me to write—a particular song lyric, wondering how I can describe the waves lapping on the shore, films. I also do a lot of people watching (I sometimes come off like a perv, but it isn’t like that!), and they are definitely interesting, in a good and a bad way. History is also really inspiring to me, and I love thinking up ways to drive life into a period of history or a public figure to get people interested.

Q: If you could meet one character from your book who would it be and why?

A: ……. ^____^ Okay, my first instinct is Will Taylor (your next medieval, blacksmith book boyfriend), and I’m still sticking with that. But I would also love to meet Sarah; she sort of has a way of quietly sneaking her way into your heart and becoming your best friend. I love her for her fears, strengths, her wacky sense of humor, and the fact that she is one of the most realistic characters I have ever written or read about. I feel like I could learn so much from her over a cup of coffee … perhaps in another century.

Q: What inspired you to write your first book?

A: I wrote the “bones” of it when I was 14, and it was the first totally creative assignment we were allowed to work on in my writing class. It was just a cute story to start out, and then I was watching BBC’s Robin Hood with Jonas Armstrong (full disclosure: I’ve been a Robin Hood nut since I was four and love that show with an undying passion). I was playing around with the story at the same time I was watching the show and just went, “Wow. I want to do something like that.” It just sort of evolved on its own from there.

Q: What are your current projects?

A: Love this question! ^_~ Well, I have about 13 projects that I have half-plotted and want to write all at once—if I had twelve arms, that would be super helpful—but what I’m really dedicating myself to right now is Book III in the Rising Shadows Trilogy to wrap it up, and I’m planning on finishing up a fairytale series next that sort of Pirates of the Caribbean meets Neverland. There’s also a dystopian novel I have in the works. It’s about the perfect soldiers who are like robots, supposedly created in petri dishes, but the female doctor training them realizes that they’re humans being sacrificed in one man’s pursuit to take over what’s left of East America.

 

Q: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?

A: I should never cram in a half hour of writing before work. -_- Yeah, I’ve learned that I don’t stop once I get started. I have also found that I really need to set aside writing time, because I’ll either spend three days straight writing and not sleeping, or I take a week or two off completely because I don’t have a full day to dedicate to a story. So I’ve found clever ways to keep my mind in writing mode, even when I’m not typing away, like using plotting notecards, or mentally going over scenes to make sure that they connect.

 

Q: Do you have any strange writing habits?

A: I have to be wearing my penguin socks or my frog slippers, have a coffee nearby, and no distractions, other than random trailer music or my particular writing playlist on a loop to inspire me. I listened to “All or Nothing” by Brand X Music 26 times in a row (I counted) while I wrote this one scene because it totally set the mood for me.

 

Q: If you didn’t write books, what would you do for a living?

A: Probably teach or own a bakery, which I still plan to do! I always wanted to teach creative writing as a kid, because I have a passion for the English language and love encouraging kids in their writing, and I have a baking fetish that will never fade. I also really want to become an acquisitions editor for either Harper Collins or Balzer & Bray. Then I’d get to read great stories for a living!

 

Q: What is your least favorite part of the publishing / writing process?

A.   I love every aspect of writing and will never tire of it, but I do get frustrated with myself when I can’t articulate a thought properly. It’s torture to have something in your head that seems awesome and then just sounds horrible on paper.

Q: What is one of your favorite parts in your newest book?

A: NOOOOOOO! Ugh, such an evil question. Now I have to go by genre *sighs*

Well, for romance, when something tragic happens to Sarah, she comes to _____ (I can’t spoil it for you!) and is a total wreck. But he’s so tender and it’s so painfully obvious to the reader that he’s in love with her. I just can’t get over how vulnerable the moment is between them. Soooo beauuuutiful! Basically I’m a fan of whenever vulnerability comes into play.

Action would definitely have to be when Sarah and Will witness a body burning in the forest and have to flee the guilty party. It’s a very intense, fast-paced scene, and then Sarah slips through an icy lake, and Will has to fish her cold body out. It was so much fun to write, I can’t even begin to tell you.

Also, I love any scene with Damien Lisandro, the handsome Spanish lord staying at Serimone Castle with Sarah. *sighs* Where to begin. He is so charming and secretly wounded and dashing and amusing and such a good friend to Sarah. Try not to fall too hard, ladies.

Ashley and Double Decker Books also sent out a playlist for Ashley’s book, “Chasing Shadows!”

CHAPTER 1:

Avicii — Wake Me Up

CHAPTER 2:

Jason Reeves — The End

CHAPTER 3:

Schuyler Fisk — Waking Life

CHAPTER 4:

Ben Howard — The Fear

CHAPTER 5:

Nico and Vinz — Am I Wrong

CHAPTER 6:

The Script — The End Where I Begin

CHAPTER 7:

Switchfoot — Slipping Away

Penny and Sparrow — Brothers

CHAPTER 8:

Josh Rosenthal — No More Lies

CHAPTER 9:

The Workday Release — A Starlit Sky

CHAPTER 10:

YPPAH — Never Mess with Sunday

CHAPTER 11:

Levi Robin — Breathe Easy

CHAPTER 12:

Bastille — Bad Blood

CHAPTER 13:

Jason Walker — Down

Keith Urban — Stupid Boy

CHAPTER 14:

Hunter Hayes — You Think You Know Somebody

CHAPTER 15:

Need to Breathe — Won’t Turn Back

CHAPTER 16:

Danny Elfman — Oz, the Great and Powerful

CHAPTER 17:

Brand X Music — Sorcerer’s Secret

CHAPTER 18:

Hurts — Unspoken

CHAPTER 19:

Kacey Musgraves — Back on the Map

CHAPTER 20:

Lady Antebellum — Learning to Fly (cover)

CHAPTER 21:

Augustana — Borrowed Time

CHAPTER 22:

The Weepies — Can’t Go Back Now

One Republic — Feel Again

CHAPTER 23:

Hunter Hayes — All You Ever

CHAPTER 24:

The Civil Wars — Dust to Dust

CHAPTER 25:

Two Steps from Hell — Resistance is Fatal

CHAPTER 26:

X Ambassadors — Unsteady

CHAPTER 27:

Mads Langer — Fact-Fiction

Jan Kaczmarek — Finding Neverland

CHAPTER 28:

Gabrielle Aplin — Start of Time

CHAPTER 29:

Jimmy Eat World — Hear You Me

Florence and the Machine — Heavy in Your Arms

CHAPTER 30:

Sea Fournier — Goodbye

In the Nursery — Kryptka

CHAPTER 31:

Switchfoot — When the World Caves In

CHAPTER 32:

Parachute — Hurricane

CHAPTER 33:

Brand X Music — Curious Developments

CHAPTER 34:

Greg Laswell — Comes and Goes (in Waves)

CHAPTER 35:

Ray LaMontagne —Be Here Now

CHAPTER 36:

Ed Sheeran — Give Me Love

Abel Korzeniowski — First Kiss

CHAPTER 37:

Christina Perri — A Thousand Years

CHAPTER 38:

Bastille — The Draw

CHAPTER 39:

Two Steps from Hell — Black Blade

CHAPTER 40:

One Republic — Burning Bridges

CHAPTER 41:

Tom Petty — Square One

CHAPTER 42:

Avicii — Heart Upon My Sleeve

CHAPTER 43:

Husky – History’s Door

CHAPTER 44:

Red Jumpsuit Apparatus — Cat and Mouse

CHAPTER 45:

Adele — Skyfall

Sons of Sylvia — John Wayne

CHAPTER 46:

Brand X Music — All or Nothing

CHAPTER 47:

 Blackmill — Journey’s End

CHAPTER 48:

Kodaline — All I Want

CHAPTER 49:

Of Monsters and Men — Silhouettes

CHAPTER 50:

Lord Huron — Ends of the Earth

EPILOGUE:

Radical Face — Welcome Home

 

 This is an author interview with multiple parts, so check out all the tags with “Ashley Townsend Interview” as the title!

The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski (The Winner’s Trilogy #1)

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“The Winner’s Curse” by Marie Rutkoski

5 out of 5 stars.

Music is seventeen-year-old Kestrel’s Achilles’ heel. It is her comfort, and if someone ever asked where her heart lay, she would probably say it dwells in keys of her piano. It is a strength, a talent, but it is also a curse in some ways, too. Kestrel never thought of it that way until after one fateful day in the market when she found out just how bad her weakness for music was. Kestrel could never have prepared herself for what was to come because of her choice that day, how a purchase of a slave could change her life, her world, forever.

The young man’s eyes had glittered that afternoon with something very familiar to Kestrel: rebellion. She had purchased him mostly because the slaver claimed he could sing, but also because of that look in his eyes, and she wondered if she’d found someone with the same fire burning in them that burned within herself. Kestrel, however, finds herself to instantly regret the purchase when he refuses to sing for her, kindred spirit or not. What was she thinking, buying a slave for so much money just because the slaver said he could sing? But there is more to this slave boy than meets the eye, more than Kestrel could have ever imagined. As the world around her begins to crumble, Kestrel wonders if this slave could be her savior, or if he will be the death of her.

“The Winner’s Curse” is a really hard book for me to review because I honestly don’t know how to put into words what I felt while reading it. Where do I start? Should I begin this post with how much I loved it, how beautifully and intricately woven the plot is, or how the characters grow on you the more time you spend with them, just like an actual person would? I just don’t have the right words to describe this book; anything I say in the written word won’t do this story justice, and that bums me out. A lot. *Sighs*

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Despite not knowing exactly what to say, I am still going to write a review for this book.

 Okay, I think that the wisest place to start this post is with Marie Rutkoski’s world. Can I just say how gorgeous it is before I write anything else? It’s gorgeous, and I LOVED it! Kestrel doesn’t belong to our world; hers is make-believe, but it feels so real the way Marie wrote it that it seemed more like a beautifully written history book! I felt like I was being drawn into the story, and Kestrel’s world really came alive. One of  the reasons that I think made it came alive for me was that Marie’s world is modeled after the Roman-Greco period in history, which just so happens to be my favorite. I love the Roman and Grecian influences that are in “The Winner’s Curse” because they added so much depth and weight to the story, and it made for a more believable story. I feel that Marie did a great job of drawing from these two magnificent civilizations while still making Kestrel’s world her own. I think that is one of the (many) reasons that made this such a stunning read for me.

Besides Marie Rutkoski’s beautiful world building, I loved how cunning and intelligent her characters were. They were shrewd, and calculating and I liked that because you didn’t know exactly what they were thinking, or completely understand their intentions. They held their cards close to their chests, and the author waited until precisely the right moment to have them lay one down; one card was revealed at a time, and it made for a slowly building that eventually blew my mind! I mean, my brain was making the connections and putting things together, so not everything was a surprise, but it was kind of fun to read into actions and to understand what a character was doing without being told. It was clever of the author because it made me even more invested in the book and its characters.

I feel that there is a character in this book for everyone to choose from, and I personally became a fan of Ronan, one of Kestrel’s friends. (Yeah, I know, I tend to go for the sweet friend who’s always been there for the main female character. I guess I’m predictable, but I prefer to call it faithful and dependable). Ronan was an intelligent character, with a good wit that made me smile whenever he was around, and he cared deeply for Kestrel even though she didn’t care for him that way in return. Unrequited love just so happens to be one of the many afflictions ninety percent of the characters I like end up experiencing, so it’s no surprise that I fell for him. Let me warn you now, though, if I ever REALLY like a character and you want them to either be alive at the end of a book, or end up with your other favorite character, run far, far away! I’ve accepted this fact in life, but sometimes it still hurts (except for the very few, but very precious times that my OPTs have ended up together. They are rare but sweet!). Ronan is one of those times, but you know what, I am just looking forward to seeing more of him in this series even if all he will ever be is a friend to Kestrel. I can live with that. All of the characters in this story, though, are all really well developed; there are no pointless or meaningless characters in this book because they all serve some kind of purpose, and there’s also no filler in this book, which is new and refreshing.

What I really want to explain now is what made me realize that I liked “The Winner’s Curse.” For most of the it I wasn’t thinking about what I liked or disliked about this book, I was just absorbed in the story and experiencing each moment alongside the characters. The moment that I realized just how much I loved this book, I had been reading the last fifty or sixty pages, and it was a scene between Kestrel and Arin. Before that moment I hadn’t thought about my likes or dislikes, whether I wanted them together or not, or if I even liked them as individuals. I hadn’t thought about any of those things until after they were in the kitchen, and they had this really beautiful moment together. This scene with them doesn’t last long at all, but afterwards I noticed that I had been holding my breath in anticipation. I don’t know what I was waiting for, but I had been waiting for something.

“The Winner’s Curse” is the first book to do that to me. Sure, I’ve screamed at  books/book characters before, I’ve held my breath in dread or fear, and even in excitement, but this is the first book that made me sit, literally, on the edge of my seat, waiting for something, anything to happen. After the moment passed I was kinda like,

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That was the moment when I figured out that I loved “The Winner’s Curse.” I guess the best way to describe it is that this story, its characters, and its world, they all snuck up on me. I was just going along with the story when suddenly, and unexpectedly, I was like, “Wow, I really love this book!” After I had finished it, I went to discuss the book with my sister and all I could say was, “Uhhhhh,”, and, “It just snuck up on me!” I sounded like an idiot and I probably looked like one too because I just kept repeating myself over and over again, blinking in shock.

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I looked like a fool, but it was totally worth it!

“The Winner’s Curse” was a stunning read. I feel that it and “The One” by Kiera Cass are, so far, my epic reads of 2014. I love a lot of books, but only a few have the potential to be eternally epic stories. What Marie and Kiera have in common, and why I love their books so much, is that their societies, worlds, plots, and characters are all beautifully thought out, intricate, flawed, and real despite being fictional; they stay with you even after you’ve walked away. You can tell that they’ve put their hearts and souls into their books, and that in turn makes you invest more in the stories they write. That is how I differentiate a good book from an epic one. They make me speechless in a really good way kind of way.

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Bravo, Marie Rutkoski!!

Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson

 

Morgan Matson Since You've Been Gone

“Since You’ve Been Gone” by Morgan Matson

4 out of 5 stars.

Emily’s summer is looking up. Sloan, her best friend, and Emily have the perfect summer planned out: get jobs somewhere where they can hang out together, and experience new adventures together all summer long. But before Emily can live her dream summer, Sloan disappears without a word. It’s happened before, Sloan leaving without so much as a call or text, but Emily can’t help but feel that this time is different, more permanent than the last. Their friendship can’t end like this, can it? Can over two years of friendship be so easily forgotten? But after two weeks a letter arrives addressed to Emily, and inside is exactly what she had been hoping for: a list.

Whenever Sloan leaves, she usually sends a list to Emily, a list of things her friend must complete before she comes back from where she disappeared to. Emily has always tried to do as many things on these lists as she could, but was never able to complete one, but all that’s going to change. This is the year Emily is determined to do everything on the list, and by the end of the summer, Sloan will come back and then they can share their stories, once again fast friends. All will be right in Emily’s world after that. There’s only one problem, though: all the things on the list are really hard and some even require Emily to conquer some of her biggest fears. Can she really do it all by herself, or will she once again shy away from the challenge?

This was a very spontaneous buy for me. My sisters and I had gone to Barnes and Noble (coupons in hand), and I had been planing to by a different book. As I perused the shelves, sniffing paper and ink, my older sister brought this beauty over to me. I literally fangirled over the cover.

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It was so pretty I couldn’t resist buying it. And so, here we are, writing a review about one of my most recent spontaneous buys.

“Since You’ve Been Gone” by Morgan Matson was a really cute book. Morgan Matson is a very good author, and I liked how the story built up steam the longer I read it; this book was a bit hardier than most Chick Lit reads that I have experienced. I had fun watching Emily grow as a person, and some of the situations Morgan put her character in were interesting, and they kind of made you wonder what you would do if you were in Emily’s shoes.

Besides it being a really great light summer read, I liked “Since You’ve Been Gone”  because of Morgan Matson’s secondary characters. Usually the secondary characters in Chick Lit books fall flat (except in Katie McGarry’s and Ally Carter’s books), but in this one I found myself enjoying everyone, and I was especially happy to see Emily help out her brother a lot more nearing the end; I always enjoy it when siblings look at for each other in books. One of the other things I liked was that each of the characters were pretty average, but in a good way. They were real people, not perfect, gorgeous, and unrealistic like a lot of books characters I’ve read. They were all endearingly average and I really liked that.

Overall, I really liked this book and would recommend it to anyone looking for a light, well written summer read. It was clean and cute, and I am very happy to have purchased it!

Unravel Me Playlist

It took me at least a week to do this playlist, but it was so worth it. “Unravel Me” deserves only the finest music, so here are some songs…enjoy!

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“Under Pressure” by Queen (Juliette’s song in the beginning)

“Learning To Fly” by Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers

“All In White” by The Vaccines

“Baba O’Riley”  by The Who

“I Want To Know What Love Is” by Foreigner

“How Deep Is Your Love” by the Bee Gees (I just couldn’t resist)

“Good Ol’ Fashion Nightmare” by Matt & Kim

“It’ll All Work Out” by Tom Petty & The Hearbreakers

“If I lose Myself” by Landon Austin (Madilyn Bailey also does a good version of this song as well as OneRepublic)

“Shut Us Down” by Lindsey Buckingham

“Danger Zone” by Kenny Loggins

“Daddy’s Gone” by Glasvegas

“Back In Black” by AC/DC (Warner arrives)

“How You Like Me Now” by The Heavy

“Beat The Devil’s Tattoo” by Black Rebel Motorcycle Club (Warner”s other song)

“Wicked Game” by Chris Isaac

“Counting Stars” by OneRepublic

“Down By the Water” by The Decemberists

“Loved” by JJ Heller

“Who You Are” by JJ Heller

“Say You Will” by Foreigner

“Meaningless Kiss” by Hugh Grant from the “Music and Lyrics” soundtrack (C’mon, I just couldn’t help myself!)

“The Letter” by The Box Tops (Also by Joe Crocker)

“I’ve Gotta Get A Message To You” by the Bee Gees

“Boat Song” by JJ Heller

“Just Stay Here Tonight” by Augustana

“Ring My Bells” by Enrique Iglesias

“Heaven” by Bryan Adams (Warner’s other, other song)

“Hot Blooded” by Foreigner

“Layla” by Derek & The Dominos

“Behind Blue Eyes” by The Who (Just think green eyes)

“A Comet Appears” by The Shins

“Smells Like Teen Spirit” by Nirvana

“No One Like You” by Scorpions

“My Body Is A Cage” by Sara Lov (also by Arcade Fire)

“Chasing Cars” by Landon Austin

“The Phoenix” by Fall Out Boy

The more I think about it, the more I love this book! Tahereh is such an amazing author, and although it has only been a few weeks since I’ve read “Unravel Me”, I want to read it again, and again, and again… So, I felt a need to create a list of songs that I like for their beat and their randomness, and that also compliment the book. Beware, though, I have weird music choices most of the time (my sisters can attest to that!)!

 I have to wait a year or more until the next book comes out, and I don’t know if I can take that. Please, Tahereh, don’t take too long and don’t break my heart…please…

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The Host Playlist.

It is only two months until The Host Movie (also one of my favorite books!) comes out! I am so excited and hope it turns out to be good. If you haven’t read The Host by Stephenie Meyer yet, you have to! I enjoyed it and hopefully you will too; give it a try despite the fact that it was written by the Twilight author, and tell some friends! Now, the point of this post is to get the word out there that The Host is coming out, and to also have a playlist to go along with the book  (if you end up reading it). I hope you enjoy both the playlist and (hopefully) the book.

 

the host book

The Host by Stephenie Meyer.

“Prelude 12/21” by AFI

“Radioactive” by Imagine Dragons

“Ho, Hey!” by The Lumineers

“Let It Go” by Fossil Collective

“Sail” by AWOLNATION

“Signs” by Bloc Party

“My Body Is A Cage” by Arcade Fire

“Bartholomew” by The Silent Comedy

“As Long As You Love Me” by Corey Gray

“Can’t Get Enough of Your Love Babe” by Barry White (Any moment that involves Ian O’Shea! Just for kicks!)

“Hold You In My Arms” by Ray LaMontagne

“Take A Walk” by Passion Pit

“Come Back Home” by Two Door Cinema Club

“Lights” by Corey Gray

“Paradise” by Tyler Ward

“Little Talks” by Of Monsters and Men (Wanda and Melanie’s relationship.)

“Stubborn Love” by The Lumineers

“Diamonds” by Alex Goot

“Beautiful Soul” by Jessie McCartney (Just for kicks!)

“Love will Save Your Soul” by Grouplove (Anything with soul in the title goes, I guess.)

“Awake My Soul” by Mumford and Sons.

I hope you enjoy this playlist. P.S. You don’t have to play them in this order.