Monday, January 22

this week's clicks.

get your week off to a colorful start...
Good morning! How was your weekend? Last week was weird because Mr. Q was sick and we had three snow days off from school, so it felt like my weekend started on Wednesday. When Josh recovered enough to leave the house, we started our baby registry, which was a pretty exhausting experience, and I spent a large portion of today doing even more research about all the options for everything from bottles to playpens (too many decisions!). I'll be glad to get back into my regular routine today.

eye candy.

made me smile.

flashback.

What's coloring your life this week? Share your favorites or link to 
your most recent blog post, Pinterest board, or Insta in the comments!

Sunday, January 21

Book Review: Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones

Wintersong: A Novel by S. Jae-Jones, St. Martin's Griffin 2017

One of my goals for 2018 is to get back into a regular reading habit, and one of the ways I hope to do that is by keeping up with recommendations from you guys and from the other members of the Creating and Co. Book Club. The December club choice was author S. Jae-Jones' debut Wintersong. From reading the synopsis, I wasn't sure it was something I'd be into - goblins? - but I got an e-mail invitation from Netgalley and decided to take it as a sign. After reading the first chapter, I got sucked into the novel's dark magical world, and would recommend it - with some reservations.
Wintersong's main character, Liesl, lives in Bulgaria with her family. There's her alcoholic father, who was a famous violinist in Salzburg. Her hardworking mother, who runs the family's inn while Liesl looks after her siblings. In fact, she's so selfless that she is happy when her beautiful sister Käthe becomes engaged to the boy she liked, and when her musically gifted brother gets an opportunity that may take him far from home. Liesl shares the family gift for music, her talent lying in composing rather than performance, but will never be able to achieve fame for it because she is a girl. There's also her superstitious grandmother, who warns the children about the Goblin King, Der Erlkönig, and though Liesl is too old for such nonsense she has fond, vague memories of a childhood spent playing with a strange little boy in the wooded area she and her siblings called the "Goblin Grove." 

Though Wintersong is a fantasy, references to real musicians like Mozart place the storyline in the 1790s or early 1800s. With this setting, it was easy to forget that Jae-Jones based the novel on the 1980's Jim Henson movie Labyrinth, but both stories share a common initiating event: a sibling stolen by the Goblin King. When Käthe goes mising, Liesl must travel into the underworld to free her from the beautiful, frightening ruler - and in doing so, finds her own power. Jae-Jones is a self-professed English literature nerd, and there are shades of Jane Eyre in Wintersong - along with moments that reminded me of Beauty and the Beast and the story of Hades and Persephone. Her prose style perfectly suits the dark fairytale flavor of the novel, though she does have a few overused words and phrases - I got tired of the King being called "austere," Liesl's "décolletage," and the underworld's many "objets d'art." I did love that Wintersong's Der Erlkönig has different-colored eyes, a subtle shoutout to David Bowie and Labyrinth's King Jareth.

Remember this guy?

School Library Journal recommends Wintersong for grades 9 and up, and it's marketed as YA, but I would not feel comfortable putting it in a ninth grade classroom library due to several romance scenes that, while not as graphic as an adult romance novel, leave little to the imagination. I also feel that narratives about relationships like Liesl's with the Goblin King - in which the lonely girl "fixes" a cruel, controlling man with her love - can be downright dangerous to some young women readers. For me, this book belongs in the New Adult section, and maybe that makes me an old prude. That said, this old prude will be seeking out the sequel, Shadowsong, to find out what happens next for Liesl and Der Erlkönig.

Monday, January 15

this week's clicks.

get your week off to a colorful start...
SWOON.

SMILE.

FLASHBACK.
What's coloring your life this week? Share your favorites or link to 
your most recent blog, Instagram, or Tumblr post in the comments!

Sunday, January 14

Thursday, January 11

pinspiration: a fresh start [january 2017]

Once the holiday decorations have been put away, I like to really dig in to envisioning the new year, spending some time with my planner, and focusing on finding ways to simplify my life, streamline my routines, and boost my productivity. My professional goals this year deal with celebrating success and strengthening community, and my personal goals are all about getting ready to be the best working mom I can be. Today, I'm sharing some inspiration for the new year and the fun playlist I've been playing 24/7 while working on my plans for 2018.


“The need to prove who you are will vanish once you know who you are.” - Danielle Pierre


"Stay committed to your decisions, but stay flexible in your approach." - Tony Robbins



Monday, January 8

this week's clicks.

get your week off to a colorful start...
LISTEN.
  • This remix of Starley's "Call on Me" is my current upbeat friendship/saving the world anthem/workout jam.

SWOON.

SMILE.

FLASHBACK.
What's coloring your week? Share a link to your favorite recent blog
 or Tumblr post, Tweet, or Instagram pic in the comments!

Friday, January 5

my 2017 in books!

School is closed today due to freezing temperatures in my area, so I thought I'd seize the opportunity to complete Jamie from The Perpetual Page-Turner's annual end of year reading survey. My reading life took a dive last year as I got shaken up in so many ways: instead of my usual 40-50 books, in 2017 I completed 25, not counting a few additional pregnancy nutrition books. 

After accepting my new position as an instructional coach last spring, I had two jobs until the school year was over, so when I wasn't actively teaching I was working on plans for the new school. This summer was travel-heavy with a big business trip for work and our trip on the Blue Ridge Parkway. This fall, I realized how much of an impact those Mondays and Fridays reading with my students had made on my TBR pile when I didn't have that time anymore. And in my first trimester of pregnancy, I was too tired and lazy to do anything after work but watch TV or play games on my iPad. One thing that did help me get my reading groove back a bit was joining the Creating & Co. Book Club on Facebook, and I hope to continue to 
make more time to read in 2018.

2017 Reading Stats:

Number Of Books Read: 25
Number of Re-Reads: 1 (A Wrinkle in Time)
Genre You Read The Most From: YA, with the most-read categories being paranormal/fantasy and contemporary

Best in Books:


Best Book You Read In 2017? 
Best YA: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas (also the most amazing debut I read in 2017, and the book that made me cry this year - that list of names.)
Best Nonfiction: Helping Children Succeed by Paul Tough
I highly recommend both of these for every educator, especially those who work with teens.

Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t? 
The Girls by Emma Cline, which is kind of a fictionalized version of the Manson family forming - the main character, Evie, becomes infatuated with an older girl who draws her into a cult led by a charismatic man. I have a weird interest in cults, but in reading this book I realized that I'd rather read memoirs about cult survivors than a fictional account.



Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read?  
Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen - and I don't want to spoil why it was so surprising for those who haven't read it yet, so I'll just say I thought I knew what genre I was reading until I realized I really didn't!

Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did)?
Probaby a tie between The Hate U Give and Becky Albertalli's Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda - I recommended both to all of my middle school teacher friends.

Best Series Ender read in 2017?
The Dire King by William Ritter - I loved the characters first introduced in Jackaby and didn't want to leave them, but the ending and epilogue of this book were perfect.

Favorite new author you discovered in 2017?
Emma Donoghue - after reading Room on my mom's recommendation ("book recommended by your mom" should be a category in every reading challenge, IMHO) I was excited to read her historical novel The Wonder, and definitely wasn't disappointed. The Wonder had a compelling main character who reminded me a little bit of Claire from Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series in her tenacity, and a few plot twists I definitely didn't see coming.

Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?
For me, it was Jennifer Donnelly's Revolution (my review is here)- I started empathizing so much with the main character and got so interested in the secondary plot set during the French Revolution that I had to know what happened to both heroines. It was also the most beautifully written book I read this year.

Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2017 to finally read? 
Breakfast at Tiffany's by Truman Capote. The movie has been one of my favorites since college, but when I decided to be Holly Golightly for Halloween this year, I was like, okay, I have to read the original short story now. Turns out the original Holly is a much more terrible human being than the Audrey Hepburn version...

Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2017?
Shortest: Lumberjanes Volume 1 by Noelle Stevenson (graphic novel)
Longest: The Crimson Crown by Cinda Williams Chima

Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year
Elle and Sage's friendship in Geekerella - I saw a review that described Sage and her mom as Elle's "fairy godfriends" and don't we all need a few of those in our lives? I liked that Elle's realization that Sage had really become her best friend was almost as big of a deal as the romance storyline.

Best Book You Read In 2017 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure:
Daring Greatly by Brené Brown appeared in my mailbox at school - that's how my best friend recommends books, by thrusting them upon the intended reader. She thought it would be inspirational to me in starting my new job, and it certainly was - I basically highlighted something on every single page. If you need to be fired up about a creative endeavor or professional challenge, definitely recommend this one.

Other Books Completed in 2017:















Blogging/Bookish Life

Best event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events, memes, etc.)?
The Creating & Co. Book Club's RIP (Read in Peace) Readathon - the photo prompts were probably my favorite part because I got to pretend I was a bookstagrammer for a week.

Most challenging thing about blogging or your reading life this year?
Finding time and passion for either - I love my new job and I'm so proud of my school, but work ate my life for most of this year. I took a hiatus from August-November and I feel like I've come back to blogging much happier and not feeling like I owe anyone anything or like I need to participate in a popularity contest.

Most Popular Post This Year On Your Blog (whether it be by comments or views)?
Fashion: My December 2016 Stitch Fix Review
Life: I'm Back... With News!
Pinspiration: Easter in the Garden
Roundup: Galentine's Day

Post You Wished Got A Little More Love? 
I really enjoyed curating my June Pinspiration post, "Pride and Pineapples." Looking at it now has me longing for warm weather!

Looking Ahead


Books You Didn’t Get To In 2017 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2018? 
I got Sarah J. Maas' Empire of Storms, the fifth Throne of Glass book, for Christmas and can't wait to dive in even though it's a doorstopper. I saw a lot of buzz this year around The Alice Network, which sounds right up my alley with its WWI and post-WWII settings an female spies! I also want to get to Dress Codes for Small Towns by Courtney C. Stevens - love that more YA authors are featuring LGBTQ+ main characters.

Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2018 (non-debut)?
After reading Jamie's post about upcoming YA releases, I'm excited about Caleb Roehrig's White Rabbit- mystery is not usually my jam but I'm always ready to find a good one.

2018 Debut You Are Most Anticipating?
Melissa Albert's The Hazel Wood sounds so good with dark fairy tale vibes. I also want to check out the 2017 debut The Best We Could Do by Thi Bui and Samantha Mabry's A Fierce and Subtle Poison from 2016 - have any of you read either of those and loved (or hated) them?

Sequels You Are Most Anticipating in 2018?
I'm looking forward to Leah On The Offbeat by Becky Albertalli, which features Leah from Simon and the Homo Sapiens Agenda and will be out in April, Julie Murphy's Puddin', the companion to Dumplin', which is coming in May. Some sequels I didn't get to this year were The Boy on the Bridge  by M.R. Carey (sequel to The Girl with All the Gifts), The Astonishing Mistakes of Dahlia Moss by Max Wirestone (loved the first geeky mystery featuring Dahlia)

Things You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging Life In 2018?
Read books I'm actually interested in instead of just reading whatever I can get for free as a reviewer - I think doing that contributed to me getting burnt out on both reading and blogging. I always told my students it was okay to abandon a book they weren't loving, but I have a very hard time doing that myself. I also want to actually read the physical books I have on my shelves that I haven't gotten to yet because I'm usually reading library books from Overdrive on my Kindle. 

Wednesday, January 3

currently... [january 2017]


currently [january 2017]

starting: to plan Baby Q's nursery. Two of my best friends have already started planning a shower, so Mr. Q and I need to register soon, so we need a theme! Mr. Q has helped me narrow it down, but I'll be posting some of the ideas I went through here in the weeks to come. I am definitely of the mindset that a nursery should look like it belongs to the rest of the house, not like a parallel baby universe.

hoping: that pregnancy rhinitis is a phase and won't last for 20 more weeks. I've been sleeping with a cool mist humidifier on, slathering on Vick's VapoRub, and using Simply Saline at least twice a day, but not being able to take effective medicine or even drink Breathe Easy tea is crushing me.

scheduling: pregnancy courses offered through the hospital I'll be giving birth in. They offer a six-week course on either Low Intervention or Prepared Childbirth, Infant CPR, a basic Newborn Care class with info on bathing, sleep, diapering, feeding, and such, a Breastfeeding for Working Moms class. I also plan to take the prenatal tour of the hospital and get our car seat checked before little one is due!

reading: Drums of Autumn by Diana Gabaldon (#4 in the Outlander series) - I tried to read this one once before and had trouble getting into it, but I'm about halfway through this time and enjoying it much more. This one is set on the East Coast of Colonial America in the 1760's, when Jamie and Claire Fraser become homesteaders. Instead of just Claire being the first person point-of-view character, there are also chapters that follow her daughter Brianna Randall in third person as she tries to figure out what became of her parents after Claire went back through time in Voyager. I'm bothered by Claire referring to Native Americans as "savages" because having recently come from 1968, she should know better, but I'm really enjoying Gabaldon's descriptions of the Appalachian mountains before they were settled.

playing: New Justin Timberlake! Have you listened to "Filthy" or watched the video yet? It's been an established fact since 1997 that I'm going to enjoy anything involding Justin, but I had no idea he even had a new album coming out until I saw the trailer for Man of the Woods a few days ago.

Linking up with Anne from In Residence