Wednesday, July 26, 2017

17 Things Our Cats Go Nuts For // #catlady

Happy Wednesday friends! What an interesting week it's turning out to be.... Hope you're enjoying yours! I realized I hadn't written a cat post in over a year... what?! So if you haven't met my furballs, click that link! :)

I know a lot of you have cats, and some of you have recently adopted cats... so I wanted to share some of our fool proof kitty toys, foods, and trouble-solving methods, etc.! If any of you have been reading here a long time, things like litter boxes, etc.* can be a challenge with multiple/difficult cats, and it's good to hear tips from other cat owners! I hope that this helps other cat moms out there! If you don't have cats, this won't be very interesting... sorry!. hehe :)


We feed our cats Blue Buffalo and they love it. I like that it doesn't contain any weird ingredients, or anything cats wouldn't eat on their own. We decided that the price was worth it for the ingredients, and it's easy to find coupons and sales for pet food! Here is what we buy most frequently!

Freedom Grain Free Dry Food (for indoor cats) - the wilderness kind was a bit too rich for them, they love this kind! This is their primary food.
Salmon Pate (Wet Food) - we just give them a spoonful each night when we have dinner. They only eat it squished down in the bowl. Is that normal?! LOL
Salmon Wilderness Treats - for Duchess, she looooves these wilderness treats.
Salmon Kitty Yums (Healthy Treats) - for Scalawag who does not like the wilderness treats, but will chase these across the room. :)

They do like other flavors, but tend to like Salmon and Trout most. :)

Food Tips: 

-We noticed that Scali and Duchess like different treats, so we throw Scal's across the room, and then give Duchess hers to keep them separated. It's a fun game for him, and it doesn't scare her off.

-In addition to squishing the wet food down into the bowls, when it's time to open a new can, we save two days' worth of "old" food for Scali, and give Duchess "new" food. He won't eat the new stuff. Such a weirdo!

-We purchased a rolling pet food tub to pour the dry food into. Best. Decision. Ever. We have one like this, and we keep it in our pantry.


Right now we have two boxes, one with a lid and an opening, another that is completely open. We put each in different rooms so that way our cats have less issues bothering each other while they are in the box. #rude We use pine litter, and we LOVE it. I have heard so many awful things about clumping/scented/chemical litters and cancer, etc. that we decided to go with pine. We love it!

Open Box
Lidded Box
Pine Litter - we get the one without clumping/scents
Aura Cacia Lavender Oil for deodorizing spray (see "recipe" below in tips)

Litter Tips:

-Spray the pine litter with a mist of water from a spray bottle when you replace the entire box's contents of litter. That way it's not too hard/sharp on their little paws.

-Also, sweep often!

 -Make a quick eco deodorizing room spray by filling an empty spray bottle (I use my old toner one! #reuse ) almost full with warm water, then add about 20 drops of lavender essential oil. Give it a shake and use as needed. It helps with kitty smells tremendously! I've been using this essential oil for years and I LOVE it.


A lot of people think that cats don't need toys, they just want to sleep and eat... but cats love toys, and they are super playful! They also tend to have better behavior the more they've been playing. However... toys are hit or miss. These are our cats' absolute favorites!!

The Cat Dancer - this toy is $2.99, buy like 4 of them. They're the simplest thing, but they love them so much! The metal wire and fun little paper rolls make them bug-like in movement and color. I am so surprised that our cardboard rolls are still intact after several years of use!! I know this doesn't *LOOK* cool, but I can promise you it's the coolest thing, the cats go crazy for it.

Da Bird - They go nuts for this one, I think it's the fishing-rod-like flexibility of the pole! I love that when the "bird" is looking sad, you can swap just the feather piece. I feel so wasteful throwing out the plastic one-piece items! DO NOT LEAVE THIS UNATTENDED! It will be in pieces!

Catit Circuit - This little track and ball kit is genius. You assemble the track, and the cats can chase the ball around (see, hear, touch it) and it seems reactive, because it's inside of the track. You can pull apart the track and put it into new shapes and designs (great husband toy! :P ) BE CAREFUL NOT TO PINCH YOUR FINGERS.. OUCH! We put this away and get it back out every now and then and they love it. Some friends have also tried this one with a lot of success!

Tunnels - Tunnels can be hit or miss, we love ones that are spring loaded! Scali just loves them. We sometimes make tiny obstacle courses across the living room. We have one from this brand (another color) and we just love it. It's holding up very well!

The Ripple Rug - we got this as a gift from my in-laws and the cats just love it. It's legitimately two sheets of thin carpet (the top one has velcro and holes in it). You can ripple up the top piece and the cats can form little tunnels. Ours love to play in it, and also when we hide toys in it or put a feather toy through it for them to chase or find. My only complaints about this one (because they love it SO SO SO SO SO SO SO much!) is that after a while the top layer of carpet loses some of it's stiffness, so it's more floppy, my cats don't like that quite as much. Also, it's kind of big... but it can be rolled up when company comes over.

Chewbacca "Mouse" - you guys... Scali is one of those cats that carries around babies... and you can throw them across the room and he'll go get them. He'll even throw them up in the air and catch them all by himself. He loooooves this Chewbacca. He couldn't care less about the Yoda though. LOL. We definitely bought like 3 of them! Gotta stock up on those favorites. His other favorite baby is this black cat (which we initially bought for Duchess to cuddle with...) he does the same with this as he does with Chewy.

Toy Tips:

-Cats get bored just like people. Put your toys on rotation. Hide them away, and exchange them every 2-3 weeks. That will make the toys seem "new". Seriously, Scali runs toward the toys when we bring them back out! :)

-Seriously... do not leave Da Bird unattended. It will not survive.

-If you have a krinkly tunnel, put it away at night, otherwise you'll be waking up to some serious noise.

-If your cat doesn't enjoy chasing or hunting toys, try making it more believable: cats like things that run horizontally across their line of vision, they also like things that vary speed (run fast, stop, run slow, stop, etc.). This really gets our cats excited to play. Even cats I know who aren't into playing love it!

Behavioral Resources:



This book, has been a lifesaver. Some of the ideas related to how to feed them, how to play with them, etc. have been so so good for us. Cats are essentially wild animals, and they need to do things like hunt, be challenged, be in high places, etc. This book has given us a lot of ideas to include in our home and to make our kittens happier! (including some of the toys above!) This book is also great for beginners and long-time cat owners alike when it comes to things like cat proofing, health info, etc.


Bonus Tip!

If your cats like to crawl around in your box springs at night... get another fitted sheet and put it on the bottom of the bed. Blew. My. Mind. :O


There you have it, lots of cat photos and our entire list of things we and our furry ones love!

Do you have pets? Do they have foods/toys/etc. that they just LOVE?!

Any cat tips?!

XO,

Alexandra

*this post does contain affiliate links, but these are, as always 100% my opinion. I am not posting about anything that we don't own and legitimately love!*

Monday, July 24, 2017

Getting Started With Project Life // Why You Should Try It! // Yes, You Can!

Happy Monday Friends! I hope that you had a great weekend!

If you read my last post, I explained the basic supplies you'll need to start Project Life, so check that out if you're ready to shop! Today I am talking about excuses and motivation!

There are so many reasons you should try project life, and also so many reasons you might think you shouldn't! Here are a few thoughts I have (or had) as I started and continue with PL!

What's Your Excuse?!

Believe me, I had them too! But once I started, I loved it, and got into a rhythm with documenting. I worked my way "up" through the levels of documenting as I had time and supplies to do so. Sometimes all you need to do is debunk your own excuses! So, what's yours?


"I'm not creative enough!"

Yes you are! The best thing about project life is that you can start with the basics and work your way up, or not! You can decide how much work you want to put in, and how creative you "need" to be. Project Life is about documenting your memories and your life! It's not about creating stunning art. You should make it how you like it, and at the level you are comfortable with! :) I personally found that using the project life method has made it easier for me! It's so much easier to fill each small pocket than to make a 12x12 page look coordinated. I think that many people find it "easier".


"I don't have time!"

Project Life does not need to be time consuming! Like I said before, it only takes as much time/creativity as you want to put into it. There is no need to spend hours on your album, unless you are able and/or WANT to. With the basic supplies ready (photos printed, etc.) all you have to do is place your items in pockets. Seriously, you can stop there. That can take as little as 5 minutes! Even if you add embellishments, it can take as little time as you need! I like to multi-task by working on it while we watch Netflix. The biggest hurdle with time, might be making sure that you do what's easiest for you in terms of photos! For some it will be easier to order them online and have them shipped. For others, you may want to pick them up 24-hour photo style. For me, I needed to be able to print them at home. Think about what will work best for you, having those photos ready is the key to success!

"... but I'm seriously busy!"

Oh boy, guys! This was me. 100%. What I found out is that when I spent a bit of time working on it, even when I "didn't have time"... the more I found that I did have time! I also found that unlike other plans and hobbies, project life, and working with my hands reduced my stress. That stress that comes from being so busy! It's a win win guys!


"I don't have anything exciting to document!"

Some of my very favorite moments are the tiny ones, and I find that when I'm photographing them, and documenting them, it's an exercise in gratitude. I love looking back at those little cuddly cat moments, when KC does something small but comforting for me (shelling my peanuts at restaurants), etc. it can be so nice to look back on those moments! What you are reading, what you are working on goal-wise, your daily struggles and triumphs ARE part of your life. Don't feel like they aren't worth documenting! Your story is worth telling, no matter what you are doing.

"I don't have enough money to scrapbook!" / "I don't know where to start!"

These are kind of related thoughts in my mind. it is easy to imagine that you need a ton of supplies and therefore money to start project life. If you haven't seen my last video, that should clear up a few things as to what you "need" to get started. In all actuality, it's really not that many supplies. You can also start stocking up bit by bit. You can purchase items one by one at your craft stores with coupons as you go. Both Michael's and Hobby Lobby have weekly coupons in their apps. Going back to some of the topics above, you really can start with just a binder, page protectors, some photos, and some type of paper or cards. Getting a starter kit like a Becky Higgins kit at a craft store will include everything you really need. Plus if you REALLY want to add more later, you can do it later! As you get more supplies you can go back to "finished" pages and embellish more!

"I don't have enough photos!"

I've actually noticed that some of my favorite PL pages are ones that include less photos! You can use filler cards, paper, mementos like tickets, and other supplies to round out your pages and albums!

"I don't want to start until I have everything!" / "I don't want to make an album that I won't like!"

When I started my first album, I used a very very small stash of supplies. Basically my album, page protectors, photos, an old kit, a washi tape, and one stamp set. It was enough. As I got more into the process, I added new supplies here and there. When I went back through my first pages, I could easily add more to them with my new supplies. You don't ever have to be "done" if you aren't ready to. Chances are, you'll love seeing anything printed and created by yourself, it doesn't really matter exactly what it looks like. It won't need to be perfect.

So there you have it, a few excuses de-bunked and therefore a few more reasons you should start your Project Life album!

In all actuality, Project Life is probably not for everyone, but I DO think that preserving your memories and telling your story is important. Whether you do that in a journal, a photo book, videos, traditional scrapbooks, etc. Tell your stories folks, they're so important!

I'm planning more of these posts, but let me know what thoughts and questions you have! What do you want to know?

I'd love to help you get back on the documenting journey. (Or start one!) I think that it can be fun and easy for EVERYONE!

I shared my first five PL videos recently: Houston & GalvestonSan FranciscoGeorgiaNashville, and Las Vegas. Check those out! To learn about the process, supplies, etc. for my other sections, you can watch my videos. :)

XO,

Alexandra

Friday, July 21, 2017

Have You Heard? // Band of Horses - "Casual Party"

Happy weekend friends! We're kicking ours off with no plans whatsoever tonight!!! :) So excited! Maybe I'll work some more on my Project Life Album! :) 


This song has been around for quite a while and it just grows and grows on me. It's pretty mellow, but also upbeat and not boring. A good combination if you ask me. :) 


I also just like that it's called "casual party". It just makes me laugh, as opposed to a formal party? hehe 

What are you guys up to this weekend?!

We so far, only have plans to do a bonfire for s'mores with my mom, Olivia, grandma, Jess, and her family. :) It's a very belated Christmas and Mother's Day celebration. :) Otherwise I hope to read, clean, and work on project life. #partyhard

XO,

Alexandra

PS - I know my profile image is gone... boo on you photobucket. Eventually I'll get that fixed... : / 

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

2017 Goal Update // Halfway Through!

Wow, we are over half way through 2017. That's crazypants!



I thought I should do a quick recap of my goals, progress made, and strategies for the months ahead. Thanks for the reminder Torrie! :) Updates are in bold. :) 

Reflections & Goal Planning/Explanation: 

I did some reflecting on 2016 and a lot of what I realized about my anxiety is that it often stems from a lack of space. Whether that is physical space, mental space, or a sense of freedom. So a lot of my goals are centered around those ideas. :) This may seem like a giant list, but a lot of it is written to accommodate specific ideas, and *trying* things... even if I don't end up implementing them longer-term. Some of them are also things that I am currently doing, that I want to continue with. I've been thinking hard about all of my goals and issues I want to work on, and what those big and small moving pieces are. So, I am choosing the word "space" this year for obvious reasons. I don't usually pick a word, but I think it will really help me focus this year! :)

Health 

Work out 3x's per normal week (at least)
Put Healthy Meals on Rotation
Try 25 New Healthy Recipes (add them to rotation if we like them enough!)
Get new mattress = sleep better
Continue to take stairs and walks at work
Try out at least one active hobby (ideas: SUP, kayaking, boxing, etc.)
Get dental work done - not sure I can finish this year, just financially... but making really good progress on this!
Visit a dermatologist
Attempt grazing - I'm the WORST snacker...
Focus on healthy breakfasts & caffeine sources

Stress

Limit & be intentional with plans that we make - doing well with this so far!
Do one de-stressing activity per day (yoga, coloring, reading, meditating, etc.)
De-clutter (physical clutter = mental clutter)
     -sort through boxes and tubs in storage at KC's parent's house - ALREADY STARTED!
     -coat closet
     -wall hanging items
     -kitchen cabinets/kitchen craziness...
     -under bathroom sink
     -bathroom linen closet
     -jewelry box
     -vanity!!
     -boxes of un-homed junk...
     -things I hide in the closet....
     -filing paperwork....
Reduce amount of technology that I have to deal with
     -limit notifications
     -unsubscribe from email lists
     -delete drobox from laptop...
     -have "un-reachable" times?
     -etc.
Check long-standing items off my to-be-done list. I love Gretchen Rubin's 1 hour per week idea!
     -being healthy (folded in above)
     -dentist (same) - doing really well so far!
     -DSLR skills -re-thinking this... my phone has a better camera than my current DSLR.
     -sewing skills
     -reading classics - 2 so far!
Make a point to listen to music!
Purchase an essential oil diffuser
Look into getting a weighted blanket

Brand

Populate my Etsy with invite templates
Do a bridal show (maybe)
Make Flyers and put up around town #oldschool
Re-brand blog
Continue/improve with Youtube - getting better! Need to work on lighting and sound...
Scheduling items (see scheduling section below)
Learn more about what y'all like reading about in this space!

Creative

Take a cooking class
Pick up (try) either: sewing, knitting, crochet, embroidery... something NON-paper! - working on it, but have not "picked one up".
Do a 2017 PL/scrapbook album (monthly highlights, as the year goes on) - keep sharing the progress! - working on it! Check out my Youtube to see! :) 
Attend more non-concert live performances - 2 so far!
Do some type of photo challenge (even a short one)
Apply to be on 2018 creative teams with documenting brands! - 1 so far, and I did not get it.
Take a DSLR course - re-thinking this...
Food in Jars challenge with Rachel (flexibly!) - 2 so far.
Make a new dessert - pavlova
Get a better/more versatile printer for documenting

Scheduling

Set up a rough guideline for using my Tuesdays well (or a rigid schedule)
Make a social media posting schedule (because I forget and it stresses me out!) - working on this for IG, and it's going well so far!
Make a cleaning schedule
Try some meal-prepping schedules - find something that works pretty well

Cozy Family - inspired by the ideas of hygge and minimalism

Learn about Hygge and apply some ideas from it to our day-to-day life
Create more traditions with KC as our own little family (seasonal, holiday, weekend, little things, etc.)
Make a point to enjoy and experience each season
Be at home more - so far, doing well, much better nearly every month!
Take our time and be slow

Books

Read 50 total books - 29 so far!
Read at least one book from each category:
     -biography/memoir
     -poetry
     -graphic novel
     -horror
     -science fiction
     -thriller
     -mystery
     -historical fiction
     -short story
     -essay
Complete a reading challenge - it's looking good for Erin's 7.0
Read 5 Non-fiction books, not including cookbooks/craft books that are just skimmed
Read 5 Classics - 2 so far!
Continue with book ban - I've only sold a few so far, but I've read a lot that I own (including Netgalley!)! Definitely more of each than this time last year! :)

Travel

Go back to NOLA
Plan out NYC!
Visit at least two other new places (even if they are close-by)
Travel with friends
Try a new food


Entertaining

Find a dress for SIL's wedding
Plan bachelorette/shower night for Juliet

Continue having game nights - 2 so far!
Epic KC bday week
Have a "Galantine's Party"! - I MISS THIS EVERY. SINGLE. YEAR. 
Give 6 little gifts - 2 so far!
Spoil the heck outta Jess's baby - yes, so far! :P
Swap GG nights for Movie nights with close friends - this isn't probably going to happen
Generally plan more things with my girlfriends (because they're pretty amazing)

Bottom Line: I think I am doing pretty well with my goals so far. All of my reading ones are more or less on track, travel is nearly done, and I have a lot of things that have been started. Some of the ones related to stress/organizing may have to change.... I didn't plan on us moving when I made the list... and now our living/storage situation is quite different! Pleased with the dental progress I've made, but not sure if I will be able to finish it this year. It gets so expensive. I think we've been doing ok at seasonal things, but summer is really tough because it's just too hot for me, and KC doesn't like it much either.  We did pretty well at seasonal things for St. Patrick's Day and springtime. :) Hoping for more hygge/cozy/traditions this fall and winter. It's about time that we buckle down budget-wise, so that should mean being home more and also cooking more. We've not been cooking anything new, if at all, for most of the year. Hoping to improve on health, cooking, and organizational goals before the end of the year! :) 

How are you doing on your 2017 goals so far? 

Are you slacking on any? What are your plans to make them a priority?

Have to checked any off? What are you most proud of so far?

XO,

Alexandra

Monday, July 17, 2017

Six Ways to Make Your Own Project Life Cards // Documenting

Happy Monday Friends! I hope you had a great weekend and got to watch GoT. How sweet is Ed Sheeran's angel voice?! How icky were those bed pans... ewww.

We had such a great time celebrating my SIL's wedding this weekend, but today I don't have anything ready to show you for that. HAHA

Sooo, how about a quick tutorial on making your own Project Life cards? If you're still trying to figure out how to start PL or needing motivation, check out this post first! There are TONS of ways that you could do this, in this video I'll show you some ideas I had by starting with a stamped background, and you can watch me speed through the process and then see the finished cards. Making your own PL cards is a great way to use up items in your stash and to save money on documenting supplies!

I'm happy to share more methods in the future as well, let me know if you are interested!



Here's a closer up image of the final cards (I definitely forgot to trim the top off of the one on the top right! - whoops!):




Supplies:

Scraps of light colored paper/project life cards
Paper Trimmer (this one is on my wish list!)
Word stamps (here I used Kelly Purkey and Heidi Swapp)
Acrylic Stamping Block (I want this value pack so badly!)
Ink (Black)
Washi Tape
Ephemera, Stickers, and Tags from your stash
Scissors
Adhesive Roller

Which card is your favorite? 

How do you use up supplies that you have in your stash?

How do you save money on documenting?

I'd love to hear how you document (photo books, scrapbooks, apps, etc.)! Let me know!

What other types of videos are you interested in seeing? (process videos, DIYs, flip throughs, etc.) I'd love to know!

Other Project Life Posts: How to Start a Project Life Album // YES You Can!, and my Travel Mini Album Flip Throughs: Houston & GalvestonSan FranciscoGeorgiaNashville, and Las Vegas.

XO,

Alexandra

Friday, July 14, 2017

Have You Heard? // Vance Joy - "Lay It On Me"

Happy Friday Friends! I am still playing catch up on reading blogs since our road trip, but I can't wait to see what you've been up to. :)



This week was a funny one for us, a two day work week for me... lots of external stress related to my parent's divorce and not being able to catch a break from social obligations and constant contact, etc. But I think things are looking up. Wednesday and Thursday gave me a small change to calm down and work on my own projects. :) What I really need after this week is several weeks with exactly zero plans in them. I hope I can manage to get it. Cross your fingers for me! :)

One piece of good news is that my sister in law gets married tomorrow! Hooray! :)

A second piece of good news is that Vance Joy has released a new single. Yayyy!



I have only listened to it a few times, but I can't wait to hear the rest of the album. Vance Joy is just a favorite of mine. (as you, I'm sure know!)

What do you guys have planned this weekend?

For us it will be wedding and wedding-related plans. But next week is nearly completely free and I'm so excited about it!! :) 

Other Posts This Week: June Reads & A Weekend at the Farm.

XO,

Alexandra

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Father's Day Weekend at the Farm // June 2017

Hello everyone! We are back from our road trip, but I'm not quite ready to write a post yet... so... I'm sharing something from last month! :)

Back in mid-June we spent Father's Day weekend at KC's grandparent's farm. It was such a blast to spend time with his family and just take it easy.

I don't know about you, but I have a hard time relaxing or taking it easy. Pretty much ever. When we travel I like to keep busy, and see a lot. That's just my preference, so it's rare that I fully relax and take it slow. The weekends at the farm are perfect for that!

I also mentioned a few weeks ago, that this is where KC popped the question back in 2011. So it holds a lot of special memories even for a relative newbie like me! We are the BABIEST of BABIES in this post! hehe
















We spent time at the "lake" fishing and talking, we fed the catfish in the pond, we checked out the garden. We shared meals, played Taboo, watched golf (not me..), and read. My FIL helped Papa with projects around the farm. We watched birds, bunnies, and squirrels. Sometimes we get lucky and see deer or turkeys. We fell asleep to the sounds of Midwest storms every night, and it was perfect.

We always manage to stop at the antique store on the highway too, which is fun to sift through for treasures. This time I found one die, from an old casino in Reno. It had character. So $1 later I have a super random treasure. One of these days I'm going to buy a pie there! :) (because of course they make pies and jams too...)

So grateful for our slow weekend together! :)

What about you? Are you good at relaxing and/or unplugging? Or do you find it difficult like me? Any tips?!

Does your family have a special place to spend family time?

XO,

Alexandra

Monday, July 10, 2017

June Reads // Fluff & Fun



Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

4 Stars - I recommend if you like YA, and light hearted, cute-as-can-be romance. 

Madeline is 18 years old and she has never left her house, she's got SCID, so anything could kill her at any time. Most days she is fine living her life indoors. She loves her mom, her nurse Carla, and her books. When Olly moves in next door, everything changes. For the first time, she wants more.

I expected to like this book. But I could not even handle it. It was so cute!! It was really short, I loved that some of the sections were notes, or charts, or drawings, etc. I though Maddy and Olly's relationship was really well defined via texts, conversations, and all of their little notes and doodles. I love that this book is inspiring to live your life to the fullest. I didn't see the ending coming, but I thought it worked well. It was fun to read YA about 18 year olds rather than 15 year olds, I think it's more rare? It just made their relationship feel more realistic, and less insta-love-like... hard to explain, but I loved it.

We also saw the movie. Parts of it were great, parts were kinda "meh". They changed some things that were pretty arbitrary, but that I missed in the movie. Like the "if found return to Madeline," things in her books. Etc. I loved the casting and the depiction of certain things in the movie (like the bundt cake, etc.). The astronaut part was cute, but them talking through their text conversations was super strange... especially the one where they are in space... LOL. It also felt more "insta love" like... but it is hard to avoid that in such a short time. Overall it still left me feeling excited and inspired. KC is a saint for seeing any kind of movie with me. *swoon*

Summer Days and Summer Nights edited by Stephanie Perkins

4 Stars - I recommend if you enjoy short stories and YA. This collection was very diverse, so you're bound to enjoy some and not others, but I appreciated how many stories included POC and LGBTQ characters and relationships.

This book is a collection of diverse YA short stories based around the themes of summer and love.

1) The first story "Head, Tails, Tongue, Scales" by Leigh Bardugo was interesting, I almost got into it, but it was pretty out there. I wasn't expecting something quite so strange for the very first story. It was just OK for me.
2) Nina La Cour's story "The End of Love" is LGBTQ and I thought it was really nice. La Cour really captures what it's like to be a teen struggling with tough issues. I thought the story was equal parts cute and serious. A good mix!
3) Libba Bray's story "Last Stand at the Cinegore" about a vintage horror movie theatre closing was really fun. First off, I love having a teenage male protagonist. It's just so much fun to read for me. Secondly, the characters were quirky and that was amazing. The twist was bonkers. I dunno how I feel about the twist... but overall I still really enjoyed this one.
4) "Sick Pleasure" by Francesca Lia Block was really depressing for me. It went where I did not think it would. I didn't feel hopeful after reading it, and it wasn't much in the way of a cute summer-y love-y type story. There were also an awful lot of characters, and naming them all after their initial (A, M, I, S. Etc.) didn't help matters.
5) "In Ninety Minutes Turn North" by Stephanie Perkins was adorable as expected. I was delighted to immediately notice that she used Marigold and North (the characters from her story in "My True Love Gave to Me") again in this one!
6) "Souvenirs" by Tim Federle was pretty cute, I didn't think I was going to like it, but did quite a bit. It's about Kieth and Matty, who meet working the summer at an amusement park, the start dating knowing that Kieth is going away to another state for school in the fall. The start dating and create a "break up day". This story takes place on breakup day. Despite that, myself liking a happy ending... I enjoyed this one. It was very sweet. Another LGBTQ story.
7) Inertia by Veronica Roth is one that looked like it was going to be set in the present in our world... but really it ended up being more futuristic. Claire is woken and taken to the hospital to go to a "Last Visitation" for her best friend Matt. "Last Visitations" occur when a patient is not expected to live through a procedure. She goes and is able to share memories and "talk" to him during the procedure. This one made me cry, but I liked that it was quite different from the others, and not all together depressing despite the premise.
8) "Love is the Last Resort" by Jon Skovron was kind of fun in that it was about multiple couples, kind of love actually style... but more intentionally knit from the beginning. I found it to be an interesting setting, with quirky characters. I imagined them all to be painted by Janet Hill. :) Overall it was a little bit predictable, but really pretty fun.
9) "Good Luck and Farewell" by Brandy Colbert was about Rashida, a girl who was bought up by her older cousin, and how she copes when her cousin announces that she is moving across the country. During that time Rashida struggles with anger towards her cousin's girlfriend. She finds out that she's not alone in her grief, because Pierre's sister is leaving too. I loved that this one touched on some tough and diverse subjects like race, violence, and life apart from absent parents. I appreciated the diverse voices and the candid characters.
10) "Brand New Attraction" by Cassandra Clare was pretty whimsical and fantasy based as expected. It is about a girl who's father runs a dark carnival. When he runs away for money reasons, she must keep the carnival afloat. Her uncle comes to help and brings his step-son. The two bond, and quickly learn that there is something very very shady happening at the dark carnival. Overall I liked this one, but it was a tiny bit much for me at times. I shipped the main characters pretty hard.
11) "A Thousand Ways this Could All Go Wrong" by Jennifer E. Smith was about a girl who finally gets her crush to notice her, and go on a date with her. It was probably my favorite, because I loved the characters so much. It was just too sweet. I can't tell you why though, because it might ruin it for you if you read it someday. Think Big Bang Theory or The Rosie Project. I appreciated that this one was diverse in a different way that the other.
12) "The Map of Tiny Perfect Things" by Lev Grossman had a really cool premise, that the same day repeats over and over, and he's the only one who knows... until he meets a girl who also knows. I wanted to love this one, parts of it were great, but it definitely left me wanting more. It was also pretty bittersweet.

My Cousin Rachel by Daphne DuMaurier

4 Stars - I recommend if you enjoy mysteries or thrillers. This one is also a classic so it is a little more subtle. I found this quick to read, unlike Rebecca, and I also just generally liked this one quite a lot more than Rebecca.

Philip Ashley has been raised by his cousin Ambrose. He wants to be everything Ambrose is, the man of the estate, a hard worker, interesting, and a bachelor. When Ambrose is taken ill, the doctors suggest that he spend the damp English winters in warmer sunnier Italy. There Ambrose meets Rachel and subsequently marries her. Before Ambrose makes it home to England, he starts writing letters to Philip saying that he is very sick, and suggesting that Rachel is his "torment". Philip races to Italy but it is too late. He's convinced that Rachel is a monstress and killed Ambrose. When Rachel later arrives in England, he invites her to stay with him, with the intention of calling her out... but she's not what he expected.

I would like to start by saying that while I wanted to love Rebecca, I didn't. It drove me bonkers that the main character didn't even have a name (to start). I was worried I wouldn't like this one... but I loved it. For one it is much more romantic, but it also read more quickly. I found the psychological bit to be very subtle, I definitely saw it as one thing happening and not another... but I enjoyed it quite a lot. I did not see the ending coming (aside from the fact that I may have read something spoilery with 10 pages to go.) *whistles innocently* I'm really excited to see the film adaptation!! *update* The film adaptation was really well done! It definitely was more psychologically confusing. It sort of leaned the other way from how I felt about the book in terms of what actually "happened".

Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han

3.5 Stars - I recommend if you enjoyed the other To All They Boys I've Loved Before books, and if you like contemporary YA.

This book follows Lara Jean and her family as they navigate her senior year of high school. I don't want to give spoilers. :)

Overall I liked this book, I loved having more to read. I feel like Lara Jean is my book character soul mate. She scrapbooks, bakes, crafts, loves costumes... even likes a lot of the same movies. So it's fun to read about her. heheh I didn't like this book quite as much as the others, the pre-college stress was pretty forefront in the book, and I felt like it changed the dynamics a bit. I guess it was meant to, but it was kind of odd. I liked how most things ended, but it's weird to have it feel so open ended at the end of the book. Overall I definitely recommend the series. I read this in just 1 day. :P

Currently Reading:




A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
A Fork in the Road edited by James Oseland
In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
Be Your Own Fairytale: Working with Storytelling for Positive Life Chaneg by Alison Davies*

Books on Deck:

Everything for Erin's Challenge!!

Shotgun Love Songs by Nikolas Butler
Between Sky and Sea by Jaclyn Dolamore
Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan
Tides by Betsy Cornwell
Zenn Diagram by Wendy Brant
East by Edith Pattou
The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
Looking for Alaska by John Green
A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas
Either Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie OR Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll

Linking up with Jana and Steph for Show Us Your Books tomorrow. :) 

What have you been reading? What do you hope to read this month?! 

Let's be friends on Goodreads!

XO,

Alexandra