Review: September 2016 OwlCrate


I’m back again with another OwlCrate review! I love this subscription box so much, I could marry it. This is the September “Darkness” themed box and it was a-maz-ing as always. Once again, they managed to send me a book that had been on my wishlist since well before it was released – bravo, guys! It also included a mini-candle, a bath bomb, and some other stuff. Candles – bravo again! I adore candles. Possibly even more than Funkos. They go with my decor better, anyway, haha.


This month’s book was Three Dark Crowns, by Kendare Blake (who also wrote the Anna Dressed in Blood that I’ve become obsessed with reading before October is out, thank-you-all-the-50-people-that-have-it-on-your-Halloween-Read-A-Thon-list). I literally had this book in my Amazon cart and was bravely resisting the temptation to buy, and then this happened. Very happy bookworm. The Miss-Peregrine’s inspired pouch on the top right is from Out of Print – it’s a lovely, sturdy canvas. I have got to get to that book…one day. The Six of Crows inspired bookmark is designed by the amazing Evie Seo (Evie Bookish) – yet another book I still need to read! The little “passport” book is a mini-coloring book/excerpt from a soon-to-be-released novel.

Then there is the Celaena’s Cake candle, by The Melting Library – obviously inspired by the Throne of Glass series (which I still haven’t read, but I know the character names!). THIS THING SMELLS SO FREAKING GOOD! I haven’t lit it yet, but I like just leaving it open on my desk. Haha.

Then there is this awesome little…mini-book? Pamphlet? Anyway, it’s a printed version of the first “episode” of Remade, a series by The Serial Box. Such an awesome idea, and a throwback to the days of Charles Dickens, Wilkie Collins, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and other famous serial authors. I was rather disappointed that this seems to be a one-off solely for OwlCrate, as their serials are all available only electronically. It’s such a cute little thing, I was envisioning lines of them across my bookshelf…anywho. Still an awesome idea! They have several ongoing series at the moment. ALSO, check out that AMAZING bath bomb!! It’s by Da Bomb Fizzers, and inspired by The Raven Cycle. It looks so cool I’m afraid to use it.

All in all another TOTAL win for OwlCrate! I can’t wait to see next month’s box…this is the teaser for it. I had to include both sides this time because…well.

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Book Review: The Dream Thieves

Usually, the desire to fangirl over a book turns me into a heart-fluttering, obsessive mess. However, the fangirl aroused by THIS book, was inspired by much deeper feelings. Feelings that just left me staring off into space and generally just trying to process. This book, you guys. This. Book. (WARNING: POSSIBLE SPOILERS FOR THE FIRST BOOK)

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“I’ve been all over the world. More than one country for every year that I’m alive…I’m not saying that to show off. I’m just saying it because I’m trying to understand how I could have been so many places and yet this is the only place that feels like home. This is the only place I belong. And because I’m trying to understand how, if I belong here, it…”
” — hurts so much,” Blue finished.

And that is how I feel about my lovely home in Virginia (I swear Maggie Stiefvater patterned Henrietta after my adopted hometown). Because even though I don’t live there now, and won’t for who knows how long (if ever)…I’m pretty sure it will always, always feel like home. It hurts, because it doesn’t make the most sense for me to live there, because there are part of it that make me angry and sad, and yet…this. So much this. That someone understands all the deep, intense emotions I have about home is so rare, and then to find it in a book…I’m pretty sure that The Raven Cycle is going to be one of my all time favorites.

 

It was a massive old forest, oaks and sycamores pushing up through the cold mountains soil. Leaves skittered in the breeze. Ronan could feel the size of the mountain under his feet. The oldness of it. Far below there was a heartbeat that wrapped around the world, slower and stronger and more inexorable than Ronan’s own.

For beautiful, heartfelt, feel-it-in-your-blood prose like this.

Anywho. Gansey, who actually plays less a part in this one, nevertheless starts off with a bang as he spouts off one of the most hilariously quotable lines in the book (I’m practically stalking for an opening in a conversation so I can use it):

“So what you’re saying is you can’t explain it.”
“I did explain it.”
“No, you used nouns and verbs together in a pleasing but illogical format.”

Bahahahahahaha. Ahem.

The Dream Thieves continues the story of the Raven Boys and Blue Sargent as they search for the Glendower, the long lost king of Wales. This second of four books focuses more on Ronan Lynch than the first, and he is arguably the MC/POV but all the others still figure well into the story. For myself, I kept wishing we would see more of Maura and the Gray Man, but then the book would probably have been too long…ah well, maybe in the next one.

Ronan is still a complete and total dick. No worries, guys, your daredevil bad boy isn’t going anywhere. He just proves to a be a badass with a soft spot for home, and family, and the balls to go with his sharp tongue. He’s the emo, complicated boy type at its finest. With a couple of twists. Like the whole dreaming deal he has going on. I’m trying reeeeeeeally hard not to give actual spoilers but…yeah. Oh, and Ronan also has an extremely quotable line (I’ve already used this one, and I want the fucking t-shirt, damn it):

“I am being perfectly fucking civil.”

His depth of love and commitment to his family is his most redeeming quality. Ronan is so far from perfect…but the Raven Boys and Blue need him. They need him as the avenging angel that will sacrifice himself to do whatever is needed to protect them. Ronan has pretty much given up his right (and let’s be honest…he gets off on the thrill so it hasn’t been THAT hard for him) to an easy conscience. He still doesn’t do anything SO bad…but he will protect his own, no matter what it costs him. We still get to see a softer, more vulnerable side sometimes – with his brother Matthew, and with Chainsaw. Who knew a raven could be cute?

There’s a lot of development of the other characters as well, almost to the detriment of the overall plot. I suppose that’s a point against, but I didn’t actually mind it, I was so interested in seeing more of Ronan’s family, and Blue’s 300 Fox Way family.

For Blue, there was family – which had never been about blood relation at 300 Fox Way – and then there was everyone else.

I adore Blue…she’s some awesome combination of spunky and unsure and sweet…someone I’d want for a friend. Her killer kiss curse isn’t quite so much in the forefront in this book, which I liked. This one just overall felt less like high school. They were focused on more important things in general, even though there’s still a bit of tension of love/like between them. There’s one part in particular where Blue and Noah – Noah, of all people! – almost broke my face in half, I was grinning so hard at their awkward adorableness – totally non-romantic, but adorable. I loved that we saw more of Maura, and that she was more than just Blue’s mom. That’s something so often left out of YA novels, it was very refreshing. Especially as an older reader, I felt like I could relate to her.

The appetizers were delicious, not because of the kitchen, but because all food eaten in anticipation of a kiss is delicious.

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The waiting, yo, the waiting.

Last but not at all least, there is Adam. To me Adam has always been a sympathetic character and one I could identify with, for several reasons. I guess in the first book he sometimes seemed a bit whiny, but really…his backbone, ability to pick himself up again and again, and his work ethic won me over. His pride, which so often gets in the way of others helping him, is so much a part of him that no one really wants him to get rid of it. In this book he’s struggling with the parts of him he’s inherited from his father, struggling with being able to express himself without being cut down (either literally or figuratively) for it – and guess what? He’s a teenage boy. With issues. It’s hard. He makes mistakes. But he’s just…he’s such a sweetheart. And the fact that, of all the Raven Boys, he feels the most alone…it just breaks my little heart. I wanted to make him hot chocolate and tuck him in bed, to make him feel safe and cared for.

If he had no one to wrap their arms around him when he was sad, could he be forgiven for letting his anger lead him?

I really hope that Adam finds some real happiness in the next two books. If he doesn’t, I swear…I’ll be reduced to writing fanfic to give him some.

I gave this book 5/5 stars, which surprised me, especially since the first one was only 3.5/5! I just loved it so freaking much, for so many reasons. I really fell in love with all the characters in this one, much more than in the first. I’m still very intrigued in the Glendower part of the story (especially with the complete realization of Ronan’s ability to dream things into being), but right now I would follow these characters anywhere.

The Right to Read

Continuing the celebration of the right to read, honoring books that have changed the stream of human thought, and getting to feel like a rebel (for a little while, anyway…being the good kid sometimes gets boring)!

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^I had no idea. The rest of the infographic is a timeline of banned books through history. Pretty cool.

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Author C.H. Armstrong talks about Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath and why it (and the attempted censorship of it) is close to her heart. Also about the Library Bill of Rights (something I’d never heard of).

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Book Riot has an awesome bundle of banned bookish stuffs, that I, er, might have succumbed to. Ahem. Because I’m a complete sucker for all things bookish, good deals, and like I said…I like feeling like a rebel once in awhile. I actually already have these socks but seem to have lost one. They provoke ALL THE QUESTIONS from visitors to our house. Somehow, lately all the guests we’ve had have been non-readers and I get some very wide-eyed looks. Hehe.

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Frostbeard Studio and Bookworm Boutique are having a joint giveaway! I love that brilliantly loud red mug, and it not only comes on mugs but t-shirts, bags…I’m having so much trouble not buying it on EVERYTHING.

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Bustle has a phenomenal list of quotes on censorship, and I want ALL OF THESE written on the walls of my house. ALL. Or maybe just inked onto my body.

 

 

Reading Life

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New year, new goals! I knocked my 2015 reading goal out of the park, the first year I’ve ever actually reached my number goal, which was 25. I read 69. Sure, the goal was low for the speed at which I normally read, but considering that in 2013 I only read 13 books (for real), and 2015 was going to entail some MAJOR life changes like moving to the other side of the world, I thought it was reasonable. Then I had more free time on my hands then I anticipated, and wham. Almost triple. Whoohoo!

So this year, my number goal is 50. I don’t anticipate moving this year, but we do plan on doing as much traveling as possible, and I have all these other hobbies that intrude on my reading time. My other goal is to finish every book I’ve bought and not read. Towards that end I’ve created a new page with that list. Enjoy my extremely random library (the whole thing is cataloged here…still working on the audiobooks and ebooks). This goal was inspired by my husband wincing over a new box of books arriving in the mail not too long ago, and the reminder that when we DO move back to the States they are the biggest contributor to our moving weight limit. Eeep. So I either read them, or give them away. And, I am going to attempt – key word – to go on a book-buying diet until I have finished the ones I have. All 45 of them (since I already went through and cleared out the 10 or so that I decided I didn’t want to read anymore). I am allowing myself a subscription to OwlCrate…I’ve enjoyed quite a few YA reads in the last year, and I am in absolute love with the literary goodies I’ve seen in pictures of boxes. And I’m just a sucker for subscription boxes in general.

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I’m really kind of bummed I missed out on the Poe zipper pouch.

My last reading goal is a challenge I’m doing with a bunch of pen-pal friends. I’m choosing 12 challenges out of a list to stretch my reading horizons. Books a little out of my comfort zone.

Will I go over 50? I sure hope so! But I wanted to set myself up for success. What are your reading goals for 2016?

Welcome Home

Introducing (after much discussion and many name suggestions)…TRISTAN!! He’s here!! I made him a knitted catnip mouse, and he immediately won my heart by loving it.

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Last night was rather…unrestful, as he meowed andΒ  climbed all over us most of the night. At 5 a.m., he woke me up to hand-wrestle me…rolling over on his back and playfully batting at my hand resting on his belly. It was dark, and all I could see were the white tips of his paws. He then proceeded to lick my fingers, then my chin. Consider me completely slain.

When it finally was time to get up (i.e., 6:30 a.m.,) he was very happy to play with me and explore, all while still meowing every 2 seconds.

Tyrion 4I can see right now we’re going to be very good friends…his next stop was the bookstack!

Tyrion3Then he must’ve been tired, because he just lay down and snuggled with me while I wrote a letter.

Tyrion 5Tyrion2And then he claimed our bed.

Tyrion7I think he likes us. I’m in love. He’s one of the sweetest, cuddliest, most easy-going felines I’ve ever met. I’m a little bit in awe. Still wish Alfie-boy was here and they could play together, but I think when we come back to the States they will be great friends.

Finishing the Things

Pretty proud of all the stuff I managed to accomplish during the last 3 months as a result of participating in the HPKCHC! Ravelry is such an awesome place. πŸ˜€ So, pictures.

yarma_medium2Socks!

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Boy hat!

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Baby sleepsack!

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Dishcloth!

Halloween Sampler 2015

Massive Halloween sampler!

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Yarn!

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More yarn!

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And more!

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Last yarn!

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Sweater vest!

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Baby hat!

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And last but not at all least (see the beads?), Mr. Penguin ornament!!

It feels so good to be making things again. Hope everyone else had a great November, I’ll be back with holiday stuffs postings soon!

Happy

We’re readjusting and settling in! Real post soon but in the meantime…

  
We watched the Rousey fight. 

  
Introduced him to Korean BBQ. 

  
Got drenched in the rain in Osan. 

  
Baking again!!

  
Holy cow we live here. Together. 

  And went to see the Korean Independence Day fireworks show. Video later. 

Work is crazy right now but should slow down in a couple weeks. 

Feelings

Sometimes I really wish feelings would go away.

Mostly the ones that hurt. Or the angry ones. Both, actually. For the most part the only things that really make me angry are the people I love, and right now I feel very angry. But I feel like part of it is irrational, because it seems like it might stem from jealousy of a sort. I feel like an exhausted little kid that just. can’t. deal. with the feels.

So I just shut my mouth and put my head down and move along.