Sunday, May 31, 2015

May 2015 Favorites

May was a good month! I wasn't able to read as many books or watch as many movies as I hoped I would, but I had the opportunity to study abroad, try dozens of new things, and meet an abundance of great people! And since I just mentioned people, my first favorite this month...

are these people! This the group of students I spent the majority of two weeks in Italy with as I studied abroad (posts about that are soon to come!) and simply put, they're my new favorite people. We all got along so great on the trip and they honestly made these last two weeks as incredible as they were. I'm so grateful to have met them all and I'll be darned if we don't stay in touch now that we're back in our corners of the state. And since I'm on the topic of Italy, I will be making references to the trip a lot in this post. I don't mean it to come off sounding bragging, but since half of the month was spent outside of the country, a lot of my new experiences have become favorites. 

This month was filled with incredible food, I'm surprised I didn't gain ten pounds! As one would assume, we had delicious food in Italy, but I guess you just cannot beat a home-cooked meal because this month I want to highlight my mum's breaded chicken and turkey pot pie. They are simply incredible. Meat isn't a huge part of my diet, but this month it became my main source of protein and I loved every second of it.


I do have to mention some of the food in Italy, though. Tarallucci is a small, breaded snack that's a bit doughier than a pretzel and is lightly salted like a peanut (see picture). Apart from the salt, they're flavorless, which makes me question why I loved them so much, but when they were brought to our table at one of the restaurants I was hooked! Then there was the fruit. Oh my lordy the fruit in Italy is unbelievably sweet, but above all I must mention the tomatoes (and tomato sauces) I had in a majority of my meals. I typically can't stomach the taste of tomatoes when they're along but I was popping their cherry tomatoes like they were candy and the sauces were so yummy. 


Last, but no where close to least, my favorite thing I ate in Italy was the gelato. It's my kryptonite. Creamy and smooth...oh so refreshing! They're served with adorable tiny spoons, and the flavors were so precise it was scary. Here's a list of gelato flavors I tried: cocco (coconut), pineapple, mango, green apple, kiwi, peanut butter, dulce latte, wonder cookie, Oreo, lemongrass, licorice, eggnog, yogurt, mint, caramel, cinnamon... they're all so good! I didn't realize it until I got back to the States but I never took a solid picture of the gelato selections I sampled from (fail) so here's picture off Google. And even though it was a more a drink that a treat, I will also tack on moscato moscato moscato. That is all.


With the semester finishing up in April, I've been able to get back to blogging and it's been lovely! I'm at a positive, encouraging part on my blogging journey with a great atmosphere. I hope to make blogging a part of my daily life and am excited to see where I can take it. Also, wandering around Italy became a favorite past time this month. I did a bit of exploring by myself in Venice and I fell in love with the serenity. I mean, just look at that view!

Julianne Hough is a celebrity I've always admired, but it wasn't until recently that I started following her blog posts. They're short, sweet and she posts a lot of tips and tricks that I find useful and fun to read. The one I've linked above talks about idea boards for designing of any kind.


I only finished one book this month before my trip, but it was a great one so it counts: Confess by Colleen Hoover, which I have a book review of if you're interested to hearing my thoughts. Excerpt from my review: But then, just as Colleen's books always do, the last chapter happened and it tugged on my hard heartstrings so hard it nearly burst from my chest. With that, I was like FIVE STARS! Five incredible, forever-even-when-I-can't loving stars! And then I cried because that's what I do when I love something so much.


This month I purchased a glass quill from Murano and a silk headscarf from Rome. I've already worn the headscarf and am excited to use the quill. Until then, it'll just look pretty on my bookshelf.


I missed watching Trina's BookTube videos while I was gone! After catching up on some sleep, I sped through the 8+ videos she had uploaded during my absence. I particularly enjoyed her upload on bookish pet peeves. She's gunna love me for displaying this thumbnail, lol!


I watched three movies this month: Avengers, Still Alice, and Love, Rosie. I really enjoyed them all, but if I had to pick one I think Still Alice is my favorite. The acting, cinematography, story itself, and the awareness it brought to dementia/Alzheimer's was fabulous. I love Julianne Moore and Kristin Stewart had a solid performance.


Like I Can by Sam Smith - Sam Smith's voice is that of an angel. Simple as that.

See You Again by Wiz Khalifa ft. Charlie Puth - This has been my favorite song since I heard it a couple months ago, but it became my main thing when it was the only song looping in my head in Italy. I was deprived of YouTube and music in general while overseas so this was basically all I had! At one point we started listening to MTV (with the same playlists looping every day) where this was #1 on the countdown, and soon enough it became our trip's theme song. <3

The Fool by Ryn Weaver - After popping up on my iTunes radio, her songs became an instant obsession of mine. I hate not being able to hit the high notes as I sing along but the melody and combinations are so beautiful.


Only because I ended up showing my study abroad class this video and it because an inside joke throughout the entire trip, I will mention this marvelousness again. In case you didn't catch it before, an animator's wife told him a joke while she was drunk. He recorded it, set it to animation, and it's the best thing I've ever seen.

That's it for now! Until next time,


Saturday, May 16, 2015

Review: Confess by Colleen Hoover

About the book:

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Colleen Hoover, a new novel about risking everything for love—and finding your heart somewhere between the truth and lies. 

Auburn Reed has her entire life mapped out. Her goals are in sight and there’s no room for mistakes. But when she walks into a Dallas art studio in search of a job, she doesn’t expect to find a deep attraction to the enigmatic artist who works there, Owen Gentry.

For once, Auburn takes a risk and puts her heart in control, only to discover Owen is keeping major secrets from coming out. The magnitude of his past threatens to destroy everything important to Auburn, and the only way to get her life back on track is to cut Owen out of it.
The last thing Owen wants is to lose Auburn, but he can’t seem to convince her that truth is sometimes as subjective as art. All he would have to do to save their relationship is confess. But in this case, the confession could be much more destructive than the actual sin…

Publisher: Atria Books
Release Date: March 10, 2015
Pages: 320
Genre: NA contemporary romance

My Rating: 5 stars

My Review: Something I've recently realized is that Colleen Hoover does this thing where she makes me inexplicably love her books even if I don't love every part of it. Maybe this sounds vague because other authors are like this for you, but what I mean is that multiple aspects of her books can make me really disgruntled, her books end with such a punch to the heart that I end up not even caring about the things that previously bothered me.

Let's take Confess for example. The beginning threw me off when I noticed Colleen frequently repeating herself or overemphasizing a character's traits (Auburn's youthful innocence) when the story wouldn't have been compromised without them. (Might I add these repetitions and overemphasizing disappeared as the story continued, but they puzzled me when they were there because that weren't typical for Colleen.) Down the road as Auburn and Owen's relationship grew, I thought it was kind of instalovey, which I do not prefer in romance novels. Additionally, Owen's constant ability to know the reasons behind Auburn's behaviors, although she never voiced them, was questionable (IMO). These aspects of Confess made me doubt how much I would love the book as a whole.

Don't let me fool you; despite the issues I mentioned above, I was enjoying this book splendidly! I found so many aspects of it more than redeeming. The confessions made the story extremely unique and it was executed brilliantly when combined with Danny O'Connor's artwork! I admired how self-aware Auburn and Owen were of their feelings and behaviors, things that would typically be considered "unrealistic" or bad decisions. Through their self-awareness, you were able to see just how they rationalized the things they did, and I absolutely love that in characters. I also loved how quirky and fun Owen was. You don't see that as often as you would expect to in a lead character, especially a love interest, so he was a refreshing character. This book even promotes body-positivity and motherhood, which is fantastic.

After the plot started climbing, I was flipping through the pages faster than you can say Oh My God (see what I did there, fellow Confess readers?) and as the plot was closing in on the end I was thinking, This is a wonderful story! I'll probably give it four stars of happiness! But then, just as Colleen's books always do, the last chapter happened and it tugged on my hard heartstrings so hard it nearly burst from my chest. With that, I was like FIVE STARS! Five incredible, forever-even-when-I-can't loving stars! And then I cried because that's what I do when I love something so much.

I guess in my heart (ya know, the one Colleen mutilates multiple times a year) I always knew this was the main reason for my constant five-star ratings of her novels, but it only just hit me that this is why she is my favorite author. (Excuse me for being slow to the game, guys.) Apart from the obvious aspects like her being a great storyteller with a knack for creativity, her endings never fail to make my heart ache, sing, break, and cry all at once. Colleen's contemporary novels are so memorable, loved, and well-received by me and thousands of other CoHorts because she makes you feel everything

Have you read Confess? Did some aspects irk you too? Did you love it to death anyway? I would love to hear what you thought!

Until next time,


Tuesday, May 12, 2015

See You in Two Weeks!

By the time you are reading this, I will already be gone, perhaps flying somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean or maybe I will have already landed in the beautiful country of Italy!

In case you were curious about the specifics, I'll be in Italy for approximately two weeks as I study abroad! I'm taking a 3-credit political science class for the hecks of it and because my two best friends are going! As you could probably imagine, I'm so so SO excited for this opportunity! This will be my first time outside of North America so I'm just waiting to be bombarded with culture shock and historical beauty. 

However, because 1) I'm there for school and 2) it's freaking Italy, I will not be updating the blog while I'm away. And you bet your dollar I'll be making a long-winded blog post filled with pictures of my adventures! I do have my review of Confess by Colleen Hoover scheduled to post in the next few days so y'all can look forward to that, but until next time...

Happy reading!


Friday, May 8, 2015

My Summer TBR | 2015

Now that my winter classes are finished (woot woot!) all I wanna do is read! You'd think I'd be tired of reading with all the reading I've had to do for school these past 9 months, but the deprivation of reading for my own enjoyment needs to be compensated. I'll be heading to Italy on Monday so reading will be put off for two weeks, but once I come back, it's game on. I own most of the books on my summer TBR so I decided to do a little summer photo shoot to show you what I want to read! ;)

1. Confess by Colleen Hoover
This was the first book I picked up when I got back from school. I have to be honest: when I first started it, I was a little wary. Colleen is my favorite contemporary romance author and possibly my favorite author of any genre so of course I go into her books expecting to love them. But as I was reading this, I noticed that Colleen was repeating or overemphasizing some things that didn't need further explaining. It threw me off because that's not typical for her, but as I continued, I didn't come across that anymore. Now I'm about two-thirds of the way through and absolutely engaged in the plot! Loving it! I'll be posting a full review, hopefully before I leave for Italy.

2. A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
I fell in love with Hosseini's The Kite Runner and have been eyeing this bad boy up ever since it found a home in my bookshelf LAST spring (Oi!) but just haven't been able to devote the singular attention I know it deserves. But it's going to happen in the next couple months. I'm prepared to love this book so hard it won't know what it had coming.

3. Kristin Lavrensdatter series by Sigrid Undset
My grandmother gave this series set to me years ago and I never read them because as a 13 year old, they didn't interest me at all. Then my creative writing teacher this past semester said it was brilliant and was her all-time favorite series so now I'm thinking I need to reconsider. I might only get to the first book, which I'm okay with. As long as I start the series, I'll be happy.

4. When You Were Mine by Rebecca Serle
I received this as a gift from Trina in a care package she sent me this past year! She says it's a cute contemporary romance, which I love reading during the summer months so I'm definitely looking forward to it.

5. Jessica Darling series by Megan McCafferty
I'm going to be reading this series along with my lovely friend Trina from Between Chapters on BookTube! This is an oldie but goodie series we've both had on our TBRs for a while. Since I love doing buddy reads, she agreed to read the series with me, despite my past history of not always being reliable when it comes to buddy reads. Thanks for the second (third? fourth?) chance, Trina!

6. I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson
Another gift I received from Trina, this time for my birthday! I enjoyed Nelson's The Sky is Everywhere and she loved IGYtS when she read it last year so I'm excited to read it. I also promised her I would read it after my classes ended, so this will for sure be a book I get to this summer.

7. Since You've Been Gone by Morgan Matson
I ordered this at the same time I purchased A Thousand Splendid Suns. I fell in love with Morgan Matson's Second Chance Summer, really enjoyed Amy & Roger's Epic Detour, and have only heard great things about this one! So I simply must read it as soon as I can.

8. The Westing Game by Ellen Haskin
My librarian from high school gave this to me in a bag of books (the sweetheart!) and I feel inclined to read it this summer.

9. After the Funeral by Agatha Christie
Another book gifted by my HS librarian, which I completely forgot to photograph, but I'm excited to read this too! And this will count as part of my yearly goal, of reading a classic.

 I also have three books to help me with my writing:

10. Wild Ink: Success Secrets to Writing in the Young Adult Market by Victoria Hanley
This is a book my friend Sabrina from I Heart YA Fiction picked up for me last year after I told her I want to publish books. I've scanned it here and there, but I know it's going to be a book that deserves my detailed attention so I can get the most out of it so I've been postponing reading the whole thing. This summer I have a goal to write the majority of a first draft (if not completely finish the first draft) of my main story I've been building on forever so this summer is the perfect time to read this! By the way, Sabrina is awesome,
as is her book blog, so go show her some love!

11. Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing
Smooth out my writing skills with grammar corrections and such.

12. Grammar Girl's 101 Words to Sound Smart
This is more of a fun book I bought to improve my vocabulary because for a writer, I do not have an expansive diction. This (and the other Grammar Girl book) will be something that I read a couple pages a day and finish within a couple weeks.

If I'm being honest, I probably won't have time for all of these books, considering two of the goals are series. While working part-time, writing a book, training for a 10K, keeping in touch with my friends, and accomplishing daily tasks, I'll be happy if I'm able to read one book a week, which will equate to 13 books this summer. I'm also a mood reader so we'll see how all that comes into play.

But what books do you hope to read this summer?

Thanks for reading, and until next time,


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