Non-Bookish 2017 Favorites

Hey you guys! Today I want to share with you some non-book-related things I’ve loved this year: movies, music, makeup, etc.

Also, I want to just make a small announcement: Next year, I’m planning to start adding a little bit of a makeup/beauty element to my blog. I’m planning on going to cosmetology school instead of college and I want to start really getting into that realm and sharing my opinions on different products.

Now that that’s out of the way, let’s get into this thing!

Movies:
Thor: Ragnarok (2017) was downright amazing! I ended up seeing it a second time simply because it is so much fun to watch. This is my review.

The Hunger Games series (2012-2015) did not disappoint after reading the books. It’s a series I both hate and love- hate because the plot still sickens me and because some of my  favorite characters die, love because it’s so powerful and I do truly love the characters.

Titanic (1997) could have gone without the crazy amount of cussing and sexual scenes (we skipped through those), but other than that I did love the movie. I related so much to Jack and Rose and I do wish the ending had been different.

Music:

Le Monde a l’Envers by Zaho: I discovered Zaho back a couple years ago when I found French musicals (she was playing Morgane in La Legende du Roi Arthur at the time) and when she started releasing songs from this album I knew I’d love it, and I do. It was released in February and my favorite song is probably “Salamalek”, but I really can’t decide.

 

Acte 1 by Charlie Boisseau: I am so so so proud of Charlie for getting himself an album! I loved him the first time I heard him sing as Lancelot in La Legende du Roi Arthur and he did not disappoint with his debut album. His voice is so unique and I love his music style. My favorite song from Acte 1 is “Jonathan”.

 

Les Trois Mousquetaires Musical: This is my most recent French musical love! I adore the soundtrack (particularly Olivier Dion and his beautiful voice).

 

Makeup/Beauty:
The Jaclyn Hill x Morphe Palette: I seriously just got this for Christmas, but I have used at least one shade from it every single day since. The shades are stunning and versatile and they swatch like a dream.

Nyx Lip Lingerie Liquid Lipstick in the shade French Maid: I love the formula and color of this lipstick; it stays all day and on me, it’s a beautiful deep purple that I love to wear when I’m feeling like a bold lip.

e.l.f Brushes: I love this brand in general, but the three brushes I have from them are the best ones I own. The dual-ended brow brush is absolutely wonderful and the eye crease brush is easy to use and blends my shadow perfectly.

Bath and Body Works Essential Oils Body Wash in the scent Almond and Vanilla: This is hands-down my favorite body wash ever. It smells wonderful and the lather is unbelievably creamy.

There were lots more things I loved this year that weren’t books, but I wanted to share my absolute favorites with you all.

What are your 2017 favorites? 

-Clara

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Best and Worst Books of 2017

Hello and merry Christmas!

In terms of reading, this year was an okay one. I read some that blew me away, and then there were quite a few that were just kinda meh. Of course, there were also some I completely hated. I had a really long reading slump towards the beginning of the year and over the summer I started reading non-fiction of my own free will (I still can’t believe that’s really me and not some possessed version of Clara). I’m still reading non-fiction, by the way, although I have picked up a few more novels.

So for this list, I’m going to start with the worst books and end with the best, because I’m one of those people who likes to get the negative out of the way and end on a positive note. 🙂 It will not include every book I read this year.

The Worst Books I Read in 2017:

Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather. It could have been all right, if it had had some kind of a plot. I’ve never been overly opposed to the idea of a novel that follows a seemingly ordinary life, but this one was just plain boring. It was definitely my least favorite read of the year that I actually finished (and that was only because it was for school).

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard. I couldn’t even finish this one. I was really sad about it, too- both my brother and a good friend of mine absolutely loved it, and I was hoping I would, too- but I completely hated it. Mare was outrageously whiny and I found pretty much all the other characters to be flat and boring. It also felt like a Hunger Games ripoff. (Wow, that was brutally honest of me.)

Empress of a Thousand Skies by Rhoda Belleza. I really wanted to love this one, too, and I think I could have if it hadn’t been so slow. It wasn’t the worst, but I just couldn’t finish it because I found myself bored by it.

Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott. I wanted to love this medieval story, but it was boring and everything seemed a little too convenient. I did finish it, but it was a school book so I kinda had to.

The “Meh” Books:

Seeker by Arwen Elys Dayton. I started the year with this one, and I did like it, it just had a few flaws that I couldn’t overlook.

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas. I was excited to start this popular series, and I’ve heard the books get much better as it goes on. I liked this book, but I was wishing it would be something more than it was.

Caraval by Stephanie Garber. I really, really wanted to love this; it was one of the most hyped books of the year and sounded amazing. I did enjoy it but it wasn’t what I wanted.

Oh Yeah, Audrey! by Tucker Shaw. I picked this one up because it had Audrey Hepburn on the spine. It was inspired by Breakfast at Tiffany’s and had lots of life lessons, but it wasn’t my favorite.

The Best Books (does not include re-reads):

The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde. This was a play I was assigned for school, and I don’t think I’ve read anything funnier since Percy Jackson. It was short but wonderful.

Beauty from the Inside-Out by Bobbi Brown. I read a few makeup/beauty books this summer, and this was my favorite. It had a lot on health and I loved the way Bobbi writes.

Black Widow: Red Vengeance by Margaret Stohl. SO. GOOD. Just amazing. Especially as a Marvel fan. Of course, I still need the third book. Desperately. That cliffhanger should be illegal.

Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes. I really enjoyed pretty much the entirety of this book. It’s the first in the series (with the sixth and final book coming out in February), and in terms of enjoying the book as a whole, this is my favorite. I’ve read the first four. After Gathering Darkness, I kinda stopped reading it for the actual plot and I’m still only reading the series for my darling ship Magneo. But book one pretty much blew my mind and was exactly the fantasy I’d been craving.

And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie. This is my favorite mystery novel ever. It was seriously creepy at times and just blew my mind. 

Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali. As I’m writing this, I’m not finished with this book but it is fantastic. It’s Ayaan’s memoir and although it is nothing short of heartbreaking, I love it. It is an inspiring story about standing up for yourself and I will definitely be trying to help girls who are currently growing up in oppression. 

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir. This. Book. I feel like I haven’t stopped recommending it to the world since I finished it. It’s just fantastic and I am in desperate need of book three in the series. 

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins. This book can be blamed for the three-month reading slump I was in at the start of the year. But it was so good and so heartbreaking and just…there are no words. This book ripped apart my soul but I will never stop loving it. 

A Crown of Wishes by Roshani Chokshi. Roshani is one of my favorite authors and after loving her debut, The Star-Touched Queen, A Crown of Wishes was my most anticipated release of 2017 and it was amazing. I loved everything about it (especially that banter-filled romance) and can’t wait for Roshani’s upcoming middle grade novel. 

Audrey Hepburn, An Elegant Spirit by Sean Hepburn-Ferrer. Despite the great novels I read this year, this biography was without question my favorite read of the year. It was beautiful and had me in tears at the end. I loved it beyond words and will certainly read it again. 

Well, that was a long one. Once again, merry Christmas! Love you all dearly and hope you have a wonderful holiday season. 

What was your favorite book of the year? Your least favorite? Do we share any favorites? Talk to me in the comments! 

-Clara

 

 

 

Gift Guide for Readers and Writers 

Merry Christmas! I don’t know about you, but I am super excited as always. Today I wanted to do a gift guide for the readers and writers in your life. And that includes you, because if you’re going to be Christmas shopping, you may as well get a gift for yourself!

The obvious choice is books. Theyre never a bad idea, and writers love them, too. Some good ones I’ve read this year are Written in the Stars by Aisha Saeed and An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir. For the writer, you can never go wrong with the latest Writer’s Market.

Subscription boxes are something people seem to love. I’ve never tried one (although I’d love to try Fairyloot) but they’re all over BookTube. Uppercase Box and Fairyloot seem to be pretty popular. And beauty/skincare boxes aren’t a bad idea either, especially for writers. We gotta take care of ourselves so we can take care of our characters (or torture them). Ipsy and Birchbox are popular for that.

While we’re talking about subscriptions, Writer’s Digest is the perfect magazine for writers. I love it and it makes a great gift.

Bookish candles are also popular and you can find a plethora of them on Etsy. They come in scents inspired by everything from Pride and Prejudice to The Lunar Chronicles

Book-inspired teas can be found on Etsy as well, and who doesn’t love a hot cup of tea while reading or writing? I’d love to try this set of Hogwarts House inspired teas.

Mugs are easy to find and usually inexpensive, but they’ll definitely be used and well-loved. I’m loving the text of this one and this is the best thing I’ve ever seen for a writer.

I hope this helps you find gifts for the readers and writers you know, as well as yourself!

What do you want for Christmas? 

Clara

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

This. Book. Is. Amazing. There. That’s really about all I need to say, but I’ll go into deeper detail because there are some things you should know before reading An Ember in the Ashes. 

This was recommended to me by a friend (we did a bit of a book swap; I loaned her A Crown of Wishes), and I don’t know why I didn’t read it sooner. I’d wanted to for a while before I borrowed it. 

It was amazing. It was the fastest I’d read a book in a while (I’ve been feeling super book-slumpy lately) and it was super intense.  

This book follows Laia, a girl desperate to save her brother, and Elias, a soldier determined to be free. There paths meet when Laia becomes a slave at Blackcliff, the military school. Trials to find the next emperor begin and war is on the horizon. 

Ok, that was a basic summary. There’s more craziness involved, trust me. Lots of it. 

The things I liked:

The characters. Laia is downright human and I can’t respect her enough for what she went through. Elias was relatable and I know how he feels about a lot of things. Helene was interesting, although I couldn’t decide whether or not I liked her (after reading A Torch Against the Night, she is much better). The side characters all made things interesting.

The plot. Obviously, Clara. But it is a very unique and intricate plotline, and I always love those.

The world. It was so different! The setting is similar to Ancient Rome or even Sparta, and I found it very…not fun, but entertaining, I guess is the word I’m looking for? I do think a little more could have been done to explain the magic, though.

What I didn’t like:

The romance. Ok, so I didn’t exactly dislike it, but I think it was a little odd. Both main characters having an attraction to two people (including each other) just kinda made things unecessarily complicated. 

But I ship Laia and Elias. 

Ok, also, this book is brutal, so if you can’t handle a fairly large amount of violence (including discussion of rape), skip this one.

Overall, An Ember in the Ashes is very good and I highly recommend it to fans of dystopian, fantasy, and complex plots. 

4.5/5 stars. 

Have you read An Ember in the Ashes? What did you think? Tell me in the comments!

Clara