Friday Loves: BEAUTY AND THE BEAST

This isn't exactly news, but the new live action BEAUTY AND THE BEAST is AMAZING. 

So, I'm not going to lie and say it was a perfect movie, because it wasn't. BUT. The beauty of it was just... mesmerizing. It was so colorful, and full of life. The songs were, of course, excellent. The way they did the beast worked- better than hair and makeup or a mask probably would've. But best of all was the little bits they added in to flesh out the story and make it more believable.

***Minor spoilers ahead, don't read if you haven't seen it***

The backstory for the Beast, plus about Belle's mom. How Mrs. Potts basically says they didn't help change their master so the curse was their problem to deal with (we made our bed, we have to lie in it, that kind of thing). And I especially liked how at one point Belle says something to the Beast along the lines of, "Can you ever really be happy if you aren't free?" I also really liked how LeFou was more than just a silly henchman, and how he has a change of heart at the end. 

The whole thing was just so magical and beautiful and I can't wait until I can see it again. Well done Disney!

Monday Reads and a Giveaway!

Another full couple of weeks of reading!

STARFALL by Melissa Landers is the sequel to STARFLIGHT. Melissa Landers always does these sweeping and epic sci-fi stories with tons of romance, which I love. STARFALL was pretty good, although I liked STARFLIGHT better. 

EVERYTHING, EVERYTHING by Nicola Yoon. Oh this book. So excellent. Great voice. Loved the little extras in the book... I don't know what else to call them but if you've read it you'll know what I mean. And the romance. I know some felt gypped by the ending- or that the author took the easy way out- but I didn't. Really, it could either go one way or the other and I for one liked the end the author chose. I can't wait to see the movie!

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THE DASHWOOD SISTERS TELL ALL by Beth Patillo. This was a third book in a sort of trilogy. Not the kind that you have to read in order, but I did. I liked this one a lot better than book 2, and I think maybe better than book 1, although it's hard to remember. There's always a hint of mystery in these books, and of course, some romance. The author tends to take endings that I don't enjoy, but this one was not disappointing.

WHAT IS HIDDEN? by Lauren Skidmore. This book started out rough for me. I wasn't that into it, and the writing felt a bit amateurish. However, the premise was good so I gave it a chance, and I'm glad I did. The twist on Cinderella really was different than anything I'd read before, and I liked the world the author built. I was disappointed to find out it's the start of a series, so things didn't get wrapped up neatly. Not sure if I'll pick up the next book but the romance was definitely enjoyable and at times it had some really excellent dialogue.

BY YOUR SIDE by Kasie West. Speaking of dialogue, Kasie West is a queen! This is the second book I've read by this author and as soon as I was done, I went to my local bookstore and bought two more by her. That's how certain I am that I will love everything she writes. Her YA contemporary is perfect. It's everything I want it to be. I liked how this story delved into some deep issues without going really dark. I don't mind a dark book, but this book shows you can talk about serious stuff while still keeping things on the lighter side. I LOVED it.

THE ALCHEMISTS by Craig DiLouie. I went to an author evening where a bunch of authors did readings, Craig DiLouie being one of them. Out of all of them, his reading inspired me to buy the book. This book ended up being hit or miss with me. The dialogue was excellent, and often very funny, which was the best part. The miss was that oftentimes it felt like a history lesson. I love historicals but there were so many parts where the author told the backstory of some war or some king, and in a way where it was like, okay, settle in, it's time for backstory right now. With all of that, the love story thread in the book ended up feeling rushed, and therefore not all that believable. So three stars, because I liked it, but didn't love it.

Speaking of books, 5 copies of SWAY are up for grabs on Goodreads in honor of 200 years of Jane Austen! Enter to win! 

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Sway by Melanie Stanford

Sway

by Melanie Stanford

Giveaway ends April 13, 2017.

See the giveaway details at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

I'm Here To Stay

As of today, I officially let go of my blog. 

Sniff sniff. 

But not really. But sorta. I mean, I was posting the exact same blog posts over there as over here. Both had the same information, except I kept my reading list over there. But with Goodreads for my reading list, and the all around purpose of saving time, I decided to finally let the blog go. Now I only have to post one time instead of two.

So goodbye Daydreamer To Writer... it's been real.

Hello grown-up website. 

Monday Reads: This and That and Everything In Between

See, this is what happens when I don't do a Monday Reads post for a long time. My list ends up being massive. 

Anyway, here's what I've read lately...

THAT GIRL DARCY by James Ramos. As soon as I heard about a gender-swapped YA retelling of Pride & Prejudice I was all SIGN ME UP! And this is another problem with not doing Monday Reads posts more often: I know I had thoughts about this book but now I can't remember what they were. I gave the book 4 stars so obviously I liked it, but I know I had a few issues with it. I remember loving the nerd angle, but also that some of the MC's introspection was a bit overdone or not quite believable. At one point, his thing was, I'm just obsessed with Darcy because I need to figure her out. Yeah, okay. Keep telling yourself that. It was a fun take on one of my fave classics though.

TAKE THE KEY AND LOCK HER UP by Ally Carter. This was the last book in the trilogy. Not my favorite books by Ally Carter (I LOVE her GG series so hard), but you can always count on her to have fast-paced books with humor and romance. Plus she did a great job ending the series, so no complaints here.

THE SECRET OF A HEART NOTE by Stacey Lee. Ah, Stacey Lee. Easily one of my fave YA authors now. This book was just all kinds of wonderful. It's about a girl who's an "aroma expert." She can smell people's moods. Awesome, right? Her and her mom make "potions" for people who want to fall in love, but if she falls in love she'll lose her nose. So what happens? ENTER BOY. I mean, this book was funny, great voice, romantic, and completely original.

THE PAINTER'S DAUGHTER by Julie Klassen. This was my first Klassen book and it lived up to all the hype I'd heard about it. I absolutely adored the relationship between Sophie and Stephen, I couldn't stand Wesley (which made the book all the more compelling), but I loved the secondary characters. She interwove a little mystery throughout the story, plus I loved all the art references. I had one teeny tiny issue with the MC at this one point. She thought something that really got under my skin, and although it fit with the time period and she went on to sort of retract her opinion, it still irked me. But it wasn't enough to make me stop reading, or lessen my five-star rating.

ROSEBLOOD by A.G. Howard. A Phantom of the Opera retelling! I mean, right up my alley, right? (One of my YA's has a heavy Phantom influence.) This book was basically everything I wanted it to be. The twist on the original was what really made it awesome, not to mention the swoon-worthy romance. Too much exposition for my taste, but I still really enjoyed the book.

VICTORIA by Daisy Goodwin. What I didn't know about this is that the author wrote the novel and the TV series at the same time. Why that means something? Because the two were almost identical. Which is strange. But not necessarily a bad thing. Just strange. When movies/shows are based off a book, you know there will be some major differences. NOPE. Okay, there was one: the book ends sooner than the TV show. But that's all. I still really enjoyed it, I mean obviously- I loved the show. But like the show, I wanted more Albert. There is so much build-up of her relationship with Melbourne- the guy she doesn't end up with. I wish I could see that with Albert, too. Otherwise, loved it. 

And that's what I've read lately people. Now I need a nap. Or maybe I'll go read...

The Land of A Thousand Setbacks

So the post title might be a bit of an exaggeration. But I've found when you're in the thick of it, when setbacks hit you, it's hard not to feel like you're stuck in one spot and can't get out, or worse, moving backwards, further and further from your goals instead of towards them.

Me, to my goals

Me, to my goals

It started after Christmas when me and my agent parted ways. The split was amicable. She's a wonderful person and I wish her all the best, but it was still a setback plus a major bummer.

Then last week, my romance publisher Samhain announced they are closing down for good by the end of the month. While the news didn't come as a surprise- they announced a year ago they were closing but managed to stay open all this time- it's still a huge setback. And a double shot of bummer. 

So what do you do when setback's happen? Because they do happen, to all of us. For me, I had a good cry (or three), I threw my little pity party, asked WHY ME? and got jealous of the writers who's journeys *seem* to be only on the up-and-up. I did those things, because it's human nature to do so. But now I've moved on.

You know that saying, there's no use crying over spilt milk? Well, it's tough but it's true. What happened, happened, and now I have to figure out my own path forward. Otherwise I'm just wallowing in these setbacks. Otherwise, it's ME preventing myself from moving ahead.

Said path is leading me into a place I wasn't sure I'd go: self-publishing. When Samhain closes at the end of the month, my book will be removed from vendors, so it's on me to get it right back up there. Self-publishing has always been in the back of my mind as a maybe for my romance novels, and a definitely for my novella. The novella isn't ready yet, and I figured I'd learn how to self-pub when it was. Enter Samhain's news and now I'm getting a crash course on the how-to's of self-publishing. On the upside, I belong to a small yet wonderful group of Samhain authors and we're all helping each other out. If it wasn't for them, especially the fabulous Lauren Smith who's done this all before, I'd be drowning, not knowing where to even begin.

Writing is easy for some people, or so they say. But for most of us, it's a constant struggle of some kind. For me, it's been a battle since I started this all seven years ago. I have no doubt it will continue to be a battle. As much as I wish I didn't always have to fight so hard for it, I know that it's toughened me up. So when the next setback comes, then the next and the next, I won't be knocked down for good. I will always get back up again. 

Now comes the shameless plug. If you like romance, Samhain is having a sale on everything! Check out these books below by some fabulous authors. *heads up: each of these books has sexual content*

Friday Loves: Victoria

It's been awhile since I've done a Friday Loves post. I guess nothing has been really stirring those passion juices... until now. 

I feel like I need to insert an evil laugh right here for some reason.

Anyway, I have this list a mile long of TV shows I want to try or continue, and Victoria was one of them. Being in an all around low (winter has a lot to do with that, among other things) I really wanted something sweet and romantic to escape into. So I thought Victoria would be the perfect fit.

And it was.

It was everything I wanted it to be and more. I completely loved the series and am seriously considering watching it from the start all over again. Jenna Coleman does a fabulous job. I love the storyline and sexual tension between her and Melbourne (even if it is made up), and I love love love the relationship between her and Albert. Most of all I love to see a young woman, looked down on by many of the men, overcome it, rise up, and show them who is boss.

My only complaint is that I wish the start of the relationship between Victoria and Albert dragged out a bit more. It could be because I like me some sexual tension, it could also be the contrast between three episodes between her and Melbourne and then it happens with Albert in one, but in any case, I would've liked to see that drawn out more before she's suddenly in love with him and him with her.

Otherwise, a fantastic show. Anyone who loves period dramas is sure to love this one. I can't wait for season two!

Monday Reads: The List is Endless

I've been reading like crazy in January so I've got a lot of books to talk about. 

First off, WICKED DESIGNS by Lauren Smith. Lauren is a fellow Samhain author and all around super smart lady. This book was incredibly sexy and dangerous. I'll admit though, that I had a hard time getting past the premise. The MC is kidnapped by the love interest at the very start, all because he wants revenge on her uncle. He doesn't care AT ALL that he has ruined her reputation completely. I liked how the MC fought back in the beginning, and fought against her feelings for awhile, but while she began to forgive/lust after/fall in love with him I was still like, um no. 

SWORN ENEMY by A.L. Sowards. This was a well-written, well-researched novel about World War II, most of it taking place in a location not usually used for WWII novels. The characters were fleshed out, and the mystery of who the double agent might be was really good. It lacked a little bit of something for me... not sure what I just wasn't feeling the emotion as much as I wanted to. Otherwise though, it was a great read.

THE UNEXPECTED EVERYTHING by Morgan Matson. Great contemp YA read. I loved it, loved the love interest, loved the friendships. My only complaint is that at over 500 pages, it was long for a contemp, IMO. 

GOLDEN SON by Pierce Brown. This is the second book in the trilogy and these books are... interesting for me. I love parts like crazy but then I'm bored by parts. The best thing about these books are- 1) he never goes where I expect. The plot twists and turns so much and I'm always surprised by it. And 2) the endings are such cliffhangers in the best way that I want to read the next one. Honestly, if they didn't end like this, I probably wouldn't have picked up GOLDEN SON and wouldn't pick up the third book, but I will now because I want to know what's going to happen. I will pick up book 3 but I'm really hoping it wows me more than bores me. 

IN THE MIDDLE by S.J. Henderson. S.J. and I are in a Facebook author group together and I picked up this book when I signed up for her blog tour. I read the book in two days. I found it a very interesting take on life and death, but most of all, I LOVED the love story. 


THIS IS WHAT HAPPY LOOKS LIKE by Jennifer E. Smith. I think this is my fave Jennifer E. Smith book out of the three I've read. I can't help but love the movie star/average girl trope, plus I loved the email aspect. My only complaint was it ended as Happy-For-Now with not much getting resolved at all. I wanted a better glimpse into the future, but that's just me. 

Phew. That was a lot of reading. What are you reading right now?

Super Secret Project is No Longer a Secret

For the past couple of months I've been working on a Super Secret Project. Well, today, the announcement is out, and I can finally talk about...

THE DARCY MONOLOGUES!!!

I'm super excited to get to be part of this incredible anthology. I mean, check out those authors! 

If you want to read an interview about the project, check out Just Jane 1813 to see what our editor, Christina Boyd, has to say about it.

And look for THE DARCY MONOLOGUES coming May 22nd! 

Jane in January: Michael Buble vs Jane Austen

If you've read my Persuasion retelling, SWAY, you'll know that Michael Buble and his music was a huge influence on me. When I decided my Eric (AKA Captain Wentworth) would be a musician, it seemed natural to me that he'd be a Michael Buble-esque crooner. I listened to his music on repeat while writing, and mentioned a few of his songs in the novel (CRY ME A RIVER and AT THIS MOMENT were two big ones). I even read a biography of Michael Buble so I could get a better idea what kind of struggles an artist like Eric would go through in rising to the top. 

So for Jane in January today, I made you guys a quiz. I've given you a quote, and you just have to answer who said it: Michael Buble or Jane Austen. *I tried to go with random quotes instead of known ones, but I still think it's probably pretty easy.*

So take the quiz, then let me know what you scored in the comments. Everyone who tells me their score in the comments will be entered to win a paperback of SWAY and a copy of Michael Buble's newest CD "Nobody But Me." Open internationally! 

Monday Reads

Blogging... what on earth is blogging?

At least, that's how I've felt lately. As in, the last year or so. And especially over the Christmas break. We all need social media breaks now and again though. And I'm back today (late today) to talk about what I've read since... whenever I blogged last.

I really should've blogged earlier because I've got FIVE books to talk about.

CLOSE TO YOU by Kara Isaac. Dang. It's been so long since I read this (okay, only like two and a half weeks) and I don't remember what I loved and didn't about it. The premise and all the Tolkien-related nerdery: totally cool. The romance was fun. I gave it four stars so obviously something held me back from all the love, but I can't for the life of me remember what it was. 

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RED RISING by Pierce Brown. This was an interesting read for me. Started slow, but I kept reading because of all the hype. Then got super good. Then got a little boring. Then got really good. Then got okay. Then ended fantastically. So yeah, a roller coaster of a book. I didn't LURVE it but I'll definitely pick up book two.

SOLVING FOR EX by LeighAnn Kopans. This book has been on my radar for forever because I'd been in contests with the author, plus it's Jane Austen's MANSFIELD PARK retold YA-style. There were things I loved about this book- it was a fast read, good writing, and fun characters. I didn't mind the pining and angst most of the time, although there were times when the MC would go back and forth between I'm blah and no one likes me to I'm hot look at me! or he'll never like me and he's always liked me! It was a little wrenching at times. The whole mathlete thing got a little lost too and didn't get resolved at the end, which was a bummer. Otherwise, a fun read.

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BEAUTY AND THE CLOCKWORK BEAST by Nancy Campbell Allen. I picked this book up at a bookstore because I liked the sound of the premise: a steampunk Beauty and the Beast meets Jane Eyre story. When I started reading, I worried there was too much going on. Not only was it a steampunk retelling, but there was magic, ghosts, werewolves, and vampires mixed in. It ended up working seamlessly and I loved the story! The mystery was solid, though I had the antagonist narrowed down to two since almost the beginning and it annoyed me a bit that the MC never considered these two, even though evidence pointed that way early on. Otherwise, the MC was awesome, and it had a swoon-worthy love story. I will definitely pick up another book by this author. 

P.S. I LIKE YOU by Kasie West. LURVE LURVE LURVE so much. I'd never read a Kasie West before but I will read ALL the Kasie West books now. This felt like a YA YOU'VE GOT MAIL and I loved the quirky MC and the cocky love interest. Best of all the book was funny, with fast and witty dialogue- my favorite. Sooo good. 

Christmas Faves

Christmas is my favourite time of the year. I love the spirit of the season, the kindness, the smiles. I love celebrating the birth of Christ, and I love giving and receiving presents. I love the decorations, the food, the family, the music, the movies. Basically I'm one of those people who are like, "I love everyone" except it's "I love everything Christmas!"

Here are some of my faves:

I could listen to Christmas music on repeat, though there are some songs that are kinda annoying (Twelve Days of Christmas, anyone?). My faves are the classics: Bing Crosby, Ella Fitzgerald, Perry Como, etc. But I especially- and this will come as no surprise- love Michael Buble's Christmas albums. He's the perfect mix of modern and classic, and I love his voice.

I can't pick just one favorite Christmas movie, there are too many. But one I love which is probably a bit underappreciated is CHRISTMAS IN CONNECTICUT. The movie is funny and cute and silly and I love the love story. Check it out if you've never seen it.

A new thing for me this year is Hallmark Christmas movies. I know a lot of people have been on this bandwagon forever, but I haven't jumped on until this year and it all started because I heard that one of my fave swoon-worthy actors was in a 2015 Hallmark movie called CROWN FOR CHRISTMAS. After watching that (and rolling my eyes yet crying at the same time), I decided to give some others a try. I only got to watch a few, but I'll definitely be giving Hallmark movies a go every year from now on.

I don't read a lot of Christmas books either, although I did give a couple a try. But I have to go with my all-time fave, THE GRINCH, of course. And I have a special place in my heart for THE LITTLE MATCH GIRL, and SMALL ONE.

What are some of your Christmas favorites?

Monday Reads: The Chemist and The Forbidden Orchid

You'd think around the holidays that I would have more time to read.

NOPE.

NOPE.

Christmas is in less than a week and I don't feel prepared at all. Actually, I'm almost there, it's just- it's been so busy that I haven't had the chance to just laze around and enjoy the season. Hopefully I'll be there by this weekend. Or, as lazy as an adult with four children who's also having company over for Christmas can be.

Anyway, so I only read two books these past couple of weeks. THE CHEMIST by Stephenie Meyer and THE FORBIDDEN ORCHID by Sharon Biggs Waller.

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So, THE CHEMIST. Honestly, it took me about a hundred pages to get into this book. If it weren't for the fact that it's Stephenie Meyer and her books have yet to disappoint me, AND the fact that someone had recommended this to me and said they couldn't put it down, I probably would have quit in the first couple of chapters. I mean, it took twenty pages until there was even dialogue! 

Some people might not mind this, but I love dialogue and I really felt the lack. Besides, isn't it a rule that you shouldn't have more than what, three pages without dialogue, or something like that? She's Stephenie Meyer and she can obviously break the rules, but still. For me, there was WAY TOO MUCH detail, especially at the beginning, and not enough action. Once I did get into the book, though, I really enjoyed it. The MC was an interesting mix of clinical and cold yet still human- her character arc was excellent. And I felt the love story only added to the book- in fact it was my favorite part- rather than taking away from the plot. I especially loved the banter between the three of them. (See what I mean about dialogue?) Anyway, definitely a book to check out if you're a Meyer fan, just be prepared for the slow start.

Probably one of my fave books of 2015 was Sharon Biggs Waller's A MAD, WICKED FOLLY. So I eagerly picked up THE FORBIDDEN ORCHID. I rated it 5 stars on Goodreads, but it's really more of a four and a half. (I rate up, because I'm nice like that.) I loved the book and only had two tiny complaints. One, the blurb of the book tells us that the MC is going to travel to China with her father. So I waited and waited for this to happen but it didn't happen until about 180 pages in. I really wanted this to happen sooner, with a little less lead-up. And two, the love story was SO AWESOME in parts, but then it got forgotten at times. There were times when she could've played it up but she didn't. 

Otherwise, it was a solid book that I loved and I still count Sharon Biggs Waller as one of my fave historical YA authors. 

What about you? Do you like dialogue? Does it take away from the book when there isn't much?

Monday Reads

I rounded out the end of November with the last of a trilogy and two romances.

Myra McEntire's INFINITYGLASS is the third of the trilogy and I really enjoyed it. I wasn't sure I'd like the brand new POV's (each book has two different POVs) but I ended up really liking Dune and Hallie. I also thought she ended the trilogy really well. The ending seemed to happen quickly, but I think that's what happens when you've been into multiple books with the same story and suddenly it's over and you're all...

Anyway, it's a great trilogy and very voicey.

Then I read SOMETHING IN THE HEIR by Jenny Gardiner. I had really high hopes for this one because the premise is super cute. Unfortunately, I was less than impressed with the writing and some of the scenarios were so ridiculous it was hard for me to believe them. Plus the MC had a serious case of modesty to the point where the LI is constantly telling her how great she is. *eye roll* I finished to the end though and there were some cute and swoony moments.

Last, I read A Yorkshire Christmas by Kate Hewitt. I didn't realize this was only novella length when I bought it for my Kobo, but the story was really cute. Kinda reminded me of The Holiday (that Christmas movie with Kate Winslet and Cameron Diaz) at first but it takes it's own turn. It was a fun Christmas read, and I promptly watched The Holiday as soon as I was done!

Black Friday Sale!!!

It's Black Friday so that means... SALES!!!

I'm part of the lovely group over at Austen Variations and we're having a huge sale of many of our Jane Austen related books. A lot of PRIDE & PREJUDICE variations, and my very own SWAY (a contemporary PERSUASION retelling in case you didn't know) is on sale for $0.99, which is a screamin' deal if you ask me. Check it out at the link above, or you can just go straight to Amazon if you want to pick up SWAY. It's also on sale at Amazon Canada, and other ebook retailers like B&N, and I'm trying to get the price reduced on Amazon UK for all you Brits out there, so stay tuned.

Hope you're having a fantastic Thanksgiving weekend if you're American, or just a great weekend if you hail from elsewhere in the world! Much love!

Monday Reads: A Whole Lot

I took a little blog break because I went to Hawaii! But now I'm back with a few books I read in the last month.

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Fablehaven: Rise of the Evening Star by Brandon Mull which is the second book in the series. This book started off stronger than book 1 for me, and I enjoyed it. I am, however, debating whether to pick up the rest of the series. The books are good, I just don't love them. But I feel this intense guilt if I don't finish the whole series because I'm wacky like that.

Ashes by Sophie H. Morgan. I "know" Sophie online because she's a fellow Samhain author and I was psyched to finally read this book. It was awesome! A page-turner, with a kick-A female MC and a swoony love interest. It blends a lot of genres which could've turned out disastrous but totally worked for the story. I can't wait to read another book by Sophie.

The Darkest Hour by Caroline Tung Richmond is a story set in World War II about girls who work as spies for the Allies. I loved the different characters and loved the twists in the book. It could've used a little romance for my taste, but otherwise an excellent read.

Wedding Bands by Ev Bishop is a second chance romance story that I really enjoyed. Like most romances, you know they're going to get together eventually, but it's fun reading about the journey. There was also a little twist at the end which I didn't anticipate. I participated on a panel with Ev Bishop at a con over the summer and she was lovely. 

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I also did a couple of rereads: Hourglass and Timepiece by Myra McEntire. I've had the third in the trilogy (Infinityglass) sitting on my shelf since last Christmas, but it's been so long that I needed to reread to remember the story. I think I enjoyed these two books more this time than I did the first time. I love time travel, and the voice is so spot on in both books, though they're from two different POVs. So far Infinityglass is living up to my expectations.

So it's been a good reading month. What have you read lately?

Friday Loves: HAMILTON

I know I'm behind on this. HAMILTON is yesterday's news.

Blame my Canadian-ness. Or the fact that I don't make it to Broadway often... or like ever (*sobs*). 

But I've been around, I've heard things. Yeah, I know stuff. 

Like how popular HAMILTON is. I mean, you'd have to live under a rock not to know about it. I've listened to bits and pieces on YouTube. I saw the performance on the Tony's. But I finally have the entire soundtrack and I've now become another one on the long list of HAMILTON fans. I would LOVE to see this show. So bad. Unfortunately, I'm not planning any trips to NYC anytime soon, and HAMILTON probably won't be a touring musical to Canada for awhile. Here's hoping it comes here soon. 

I guess it gives me a lot of time to learn all the lyrics, though. It's so much more fun watching a musical when you know all the words then when you're not even familiar with the songs (I'm looking at you, WICKED). So, I'm not throwing away my shot at learning every single word. (See what I did there?) And tonight I get to watch the PBS special!

Monday Reads: Two JAFF, a YA, and an NA

Have you ever loved an author... like everything they say on social media is hilarious, or you think if you knew them in real life you'd be besties, or maybe you saw them at a conference or signing and thought they were so interesting? And I mean this in a totally non-stalkerish/non-crazy way, I swear.

Anyway, so then you read one of their books thinking you'd LOVE it? Then you just... don't. 

Total bummer. So yeah, that's how I kinda felt about FABLEHAVEN by Brandon Mull.

My daughter read and LOVED the FABLEHAVEN sereis like crazy, so she insisted on coming with me to 2015's WHEN WORDS COLLIDE because Brandon Mull would be there. I hadn't read anything by him, but we went to all his panels and he was such a dynamic speaker. Seriously. If you have a chance to hear him in public- GO! Anyway, I finally gave the first FABLEHAVEN book a try a couple of weeks ago and... I liked it. I did. But I wanted to love it so bad, like Harry Potter type love, and I just didn't. I've since started book two- so obviously I liked it enough to want to read on in the series. But it got me thinking about the book and why I didn't connect with it like I wanted to.

Honestly, I think the main thing is I'm not into "creature" kinds of books. I've read other fantasy-ish novels that have had a lot of magical creatures or magical items in them, and they're just not my kind of thing. I like magical people, not regular people who run into magical stuff. And FABLEHAVEN is all about a magical preserve. The other thing was it lacked the humor of Harry Potter. There was this one really funny part which I loved (the whole cow-milking scene), but I wanted more funny, especially since it's MG. Anyway, I did enjoy the book. I loved the difference between the brave but sometimes foolish Seth, and the more responsible Kendra who finds her courage in the end. The world-building too was stellar. Already with book 2, I've found the plot to be more fast-paced, which is a bonus. So we'll see how this one goes. I know with HP, I didn't really LOVE them until PRISONER OF AZKABAN, so I'm giving FABLEHAVEN a chance.  

The next book I read was MR. DARCY BROKE MY HEART by Beth Patillo. I'm just going to say I gave the book 3 stars and leave it at that. I've read amazing JAFF books, and this one didn't measure up like I wanted it to.

Then I read MORE THAN MUSIC by Elizabeth Briggs. SWOON! This book was everything I wanted it to be. I wanted a sexy and fun romance, and this was it. I can't wait to read book 2 in the series.

Lastly, I read another JAFF book, LETTER FROM RAMSGATE by Suzan Lauder. I got this as an advanced copy and loved every minute of it. It felt like reading Jane Austen herself, as if I was reading one of her rewrites of PRIDE & PREJUDICE. The changes made in this book were so clever, and so well done, that I could really see it. Definitely one of the best P&P variations I've ever read. 

What did you read this week?

The Great Bookmark Saga of 2016

Who knew bookmarks could be such a pain? 

ME. I KNOW.

ME. I KNOW.

Thus begins the Great Bookmark Saga of 2016. Also known as, A Disaster of Epic Proportions. 

I wanted some bookmarks for SWAY. Samhain was kind enough to send me rack cards before SWAY came out and I have a few left, but they're out of date, plus I wanted something bookmark size. So I decided to design my own using Canva. I'd already designed something on Canva so obviously I was an expert and it seemed like a good idea.

It pretty much took me an entire day just to make my design. Once I did, it was pretty, I loved it, and I thought, all I have to do is upload it to Vistaprint and Bam! I've got bookmarks.

WRONG!

WRONG!

First, I'd heard that you can save money by uploading two designs on the rack card template and then you can cut them yourself and voila! Two for the price of one bookmarks. This did not work for me. So I tried to fit my design into Vistaprint's bookmark template. Also did not work. I redesigned my bookmarks on Canva multiple times in different sizes in an attempt to fit them into the template. NOPE. And keep in mind, this wasn't just a, click once to resize. Because I'm on basic Canva, I had to design over again FROM THE BEGINNING. EACH TIME.

After all this, I finally decided to use a different printing company. I uploaded my design and it was easy... TOO easy. But I ignored this and ordered a hundred bookmarks. At this point, it was like 2 am, but I could not fall asleep. I kept stressing about these bookmarks. What if I hadn't gotten the design within the bleed lines? What if words were cut off? What if they ended up blurry? Then I'd be wasting my money, PLUS a trip to the US where I had to pick them up (they don't ship to Canada). In order to get some sleep that night, I cancelled the order. 

I just didn't feel good about ordering through this second printer, so I went back to Vistaprint and asked them to fit my design into their template. Waited a day. They couldn't do it. 

Forget online printing companies, I would go local. So I went into Staples (a Canadian office supply store) and asked if they printed bookmarks and if they would print my design, how much, etc. They said yes- bring in the design on a USB. I did, the next day. The lady, the same one I'd already talked to, couldn't open the file. So she said for me to change the format and come back. So I did. AGAIN. I put my design into every format I could think of and went BACK into Staples. Same lady. Still couldn't open the file. She basically stared at me like I was some kind of idiot, but I'm sorry lady- those files opened on my computer at home! Anyway, suck-it Staples, I'll go somewhere else. After calling around and leaving multiple messages with small printing companies, I decided to try online again.

Can I make a side note here and say, if only Vistaprint had a bookmark template! They have rack card and business card templates, but with bookmarks, you have to upload your design. Otherwise, I would have redesigned right on Vistaprint. But I couldn't do that, so this time, I uploaded my design and asked them to recreate it for me. A day later, wonder of wonders, miracle of miracles... THEY DID! I had to make a minor change and wait another day, but finally, I had a working design that I could actually order on Vistaprint. So I did. They told me I would get them in a few weeks, in time for a book signing event I had planned for the beginning of October.

I waited. I checked the mail. I waited some more. I checked some more. NOTHING. Finally, a few days before my event (and here is where I screwed up... I should've done this a week earlier) I went into the tracking info on Vistaprint, which led me to UPS, which led me to this extensive list of all the places these bookmarks had travelled to. Apparently, they didn't have the right address, they contacted the receiver (me, and NO THEY DID NOT), got an address, delivered. They were rejected by the receiver (BECAUSE IT WASN'T ME), mailed them back to Ontario, went to three different cities in Ontario, and were currently in limbo when I checked. I called UPS. 

Long story short, UPS doesn't deliver to PO boxes, and sent my bookmarks back to Vistaprint. 

First of all, WHY DIDN'T UPS CALL/EMAIL ME??? I would've given them my street address. I have no clue WHO they kept contacting.

Second of all, if Vistaprint always uses UPS, and UPS never delivers to PO  boxes, WHY ARE YOU ALLOWED TO ENTER A PO BOX INTO THE ADDRESS LINE? When I called Vistaprint, they didn't even know UPS doesn't deliver to PO boxes!

What. The. Fudge.

What. The. Fudge.

Anyway (not really anyway, but I'm mostly over it, so anyway), Vistaprint said they would resend and I would get them October 6th... six days AFTER my bookstore event. Great. Thanks for that.

I didn't actually get them until today. If you want to see what they look like, and my reaction to opening them,  you can go here. 

Friday Loves: Gilmore Girls!

My sister often told me how much she loves Gilmore Girls, how she's watched the entire series at least ten times. Then there's the fans on Twitter, who tweet about it constantly, despite the fact the show ended years ago. Probably because of the revival coming up. Anyway, I finally decided to give it a try.

The first episode was good, but I wasn't immediately sold. It took me... a whole TWO episodes to get completely hooked. I don't know what it is about the show that hooked me so soon, but I'm guessing it's probably a mix of the witty and fast-paced dialogue, and the flawed yet likeable characters. At first I was awed by both Lorelei and Rory (please can I be them?!), but now that I've gotten to know them, they drive me cray-cray. Lorelei especially. She has these epic mom moments and I really envy her relationship with her daughter at times- it helps me be a bit more aware of my own relationships with my daughters (and son). Of course, Lorelei is also self-absorbed most of the time and there are so many moments when I'm mentally screaming at her to just shut up already. Rory I liked from the start, until the whole end of season four thing with Dean, and now I just want her to smarten up. But what makes the show great is despite these things, I still want them to get their happy endings, or happy for right now's. I want the same for Luke, Lane, Dean, Jess, Emily and Richard, even Kirk. 
These characters are so compelling, it's hard not to be completely hooked on their lives and want to know what crazy thing they'll do next.

I'm in the middle of season five right now, so I still have a ways to go until the end. Hopefully I'll be done before the new episodes air next month. But for now, pardon my many Gilmore Girls tweets- this is all new to me and I'm loving it. I'm so glad I gave this show a shot. 

What about you? Have you watched Gilmore Girls and did you like it?