december wrap-up // goodbye 2016!

Saturday, December 31, 2016

AHHH where has 2016 gone?? It's 2017 tomorrow, guys!!

book review // I'll Give You the Sun (aka the most beautifully-written book ever)

Wednesday, December 28, 2016
Hey guys!! I'm back at it again with another book review! I can't believe Christmas is already over, and we are rapidly approaching 2017!

When I went to the library, I wasn't even planning on getting this book in the first place but I'm SO GLAD I did. It was such an amazing read.

by Jandy Nelson

At first, Jude and her twin brother are NoahandJude; inseparable. Noah draws constantly and is falling in love with the charismatic boy next door, while daredevil Jude wears red-red lipstick, cliff-dives, and does all the talking for both of them. 
Years later, they are barely speaking. Something has happened to change the twins in different yet equally devastating ways . . . but then Jude meets an intriguing, irresistible boy and a mysterious new mentor. 
The early years are Noah’s to tell; the later years are Jude’s. But they each have only half the story, and if they can only find their way back to one another, they’ll have a chance to remake their world. 
This radiant, award-winning novel from the acclaimed author of 
The Sky Is Everywhere will leave you breathless and teary and laughing—often all at once. 

 So here are 4 of my thoughts because there is no way I can write a review of this book without spilling my innermost thoughts about this BEAUTIFUL book.
I love love LOVED the format in which the story was told.
The story was told by Noah at 13 years old and Jude at 16 years old in alternating chapters. Reading Noah's chapters, you can just tell that everything is going down hill, especially his relationship with Jude. With Jude's perspective, you can see the result of the twins broken relationship. 

You could really see what time and heartbreak did to them and the contrast of this to their former selves.* Having both perspectives at different ages majorly strengthened the story as a whole.

I really loved piecing together what happened to make them fall apart. As I made the connections from chapter to chapter, it made the book even more complex and beautiful.

*geez this book is making me think very deeply.

It was written so beautifully.
seriously. SOO LYRICAL AND BEAUTY-FUL. ahHHhh. The writing was so whimsical and gorgeous, especially in Noah's chapters. I would say that Noah is definitely more of a dreamer than Jude, hence the fact that his chapters are more poetic.

I did have a bit of a difficult start with this book though. Just for the record, I am a not a poetry type person. I am (without question) a logical, black-and-white type thinker, and this book was definitely not that type of book. and at times, the writing was so metaphorical that I didn't know what the heck was happening. Ultimately though, I got over it and super enjoyed the writing style.

The romance felt just a little too insta-lovey for me.
Particularly with Noah and Brian's relationship. 

Here's how it went down (basically): 
noah and brian meet. the next day.
Noah: yep. I'm in love with Brian.

And in the blink of an eye, without all that much going on, Noah is suddenly in love with Brian. I would've liked to see more development before Noah and Brian actually fell for each other. I dunno, it just felt a little too love-at-first-sight for me.

With Jude and Oscar, there was a good amount more development, and this I appreciated. As much as I wanted to see them together at the end of the book, they were still working out their relationship, and that's ok. It was just a more realistic relationship development.

I could really relate to the characters. They just felt real.
Noah and Jude had their strengths and their flaws, and I would go as far to say the book was mostly about these flaws. But these flaws were what made them exceptional characters. I could genuinely feel their heartbreak and sorrow and joy.

What really made the book shine though, was the secondary characters. From Guillermo*, to Oscar, to their Dad (heck, even to their dead Grandma). They were so well-developed and important to the story without totally taking over (like some secondary characters do). But they were still there and crucial to the development of the story.

*guillermo is my actual fave in this book. he is actually the sweetest ever.

Rating: ★★★★★

Almost everything about this novel, I loved. This book does not quite make my favorite books of all time, but it's pretty close. Without question, I recommend it to all of you!

have you read this fabulous book?? what are your thoughts on the writing style and format? I must know!! chat with me in the comments!!

xoxo, madeline

christmas photography + some thoughts about 2016

Sunday, December 25, 2016
Merry Christmas, everyone!! I hope your day has been full of holiday cheer!

a christmas Q&A with hailey

Friday, December 23, 2016
I can't believe that there's only two days until Christmas!! *squeals* 

Since we're deep into the holiday season at this point, I thought it was only right to do a Christmas-themed Q&A! And, even better, why not do this Q&A with my Blogger Gift Exchange recipient, Hailey Hudson? 

Hailey Hudson blogs over at Now All I Know is Grace. Go check her out because she is an awesome human bean and writer! I've loved reading her Blogmas posts throughout this December! Thanks for doing this Q&A with me, Hailey! Hope you have a merry Christmas!

Let's get to it with the Q&A!

01. Are you excited about Christmas? 

I couldn't be more excited about Christmas if I tried. I love this time of year! 

02. What are your favorite Christmas movies? 

My favorite Christmas movies are Elf, A Christmas Story, Miracle on 34th Street--all the classics--plus a Hallmark movie with Candace Cameron Bure called Let It Snow.

03. When do you start playing Christmas music? Favorite songs? 

I start playing Christmas music sometime in November--I'm ready in August, but if I started then, I feel like it would make the time until Christmas drag much too slowly! I love all of For King and Country's Christmas songs, plus this MercyMe CD--it's my mom's favorite, so it was the soundtrack to all my Christmas memories growing up.

04. What are your most favorite-est things about Christmas? 

My favorite things about Christmas include the steady stream of sweets coming into our house, my dad having two weeks off work, the excitement that's in the air wherever you go, and the way people go out of their way to give generously to their friends and even to strangers--something I want to do year-round. 

05. Which is your favorite, the weeks leading up to Christmas, Christmas Eve, or the actual Day? 

That's a tough one, but I'm going to go with Christmas Eve! For me, the hustle and bustle of parties and final exams and buying gifts is over by then, and I can just enjoy myself and anticipate the next day.

06. When do you put your decorations up? 

My family generally decorates the first or second weekend in December.

07. Do you like giving or receiving presents more? 

Receiving presents is great, of course, and I definitely tend to fall into the trap of just wanting more gift bags with my name on them. But I try to like giving presents more, and most of the time, I succeed. It's so fun to choose the perfect gift for everyone on my list, even though I'm typically on a pretty tight budget. *rolls eyes at my cheapskate self*

08. Does your family have any Christmas traditions? 

On Christmas Eve, my family goes to our church service, which ends with everyone lighting candles and singing "Silent Night." After church, we eat dinner at Krystal, which is something my dad grew up doing on Christmas Eve; then we come home, read the Christmas story from Luke 2 under our tree, and watch A Christmas Story.

09. real or artificial tree? clear or colorful lights?

Definitely a real tree* and colorful lights!

*sorry to interrupt (madeline, here) but I'm with you, girl! real trees for the win!!

10. What is your favorite food to eat around Christmastime? 

My favorite food to eat near Christmas is probably a tie between four things we normally have on Christmas day: ham, sweet potato souffle, baked pineapple, and chocolate pie. *drools*

Hope you enjoyed this Q&A!! Thanks to Vanessa for organizing this!
xoxo, madeline

my top 10 anticipated releases of 2017!

Wednesday, December 21, 2016
Christmas just seems to get closer and closer. and you know

book review // Throne of Glass

Monday, December 19, 2016
a chic bookworm
Hooray! Winter Break is here!
I don't know why it took me so long to pick up this book and read it. (probably because my library card was expired) It was amazing, and here's my review on it.

by Sarah J. Maas

After serving out a year of hard labor in the salt mines of Endovier for her crimes, 18-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien is dragged before the Crown Prince. Prince Dorian offers her her freedom on one condition: she must act as his champion in a competition to find a new royal assassin. Her opponents are men-thieves and assassins and warriors from across the empire, each sponsored by a member of the king's council. If she beats her opponents in a series of eliminations, she'll serve the kingdom for four years and then be granted her freedom. Celaena finds her training sessions with the captain of the guard, Westfall, challenging and exhilarating. But she's bored stiff by court life. Things get a little more interesting when the prince starts to show interest in her ... but it's the gruff Captain Westfall who seems to understand her best.Then one of the other contestants turns up dead ... quickly followed by another. Can Celaena figure out who the killer is before she becomes a victim? As the young assassin investigates, her search leads her to discover a greater destiny than she could possibly have imagined.

THE WHOLE BOOK. I'm kind of kidding you on this but not really. Let me break it down for you. 

- the world building. gah it was so good! details about the religion/history/etc were appropriately placed where they were needed instead of pages and pages of raw information. The world was well-developed without going overboard.

the characters. also fabulous and well-developed.

Celaena Sardothien has a puppy for goodness sake!* also: she loves clothes! finally, a character who can kill people with her bare hands and love puppies/clothes/food. the best of both worlds! She was a strong female character without being particularly manly.
 *see also: when there is a dog in a book, madeline loves this dog even more than the actual characters.

She is also probably the sassiest sassmaster you will ever meet. Basically, the whole book was a compilation of her sass towards Chaol and Dorian, but I see that as a good thing. It was so funny to read her sass.

literally Celaena the whole time.

Chaol* Westfall is the captain of the guard, and one of Celaena's potential love interests (I'll get to that in The Bad). He's pretty cool, but honestly, how the heck is he captain of the guard?? I mean, he's young, and he's never even killed anyone! I do think he has a lot of potential to develop in the next several books, though.

*I keep pronouncing his name like "kale" and picturing a leafy vegetable. how do you pronounce this??

Dorian Havilliard is the crown prince of Erilea. I personally hated him at first but grew to love him as the story went on. He is the other potential love interest in the Celaena-Love-Triangle. I personally think that Celaena would be better off with Dorian, based on the sole fact that he is the only one (maybe??) who can make her laugh. also, their chemistry seems better, in general. But what do I know? Nothing, so you can't just assume I know what I'm talking about. I'm going to open the next book and like Chaol so much more than Dorian, aren't I? who knows!

- the perspective. The book was written in third-person, which, at first, I was unsure that I would like since I usually gravitate towards books written in first-person. BUT I really enjoyed the perspective for a couple of reasons.

1) remember how I said that I love first-person books? well, this book was a teensy break from that, and it was refreshing. maybe I'll even read more third-person books now!
2) This is the big reason: we got to see perspectives other than Celaena's (!) such as the King (aka the Evil Guy), Kaltain (aka Crazy Caste-Climbing Woman), and even sometimes Dorian and Chaol (aka the Leafy Green Vegetable)

a chic bookworm

This section really should be called "the less good" because there wasn't much I dislike about the book.

-the love triangle. from previous reviews, you might know me to be a love-triangle-hater, but this one wasn't too bad. There wasn't a crazy amount of romance in this book, so I will simply tolerate the love triangle instead of glaring at it until it bursts into flames.

-the plot. I actually enjoyed the plot, but I will mention this for those of you who it might bother. The plot was a little bit similar to the Hunger Games (tributes competing for their lives with tests along the way), but I didn't mind this at all. In fact, I really like the whole idea of the competition.

Rating: ★★★★

This was a really great book! It may not make my favorite books of all time list because I don't know yet if I would read it over and over again, but it was a well-done book! I totally recommend it to all of you out there! Go forth and read it!
Thanks for reading this review!

Have you read this fabulous book?? What are your thoughts on it? Does anyone else think about leafy vegetables when they see Chaol's name? (probs just me.) Let me know in the comments!

xoxo, madeline

morning musings #1 // thoughts

Friday, December 16, 2016

So I've been MIA for a couple weeks. like I said in my November Wrap-Up, this couple weeks has been hectic with exams and shenanigans like that. but I'm back now for the winter break and better than ever!

Here is the start of a new series. Don't get me wrong, I love books and reading, but sometimes I want to discuss something else. And this is *my* own personal corner on the internet, so I shall do what I want with it. This probably won't be an every week kind of thing?? probably?

So obviously this is a series that I will post in the morning, hence, "morning musings."* I don't really have a strict format or anything like that yet for these posts. I'll figure it out as I go...

So for today at least, I am going to tell you about the previous week and the week ahead of me. things that made me happy and stuff like that. capiche? capiche. cool, peeps.

*any ideas for a witty name for this series I could use?? let me know! I mean, I like "morning musings" but any other ideas?

- I went to New Hampshire last week and experienced the first snow of the season! it was so so beautiful!! I wish I had pictures to show you but, like a doofus, I didn't take any :( but take my word for it that IT WAS BEAUTY-FUL.

- studying with friends. studying for exams is definitely not fun alone, but throw your closest friends in the mix, and now biology is bi-HOLLA-gy. sorry. that was so stupid but I had to say it. friends make studying bearable. that's the key point here. Plus, saying information out loud helps me remember it.

- I finished about 3 books this week. and I'm about to read about 10 more because it's winter vacation! You know what that means: LOTS of books reviews coming up in the next couple of weeks.

- and finally: beautiful music from Abbiee's post. Ruelle and Fleurie are my new favs when it comes to writing music. I am now inspired to make my writing playlist better than ever!

I wouldn't say that this was a horrible week, but it did have it's low points.

- when this picture sums up your whole week:
You can see that my week was absolutely great! SO FUN.

-my Bûche de Nöel. STORY TIME: I made this buche de noel (aka yule log) for french class and there was this competition for the best one and everything. So we had to drop it off to be judged before 7:45am in the morning. GUESS WHAT HAPPENED?? There was a wreck outside the school and I got to school at 7:47am. Two minutes late. It took me LITERALLY FIVE hOurs to make this thing. *flails arms angrily* Argh. I give up at bûche-ing.

But actually when I think about it again now, this whole buche-incident cracks me up.

- I read about 3 books this week. I was supposed to be studying. probably with that 400 question Biology quizlet. (see above picture)

This week, I learned that sometimes I just need TO CHILL OUT a little bit. (from the incident of the bûche and exams) If you know me personally, you would probably agree that I am probs the least chill you will ever meet. I'm pretty stressy.

Sometimes (like in the case of exams), I just need to trust myself that I'll be ok. I've already learned and tested well on the information. I will be fine with it. I have studied hard and all I can do now is have confidence.

Other times, like the situation with my yule log, I just need to laugh it off and move on. I'm still a little bit annoyed by it, but IT'S A BUCHE DE NOEL for gosh sake. I can't get that upset.

- read even more books. it's winter vacation, and you know what that means! curling up under a fluffety blanket and hot chocolate for most of the day! (it may not seem like it, but I am way behind on the number of books I want to read this year)

- run a lot, so I'm not out of shape when I go back to track practice.

- destress and relax. I've had a stressful couple of weeks, so that is just what I need right now.

- write a ton more blog posts. I'm sorry I've been MIA, but there'll be a bunch more posts in the next couple of weeks. I kind of want to do a couple of christmas photography posts...what do you think??

- BE MERRY AND BRIGHT. because it's the most wonderful time of the year, and there has been a (shocking) lack Christmas spirit so far in my house. We still need to break out the decorations and wreaths.

How has your week been?? anything happen that was really awesome? Are you excited for Christmas like I am?? let me know in the comments!! 

xoxo, madeline