Wonderland Reads - June 2016

Monday, June 27, 2016

cover images from Goodreads

Oh, hey, dear reader! :)

It's been awhile since I've done a book wrap-up (specifically, its been since last July). So, I want to repurpose my book wrap-up series and call it "Wonderland Reads."

Now, I only finished one book this month (as work has me really busy these days), but I'm really glad I jumped back into novel reading. As a bonus, I'm going to include the book I'm currently reading in this post. I'm not going to review it in full yet, but I'm going to share some preliminary thoughts with you.

Without further ado, let's get into this past month's Wonderland Reads!

What I finished: Once Upon a Dream by Liz Braswell

I'm a huge Disney fan. I'm also a huge fairy tale fan. So, finding about Liz Braswell's Twisted Tales series was pretty exciting, and finding out that it was based off the Disney movies - even being published by Disney Hyperion, so I knew it was approved - was definitely even more so.

The story plays with the idea of what would happen if the Prince fell asleep too and the Princess never woke up. The entirety of the story actually takes place in Aurora's mind, and it's up to her to use the memories she has of her waking life to guide her back, along with fighting and defeating Maleficent once and for all.

Imagine my disappointment when the story not only drastically differed from the original Disney movie in a bad way, but the characters weren't even reminiscent of their movie counterparts. Aurora was incredibly whiny and cynical, which is incredibly opposite from the Disney movie. I mean, in the movie, she's optimistic, actually falling in love with Prince Phillip at first sight, and she's heartbroken when she hears that she's betrothed to a prince, all while unbeknownst to her, Phillip from the forest is said prince. Now, she might be pretty one-note as a character, but at least it's a good story.

I actually felt sorry for Prince Phillip. He was nothing but sweet, and he truly adored Aurora, even through her constant yelling at him. Part of it is her letting out anger and frustration at Maleficent for trapping her in her own dreams, but part of it is also her questioning why she even fell in love with Prince Phillip at first sight. In addition to all this were unnecessary character deaths and an ending that just left me unsatisfied in general after such an action and magic-filled climax that seemed so promising.

So, all this being said, my final rating is 2.5 spindles out of 5.

What I'm currently reading: A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab

Now this I'm excited about.

This is the sequel to A Darker Shade of Magic, which I loved. She also wrote Vicious, one of my favorite novels of all time.

I won't go into plot details here, since I don't want to spoil any of this series for you, but it's essentially the continued adventures of Kell and Delilah Bard. So far, I'm loving the characters all over again, and V. E. Schwab has done an excellent job already of painting gorgeous settings on the page.

Stay tuned for my full thoughts on this book in the future once I finish it!

What are you reading right now? Let me know in the comments! :)

Mondays are for Music: A Few Late June Favorites (2016)

Monday, June 20, 2016

Hey, y'all! :)

I've found some amazing music lately. And because I can't wait to share it with you, I figured there was absolutely no time like the present...or today, which happens to be a Monday...which is when I usually do "Mondays are for Music" posts...

You guys know the drill. Let's get into the music!

Just click on any of the Spotify "play" buttons to open any of the songs in Spotify, or begin playing them right from this page (you may need to have Spotify open to do this).

What songs have you been into lately? Let me know down in the comments! :)

Kiki's Delivery Service

Friday, June 10, 2016

Last weekend, I had a mini Studio Ghibli marathon with some of my best friends. We watched two films: "Howl's Moving Castle" (which I ADORED, by the way) and "Kiki's Delivery Service."

The reason why I'm writing this post on "Kiki's Delivery Service" is 1) I loved this movie a whole lot, too, and 2) I can actually apply this movie to life in my twenties.

The premise is that all young witches move out of their parents' homes at thirteen for a whole year to practice their talents and do good things for the community. Kiki moves out to an adorable Swedish-inspired city filled with kind people and adventures.

The movie itself is absolutely adorable, and it's definitely worth seeing, so I won't spoil anything for you here. However, at one point in the movie, Kiki is unable to use her magic, and at that point, it seems as though she's lost everything. But once she escapes the city for a day with a new artist friend from the country, they have a conversation about inspiration, and how it sometimes comes and goes. And sometimes, we need to take a break before we can find it again.

Now, I need to make it clear that this is inspiration in the creative sense. Kiki's artist friend Ursula is a painter. She doesn't have magic to fly around on a broom or talk to an adorable black cat like Kiki does. But this perspective does affect Kiki profoundly.

It was around this point that one of my best friends told me that this is so similar to real life. Y'all, she was right.

I'm a writer. It's what I've wanted to do since college, and it's what I've always loved doing, even as a child. I can remember writing stories in spiral-bound notebooks and journals about anything and everything, and that slowly turned into writing on my laptop, whether that was blogging right here on [Savannah] in Wonderland or writing a bunch of short stories in one month to turn into a hardbound book to give to my parents on Christmas morning.

Is writing always easy? Absolutely not. It can be absolutely daunting to write something when you're not, well, feeling it. When it's as though you can't get even a single letter onto a blank page, whether it's a Word Doc or a piece of notebook paper.

There's a term for this, and it's actually as common as peanut butter and jelly: writer's block.

Kiki basically experiences writer's block. Or, in her case, it may be "magic block." She's in a situation where she's using her magic to help others, and she's built her livelihood on it, so when she loses her ability to use it, it causes her to feel down about herself. The same can apply to anyone in the creative industry, as well as us twenty-somethings who are just trying to figure out how we fit in the grand scheme of things known as the real world.

Whenever you feel uninspired, you can do a couple of things: 1) take a break or try something new, like a different or similar hobby, or a new, smaller side project that you can play around with in the meantime before jumping back into the big project you're working on; and 2) pray. Seriously, prayer can be a huge help in jumping over any kind of creative block. Maybe God wants you to focus your attention elsewhere right now, or maybe you need to look at things from a different angle.

So, all this being said, there's something to be said about this little anime movie about a little girl who moves into the big city to find herself and help others along the way. It's totally normal to feel that it's difficult to find your place in the world; sometimes, you just have to take a deep breath and look beyond your own perspective and find creative inspiration - or, better yet, find God's presence and guidance  - in a place you'd never expect.

Tiny Triumphs

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Have you ever had one of those days where it seems like everything and their twin brothers' cats are stressing you out?

I had one like that recently. And I know that it won't be the last. It's very, very easy to feel overwhelmed when stressful or even just overtly busy days come around.

But here's just one thing I've learned: focus on the tiny triumphs.

What do I mean by tiny triumphs? Well, they can be the little things that can make a dull or overwhelming day that much brighter. They can be things like:

  • Getting a front door parking spot when running an errand
  • Seeing many butterflies fly past you on your commute to and from work
  • Your favorite song coming on the radio, or playing your favorites from a mixtape or your phone
  • Getting a text or a phone call from a friend
  • Texting or calling a friend
  • Enjoying your favorite drink, coffee, or soda during a busy day
  • The sunshine through your car's sun roof
  • Hugging a friend or family member or pet(s)
  • Studying God's Word and finding a verse or passage that convicts you and speaks to you

These are just a few things that can be considered the tiny triumphs in any given day. And the tiny triumphs can build and build and build until you realize that you can in fact conquer the day you are given, there are people who love and cherish you, and everything's going to be A-OK.

Plus - and most importantly - God has your back. Never, ever forget that.

How to Choose Your Next Year's Planner

Friday, June 3, 2016

You may be looking at the title of this post, and you may be wondering, "Don't most planners start in January?"

Yes, a lot of them do...but some start as early as July or August. Such an early start can help people who are students or teachers looking to plan out their school year, or those who are ready to plunge into planning into the next year (since many of these early planners are 18-month planners, as opposed to 12 months), just to name a few. I'm also saying this because the new Erin Condren planners launched this week.

Now, before I get into this post, I want to say that I'm talking about layouts here. You can purchase any layout in nearly any format these days - ring-bound, coiled, inserts for a Filofax, etc - so it's become easier than ever to find the planner that's right for you. Because of this, keep in mind that your agenda needs may be suited for a smaller or larger-size planner. Just browse around and see what's right for you.

Also, these are just my opinions, so again, please check any planner out for yourself before you dive in financially.

So, with this in mind, what kind of planner should you choose? Let's talk about that.

You might want to consider a Horizontal/Academic style planner if:
  • You are a student and only need one or two lines per subject or class
  • You use to-do lists primarily
  • You want room to decorate with stickers
Planners include: Erin Condren, Paper Source, Kate Spade, Rifle Paper Co., Filofax, Kikki K, May Books

You might want to consider a Vertical layout (days aligned in columns) if:
  • You need to categorize your day into to-do's, work, housework, any of your children, etc.
  • You need ample space to write everything you need to accomplish, but not necessarily on an hour-by-hour basis
  • You want ample room to decorate with stickers
Planners include: Erin Condren, Plum Paper, Paper Source, Sew Much Crafting vertical inserts (found on Etsy), MAMBI Happy Planner

You might want to consider an Hourly/Daily layout if:
  • Your work is very time-sensitive
  • You work in a field where you book appointments well in advance by the hour (I can see this being great for teachers, some students, photographers, wedding/event planners, etc.)
  • Your planning is primarily functional (but you can still add stickers if you so desire...I've seen hourly layouts decorated extremely well)

Planners include: Erin Condren, Day Designer

So, the bottom line is...purchase the planner and/or agenda that works best for your needs. There are SO many out there to choose from, but go with the one that will help you actually plan the best. After all, you can take on the world, one step at a time...or at least pen stroke by pen stroke. :)

What planner are you using this year? Let me know in the comments below! :)