Thursday, December 31, 2015

My Year in Books

I'm really pleased with the amount of reading I accomplished in 2015. Towards the end of 2014, I remember looking at my bookshelves and realizing I hardly did any reading that year. I think it was, like, 10 books. I've always loved reading, so I didn't know what had happened. Was I too busy? Too lazy? Too distracted by Saints Row IV and World of Warcraft? While those are all good contributors, they're not good excuses; so I decided to make a reading goal of 50 books for 2015. It sounded like a lot (compared to 2014's 10 or so books, anyway) but I knew I could do it, because I used to do it all the time! Now I'm happy to report that I not only read my goal of fifty books, but I surpassed it by two books! Yay!

Anyway, today on Goodreads I found these little infographs made from the books you read during the year! I love that kind of stuff.

- So the 52 books I read amounted to 11,781 pages. Honestly, I expected a little more. I think this is because I read slowly, and just feel like it should amount to more considering the time I spent reading them. Ah, well. Reading is reading.

- The longest book I read was The Sweet Far Thing, by Libba Bray. This is the third book in the Gemma Doyle Trilogy. I had read the first two books sometime during my teen years, and in 2015 I realized I'd never finished the series.

- The shortest book I read was The World Needs More Love Letters, by Hannah Brencher. If I had realized I'd be writing about this later, I probably wouldn't have added this book on Goodreads. Oops! Still a cute book. You can read my review on it here.

- The most popular book I read was Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, by Ransom Riggs. While this was a good book that I know is super popular, I was surprised that the winner wasn't The Martian, Fangirl, or The Night Circus. This is why reading stats is fun! You can read my review on Miss Peregrine's right here.

- The least popular book I read was Geek Anthropology of Loki's Army, by my buddy Pepi. Please note that this is not because it's a bad book (I gave it five stars!) - it just means that not enough people have read it yet! So I'm using this as a chance to shamelessly plug her work. If you're a fan of superheroes, comics, and being generally awesome, check out her blog! If you're a fan of the Thor/Loki-verse and being generally awesome, READ HER BOOK! You can read my review of her book here!

- My average rating for books was a 3.7. Yeah, I'm difficult.

Partially true.

I also read more comics in 2015 that I have, in...probably ever. I used to read a lot of manga (like a lot, eeek), but I'm not counting that. I'm talking about regular, issue-by-issue comics. I used to find them a little intimidating because there was just so much of everything, and I didn't know where to start. Not surprisingly, the answer was easy - start wherever the hell you want. Even though they're shorter than novels, I decided to let them count in my 50 book reading goal. The only rule was I couldn't count them until I'd read a full volumes worth. So for example, I didn't count issue #32 of Saga, because it's just one 30-or-so page comic and it's not released in a volume/book format yet. But I did count volumes 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 of Saga, because each volume had 5 issues and it's a heftier read. So here's just a few of the series I tackled this year:

- Afterlife with Archie / Although it's taking so long for more issues to come out that I'm almost wishing I'd never started it. It's such a great series, waiting for more issues is torture! Review here.

- The X-Files: Season 10 / A MUST read for any X-Files fan! The art was sometimes a little inconsistent with this series (a personal pet peeve of mine, I'm trying to work on it), but the story is solid. The things that happen in the comics are considered canon for the whole series, but I recently read that the events might not line up with the new season airing later in January, because not enough people were reading the comics. So that's too bad :(

- Rat Queens / So many badass females in one comic, I love it! I might actually be a little behind on these. Time to go check...

- The Deadpool Killogy / A cool idea but an alright comic. I learned a lot more about Deadpool though, so I'm still glad I read it. Review here.

- Saga / I just finished this series, so I'll be writing about it more soon! I'm so obsessed with it right now @_@

Last January I also made a 2015 reading list, which wasn't about the number of books I'd read that year, but listing some of the specific books I wanted to read that year. It was a list of fourteen books. I read five of them. What is my problem? Hahahah. I was planning on writing a 2016 reading list, but now I'm a little embarrassed. Maybe I'll still do it.....I clearly love making lists.

Now for 2016 I'm trying to decide whether I want to make the goal larger (55? 60?) or keep it the same. I'm leaning towards keeping it the same. I don't really want to make it a game, I just want to make sure I keep reading, you know? Tell me your reading goals for 2016, or how you did with your 2015 reading! Happy New Year, friends!

Source: Quirk & Wilhelm Books

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

A Day in the Life

Happy (late) Tuesday! I hope everyone had a great Christmas! Now let's get ready for New Years :P

This month I decided to participate in the A Day in the Life Project. You pick one day out of the month, and take a photo for each hour of your day (the hours you're awake, anyway). I decided to try doing this on Christmas Eve, because every holiday I kick myself in the butt for not taking enough photos, and I thought this might be a fun reminder. So how did I do? great. And the pictures I did take I don't find super exciting. I'm still glad that I at least I gave it a shot, so I decided to share my efforts anyway. Maybe this challenge will help me work on my photography skills? Ah, well...let's see how this goes.

7:00 am

Even though I really wanted to sleep in, I subconsciously woke up early because that's all I'd been doing for weeks. I decided to pick up my book and see if reading could help put me back to sleep again (and it did). Right now I'm reading Library of Souls, by Ransom Riggs.

9:00 am

When I woke up again, I made some coffee and started wrapping the gifts I was taking to my families house later that day, which is where Andrew and I would be spending Christmas Eve. As you can see, I'm really great at wrapping gifts.

10:00 am

Then, since I was watching The X-Files while wrapping gifts, I got caught up in a 2-parter and had to watch another one. Of course.

12:00 pm

After brunch, Andrew and I exchanged gifts! Since we'd be spending the rest of Christmas Eve (and Christmas Day) with my family, we decided to keep one part between us and opened our gifts to each other early. One of the things I got Andrew was the board game Arkham Horror, which he'd been wanting for a long time but never bought himself because WHY are board games so expensive now?! I didn't think to take a picture while we were opening gifts, but afterwards we opened up his game to check out the pieces.

4:00 pm

This is when my picture taking went really downhill. After exchanging gifts, Andrew and I just kinda hung out (I was feeling especially lazy because I was sick) until we needed to get ready to go to my families here's an awkward shot of my legs and purse in the car with the gifts by my feet on our way over.

5:00 pm

My family decided to forgo tree ornaments this year and instead scattered plush toys all over the tree. Half of which are Snuggle Bears, hahah.

6:00 pm

I think it's safe to say that a big part of any holiday is FOOD :) My families thing is to just hang out with each other, playing games or whatever, eating sweets and finger food until we go to church that evening. Please note the THREE different types of fudge on the table.

7:00 pm

My younger brother was super excited for us to open the gifts he made us, so convinced us that it'd be ok to open them before church (we usually open gifts after). He's been learning how to do all sorts of things using GIMP and used his new skills to make pictures for all of us, each featuring our cat, Leo. This is the picture he made for our older brother! I sort of cheated here by uploading the digital copy of the picture...but wouldn't you rather see the better quality one, rather than a picture of a picture? Yeah.

11:00 pm

Here's where I messed up, again. I meant to take some sort of picture signifying "this is when we were heading to church," or something like that around 9pm. And I forgot. My close friend and her family went to our church that night, so I though "awe maybe I can get a nice picture of her and I together afterwards." And I forgot. I didn't think to take another picture until after we got home, after we all exchanged gifts. So here's a couple of this things I got. I can't wait to play Star Munchkin!

12:00 am (woah it's getting late)

My parents got themselves a La-z-Boy recliner for Christmas and were eager to use it. So here's me being a jerk and taking pictures, while it took four people to put the chair together :)

12:45 am

After the chair thing, Andrew and I headed home. I was way overdue for a dose of Nyquil and I had to get some sleep if I was going to make it back the next day. Before going to bed we added the ornament my mom gave Andrew for Christmas onto our tiny Charlie Brown Christmas tree! Isn't Yoda cute?

Then I took my Nyquil and slept like a baby. The end :) 

Monday, December 21, 2015

How to Get ARC Books (and Not Be a Jerk About It)

A question I often get is "how do you get ARC books?" Or if it's a non-blogger asking then it's more like, "why do you get free books in the mail all the time?" I'm by no means a "big" blogger, but I do have a hefty pile of ARC's (Advance Reader Copies) on my shelf. Once you know where to look, getting them isn't hard. So I thought I'd try my best at making a (hopefully) detailed and comprehensive post on how I've been able to receive ARC's. I won't be covering every outlet out there, because there's a lot of ARC resources I don't actually use. Most of these resources are for bloggers (although I suppose the same rules apply for booktubers) - but even if you're not a blogger you still have a few options, which I'll cover as well. I've also included some ARC etiquette, because - not naming names - but there are some bloggers that go wild with "oooh free stuff!" and it drives me crazy. If you have any other questions that aren't covered here, feel free to ask. I'll try my best to answer! If I can't, I'll refer you to a cooler book blogger that can.

Part 1 - How to Find ARC's

If you've never received an ARC then finding where to look for them is the hardest part (but will soon be super easy once you've gotten the hang out it). These are only a few ways to get them, but they are also my favorite and the methods I've had the most luck with.

1. Ask the Publisher - Offers aren't just going to flood your inbox if you don't put yourself out there, so don't be scared to ask for an upcoming book that you're interested in reviewing. The worst thing that can happen is they'll say no. Which they might, but how will you know until you try? Don't be scared of rejection! Find the publishers website and look for the email of the publicity department. Write a short and professional message including:
  • A link to your blog and a brief description on what your blog is about. Adding blog stats is helpful, but not necessary. Also a brief description on what your blog is about.
  • Some social media links. I usually stick with Instagram, Twitter, and sometimes Bloglovin' (Bloglovin' isn't my favorite, but your blog profile page is an easy and quick way for people to get a general idea on what your blog is about, without having to scroll though your actual blog posts). I don't use Pinterest, YouTube, or G+ very much so I don't bother linking those. Just send whatever you keep regularly updated.
  • The book you'd like to review. Be specific, don't just be like, "hey can I haz book plz."
  • Why they should send it to you. Give them a good reason - remember it costs them time and money to send you a book. Is this the type of book that would really appeal to your blog audience?
  • Your address. "But Natalie I don't want to give out my address if they're not even going to accept my request, can't I do it later?" I mean, I guess you could, but you're just increasing your chances of the publisher ignoring you. They won't always want to take the time to respond to your email and be like "ok sure what's your address?" then wait for you to give it to them, and then go ship it off to you. If you include your address in the original email, what sometimes happens is they'll just ship your book without even responding to your original email. Surprise!
  • A thank you. Because duh.

2. Book publisher blogs
- If you don't feel comfortable sending an unsolicited email request, keep an eye on book publishing blogs. Most big publishers (and small ones) keep a blog somewhere on their website. Sometimes they'll share about upcoming books and mention having ARC's to send out if anyone is interested. You'll still have to e-mail them, but at least it's not randomly. If you're lucky (and if they like your content) they'll keep your contact information on hand and reach out to YOU next time they have ARC's. This is how I started writing reviews for Quirk Books :)

3. Blogging for Books - This site is super easy to use and often has great titles to choose from. The books here aren't always technically "ARC's", sometimes they're just new books, or an older book being republished in a new version or with a new cover or something (for example, a book that came out last year, but was just recently published in paperback is likely to show up here). All you need to do is sign up on the website (you will need a blog for this) and pick out your book! After you've read the book, write about it on your blog and also share it on the Blogging for Books site. There's no deadline, but you must write your review and share it on the site before requesting another book. Your blog stats don't matter here, everyone is accepted! Another cool thing is that you don't have to wait and see if you've been approved for the book you select. If you find a book you want, just click "request a review copy" and boom! It's on its way! In my experience they ship really fast, too!

4. Shelf Awareness Pro - Shelf Awareness is a daily newsletter for people in the book trade (I don't know if having a blog puts you in the "book trade," but it's just a newsletter so we can pretend here). While the actual content and articles are interesting, if you're looking for ARC's then you need to check out the ads. In my experience these books usually take a little while to arrive, but not all the books are from the same publishers so I can't speak for all of them. There are two different newsletters you can sign up for, so make sure to pick the PRO option. Each newsletter will include sidebar and banner ads for various books coming out, and many of them you can click and request an ARC. It'll look something like this:

5. Make it easy to contact you - Sounds like a no brainer, but figured I'd add it anyway. Make sure it's easy to find your email address on your blog. If it's easy to locate and you've made it clear that you accept books to review, eventually someone will e-mail and ask you to read their book. In my experience I've only had this happen with smaller companies and self published authors (which is not a bad thing, just something worth noting). If you don't like putting your e-mail in an easy to spot place (privacy reasons and all that), it's understandable, but it really lessens your chances of getting books. You can have your privacy or you can get free books. We can't have everything!

6. Bonus websites and resources I haven't actually used - Here's a few more places to check out. I haven't tried these so unfortunately I won't be much help troubleshooting, but if you have a lot of luck with them let me know! If you have another resource you like, leave a comment and I'll add it here!

Part 2 - Don't be a Jerk About It

Ok, now you're a pro and everyone in the universe wants to send your their ARC's. Yay! But here's a couple things to keep in mind.

1. You don't need to (and shouldn't) take any book you can get - Scenario - Let's pretend that Scholastic is looking for people to review the newest Harry Potter book - but you hate Harry Potter. It might seem tempting to request one because you know everyone wants to know about the new Harry Potter book, so should you get it? No! Ugh. But why not?
  • Publishers won't like it - Requesting a book you don't like obviously means you'll have a write a review on a book you didn't like. Publishers will see the reviews you're writing (because you're making sure to share it with them, right?). Obviously you're not expected to enjoy every book you read, but if they notice you requested a book you weren't even interested in reading, guess who's going to have a harder time getting books from now on? And no, don't lie about enjoying the book. You're not that great at lying.
  • Other bloggers won't like it - Mainly because they really wanted to review the new Harry Potter book, but Scholastic ran out of ARC copies. And they love Harry Potter, so the fact that you got one and they didn't will make them bitter and not want to read your blog anymore. I'm not saying we all have to be BFF's in the blogging community, but don't go out of your way to make enemies. THE INTERNET NEVER FORGETS.
  • You won't like it - Seriously. Why make yourself read a book that's not even your type? There will always be more books to get. So just don't do it.

2. You won't like all the books (even when you think you will)
 - Now, let's say you requested a book that you thought you'd like, but unfortunately didn't. It happens. You should still write an honest review, but if you're going to say you didn't like the book then you need to say why you didn't like it. Saying "it wasn't my type of book" or "the characters drove me crazy," doesn't tell people anything. Go in depth and explain why you didn't like these things. Just because you weren't interested in reading about that alien love triangle doesn't mean that no one else will; and if you simply say a book sucks with no explanation then you're turning people off from a book they might actually love! That isn't fair to the publisher that sent it to you. Back in August I wrote an almost 20 paragraph review on The Book of Strange New Things - a book I absolutely hated. While a bit messy, I think it might be the longest and most in depth book review I've ever I fueled by hatred? Maybe. Anyway, I didn't like the book, but I was very specific on what rubbed me the wrong way, because everyone isn't going to hate the same things I do.

3. Don't take on more than you can read in a timely manner - UNLESS you've specified that you won't be reviewing the book for (x) amount of time. Some people will be ok with this, but some are looking to have reviews by a specific deadline (especially if it's a book that isn't released to the public yet). I think it's especially rude to ask for a specific book, only to take ten million years to read and review it. I'm not a fast reader, and recently I had to turn down a book offer because the author asked if I could read it and have a review out in two weeks. I was tempted by the offer, but with work, other books, and regular life crap, the timeline just wasn't realistic and I didn't want to burn a bridge with the author.
Part  3 - What if I'm not a blogger?

Then what's your problem? Just kidding. If you don't have a blog there are still a few options, but books will be harder to come by. Honestly, if you want free books then you're better off going to the library (secret: I see ARC books in the library book store ALL THE TIME, except they're not supposed to be sold, didn't hear that from me).

1. First to Read - This is run through Penguin Books, and while you don't need a blog, you're encouraged to write a review on the website. But! You get points for it. The way it works is you sign up, and when you pick your ARC (digital copies only, but the major upside is that there's a lot of popular authors to choose from), you're entered for a chance to receive it. There's no guarantee that you'll get it, but even if you never get picked there are ways around this. The more you participate on the site - requesting books, sharing books, reading book excerpts, taking surveys - the more points your earn. The points can be used to purchase guaranteed access to an ebook on the site. I don't use First to Read much anymore, but last year I used it to read the newest Ken Follett book, because I had no interest in paying $39.95 for it.

2. Goodreads First Reads - Goodreads is always hosting hundreds of giveaways for books, including ARC's. You just click enter and accept. It works like a raffle, so obviously your chances of winning aren't too great. I've entered quite a few and have never won anything! Maybe your luck will be better than mine. I mean, someone has to win, so why not you? If you DO win, you're not required to write a review; but again, you're encouraged to write one on Goodreads. A Goodreads review doesn't have to be as long or thorough as a blog review, so if you have time to request a free book, you can make time to write a Goodreads review.

3. Blog giveaways - Follow some book bloggers with similar reading tastes as yours. Bloggers love hosting giveaways! Also, book bloggers are often looking for a way to trade or get rid of their ARC's (because when you no longer need them it's tragic to throw them away, but you're not allowed to sell them or donate them to another place that will attempt to sell them).


I hope this has been even the slightest bit helpful :) Don't forget about me when you become famous and are writing book reviews for Kirkus. If you have any other resources you'd like to recommend I'd love to hear about them! I'll check them out and maybe add them into this post. Now go forth, and read!

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Bookish (and not-so Bookish) Thoughts #15

It's almost Christmas! It's almost Christmas! Aaaahhhh! Are you ready yet?! I'm not. Hahahah. Sorry I'm posting this on a Thursday instead of a Wednesday, I was too tired to finish it last night :P

Star Wars Christmas Stocking Boba Fett

1. I'm so close to meeting my 50 book reading goal for the year! So close. I may or may not have picked up some graphic novels from the library to make sure I finish it before the year's over.

2. Another reason I'm reading a lot of comics/graphic novels right now is because I learned that the library I order most of my comics from won't be in the same library system as my town anymore. Jerks. So yeah, I have a long list to catch up on. I hope you like comic reviews!

3. Did you know that Litographs - one of my favorite companies that I don't actually own anything from - has its own book club? You can choose between four different books, because yay variety!

Litographs Book Club

4. Don't buy this. Buy a bottle (or two, or three) of Seche Vite Dry Fast top coat instead. I don't know why I bother trying new top coats or whatever new "long lasting!" polish anymore, I always go back to Seche Vite -_- The gold (named Game of Chromes, heheh) IS pretty, though...I'll continue to use it on the days I don't feel the need for super long lasting polish.

Sally Hansen Miracle Gel

5. More on nail polish - can anyone recommend a a neon/highlighter yellow polish that ISN'T super streaky and requires five million coats? Life is hard.

6. I have, like, ten things being shipped through FedEx right now (Christmas shopping, yay). First of all, they're taking FOREVER to get here. I know it's the holiday season and everything, but still. So. Slow. Second - and this is the bigger issue - they keep trying to deliver my things (the very few that have been shipped) at the same time, 10am, every morning! But during the week I'm at work every day at 10am! And the days I am home in the morning are of course the same three days that FedEx doesn't do deliveries. I've tried leaving the little signed slips on the door to just leave the package on the doorstep, for for some reason they aren't doing it...maybe I did it wrong? Anyway, after they threatened to send my package back to the company I gave up and registered for some FedEx Delivery Manager thing, and now I can pick them up from a FedEx location instead. Luckily there is one right down the street from work. Ok, I'm done. Sorry. /rant over

7. The new Fallout Shelter decorations are so cute! Still obsessed with this app.

Fallout Shelter Christmas

8. ...and finally...I'm seeing Star Wars tomorrow!!! I can't wait! This week has been so crazy and
I'm going to be so tired and sleep deprived in the theater, but that's ok! I'd be there at midnight if they'd let me! STAR WARRRRSSSSSSS!!!

Me right now.

Bookish (and not-so Bookish) Thoughts is hosted every Wednesday by Bookishly Boisterous!

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

My #Nerdvember Outfits! ~ Part 2

We're back for part twooo! Last month I explained how I was participating in a month long challenge called #Nerdvember, where you dress in nerdy themed outfits every day of November! You can read more about this and see my outfits from days 1 - 10 in my last #Nerdvember post :)


Today I wanted to share the rest of my outfits I wore during the month! Some I'm really happy with, some were rushed and I'm kind of meh on. BUT I still managed to participate in more days than I did last year (23 days last year, 26 this year), which was a goal I was hoping to accomplish. This recap is a lot longer than the first one I wrote...I didn't want to make the first one too long because at the time I didn't have much confidence that I'd continue through the rest of the month, and I didn't want to second recap to be like, two paragraphs, hahah! So this post is longer, but I guess it's better than the alternative...

Day 12 - Rocky Horror So Thursday/Friday/Saturday/Sunday was a crazy busy few days for me. My outfits phoned it on those days...embarrassing, but it is what it is. On day 12 I wore my Rocky Horror hoodie, that I got from the theatre when we did Rocky Horror last year (we did it this year too, but the hoodie is from last years show). I think wearing buttons on hoodies is weird, so I pinned my Rocky Horror Picture Show button on the strap of my bag!

Day 13 - Dr. Seuss The reason I was busy those four days was because we were putting on Seussical the Musical at the theatre, and I had my "regular" job to work on top of that. I usually try to schedule them so I only work one of my jobs each day, but that's not always the case. Anyway, day 13 was opening night of the show, so I wore my Horton Hears a Who button to go with the theme.

Day 14 - Aquaman My favorite superhero! I wish I had more Aquaman stuff, but obviously Aquaman stuff is a little harder to come by compared to, like, Batman and all those guys. Lame. I paired my Aquaman t-shirt with my fishy earrings :)
Shirt: Thrifted (similar, different colors but same image) / Earrings: Betsey Johnson (old)

Day 15 - Camera Fail So there's no picture for day 15, but I just wanted to take a sec and SWEAR I actually did something! I was wearing my awesome Tolkien tank from Jordandene, and I had a little leaf pendent on. And then what happened? My camera stopped working. The camera in my brand new phone; I was so upset. I have a regular camera, but by the time I'd realized my phone camera wasn't working I was already stuck at the theatre for the day. By the time I got home I was feeling tired and lame, and...honestly, I kind of forgot by the time I got home. It was late, hahah. (Also, my phone's camera is fixed now, yay!)

Day 17 - Arrested Development - Another rough day, so when I got home from my "regular" job (with a dress code, so I can't really nerd it up over there), I just threw on my softest t-shirt. I love Arrested Development, Gob is my fav.
Shirt: Target (no longer at Target, but it's on Amazon now!)

Day 18 - X-Files I love, love, loooooooooooooove my I Want to Believe shirt from Jordandene! I also want to order the The Truth is Out There shirt (in green!),  but I'm making myself wait until after I've finished Christmas shopping. I paired it with two X-Files bracelets I made last month.
Shirt: Jordandene / Bracelets: handmade, but here's the glass beads I used.

Day 19 - Fullmetal Alcehmist I wanted to start trying to make a few "closet cosplay" type outfits, rather than just being like "hey look at this cool t-shirt I have." It's harder than I thought! For day 19 I tried copying Edward Elric from my favorite anime, Fullmetal Alchemist. He wears black with a red cloak type thing, so I went with a black top and my plain red hoodie (the only remaining piece of red clothing I have from working at Target two years ago). He also wears his hair in a braid. My hair is a lot more layered than I remembered, so when I started braiding I realized I couldn't make the braid very long or pieces of hair would stick out all weird, hahah! And of course Edward isn't complete without his brother Alphonse, so I added a pin of Alphonse holding a kitty <3
Pin: garage sale / Hoodie: Hanes

Day 20 - Gamer Geek I had to keep things subtle that day, so I put on my Gamer Geek necklace from Femmecraft Jewelry! You can't tell in the picture, but the red background is glitter! I wrote a whole post on this awesome shop last year, check it out if you want to learn a little more. I was browsing the shop again the other day and found this jellyfish necklace! I'm obsessed with jellyfish, I love going to the aquarium just so I can stare at the jellyfish all day. You can customize the colors too, so I was thinking keeping the blue background, but making the jellyfish a light purple? Yet another thing that has to wait until after the holidays...

Day 21 - Aquaman (Round 2) On the 21st I woke up and said to Andrew, "I feel like being Aquaman today." So I pulled out my Aquaman leggings and top, which I love to wear but don't often wear together anymore (unless I'm specifically trying to dress in costume). Instead of Aquaman's black underwear I went with a regular pair of denim shorts though, hahah. I wish I had remembered to wear my jellyfish earrings, too!
Shirt: Hot Topic website, same one here. / Leggings: Etsy

Day 22 - Sealab Another one of my favorite-no-longer-running-shows (the list is long *sadface*) is Sealab 2021. I stole the Captain Murphy shirt from Andrew a couple years ago, muahahahah. I matched it with a few more of my underwater themed accessories. Can you tell that my earrings are octopus? Whenever people see them they either like "cool, octopus!" or, "what is that sqiggly blob thing?" Hahah.
Shirt: Stolen (Andrew says he got it at Hot Topic a long time ago) / Earrings: Thrifted (but here's a cooler version from Etsy) / Pin: Gifted (similar)

Day 23 - Darth Vader Man, I sure bought a lot of clothes when I still worked at Ross. I had originally bought this Darth Vader shirt for Andrew, but it was too short for him. Since I have literally never had the problem of something being too short on me...another piece in my closet. If it's hard to see, Vader has two ATAT's as pets, and is taking them out for a walk like any good pet owner. I think it's cute...even if it's implied that the ATAT's are like dogs (I hate dogs).
Shirt: Bought at Ross, but here's the same one in blue.

Day 24 - Dana Scully (aka X-Files Round 2) Like I mentioned earlier, I was trying to pull together more closet-cosplay type outfits. I don't know why I didn't realize I already had the pieces for Scully?! I made the badge months ago, for no reason other than I wanted one. It was easy, I just found the ID image online and laminated it :) Even though it's one of the easiest, I think this is my favorite outfit/picture from #Nerdvember!

Day 25 - Lumpy Space Princess My shirt was the wrong shade of purple, but I made that star necklace to make up for it! I thought I HAD to have something with a yellow star around SOMEWHERE, but I didn't, so I whipped up a little star pendent out of seed beads.

Day 27 - Hello Kitty (Round 3) MORE Hello Kitty! I know Croc's are supposed to be a big fashion no-no, but I can't help it (also I just don't care enough) - I LOVE my Croc's. I've always hated wearing "real shoes," and even in the middle of winter I leave the house in flip flops if Andrew doesn't catch me and be like "this is why you get sick!!!" But ever since I got my Croc's this Summer I haven't worn my flip flops ONCE. Croc's are everything, you guys. They also sell these things called Jibbitz, which are basically little bling you can put on your Croc's. There were so many options, but I decided to go minimalist Hello Kitty by just getting her bow. I kind of want to get this Star Wars pack, though!
Crocs: Classic (in black) / Bow Jibbitz: Hello Kitty Pearl / Earrings: Michaels (similar)

Day 28 - Plants vs Zombie Pirates This is such an awesome video game, but what I love the most are all the creative zombie designs! It's not super duper clear that I'm wearing the pins in the picture, but I am! I just wanted to take the picture further back so you could see my pirate flag, hahah.
Pins: Won in a giveaway! Saw a bunch on Ebay, though. / Vest: Mossimo Supply Co. (aka Target) / Striped shirt: Old Navy (similar at Target, in "heather grey/crystal pink.") 

Day 29 - Starry Night Star Wars This is one of my favorite shirts, but I don't wear it as often as I want because it hangs low in the chest, hahah. I'm in love with the design, though! It mixes two things I love, Star Wars and art :) I've seen a lot of artsy people complaining about the whole art being incorporated into pop culture stuff trend, but honestly, I love it. I feel like the trend started with "Vincent and the Doctor," but who knows. My mom was an art teacher, and growing up we spent a lot of time learning about artists and going to museums. Having that aspect of my life meet up with my favorite fandoms is really exciting! The other day when I was scrolling through the #Nerdvember tag on Insta I saw a girl with a Star Wars + Gustav Klimt shirt. It was so badass! I wish I remembered who was wearing it... >_< I also found this Batman Starry Night shirt (ON SALE) which I'm totally obsessed with, and totally almost bought. But guess who doesn't need to spend more money on herself? (Answer: me.)
Shirt: Fifth Sun (similar - same design but not the same tank) / Earrings: Target (it's a set of three pairs!)

Day 30 - Charlie Brown I was hoping to end #Nerdvember with a bang, but being extremely cold and tired won out. It's always fun going places in my Charlie Brown shirt (or sometimes it's awful, depending on my mood and willingness to talk to people that day). People always recognize it and say "hey, you're Charlie Brown!" Hahah.
Shirt: Charles M. Schulz Museum / Vest: See the one from the Plants vs Zombies image :P

Phew, and now that it's December, I'm finally done! Twenty-six days of nerdiness = complete. I had a lot of fun, but right now I'm wearing a cozy, super boring outfit...and it feels pretty awesome.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Bookish (and not-so Bookish) Thoughts #14

Good morning friends! Its been awhile since I wrote one of these. Back to it :)

But first - happy almost Thanksgiving! I won't be blogging tomorrow so I'm saying it now. Do you have any awesome plans? I'll just be chilling with Andrew and my family, eating too much food and then feeling bad about it and then eating more food. It'll be awesome.

Pusheen Thanksgiving

1. I've been sort of in a reading slump lately, but the last book I finished was Choose Your Own Autobiography, by Neil Patrick Harris. Overall it was a fun read, but nothing I'd really write home about (but would apparently blog about...huh). I enjoyed his writing; it's funny and clever, but the layout of the book is what got to me. It's set up like a Choose Your Own Adventure Book, which in theory sounds really cool. Unfortunately, if you're actually interested in learning about the life of Neil Patrick Harris, it's not the easiest format to work with. It hops around from different points in his life, with a bunch of humorous fake chapters thrown in, and unless you start the book over and over again you're never going to get the full story. My favorite parts were when he wrote about his career in theatre and hosting the Tony Awards multiple times :)

Choose Your Own Autobiography

2. I got my first smart phone last week! Yeah, welcome to the 21st century, Natalie. On the downside, I'm not on my parents phone plan anymore...#adulting. Also, my new phone is strangely huge. It's kind of nice having such a big screen, but the phone doesn't fit in any of my pockets! So if I want to bring my phone with me I either have to bring my purse, or just hold it in my hand (first world problems, I KNOW).

So animal multi-tools are a thing. I totally don't need one, but aren't they fun to look at? I can't stop watching this gif! You can get one for $20 on

4. Can someone tell what the big deal is about Snapchat? I don't get it. I installed it last weekend because I wanted to enter the Quirksgiving Challenge, and one of the challenges I needed to do was send them a snap of some of my Quirk books (which I also posted on Instagram, because idk). So I took the picture and logged into Snapchat and tried to look where to upload the picture I took. Then I realized that the point is actually to take the picture with the camera IN Snapchat, not to upload your own. Luckily I finally figured out how to upload my own anyway. But again, I don't really see the point. You're just sharing pictures, pictures that don't even last, because they delete themselves after people view them, or something like that. So doesn't that just make it like Instagram?! Like what's the upside of all my Snaps disappearing? One of the things I like about taking pictures and using Instagram is documenting memories. OR if you just want to send the picture to one specific person, why wouldn't you just text it to them? Help me figure this out, guys,

5. One of the first apps I put on my new phone was the game Fallout Shelter, which I've been wanting to play foooorrrrrrrever! There's not much to the game, but it still manages to be super addicting. It's basically like The Sims, but you don't create your characters and there's a lot more of them to take care of. It takes place in the same universe as Fallout, but you act as the overseer of your own vault. You build it however you want, and you attract new dwellers to your vault, and you have to assign them jobs to keep the vault running properly while also keeping them really happy. The other day they added some holiday touches to everyone's vaults so your dwellers can enjoy Thanksgiving, too :P Here are two closeups from my vault:

Fallout Shelter

That's from the water treatment facility. The dwellers with higher stats like to get a little salty sometimes >_> Below shows some of the Thanksgiving stuff in the dining room! There's more decorations in the sleeping quarters, but there weren't any people inside there at the time, which is boring. Hahah.

6. I just finished (like literally, 15 minutes ago) volume 1 of the comic series Kill Shakespeare.

"What Fables does for fairy tales, Kill Shakespeare does with the greatest writer of all time. This dark take on the Bard pits his greatest heroes (Hamlet, Juliet, Othello, Falstaff) against his most menacing villains (Richard III, Lady Macbeth, Iago) in an epic adventure to find and kill a reclusive wizard named William Shakespeare."

Kill Shakespeare volume 1

It sounded really interesting, but right now I'm still pretty "meh" about it. The writing is good (if you're into Shakespeare) but I wasn't really into the art. It wasn't bad, but it wasn't particularly interesting, so it got pretty boring after awhile. Another thing I wasn't sure about was how the original Shakespeare story lines work in the Kill Shakespeare universe. I mean three of our heroes (Hamlet, Juliet, Othello) very clearly died in their plays, but here they are. Same thing goes for almost all the other characters we meet. So I thought, ok, maybe this is before all that happened. But later in the story when Othello and Iago meet up, there's some tension that's very clearly caused from the events in the play. So, I don't know. I imagine this question has already been asked/answered somewhere else so I'll go look into that.

I guess that's all for today. Have a good Thanksgiving! And stock up on peppermint tea in case you eat too much!! Booking (and not-so Bookish) Thoughts is hosted every Wednesday on Bookishly Boisterous :)

Friday, November 20, 2015

My #Nerdvember Outfits! ~ Part 1

Earlier in the month, I talked about a fun little challenge called #Nerdvember! It's hosted by the blog Set To Stunning, and as the title implies it happens every November ;) The goal is to wear and photograph yourself in a geeky themed outfit every day (or as many days as possible...or as many days as you want, I won't tell you how to live your life) in November. How many days you participate in determines which prize tier you're eligible for. Although just because you complete X amount of days doesn't automatically mean you win anything, #Nerdvember is more about having fun than winning prizes! I participated last year and completed 23 days and was hoping that this year I could top that. So far I've already missed a couple days, so I guess we'll see what happens, hahah.

Anyway! I thought it'd be fun to share a round-up of my outfits so far. Some I'm more proud of than others. The rules state that technically you only need to be wearing one piece of themed clothing to count. I try to make it at least two pieces when I can, but sometimes when I'm in a hurry - or just sick and feeling crappy, as I am right now - a t-shirt is as good as it's gonna get :( Since I don't do a whole lot of clothes shopping, most of the pieces you'll see are relatively old-ish. I'll provide the links to items when I can, or links to very similar items if I can't find the exact same thing (heads up: some of which might be affiliate links - this means if you click on the link and decide to buy something I get a very tiny percentage of the sale, providing me with a few bucks to pay my rent.)

Day 1 - Wicket! Alright so day one was SORT OF cheating, but hear me out. I was at work from 6pm on October 31st to about 3:30am that night/morning of November 1st.. So I left my house when it was technically Halloween, and I wore my Ewok hood until I got home at 4am the next day. So TECHNICALLY I was dressed as an Ewok for four and half hours on November 1st. So it counts. Right?
Ewok hood: handmade by my mom (similar one on Etsy!)

Day 2 - Hello Kitty Pajama Time On day 2 I was exhausted (from day 1, also I hurt my leg being dumb), so once I got back from work I threw on my cozy Hello Kitty robe, socks, and called it a day. As you can tell, #Nerdvember was off to a great start for me.
Robe: Kohl's (similar) / Socks: Gifted (similar-ish)

Day 3 - Beauty and the Beast I love these Beauty and the Beast pins my mom gave me, it's my favorite Disney movie! To go with them I wore my rose printed shirt and rose earrings :)
Pins: Gifted / Earrings: Forever 21 (links to similar set also from Forever 21) / Shirt: Merona 

Day 4 - Sailor Moon I'm so in love with my Moon Crisis necklace, but I don't wear it very often because it's so big and I get self conscious. I paired it with my black cat printed hoodie...the pairing was kind of a stretch, but I was imagining the black cats as Luna!
Necklace: Hell Yeah Sweet N Sour / Hoodie: Mossimo Supply Co.

Day 6 - BlizzCon Day 6 landed on the first day of Blizzcon! The Murkidan pin came in my BlizzCon goody bag, and I painted my nails to match!
Pin: BlizzCon exclusive, sorry! Glowstick nail polish: Wet N Wild / Black crackle polish: Sally Hansen (I have this in three different colors, I LOVE it!)

Day 7 - Marceline I only started to get in to Adventure Time earlier this year, and my favorite character is Marceline! I tried channeling my inner Marceline by wearing her signature grey top and red shoes. I don't think her shoes were covered in red glitter but...oh well :)
V-neck: Mossimo Supply Co (I have this shirt in five different colors and practically live in them) / Shoes: Walmart (similar)

Day 8 - Hello Kitty (Round 2) I have a LOT of Hello Kitty stuff, so I'm pretty sure there will be at least one more Hello Kitty day before the month is over! It's hard to see, but in my Hello Kitty necklace she's wearing a pink ribbon instead of her signature red bow. It was being sold last year by The Red Bow, and for every necklace sold they donated $5 to the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation (I'm not in Canada, but the shop is...) I paired it with my Hello Kitty shoes!
Necklace: The Red Bow (no longer available, but check out the shop anyway!) / Shoes: Vans (but no longer available at Vans, so the link is for them on Amazon!)

Day 9 - Star Wars One of my favorite Star Wars shirts (except I kinda stole it from Andrew), and my space sweat pants! I stayed in that day, hahah. The pants were an impulse buy when I found them at Ross a few months ago. I paid $15 for them, which for Ross I thought was a bit pricey, but I couldn't let them go! I'd never heard of the brand, but I looked it up just now so I could link it here and they're on the site for $40! So I guess it really was a steal. The quality is REALLY great though, and if I had more money to spend I'd totally throw $40 at another pair.
Shirt: Hot Topic / Sweats: Brooklyn Cloth

Day 10 - Snorlax It's funny because on the day I decided to be extra lazy with my outfit I put on a SNORLAX t-shirt. Which wasn't the intention at the time, I just really like that shirt. It says "keep calm and zzz" under the picture of Snorlax.
Shirt: We Love Fine (not avail, but practically identical one on RedBubble)

Day 11 - The Walking Dead The night before I had finished playing season two of Telltale's The Walking Dead game, and they have some evil story writers on that team because I was WRECKED you guys. POOR CLEMENTINE. Ugh. So, I don't own any Walking Dead merch except for this button my mom got me. It has Michonne, who wasn't in the game, but it's still pretty fitting because the upcoming Telltale game is ALL ABOUT MICHONNE.
Pin: Gifted / Denim jacket: thrifted / Shirt: Old Navy Boyfriend Tee

That's all for now :) I'll be posting a second recap post once #Nerdvember is done, but until then you can see what else I've worn so far and keep up with me day-to-day by following me on Instagram! Are you participating in #Nerdvember? Link me to your photos if I'm not following you already! I LOVE seeing the outfits others are coming up with!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

BlizzCon Goody Bag Unboxing! (Or Unbagging?)

BlizzCon Goody Bag 2015

As I've already made obvious, I spent the weekend of the 6th and 7th watching BlizzCon, thanks to the amazing BlizzCon powers of the virtual ticket! With the virtual ticket, you're able to have a front row seat to ALL the panels and events at BlizzCon, streamed live right onto your computer or TV (the TV option is only if you have DirecTV - which I don't - but I still think it's a cool idea. Maybe in the future they'll branch out)! Blizzard first started selling virtual tickets in 2009 (I think, don't quote me on that), but this year was the first time they also offered virtual ticket holders the option to purchase the official BlizzCon 2015 Goody Bag, filled with all the same loot that physical BlizzCon attendees would be receiving, too! Is this necessary? Well, no. But if you're stuck at home because you couldn't make the trip to Anaheim or afford the $200 ticket...then I have to admit that it's a sweet consolation prize. Plus waving around your inflatable psiblade along with everyone else at the opening ceremony - even though you're doing it from your couch - is surprisingly fun.

So anyway, Blizzard said the bags would be shipped "on or before November 6, 2015." BlizzCon was held on November 6th and 7th. I was really hoping mine would show up before it started. Like maybe the day before? So I'd have the stuff during BlizzCon. Even if it came in after the 7th it'd still be cool, but having it while BlizzCon was still going on just adds a special touch. So the 6th arrived, but I still had no idea where my bag was. Bummer, but whatever. Andrew and I started watching the opening ceremony, and maybe like, two minutes after they premiered the World of Warcraft movie trailer (Dominic Cooper you guys <3), there was a knock on the door; and there was the UPS dude, with my white and blue box. It was a good morning. A handful of people have asked to see a closer look of what's inside, so I thought it'd be fun to just make a whole post about it! ANYWAY, enough rambling. Here's what's inside!

Presentation wise, I was excited just by the outside of the box it was shipped in, not gonna lie. The image above is of the box, but you can see the original photo I took (minus the editing and stuff) right here. So I open the giant box and pull out...the bag. The goody bag is an actual bag, hahah. It's a canvas messenger bag, with the BlizzCon logo and the logo's for all the Blizzard games embroidered on it. Now I can rep all my favorite games at the same time! Well, I don't play StarCraft, but still. The canvas is nice and thick, and so is the strap. There's a zip up pocket under the flap thingy, and another inside the bag. I was impressed.

BlizzCon Goody Bag

The next think I pulled out was a Heroes of the Storm Funko Mystery Mini box. I don't really collect Funko Pop figures. but I LOVE Heroes of the Storm, so I was excited! I was hoping to get Stitches, Nazeebo, or Diablo, but I ended up with Raynor. Raynor is cool too, though! I would have been happy with any of them. Well, I might have been a little bummed if I got Nova. Hahah. I hope they decide to expand on this collection, because I'd love to see Malfurion and Sgt. Hammer! Lunara would be cool too, but since she's not even released in the game yet I imagine we won't be getting figures of her anytime soon.

Heroes of the Storm Funko Mystery Mini Raynor

Then I pulled out this sweet Murkidan enamel pin! I love murlocs, they're so cute. See? Hahah. This year for BlizzCon they designed a new murloc that's a combo of your regular murloc and Illidan (who looks like this, if you're wondering). All ticket holders (virtual and regular) also get one of these bad boys as a battle pet in World of Warcraft. Aside from the messenger bag, this pin is my favorite item! I want to put the pin ON the bag, but I've lost pins that way before and I don't want to risk it. I did wear it on my collar and painted my nails to match that night for my #Nerdvember outfit, though :)

BlizzCon 2015 Murkidan Pin

Next up was this little chibi Diablo key chain! Isn't the Lord of Terror so adorable? He's made of the rubber material that anime key chains are always made out of. I also love that he's double sided (all the other key chains like this I own are just black on the other side). Diablo butt! He's hanging from my BlizzCon bag right now.

BlizzCon 2015 Diablo Key Chain

This one doesn't photograph well, and at first I didn't even know what it was. I mean, obviously it's the Overwatch logo, but it's made out of solid plastic and it took me a minute to realize it's a sticker! Andrew thinks we should put it on the car next to our Star Wars bumper sticker, but we're still undecided. I'm not a big FPS gamer so I'm not 100% sold on Overwatch yet. Andrew is really enjoying it, though.

Then I pulled out this really cute Hearthstone luggage tag! It's also made out of that rubbery key chain material, but up close the detailing looks so nice! I don't do much traveling, but I'm going to hang it from one of my bags anyway! I used to play Hearthstone all. the. time. - until Heroes of the Storm came out and took its place ;)

BlizzCon 2015 Hearthstone Luggage Tag

The final item is cool, but admittedly my least favorite of the bunch. An inflatable psi blade, from Starcraft! First of all, I don't play Starcraft. Second, it doesn't actually stay inflated for very long. Maybe a couple hours? Then it deflates and you have to blow it up again. So even if I was into Starcraft, this wouldn't even be suitable for displaying purposes. I don't know if everyone's did that, or maybe mine was just a dud. In addition to all that, I'm really trying to cut down on random stuff that just sits around. My apartment is too small for collecting! I mean, I don't need any of the other stuff that came in the bag, but at least they each have a purpose. An inflatable psi blade is going to sit on your shelf taking up space. And yeah, I know the exact same thing can be said about my Raynor figure, but at least I like him in Heroes of the Storm.

Overall I'm really happy with everything I got! I love having some Blizzard swag to show my love of some of my favorite games. Prior to this I didn't own ANYTHING Blizzard related (aside from the actual games, of course). I was always drooling over the cool World of Warcraft and Diablo stuff I'd see online, but I never bought any of it because I hate spending $35 on a t-shirt (I'm cheap). Currently I bring my BlizzCon messenger bag with me everywhere, even though people keep asking why do you need a bag so big? Because I wanna! Or because I have a lot of bullshit to carry around. Either one :)