Monday, March 30, 2015

Tales from the Bookshelf: Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children

Good mooorning! Today I'm back with another book review :) After making my 50 book reading goal for the year, I've found myself so motivated to read more. It's a great feeling. I've always loved reading, but sometimes you just get distracted, you know? The sad part is now that I have all this motivation to read more, I've been letting my blog fall to the wayside. I'm always either at work or something, and when I'm at home I'm tired and just want to read a book (or watch an episode of The X-Files, but you get it). It's definitely one of those first word problems. I don't know how so many other bloggers manage to do things like work/school full time + have kids + keep the house semi-presentable and still have a life. You guys are crazy.

Anyway, here it is! Earlier this month I read Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, by Ransom Riggs. I'd read about this book so many times, now I'm excited to say I've read it myself!

Mini-bio from QuirkA mysterious island. An abandoned orphanage. And a strange collection of very curious photographs. It all waits to be discovered in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, an unforgettable novel that mixes fiction and photography in a thrilling reading experience. As our story opens, a horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores its abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that the children who once lived here—one of whom was his own grandfather— were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a desolate island for good reason. And somehow—impossible though it seems—they may still be alive. A spine-tingling fantasy illustrated with haunting vintage photography, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children will delight adults, teens, and anyone who relishes an adventure in the shadows.
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children
Question - does anyone care about book spine photos? Because I do, and I like seeing how a book will look on my shelf...but if no one else does maybe I won't take these photos anymore, hahah.

So technically this is a YA book. Totally not my thing, but because of the unique plot and layout of this book I wanted to give it a shot anyway. I'm glad I did! For the first time, the only parts of this book I didn't like have nothing to do with it being YA. I think that's very exciting and it gives me hope for the young adult genre (no offense, YA lovers).

Our story begins with sixteen year old Jacob, who isn't that interesting and is kind of a loser, tbh. Growing up, his grandfather told him stories of monsters and strange children with magical abilities. He showed Jacob photos of these children, claiming that he lived with them and that it was all 100% real. As a child Jacob believed in these stories, but as he grew older he decided they were too far fetched to be true and that the photos were all fake, to his grandfathers dismay. After a mysterious family tragedy (sorry, trying to avoid spoilers here), Jacob is forced to reconsider the tales told by his grandfather - because now he's not sure if they were just tales, after all. In hopes of discovering what really happened, Jacob convinces his parents to let him spend his Summer on the island of Cairnholm; a small remote island off the coast of Wales, where his grandfathers stories took place (since I already checked I'll save you the Google trip and say that it's a fictional island). When Jacob arrives at the island he immediately starts searching for clues and the home of the mysterious children his grandfather told him stories of; and once he finds them, Jacob gets himself involved in a crazy, mysterious tale of his own.

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children photos
The boy on the left is covered in bees! (Insert Nicholas Cage gif here) Not really sure what's going on in the photo on the right, but it may possibly haunt my dreams tonight.

My favorite parts of this book were the creepy and supposedly REAL photos used to illustrate the story. The author is a collector of vintage photographs. He began to realize that the most interesting ones (or peculiar ones, if you will, heheh) were of children. With the photos being old and anonymous, he had no way of figuring out the stories behind the photos, so he decided to come up with them on his own - thus, Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children was born!

Once the story got going I really enjoyed this book. My only big issue was that it took forevvvver to really pick up and get to that point. Almost halfway through the book I still couldn't figure out exactly what the major plot was supposed to be. The other part I didn't like was my own fault for assuming things. Before starting the book, I thought it was going to be some kind of paranormal thriller, which it definitely wasn't. However, it was an enjoyable mystery and very different from what I normally read, which was fun and refreshing. I also enjoyed how the ending was written. I already knew there was a second book, and this one ended with the perfect amount of "Oooh, what's going to happen next?!" while not being so cliffhangery that you want to throw the book at a wall.

Luckily I didn't have to wait too long to start the second book, anyway! Quirk Books was kind enough to send me Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, and the sequel, Hollow City, both within the same month! I'm currently reading Hollow City, and I'm really enjoying it. Even though I thought this first book took some time to get interesting, it did a great job of setting the scene and introducing the characters which I find has made the second book even better. I can't wait to share it with you, so expect a review on it soon!

Run down - 
Title: Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children
Author: Ransom Riggs
Published + Publisher: Quirk Books, June 7th, 2011
Genre: Fantasy, Mystery, Young Adult Fiction
Pages: 352 (paperback)
Source: Courtesy of Quirk Books!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Read Play Blog - Multiplayer vs. Singleplayer Games

Read Play Blog
Read Play Blog is a meme about video games and books, posted every 16th of the month. Bloggers are encouraged to answer a discussion question, recommend a video game that they like, and share what they're currently playing. Hosted by Happy Indulgence Books & Read Me Away!

Happy Monday! I feel like it's been so long since I've done a Read Play Blog post, but in reality I only skipped one month. I couldn't decide what to write about for that prompt. D'oh. Anyway! I'm back at it, and this month's topic is on singleplayer vs. multiplayer games!

As usual I couldn't decide on just one answer, because I really love both! It just depends on what game I'm playing. To be perfectly honest, I don't do a lot of multiplayer, simply because...I don't have many friends to play games with. Most of my friends don't play video games (which is why I'm always talking about playing games with my boyfriend or brother, hahah). Obviously there's MMO's and things, but there's something special about playing with your real friends. So yeah, I don't do much multiplayer. But! That doesn't mean I don't like them! It just means I play them less often.

My absolute favorite game series is Saints Row, but I've never played it with anyone else before (technically it's more of a singleplayer game, but there is a multiplayer mode). So since that's my jam maybe I'm team singleplayer. On the other hand, I'm also a huge fan of Dynasty Warriors, which I mostly played alone, but is SO MUCH MORE FUN on multiplayer!

Favorite singleplayer games:
- Saints Row (III and IV)
- South Park: The Stick of Truth
- Fable III (also has co-op, but I haven't really used it)
- Pokemon!

Favorite multiplayer games:
- Dynasty Warriors 7
- LEGO Batman
- Mario Kart (I hate playing Mario Kart alone!)
- Diablo III

Recommendation - South Park: The Stick of Truth

Thinking about it two seconds ago made me remember how awesome this game was, so that's my recommendation! After my first play through of the game over a year ago I wrote a post about it (you can see it by clicking right here), which gave a little insight on the game, but I mostly just shared my favorite screen shots I took while playing it (insert #SuchBlogger doge meme). If you're a fan of the show or of inappropriate humor I CANNOT RECOMMEND THIS GAME ENOUGH.

South Park: The Stick of Truth Underpants Gnomes

Currently Playing - World of Warcraft

Yeah, I know no one cares about me talking about WoW for the millionth time, so I'll just end the post here. Enjoy this screenshot of my Pandaren (I'm in the sidecar). Hahah.

World of Warcraft Pandaren

P.S. - Next month we're talking about our favorite gaming merchandise! See you then :)

Thursday, March 12, 2015

"I am Loki" Necklace Giveaway!

Hey friends! If you're a Marvel fan, I think we can all agree that Loki's pretty badass, right? He's cool, he's cunning, he does this cool hair flip thing all the time, and his smile isn't too bad, either. Anyway, I don't have a long post today, but I wanted to stop by and share this awesome GIVEAWAY I'm co-hosting! Yay! So enter using the widget below and start your weekend off right!

These necklaces are made by Robin, Etsy-extraordinaire behind Northern Lights Bridal! Don't let the name trick you, it's not all bridal stuff, obviously. I mean, unless you want to wear a Loki pendent at your wedding; no judgements. Robin makes all sorts of different themed pendents, a few of my favorites feature The Last UnicornMy Neighbor Totoro, and Fullmetal Alchemist (you guys should KNOW how obsessed I am with that show)!

Loki Necklace Giveaway

Pictured above is the necklace up for grabs! You'll look awesome and your friends will be jealous when you wear it while you're standing in line to see Age of Ultron!

This giveaway is hosted by Elora from Out My Front Door and Robin, the designer behind Northern Lights Bridal! Co-hosts are Raewyn of Be a Warrior Queen, Nina from The Grand Adventures of Me, Cassandra from Cassandra M's Place, Kerry from Kerry's Habitat, Natalie from Natalie Patalie (hey that's me!), and Tiffany from Endless Bliss. All awesome ladies, so be sure to visit their sites and say hi! The giveaway ends at 12 am on the 20th!

You can also check out Elora's 
review of her work in a post she wrote after she bought some pieces last Christmas!

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Tales from the Bookshelf: Why We Broke Up, by Daniel Handler

I decided to pick up this book from the library the day before going to meet Daniel Handler at his We are Pirates event! It was awesome and you can read about it all right here. I already knew this book existed, but since it's YA I was never in a huge hurry to read it. After learning that I'd meet the author in a few days, I got into this mindset that I had to read ALL THE DANIEL HANDLER things, and I got lucky with this book just sitting on the library shelf waiting for me.

Why We Broke Up
Featuring a guest appearance from Lego Loki!

Since I was determined to finish it before the event the next day, I plopped myself on the couch for a good five hours and plowed through the book, start to finish.

Then I felt really sad.

At first I was blaming it on being a stupid book with a crappy ending. I mean, it does have a crappy ending, but it's a book about why two people broke up, so what else did I expect? Then I thought about it some more, and thought, if I didn't like it, then why was I sad? 99.9% of the books I don't like make me feel bored, annoyed or just indifferent. All pretty mediocre and nondescript adjectives. So if a book actually makes you feel something, then maybe there's something to it? Maybe?! I'm still not sure. I hate talking about feelings. Aaaaahhhhh.

So anyway, uh, here's the book bio: Min Green and Ed Slaterton are breaking up, so Min is writing Ed a letter and giving him a box. Inside the box is why they broke up. Two bottle caps, a movie ticket, a folded note, a box of matches, a protractor, books, a toy truck, a pair of ugly earrings, a comb from a motel room, and every other item collected over the course of a giddy, intimate, heartbreaking relationship. Item after item is illustrated and accounted for, and then the box, like a girlfriend, will be dumped.

The whole book is in the form of this long letter Min writes to Ed, while she's on her way to go dump a box of Ed's stuff on his doorstep. On her way to Ed's house.

Lego Loki
This is how long it takes her to get to Ed's house. Lego Loki finds this questionable.

For each chapter she writes about an object in the box (with each item illustrated by Maira Kalman), and at what point in their (very short) relationship it's from. Some of it I don't really understand why she kept, like this prickly thorn thing that got stuck on her sweater when they're in the woods.

While I do think the book is really well written, I don't like either of the characters. I don't think you're supposed to. Min is a romantic, and very angsty. She dreams of this uber romantic life with Ed and it kinda takes over her life. For example, Ed's on the basketball team, and even though Min hates basketball she goes to watch him at basketball practice because that's what he wants her to do and that's what all the other basketball girlfriends do. He also puts down a lot of her friends and interests, but she mostly lets it slide. Really these two people have nothing in common.

Why We Broke Up

So, (not surprisingly) as the title states, they eventually break up. That's about all I can say without ruining the whole story.

While it's no longer being updated, there's a Tumblr blog called the Why We Broke Up Project, which is pretty fun. People submit why they broke up with their first boyfriend/girlfriend, and in return they get a witty response from Daniel Handler. There's also a page of celebrity breakup stories, mostly from other authors. Lastly, there's a handy little quiz written by Daniel Handler himself, to find out how much of a romantic you are. I kind of failed. I scored three points, which means "You are an android with no feelings whatsoever." Hmmm...

Monday, March 9, 2015

Influenster #RefreshVoxBox!

"The #RefreshVoxBox is here and it's ready to rejuvenate you from the inside out! Now that the holiday season is over and you're a month into your 2015 resolutions, we though you might need a little boost. #RefreshVoxBox to the rescue! From healthy snacks to face masks and flossers, this VoxBox is jam-packed with products that will revamp your daily routine."

Last month Influenster was kind enough to send me their new #RefreshVoxbox! I was so excited when I saw the message in my email! Here's what was inside...

Influenster #RefreshVoxBox
(Not pictured is a second bag of Beanitos chips! Yum.)

Montagne Jeunesse Black Seaweed Peel Off Masque
- This mask is supposed to help detox and get a deep clean for your skin. To be honest, the color and consistency is a little terrifying. It's very dark and sludgey, while still being very liquidy. Right after putting it on I hopped on Facebook because I had to tell everyone how much it reminded me of the black oil from The X-Files. This stuff is a real mess to put on, and you're gonna get it EVERYWHERE. The fun part is once it dries, and you get to peel it off and pretend you're a snake shedding its skin. It's oddly fascinating and also really gross. This dried my skin a bit, so I just moisturized my situation after peeling all the mask off and everything was fine. I saw no real noticeable improvements to my skin, but no bad side effects, either. These retail for $1.49 each.

Montagne Black Seaweed
Face detoxer or mind controller? Only time will tell.

COVERGIRL UltraSmooth Foundation - First of all, why does the title much "ultra" and "smooth" into one word? I don't like it, but I guess that has nothing to do with the actual product inside. Anyway, this stuff is interesting. It's purpose is to smooth out your face by controlling the hair on your face. It even sounds weird, right? It comes with this little silicon pad that you're supposed to use to blend it into your skin. That part was weird, too and I just felt like I was making a mess. I don't normally wear liquid foundation because I always feel like I apply it wrong. A buddy of mine told me an easier way is to try rubbing together a dollop of foundation and a dollop of face lotion, to turn it into more a BB cream so I don't have to worry as much about everything being perfectly even. So when the weird silicon face pad failed me I ditched it and tried that method, which worked a lot better for me! It's a medium coverage foundation, and doesn't feel too heavy. I only learned like, this week, that I'm supposed to be using face primer under everything, which a buddy of mine is going to help me out with. After that I think I'll be able to form a better opinion on this! It retails for $12.99 - $16.99.


Beanitos Chips - I received two bags of these, one is nacho cheese, and another in "restaurant style." They're both white bean chips and supposedly super good for you. Both were alright, but the restaurant style was a little bland on its own. I wish I'd had some salsa! The nacho cheese reminded me of Doritos, but they were a little spicy! These go for $3.49. I'm not sure of that's for the small sized bags I got, or for the bigger bags you'd get at the grocery store, though?

Skinnygirl Tasty Nutrition Bar - These are supposed to be a healthy way to indulge. I'm no health guru (in fact, I learned how to properly count calories and portion sizes like, last year) so I can't really tell you how great for you they are. I can tell you that they taste pretty good! The flavor I received was chocolate peanut butter with sea salt. Yum! These retail for 5 for $5. While I did enjoy the bar, there's other bars out there I like just as much for a bit cheaper.


Listerine Pocketpaks - These are kind of weird, too. They're these super thin sheets, and you place one on your tongue and just let it do its thing. In a second it'll turn into a weird sticky gel consistency, and you'll wonder what you just got yourself into. Luckily, the sticky gel phase doesn't last long. After it dissolves completely you will realize how strong the mint flavor is, as your nasal passages feel like they've turned into wind tunnels during the winter. A few years ago I read an article about how chewing gum can actually make your breathe smell worse, and ever since have been skeptical of anything claiming to freshen my breathe. You know how sometimes you'll pop in a piece of gum just because you're trying to get a certain flavor out of your mouth? These work PERFECTLY for that.

Dentek Comfort Clean Floss Picks - These are pretty much just like any other floss pick. I love floss picks though, so I'll definitely be using these up! The ends are sharper and pokier then other floss picks I've used. They're not going to deathly stab you, but something to keep in mind before giving one to your kid. They retail for only $1.39 a bag, so I can see myself purchasing them in the future. Honestly, I'm not too great as flossing everyday, so this year I've been keeping floss picks in the house because I find them easier and quicker to use, which gets me flossing more regularly. Yay!

L'occitane Shea Light Comforting Cream - Unfortunately I can't write a full review on this because...I was too scared to put it on my face. I wasn't sure exactly what it was when I saw it in the box, so I looked up reviews online and it seemed like everyone was using it as a face lotion. My face is crazy moody and picky when it comes to lotions, though, so I'm always hesitant to add something new into the mix. I did, however, try some on my hands. It made my hands SUPER SOFT, so that was cool. It smells strongly like baby powder, which didn't bother me, but I know a lot of people that hate that. The cute little 8ml jar I got retails for $5.

L'occitane Light Comforting Cream

Phew. So that's my #RefreshVoxBox. Have you tried any of these products? If you're not a member of Influenster yet and think you want to join, hit me up for an invite! It's free! We all love free!

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

DIY Soot Sprites!

What are soot sprites?

Soot Sprites (ススワタリ susuwatari, lit. travelling soot, soot sprites) are magically conjured creatures that work in the boiler room with Kamaji in the Japanese animated film Spirited Away. They are also present in other prominent Studio Ghibli films, most notably My Neighbor Totoro. - Spirited Away Wiki

They look like this!

Soot Sprites gif

Awe, so cute. You can also see them as part of the Natalie Patalie site logo!

Earlier this week I decided I wanted to make some sprites of my own. I had some black yarn, I had some googly eyes, and I figured if I could learn how to make a pom pom ball then I'd be all set. Before looking up how to make pom pom balls, I though I'd check if someone else had already made a DIY for soot sprites somewhere.

And someone had! I used these DIY directions from Japan Lover Me. The directions are basically just how to make a pom pom and then gluing on eyes, so if you already know how to do that then you don't really need the directions, hahah. Either way it's a cute site worth visiting if you're into all that cutsey-kawaii stuff ;) Here's how mine turned out!

DIY Soot Sprites

My second attempt (on the left) turned out a lot better than my first. For that one I used maybe three times the amount of yarn in the directions. I think they're both pretty cute, though! I hid them in the picture, but they also each have a yarn loop attached so I can hang them somewhere! I'm just not sure where to hang them yet. Soot Sprites eat little star sprinkles, and I was tempted to make a big pile of origami lucky stars just for this picture. I eventually decided not to, because afterwards I wouldn't have anything to do with the stars and they'd probably end up in the trash :(

DIY Soot Sprites

As I was trying to brighten another picture I was going to use in this post, I accidentally turned it black and white and zoomed in. All of a sudden soot sprites seemed a little more intimidating! Hahah.

What do you think? Are you a fan of Ghibli movies? Spirited Away is my favorite one, but I think all of them are great!

Sunday, March 1, 2015

The Night I Met Lemony Snicket

Daniel Handler, We are Pirates

Happy Monday! Last Tuesday I shared on Instagram that I'd went to a Daniel Handler (AKA Lemony Snicket) event and that he signed my book and that everything was super wonderful! It was such a great night. So today I felt like sharing more of that night with you :)

It all started few weeks ago, when my mom (fellow lover of books and author events) showed me her Copperfield's newsletter when she saw that one of my favorite authors, Daniel Handler, would be making an appearance in their Petaluma store! When I was younger, her, my older brother and I would read the A Series of Unfortunate Events books together. I don't think my brother cared for them too much, and eventually my mom found the books a bit too dark to enjoy finishing, so I ended up reading the rest of the series myself. No worries though; after attempting to join numerous book clubs, I think solo reading might just be more of my thing. Hahahah.

Daniel Handler, Robin Ekiss
With Daniel Handler and poet Robin Ekiss  :)

We weren't even sure if we'd be able to make it until two days before the event, because I wasn't sure what was going on with my work schedule. I finally learned I'd have the evening off so my mom and I made plans to be there! When Tuesday came I went straight to her house after getting out of work, we ate a quick dinner, then hit the road. Getting there took a little longer than we'd anticipated, and we were scared there wouldn't be any room left for us (there were no tickets, it was just a first come first serve thing). Thankfully luck was on our side, and we arrived three minutes before 7:00pm, and there were still seats left! Even better, we sat in the second row! That's when I knew the universe really wanted me to see Daniel Handler that night.

The event was mostly to talk about his new book, We are Pirates, which unfortunately I haven't read yet. I ordered it from the library and was hoping it'd arrive sooner, but what can you do. I was incredibly tempted to buy the book at Copperfield's that night, but I can't really afford $30 hardbacks right now so I was forced to control myself! We are Pirates sounds really fun, and is about a 14 year old girl who steals a boat with her new friends to cause some mayhem in the San Francisco Bay. I love reading books that take place locally, it makes it all feel more real to me :) When I finish the book I'll let you all know how it was!

Daniel Handler
From the event, photo courtesy of Ross E. Lockhart. You can see my moms head in middle of the second row! 

Because Daniel Handler started his writing career as a poet, he invited a different poet to join him at each of his events on the We are Pirates book tour. The Petaluma event featured poet Robin Ekiss, who I hadn't heard of until seeing her name on the event flyer, but she was very charming and I was glad to meet and learn more about her. She also went to college with Daniel Handler, so it was fun to hear about him from that perspective as well.

Please excuse poor nighttime outdoor lighting.

During the event he read a few passages from We are Pirates, answered some audience questions, and basically just told us funny stories about being an author. I've always found his books really funny (even when they're dark), and his humor translates just as well in real life as it does on paper. It was so much fun! Afterwards everyone lined up to get their books signed. Since I hadn't bought his new book, I decided to bring the 13th Series of Unfortunate Events book to have signed. I kind of wanted to bring the 1st book, but my copy wasn't in great condition, so I went with the last book instead, hahah. At first I was nervous that I might be judged for not having a new book signed, but he was so fun and nice when I walked up to his table. I had clearly worried over nothing!

Lemony Snicket autograph
He brought a special stamp to use just for signing A Series of Unfortunate Events books!

By the way, if you're curious about the face Mr. Handler is making in our amazing photo together, let me assure that I'm not that terrible of a person to meet. I learned awhile back that it's his thing, and I find it pretty entertaining. To prove my point, I made a lovely collage to share. These are all pictures of him taken with other fans at various signings/events/gatherings. I cropped out the other person though so I wouldn't seem like a creeper.

Daniel Handler Faces
Finding all the pictures and making this took maybe like, ten minutes. So yeah, it's a pretty common face.

So there you go! My mom and I ended our night by browsing the bookstore and grabbing hot chocolate from Starbucks on the way home. We were super impressed that the Starbucks in Petaluma is open until 10pm on weeknights, and 11pm on weekends?! That's like two hours later than all our Starbucks in town! Not fair. Anyway, let's chat. Do you love Daniel Handler books as much as I do? How about book signings? Finally, how late does the Starbucks in your town stay open?