Book Review; To All The Boys I've Loved Before

I had surgery a few days ago and the best thing about recovery was discovering writer Jenny Han. To All The Boys I've Loved Before is a YA book and while it has a girl on the cover that I'm assuming is a portrayal of Lara Jean, the book, to me, is about the Song family. Lara Jean's mom dies at a young age and she is left with her dad, and her sisters Margot and Kitty. Lara Jean writes anti-love letters to the crushes she's had in the past, almost like a diary and she shares her deepest feelings about them, knowing the letters won't ever be read. She keeps them in a vintage hat box her mother gave her. The book follows the teenage drama when the letters are mailed out one day. I won't share spoilers about what happens with the letters, but the way Lara Jean deals with it is both charming and annoying. I wanted to shake my fist at her for her poor choices throughout the book but at the same time I remember being a teenager once and thinking with my feelings. She's also sweet, funny and for dealing with the death of her mom, LJ has a good head on her after she catches it from spinning. The relationship between the siblings develop even though Margot is gone half the book from a trip overseas. I've read so many YA books about girls swooning over boys and this book has the same narrative but a twist. Lara Jean realizes she doesn't need any boy, but as long as she has her family, she'll be fine. It's cute, it's fun, and I loved it. You can buy the book on Amazon or go to the library and check it out for free! 

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Grief Is A Mix Playlist: Review of Love Is A Mix Tape

Ok, so I’ll admit i bought Rob Shefflield'sLove is a Mix Tape because of the cover. It wasn’t the most mature decision, but one of my best decisions when it comes to judging books by it’s cover. At the time I got this book, I was reading a ton of YA and since I thought it was a YA book about break ups, little did I realize then, it was recommended in a cluster of grief books I was also reading. This book surprised me. Not just because it’s about grief, but because it’s an awesome book about grief. Yes, awesome and grief in the same sentence. Very few times do I read a book that feels like I’m having a conversation with the author, and this time it felt like Shefflied was telling me about Renee, his wife that passed, the music they loved and shared and the music that got him through his pain. Halfway through the book it gets a little unexpectedly heavy but I loved it. I mean, it’s about a sad topic, and no matter how cool Rob is, no one can make grief cool. 

When I used to blog on Live Journal and use MySpace, they were riddled with music lyrics. Most of the time terrible, vague, passive aggressive (oh to be emotionally immature again), and angry. Just like it helped me in those times, music helped me outrageously in my grief and Love is a Mix Tape reminded me of this. I found myself highlighting so much of the book. 

"You lose a certain kind of innocence when you experience this type of kindness. You lose your right to be a jaded cynic. You can no longer go back through the looking glass and pretend not to know what you know about kindness. It’s a defeat, in a way."- Rob Sheffield

When Max died, I felt so unworthy of people’s kindness. I still do. I felt undeserving of even a text, tweet, an email. My mind can’t process this many people being kind, and after so long, it is defeat. I stopped denying myself of this type of love, even if it’s from a complete stranger. My heart opened, it allowed me to heal, and even to this day, not one single comment, in any form of medium shared, goes unnoticed. It goes straight to the heart. 

“When we die, we will turn into songs, and we will hear each other and remember each other."- Rob Sheffield

 When I think of old friends, I think of songs we listened to for hours in our rooms, driving, going to shows, and even when those songs annoyed me, those songs represent a moment with that person. I always wonder what song I’ll have with someone, but when i think about Max, I thought of Oceans- it was the first song that played when we turned on the car to head home after we left the hospital. We were in disbelief and out of habit, I plugged my phone in and Rdio played. I also remember the drive to the hospital. We played Lorde’s Heroine album, on repeat. It just came out a few days before and I remember we were so excited to meet our baby. I also remember my labor playlist. It took me months before I could listen to Birdy and Jonsi. These artists are complete strangers, but I felt like they delivered a baby with me (creepy but there's sentiment to it). Allison Weiss and Young and Free got me through 2014 and I’ll never forget the moments I felt OKAY for the first time while listening to them. 

This book is therapeutic, just like music itself. Music has the power to heal, lift and drag your spirit and there is a certain power I found in myself in choosing what to listen to. It’s only a click away but it can enhance my mood, break my heart, or feed or deplete my energy levels. 

“Every mix tape tells a story. Put them together, and they add up to the story of a life.”- Rob Sheffeild

The Art of Discomfort

“Discomforts are only discomforting when they’re an unexpected inconvenience, an unusual annoyance, an unplanned-for irritant. Discomforts are only discomforting when we aren’t used to them. But when we deal with the same discomforts every day, they become expected and part of the routine, and we are no longer afflicted with them the way we were. We forget to think about them like the daily disturbances of going to the bathroom, or brushing our teeth, or listening to noisy street traffic. Give your body the chance to harden, your blood to thicken, and your skin to toughen, and you’ll find that the human body carries with it a weightless wardrobe. When we’re hardy in mind and body, we can select from an array of outfits to comfortably bear most any climate.”- Ken Ilgunas 

Ok, so quote was about living in a van without the comforts of a home but I loved it. I thought of all my discomforts. I stared at my plate of broccoli and reminded myself how uncomfortable it was to eat healthy. All the prepping, all the veggies I had to force myself to eat when eating something sugary or packaged was easier. I thought of my grief, the thorn in my side. It reminds me nothing lasts forever, to keep it real and to never take anything for granted. For the rest of my life I wake up with a sadness and the choice is up to me to decide how to honor that sadness. I live in such a comfortable world and I'm grateful- I have a warm bed, AC, food in my fridge and the discomforts of the body and the heart discipline me and I'm grateful for those too. 

Overall, I really liked Ken Ilugans book, Walden on Wheels. He choose to not live in the comforts of living the typical 9-5 life to pay off debt like the rest of his classmates. What attracts to me to minimalist lifestyle is the freedom of STUFF. He wrote about living in a van, but the first half of the book he writes about his adventure living in the mountains, and what drove him to live like Thoreau. I loved his writing and while he chose this way of living, he also recognized living in poverty was a choice, unlike some of the people he met on his journey.  He wasn't boastful, he was humble, and he recognized this. I would never do anything like he did, but it takes me a step closer to live with less. 

Recycle Old Books

One of the things people loved about my library-themed wedding were the book decorations we made. Instead of flowers, we had books to decorate and for guests to take home and a book that "fans" out. I don’t know if this is even considered a “DIY” or a craft, it’s so easy to make, and it's even a little therapeutic. All you need is a book, and a great podcast or Netflix show. 

We have a few thrifted books we would never read again, and instead of giving them back to the thrift store or even throwing them out, we use them for decoration. For each book, just fold the top corner completely to the spine, go the to next page, and fold the bottom corner to the spine. Simple! 

Book Review: California

Most dystopian novels have a twist- zombies, or global disease, but this twist from California by Edan Lepucki, I didn't see coming. The writer builds her characters so well, I was getting annoyed with Frida, the main character, as if I really knew Frida in real life. She's stubborn, fearless, and spoiled and I couldn't stop reading. She's pregnant with her first baby and struggling with keeping a healthy marriage and healthy baby when there are limited resources in a fallen world. There is no food, only the food they grow, no antibiotics and even bandaids are hard to come by. The survival story of Frida and her husband Cal is exciting. I can't help but see myself in this book. The way the world Frida and Cal live in is not far off from how we live now. The only difference is coffee is extinct, internet is for the super rich, and eyeliner is described almost like a unicorn, it's never been seen in the last days. How would I live with the post apocalyptic life? It puts you on the edge of your seat, white knuckles you, and all the other cliches to tell you this book is suspenseful. After I finish a book, I normally pick up another one. However, I couldn't concentrate on my new book. I had to give myself a day or two to think about what Lepucki wrote. She wrote a great summer read. It's dark, disturbing, suspenseful, and well written. That's what I loved best about this book. Regardless of how silly the story is (extinct coffee? ha!) Lepucki has a gift for writing that keeps you reading. 

nail polish from the new black in walrus

nail polish from the new black in walrus

More Than a Pretty Cover: Design Bureau

I should clarify I'm not a designer, at all. I can appreciate beautiful things and the engineering of them but photoshop is one big math equation to me and the only font I'm familiar with is the Wes Anderson futura font. 

Fab always has magazine sales and a couple years ago, I subscribed to Design Bureau. Ever since then, I've been an avid reader of the magazine. Unlike other design magazines, it's not geared toward high budget clients, this magazine is for the struggling creative professional to the industry leader. Design Bureau isn't just pretty to look at, it's filled with educational dialogue on design. There's writing on music, home tours, architectures, historical landmarks, well designed products to make our life easier. Everything is digital now and there's something therapeutic about flipping through a magazine than zoning out on Pinterest. I'll gladly give up fashion magazines for space to house Design Bureau. I've looked back at my issues from a couple years ago and I still learn something from it. When I'm feeling stumped for creativity, I browse through the magazine for some inspiration. You can subscribe here and right now they're having a half off sale. 

Another thing I should clarify- I'm not working with Design Bereau, and this isn't affiliated. They have no idea I exist, I just really like the magazine and thought I'd pass it along. 

Book Reviews

I mentioned a few posts ago I was working on a collaboration with Beca and Doug, owners of the fabulous Tumbleweed Handcraft, which include handmade wooden glasses, along with a handful of wooden products. I get to do what I love- read, then write about the books I loved or disliked. Please check it out!

I'd love to know your thoughts on the books- have you read them and what did you think? 

So Long, Slow Readers

It's time I said goodbye to my beloved Slow Readers Book Club. My plate is full with my blog, Gadchick, and I'm still giving myself personal room to grieve with recent tragic events. I’m going to be working on a new project with Beca recommending books. I don’t have the energy to look after a group of people and run various social media accounts besides my personal ones, it’ll be great to just recommend a book with no pressure! I love keeping busy but I also know distractions will set me back and I want to move forward. It was hard letting it go. It introduced me to new books, I had the opportunity to interview authors, and I met fellow bookworms. 

These are the books we've read. My favorite book from the book club was The Virgin Suicides (read my review here) I loved it so much, my husband surprised me with one of the best presents ever. I'll be on goodreads, if you'd like to join my personal library. There is also the hashtag #slowreadersbookclub on Instagram, I’ll be updating there to share what I’m reading and I'd love to know what everyone else is reading. Maybe one day I'll have make time to come back to it, but right now it feels good to let it go. 

Elsie just started a book club, Danielle and Bobbi have great taste in literature, and Lauren, my favorite anti-blogger blogger, shares on Instagram. 

Thank you for supporting my little project, and a bigger thank you to Carly and all the women who helped me. 

A Wes Anderson Update

This is part two. Part one is here

I got a new book for Christmas, The Royal Tenenbaums screenplay in paperback. Yes, paperback! When you take away the brilliant actors, the colorful sets, and just leave yourself with your imagination and screenplay, you are left with a great story. 

It looks great on my small but grand shelf. I'm slowly collecting all the movies on the Criterion Collection. 

I was also sent a great print to add to my Royal Tenenbaums wall by Crystal of CAPow. Thank you, Crystal! I love it! I had to run out and buy a frame for it as soon as I opened it. You can see more here. 


I'm also looking forward to this 

I actually haven't gone to the movies since I had Max, I used to go everyday when I was pregnant (thanks to MoviePass and being pregnant in the summer of California, give me all the free AC). Now I have these anxiety attacks when I try to go. I'm sure there's a connection but I hope I hope I can get over that weirdness by the time this comes out in theaters. 

Enjoy your Monday! 

My Most Excellent Year

I'm not leaving 2013 without telling you about my favorite book of 2013. It's ironically called My Most Excellent Year, by Steve Kluger. It's a YA book, but unlike most YA books I've read, it doesn't involve fantasy, depression, sulking or angst. If I could do my teenage years over again, I'd want the main characters, T.C., Augie, and Al, to be by my side growing up with me. They are asked to write an essay of their most excellent year, and they have experienced a few ups and down for such a young age, but they have an uplifting attitude, and not just for teenagers. I wrote this on my Goodreads review, but it's worth repeating- This is one of the cutest books I've read. It's written in unconventional formats of letters, emails and IM's so it goes by quick. The characters are funny and charming, and I found myself smiling, and occasionally laughing, the whole time I was reading. The writing is sincere and Kluger does an excellent job making the reader feel like they're part of the story. After I read the last page, I wanted to give the main characters a hug. My Most Excellent Year is one of the inspiring books I've read. 

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I also can't leave 2013 and write about books without talking about Ned Vizzini. I remember blogging about one of his books, and thinking about the depression that almost took my own life as a teenager, and how it slowly followed me into my 20's. I also remembered how his books were one of the best I've read on the topic. I don't know how it happened, but even after the death of Max, I haven't struggled with it like I used to, but I'll always remember how awful it was. I grieve for his family and even his fans. I can imagine he saved many lives with his writing, and that's the legacy I want to remember him by. Not by the legacy that what he tried to warn others about took his own life. I hope you're at peace now, Ned Vizzini, you'll always be one my favorites. 

The Wes Anderson Collection Book

I completely forgot I pre-ordered this book and it's been waiting for me in a box. It's one of the most beautiful books I'll own, The Wes Anderson Collection. It's a series of essays, photographs, notes, and inspiration from Wes Anderson. I've blogged about his book on the making of Fantastic Mr. Fox here, and this is going to be a beautiful addition next to it. 

The Wes Anderson Collection cover on ourcitylights
The Wes Anderson Collection on ourcitylights
The Wes Anderson Collection Book inside cover on ourcitylights

My favorite part is the story behind 111 Archer Ave, also known as The Royal Tenenbaums home. The house was foreclosed and sold for less than most homes are sold for in Orange County. It didn't have any natural light in the kitchen, so they asked the neighbor to borrow their kitchen, but everything else was filmed inside the home. The house was also large enough to accommodate the entire crew in each room. There's more stories like this in the book, I recommend you read it yourself. 

The Wes Anderson Collection Archer Ave Essay on ourcitylights
The Wes Anderson Collection The Royal Tenenbaums essay on ourcitylights
The Wes Anderson Collection The Royal Tenenbaums inspo on ourcitylights

His section on Max Fischer is also another favorite. This is where my Mordecai Max's middle name comes from, Rushmore is one of my favorite films and as annoying as he was at times, he was so endearing and persevered despite his shortcomings. And yes, Mordecai was a tie-in to the book of Esther and Mordecai in the Royal Tenenbaums. 

The Wes Anderson Collection book Max Fischer essay on ourcitylights

I also learned recently Mr. Pagoda, Kumar Pallana passed away. He didn't have a large role in either of Anderson's movies, but it was enough to leave a strong impression on his movies. You can read more about his amazing life here I wrote back in 2009. RIP, you were my favorite. 

 

The Wes Anderson Collection The Darjeeling Limited Polaroids on ourcitylights
The Wes Anderson Collection Book The Royal Tenenbaums inspo page on ourcitylights
The Wes Anderson Collection Book Moonrise Kingdom portraits on ourcitylights

You can buy the book on Amazon, Target, Modcloth, and One Kings Lane.  

 

For Austen-ites

When I first read Pride and Prejudice, I thought Jane Austen was crazy. I didn't understand relationships, I haven't even had my first kiss yet, and I vowed to never be crazy like the women she wrote about. 20 years later, I understand perfectly why Jane Austen fans aren't just fans of the books, they're devotees of everything Jane. Most friends that love Austen have every edition of Pride and Prejudice, but do they have the comic book?

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Released by Marvel and illustrated by Hugo Petrus, it's a fun way to introduce Austen to fans who wouldn't like P&P. Get it here! 

 + For more P&P, Nan Lawson has a few great pieces for your home. My favorite are the Darcy and Elizabeth. Check out more here. 

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 + There are literally hundreds of books based on the characters, or the love of everything Austen. One that made it it's way to a movie is Austenland by Shannon Hale being made into a movie. Check out the trailer below and buy the book here.

 + Want to read about what inspired the Ms Austen herself? This quick and sweet read tells all- The Real Life Inspiration of Jane Austen's Work. 

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+ Did you know Jane Austen is getting her own £10 note? I may have to make a trip across the sea to pick one up by the time it arrives, 2017!

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There's so much Jane Austen all over the world, I'm excited to see what else I find. Enjoy the weekend, Austen-ites!  

The Riot Grrrl Collection

Before I would spend time online reading blogs, my entertainment was a new shiny zine. There wasn't an etsy to order them from, I would walk a few miles to the local record store (does anyone in Orange County remember Bionic Records? R.I.P.) and swap them with a group of girls from my neighborhood. My fingers would be black from the cheap printing. I was just a girl from the suburbs and this was my adolescent escape besides music. 

When I heard about The Riot Grrrl Collection, I instantly  wanted it in my library. I haven't read a zine in years but the nostalgic inside me wanted to take a peek at it. It was published by The Feminist Press at CUNY, which I had no idea existed even when I took a few classes there.  Maybe it was morning sickness, but flipping through the book and reading the preface written by Kathleen Hanna put a fire in my belly I haven't felt in years. 

The cover font looks a little different than what is advertised, but it's filled with xerox copies of handwritten lyrics, show flyers, essays from the most popular zines from Kill Rock Stars label, art and letters from readers.  If you grew up in the baby doll wearing, sassy magazine reading era of riot grrrl, this is something you need for old time's sake. 

You can purchase The Riot Grrrl Collection here on Amazon or Target

Unshelved for 2012

Last year, I had this crazy idea to not purchase new books for a year and read only what had on my shelf or Kindle. It was a great idea for a few weeks until I began reading books I hated. Not on purpose of course, but when I purchased these particular books my interest in them quickly went away unless I read it that day. One of the worst things in life is a terrible book, or just a book you don't want to read. One of the beauties of adulthood is reading whatever you want. So after having absolutely no interest in the spies of George Washington (and some school books I saved- WHY?), I gave up this plan. I felt like it was another failed attempt at my projects and I felt even more like a failure because I went public with it, and it involved books I owned. 

Yes, it sucked and I felt crappy but I quickly dusted off my bookish ego and it made me appreciate the books I truly do love. This also made me stop purchasing books, unless I absolutely loved them and wanted to show them off on my shelf. I still pick up books from my own bookshelf from time to time, but there's nothing like a good book, no matter where it came from. After being completely honest with myself, regardless of how critically great, huge or pretentious stories looks in my house, I got rid of items I would never read, and that's okay. I know letting go is part of growing up, and I'm okay with failing as long as the lesson was there for me all along. 

rgrphotoaday challenge

I usually participate in photo challenges on Instagram but they don't last long. I was really excited for Marissa's photo challenge- literary and book based, rgrphotoaday If you love reading, this is the challenge for you. It's only up to 6 days, you still have time to catch up. Here are some of mine- 

Day 6- Haul. I want to read Agatha Christie this summer. 

Day 6- Haul. I want to read Agatha Christie this summer. 

Day 4- While I Read. On Saturday we went to Sprinkles and walked over to the Newport Beach Library Book Sale. 

Day 4- While I Read. On Saturday we went to Sprinkles and walked over to the Newport Beach Library Book Sale. 

Day 1- What I'm Reading. Thanks to Ashley for  the recommendation on Goodreads, it's a silly book I need right now. 

Day 1- What I'm Reading. Thanks to Ashley for  the recommendation on Goodreads, it's a silly book I need right now. 

There's still some great prompts left in the photo challenge, follow along and participate. 

Slow Readers Update!

For new readers- Slow Readers Book Club is a book club based on the slow movement. At the time I began this, I read a few books at the same time and I wasn't able to enjoy what I really read. I need to start being a "slow" reader again. I finished Dewey the Library Cat and a few minutes later picked up Tim Gunn's Fashion Bible. The same night, I dreamt of an orange tabby cat in culottes shopping at Chanel. I knew I needed to take a moment and breathe in the books I read. I would love to actually remember them, my favorite quotes, and why I even picked up the book in the first place. I don't want it to be another number on my Goodreads list (not that it's that big anyway). 

My priorities have changed over the past two years and thankfully Carly has taken over to keep this going. Here are the books you suggested! We choose one fiction and one non-fiction. 

Le Cirque des Rêves,  the circus of dreams, can only be visited at night. Present in the darkness and gone in the light, this mysterious and magical story that both intrigues and leaves you on the edge. Follow Celia and Marc, two illusionists, as their adversarial relationship transforms on stage, at the night circus. Morgenstern's words are carefully woven - strands of love, fantasy, and dream-like wonder complete this tale and leave the reader wanting more. 

Have you ever taken a closer at your personality style? Are you an extrovert or an introvert? Cain's book explores the quietest people in the world - Introverts. Even if you don't consider yourself an introvert, Cain does a great job of helping you to understand yourself and your quieter counterparts. Did you know that 1/3 of the people you know are actually introverts?  Learn and gain insight to the ways in which introverts have shaped our world, from Albert Einstein to Rosa Parks, and realize how we have adopted the "Extrovert ideal". Check out Susan Cain's TED Talk aboutThe Power of Introverts here

These are excerpts from our newsletter, sign up! We are also on tumblr, facebook, and twitter. And to those that have been reading as slow as we have since the beginning, thank you! 

Baby Lit

I'm excited for all the baby books I'll be reading. As much as I love digital books for the convenience, there is an appreciation to holding a book in print. We love classic literature in our home (so much Scott even made a Shakespeare app for people to understand the Elizabethan language better). Jennifer Adams and Alison Oliver make great books together. Between the illustrations and the witty writing fit for kids, I want the whole collection. I saw them on sale on Zulily for half off! Most of the items are hit or miss but it's worth signing up, I'm waiting for more books to go on sale. If you don't want to wait for the sale, they're on Amazon

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The inside of the Moby Dick book

The inside of the Moby Dick book

The inside of Alice in Wonderland

The inside of Alice in Wonderland

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I reviewed the digital copies of these here on Gadchick if you want to check it out. 

Reading Playlist

Some readers prefer the silence, but I like music in the background. It can't be something new I've been looking forward to listen to- I'll be distracted by the lyrics and lose attention to my book. Over the years, I've found my niche in what works for me- mostly instrumental but beautiful written music. I've compiled some music that hopefully you'll enjoy on your reading adventure as well. (If you can't see the playlist, you can listen here)

What do you like to do during reading? If you love music, I'd love to hear your favorites.

Eli's Literary Take On Fashion

So I haven't had much time to blog but that doesn't mean I stopped reading blogs altogether. I may not be as active or comment as much, but I'm lurking. One of my favorite bloggers, Eli, who began one of my favorite series, A Literary Take on Fashion, is looking for a few good (wo)men to share their take on fashion on their favorite book. Some examples and some of my faves;

I hope to contribute soon, but in the meantime, I suggest you literary babes go out there and share your ideas with Eli.

Off Switch Magazine Issue 4

When I first opened up Off Switch Magazine, it wasn't a magazine. It was like a book, in a different format. I was curious to read each page, study the photographs, and just like any great book, I was sad when it ended. I can't wait to order Issues 1-3. They are beautiful magazines to have displayed after you've poured your time into them. I was so happy when Katie, editor of Off Switch, asked to publish one of my stories. I do a lot of ghost writing for my job and it was such a great feeling to finally see my real name in print. I've gotten to know Katie over the past year. She's becoming one of my favorite people online (we somehow make trashy tv sound like we're researching for our thesis). I'm so proud of her and the Off Switch Magazine team. Go check it out here. Off Switch Magazine

Off Switch Magazine

Off Switch Magazine

Off Switch Magazine