Holiday Gift Guide – Bookish Gifts

Back when this was a beauty blog, I used to love creating gift guides for the holiday season. With December fast approaching, I thought it’d be fun to make a bookish gift guide. I’m sure we all have someone in our lives who loves to read, and I picked out some of my favorite bookish selections.

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Which bookish gift would you love to give or receive?

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Book Review – The Fir Tree

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Title: The Fir Tree

Author: Hans Christian Andersen

Illustrator: Sanna Annukka

Synopsis: Hans Christian Andersen’s tragic tale of naive greed and dissatisfaction is retold through the striking and contemporary illustrations of Finnish illustrator Sanna Annukka. Cloth-bound in rich forest green, with gold foil embellishments, The Fir Tree is elevated from a children’s book to a unique work of art and makes an ideal gift for people of all ages.

Rating: 5-stars

After receiving The Snow Queen and falling in love with the gorgeous art style by Sanna Annukka, I couldn’t resist choosing this copy of The Fir Tree. The story is about a little fir tree that wants nothing more than to be tall and important. He keeps waiting for the best moments of his life to happen, and doesn’t end up appreciating his current situation until it is too late. It’s a very quick and easy read, and definitely makes you take a moment to appreciate and assess your own life. It’s too easy to get caught up into things and not appreciate the small moments in the present. I think this is a great book for all ages because adults will be able to appreciate the gorgeous illustrations and the story is simple enough for children to understand and appreciate.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review, however all opinions are my own.

Movie Review – Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

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I’m not sure that movie reviews are going to be a staple feature on my blog, mostly because I’m weird about movies and tend to get bored halfway through and want to move onto something else, but I figured it might be fun to talk about sometimes.

Since I just posted my review of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (the book), I thought it’d be fitting to talk about the movie while it’s still fresh in my mind. This review will contain spoilers, so please stop reading or proceed cautiously if you don’t want anything spoiled.

The movie starts out with a bit of backstory in which the protagonist, Jake (Asa Butterfield), is shown pictures and told stories by his grandfather, Abe (Terrence Stamp), about a home for peculiar children that Abe used to live in, run by Miss Peregrine (Eva Green). The older Jake gets, the less he believes these stories, until his grandfather suddenly dies and Jake comes face to face with something horrifying.

He is sent to therapy to cope, and after getting a birthday present from his late grandfather, he and his father (Chris O’Dowd) set off to a small island off the coast of Wales so that Jake can discover the truth about his grandfather’s stories.

The first half of the movie was pretty fast paced in which Jake met Miss Peregrine and the peculiars, who were charming but didn’t get much of a chance to shine. I didn’t really like the fact that they changed Emma and Olive’s powers for the movie, although I understand why it had to be done to make some later scenes work. I liked Ella Purnell as Emma. She looked perfectly ethereal in her blue dress while floating in the air. I felt that she was a bit more firey in the book, personality-wise and literally with the fire power, and I missed that. I did like her shoes, though. I wouldn’t mind a pair of those myself, as long as they didn’t weigh as much as they did in the movie. 😉

I wanted more time getting to know the kids and Miss Peregrine. I really liked Miss Peregrine in the book, but in the movie I felt like she was there for one minute and gone the next. Judi Dench was on screen for a brief moment as Miss Avocet, which was a tiny role and seemed like a waste of her talent, but I guess even a little cameo is nice.

The second half of the movie is where it started to go downhill for me. Samuel L. Jackson shows up as Mr. Barron, the shapeshifter who has deceived Jake by posing as his therapist and we find out he led the hollow to kill his grandfather, Abe, in the beginning of his movie. Mr. Barron takes Miss Peregrine and other ymbrynes (women who can manipulate time and turn into birds, and overseers of peculiar children to protect them) to perform an experiment try to achieve immortality for himself.

I’m pretty open-minded when movies stray from the books, but I just couldn’t stay on board once they got to the amusement park. It felt like an excuse to use a bunch of CGI, like with the skeleton fight scene. I liked Enoch (Finlay MacMillan) in the movie, but I felt like his struggles in the books with his power, being a dead-riser, felt a lot more believable than all of a sudden commanding an entire skeleton army to do his bidding against the hollows.

I won’t spoil the ending completely, but I thought it felt pretty farfetched and did not go in the direction I thought it would. It strayed a lot from the ending of the book, but I haven’t read the second book yet so maybe it’d still be a good set up for the next movie (if they make another one).

Overall, the movie left me wanting something. Everyone was likeable enough, except Mr. Barron, of course, but I felt like it lacked the charm and depth that the book had. I was so invested in the characters while I was reading the book, but I thought a lot of them felt pretty flat in the movie. The acting was believeable, though, and I liked the cinematography. The town Jake and his dad visit and the house Miss Peregrine and the children live in were exactly how I pictured them. My husband (who has not read the book) thought the movie was good. It seems that the movie is easier to accept when you’re not comparing it to everything that goes on in the book. I still think it’s worth a watch, but I did not like it as much as I hoped I would, and definitely not as much as I liked the book.

Rating:  pink-stars-three

Have you seen the movie? How did you feel about it?

Book Review – Why Not Me?

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Title: Why Not Me?

Author: Mindy Kaling

Synopsis: In Why Not Me?, Kaling shares her ongoing journey to find contentment and excitement in her adult life, whether it’s falling in love at work, seeking new friendships in lonely places, attempting to be the first person in history to lose weight without any behavior modification whatsoever, or most important, believing that you have a place in Hollywood when you’re constantly reminded that no one looks like you.

Rating: 5-stars

I have been a huge fan of Mindy Kaling’s ever since finding her hilarious as Kelly Kapoor on The Office. I’ve read her other book, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns), and loved it. She seems like the best friend I’ve always wanted or the older sister I’ve never had. I find her writing style and general sense of humor really appealing, part self-deprecating and mostly just really funny.

Why Not Me? is a perfect book for any fan of Kaling. Her humor shines through perfectly as she tackles subjects from fame, jobs, love, and her dislike of weddings. I found myself thinking, “Yes, that’s exactly how I feel!” on nearly every page of the book. Her writing style is down-to-earth and relatable and I felt like I was reading my own inner monologue at times or a close friend’s thoughts. She has a really relatable way of writing that makes you feel like you’ve known her for ages.

This is a quick and easy read, but definitely a lot of fun. It doesn’t ever get too deep and I really like how the topics are broken up into little essays that flow nicely from one to the next and I didn’t find myself ever getting bored. I highly recommend this book if you’re a fan of hers because it was just as enjoyable as her first book and her bright personality and sense of humor shine through perfectly.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review, however all opinions are my own.

Book Review – Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

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Title: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

Author: Ransom Riggs

Synopsis: A mysterious island. An abandoned orphanage. A strange collection of curious photographs. 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 were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a deserted island for good reason. And somehow—impossible though it seems—they may still be alive.

Rating: 4stars

I think I was one of the last people on the planet to have read Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, and even though I was late to the party, I am so happy I decided to read it. I had seen the movie trailer and thought it looked interesting, but I always like to read the book before seeing the movie, so I made sure to finish it quickly so I could see the movie soon.

This is one of my favorite books I’ve read in a while. I instantly liked Jacob, the main character, who doesn’t quite fit in where he lives and isn’t happy, but he still manages to be endearing and funny, and definitely brave and intelligent. A tragedy shakes up his whole world and leads him to a small island off the coast of Wales. I thought the author’s use of imagery painted a perfect picture of the island and its residents, and also Miss Peregrine and the children. Each child was fascinating, and I loved learning about what makes them each pecuilar.

I’m trying to be as spoiler-free as possible in this review, because I was so happy to have read this book not really knowing exactly what I was getting into and discovering all the twists and turns that the plot took. I think this book had a perfect balance of humor, adventure, and definitely a dash of spookiness. The book isn’t too scary, but I definitely had moments in which my heart was pounding while I was reading.

The book is full of old photographs of (mostly) children, all of which have a bit of an odd vibe to them, and it really added to the story. It was fun to see the pictures depicting a certain event or character. It made me really want to scour thrift stores and other places and start collecting old photographs and trying to figure out the stories of the people in the pictures.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this book and the blend of magic, oddity, spookiness, humor, and adventure it had. I experienced many emotions while reading this, from happiness to sadness to feeling completely unsettled and at times I felt like I had to look over my shoulder, just to be safe. I thought this was a perfect October read because of the whimsical, yet creepy nature it has. I recommend this book to anyone looking to go on an adventure and wanting a bit of spookiness along the way. It’s a fun and easy read, and I can’t wait to start the next book in the series.

Book Review – The Snow Queen

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Title: The Snow Queen

Author: Hans Christian Andersen

Illustrator: Sanna Annukka

Synopsis: Hans Christian Andersen’s magical tale of friendship and adventure is retold through the beautiful and intricate illustrations of Finnish illustrator Sanna Annukka. Cloth-bound in deep blue, with silver foil embellishments, The Snow Queen is elevated from a children’s book to a unique work of art. It is an ideal gift for people of all ages.

Rating: 5-stars-2

 

This version of The Snow Queen is goregous. As soon as I saw the cover, I fell in love. It’s a true work of art, rather than just a fairy tale. The illustrations are gorgeous and unique, and I love the art style. Many of you are probably familiar with the fairy tale itself, which is broken up into seven smaller stories. It is an easy and enjoyable read, and I think this book is great for all ages because adults will appreciate the detailed illustrations, and children will enjoy looking at the pretty pictures while reading (or being read) the story.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review, however all opinions are my own.

Book Review – Mindfulness: A Journal

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Title: Mindfulness: A Journal

Author: Catherine Price

Synopsis: Featuring a sleek, modern design in a toteable, giftable package, Mindfulness: A Journal provides the user with a series of simple journaling prompts designed to nurture a positive, calming framework to approach the day. Each of the writing prompts provides the user with space to examine one’s self and ponder some of the basic tenets of mindfulness. The journal can be completed at whatever pace the user prefers to work at (daily, weekly, etc) and features inspirational quotes sprinkled throughout, as well as introductory material on the practice of mindfulness and a list of resources for further reading.

Rating: 5-stars-2

 

I’ve had journals like Mindfulness: A Journal before, but this is my favorite by far. The prompts it has really make me think and I look forward to taking a moment out of my day to journal in here. I definitely have my dose of daily stress and this journal has helped me recognize that and also find ways to deal with it and help me relax. I do like the mix of inspirational quotes that then lead into prompts.

The most recent prompt I did was to write a list of ten activities that relax you and then go ahead and take some time to do one of those things. Coming up with ten activities was a lot harder than I thought it would be, and I really appreciated the time to have some self-reflection. It made me realize that I need more relaxing things in my life and I shouldn’t feel guilty about having some “me time”.

The prompts range from self-reflection to encouraging you to spend a period of time without technology to going and doing something you’ve always dreamed of. I love the variety of the prompts and I think that this journal will help me become less stressed and also become a better person because its main goal is to help you be mindful and appreciate things that you normally take for granted. I look forward to working my way through the rest of the journal because it has already taught me a lot about myself and I’ve only had it for about week.

Have you ever had a journal? Did you like it?

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review, however all opinions are my own.