Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Oh the Pages I've Read // Book Reviews

I used to be a massive reader but that slowed down a bit when I was in college and working full time. I sort of forgot how much I loved reading for a while which is pretty sad. Luckily, I have rediscovered my love obsession and am now making sure I make time to read every day, even if it's just for a few minutes. There's nothing quite like getting lost in a good book but even reading a few pages will help me clear my mind and relax a bit.

Now that summer is coming to a close I thought it would be a good time to review all the books that I read over the past few months. I didn't read quite as much as I had hoped but I am still plugging along with my goal of 1+ book/month. 

Xenocide by Orson Scott Card - This is the third book in the Ender's Game series and probably my least favorite so far. I really liked Ender's Game and LOVED Speaker for the Dead but this one didn't quite click with me as well. I would still totally recommend the series and this book does have some really strong points in it, I was just a bit disappointed with the ending.

The Shock of the Fall by Nathan Filer - I picked this up at a bookstore while traveling (I totally buy books based on their covers, btw) and I really enjoyed it. It's a really touching story about someone struggling with a mental illness. 

The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window & Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson - This was my favorite book of the summer by far. I literally could not put it down. I saw this book on Design Darling's 10 Books to Read this Summer and thought it looked fun. The story is great and the writing is witty; I've been recommending this to everyone I know!

Perfect by Rachel Joyce - Not my favorite. The cover caught my eye and the teaser sounded interesting but this definitely wasn't worth the read. 

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn - This is another must-read. I cannot wait for the movie to come out this fall! The story was totally captivating and Gillian Flynn is a very clever writer!

The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold - I've wanted to read this for awhile but never got around to it. It's a sad/disturbing story but I thought the perspective made it a really interesting read. Alice Sebold did a really good job of capturing and portraying so many different emotions throughout the book. I enjoyed this but it wasn't as strong as I thought it could be.

What did you read this summer? Any favorites I should add to my reading list?

P.S. You can follow along with what I'm reading on Goodreads.

Friday, September 5, 2014

What I Pack In My Carry On Bag

With all of the traveling I've been doing over the summer it has started to feel like I am constantly unpacking and repacking my suitcase. I'm honestly not the best packer, I always end up bringing way too much stuff and then I never feel like wearing half of it. One thing I am good at though is packing my carry on. I thought I would share what went in my bag this past weekend on my trip to Orlando!

1. Cute Bag - I usually bring a large Longchamp tote or a cute backpack. I pack my essentials from my purse in this and pack a small crossbody in my checked bag.

2. Reading Material - I rarely have time to read magazines at home so I keep a pile of unread ones to choose from when I travel. I always bring two good books, one in my carry on and one in my checked bag in case I finish the first.

3. iPad - I'm pretty sure this is a travel necessity for everyone. I don't like to read on my iPad (I love real books way too much) but I keep mine stocked with my favorite TV show (Inbetweeners), a few movies (I'm always in the mood for Marley & Me), and, of course, plenty of games. 

4. Make-Up Bag - I try to minimize my make-up for traveling and just bring the basics and a small eyeshadow palette. 

5. Notebook/Journal - I'm big on list-making and would rather jot things down on paper than my phone so I always bring at least one notebook with me wherever I go. Plus you never know when someone might suggest an amazing restaurant to try or museum/park to check out!

6. Chargers & Cables - I keep anything electronics related in here and always carry it on it case my bag gets lost.

7. Small Pouch - This has a random mix of little things I like to always have on hand - metro cards, Advil, Chapstick, hand lotion, etc.

8. Wallet - Obviously.

What are your travel essentials? Any favorite movies or tv shows for long trips?

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Vacation // Orlando, FL

George and I just returned from a great mini-vacation to Orlando, FL to check out the newly expanded Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Guys, this place is AMAZING! I'm a massive HP fan/nerd but I am pretty sure that even non-fans would be impressed by this place. The rides are some of the best I have ever been on but what really got me is the attention to detail, they do such a good job of making you feel like you are really there!

Last time we went (for our Honeymoon), I took TONS of pictures but this time I was more into taking in all the cool stuff and didn't want to miss anything hiding behind a camera. There are so many neat little details and I'm sure there are still some that I missed! Here's a little recap with the few photos I did take:)

Hogsmeade Station for the new Hogwarts Express. So worth getting park-to-park tickets to ride this! Make sure to go both ways as they are totally unique!

Beautiful Hogsmeade.

I celebrated my birthday while we were there and George writes me a Hogwarts admissions letter every year:) This year I actually got to ride the Hogwarts Express on the 1st (my birthday)!!

Diagon Alley - so amazing. The dragon on top of Gringotts breathes fire every half hour.
Entrance to the Gringotts ride, probably my favorite of them all! The lines were pretty long for this one (30-90 minutes depending) but it was so worth it. Plus, there are a lot of cool things to see while you are in line so it doesn't end up feeling that long.

You can't tell from the photo but the photos under the headlines were actually moving!

Heading to Hogwarts on September 1st!

View of the outside of the expansion - they've got the Knight Bus, King's Cross Station, the shops on either side of the entrance to Diagon Alley and Grimmauld Place.

Love this view of the castle!

I obviously highly recommend visiting the park. However, make sure to take into account that it is a theme park and very busy and tiring. We went for two and a half days which was probably pushing my limits a bit. Also, definitely try to stay close to the park, either at an onsite hotel or one nearby. We stayed at the Doubletree which is across the street from the Universal entrance and it worked out great, we saved a bunch on cab fares and it was close enough to walk to the park for the day and then back at night to go to dinner at CityWalk.

Have you been to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter? Any theme park tips for future visits?