January Wrapup


Read:

  1. Make Your Bed: Little Things That Can Change Your Life… And Maybe the World – William H. McRaven *review*
  2. Up to This Pointe – Jennifer Longo *review*
  3. The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living – Meik Wiking *review*
  4. Elantris (Elantris #1) – Brandon Sanderson *review*
  5. The Hope of Elantris (Elantris #1.5) – Brandon Sanderson *review*
  6. The Bane Chronicles – Cassandra Clare, Sarah Rees Brennan, Maureen Johnson, and Cassandra Jean *review*
  7. The Boyfriend List (Ruby Oliver #1) – E. Lockhart *review*

Aubrey Joy

Review: The Bane Chronicles – Cassandra Clare, Sarah Rees Brennan, Maureen Johnson, and Cassandra Jean


The Bane Chronicles – Cassandra Clare, Sarah Rees Brennan, Maureen Johnson, and Cassandra Jean

The Bane Chronicles

Title: The Bane Chronicles

Author: Cassandra Clare, Sarah Rees Brennan, Mauren Johnson, Cassandra Jean

Release Date: November 11, 2014

Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books

Format: Hardcover

Page Number: 507

Source: Barnes and Noble

Fans of The Mortal Instruments and The Infernal Devices can get to know warlock Magnus Bane like never before in this collection of New York Times bestselling tales, in print for the first time with an exclusive new story and illustrated material.

This collection of eleven short stories illuminates the life of the enigmatic Magnus Bane, whose alluring personality, flamboyant style, and sharp wit populate the pages of the #1 New York Times bestselling series, The Mortal Instruments and The Infernal Devices.

Originally released one-by-one as e-only short stories by Cassandra Clare, Maureen Johnson, and Sarah Rees Brennan, this compilation presents all ten together in print for the first time and includes a never-before-seen eleventh tale, as well as new illustrated material.

5 out of 5 stars


I love Magnus Bane.

I’ve already read all these stories, but it was nice to reread them and get back into following one of my favorite characters from this series. My favorite stories were the ones with Alec, of course. Alec and Magnus are one of my favorite couples from this series and I love getting to see them together again.

It’s crazy how many of these stories I had forgotten. I’ve always been up to date with the Cassandra Clare books and read them right when they come out *except for QoAaD, but we don’t talk about her yet….* so I read this originally back in 2014, which is 5 YEARS AGO. Crazy stuff.

I don’t have a ton of thoughts behind these stories because I’ve already read them so I knew all the little connections, but it was fun to read about old characters again. I really like Raphael’s stories and it was cool to see Tessa in today’s time instead of Victorian London.

I’m excited to continue my reread of this series; I’m almost to The Dark Artifices again!!

 

Aubrey Joy

Review: Elantris (Elantris #1) – Brandon Sanderson


Elantris (Elantris #1) – Brandon Sanderson

Elantris (Elantris, #1)

Title: Elantris (Elantris #1)

Author: Brandon Sanderson

Release Date: May 30, 2006

Publisher: Tor Fantasy

Format: Mass Market Paperback

Page Number: 622

Source: Barnes and Noble

Elantris was the capital of Arelon: gigantic, beautiful, literally radiant, filled with benevolent beings who used their powerful magical abilities for the benefit of all. Yet each of these demigods was once an ordinary person until touched by the mysterious transforming power of the Shaod. Ten years ago, without warning, the magic failed. Elantrians became wizened, leper-like, powerless creatures, and Elantris itself dark, filthy, and crumbling.

Arelon’s new capital, Kae, crouches in the shadow of Elantris. Princess Sarene of Teod arrives for a marriage of state with Crown Prince Raoden, hoping — based on their correspondence — to also find love. She finds instead that Raoden has died and she is considered his widow. Both Teod and Arelon are under threat as the last remaining holdouts against the imperial ambitions of the ruthless religious fanatics of Fjordell. So Sarene decides to use her new status to counter the machinations of Hrathen, a Fjordell high priest who has come to Kae to convert Arelon and claim it for his emperor and his god.

But neither Sarene nor Hrathen suspect the truth about Prince Raoden. Stricken by the same curse that ruined Elantris, Raoden was secretly exiled by his father to the dark city. His struggle to help the wretches trapped there begins a series of events that will bring hope to Arelon, and perhaps reveal the secret of Elantris itself.

A rare epic fantasy that doesn’t recycle the classics and that is a complete and satisfying story in one volume, Elantris is fleet and fun, full of surprises and characters to care about. It’s also the wonderful debut of a welcome new star in the constellation of fantasy.

3 out of 5 stars


You guys. I finally finished this book after reading it for a month!

Elantris follows three main storylines of Raoden, Sarene, and Hrathen. Raoden is the Prince of Arelon, Sarene is from Teod and is to get married to Raoden, and Hrathen is a Derethi priest sent to convert everyone in Arelon to the Derethi religion.

This book is really hard to explain because there’s so much going on at all times, it’s actually crazy. In short, there is a ton of politics, super cool magic, interesting characters, and a slowly developing plot that wraps up nicely at the end.

This is a typical high fantasy in the sense that it is mostly surrounding intricate politics. I really enjoyed this book and was debating between 3 and 4 stars. I would give the first 3/4 of the book a solid 3 stars, but the last 100ish pages would definitely be 4 stars. So I’m going with my gut and saying 3 stars is a solid way to describe the book.

It was such a slow read for me. This could be because I started reading it when I started backpacking around England, so I was a little preoccupied with… literally everything. I didn’t have a lot of time to read during the trip, so that could have also contributed to it feeling a little disjointed. I also just feel like this is a slow-paced book. It was a really good book, but you have to love reading in order to get through it.

I personally really enjoy “slow burn” books where it takes awhile to get everything sorted out and figure out what’s happening, but it’s also kind of exhausting. This book was 622 pages long, so when I was reading it, it felt like it took me forever to make any notable progress. That being said, I think it was a beautifully crafted book.

I really enjoyed the characters of this book, and the story was definitely character driven. There was a lot happening with the plot, but it mostly focused on the characters. I loved Raoden and how he developed this second life when he got sent to Elantris. I think it said a lot about his character and morals because he didn’t just give up or give into the pain he was feeling.

At the time of reading it I REALLY wanted him to tell Sarene who he was once she started going into Elantris, but after finishing the book, he told her at the perfect time. Any earlier and it would have disrupted the story, and any later it would have been too late. I love them together and seeing how much they love each other just makes my heart so happy.

The magic system was pretty cool, but it took so long to actually get to anything dealing with the magic. I honestly think this book could have been at least 150-200 pages shorter. There was a lot of this book that wasn’t necessary to the story to be able to understand and appreciate what was happening.

I’m looking forward to reading more Brandon Sanderson books because I’ve heard that the Mistborn trilogy is AMAZING. I enjoyed his writing style, so can’t wait to pick those up!!

 

Series:

The Hope of Elantris (Elantris #1.5)

Review: Up to This Pointe – Jennifer Longo


Up to This Pointe – Jennifer Longo

Up to This Pointe

Title: Up to This Pointe

Author: Jennifer Longo

Release Date: January 19, 2016

Publisher: Random House

Format: Hardcover

Page Number: 361

Source: Thrift Store

Harper Scott is a dancer. She and her best friend, Kate, have one goal: becoming professional ballerinas. But while Kate is a naturally gifted dancer, Harper has had to fight for every step. And now it’s make-it-or-break-it time: if their auditions go wrong, their dreams are over. Harper won’t let anything—or anyone—get in her way, not even the boy she and Kate are both drawn to.

Harper may not be a natural, but she is a Scott. She’s related to Robert Falcon Scott, the daring explorer who died racing to the South Pole. So when Harper’s life takes an unexpected turn, she finagles (read: lies) her way to the icy dark of McMurdo Station…in Antarctica.

Extreme, but also somehow fitting—apparently she has always been in the dark, dancing on ice this whole time. And no one warned her. Not her family, not her best friend, not even the boy who has somehow found a way into her heart.

3 out of 5 stars


This book was good, but I wasn’t blown away.

For some reason I decided to not finish the last 50 pages of this book before leaving for my 17 day England travels, so when I came back and finished it, it felt a little disjointed. That was all on me, though, because I just chose not to prioritize it…

Up to This Pointe follows a girl named Harper Scott who wants to be a professional ballet dancer. Her dream has always been to be in a ballet company, but something happens and her dreams are momentarily put on pause. She decides she needs to get some distance from San Francisco and finesses her way into going to Antarctica for researching for 6 months.

She jumps on a plane and heads out to the frozen tundra where she is finally able to be seen as herself and not just “the dancer.” She meets people and makes new friends who help her see she has other interests instead of just dancing.

I related to the whole “oh my gosh my life isn’t what I thought it would be right now and I have no idea what I want to do with my life” more than you will ever know lol. I have been having all these same feelings for a couple months, so I related so much to this! I also don’t know if I want to go into the professional dance world even though I’ve been dancing for almost 15 years of my life. Life is weird, guys.

I didn’t love the relationships or the ways they were portrayed throughout this book. Harper meets this super cute and sweet guy in San Francisco who really likes her, then she just leaves and goes to Antarctica. Fine. No worries, I guess, but then she meets another guy while she’s there. I don’t think she really likes him I just think that she’s “dating” him because it’s convenient and she wants attention. But then other times I think she actually does like him. I don’t know. But the original super sweet awesome cute boy from San Fran is sending her emails and letters and she just doesn’t read them.

?

What the heck. Why wouldn’t you read them and respond? She likes him. A lot. Or so she said before she left, so idk why she wouldn’t look at them. Plot device? I don’t know.

He also just keeps sending them even though she isn’t responding. I admire that his character has resilience, but that is totally not what would have happened. He would have emailed for maybe a month and then got the message that she wasn’t interested. Because that’s what she was portraying to him. Just seems a little fishy to me.

There was also LITERALLY NO WAY she would have gotten the opportunity to go to Antarctica.

  1. She’s not even a science student. She’s not going to college and she graduated school early.
  2. She has no skills that they would have possibly known would be useful to being there.
  3. She applied to go and knew she was going within such a short time.

Not realistic at all. People would be waiting to go and working for years and years to get a spot on the list. There literally no possible way that could have happened… but this is also just a book, so I’ll give it a little grace.

I know there was a lot of negative in this review, but I actually did enjoy a lot of this book. I love books about dance, even though it’s not always done in a way that makes a ton of sense.

The reality of dance is this: it’s a lot of hard work for not a super great reward all the time. You work for hours a day and might not get a part because you’re too tall or won’t fit into a costume. Dance is so subjective and that makes it so difficult. You could have amazing technique, but your body doesn’t fit the type they want. Again, a lot of work for not always a great reward.

I loved the family dynamic because everyone was so close; it reminded me a lot of my own. I’m so close with everyone in my family, so it’s nice to see a strong family unit that doesn’t have any disruptions in it.

Overall I enjoyed this book and would recommend it to anyone that dances because there are some little tidbits of info that only a dancer would understand :)

Review: Girl, Wash Your Face – Rachel Hollis


Girl, Wash Your Face – Rachel Hollis

Girl, Wash Your Face: Stop Believing the Lies about Who You Are So You Can Become Who You Were Meant to Be

Title: Girl, Wash Your Face

Author: Rachel Hollis

Release Date: February 6, 2018

Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Format: Hardcover

Page Number: 240

Source: Gifted

Do you ever suspect that everyone else has life figured out and you don’t have a clue? If so, Rachel Hollis has something to tell you: that’s a lie.

As the founder of the lifestyle website TheChicSite.com and CEO of her own media company, Rachel Hollis developed an immense online community by sharing tips for better living while fearlessly revealing the messiness of her own life. Now, in this challenging and inspiring new book, Rachel exposes the twenty lies and misconceptions that too often hold us back from living joyfully and productively, lies we’ve told ourselves so often we don’t even hear them anymore.

With painful honesty and fearless humor, Rachel unpacks and examines the falsehoods that once left her feeling overwhelmed and unworthy, and reveals the specific practical strategies that helped her move past them. In the process, she encourages, entertains, and even kicks a little butt, all to convince you to do whatever it takes to get real and become the joyous, confident woman you were meant to be.

With unflinching faith and rock-hard tenacity, Girl, Wash Your Face shows you how to live with passion and hustle–and how to give yourself grace without giving up.

5 out of 5 stars


This book was filled with so much wisdom and great advice, and I think any female-identifying individual would gain insight from this book. There were so many moments that it felt like Rachel Hollis was speaking directly to me! I loved pretty much everything about this book!

The writing style made this book so memorable to me. Rachel Hollis is so honest with all of her stories and advice, that it makes it so much more believable. Some self-help books make you feel like the author has it together and has this perfect life and is above you because they know something you don’t, but Rachel Hollis writes like she’s a real person. Crazy concept, but that’s what makes it so great! She doesn’t talk down to her readers, and just wants to create something useful for people to read.

There were a few chapters that I couldn’t completely relate to because I’m not married and I don’t have kids, but I there was something I could gain from every page of this book. I’m so excited to have kids in the future, so I know that I will be able to remember some of this book or reread it to help me more once I’m in that stage of my life.

I already want to reread this even though I just finished it. I feel like that always shows how great of a book it is! I annotated this book, so I have sections I liked underlined for future reference. I think I will love being able to flip through this book and read my underlined passages when I need some inspiration.

Another thing, this book was so inspiring. It made me want to get up and actually live my life. I’m only 19, so I think it’s an amazing thing that I already feel like this, but I don’t want life to just pass me by. I want to be the one controlling my world, and I think that’s where the main message of the book comes in.

You are responsible for your own happiness.

I think I will come back to this mantra time and time again because IT’S SO TRUE. My mom has always told me that “you choose happiness” and that is exactly what the message of this book was, so I could completely relate to it. I love this because you truly are the one who decides your own life. Yes, there are situations you can’t avoid, but you choose how you react to those situations.

FAVORITE QUOTES:

“You are in control of your own life. You get one and only one chance to live, and life is passing you by. Stop beating yourself up, and dang it, stop lettings others do it too. Sop accepting less than you deserve. Stop buying things you can’t afford to impress people you don’t even really like. Stop eating your feelings instead of working through them. Stop buying your kids’ love with food, or toys, or friendship because it’s easier than parenting. Stop abusing your body and your mind. Stop! Just get off the never-ending track. Your life is supposed to be a journey from one unique place to another; it’s not supposed to be a merry-go-round that brings you back to the same spot over and over again.”

“Stop waiting for someone else to fix your life! Stop assuming that some day it will magically improve on its own. Stop presuming if you only had the right job, the right man, the right house, the right car, the right whatever that your life will become what you’ve always dreamed of. Be honest about who you are and what you need to do to make change.”

“Girl, get ahold of your life. Stop medicating, stop hiding out, stop being afraid, stop giving away pieces of yourself, stop saying you can’t do it. Stop the negative self-talk, stop abusing your body, stop putting it off for tomorrow or Monday or next year. Stop crying about what happened and take control of what happens next.”

Review: The Simple Guide to a Minimalist Life – Leo Babauta


The Simple Guide to a Minimalist Life – Leo Babauta

The Simple Guide to a Minimalist Life

Title: The Simple Guide to a Minimalist Life

Author: Leo Babauta

Release Date: October 26, 2009

Publisher: Createspace

Format: Audiobook

Page Number: 105

Source: Scribd

3 out of 5 stars


I liked the concept written about in this book, but I feel like nothing was talked about deep enough to have a lasting impact.

I love learning about other people’s recipes for minimalism; it’s refreshing and nice, but I didn’t really relate to this book that much, honestly. I think there were some amazing points, but again, not enough depth.

Formatting, I think this book was effective. I listened to it on audiobook, but each new section started with a quote from someone talking about living more simply. I think this was a nice touch, and gave some more context to the book as a whole. I didn’t enjoy how short the chapter were, though. I wish that it had been longer and had gone into more detail.

I think some of the stuff Leo talked about was a little too hardcore for this being a “simple guide” to minimalism. He was saying that in some aspects of your life, what you’re currently doing is wrong and you should do it his way. At least that’s how I interpreted it.

I think the best part of this book were the sections on finances. I am 19 and am just starting my “adult life.” My parents are amazing and are providing my education for me, but I’m at the PERFECT point in life to start thinking about how I’m spending the money I’m earning.

Too many people spend money they haven’t earned, to buy things they don’t want, to impress people they don’t like.

This was my favorite quote from the whole book, because it’s so true. My parents have always instilled in me to not leave beyond my means, and thats what this whole finance section was about. It’s so refreshing to read something in the EXACT way I’ve always thought about money. I don’t have a credit card, and don’t plan on getting one because my debit card will suffice. I don’t see it ending well for me to be given the opportunity to spend money I don’t have. I love this quote because it’s unbelievably true.

So many people have things that they don’t own. Be it financed cars, a super huge mortgage, thousands in student loan debt. A lot of people don’t own their things, and that’s something that honestly blows my mind. My parents have always been the ones to buy their cars by writing a check; they haven’t financed anything. They paid off their mortgage in a short amount of time. I’m so lucky to have grown up in an environment where actually owning your things has been a priority.

Overall, I enjoyed this book because I think there was plenty of information that was helpful and valid, but I wish it would have gone deeper into the ideas behind minimalism more.

Review: Van Life: Inspiration for Your Home on the Road – Foster Huntington


Van Life: Inspiration for Your Home on the Road – Foster Huntington

Van Life: Inspiration for Your Home on the Road

Title: Van Life: Inspiration for Your Home on the Road

Author: Foster Huntington

Release Date: October 10, 2017

Publisher: Black Dog & Leventhal

Format: Hardcover

Page Number: 256

Source: Barnes and Noble

Showcasing hundreds of gorgeous and inspirational photographs of vehicles in idyllic settings with unique, quirky interiors from around the world, Van Life who anyone daydreams about living off-the-grid while on the ultimate road trip.

More and more people-from millennials to baby boomers-are taking a break from conventional life for the freedom, tranquility, and adventure of being on the road and living in a converted vintage truck, camper, or van.
One of these van-dwellers, Foster Huntington, created the #vanlife hashtag as he chronicled his adventures living in a van while driving it across the country. He tapped into a community of like-minded individuals looking to explore nature at their own pace and live a debt-free lifestyle.
Van Life showcases the best crowd-sourced photographs from Foster’s tumblr account, van-life.net, many of which have never been posted. Organized into sections like Volkswagen vans, American vans, converted vans, school buses, and more, the hundreds of photos include shots of the unique vehicles, the beautiful locations they’ve been parked including stunning beaches, dramatic mountains and picturesque forests, fully designed interiors with kitchens and sleeping quarters, and more.
Also included are interviews with solo travelers, couples, and families who are living this new American dream.

5 out of 5 stars


This book was beautiful and I think it served it’s purpose well. There wasn’t a ton of information throughout the book actually talking about van life, but there were a lot of beautiful photos that really inspired me to want to take the leap towards van life.

If you saw my last review (Zero Waste) I mentioned there that I have been getting more and more interested in the idea of minimalism and zero waste. Included in that short list is also van conversions. This has been a more recent obsession, but I love the idea of using this vehicle as a home for traveling.

I’m so fortunate to be living in the middle of the US, so it’s fairly easy to go any direction, so I think van life would be a wonderful option for me. I love traveling, and I think this would be an interesting way to travel, even if it’s just for a few weeks or months at a time.

Overall, I do wish this book had more information about what van life is actually like, but there are also other resources out there specifically for that. I’ve been watching tons of van conversion videos on YouTube, and just recently watched the documentary “Expedition Happiness.” *highly recommend, by the way. beautiful movie*

I’m just inspired even more to travel, but alas. I’m stuck in one city because of college for the time being. Soon, though. Maybe this summer will consist of at least one road trip.