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What I Read: April

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April was a pretty solid month for reading. I finished one awesome series and started another one and read some other great novels in between. And I managed to exceed my goal of five books per month. So go me! Here’s what I read in April:

Ten Thousand Skies Above You and A Million Worlds with You by Claudia Gray: I read the first book in this series last month and really enjoyed it. It’s definitely more sci-fi based than I usually read, but Gray created such a cool world, and such relatable characters that I really got into it. I read all three books within the span of about two weeks and I wanted more! I will be seeking out more books by Gray (who has also written some Star Wars tie-in novels) because I loved her writing style. I even learned some stuff about physics!

Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty: So I have read a couple of Moriarty’s books in recent months and absolutely loved them. I had high expectations for Truly Madly Guilty, and I don’t know that they were met. It took me a long time to get into this book, I didn’t have the immediate connection to the characters that I’ve had in her other books. Also, the whole toddler incident hit a little too close to home for me, and some moments were hard for me to read. But even without that personal aspect, I don’t feel like this one was as good as The Husband’s Secret or Big Little Lies. Still a good read, just not as good as I have come to expect from Moriarty.

This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab: So this book was in an Owl Crate box a long time ago and I’ve just never got around to reading it. I liked it, though it took me a while to really get into it. The concept was intriguing and I was a fan of the whole Romeo and Juliet kind of spin on the relationship between Kate and August. I don’t know that I’ll run right out for the next book, but I could definitely see myself picking it up at some point. It was a little more gruesome than I like, but I liked the two main characters so much that it kind of made up for the gore.

 

Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge: I was kind of eh about this one. I love the idea of a Beauty and the Beast retelling, but I didn’t love this one. I think my main issue was that I didn’t like either of the main characters. Both were kind of annoying, along with being not super nice people, so it made it hard for me to care about what happened to them. I liked the concept, but found the execution lacking.

Legend by Marie Lu: I really enjoyed this first book in the Legend series. I was recommended Legend by a friend of mine who is a librarian since it is loosely based on Les Mis, which I love, and also because I am working on a retelling of my own. If I hadn’t know it going in, I’m not sure I would have picked up on the Les Mis notes in this, but I think I would have enjoyed it all the same. I love the world that Lu has created, and again, the two main characters are relatable and likeable. I already ordered the second book in the series, so that should tell you something about how much I enjoyed the first one. I also got to here Marie Lu speak at YallWest this past weekend and it was really cool listening to her thoughts on dystopian YA lit.

All in all, April was a great month of reading. I have a seriously long TBR for the next couple of months and I don’t know how I am going to make the time to finish all the books I want to read. But I’m sure I will find a way! What are you currently reading?


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Life Right Now

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Hello friends and welcome to another edition of Life Right Now. I haven’t done a Life Right Now post in a long time, and well, there’s a lot going on these days, so I figured I would share some updates! Things have been crazy, in a good way, and I am about a week away from wedding madness season, so life is about to get interesting (and tiring, but again, in a good way). Here’s the happs:




Making bookmarks! I may or may not be obsessed with these watercolor bookmarks.
Drinking Corona Light and lots of Chardonnay. Also lots of Vanilla Sweet Cream Cold Brews.
Reading so. many. amazing. books. Seriously guys, I am on fire with the YA reading and it’s so good. Some recent faves are Legend, the Firebird series, and Caraval.
Wanting to finish my YA novel!
Playing Hamilton! Four and a half months until I get to see it again!


Wishing there were about six more hours in the day.
Enjoying the new season of Southern Charm. Minus Landon.
Waiting for A Court of Wings and Ruin to come out so I can start the series.
Liking our new living room set up (the key was hiding Matt’s instruments and Squirt’s toys).
Wondering if I am going to be able to find a literary agent this year.
Loving the inspiration from the LA Times Festival of Books and YallWest.
Hoping my YA book gets published!
Needing some sleep. As always.
Wearing shorts and tees and flip flops. Welcome to summer!


Following lots of pretty bookstagram accounts, find mine @coffeebookswinerepeat!
Noticing why the term “threenager” was coined.
Knowing that summer is going to be crazy busy!
Thinking about my next contemporary romance book.
Anticipating lots of long, hot days coming soon!
Celebrating the publication of my first contemporary romance novel! Buy it here!
Laughing at Squirt (as usual). His personality is really coming out these days and he is constantly amusing me.
Feeling happy, excited, hopeful, and accomplished.



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Owl Crate Subscription Box: April

Well book friends, it’s hard to believe, but May is already here. How the eff did that happen? That means it’s time to take a look at this past month’s Owl Crate box. I was super excited about the Head Over Heels theme, and though this box didn’t turn out to be as girly as I had expected, it still turned out to be a super cute box. Here’s what I got this month:

This Pride and Prejudice headband from Storiarts is adorable. I don’t think I’m nearly cool enough to pull it off, and since my Disney bestie Brianna is a big Austen fan, I’ll be passing it along to her. My Levi and Cath (from Fangirl) candle from Novelly Yours smells so freakin good! Coffee and chocolate are two of my favorite things ever, and pumpkin is such a great scent for candles, this was probably my favorite item from this month’s box. This keychain from Bookworm Boutique is cute, but I actually haven’t read Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda, so I need to get on that before I tote around the keychain.

I am supes excited about this month’s book, The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli. I legit had it in my hands at the bookstore a week or so ago, but I was good and put it down (my TBR is out. of. control.) and then a couple days later, found it inside my Owl Crate! It was obviously meant to be.

I’m planning on starting A Court of Thorns and Roses in May, and this beautiful print from Evie Bookish has me stoked for it. And I can’t wait to drink this chocolate (!!!) tea from The Tea Spot. Yes please.

Overall, a very cute box this month! The theme for the May box is Comic Explosion. I’m not a huge comic fan, but I have embraced Marvel thanks to Disney so hopefully I’ll find some cool stuff in the box that I can connect with. If you are interested in checking out Owl Crate for yourself (and if you haven’t picked up on the fact that it’s awesome yet, please go back and read all of my OC posts!) please use my referral link and help me earn some free boxes! Thanks friends!


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LA Times Festival of Books

On Sunday, I had the pleasure and privilege of volunteering at the annual LA Times Festival of Books. I am ashamed to say that I had never even been to the festival before, but I don’t think I will be missing it ever again because it was so awesome. When I arrived for my volunteer check-in, I was assigned to book signings, and since I was there early, I got to choose which area I wanted to work in. I obviously chose the Young Adult signings booth, which was luckily right next to the YA Stage. During my four hour shift, I got to listen to three different panel discussions with some of the top YA authors, including Melissa de la Cruz, Morgan Matson, and Shannon Hale.

After each discussion, the authors came over for book signings, and I was literally standing right behind them the entire time. Listening to the conversations the authors got to have with their fans was so inspiring. I teared up several times throughout the day (seriously, I don’t know how the authors kept it together) hearing these teens talk about how much books mean to them. I don’t know if I can actually put into words the effect the whole experience had on me as an aspiring YA author.

After my shift ended, I headed over to one of the lecture halls on USC’s campus for a panel discussion with four of the top YA authors: Jennifer Niven, Nicola Yoon, Angie Thomas, and Nina LaCour. I reviewed Niven’s first YA book, All the Bright Places, here on the blog, and I also absolutely loved Yoon’s The Sun is Also a Star. I have books from the other authors on my TBR list. It was incredible to hear four amazing female authors talk about everything from their writing process to their inspiration and research to the craziest thing they did as teenagers. The panel was absolutely awe-inspiring and I am so glad that I was able to attend.

la times festival of books

I of course focused on the YA booths and event happening at the festival, but every genre of book was well-represented. There was a great kids section, along with horror, romance, mystery, basically everything you could ever want from a book festival. If you are in the LA area, I would highly recommend attending the LA Times Festival of Books if you can because it was an amazing and inspiring day!


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The Scum and Villainy Cantina

Several months ago, an event popped up in my Facebook feed, advertising a Star Wars themed pop up bar in Hollywood called the Scum and Villainy Cantina. I immediately went online and bought tickets and then promptly forgot about it until a few weeks ago when reservations for the bar opened up. Matt and I decided to go to SVC during his spring break, so we chose a Wednesday evening at 6:00. Each ticket came with two drink tokens, a souvenir glass and a souvenir coin, along with access to the bar for two hours (which was plenty of time).

We arrived to the “secret” (not so much anymore) location about a half an hour before our reservation, and found a parking spot on Cahuenga immediately. If you have ever tried to park in Hollywood, you know how next to impossible that is. We were the second group in line, so we could have gotten there later and been fine, but I always prefer to be early. About fifteen minutes before our entrance time, we were checked in and given our two drink tokens. We were let into the bar right at 6:00.

scum and villainy cantina

Inside was dark and foggy (and terrible for taking pictures). There wasn’t a ton of decoration, per se, it was really more like we had actually walked into a bar in space. The music was eclectic and nerdy–I mean, they played the Flash Gordon theme song by Queen so I had no complaints about that. In general, I thought they captured the atmosphere of a space cantina pretty well. We grabbed two seats at the bar and cashed in our first tokens. Tokens were only good for specialty cocktails or  beer, but they did also have a full bar. First I tried the Big Bang. All of the cocktails came with a glowstick in them.

With my second token I tried the Dark Side of the Moon. Both of the cocktails were fine. Neither was so amazing that I would order them again, but they were both tasty and seemed to have a decent amount of alcohol.

scum and villainy cantina

The best part about being at SVC was the people watching. A lot of people (most, really) came in costume and everyone was willing to pose for pictures, which was fun for us since we didn’t dress up. We saw some really cool outfits.

scum and villainy cantina

Matt totally photo bombed my Stormtrooper selfie.

scum and villainy cantina

About a half an hour before our time was over, the big guy came out. It was fun to see the Stormtroopers (who were guests at the bar) immediately flock to his side and flank him as he walked around the bar.

scum and villainy cantina

Matt and I had a really fun time hanging out at the Scum and Villainy Cantina. We didn’t try any of the food since it all seemed pretty generic (we hit up In N Out on the way home, which is really the only way to do it), but we enjoyed the drinks. The prices for the other drinks at the bar seemed pretty on par with most of Hollywood, and while tickets for the bar were a little steep (I think we paid $50 per ticket), I found the whole experience to be worth what we paid.

As far as I know, there are no more reservations available for SVC, but they do have some walk up spots available. I would check their website and/or social media channels for the latest updates on accommodating walk ups. If you are a Star Wars fan in the So Cal area, I would 100% recommend checking out the experience. It was definitely a fun and nerdtastic experience!

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DIY: Watercolor Bookmarks

Since so much of my life has been consumed with books these days–reading, writing, reviewing, Instagramming–it’s only fitting that I become obsessed with bookmarks. When I was younger and had a significantly better memory, I never used bookmarks because I could just remember what chapter or page I left off on (seriously, how was that a thing I could do?). But now I am old. And I have one or two billion other things on my mind. And I refuse to fold down the pages of my books. So bookmarks it is! I’ve started quite a collection, and while some of my favorites are the free ones from bookstores, I have also been buying some cute ones on Etsy. Which of course, led me to the idea to make some for myself. And I found out how easy it is to make some super cute bookmarks with just a few supplies. I love how they turned out and I can’t wait to make more!

First, I printed out some designs on white cardstock. When I do this project again, I will use paper that is thicker than standard cardstock so the bookmarks have a little more weight. These were super easy to design in Word, I just made a text box the size I wanted and then typed in some fun book-themed phrases. I suck at cutting a straight line so I used my paper cutter, but you could just cut out the rectangles with scissors if you are cool like that.

I let the printer ink dry for a little while to make sure it didn’t smear. In the meantime I set up my watercolors. I used a simple Crayola set that had all the colors I wanted. I had some extra brushes ready but I really only used the one that came with the set. I also had some mini cups of water ready and paper towels on hand for clean up and brush wiping.

diy watercolor bookmarks

I waited about an hour after printing the bookmarks from my computer before I started the painting, which was plenty of time. I chose to do a couple of different color combos and kept two of the bookmarks one color. I have to say that the rainbow one is probably my favorite.

diy water color bookmarks

I let the bookmarks dry overnight and then I took a black Sharpie and went over some of the lettering that had faded from the paint. I also put them under some hardback books for a few hours so they flattened out a little since the paint made the edges curl up a bit. This is the final product…

diy watercolor bookmarks

I love how these came out and I will definitely be making some more in the future. What book quotes or phrases do you like? Give me some idea so I have some for my next round! And make sure you follow my bookstagram account, @coffeebookswinerepeat!


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DCA Food and Wine Festival Highlights Part Two

So the 2017 Food and Wine Festival is quickly coming to an end (sob!) and I am so sad to see it go! I have tried lots of yummy food and drinks at the festival this year, and I kind of wish we had access to all this yumminess all year long. But alas, these goodies will be leaving us shortly (April 16th) and then it will be time to countdown until next year’s festival. I made a lot of progress on my food and drink checklist in the past two weeks so of course I have to share all the goodness with all of you. If you missed part one of the highlight reel, you might want to check that out first. Get ready to get hungry!

Okay, so this is the real highlight for me: the French Onion Mac and Cheese from the Onion Lair. OMG. Probably one of the best mac and cheese dishes I have ever tasted. So flavorful and cheesy and amazing. Also from the Onion Lair is the Chocolate and Raspberry Feuillete Tart. It was a tasty pastry, but it wasn’t anything super fantastic. It kind of tasted like a fancy Pop Tart.

On my one trip to the festival sans Squirt, I took full advantage of being childless for the day and imbibed in all the wine. On the left is the Mimosa Flight from Uncork CA. I liked all of the different flavors, but my favorite was the apricot. It was a surprising choice, but it was yummy. I wish they had included a berry flavored mimosa to balance out the flavors, but the ones they included were all good. On the right is the Sangria Flight, and again, they were all tasty. I loved the peach, but the white sangria was also super good.

These are two items that were on the menu last year, and were definitely highlights of the festival. The Maple Bacon Whoopie Pie was just as delicious this year as it was last year, and I’m glad I got it again. The Smoked Bacon Mac and Cheese was good, but it wasn’t as good as the French Onion Mac. It needed salt and maybe some variation in the cheese flavors in order to make it awesome.

I didn’t actually eat this Garlic Rosemary Ice Cream, but my Disney bestie Brianna did. I did sample a bite, and it was not my thing, but Brianna really liked it. I want my ice cream to be sweet, not savory, so this is not an item I would order on my own. Glad I tried it though, because it was definitely interesting!

At the Paradise Garden Grill, we ordered the Pretzel with Beer Mustard and the Beer Braised Pork Tacos. The pretzel tasted like a pretty average pretzel, and while I liked the mustard, I prefer my pretzels with cheese. If it had come with beer cheese, it would have been bomb!

The tacos were amazing. The pork was really tender and the apple slaw on top was the perfect complement. I had been craving good tacos for a couple days when I had these and they really hit the spot.

I have a couple more items on my list that I really want to try before the festival is over, but if I don’t get the chance, I am overall really pleased with everything I sampled this year. There wasn’t anything I ate or drank that I just straight up didn’t like. There were definitely some items I loved more than others (woot woot mac and cheese), but everything was good and I would eat most of the items again if I could.

Have you been to the Food and Wine Festival this year? What was your favorite food or drink item?

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