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What I Read: June

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Hello fellow bookworms! It’s hard to believe it is the end of another month of reading! The books covered in this post will be on the light side–only four–because in addition to these four new reads, I also reread the entire A Court of Thorns and Roses series. Because I am obsessed. I am honestly thinking about going in for round three this month, but I’m trying to make myself read some new stuff! Aside from ACOTAR, here’s what I read this month:

Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia: This book is one of the many reasons I love Owl Crate. I doubt I would have picked up this book on my own, because based on the cover, it is not something I would have been drawn to. However, I fucking loved this book. I wish this book had been around when I was a teenager because it spoke so much truth to my introverted self. If you have ever felt like the weird one, whether at school or in your family or in your job, this book is for you. I have so so much love for so many aspects of this novel. It obviously spoke to my introverted self, but also to my creative self, as it examined the pressure to create, and this weird balance of creating for you while also creating for your audience. It’s an interesting take on that relationship, one I only know from the audience side of things, but could someday end up struggling with as a writer. But I cannot say enough good things about this book. Read it. ASAP.

Alex and Eliza by Melissa de la Cruz: I’m not going to tell you my thoughts on this book here, since we discussed it in the latest episode of Down to Fangirl. So go download the podcast and hear all of Brianna’s and my thoughts!

Prodigy by Marie Lu: This is the second book in the Legends series. I really enjoyed Legend, but I struggled a bit with Prodigy. It could be ACOMAF interference–once I start reading that book, I don’t want to read anything else–but I didn’t love it as much as the first one. I did just buy Champion, the final in the trilogy, and I am hopeful I will enjoy it. The one thing I really liked about Prodigy is the shift in the Les Mis retelling. In the first book, the two main characters are modeled after Jean Val Jean and Javert. However, in this one, the love triangle very much resembles the Cosette-Eponine-Marius relationship, which is cool.┬áIt’s definitely worth a read, especially if you liked Legend.

Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson: This is the second book I’ve read by Morgan Matson after seeing her speak at the LA Times Festival of Books, and it was just as enjoyable as the first one. I don’t typically love contemporary YA literature, but Matson’s stories are such fun reads. In particular, her dialogue always rings so true (coming from someone who listened to teenagers for eight years). This is the perfect book to read during the summer: humorous, fun, romantic, and still touching and thought-provoking. I’m looking forward to reading more of her books!

Even though it was a light month of reading, it was a good one! I’m aiming for seven new books in July, so make sure you check back then, and follow my bookstagram to keep up with all my reads!


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Owl Crate Subscription Box: June

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It’s that time of month book-loving friends, aka my favorite day of the month, time to check out the latest offering from Owl Crate! If you are new to these parts and have never heard of Owl Crate, well suffice to say, it’s the shit. Owl Crate is a monthly subscription box designed for lovers of young adult literature. Each month’s box includes at least one book, plus several other bookish goodies that are always themed and super fun to unveil. This month’s theme was Make it Out Alive, which I loved, and the box had not one, but two amazing books! Here is a look at what we received this month!

Alright, I hate to start out with kind of a whimper, but one of the first things I saw was this zombie sleep mask from Archie McPhee. I’m so not into zombies so this one is kind of wasted on me. However, I am super stoked to use this Divergent themed bath bomb from Fizzy Fairy Apothecary (also, adorable shop name). Each bomb has a faction charm inside, can’t wait to see where I end up!

One of the first dystopian novels I ever read was The Giver by Lois Lowry, so I am mega into this patch from Laserbrain Patch Co. And if you have been paying attention to my bookstagram (@coffeebookswinerepeat) you know that I am now OBSESSED with A Court of Thorns and Roses, so I was beyond excited to see this bookmark from Hey Atlas Creative. We also got a sweet magnet from Little Inklings Design with a quote from An Ember in the Ashes, which I haven’t read, but have on my list.

And like I said, we got TWO books this month. The first is called New World Rising by Jennifer Wilson, and is about a girl trying to survive in her dystopian world (you can rarely go wrong with that premise in my book). We also got a special edition with an exclusive cover of The Sandcastle Empire by Kayla Olson, which I can’t wait to dive into.

Another awesome Owl Crate box! The theme for the July box is Wanderlust, which sounds amazing, and once again, I am counting down the days until it arrives. If you are interested in subscribing to Owl Crate, please use my referral link, right here! Thanks friends and happy reading!

 

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DTF Podcast Episode 3 Show Notes

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Hello friends and listeners! I don’t have too much to direct you to for this week’s episode of the Down to Fangirl podcast, but definitely check out some of the books and TV shows we talked about this week (namely, Game of Thrones!). And please make sure you tune in next week as we continue our GoT recap series, and we chat about our book club pick, Alex and Eliza. And if you haven’t already, please make sure you subscribe and leave us a five star review!

Books to Check Out:

And catch up on Game of Thrones!

On this week’s episode, we also talked about Summer of Heroes and Guardians of the Galaxy Mission Breakout. If you want to see some of my pictures, check out my Mission Breakout review post!

Thanks again for tuning in, and we hope to see you back next week! Don’t forget to subscribe to Down to Fangirl and leave us some love!

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Guardians of the Galaxy Mission Breakout

Well Disney loving friends, Guardians of the Galaxy Mission Breakout (formerly Tower of Terror) has been open for almost a month now and I still have only been on it one time. Not exactly a toddler friendly ride, so my chances to experience it have been limited. However, that one time was pretty effing awesome. This post is going to take you through the highlights of the exterior and interior lines of the ride and I am going to talk about the ride itself, so if you haven’t been on it yet and you want to be surprised, come back and read this post later (but like stick around and read some other stuff while you’re here, won’t ya?).

Okay, so other than the (ugly) glaring new facade of the ride, the outside line area is pretty similar to what it was before. There is new music piping through the speakers, however it is not (sadly) the GoG soundtrack, it’s just the instrumentals. This was a conversation Brianna and I had several times while waiting in line and after the ride: why are we not getting to listen to one of the best movie soundtracks ever while we wait in line for an hour and a half? I’m guessing the answer to that question is simple: royalties. I imagine Disney wasn’t willing to fork over the cash for the rights to the songs, so instead we get boring background music.

As soon as you step up to the doors of the ride, the changes hit you in the face. The whole concept of the ride is that the tower is now home to Tivan’s collection (hence the large gold statue at the entrance, btw, how freakin’ cool for Benicio Del Toro). The interior part of the line is filled with all kinds of cool displays.

These cool (and hard to photograph) cube thingys hang from the ceiling and a huge screen occupies the majority of the back wall of the room. The screen shows a message from Tivan, interrupted by a message from Gamora and Quill, which basically sets up the premise of the ride (breaking out!).

 

My biggest complaint about all the new stuff in the interior is that you don’t spend much time in this section, so you don’t get to see everything and take it all in, and you don’t get to see the full video. I also hate spending an hour waiting in line outside only to be inside for three minutes. Kind of a bummer (though I think this is a fire/safety precaution). I wanted to have more time to look at everything in the space, which I guess will happen as I ride the ride more.

Just like before, riders are led into the “library”, which is now supposed to be Tivan’s office. Instead of our favorite Twilight Zone video, we now are privy to Rocket’s plan for breakout, and we get an animatronic Rocket too.

My favorite part of the interior line space was seeing Harold! Harold used to reside in the Matterhorn, but got demoted for a newer, younger model. So now old Harold lives in the tower, which I think is awesome. Not much has changed in this portion of the ride line, other than the addition of the yeti.

And then we get to the ride itself. Guys, I loved it. It tells a story, incorporates humor and good music, and still has all the thrills of the original. Plus, Chris Pratt. The drops are not the same as they were before (and I’m interested to ride it more and see if the drops are now randomized, which ToT at Disney World has always had, but we never did). I laughed, I screamed, my stomach felt like it flew out of my body…it was everything I could have asked for. I was not as attached to the original ToT as some so I wasn’t totally depressed with this change (though I am scared of what else we will lose as Hollywood Land becomes Marvel Land…bye bye Monsters Inc :(), and I have to say, I think the new ride is an awesome addition to DCA. I don’t love the way the tower itself looks as a backdrop in the park, but the ride is amazing, and I didn’t see a single person exiting the ride without a huge smile on their face. So I think it’s a hit.

Have you been on Mission Breakout yet? What did you think?

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DTF Episode Two Show Notes

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Hello friends (and hopefully listeners) and welcome to the second installment of the Down to Fangirl podcast. This week Brianna and I shared all of our feels associated with the amazing Wonder Woman. Then we took you through the major plot points of Game of Thrones season six, episodes one and two. We hope to get you all caught up on last season’s big events before the season seven premiere in July! I really hope you will download it and check it out, and please reach out on social media (@falonloveslife everywhere) and let me know what you think!

Here are some links to books/shows/podcasts/fun stuff we referenced in this week’s episode:

I am currently obsessed with the You Must Remember This podcast, which you can find here. And also, don’t forget to read our book club pick, Alex and Eliza, which we will be discussing during our July 6th episode!

This week we drank watermelon cucumber margaritas, which can be made by mixing one shot of tequila, one shot of margarita mix, and two shots of watermelon cucumber juice (found at Trader Joe’s; you can add more or less juice depending on your tastes).

Thank you so much for tuning in and checking us out! Please make sure you subscribe to the Down to Fangirl podcast and leave us some sweet reviews!

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A Road Trip to Phoenix

So last year we managed a five hour car ride with a two year old, and to be totally honest, it was pretty easy, all things considered. So much so that we may have gotten a wee bit cocky when planning our family vacation for this summer. We decided to go to Phoenix, Arizona for a couple of reasons. One, it’s close enough to drive. Two, we haven’t spent much time there in the past. And three, it’s home to Chase Field, which was one of the baseball stadiums we hadn’t yet visited. I totally thought Squirt would have no problems with a six hour car ride. Because I am a dumb-dumb. He was hot and cranky and whiny AF all the way there and all the way home. So far, not digging age three. Here’s hoping next summer he will be a better traveler. But that didn’t put too much of a damper on our trip itself, and we had a lot of fun once we actually got to Phoenix.

Pretty much the only time Squirt was happy on the drive was when we stopped in Cabazon to check out the big dinosaurs. The dinos are located near the outlets in Cabazon (close to Palm Springs) and are a great place to stop and stretch, especially if your little one is into dinos. Most of the attractions are part of the museum, which you have to pay for, but there is this T-Rex, plus a big brontosaurus that has a dino filled store inside of it that are accessible for free. Squirt was more than fine with the free exhibits and the only hard part was getting him to leave.

As soon as we made it to Phoenix we checked into our hotel and went straight to the pool. Matt and I were in desperate need of a drink, so we got some margaritas and enjoyed the sunset from the cooling waters. Squirt loves swimming so it was a good way to get him in a happy mood once we’d arrived.


On our first full day in Phoenix, we checked out the Desert Botanical Garden, who were kind enough to host us on our trip to explore their property. I have to say, it was gorgeous and there was so many cool plants and animals and artifacts to check out. But it was also about 110 degrees out and Squirt and I just couldn’t handle it. Poor Matt. We didn’t last nearly as long as I wanted to and I’m bummed we didn’t get to see more. If you are going to Phoenix, I would 100% recommend the Botanical Garden, but only during the off months, or early, early hours of the day. We hit the pool as soon as we got back to our hotel as we were in desperate need of a cool down in tempers and temperatures.

On our second day in Phoenix, we spent the day in the pool, and then headed over to Chase Field for our first home Diamondbacks game. The visit marked the eleventh stadium Matt and I have been to together, and number three for Squirt. We still have a long way to go on our stadium tour, but it was awesome to check another one off our list! More on our experience at Chase Field is coming soon, suffice to say, thank God for their roof.

On the day we were planning to head home, we had one final stop to make, at the Musical Instruments Museum. Matt is a musician and Squirt is obsessed with all of his instruments, so this was a no brainer for us. Both boys LOVED the museum. I loved the AC. There were so many cool things to see, the museum will be getting its own spotlight post soon. It was a highlight of the trip and I’m just sad we didn’t get to spend more time there.

Overall, despite the crazy heat, we had a really fun family trip to Phoenix. Matt and I have both determined that we would much rather take Squirt to new places every year than spend money on birthday parties and toys (please God, no more toys). I think traveling is so important with little ones, and I want to give Squirt the opportunity to do and see all kinds of new things as he grows up. Now it’s time to start planning next year’s trip, and hoping and praying a four year old Squirt is less cranky than three year old Squirt.

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DTF Episode One Show Notes

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Hello friends and fellow nerds! A few weeks ago my geeky/Disney bestie Brianna texted me and asked if I’d ever thought about starting a podcast and I was like uh, hells to the yeah I have, let’s do this. Thus, DTF was born. And it’s Down to Fangirl, get your minds out of the gutter! DTF will be a weekly podcast where Brianna and I talk about all of our favorite things: Harry Potter, Disney, Game of Thrones, Star Wars, musical theater, YA lit–if it’s nerdy, we’re going to talk about it. Each week I will be posting show notes to go along with the podcast episode that will include links to stuff we’ve talked about, drink recipes, photos, all kinds of fun bonus extras. We would LOVE for you to check out Down to Fangirl and please let us know what you think!

For our first episode, we spend a little time doing some get to know you questions and basically just getting you, our lovely listeners, acquainted with us and our show. Then we delve into our recap of the 2017 Tony Awards, which we had some mixed feelings about. Here are some of the books we mentioned during our first episode (all come highly recommended by Brianna and/or me):

In addition to those awesome selections, we also announced our first book club selection, which will be Alex and Eliza by Melissa de la Cruz. We are both super stoked to read this book as we are huge Hamilton fans and we can’t wait to share our thoughts with you on our July 6th episode!

Brianna has been busy listening to the Dear Evan Hansen soundtrack, while I have been obsessed with Newsies lately (both the soundtrack and the digital download of their live performance). Both are awesome!

                               

I also mentioned some obscure but worthwhile film experiences to check out. One is the documentary Shakespeare High, which follows real life high school students who participate in one of the country’s longest running theater festivals. Tony host Kevin Spacey is an alum and is featured in the documentary, along with other famous DTASC alumni. I also mentioned the filmed version of Orlando Bloom’s turn as Romeo in Romeo and Juliet, in a short-lived Broadway production. The play itself is not great, but he’s gorgeous (obvi).

           

We had SO MUCH FUN recording our first podcast episode and I cannot wait to bring you more and more fangirl schenanigans over time. Next week’s episode will kick off our Game of Thrones season six recap series to make sure we are all prepped and ready for the season seven premiere next month, so if you need a refresher, make sure you tune in! We would so love it if you would download our first episode and leave us some love! And if you are really digging us, please subscribe! Tune in next week for episode two!

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