Friday, January 13, 2017

{Mini-Bloggiesta} Happy New Year!!!

Friday, January 13, 2017 with 4 comments


Happy New Year, Y'all! I know I was absent for the holidays, but there was just so much to do to prep for the New Year, I didn't really have time to spare. One of my goals for this year is to dedicate more time to this blog, so I wanted to start out by joining the mini-Bloggiesta event for this weekend, which involves spending as much time as I can on my to-do list. If you're interested in doing the same, you can sign up HERE.

My To-Do List For This Event (to be completed by end of 1/15/17)

❏ Complete all drafted posts and schedule them for publishing.
❏ Plan out next week's blog posts.
❏ Create sign-up posts for upcoming blogger events that I want to participate in.
❏ Clear out blog email.
❏ Comment on other Bloggiesta participating blogs.
❏ Explore possible options for my next blog layout.

And that's it! I don't want to burn myself out by trying to attempt more, so I'll stick with the above, as they all seem like reasonable goals. Thank you for tuning in!
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Wednesday, December 07, 2016

The Most Useful Tools For Getting Sh*t Done

Wednesday, December 07, 2016 with 4 comments
Girlxoxo, Estella's Revenge, & Traveling With T have teamed up to bring us the December blogger event, #AMonthOfFaves2016, in which daily writing prompts are provided (M-F) as a way for bloggers to share their experiences over the past year. It's a great way to re-cap our thoughts on 2016, so I decided to join in on the fun!


Today's prompt is all about the tools that help us the most when trying to get things done. Now, I'm not gonna lie - I do struggle with both maintaining focus (I'm very easily distracted) and procrastination, so I need all the help I can get. Here are a few things that have helped me stay organized:



Honestly, any life planner will probably do, but my planner of choice is the Erin Condren Life Planner, which I will never stop gushing about. I have NEVER found an electronic calendar that I've actually followed, so I need to have something tangible to look at. And yes, I track pretty much everything on it: bills, work deadlines, habits, time-of-the-month, etc.

Writing things down helps me commit things to memory better, and decorating does, too (plus, it's fun!). I've found that there have been certain events that I needed to recall by memory, and I was able to do so because I would remember "Oh! This happened during the week I decorated with a Frozen theme. I remember it happened on Friday because that's where I put the Elsa sticker!" Nerdy? Yes. But I love it, and it helps me (and trust me, I basically have the memory of a goldfish, so this has made a huge difference in my life).

Plus, I love the layout of the EC, and how high quality it is. I got the chance to meet Erin Condren and hear her speak at a convention earlier this year, and I really loved her, so I'm more than happy to continue supporting her business by buying her products - I feel the planners are well worth the $55+ price tag, since I use them daily. If the price is a bit high for you, however, there are some decent planners available at Target.

A couple other planners that I've tried out and like are the KitLife Planner and the Day Designer. I recommend that you research which planner and layout works best for you (there are a TON of helpful reviews to be found through Google), as I know that everyone's planning style is different.



Are there any book bloggers out there that don't use this site? I don't know where I'd be without Goodreads - even before I started blogging, I'd use it for everything. Not only can you track what books you've read or are currently reading, but you can also: 
  • update which page you're on (very useful if you're reading a long library book & have to return it before you can finish because it's on hold)
  • save your favorite quotes by either 'liking' them or adding them to the database
  • find out what your friends are reading
  • get curated recommendations based on your previous ratings of books (their recommendation system is the best I've ever seen - I constantly find amazing books through it)
...I could go on and on, but I'll just stop here. I LOVE Goodreads!

*Note if you're looking for a similar website to track TV shows & movies that you watch, then I recommend Trakt. Since I'll watch things on multiple platforms (TV, Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, etc.) it really helps to track everything on one site. I mostly use it for shows, so that I remember where I left off.



Ok, so I really only use this for work, but it has been an absolute life-saver for me. I love you you can sort things easily by creating rules to send things to specific folders you create. I also love that you can flag things and mark deadlines, as well as create color-coded categories to mark your emails under (some categories I use are: Print This, Follow-Up On This, Remember This, etc.). Plus, it's the best to navigate, and there are no ads whatsoever to deal with. I may have to start using this at home... 


A few other things that have saved me are Pilot G-2s, which are amazing pens that have never let me down; an endless supply of sticky notes, which I have with me everywhere in case I need to jot something down quickly; and theSkimm, which is a daily email that quickly highlights the news headlines for me in an easy-to-digest way, so that I stay informed despite my hectic schedule (it's free, but they have an amazing app called SkimmAhead that you can subscribe to for $2.99/month if you'd like to integrate their curated calendar of events with your iOS calendar, which I've found to be both fun and beneficial). 

So, are there any tools you'd recommend that I haven't mentioned? I'm always on the lookout for new things to try out, so please let me know in the comments if there's something you'd like to share!

Thursday, December 01, 2016

Diversity December Bingo

Thursday, December 01, 2016 with No comments
There's a fun event happening this month on Twitter - #DiversityDecBingo. The point is to score BINGO by filling out the card below (though you get total props for filling out the entire card!):


I'd like to give it a go this month, and see how many of these squares I can knock out. I'll update this post with my reads as I finish them, and mark off the bingo boxes as I go. 

Now, reading diversely is something I aim to do on a regular basis, but it's pretty cool that a bingo card exists to help diversify my diverse reading (lol). It's important to put yourselves in the shoes of others and understand that your world is not the only world out there, especially now in the aftermath of this year's election. What better way to do that than to read diverse novels that are actually written by diverse authors? 

I would love it if you would join me! And don't forget to check out the hashtag #DiversityDecBingo on Twitter to see how everyone else is doing, and to get some great recs on books to add to your TBR!



Non-Western Real World Setting

Set in Japan.

Own Voices



Blank Bingo Card (CLICK TO ENLARGE)

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GirlxoxoEstella's Revenge, & Traveling With T have teamed up to bring us the December blogger event, #AMonthOfFaves2016, in which daily writing prompts are provided (M-F) as a way for bloggers to share their experiences over the past year. It's a great way to re-cap our thoughts on 2016, so I decided to join in on the fun! 


Let me tell you, 2016 was not the best year for me, and was emotionally and mentally draining, thanks mostly to a family crisis that is still affecting me. Because of this, you may have noticed that the number of posts on this blog has declined dramatically. It's my goal for the next year, however, to bring this blog back to where I want it to be, and what better time to start than now, rather than wait for Jan. 1? 

So I'll kick off this event by focusing on some of the good that happened this year, and writing out a list of my favorite things:

Thanksgiving Week In My Planner, In Honor Of The Gilmore Girls Revival

This planner is an absolute life saver! While it may seem expensive, it's high quality, you'll get your money's worth if you actually utilize it throughout the year, like I do. I've had a hard time remembering to use a planner in the past, but this planner is GORGEOUS, and I've had a lot of fun jazzing it up with stickers and washi tape, which makes planning a whole lot more fun. But even without the decorating, the planner looks great, and you can even pick out a custom cover to make it personalized. I had an EC last year, as well, but this year is the first year I actually started decorating it, and I can say without a doubt that it won't be my last!


Earlier this year, I got the chance to spend four glorious days in the city of New Orleans, LA for a convention that I was attending. I had never been there before, but it was on my bucket list. I had an amazing time, and completely fell in love with the city. I hope that I can go back one day, but until then, I have some great experiences and memories to hold on to!


Just Ranch by Hampton Creek
This year, Target started selling the vegan Just Ranch dressing from Hampton Creek, the makers of Just Mayo. I've been a fan of their mayo since I discovered it in my local WalMart (especially their Sriracha mayo!), but when I found a bottle of Just Ranch in the condiments section at Target, I nearly cried tears of joy! It is delicious, and I always make sure to have some on hand. Vegan ranch was never available where I live, so I just went without it. But now, I pretty much put ranch on whatever I can!


Un-Du Adhesive Remover
I don't know how long this stuff has been around, but I cannot believe I had never heard of it before! Un-Du is one of the best adhesive removers I've ever come across - not only does it completely remove a sticker or label without damaging your paper or item, but it leaves the sticker residue on the sticker, so that you can reuse it again! Plus, I've tested it out on paper with handwriting (both pen and pencil), and it doesn't smear the writing when you wet the page! The paper doesn't warp, either, and it dries quickly.


The Bobby Bones Show
This isn't in any way new to me, but I have just been grateful this entire year to still have the BBS to listen to every morning. I always download the podcasts and listen to them while driving or when I'm at work. This show definitely makes the day go by faster, and gives me something to look forward to. It's been #1 in my heart since '07, and is still going strong.


iPad Air 2
I never thought I'd have one, but I saved enough money at the end of last year to get one, and I am so glad that I did! I use this baby all the time - more so than I use my laptop now. Honestly, I thought I would mostly use it to read manga & comic books, since storing them electronically takes up way less space then keeping them in physical form, but I actually use it more for Netflix, Hulu, and web-browsing. It's lightweight and easy to carry, and I'd recommend it to everyone. I love Apple products, but have only ever splurged for their iPod before, as it's the best on the market, and I love listening to music more than anything else.

What are some of your favorite things from this year? Please let me know in the comments, or join in the fun by creating a blog post of your own!

Monday, November 28, 2016


The adventures of writer Newt Scamander in New York's secret community of witches and wizards seventy years before Harry Potter reads his book in school.

Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them is a sort-of prequel to the Harry Potter series, in that it takes place well before HP, but is itself its own story (even if you have never seen or read Harry Potter, you can still enjoy this movie).

The first of five films, Fantastic Beasts follows the adventures of Newt Scamander, who arrives in New York City only to discover that some of the creatures he had brought with him have escaped. Meanwhile, there have been some mysterious occurrences throughout the city, putting the Magical Congress of the United States of America on high alert.

Main Cast
Eddie Redmayne as Newt Scamander
Katherine Waterston as Tina Goldstein
Dan Fogler as Jacob Kowalski
Alison Sudol as Queenie Goldstein
Colin Farrell as Percival Graves





I went to see this film on Black Friday with a couple of friends. I had heard more good than bad about this movie beforehand (while still managing to stay away from spoilers), and since J.K. Rowling herself had written the script rather than someone else, I was rather excited. 

A bit of backstory on my wizarding world experience: I absolutely LOVE the Harry Potter series. I feel that it really helped shape me as a person, and had a huge impact on my life. I am not, however, as big a fan of the movies as I am the books. I'm not trying to sound snobbish or anything, but I honestly feel that all of the magic and wonder and feelings to be gained from the world that Rowling created can only be experienced through reading the books. While the movies are okay enough, they only show the story that the director wants to tell, they cut out a lot of key details as well as some beloved characters (Peeves!), and they aren't really open to interpretation (and don't allow for imagination) like the novels. Plus, I feel that there is a bond that forms between reader and story that cannot be experienced by film, and if you like the films but have not read the books, then I am sorry to say that you are missing out! *rant over*

So anyway, back to Fantastic Beasts.

From the very beginning of the film, I was completely enthralled. I fell in love with Eddie Redmayne's portrayal of Newt Scamander almost immediately, and also started having strong feelings about wanting a Niffler. What completely threw me, however, was how much I ended up loving [Slightly spoilery, but not really? I just feel you should see this movie without expectations, so highlight to read just in case: Jacob Kowalski, a secondary Muggle....er, No-Maj, character. He was definitely my favorite character after Newt! I could say so much more, but in my efforts to be as spoiler-free as possible, I'll just stop there.] *end of possible spoiler*

I felt that Rowling did a fantastic job on the script, and the director and cast did an excellent job on bringing the story to life. Overall, the film was just as witty and enthralling as the HP novels were. I don't want to get into details on the characters or plot, because I feel that the best way to view this film is with as few expectations as possible, but I will say without a doubt that I thoroughly enjoyed this film, and will be buying it as soon as it's released to DVD & Blu-ray. I may actually even go back to see it in theaters again, if I get the chance to. Maybe IMAX this time? At any rate, I cannot wait for the next installment in the series. I'm so excited!

My Rating:
or 

5/5 Stars!
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Monday, November 14, 2016

Hot Head by Damon Suede

Monday, November 14, 2016 with No comments


Where there’s smoke, there’s fire...

Since 9/11, Brooklyn firefighter Griff Muir has wrestled with impossible feelings for his best friend and partner at Ladder 181, Dante Anastagio. Unfortunately, Dante is strictly a ladies’ man, and the FDNY isn’t exactly gay-friendly. For ten years, Griff has hidden his heart in a half-life of public heroics and private anguish.

Griff’s caution and Dante’s cockiness make them an unbeatable team. To protect his buddy, there’s nothing Griff wouldn’t do… until a nearly bankrupt Dante proposes the worst possible solution: HotHead.com, a gay porn website where uniformed hunks get down and dirty. And Dante wants them to appear there—together. Griff may have to guard his heart and live out his darkest fantasies on camera. Can he rescue the man he loves without wrecking their careers, their families, or their friendship?

"...people should not be punished for loving and hoping and holding their hearts open."

This may be the best M/M romance that I've read so far. To be honest, the majority of M/M novels that I've read have been written by women (the only ones that weren't were geared toward a teenage audience, so there weren't any sex scenes), and I must say, it was a verydifferent experience to read an 18+ M/M novel that was actually written by a gay male author. 

The protagonists, Griff Muir and Dante Anastagio, are best friends that work together for the New York City Fire Department in Brooklyn. The story is told in third-person from Griff's point of view, and describes the struggle that Griff goes through with his overpowering attraction towards his straight best friend. Everything about this novel was hot, hot, hot! Plus, I just could not help but picture Kevin McKidd as Griff and Jon Bernthal as Dante - I don't know why (they're just the actors that popped in my head while reading the character descriptions!), but I felt they fit the roles perfectly.

            

I think what I liked best about this novel, however, was the fact that it touched upon the very real subject of hate crimes and assaults towards the gay community. I see a lot of m/m romances which feature characters that are afraid to come out to their friends and family for fear of their response, but not a lot of them actually touch upon the subject quite like this novel does. I also liked that this novel illustrated how gay bars aren't just places for gay men and women to hang out, or for people to find someone to hook up with or date; instead, it showed how they're actually safe havens, where LGBT+ individuals can go without fear of judgement or retaliation. This isn't really how they're depicted in the media.

Anywho, I breezed through this novel quickly, and I was a bit sad when it ended - I wanted more! According to Goodreads, there seems to be a sequel in the works, but I haven't seen any updates or anticipated release information anywhere, so it may be a while before it's released (if it's released). I'm keeping my fingers crossed, though!


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IMDb
The Department of Emotional Integrity (DEI) documents all relationship activity. A 'relationship score' is given to keep people accountable for their choices. The score is public for all to see, and affects various aspects of daily life. Two couples, teenagers and early 30s, face different but intersecting challenges in their relationships within the rules of the DEI.
I found this movie randomly when browsing through Netflix, and it caught my eye. I love indie romance films - especially if they take place in some type of sci-fiction-y alternate universe (TiMER, anyone?). Plus, the fact that this one featured a mostly Asian-American cast made it a certainty that I'd watch it, as I don't think I've even seen a romance movie with Asian leads that wasn't a foreign film. Every actor was fantastic!

One of the couples featured in the film
Turns out, this movie was created by Wong Fu Productions, a company that I'm actually familiar with thanks to YouTubers like KevJumba (Kevin Wu) and Nigahiga (Ryan Higa) who've worked with them on a few projects. Apparently, Everything Before Us is their first feature film, and was originally released on Vimeo after being successfully crowdfunded on Indiegogo. MAN DO I LOVE THE INTERNET!!!

Anyway, this movie was fantastic, and certainly gave me a lot to think about. The story was great, and different from any movie I've seen before (a definite plus!). I don't want to give anything away, but I will say that it was very....unconventional.

My favorite character had to be Randall (played by Randall Park from Fresh Off The Boat), the DEI agent that worked on the relationship "cases" featured in the film. His character was full of dimension, and really stood out to me every time he was on screen. Of course, the entire film was well done and filled with talented actors - I'm really glad I stumbled across it. If you're looking for a romance film that has actual depth and "realness" to it, then I highly recommend this!

My Rating:
or 

4/5 Stars!
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