Little Moments + Plum Deluxe Tea Review

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There’s nothing I love more than curling up on a rainy day, when the house is quiet, and reading — uninterrupted — for hours on end. Fluffy blankets, fluffy cats, fluffy feelings (or let’s face it, usually tears) make for the ultimate feeling of serenity.

It’s been a while since I’ve had one of these days. While it’s nice to have the relaxation of such a stretch of time, there are certainly little moments that give me the same feeling of contentment. And those moments don’t need to be extravagantly planned things. Most often, they happen in the peripheral, coming out of nowhere just to wash over you for a minute or two and are gone again in an instant, leaving just a fleeting impression behind.

I’ve been trying to be more aware of those little moments, those little washes of feeling lately. The little differences between joy and awe and contentment. To be mindful of each enough to recognize and make time for the feeling. And I’ve come to realize just how many intentionally enjoyable moments I make time for in a day.

For reading and taking in the emotions and perspectives of another life. For feeling the breeze as the seasons shift from bitter to welcoming. For reuniting with a friend you haven’t seen in ages and swapping stories over Thai noodles. For walking into a crowded room on your own and feeling proud. For seeing dear family succeed and make plans for the future. For the little morning joy of playing a game, which really feels like a tiny, happy tradition. For cat naps — literally. For a meaningful conversation that leaves a lasting impression.

I feel like I had forgotten about those little moments for a while. Lately, though, I’m more aware than ever.

Speaking of little, intentional moments…

You know how much I love reading?
You know how much I love hot beverages?
You know how much I love both together on a rainy day?

Plum Deluxe kind of nailed the hot beverage side by having tea that’s not only perfect for curling up with, but a tea that’s book-themed!

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Book-bonding aside, I was touched when the owner, Andy, explained that his reason for creating Plum Deluxe was to strive for the same ideal his mom lived by before succumbing to breast cancer.

“My mom taught me that no matter your circumstances, you can choose to create moments that matter, every day. And some of the most enjoyable moments are the small things – time to sleep in, relaxing in a reading nook, going on a neighborhood walk, or catching up with an old friend over a cup of tea.”

I couldn’t agree more, and I think that’s an amazing mission to have, for any company or individual.

It also didn’t hurt that I immediately thought, “Subscription tea box? Where have you been all of my life!” I already have a tea problem, but getting to try a new flavor of tea every month sounds like a nice, manageable way to branch out from my buying the same stuff all of the time.

Check out Plum Deluxe’s tea selection and to learn more about their Tea Club!

Journals Are Just Mini Memoirs

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Keeping a journal might just be the best habit I’ve picked up in 2016.

Once upon a time, when I was a little girl and everyone had a journal (voice-activated locking-diary, I’m looking at you) I kept a myriad of lock and tiny key diaries. Inevitably, I would lose those damned tiny little keys, or feel like I needed a clean journal for a fresh start, the fresh start being an obsession with perfect-looking pages and usually a need to not be reminded of a dumb crush I spent the entire first half of the pages gushing about. But journaling never really became a habit for me.

Fast forward to 2016. Despite loving writing, I feel like I haven’t written anything I’m proud of in ages, or at least haven’t written anything I feel has shown growth. Blogging became horrendous because I felt like I was running out of ideas for editorials without writing my own whole bright and shiny novel first. I don’t know how or why the urge hit me, but before I knew it I was picking up my own Papa Winchester-style notebook and scribbling away with one two promises to myself:

  1. I wouldn’t throw the journal out the window when I got halfway through – the pages are about the moment, not about feeling embarrassed when I read back over things 10 years from now.
  2. I would write at least once a month. Anything, just stay consistent.

I’ll be honest – there’s nothing monumental or profound in those pages. There’s not even any fiction or “writing”. I just need a place to jot my thoughts, and a place to tell my real-life stories. The stories about running into crazy, fiction-worthy incidents downtown. The hilarious story about the date gone wrong. The story about finding and keeping friends when finding and keeping friends post-school seems daunting and hard to do.

Who knows, maybe one day those stories will make it into my award-winning memoir (tentatively titled: “One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, NO Fish” or, “I Left The House for This?”) Actually, when I think about it, journals themselves are kind of like mini memoirs.

Enough chit chat. Go write your mini memoir too. (Wouldn’t it be awesome if there was a snazzy way to share hilarious/inspirational little memoir stories!? Internet! Help me out!)

February Book Wrap Up

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What did I do to make the book gods smile upon me this month? I don’t think I’ve gone a full month basically loving all of the books that I’ve picked up in a very long time. February was a great month for reading, in that regard! Not only did I enjoy every book that I picked up, I managed to pick up a lot! Chalk that up to a weekend of plane travel (I’m guaranteed to read at least one book in its entirety every time I set foot in an airport), in my opinion.

On with the mini reviews!
(Which are Amazon affiliate links – help a girl out!)

Read

  • Sailor Moon vol. 3 and vol. 4 by Naoko Takeuchi – For some reason I’ve been on a kick with reading the rereleased manga these days. I might’ve accidentally bought two copies earlier this year, but now that I’ve got that all sorted out, I can enjoy the series. Spoiler alert: it’s still good.
  • Curtsies and Conspiracies by Gail Carriger – I’m a big fan of Gail Carriger and read the first in the series, Etiquette and Espionage, a few months back. This series isn’t my favorite, but I feel like book #2 really delivered. It’s like a fun, hour-long jaunt through a steampunk, supernatural girls’ school with lots of snark and pastries. Always a yes in my book.
  • Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert – I blew through the February NovelTea Book Club pick and was pleasantly surprised. It gets a little spiritual at times, but overall is one of the best creative non-fiction I’ve read in a long time.
  • Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari – Sometimes it’s hard to separate the character from the stand-up comedian from the real person, so I wasn’t sure what I was getting into with Ansari’s book. I was delighted to find myself with an immensely funny yet academic take on dating in today’s world, mainly because I, like everyone else, wanted to know what the standard rule is for how long to wait in between sending text messages.

Started

  • Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard – IT CAME IN THE MAIL! YESSSSS!
  • Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen – eBooks I’ve downloaded tend to be the first books I forget about. Luckily, being on a plane seems to be a prime time for rediscovering those books you bought for $2.99 months ago. I’ve been meaning to read this and was feeling some fantasy after all of that non-fiction
  • Caretaker by Josi Russel – I was asked to review the second in this sci-fi YA series but felt weird not having read the first. It sounded like an interesting concept, involving space travel, stasis, and alien lingustics, so I figured what the heck.
  • The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey – I bought this on Black Friday for $5 and used it to help me hammer together my bookshelf. I figure it’s about time I read it. I think it’s been a good hiatus from YA post-apocalyptic novels, so I’m willing to jump in again.

Still Reading

Vengeance Road and The Familiar vol. 1 are still sitting on my shelf. Oops. I’ll get there, but not this month.

Overall, not a bad month. All of this cold weather gives me an excuse to stay in and read!

Booktube Guilt

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The Booktube community, like most communities online, is a wonderfully magical place for people of a common interest to unite and chatter excitedly about the things that they love, to create and make and share. But just like any online community, just like any anything, for that matter, there comes with that idyllic outlet a sense of guilt and comparison.

I’m not huge in the Booktube community, and frankly, am too busy with my own life, blog, and business to spend the amount of time required to try to “make it big”. Those community “celebrities”, or bloggers and vloggers who have made a name for themselves in this niche? Awesome! I’m glad for them! Even though that’s not where I’m at and I recognize the need to do what’s best for me, there’s still a silly little nagging comparison that crept out of the woodwork when even didn’t expect it: book buying guilt.

Shiny new, hardcover pre-orders. Perfectly maintained, yet overflowing bookshelves. Multiple copies of books.

All my life I’ve enjoyed my local library for the access it’s given me to books — old, new, obscure, popular. It was a community resource that meant that I never had to be without a book I wanted. I’m not going to get into the value of libraries as community resources in general today, but it’s worth noting that libraries do a heck of a lot.

But for some reason, when I started filming Booktube videos and reviews, the little call number sticker on the spine of my book started bothering me. No one else’s videos had library stickers on them. It’s not like I couldn’t afford buying the books, or didn’t have the space. Every time I read a book, it became a race to film the review before I had to return the books. Excuses, excuses.

One thing led to another and before I knew it, I was dropping ridiculous amounts of money on new books at the bookstore. Amazon, Barnes & Noble, local stores — it didn’t matter where.

About a solid year later: I haven’t noticed a difference. My channel isn’t more popular because I own a copy of a book versus borrowed it. I haven’t magically been able to read more books or be a more awesome person. I just own more books.

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What do I really get out of owning more books? Sure, I love my bookshelves. I like collecting books. But having a physical copy of a book I end up not even liking doesn’t mean a thing. And like it or not, one day I will run out of space.

And you know what? The more I think about it, the more I realize I miss my library.

With the library, I don’t have to commit to buying books I’m not sure if I’ll like. I don’t have to clear room on my bookshelf. I don’t have to spend money unnecessarily. I can check out mostly anything on the planet. I have some added motivation to finish books. The book isn’t “better” because I own it.

That’s not to say I won’t ever buy a book again, it just means I’m becoming more mindful and selective of what I buy. The next book in a series I already know I enjoy? A special collector’s edition or signed copy of a favorite? A book that the local libraries don’t carry?

I’m not saying buying books is bad. Don’t get me wrong — I love the Booktube community, and what people decide to spend their money on is their business. I know I’ve had feelings of guilt, however, through my time participating, just because comparison is a thing that we humans do. I know I’m not alone in feeling this “buyer’s guilt”. But feeling as if you can’t participate in a community or aren’t good enough because you don’t have the means to/want to/alien abductors won’t let you buy a book versus check it out from the library shouldn’t cripple your desire to want to participate in a community. Guilt shouldn’t dictate what you do.

The Diviners | NovelTea Book Club Recommendation Link Up

NovelTea Book Club Link Up

The Blog Tour

Book clubs can get pretty involved. Which is why, obviously, I host one.

As far as book clubs go, however, the NovelTea Book Club is pretty low key. While it may be impossible to read every book on every member’s list, the least we could do was kick off a new year of reading by declaring January’s selection a “free space” — your choice of book, to help you work towards your reading goals and spark a genuine and motivating desire to read what you love.

The bonus in all of this is that members get a myriad of book reviews and recommendations from a smattering of genres! We’d be remiss to not share our thoughts on the books we each picked this month, and what better way to do that than a mini-blog tour.

Peruse the list below this post to see what other NovelTea members read this month and add to your (surely growing!) list of books to read in 2016.

My Recommendation: The Diviners

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I fell in love with Libba Bray when I read the Gemma Doyle Trilogy years ago.  For some reason, I hadn’t picked up a Bray book since then, but knew I had to give The Diviners (affiliate link) a read when I saw the cover alone. This is one time that eye candy did not disappoint.

Bored with YA lately, The Diviners provided a much needed break from rushed-feeling young adult clichés and brought together the paranormal, mystery, history, and compelling characters. It’s a daunting 500-odd pages, but with my little tolerance lately, it’s safe to say this didn’t disappoint.

Evie O’Neill’s mysterious gifts are called upon when a serial killer starts making his rounds in New York City. Her story is just the tip of the iceberg, as more stories linked with the occult emerge. Against the backdrop of the 1920s, there’s just as much spirit to be found as trouble, and Evie is a master of both.

I’m not going to spend too much time on my review today. All you need to know is this: The Diviners is awesome.

It’s the questions, rather, that I think are the best part about the NovelTea Book Club. Here’s a sampling of what we discussed this month, and my thoughts on how The Diviners plays a role in all of this.

  1. How does this book fit in with your book goals for the new year? I upped my overall book count, actually, though I’m not ready to make the brave jump to 100 books quite yet. The Diviners is one that’s been sitting on my shelf for quite a while. I finally started it around the holidays but a combination of being spooky enough to not want to read at bedtime and the craziness of the holidays made me not get through this novel as quickly as I had hoped to. I finished it first this year, making it a point to cross off this book that had been eating up (in a good way!) so much of my time.
  2. Is this book out of your comfort zone? Not particularly. When I read young adult literature, it’s usually of the fantasy genre. I’ve been feeling disenchanted with YA books lately, though, so this was a nice breather from the clichés of the genre, as well as a return back to an author that I consistently love.
  3. What character speaks to you the most? What do you look for in a “good” character? The Diviners has so many great characters whose stories all intertwine; it’s hard to pick a favorite! Evie’s character I think really epitomizes the 1920s and the conflict of old and new that happens around the time of any ideological/physical change. It would be easy to focus on Evie though, as she’s the “protagonist”. The supporting characters may not have as central a storyline, but they’re fleshed out with enough emotion and personality that their interactions with one another feel entirely real.

The Link Up

Don’t stop here! There are plenty of other books reviewed on this tour. And make sure to add your link to the list below! Our members flock to books like cats to boxes!