50 Little Things That Make Me Happy

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I saw this on Jenny in Neverland’s blog and immediately fell in love with the idea of writing down things that make me happy. I think it’s so important for us to stop and take note of the little things in life. With how busy we all are it’s hard to appreciate the little things. I know I get caught up in so much stress and rush around a lot. I actually found it hard to think of 50 items. Anyway, here’s my list of the things that bring me immeasurable amounts of joy…

  1. Light rain showers
  2. Walnut kieflies
  3. Burning candles
  4. Book mail
  5. Afternoon naps
  6. Road trips
  7. Friday date nights with my husband
  8. Discovering a new band
  9. Watching history documentaries
  10. Old book stores
  11. My morning coffee
  12. Completing a to-do list
  13. Feeling my baby kick
  14. Debating (I like to argue)
  15. Planning a vacation
  16. Watching a lightening storm
  17. Weekend staycations
  18. Hearing my baby’s heartbeat
  19. Baking cakes
  20. Singing along to Bastille in my car
  21. Red wine
  22. Walking barefoot in the sand
  23. Watching film/TV adaptations of Jane Austen novels
  24. Reading
  25. Walking along the beach in the evening
  26. Watching reruns of Xena: Warrior Princess
  27. White chocolate
  28. Queueing blog posts
  29. The silence of an early morning
  30. Seeing my students succeed (even in the smallest of tasks)
  31. Bright red lipstick
  32. Long hot showers
  33. The smell of burning incense
  34. The way my dog greats me when I return home from work
  35. Completing a 5K run
  36. Hot chocolate in the winter
  37. The beginning/end of a school year
  38. Earl grey tea
  39. Whiskey
  40. Learning a new word in Spanish
  41. Yoga
  42. Exploring Edinburgh
  43. Decorating the baby’s room
  44. Finding money in coat/sweater pockets
  45. Receiving a text in the morning from my husband
  46. Visiting museums
  47. Sleeping in freshly washed bedsheets
  48. Skyping with my parents
  49. Seeing friends and family achieve their goals
  50. Homemade chocolate chip cookies

Which little things bring you happiness? Do any of them match mine? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments. ❤

I Spy Book Challenge

Book Blitz_It’s time for another tag! I found this one on Kristen Kraves Books (a lovely blog that you should really check out).

How the Tag Works: Find a book that contains (either on the cover or in the title) an example for each category. You must have a separate book for all 20, get as creative as you want and do it within five minutes!

1. Food


2. Transportation


3. Weapon


4. Animal


5. Number


6. Something You Read


7. Body of Water


8. Product of Fire


9. Royalty


10. Architecture


11. Clothing Item


12. Family Member


13. Time of Day


14. Music


15. Paranormal Being


16. Occupation 


17. Season


18. Colour


19. Celestial Body


20. Something That Grows



ARC Review: Star-Touched Stories by Roshani Chokshi

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

36396341Star-Touched Stories by Roshani Chokshi

Release date: August 7th, 2018
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Genre: Young adult, short story, fantasy
Format: eBook

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Three lush and adventurous stories in the Star-Touched world.

Death and Night

He was Lord of Death, cursed never to love. She was Night incarnate, destined to stay alone. After a chance meeting, they wonder if, perhaps, they could be meant for more. But danger crouches in their paths, and the choices they make will set them on a journey that will span lifetimes.

Poison and Gold

Now that her wish for a choice has come true, Aasha struggles to control her powers. But when an opportunity to help Queen Gauri and King Vikram’s new reign presents itself, she is thrown into the path of the fearsome yet enchanting Spy Mistress. To help her friends, Aasha will have to battle her insecurities and perhaps, along the way, find love.

Rose and Sword

There is a tale whispered in the dark of the Empire of Bharat-Jain. A tale of a bride who loses her bridegroom on the eve of her wedding. But is it a tale or a truth?

Roshani Chokshi is such a beautiful writer. Her words are almost lyrical and ebb and flow like they are about to jump off of the page. They are so magical that I thoroughly enjoyed every part of this short story collection.

The stories expand on and are related to Chokshi’s fantastic full-length novels The Star-Touched Queen and A Crown of Wishes. They reveal more about some of the duology’s much loved characters and further immerses the reader into the magical world they live in. I highly recommend this collection for people who have read these two books, but even if you haven’t, it could act as a good taster before jumping into the main stories.

The first story is Death and Night, one that I had read previously and really liked. I could have skipped over it and am glad that I didn’t. It was just as enjoyable the second time around. The story is about how Death fell in love with Night. Their relationship and interactions were wonderfully written with a perfect balance between romance, humor and heartbreak. This particular story is a prequel to The Star-Touched Queen and explores how Amar and Maya first met.

This is followed by Poison and Gold, which focuses on Aasha, a character from A Crown of Wishes. The story is about learning and understanding, basically believing in yourself and opening up to others. It features a beautifully written female/female romance that I cheered on right from the beginning.

The final short story is titled the Rose and Sword. This story took me by surprise! I wasn’t expected such an emotional rollercoaster as it’s a little bit sad with snippets of happiness and humor. You will definitely need a box of kleenex for this one! It features a grandmother telling a story to her granddaughter and explains the inevitability of death. We all die in the end but how far would you go to bring a loved one back and at what price?

All of these stories were so well written and work together perfectly within the collection. I cannot recommend them enough! Never have I read a group of short stories that left me feeling so satisfied and complete. That truly proves just how talented Chokshi is and I cannot wait to see what she will release next.

About the Author

13695109Roshani Chokshi is the New York Times bestselling author of The Star-Touched Queen and A Crown of Wishes. Her middle grade debut, Aru Shah and the End of Time, was released on April 3rd, 2018 with Disney/Rick Riordan Presents. Her next young adult novel, The Gilded Wolves, is slated for Winter 2019. Chokshi’s work has appeared in Strange Horizons, Shimmer, and Book Smugglers. She was a finalist in the 2016 Andre Norton Award and the Locus Top Ten for Best First Novel. Her short story, “The Star Maiden,” was longlisted for the British Fantasy Science Award.

Website | Twitter | Goodreads

Unique Blogger Award

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It’s been a long time since I’ve done an award post! Thanks so much to the super lovely Maddie at Munch Reviews for nominating me for the Unique Blogger Award. If you haven’t visited her blog then go do so right now! ❤

The Rules:

1. Share the link of the blogger who nominated you
2. Answer their questions
3. Share some love with the blogging community by nominating 8-12 people
4. Ask three questions for your nominees

Maddie’s Questions:

1. Give yourself some love! If you’re comfortable with it, share your favorite picture of yourself, or tell me the thing you love most about you!

These types of questions are always so hard for me. I don’t like talking about or putting myself out there. But…this photo from my wedding a few years ago is my absolute favourite. It adore black and white photos, they are just so timeless! Every time I see it my heart fills up with so much happiness. ❤


2. Which fictional character do you love that you think would be horrible in real life?

I adore Kaz from Six of Crows/Crooked Kingdom because he’s always grumpy and morally ambiguous. Yes, he commits crimes and hurts people, but deep down inside he has a big heart. He is loyal and cares deeply for those around him. However, in real life he’d probably be really difficult to be around. Dealing with his mood swings and unpredictability would constantly have me on edge.

3. What was the last show and/or book series you binged?

In order to practice my Spanish, I’ve been watching a lot of dramas from Spain on Netflix. The latest show that I couldn’t stop watching was El Ministerio del Tiempo (The Ministry of Time). It’s all about Spanish history and time travel.

My Questions:

1. When was the last time that you pushed yourself to try something new? What was the result?
2. List 10 little things that bring you happiness.
3. Post an aesthetic collage for the last book that you read and loved.

My Nominees:

The Spring Cleaning Book Tag

Book Blitz_-4I saw this tag posted on Linda’s Little Library and thought I’d also give it a try. I know it’s no longer spring, but I think all of our bookshelves could probably use a good cleaning. Mine is full of books I’ve never read, forgot about or just have no interest in. So….let’s get started!

1. The struggle of getting started: A book or series you struggle to begin because of its size.

I’ve been trying to read the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series for ages. I’ve managed to read the first two books, but I’m honestly not a series person. I prefer duologies since I usually struggle to make it to the third book in a series let alone the fourth or fifth. Hopefully, one day I’ll be able to make my way through this series.

2. Cleaning out the closet: a book or series you want to unhaul.

Without question I’m so done with the Throne of Glass series. At one point in time I loved it beyond words (hence the blog name), but now I can’t be bothered. I’ve read up to the court book but own a copy of the fifth in the series, Empire of Storms. I don’t think I’ve ever open it.

3. Opening windows and letting fresh air in: A book that was refreshing.

This trilogy introduced me to a whole new genre of romanic adult fiction. Before I used to turn my nose up at any type of book that was labeled as “erotic” but these completely changed my mind. So, the lesson here is, don’t judge a book or a genre but what you see on the cover!

3. Washing out the sheets: a book with a scene you wish you could rewrite.


Can I just rewrite this entire book? What a waste. 😦

4. Throwing out unnecessary knick knacks: A book in a series you didn’t think was necessary.

All of the Divergent novellas. All of the information in them either was self-explanatory, a rehash of what was already discussed in the trilogy or just repetitive.

5. Polishing doorknobs: a book that had a clean finish.

I started answering the question with a specific book, but then I began thinking about how even though it ended it a sold manner…all wrapped up and the characters happy…I still want to know what happens next. Did the characters really end up doing what they planned? What other challenges did they face? Blah, blah, blah. If it’s a good book you will always become invested in the characters and care a lot about them. So, I can’t really answer this question with a specific book. It’s just too difficult!

6. Reaching to dust the fan: a book that tried too hard to relay a certain message.


This book tried too hard to discuss a very difficult subject (self harm) in less than 200 pages. Instead, it read as rush, underdeveloped and at times, ridiculous.

7. The tiring yet satisfying finish of spring cleaning: a book series that was tiring but satisfying to get through.

I felt like this trilogy took forever to get through. The first book had a unique concept, fascinating characters and political intrigue. All things that I love in a good fantasy. The second book through in a few surprises but didn’t do anything new. I was bored. The third and final book was amazing! A great way to end the series and keep things exciting. So, while I struggled with the middle book it was well worth it. I’m really glad I didn’t give up.

Review: From Twinkle, with Love by Sandhya Menon

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

36373464From Twinkle, with Love by Sandhya Menon
Release date: May 22nd, 2018
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Genre: Young adult, contemporary, romance
Format: eBook



Aspiring filmmaker and wallflower Twinkle Mehra has stories she wants to tell and universes she wants to explore, if only the world would listen. So when fellow film geek Sahil Roy approaches her to direct a movie for the upcoming Summer Festival, Twinkle is all over it. The chance to publicly showcase her voice as a director? Dream come true. The fact that it gets her closer to her longtime crush, Neil Roy—a.k.a. Sahil’s twin brother? Dream come true x 2.

When mystery man “N” begins emailing her, Twinkle is sure it’s Neil, finally ready to begin their happily-ever-after. The only slightly inconvenient problem is that, in the course of movie-making, she’s fallen madly in love with the irresistibly adorkable Sahil.

Twinkle soon realizes that resistance is futile: The romance she’s got is not the one she’s scripted. But will it be enough?

As soon as I saw From Twinkle, with Love on NetGalley I knew I had to have it. I had just finished reading When Dimple Met Rishi and was completely in love with Sandy Menon’s writing style, descriptions and characters. Writing this review has been so hard for me. Nothing wants to flow and my rating has changed multiple times. Is it a 2, 2.5 or a 3? Ugh! I may not have loved From Twinkle, with Love as much as its predecessor, but I overall it was full of ups and downs. I liked the idea of the book and the beginning…it’s the characters that make it hard for me to decide on a rating.

The story revolves around Twinkle, an aspiring film director who wants more from life. She’s desperately alone and basically an outcast in her school because people think that she’s “weird”. The story follows her time in high school and the challenges she faces such as her first love, losing friends and betrayal. The story is told in diary or letter format which allows the reader to thoroughly immerse themselves in Twinkle’s world.

I really enjoyed the beginning of the book. The first 15-20% of it was super cute and I smiled a lot while reading it. Then, things took a turn. I think my biggest issue with this book was Twinkle. I appreciated her drive and passion for film making, but that’s about it. Her narration initially didn’t bother me, however, as the book progressed I grew to dislike her. She came off as annoying, self-centred and selfish. It’s so hard to like something when the main character, who is telling the story, is like that. I honestly struggled at times to keep on reading because it’s told through Twinkle’s diary entries. Would I have felt differently if the book used a different format? Perhaps? I don’t know.

I do appreciate how this book features diverse characters and features a woman of colour on the cover. It also has some very important messages that all teens should read about such as equality, peer pressure, cliques and respect. However, it just didn’t end up being for me. I’ve said this in a dozen other reviews, but I need books where I can connect with the lead character, especially if that character is telling the story. I didn’t have that with this book and it made it very difficult to read through. I think I was also expecting something very different…less love squares and more adorable dialogue similar to When Dimple Met Rishi. So, even though this book wasn’t for me, I do think a lot of people, especially teens, will like it and identify with many of Twinkle’s problems.

About the Author

14834224Sandhya Menon is the New York Times bestselling author of the smash-hit When Dimple Met Rishi and From Twinkle, with Love. She was born and raised in India on a steady diet of Bollywood movies and street food, and blames this upbringing for her obsession with happily-ever-afters, bad dance moves, and pani puri. Now she lives in Colorado, where she’s on a mission to (gently) coerce her husband and children to watch all 3,220 Bollywood movies she claims as her favorite.

Website | Twitter | Goodreads

Review | Waiting on a Bright Moon by J.Y. Yang

35395539Waiting on a Bright Moon by J.Y. Yang
Release date: July 12th, 2017
Publisher: Tor Books
Genre: Science fiction
Format: eBook

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Xin is an ansible, using her song magic to connect the originworld of the Imperial Authority and its far-flung colonies— a role that is forced upon magically-gifted women “of a certain closeness”. When a dead body comes through her portal at a time of growing rebellion, Xin is drawn deep into a station-wide conspiracy along with Ouyang Suqing, one of the station’s mysterious, high-ranking starmages.

I’m always in awe at how some authors are able to craft completely original, fully formed characters and engaging stories in less than 100 pages. I read the novella Waiting on a Bright Moon as part of the Bout of Books read-a-thon after it had been sitting on my Goodreads “currently reading” shelf for ages. I’m not sure what took me so long to finally start reading it, but once I finished the first paragraph I knew I had stumbled across something unlike anything that I’ve read before.

The story is about an ansible (a group of magical women forced into service by the government) named Xin who has been forced to use magic in order to benefit the empire. Its main theme is taking back control of your life no matter the consequences, but the novalla also touches on subjects involving same-sex relationships, independence, rebellion and self-determination.

What made this story unique was the author’s blending of languages and worldbuilding abilities. Although primarily written in English, parts in Chinese (poems and songs) are scattered throughout the story. Although I didn’t understand what they said, I liked how these little snippets added to the feel of the story and really impressed the reader in the setting of the novella. As for the worldbuilding, wow…just wow! The idea was extremely creative and ambitious for such a short piece of writing. Usually sci-fi takes time to develop and is written over hundreds of pages in a series. Nope, not here! The reader is automatically dropped into the story in the first paragraph. There aren’t any long explanations of what is going on…the reader does have to make a lot of guesses and conclusions, but that was part of the fun of reading this short story. The mystery kept things interesting and pushed me to read on and on. It was seriously difficult to put down and I would totally like more please!

Since finishing Waiting on a Bright Moon I have added several of the author’s other stories to my TBR. If they are anything like this novella then I’m in for a real treat. If you’d like to read Waiting on a Bright Moon, you can do so here on Tor.com for free.

About the Author

7106859J.Y. Yang is the author of the Tensorate series of novellas from Tor.Com Publishing (The Red Threads of Fortune, The Black Tides of Heaven, and two more slated for 2018 and 2019). Their short fiction has been published in over a dozen venues, including Uncanny Magazine, Lightspeed, Clarkesworld, and Strange Horizons.

In previous incarnations, they have been a molecular biologist; a writer for animation, comics and games; and a journalist for one of Singapore’s major papers. Currently they are a science communicator with Singapore’s Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR).

Website | TwitterGoodreads

The ABC Book Challenge | “E”

Book Blitz_I absolutely love everything about this challenge/tag! I saw this on Life of a Literary Nerd and was super excited to start it right away. Each week I’ll be posting another letter of the alphabet. So, be prepared for lots of posts in this series! 🙂

Memorable Titles That Start With “E”


El Deafo by Cece Bell is a must read graphic novel. It transmitted a powerful message about hearing impairments, but also featured super adorable illustrations of humans as bunnies. It’s no secret that I’m a HUGE fan of all things Jane Austen and Emma is one of my favourite Austen books. Endure by Sara B. Larson was the third book in the Defy trilogy. It was honestly the perfect way to end the series and by far the strongest of the three books.

Books Starting With “E” On My TBR


Another book that’s been on my TBR for ages is Everything Leads to You by Nina LaCour. I’ve heard tons of good things about it on Twitter and still can’t think of a good reason why I haven’t started it yet. I love the cover for Empress of a Thousand Skies by Rhoda Belleza. I have a copy sitting on my shelf and want to read it by the end of the year. Fingers crossed! Last year I downloaded a copy of The Epic Crush of Genie Lo by F.C. Yee for a read-a-thon but ran out of time and didn’t get to to. Then I forgot about it and that makes me sad. Add this to the list of books I really need to read this year!

Which memorable books that start with an “E” have you read? Have you read any of the books included above? What were your thoughts about them? ❤

Review | The Black Key by Amy Ewing

28512427The Black Key by Amy Ewing
Release date: October 4th, 2016
Publisher: HarperTeen
Genre: Young adult, dystopian, fantasy
Format: Paperback



For too long, Violet and the people of the outer circles of the Lone City have lived a life of servitude, controlled and manipulated by the royalty of the Jewel. But now, the secret society known as the Black Key is preparing to seize power and knock down the walls dividing each circle.

And while Violet knows she is at the center of this rebellion, she has a more personal stake in it—for her sister, Hazel, has been taken by the Duchess of the Lake. Now, after fighting so hard to escape the Jewel, Violet must do everything in her power to return, to save not only Hazel, but the future of the Lone City.

I always struggle with the final book in a series. I completely loved The Jewel and found The White Rose to be alright. I had high hopes for The Black Key…this was supposed to be the big finale. Will the characters succeed? Will any die? What further mysteries will be unveiled? Instead, well…this book was a bit of a let down. Not what I was hoping for at all.

The build-up and plot sounded promising: the trilogy’s hero Violet would lead a rebellion against the oppressive Jewel. However, what I would say 50-60 percent of the book was not about this at all. The beginning moved quite slowly, showing the reader the preparations, how Violet struggled to convince others to join her rebellion and how the surrogates (women forced by rich families in the Jewel to carry their children) received their magical abilities. The action didn’t start until the last 40 percent of the book and all in all it felt rushed, like an afterthought. Wasn’t that the whole point of this book? What everything was leading up to? Also, the conclusion was too easy and clean. In the first two books, the Jewel and its soldiers and absolute control over the inhabitants of the other circles was described as complete, brutal and powerful. Here, it’s like a bunch of little kids playing with toy guns. I don’t know…it just didn’t make sense to me.

Another issue I had was how the supporting characters who had really started to develop and grow in the second book were pretty much ignored. They totally didn’t get the page time that they deserved. Yes, Violet is the main character, but I also would have liked to continue to see the progress made by Raven and Garnet. I really feel that their development was wasted and could have been put to good use here, especially in the first half of the book. Unlike in the other books, Violet kind of annoyed me in The Black Key. Some of her actions were out of character and she came across as being better than everyone else. Maybe this was a reflection of her understanding and mastery of her powers? It just felt forced, like it came out of nowhere and that made me sad because she was one of the few YA dystopian female leads that I’ve liked.

All of this said, I did enjoy the series as a whole. The concept and world building was interesting, it was easy to read and even when the pacing was uneven, I couldn’t stop reading. It’s definitely not for everyone, but I do think that if you are a fan of the dystopian genre and want something that is both easy to read and entertaining, then this series is totally for you!

About the Author

6549285Amy Ewing grew up in a small town outside Boston, where her librarian mother instilled a deep love of reading at a young age. Amy moved to New York City in 2000 to study theater at New York University. Unfortunately, her acting career didn’t quite pan out. She worked in restaurants, as an administrative assistant, a nanny, and a sales representative for a wine distributor before the lack of creativity in her life drove her to begin writing.

Amy received her MFA in Creative Writing for Children from The New School, where she was lucky enough to meet a fabulous community of YA writers who keep her sane on a daily basis. She lives in Harlem, where she spends her days writing, eating cheese, and occasionally binge watching The Vampire Diaries.

Website | Twitter | Goodreads

Shuffle the Music Tag

Book Blitz_-3

I saw this tag on There Might Be Coffee and decided to give it a try. It’s always nice to branch out and look at something other than books. So, without further delay, it’s time to shuffle by playlist…

The Rules:

  • Thank the person who nominated you for this tag and link to their blog.
  • Shuffle your entire music library (no matter how old songs the songs are) and talk about the FIRST FIFTEEN songs that come up (anything like why they are there, if they signify something, any story, why you like them, etc.)
  • Mention the songs as well as the artists.
  • Tag 7 people or more to do this tag and please let them know!

The Music:

1. Dirty Paws by Of Monsters and Men

I recently rediscovered Of Monsters and Men. I’m going through an alternative/indie/folksy stage and this song has become a must on my lesson planning playlists.

2. Jeb Rand by Armistice

While this particular version of this song isn’t my favourite, I still enjoy listening to it. I highly recommend checking out the original by Bedouin Soundclash.

3. November by Ryan O’Reilly

The live acoustic version of this song is even better! This song is a lot of fun to sing along to while I’m driving home from work.

4. Non Believer by London Grammar

I didn’t think anything could top their debut album and then they came out with this song. I can listen to Hannah Reid’s voice for hours. Gorgeous!

5. Send Them Off! by Bastille

I love every single song Bastille has released. ❤ No, seriously! I firmly believe that they are incapable of creating a bad song.

6. T5 by Swet Shop Boys

I don’t even remember how I discovered the Swet Shop Boys, but I’m sure glad that I did! If you haven’t

7. It’s No Good by Depeche Mode

Depeche Mode are one of my all time favourite bands and Dave Gahan’s voice makes me melt. I can listen to each and every one of their songs over and over again.

8. Beggin for Thread by Banks

I discovered Banks through my sister who continuously had this song on repeat for what felt like weeks and weeks. There’s something about how her voice changes in this song that fascinates me.

9. Drumming Song by Florence + The Machine

Florence Welch’s voice is heavenly. That is all.

10. Skinny Love by Birdy

This song is just so damn heartbreaking. Birdy’s voice gets me every time, it’s just so hauntingly beautiful.

11. Natural Right (Rude Bwoy) by Bedouin Soundclash

Bedouin Soundclash are one of my favourite bands. This is from their first album and it reminds me of when I was in my first year of university. I used to play this song over and over again while working in my dorm room. I still can’t get enough of it.

12. Ophelia by The Lumineers

I can’t help but singing along to this song! It reminds me of long car rides with my sister who also adores The Lumineers.

13. Reason Is Treason by Kasabian

It’s been ages since I’ve listened to this song!

14. Borders by M.I.A.

M.I.A. is a queen. Her music, confidence, fashion, willingness to take on controversial topics…yeah, I love her. Enough said!

15. After Dark by Le Tigre

Le Tigre were the soundtrack to my time in high school. This was one of their later releases but I still love it all the same.