29 July 2014

Playlist: "Dream Dancer"

This week's playlist--mostly consisting of indie pop tunes--has some dreamy elements to it as well as some very catchy lyrics and choruses. Hence..."dream dancer."

Even though I of course pretty much listen to music constantly, I didn't think I would be listening to this song as much as I have recently. I just love the youth chorale that chimes in for the chorus--so beautiful! This entire song is ethereal and enchanting and oh, I just love it.

Definitely reminding me of The Strokes, this band has got me so excited! Their music just makes me want to dance and dance and dance.

A little bit of rock, a little bit of pop, a little bit of an indie tune...this one just always has me tapping my foot. This is the kind of song I'd pick for a road trip.

The lyrics here are a little sad, which, when set alongside cheerful music, is always something I've been guilty to enjoy. These lyrics are really smart, though, and they still sound awesome! (The song also has clapping. I love clapping!)

28 July 2014

Macabre Monday: Mini Book Reviews (The Maggot People by Henning Koch; The Fallen by Dale Bailey)

maggot people horror novel

*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. 

My rating: 2/5

I was interested in the premise of the book--a man turning into a "maggot person" just can't help but peak my interest--and the beginning was fairly interesting. We meet the main character, interact a bit with him, and then of course, things get a bit weird and disgusting when he sleeps with the female maggot person who infects him, making him one of them. I still could have been fine with that, though, as nasty as that sounds. 

What took the book down a notch for me was the fact that he has to wiggle his way through obstacles such as the threatening Mama Maggot, priests with guns, and eventually, how to literally wiggle his way out of somewhere. 

That may all sound fine and good, quite exciting, yes? To an extent. Most of it is just ludicrous and you must have an enormous amount of suspension of disbelief for this book to even begin to make it through. If you make it to the ending, you will still probably hold up your hands in discontent; is this what the book has been about the entire time because there really is nothing else to show for it, and uhh...this was the weirdest twist I've ever laid eyes on in a book. I'm still mad when I think about it.

So, was the book creepy? It definitely had a creep factor. Maggots inside of the characters cannot be taken lightly. Would I recommend reading it? Maybe just the first 50-100 pages... 

*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. 

My rating: 4/5 

I'll just go ahead and say, I wrestled with putting this under the "horror" genre because it fits under so many other genres as well. I decided to post it, however, because it deals so much with the supernatural, and I think a lot of us can say how spooky that is, and also because many of the passages creeped me out--the tension of this book is unbearable at times. 

While there are some religious themes, as is probably obvious from the cover, this is not a book that the old lady sitting next to you at church would read. The book is so well-written and the characters are given a great deal of attention to, which really brings you into the story. Reminded me a bit of Stephen King in a way, which just shows how promising this novel is! 

There is something deeper than the characters going on in the story, and I love that we don't really find out until the end of the story exactly what that is. Plus, you don't wait the whole time and have it be something completely roll-your-eyes stupid. 

A tense, thrilling, creepy, shocking book that takes you for a ride. Definitely read this one! 

That's it for this Macabre Monday. Head over to Kate's blog to see her spooky Macabre Monday!

26 July 2014

{Widened Horizons}

Hope the weekend is going great for everyone!

I have been visiting my brother and sister-in-law, trying not to feel awful for everyone's sake, and the trip has turned out nice so far. It's always great to hang out with your sibling whom you never get to see. (Plus the bed I've been sleeping on/constantly napping on is charming and comfy, so that is just fabulous.)

Speaking of napping...
I found this picture via Pinterest and immediately felt myself drifting away. It has everything I need in it for some shut-eye, and it of course makes me wish we had a dog again!
sleepy coastal dog

I've been like a madman with earrings lately, going through old ones that I haven't worn in a long time, to hunting through bargain bins at department stores. Of course, I always remember the best ones are online. To prove my point, I've posted below a pair of earrings from etsy. I just love the sass, the cuteness, the everything!
cute funny word earrings

As much tea as I drink, you would think I'd have a teapot by now. I guess my fascination ends with just marveling at them. One day, though...one day I will have one. The one I picked out for today is a cute, vintage teapot from the 80's. I love the minimalist design but also the unique touch added to it.
vintage hole teapot

The literary piece I'm about to post, "I Was Trying to Describe You to Someone" by Richard Brautigan, just blew me away. I don't know how many people will actually read it, but if you do, take your time. Reread it. Reread it again. Soak it up and soak it in. Enjoy it because the way it made me feel, the way I hope it makes you feel, is hard to come across. (You will probably have to click on the link to read it.)
literary work brautigan

I'm crazy about the Tory Burch Resort 2015 collection. Especially this dress! The colors and the pattern and oooooh just give me it already!
tory burch 2015 resort

The owl find for today comes from Overstock. They have a fair amount of owl products, but I fell in love with this owl pillow! (I post a lot of pillows on Widened Horizons, don't I?!) Seriously considering adding this to the already pillow-packed corner chair in my bedroom...
owl pillow multi

Quick Links: 

23 July 2014

Wordful Wednesday//Gag Me with A Spoon

Dealing with a chronic illness means allocating your "spoons."

If you have no earthly idea what I'm talking about, you can get to know "the spoon theory" here.
But if you'd rather have it spelled out for you, the words taken from here do a great job of summing it up:
A person who is chronically disabled or ill only has a limited amount of expendable energy each day. The spoon theory uses a metaphor of spoons to turn energy into a measurable concept. A person living with chronic illness or disability only has a certain number of spoons in their possession each day, and every small action a person takes can result in a lost spoon. Once a person loses a spoon, it is very hard to get that back until after a full night’s sleep. Simple actions like getting out of bed, taking a shower, walking, and driving can require enormous amounts of energy that people don’t have.
Lately I've felt as though I've had no spoons.
Every single action requires the though of "is it worth it?" (let me work it...haha kidding!)
So when I found this neat little chart below, I thought it was a great visual to show to others what I talk about when I mention spoons, and what I mean by every action requires spoons, leaving me pooped.

spoon lyme visual

Take time today to either appreciate what you can do if you aren't tangled up with a chronic illness, or if you are, take time to rest and heal--we need our spoons!

21 July 2014

Macabre Monday: Delivery (The Beast Within)

the beast within poster

Found footage films really seem to have some type of control over me; it definitely stems from The Blair Witch Project. (Can you believe it's been 15 years since that movie came out, by the way?)

When I found out this horror film was set up as a reality show about pregnancy that soon goes wrong, I was rocked by how good of an idea that sounded. The beginning of the film is all the gooey, mushy reality TV stuff, but it's still interesting. It lets us get to know the characters, for one thing, which a lot of horror movies miss the opportunity of doing. The rest of the film is what was not included for the audience members of the "reality TV show." It contains what the character, Rachel, who is pregnant throughout the film, calls "proof." 

What separates Delivery from most other films in the found footage genre is the lack of jump scares. There are a few, and yes, you have the typical "spooky" camera effects/glitches going on as well as some other weird, unexplained events. However, for the most part, this movie relies heavily on tension. I enjoyed that a lot more than some nonsensical scare tactics. 

There are also some unnerving parts of the film that are just...abnormal. They are there, of course, to show the debilitating psychological state of Rachel, and when you see what is going on in the house and what must be going on in Rachel's head, you start to get the creeps
delivery goosebumps
Uh, you comfy there? 
What tore me up more than anything was the ending. I'm trying not to give anything away, so all I will say is that I was shocked, I wasn't expecting it at all, and I applaud the director for making it that way. It could have went down the drain, but instead, it was something I could appreciate and sit here and truly say I thought horrific.

19 July 2014

Book Review and Author Q&A: The Moment of Everything by Shelly King

*I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Goodreads description (x):
Maggie Dupr├Ęs, recently "involuntarily separated from payroll" at a Silicon Valley start-up, is whiling away her days in The Dragonfly's Used Books, a Mountain View institution, waiting for the Next Big Thing to come along. When the opportunity arises for her to network at a Bay Area book club, she jumps at the chance -- even if it means having to read Lady Chatterley's Lover, a book she hasn't encountered since college, in an evening. But the edition she finds at the bookstore is no Penguin Classics Chatterley -- it's an ancient hardcover with notes in the margins between two besotted lovers of long ago. What Maggie finds in her search for the lovers and their fate, and what she learns about herself in the process, will surprise and move readers.
My rating: 5 out of 5 hoots 

There is usually some off-the-wall thing that comes to mind with a novel that I can express how much I disliked. Even if just a little. The Moment of Everything surprised me when, writing this review, I just could not come up with anything. That's saying something, folks. And you know what it's saying? "Read me." 

Shelly King has drawn up an exceptionally well-written book that has so much heart to it. 
All of the characters are strikingly well-rounded with each having their own unique, endearing, and often geeky dialogue. So often I find myself reading dialogue that is just filling up space or is way too awkward, but in The Moment of Everything, it seemed completely natural...which is a wonderful thing!

Geek references seem to dominate in a lot of places. But, that's another thing I loved about it. The titles of the chapters even reminded me of the titles of video game quests you would go on with such distinctiveness as "The Silver Needle," "The Venus Glove," and "Fortunes and Foils." Do I think some audience members are going to understand bits of that or like it necessarily? Probably not. But what I do think is that it added a great deal of charm to the book, especially to the character of Maggie, who we focus on. 

Following the main character, who seems so unsure of her life and herself, I was a little caught up in my emotions. I did not expect this book to be so emotional. There is a certain part of the book that just destroyed me--was it my hormones or was it just the fact that this book did such a good job of expressing love?  

Before my emotions got the best of me, I was just trying my hardest not to rip my hair out, completely in suspense. I'm usually able to pat myself on the back when it comes to guessing what is about to happen next in a novel or what the entire plot is about, even. No no no. Shelly King put a blind fold on me, pushed me into a dark bookstore, and made me shuffle about to try to find the light switch. There are enough twists and turns to keep you in suspense (and still in the dark) that you have to keep reading, telling yourself another 20 pages won't hurt as long as you figure out what this Avi character is about or what it really means when someone gives you a bike. 

I've been so horrified by endings lately that I literally started grimacing towards the end. Please don't let it suck, please don't let it suck. I was almost praying. But King delivered. The ending is reflective but not overly sentimental, it's not rushed, and for once in a long time, I actually liked it. (Collective gasp.) 

The Moment of Everything is to be released in September!

*Thanks NetGalley for the free copy of this book. 


I managed to get in touch with the author of this beloved book for a Q&A; she was a total sweetheart about everything. So, dear folks, enjoy my nice little back-and-forth with Shelly King about her first novel, The Moment of Everything

Author Q&A with Shelly King:

Jumping straight into your writing, are you more likely to make outlines and plan chapter-by-chapter or just try to, you know, let the words flow, man?

Definitely let-the-words-flow! The first draft is always just a crazy circus of what's in my head. I try to be a little more structured during revision, but it's never worked very well.

What's your experience with geek culture? I mean...World of Warcraft, Battlestar Galactica, Dungeons and Dragons? Are you a geek or did you do some serious research for this book?

This is a great question. First, let me say how I define "geek." I think of a geek as anyone who finds passion and joy in something, usually something on the periphery of the main stream. That can be gamers or it can be the lady obsessed with 19th century buttons. (Don't laugh, one of those cornered me at a party once.) So from that stand point, I don't think of myself as a geek because my interests are very broad. I've dipped my toe into a lot of ponds with friends to try out things they geek out on, but other than writing, I've never found my inner geek. But I love so many things that are a part of what you'd probably call geek culture. I'm a HUGE Joss Whedon fan, so I love Buffy, Angel, Firefly, Dr. Horrible, just about anything he's done. I like a lot of Sci/Fi like Battlestar Galactica and Fantasy like Lord of the Rings. Basically, if it's good writing with strong characters, I'm there. But for the finer details of geekery, I really did have to rely on my friends for the novel. The thing is, I adore geeks of all kinds and envy them. I wish I loved something as much as a geek loves what he/she loves. In a way, The Moment of Everything is my love letter to geeks everywhere.

What specific audience do you expect will enjoy this book? 

I think anyone who has ever felt a little lost in their world will appreciate The Moment of Everything. I tried to capture that sense of knowing you needed to take a step forward, but not sure what it should be.

If Maggie was a dog, what breed would she be? (I just can't see her as a cat.)

You're right! I never thought of it, but Maggie is definitely a dog. I'd say, and this isn't a cop out, that Maggie is a mutt. I think there's an intense sense of survival that a mutt has that's also in Maggie.

As a native Southerner, what's your favorite dish from down South? 

BBQ, BBQ, and BBQ. And not from the hipster BBQ places here in the Bay Area. I'm talking old school, hole-in-the-wall, no frills, mustard sauce BBQ. I grew up in Orangeburg, SC, and there's a place everyone goes to there, Dukes. A friend from way back posted a picture of his plate of Q from Dukes on Facebook the other day. Now I haven't been to Dukes in 25 years, but my mouth started watering and I got teary-eyed just looking at that picture. 

Tell me a book you think I must read.  I'm already praising The Moment of Everything, so no, your book cannot be an answer, ha!

Ha! Well, if you haven't read it, A Prayer for Owen Meany. One of the greatest novels ever written in my opinion. The first time I read it, I finished on a Sunday night and called in sick the next day so I could stay home and read it again. 

Thanks for having me on your blog! This was fun!

There's a few things I'd love for people to know about. I've started a Tumblr with pictures of things people have written in books: whatwewriteinbooks.tumblr.com. Please send me anything you've found in a book. I'd love to add it to my Tumblr! Also, after you've read The Moment of Everything, check out my website (www.shellyking.com). I'll be posting lots of book extras there that readers may enjoy like Hugo's favorite recipes and how Dizzy got his name. And I'm also available to visit book clubs! Just contact me on my website and we'll set something up on Skype or Google Hangout or whatever works.

Thanks Shelly for being on the blog today! 

To my readers--were those answers not awesome? I fell in love with Shelly's answer to my question about "geek culture." And that Tumblr is so COOL. Definitely checking that out all day today.

A few more things to know: 
The Moment of Everything is up for grabs on one of Goodread's giveaways until July 23. Hurry up!
And remember, the official release of the book is in September of this year, so be on the lookout! 

18 July 2014

National Blueberry Month: Jam-Packed

July is "National Blueberry Month" apparently, so I went blueberry picking at my grandparents and decided to make some blueberry jam!

First, I nicked a recipe from a good friend.
This one comes from the Tupelo Honey Cafe book. If you've ever been to Asheville, I highly recommend dining at Tupelo Honey! They have some really great cuisine and a wonderful atmosphere.

Recipe & Instructions:

blueberry preserves

I was so excited to begin! I had never made jam before, but I sure enjoyed eating it.
blueberry jam process
(Ignore the messy stove, please!)
This is before I added the sugar mixture. I can't believe how many blueberries I had actually picked and how many it took to make some jam.

blueberry jam boil
This is the blueberries at a boil, after everything has been added in, of course. Look at how pretty a color they make!

blueberry jam jar
And finally, after waiting for the jam to cool and thicken a bit, you can pour it into cute little jars and have yourself some jam to eat in the morning!

The entire process was fairly easy, quick, and pain free.
If you want to celebrate National Blueberry Month, this is a splendid way to do so.

13 July 2014

{Widened Horizons}

If it's not my liver, it's my _____.
I've learned to deal with pain, but new pain is always frightening. We are scared of the unknown, after all.
Recently my body has decided to gift me with pain in my abdomen. So I'm sick and hurting again. What's new?!

How is your day? Are you enjoying the warm weather with a floppy hat and flippy flops? Or are you cooling off inside with some iced tea and watermelon? Let me know after another Widened Horizons. 

For starters, how about some Shirley Temple lip balm? You know you want some of this sweetness!
shirley temple lip

You know what else is sweet? Honey. And when you think of honey, you of course think of...bees! I seem to post a lot of bee related items. I honestly have no idea why, but this "hive" pillow cover is too cute to pass up.
hive bee pillow

I love it when jewelry is designed to be edgy but a little bit classy as well. These skull earrings fit that perfectly. (And they fit my budget too!)
pearl skull earrings

Lamps are such wonderful decor pieces. Although a tad expensive for me, this gorgeous "lotus lamp" would light up a room in more ways than one.
lotus lamp

As for the owl find, I've come across a cute ceramic bowl set! The simple yet adorable features of the owls (especially the eyes) just really got to me. I would love to add this set to my collection.
owl ceramic bowl

Quick Links:

10 July 2014

Thursday Threads: Walking on Poppies

Walking on Poppies

Topshop black jersey knit maxi skirt / Boohoo / ASOS cutout ankle boots / Black shoulder bag / Vintage America layered necklace / Seafolly white wide brim hat / Marc Jacobs fragrance / Butter London nail lacquer

My inspiration for this Thursday's post was the pair of ankle boots above. I just knew they would go well with a maxi skirt if it had a slit in it. And what did I discover? A maxi skirt with two slits in it. How about that?

I think bucket bags are coming back into style, and I'm not one to complain. This one with studs is a pretty good buy at under $100 (in fact, like usual, each item here is under $100!).

Ultimately, I think I just really secretly wanted to showcase the new Marc Jacobs perfume! You can bet your hiney I'll have this perfume added to my collection soon.

09 July 2014

Influenster Spring Fling Voxbox

If you aren't aware of the website Influenster, I have a few words of advice for you: you should be. 

It's completely free to sign up, and all you have to do in order to receive a "box" like I'm about to talk about, is to update your profile frequently and stay current with the website. There are other factors that go into how Influenster chooses who gets to try out their stuff, of course, but my main course of action has always been to just be involved and write reviews!

Here is what my Influenster Spring Voxbox was made up of:

spring voxbox influenster

1) Car air freshener (peach pie scented) celebrating Labor Day movie
  • Loved this scent! It was a little overbearing in my car at first, but like most car air fresheners, it quickly softened up and became a lovely greeting every time I hopped into my car. 
2) Playtex Sport Fresh Balance tampons
  • I actually gave these to a friend and asked her opinion about them afterwards. She said they were "so-so," and that the "application was actually a little bit awkward, almost painful." Yikes! 
3) Rimmel London Scandaleyes Retroglam Mascara
  • SUPER awesome! I've been giving this mascara bedroom eyes ever since I first applied it. I've even found myself wearing mascara more often than normal because I've found the Retroglam so easy to apply with no flakes, hardly any clumps, and lots of length! My favorite product from the bunch.
4) Kiss Everlasting French Nails
  •  I've never really gotten along with fake nails to begin with, but these were a terror for me. Yeah, they looked beautiful when first applied, but not even 30 minutes later, the first nail came off. And I definitely glued those suckers down. Oh well--at least I had my beauty while it lasted:
  • french nails voxbox
5) Nivea Skin Firming Hydration Lotion

  • I've been applying this lotion to my tummy for a few weeks now but all I can really say is that it really leaves my skin moisturized. And I mean moisturized. (SO SMOOTH.) 
6) Softlips Cube

  • This is definitely my second favorite product that came in the Voxbox. I love lip products, and this hydrating lip protectant came in pomegranate blueberry which was just spectacular for me because I am a pomegranate fanatic. With "5 in 1 lip care," you can't go wrong. I've been applying it before I go out in the sun, and well, just whenever I feel like it because it's that great. 

That's it, folks. Now that it's summer, I can't wait to see what boxes Influenster has in store for us all!

*I received these products complimentary from Influenster for testing purposes.*