What to Know Before You Visit Disney World's Galaxy's Edge

Ignite the Spark!

So, you’re planning on heading to Galaxy’s Edge. And it probably seems pretty daunting what with it being one of the biggest additions to Walt Disney World in the past few years. Trust me, I totally get it. When I went in for the very first time, I was completely overwhelmed. So much to see, so little time. It’s a different planet over there - literally! Today, I thought I’d do a little rundown on all things Galaxy’s Edge to get you ready for your own trip to Batuu.

You’re “On-Stage” In Batuu

You may not think much of the idea of Galaxy’s Edge being themed like a planet billions of lightyears away, especially if you aren’t much of a Star Wars fan. But it’s probably something you ought to keep in mind. When you’re in Galaxy’s Edge, you’re always “on-stage.” The Cast Members are in character as the residents of Batuu all the time. It’s really as if you’ve walked out of Disney World and into a completely different world. For starters, anything outside of Galaxy’s Edge does not exist when you’re in it. Want to locate a meet and greet with your favourite mouse? The residents of Batuu won’t know what you’re talking about. The residents really want you to feel like you’re somewhere far from home.

There’s A Special Lingo

Speaking of a whole new world, let’s talk lingo. Batuu is full of phrases that you’ve probably never heard before but that you’ll know by heart once you leave at the end of the day. When you enter the land or come across residents in the morning, you might be greeted with a “Bright Suns!” or in the evening, you might hear “Rising Moons!” When someone is wishing you a good day, they’ll say: “Til the spire!” In a place like Batuu, which is crawling with Stormtroopers, it’s definitely important for everyone to know who’s who. You gotta watch out for danger! So to let someone know that you’re with the First Order, you’d say: “For the Order,” or if you’re with the Resistance, you’d say: “Ignite the spark!” And you might wonder why a resident wishes you, “Safe travels” - well that’s because if you’re in Batuu, then you’re from a different planet and you’re travelling there! So, they’re wishing you safe travels home or wherever your journey make take you. It’s a lot to remember but the lingo really helps give the land a more immersive feel.

Advanced Reservations

Something about Galaxy’s Edge that’s super important to take note of is the option to make advanced reservations. Since the park opened to the public on August 29, guests have been able to make Advanced Reservations for Oga’s Catina, Savi’s Workshop, and Droid Depot. This is pretty huge because typically, advanced reservations are only available for dining venues. To have the option to make a reservation for popular experiences like lightsaber and droid building is huge as it’ll help you ensure that you get to experience all that Galaxy’s Edge has to offer! You can make reservations 180 days in advance so make sure to make your reservations as soon as possible! At this time, there is no option of Advanced Reservations or Fastpass+ for Smuggler’s Run, the Millennium Falcon ride. So, the bonus of making reservations for the other experiences is more time to queue up for Smuggler’s Run!

Alcoholic Beverages

One thing that is significantly different between Walt Disney World’s Galaxy’s Edge and Disneyland’s Galaxy’s Edge is the availability of alcoholic beverages. In Disneyland, the land is kept relatively dry except for the few cocktails you can purchase from Oga’s Cantina. But at Hollywood Studios, you’ll have no trouble finding booze - and that’s the same for Galaxy’s Edge! You can find alcoholic drinks at Ronto Roasters and Oga’s Cantina, as well as alcoholic blue and green milk. My parents actually tried the green milk (I was sadly one day from being legal, sad) and they really enjoyed it. The green milk is paired with tequila, while the blue milk is with rum. PRO TIP: If you’re not from the US and you plan to purchase a drink in Galaxy’s Edge, you’ll have to bring a passport (or photo of your passport) to present alongside your driver’s license as I.D.!!

You Can Make Use of Discounts

If you’re travelling to Batuu with a Walt Disney World Annual Pass, you’re in luck! Your pass can be used for discounts on merchandise inside the land. And you’re going to need that discount because there is a lot of fantastic merch available in Galaxy’s Edge that you are going to want to get your hands on and we ain’t made of money. Using your AP or “yellow card” (the official Batuu lingo for your pass) will save you a few bucks here and there while you're shopping and that’s really going to add up in the end! However, at this time, Annual Pass discounts are not available on the Savi’s Workshop or Droid Depot experiences* (*as of Sept 17, 2019). Just make sure you have your “credentials” (I.D.) on you at all times to confirm your pass!

I hope this guide helps you guys plan your trip to Galaxy’s Edge!

Felicia x


whattoexpectgalaxysedgepin.png

Review: Droid Depot at Galaxy’s Edge

Hello everybody!

A little while back, I wrote up a lengthy post about my experience at the Annual Passholder Preview of Walt Disney World’s Galaxy’s Edge - that can be found here if you fancy giving it a read. Ever since I visited Galaxy’s Edge in August, my mind, body, and soul have been dying to go back. So I guess I’ll just have to live vicariously through my own experiences by writing up a ton of blog posts! Today, I thought I’d write up a post specifically about my experience at the Droid Depot.

First, let’s get the details out of the way. The Droid Depot is a store/experience located on the planet of Batuu, aka Galaxy’s Edge at Hollywood Studios. This is where you can build your very own droid pal to take home with you! The whole process costs $99.99 USD - this includes both the experience of building the droid, the actual droid itself, and a cardboard take-home box. You can also purchase a backpack to carry your droid in around the land, as it will interact with different features inside Galaxy’s Edge (more on that in a sec), but unfortunately, I didn’t notice them in the store so I’m not sure on the pricing of those. Lastly, you can pick up personality chips for $12.99 a piece. These will alter the sounds and behaviours of your droid, and are purchased after building the droid.

At the time that I built my droid, since it was during the AP Preview, they weren’t taking reservations at Droid Depot. Since then, guests of Batuu have been able to make reservations for this experience at My Disney Experience 180 days in advance. I would suggest trying to get a reservation as there is very limited space inside the depot, and it’s just safer that way!

The very first thing we did upon our arrival to Galaxy’s Edge, aside from getting Batuu Coke, was get in line for the Droid Depot. We waited about 30-35 minutes to get into the depot and the wait was all outside with only a couple scattered umbrellas for shade - take this another case for booking an advanced reservation for this experience! It was a very hot wait. Once we got inside, we were filed into another, much shorter line to pay. The very first thing you do is pay and then you get to build your droid. I think it just makes it easier for them to make sure everyone leaving with a droid has paid for that droid. Keep in mind, only 2 people are able to build 1 droid. So, my family of 4 had to split into 2 groups to make 2 separate droids. This is due to the tight building stations.

We got up to the counter, paid our $99.99, and then had to make a decision of which droid we wanted to build. You have two options: R2-series (which is similar to the real O.G. R2D2) or BB-series (the newer, BB-8 style). Steven and I already discussed this beforehand, which I recommend you and your building partner also do, so we were prepared for this question - and we chose BB-series! Of course, this doesn’t narrow you down to one uniform style of droid. In other words, the series doesn’t determine the colour or style of your droid, it only determines which parts you’ll need to pick up to start building. The depot workers handed us a tray with a guide to the parts we needed on the bottom and we headed over to the conveyor belt.

At the conveyor belt, you get to choose all the parts that will make up the final product of your droid. Several parts (Both R2-series and BB-series) roll by, and it’s up to you to find the parts you’re looking for in the styling and colour that you want. While the picture above is of the parts for an R2-series unit, which my parents built, you can get an idea of what the conveyor process looks like. They have an area you can set your tray down so that you can reach out for all the parts. There’s also Cast Members everywhere that are able to help you. Steven and I found our parts quite quickly because, again, we knew ahead of time what we wanted for our droid. I suggest doing the same. Look through blog posts, pictures, YouTube videos, and get an idea of what they offer in terms of droids parts, so you can decide ahead of time what you’re looking for. It’ll help make the process quicker and easier for you.

For a BB-series droid, we had 4 parts to locate - a dome, a dome connection plate, a body sphere, and a motivator. We also had the choice of 3 types of bodies - Resistance, BB8, or Imperial. We knew that we wanted ours to look just like BB-8, but with purple colouring, so we looked for those specific parts. It honestly took less than 2 minutes to find all the parts we needed. A Cast Member found us as we were picking the last part up and sent us over to an empty station where we got to work on making our new friend.

I can’t even describe how easy it was to put together this droid. I think that the Imagineers made this a simple process so that kids would be able to do all the constructing if they wanted to. There is an instruction placemat on the building station which you can easily reference while you put the pieces together. While there were some tricky spots, like connecting the dome and dome connection plate with a drill (harder than it sounds!), it was pretty straightforward and again, there are Cast Members everywhere to help. Once we got all our parts put together, we pressed a button on the station that called over a CM - and that’s where the magic happens! The CM puts your droid inside a little cubby with a remote control and has you press a button on the station that activates your droid. There’s a whole sequence where buttons light-up and it makes noises, I think kids will love that. And then your droid powers up and starts moving/making noises!

Lastly, the CM gave us the droid and remote to test out the functions. Be warned - the BB-series units are super touchy with the remote. The slightest touch of a button will send your droid hurtling across the room. Many a times has the head popped right off ours (don’t worry, it’s an easy fix, you just pop it right back on lol). We stuck mostly to testing out the head movement and noise functions. Then, the CM puts your droid and remote into a cardboard box with a little cut-out in the side, sort of like what you’d get when you made a Build A Bear. And that’s it! You get to take your little bud out of the depot and home with you.

Or, why not take your droid exploring around Batuu? As I mentioned earlier, the droids interact with different features and areas around the land. For example, since ours was a BB-8 droid, when we brought it into the First Order area, it started making uncertain nosies and physically shaking. Like, the whole box was quivering - because he was scared of getting caught by the First Order, of course! At one point, Chewie or Rey (can’t remember which) walked by, and our droid started getting excited. At this time, you aren’t able to take your droids out to roll around on the ground in Batuu. You can take them out to hold and get a picture of, as long as you put them right back into the box. This is because of the safety concerns of having a droid rolling around the feet of many, many visitors walking around the land. It’s also a case for buying the backpack, which you can open up so your droid can “see” the land. Or just put it in your own backpack and leave it unzipped to be honest.

All in all, I think the Droid Depot experience is definitely worth the price. Although the Savi’s Workshop lightsaber building experience is way cool, it is a lot more expensive. So if you’re worried about spending $200 on a toy your kid might break in a week (it happens!), or you don’t want to spend that kind of money on yourself, but you really want a cool experience and keepsake from Batuu, I would absolutely recommend getting a droid. I went in thinking it would be cute to get a droid, but never expected I’d be so impressed. The droids are really good quality and the function on them is excellent. And the interactivity with the land is worth the price alone!!

Would you build a droid, if you had the opportunity?

Felicia x


what to expect droid depot pin.png

Galaxy's Edge Annual Passholder Preview | August 19, 2019

Bright suns, my loves!

Last month, I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to travel to Galaxy’s Edge at Walt Disney World before the land officially opened to the public. With no hint of exaggeration, I’m here to tell you that it was one of the most incredible, immersive experiences that I have ever had at Disney World. My first thought after leaving the land was, Oh my gosh, I need to blog about that… So here I am, ready to share my thoughts and opinions with y’all, even though nobody asked for ‘em! Grab yourself a cup of coffee, hot cocoa, or Blue Milk, as this one’s going to be a long one today!

If you haven’t been keeping up with the Star Wars-related news, the new themed land, Galaxy’s Edge, opened to the public at Disney’s Hollywood Studios on August 29. The land took up the space that was once occupied by Streets of America and the Studio Backlot Tour. This land has been a long-time coming, and any and every Star Wars fan has been dying for their chance to step into this new, highly imaginative land. The area is devoted entirely to the world of Star Wars, and while it is based on the film franchise, the land actually represents Batuu, a planet on the Outer Rim Territories - which is not featured in the films. That means that the land isn’t just a carbon copy of anything you’ve ever seen before. It’s entirely original and has it’s own (new!) story to share, while integrating stories and characters that fans know and love.

Awhile back, my family heard the news that Disney would be giving Walt Disney World Platinum Annual Passholders the opportunity to preview Galaxy’s Edge sometime in August. Luckily, we were spending the whole month in Orlando. So we spent the summer frantically checking our emails until we finally heard on Facebook that the emails had been sent out - but we hadn’t received ours. However, we got super lucky as someone posted the registration link and I managed to get the four of us an appointment to preview on August 19 at 1pm. Yay!! Our preview appointment was from 1pm to 5pm, so we were permitted to be in the land for 4 glorious hours.

On August 19, we arrived at Hollywood Studios around 12pm so that we were there well in advance. There was no way we were missing our appointment! One of the first things we did was head through the shops down Hollywood Boulevard and then Sunset Boulevard. There were a few Galaxy’s Edge items for sale in the shops on Hollywood Blvd, but there were a ton down at Once Upon a Time, which is the last shop on the right before Beauty and the Beast Live on Stage and Fantasmic. They had Magicbands, t-shirts, pins and more. Some of the items for purchase were passholder exclusives, which made sense as it was the passholder preview day… But a few items were available to the general public. We ended buying a bunch of pins and each of us bought a t-shirt with the date on it.

IMG_2003.jpeg

Around 12:30pm, we made our way over to Grand Avenue which is where the largest entrance to Galaxy’s Edge is located. Despite being 30 minutes early for our appointment, they actually allowed us in anyway which was amazing. The more time in the land, the better! The check-in process for the preview was so efficient. I couldn’t believe how quickly and smoothly it went. It was so fast that I could barely process it was happening. At the first Cast Member checkpoint, we presented our confirmation email and our passports for identification. Then, at the next checkpoint, the CM scanned our MagicBands. There were so many CMs at the checkpoints, about a dozen at each, so there was no line whatsoever. And that was it! We could go inside! We went through this large archway which looked like a subway entrance. As you passed through, the tiles on the wall started to look deteriorated and eventually, by the end, it looked like a tunnel that was falling apart which perfectly suited the general aesthetic of the land.

IMG_0291.jpeg

Upon entering the land, I was completely and utterly awestruck. Everyone I know who had already been to Galaxy’s Edge, either in Disneyland or Disney World, had gone on about how large everything is. But until you actually stand among the rocks and the buildings, you don’t realize just how massive everything is. If you’re wondering about sightlines and the likelihood of seeing other park attractions from inside Galaxy’s Edge, you can’t. I was worried that you might be able to see things from other areas of Hollywood Studios, which might ruin the feel of the land, but I didn’t see anything while I was in there. You are wholly immersed in Batuu from the moment you enter the land to the moment you leave.

One of the very first things we did upon our arrival into Batuu was hop into a line at a beverage kiosk to grab ourselves some special galactic Coke products. In Batuu, there is no such thing as Coke - although, you can still get these fizzy products. Coke, Diet Coke, Sprite, and Dasani are all available inside the land in these ‘scrap metal’ containers that resemble detonators. The only difference with these products to regular Coke products is the label. Gone is the logo we know and love, replaced with an Aurebesh logo… Aurebesh being the written language used in Batuu, of course. Honestly, this is just overpriced Coke in cute plastic bottles. But while there is no such thing as Coke here in Batuu, there is such thing as heat. It is hot in this land y’all, especially in the dead of summer. These are the only drink products they sell in the land (at least when I was there), so if you’re not up to paying an exorbitant fee for pop, then definitely bring your own drinks. The good news is, there are water bottle filling stations inside the park - and they’re themed, too!

Regardless, these bottles were a fun one-time experience and we kept them as souvenirs.

IMG_0279.jpeg

Inside of Galaxy’s Edge, there are two major experiences that you can partake in that are not rides. The first and perhaps most popular is Savi’s Workshop where you can build your own “piece of scrap metal”… or at least, that’s what the residents of Batuu call it! What you’re really doing is building your own lightsaber in an intimate encounter with a fantastic storyline. While my family chose not to build lightsabers, we did choose to make our own customizable droids at the Droid Depot. Both experiences are quite pricey, but comparatively, Savi’s is much more expensive. A lightsaber will set you back about $200 USD, whereas a droid only costs around $100. Before heading to the land, Steven and I already knew we wanted to build a droid, so we budgeted for that. When we got there, my parents also decided they wanted their own because hello, these things are so cute! I’ll put together a detailed review of the Droid Depot experience and link that here so you can read about that full process, if you’re interested.

As for the final product…

Ta-da! I present you BB-13, our little baby. Isn’t she cute?

One of the things I had heard the most buzz about before our trip to Batuu was the Milk Stand. If you’ve ever seen A New Hope, then you may remember Luke Skywalker pouring himself a seemingly disgusting glass of blue-coloured milk. Um, gross, right? Well, you can get some of that Blue Milk - or even some Green Milk - at Galaxy’s Edge! There’s a huge debate going on right now about which is better. I insisted on trying these two milks because when in Rome, right? Or, rather, when in Batuu. Anyway, after trying both, I’m ready to weigh in on the debate… I’m going to have to side with Team Blue Milk! After sipping both, I couldn’t accurately describe the taste of either. Others say that the green is more of a plant-y, tropical taste, whereas the blue is more fruity. I agree with that.

Unlike Luke’s disgusting milk though, these aren’t actual milk products. They’re instead frosty drinks made of coconut and rice milks. The Blue Milk is a subtle combination of dragon fruit, pineapple, lime, and watermelon flavours. The Green Milk is instead made up of mandarin orange, passion fruit, grapefruit, and orange blossom. Neither were very strong in taste, but were both very refreshing. I wasn’t so sure about the consistency when I first heard about it, but I actually really enjoyed it. Both reminded me of smoothies.

Also, at Walt Disney World’s Galaxy’s Edge, you can get both of these milks as alcoholic options! The Blue Milk comes with rum, while Green Milk comes with tequila. I’d love to try the Blue Alcoholic Milk the next time I go.

IMG_0259.jpeg

And then, the moment we’ve all been waiting for… We came across the most incredible and majestic of all… The fastest hunk of junk in the galaxy! THE MILLENNIUM FREAKING FALCON. I gotta tell you, there is nothing that could have prepared me for seeing the Millennium Falcon in person. It is MASSIVE. I don’t even know if I can put into words how magical it was to stand in front of it. I couldn’t believe - and still cannot believe - how authentic it looked. I think that even non-fans will be impressed by the sheer size and detail of the Millennium Falcon replica in Galaxy’s Edge. The imagineering that went into this land is simply inspiring and I applaud absolutely everyone who took part in the creation of this marvellous place!

As some, if not most, of you may know, the Millennium Falcon structure is home to Smuggler’s Run, the land’s only attraction currently open. It will be accompanied by a second ride, Rise of the Resistance, later this year in December. Smuggler’s Run is a simulation-based thrill ride in which you take on a role to function the very spaceship that stands before you. That’s right, you get to operate and ride the Millennium Falcon! Unfortunately, I didn’t go on this ride as I don’t do well with simulation rides. But Steven and my dad went on and loved it!! I’m so excited to see what the new ride has in store for us! Hopefully, I’ll be able to ride that one.

IMG_0266-1.jpeg

Something I really liked about the set-up of Galaxy’s Edge is the area surrounding the Millennium Falcon. First, they have a raised platform with PhotoPass photographers available to take your photo with the Falcon in the background. Then, down a few steps, you’re right in front of the ship. This is where the entrance to the ride is located. The area is fully blocked off, as you can see by the fencing behind me in the picture, so the front of the Falcon is really just a photo op area. Whether because of the AP Preview being so quiet or because of this set-up, we managed to get really good photos in front of the Falcon with no one in the background. If you go to Disney World often, you’ll know how much of a treat this is! I was so happy with the photos we got and I’ll be framing them all, I’m sure.

IMG_0277.jpeg

Although I’m steadfastly with the Resistance (Ignite the Spark!), I was very much looking forward to making my way over to the First Order area of the land. Sorry, guys. Ya girl loves her Kylo Ren. Sadly though, I never came across Kylo!! We saw a ton of other characters roaming the land… Chewie, Rey, Vi Moradi, and about a dozen Stormtroopers. But we never did see our luscious-locked baddie. I’m not really sure why that was. We were inside the land for 4 hours and walked around the entire thing a few times, but just never saw him! Hopefully, the next time we travel intergalactically, we stumble upon our favourite First Order leader.

And there ya go, that was our day in Galaxy’s Edge! Overall, our experience was perfection. Everything from the details of the architecture to the extent to which Cast Members stayed in character was so impressive. When we finally, and begrudgingly, left the land at the end of our preview, we felt so strange walking back into Hollywood Studios. Being inside Galaxy’s Edge truly felt like being in a different world - or at least in a different park! Of course, we shopped until we dropped inside the land, and hopefully soon I’ll be able to post a Galaxy’s Edge haul for you guys.

I hope you enjoyed my extra long post about my time in Galaxy’s Edge! Talk soon, my lovelies.

Felicia x

We Got A Puppy!

IMG_0803.jpeg

Hello everyone!

So, you can probably guess from the title of today’s post what I’m here to tell you guys about… Yes, Steven and I got a puppy!!

I am a dog person. Like, there is no other pet that could come close to giving me the same amount of joy that a dog does. (Also, I’m allergic to and mildly freaked out by cats, so there’s that.) I’ve owned dogs for as long as I’ve been alive, aside from like 2 months when i was 9 - which was just the period we had to wait before getting my next dog. I love dogs, but sadly, Steven hasn’t always. When we started dating, he told me that he definitely did not like dogs. When he was a kid, he got jumped on by an overly-friendly husky and broke his arm, so it turned him off dogs completely. However, I’ve spent the past 6 years convincing him that dogs are genuinely the best and while I give myself a lot of credit, I think spending time with my dog Miley made him realize that he truly is a dog lover.

So really, when we started discussing the possibility of getting a puppy earlier this year, it wasn’t really a hard decision.

Readers, I’d like you to meet Leia!

IMG_0979.jpeg

I’ll definitely post more in the future about the whole process of getting our puppy (it was our first time going through this ourselves!), but I just wanted to pop in and introduce you guys to the newest member of our family!

Leia’s a Havanese, which is a toy-breed companion dog. Meaning she’s tiny. Very tiny. Right now, she’s a bit too thin - we’re working on it! - and she weighs about 3.9 lbs. We picked her up on September 1 when she was 11 weeks old. That’s a bit older than you would typically pick up your puppy, but as we were on vacay, we had to wait a little longer to take her home. Currently, she’s 12 weeks old and she’ll be 3 months old on September 13!

Of course, we named her after Princess Leia Organa from Star Wars. Once I mentioned the name to Steven, that was it. There was no other name that could fit this little fighter better!

Steven and I are absolutely THRILLED. Honestly, could not be happier. The whole process has been crazy, fun, and amazing - and tiring. We’re so excited (and a little nervous!) to be fur parents for the very first time.

I’ll update you guys on how the puppy life is going very soon!

Felicia x

Disney Parks Halloween Merchandise Wishlist | 2019

~*~ It’s spooky season! ~*~

I gotta tell ya, I love Halloween. I can’t even explain why. I’m not really a ‘horror’ person - I couldn’t watch a scary movie to save my life, jump-scares give me panic attacks, and I cringe at the sight of blood. But I just love the cozy autumnal feeling of Halloween, especially of the not-so-scary persuasion. Disney checks off every box on my list for giving off the perfect Halloween vibes. Every August, when Disney’s Magic Kingdom park is transformed into a Halloween town (no, not that Halloweentown sadly), I’m enamoured. I want nothing less than to live in that little fictional town, on Main Street U.S.A., among the scarecrows and jack-o’-lanterns.

One of the best parts of Disney’s Halloween is also one of the best parts of Disney in general: merch. As you can imagine, Disney goes full-out with their Halloween goods. It usually goes out for sale around the same time as the first Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party of the season which just so happened to be a lot earlier than usual this year, haunting Magic Kingdom on August 16 this year. So, of course, I ran to see what sorts of goodies they had in store for this season. And I compiled a bit of a list (okay, so it’s a rather sizeable list) of all the bits and pieces I love this season - and today, I want to share it with you guys!

IMG_0148.jpeg
IMG_0149.jpeg

Mickey & Minnie Mouse Cauldron Mug ($19.99)

Available on ShopDisney [x]

This cauldron mug is simply adorable! I’m absolutely loving Mickey and Minnie in their vampire and witchy costumes. I think that the fact that this mug is shaped as a cauldron is positively delightful. If I didn’t already have way more mugs than any human would ever need, I would have already added this to my collection! What’s so cute is that there’s a little spider decal on the bottom of the inside of the mug with a teeny Mickey head in it, and the back of the mug says “Brewing Up A Terror-ific Time!” I feel that size-wise, this mug is really great, and the details just make it so much better.

IMG_0152.jpeg

Minnie Mouse Witch Sequined Ear Headband ($27.99)

Available on ShopDisney [x]

These Minnie ears are so FUN!! Like c’mon, who can deny that these are adorable? While I’m usually not into over-the-top ears, these are too cute to pass up on. Last Halloween, whilst handing out candy to kids at home, I wore a headband with a mini witch’s hat on top - and now this year, I think I’ll just have to wear these ears instead!! Considering these ears are going for the same price as most other Minnie ears, I think these are arguably more worth the $27.99. They’ve got the addition of the witch’s hat plus a large, sequined bow. Also, on the actual headband piece, there’s stitching that reads “Let’s get wicked!” - so sweet. Personally, I think these are a better set of ears than the new Candy Corn ears, which I’m not huge on. I think it definitely helps that I love the colour purple though!

IMG_0157.jpeg
IMG_0159.jpeg

Minnie Mouse Sequin Mini Backpack by Loungefly - Candy Corn ($90.00)

Available on ShopDisney [x]

Ahhh this Loungefly is so pricey but so darn cute!!! Honestly, the quality on Loungefly backpacks looks so good, I wish I had the money to spend on one :( But someday maybe! (NOTE: while I was working on this post, my parents gave me an early birthday gift and it was the Star Wars Baby Character mini backpack! What are the odds?!) I love the candy corn details on this bag. Not only did they include the candy corn bow on this bag, which is similar to the one on the ears, but they also put the design on the zippers and the slider on the front! I love these sparkly bags and think they’re super fun and festive. This would be a great bag to take with you to MNSSHP.

IMG_0154.jpeg
IMG_0155.jpeg

Walt Disney World Candy Corn Spirit Jersey ($64.99)

Available on ShopDisney [x]

Oh my gosh, this spirit jersey was SO hard to find. I ended up actually purchasing this bad boy as my dad hunted it down in Disney Springs for me a couple days after it was released. But it was hard to find! I went to Magic Kingdom the day after the Halloween merch was released and it was sold out at Big Top Souvenirs… Went to Epcot the next day and it was sold out at MouseGears… I was really losing out hope until my dad texted me that he located it at World of Disney - and it was the second last size small available! I LOVE this spirit jersey. I mean, I love most of the spirit jerseys, but this one was super special to me. Check out those sparkles! That’s right friends. All those white specks on the jersey are SPARKLES. How heavenly is that? It’s just really pretty and the pumpkin decals are so cute.

IMG_0146.jpeg

Poisoned Apple Votive Candle Holder ($19.99)

Available on ShopDisney [x]

I LOVE THIS. Y’all, I love candles. Just so much. There’s nothing that gives me that cozy, spooky feel more than candles. A candle holder shaped like a poisoned apple is basically the best thing that could possibly happen. This would be so lovely to put on my mantlepiece, with a little tealight glowing through whilst I watch Hocus Pocus on repeat for the month of October lol. Also, have you guys heard that Freeform will be playing Hocus Pocus like, 30 times throughout the month of October as part of their 31 Nights of Halloween series? And they’ll be playing it on repeat on the 31st! Anyway, I just love this little candle holder, it’s small and adorable, and I think it’d be a fair-priced addition to my Halloween decor!

Have you guys seen the Disney Halloween merch? What’re you guys wishing for?

Felicia x

Life Lately: The Busiest End to Summer

IMG_0477.jpg

Hello friends!

I just wanted to pop in quickly to let you guys know that there will be a bit of a lull in my posts for the next little while and to explain why! Basically, there’s been no point in this year so far that’s been as crazy as the end of August is about to be haha.

For starters, I’m headed to Disney World! Yea, I’m always there. So you may think, is that a big deal? Well, it is! Because we’re about to stay on-property at the parks. This has been a bit of a tradition for us for the past few years, ever since my boyfriend’s first on-property stay in 2017. It’s one of my favourite parts of the year as there’s something so exciting about getting to stay in the magic 24/7 and not having to go home at the end of the day to reality. We’ve stayed at Port Orleans French Quarter for the past couple years, which is where we’ll also be staying this year. French Quarter is 100% my favourite moderate resort. I just adore it. I had the option to stay at Contemporary this year but it was so much money and I love French Quarter so much that it seemed silly to not stay somewhere I truly love for less money. We’ll be staying there for 3 nights and while we’re there, I’ll be celebrating my 21st birthday which is very exciting. I won’t spoil what I’ll be doing to celebrate my legality, you guys’ll just have to wait and see once I post after the trip!

A few days after our Disney World staycation, we’ll be heading on a week-long Caribbean cruise! You may not know this about me, as I haven’t really talked much about it since starting my blog, but I love to cruise. My family are big cruisers. My parents went on their first cruise in the ‘90s and fell completely head over heels. My first cruise was a two-week-long Panama canal cruise when I was 5 - after that, how could I not be hooked? Back in 2015, I brought my boyfriend onto his very first cruise and now he’s just as obsessed as we are haha. This will be my 20th cruise and Steven’s 5th cruise. We’ll be boarding the ever-so-lovely Carnival Breeze which will take us around to tropical ports where I plan on tanning and drinking to my heart’s content lol. I’m very much looking forward to a week of relaxation before the school term begins.

After our cruise, Steven and I’ll be heading home (*sniff sniff*) but the fun doesn’t end there! We will be embarking on quite possibly our most exciting journey yet in September… But I won’t spoil that just yet ;)

I hope you’re all having a marvellous August. I can’t wait to chat soon!

Felicia x

Review: The Victorian and the Romantic - Nell Stevens

IMG_9848.jpeg

My Rating: ★★★★

Genre(s): Nonfiction, Memoir, History

Reading Challenge: 21 out of 35

Goodreads Synopsis

In 1857, English novelist Elizabeth Gaskell completed her most famous work: the biography of her dear friend Charlotte Bronte. As publication loomed, Mrs. Gaskell was keen to escape the reviews. So, leaving her dull minister husband and dreary provincial city behind, she set off with her daughters to Rome. There she met a dazzling group of artists and writers, among them the American critic Charles Eliot Norton. Seventeen years her junior, Norton was her one true love. They could not be together--it would be an unthinkable breach of convention--but by his side and amidst that splendid circle, Mrs. Gaskell knew she had reached the "tip-top point of [her] life."


In 2013, Nell Stevens is embarking on her PhD--about the community of artists and writers living in Rome in the mid-19th century--and falling head over heels for a soulful American screenwriter in another city. As her long-distance romance founders and her passion for academia never quite materializes, she is drawn to Mrs. Gaskell. Could this indomitable Victorian author rescue Nell's pursuit of love, family and a writing career?
Lively, witty, and impossible to put down, The Victorian and the Romantic is a moving chronicle of two women each charting a way of life beyond the rules of her time.

My Thoughts

Here are the things I knew (or thought I knew) about Elizabeth Gaskell before reading this book:

  • She wrote some classic novels, including North and South (but I don’t remember any other titles)

  • She was an author in 19th century Britain

  • She wrote a highly controversial biography about her dear friend, Charlotte Brontë after her death

And that’s literally it. But there is so much more to her than what meets the eye. That’s sort of my favourite thing about history - oftentimes, some of the best figures in history are actually the most overlooked.

Nell Stevens told a (somewhat fictionalized?) autobiographical story about her troubles navigating the post-grad educational world as well as her romantic life while slowly building a strong friendship with Victorian author Elizabeth Gaskell, a relationship that was unaffected by time or distance. I thought that her story was super relatable. She really showed the difficulties and awkwardness of academia, something I’ve grappled with since the moment I went into university. It’s a cut-throat world and from what I can tell, it only gets worse in grad school! Lol. But I found it relieving to see her fumbling around, uncertain of what she was doing or what she wanted. I also loved seeing the development of her relationship with Max, how she came into her own and found her footing in her own direction.

Most of all, this book made me really interested in the life of Elizabeth Gaskell. Do not believe what you’ve heard!! Victorians were not prudish, boring people. They could be very complex and saucy even. Elizabeth Gaskell was a married woman who was engaged in a flirtation with a much younger man whilst on a trip to Rome without her husband - quel scandale. It was actually so interesting to read about and I intend to read more about this fascinating woman in the future!

Have you ever heard of Elizabeth Gaskell?

Felicia x

Review: The Farm - Joanne Ramos

IMG_9623.jpeg

My Rating: ★★★★

Genre(s): Fiction, Dystopian

Reading Challenge: 20 out of 35

Goodreads Synopsis

Nestled in the Hudson Valley is a sumptuous retreat boasting every amenity: organic meals, private fitness trainers, daily massages—and all of it for free. In fact, you get paid big money—more than you've ever dreamed of—to spend a few seasons in this luxurious locale. The catch? For nine months, you belong to the Farm. You cannot leave the grounds; your every move is monitored. Your former life will seem a world away as you dedicate yourself to the all-consuming task of producing the perfect baby for your überwealthy clients.

Jane, an immigrant from the Philippines and a struggling single mother, is thrilled to make it through the highly competitive Host selection process at the Farm. But now pregnant, fragile, consumed with worry for her own young daughter's well-being, Jane grows desperate to reconnect with her life outside. Yet she cannot leave the Farm or she will lose the life-changing fee she'll receive on delivery—or worse.

Heartbreaking, suspenseful, provocative, The Farm pushes our thinking on motherhood, money, and merit to the extremes, and raises crucial questions about the trade-offs women will make to fortify their futures and the futures of those they love.

My Thoughts

I gotta say, I feel like the description of this book was pretty misleading. I went into The Farm expecting a Atwood-esque dystopian story and although the characters did go through pretty demeaning and inhumane ordeals at Golden Oaks Farm, it was a far cry from the horrors of Gilead in my opinion. I just felt that this story didn’t hit the same note as the previous dystopian literature that I’ve been exposed to.

All in all, I thought this was an interesting novel. The characters were well-developed and I found the split narrative between Jane, Ate, Reagan and Mae told a complicated, yet fascinating story. Oh and don’t let the blurb on the back fool you - this book is not just about Jane. It follows the stories of several women from different classes, races and age groups. That was something I found sort of surprising about this novel was how they promoted it as being so focused on Jane, but the other women in this story were essential to the plot. They were simply not throwaway characters. If y’all have read my book reviews before, you’ll know how I love me some complicated female characters. I hate one-dimensional women in novels, and this was the exact opposite of that.

Honestly, this book was a bit dull though. It was still enjoyable, don’t get me wrong. It was just a bit slow. I kept expecting a massive WOW moment but to be honest, the climactic moment was sort of a let down in my opinion. The ending fell flat for me as well as it sort of simmered and very quickly.

But don’t let that dissuade you - if you’re not going into this with hopes of an intense, non-stop, can’t-put-your-book-down sort of story, then you’re good. You’ll probably love it. And I even thought it was quite good too!

What do you think about feminist dystopias? Are you into them or no?

Felicia x

Drugstore Beauty Products I've Been Loving

IMG_9592.jpeg

Hey everyone, it’s me, your friendly neighbourhood university student, and I’m here to tell you that you are not alone, we are all suffering and we all have debt up to our noses thanks to this brilliant higher education that probably won’t help us get good jobs in the end cause the job market is a terrible place. Let’s get that out in the open, off our chests. Feels good to say it out loud, right? Not really but hey, at least we’re all suffering together!

All jokes aside, being in uni is rough. Being an adult in general is rough, especially when you don’t really have a stable income because either your part-time job doesn’t pay enough or you aren’t currently employed so that you can focus on your studies in order to get a good job (*raises hand* YUP). Whatever your spending money on, whether it’s schooling or accommodations or groceries, or maybe just saving every spare penny for the ~future~ then you might not have a lot of extra money to spend on make-up. Thankfully, there are a ton of really great affordable beauty products out there, if you know to look in the right places! I think of myself as a bit of a drugstore brand connoisseur and I’ve found some gems over time.

Today, I thought I’d share some of my favourite drugstore brand products that I’ve been using this summer to help y’all out with staying glam throughout the season on a budget!

E.l.f. Cosmetics Flawless Finish Foundation [$6]

Hello, yes, it is I, continuing to champion e.l.f. cosmetics products. WHAT ELSE IS NEW. But seriously, what could be said against this brand? It’s inexpensive, the products are beautiful, and best of all, it’s cruelty-free! The product I love most by e.l.f. is their flawless finish foundation. It’s a mostly full-coverage formula that gives skin an even, beautiful glow without being shimmery or “wet” and it’s phenomenal when you take into consideration the pricetag (hello, $6 foundation!!). I’ve been using - and raving about - this foundation for a few years now and as long as my budget is tight (aka the foreseeable future) I will continue to do so. I find that it can be easily applied with either a foundation brush or blending sponge which makes it super versatile depending on your preference or if you’re like me, on your mood lol. Personally, I have very dry, sensitive skin and this product works amazingly for me. During the summer months, I’ve transitioned from the Snow shade for my sad Victorian-lady pale skin (although it is a tad too pale for me) to the Sand shade as I’m working on a tan, and I’ve loved both shades equally.

NYX Worth the Hype Waterproof Mascara [$8]

This one’s a new favourite of mine that I’ve been loving this summer. NYX in itself is an amazing brand. I find that it’s high-end quality for drugstore prices. While elf is my favourite drugstore brand, NYX might just take the cake for being better quality (albeit for slightly higher prices). The tapered tip of this mascara wand is to die for honestly. I picked this mascara up on a whim as I’d never tried an NYX mascara before and I was in the market for a new one so it seemed like perfect timing. I gotta say, I absolutely love this one. As I’ve already got long eyelashes, I’m not really too concerned about a product that lengthens my lashes, I much prefer something that separates and thickens. This totally does that. Like to an extent that I was not prepared for. It’s taken a lot of practice to not get this all over my upper eyelids lol but once I get the hang of it, I end up with big, fluttery lashes!! So lovely and the waterproof feature is an absolute god send in this Florida heat (and daily torrential rain storms!)

E.l.f. Cosmetics Blush in “Candid Coral” [$4]

Y’all let’s talk about peach tones for a sec ok? I’m game for anything in a pretty peachy shade. I think it’s girly and cute and fun, plus it goes perfectly with a tan. Perhaps my all-time favourite peach product is this e.l.f. blush. The colour is actually called “coral” but let’s not let semantics get in the way of our fun. This lovely little powder blush is my knight in shining armour. I pop a bit of this blush on my cheeks every damn day, especially now that it’s summertime. Remember when we thought blush was unnecessary or uncool or whatever and we walked around like boring, dull contoured weirdos? We all did it, let’s be honest. Blush has become absolutely essential to my everyday makeup look, I cannot imagine not wearing it now. This gives a really healthy, bright look to my face, which has been even more necessary this last week as I’ve been fighting off some weird cold/stomach bug and have looked like a dead girl walking!

E.l.f. Cosmetics Beautifully Bare Cheek Glow in “Soft Peach” [$4]

Oh look, another blush lol what a shocker. Seriously though, this was an actual surprise product for me!! It’s not the sort of product I’d typically reach for, mostly because it’s cream-based. Cream blushes remind me of my early makeup preteen years and kind of makes me shudder involuntarily. But this was actually a huge hit for me! It’s not just a cream blush, it actually is a cream-to-powder blush, so I don’t find it as clumpy as pure cream blushes typically are. Mind you I’m judging all cream blushes based on the formulas of the early 2010s so take that with a grain of salt haha. Of course, this is another peach shade. It looks very natural on the skin especially if you pat it down a bit with a blending sponge (there’s my little amateur tip for y’all). Although the product looks very orange-y in the pan, I promise it doesn’t come off so vibrant!

NYX Matte Bronzer [$9]

I genuinely adore this bronzer. Mostly, I tend to reach for more shimmery bronzers, especially when it comes to summertime when I’ve got a tan and I just feel like it gives a really healthy glow. This matte bronzer by NYX totally surprised me. I picked it up because I wanted a daytime bronzer and with this unbelievable Floridian heat, I was already looking a little too glow-y for my own good and not in a nice way haha. So I finally gave in and bought a matte bronzer, and I don’t regret it in the slightest! This powder bronzer is so pretty and stays in place through rain or shine, and humidity or (yuck) sweat. I love it and could not recommend it enough.

E.l.f. Cosmetics Kabuki Face Brush [$6]

This brush is absolutely glorious. I had never really considered using a kabuki brush until I picked this up on a whim at Target. Kabuki brushes are particularly good at applying powder and I’ve been using this to apply bronzer, especially to my neck/chest area where I didn’t get as much sun as the other areas. The kabuki brush is large enough that it doesn’t require a lot of effort to apply the powder, even on a large surface like my neck/chest area. It applies the product really evenly and makes the bronzer look super natural and not like batches of makeup lol. Not to mention e.l.f.’s brush is way cheaper than other kabuki brushes, even from other drugstore brands (the NYX one is nearly $20!!). This is a must-have drugstore brand brush for sure.


And that’s all for now! What drugstore brand products have you been loving this summer?

Felicia x

Review: The Sun Is Also A Star - Nicola Yoon

IMG_8532.jpeg

“Sometimes your world shakes so hard, it’s difficult to imagine that everyone else isn’t feeling it too.”

My Rating: ★★★★

Genre(s): Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Fiction

Reading Challenge: 19 out of 35

Goodreads Synopsis —

Natasha: I’m a girl who believes in science and facts. Not fate. Not destiny. Or dreams that will never come true. I’m definitely not the kind of girl who meets a cute boy on a crowded New York City street and falls in love with him. Not when my family is twelve hours away from being deported to Jamaica. Falling in love with him won’t be my story.

Daniel: I’ve always been the good son, the good student, living up to my parents’ high expectations. Never the poet. Or the dreamer. But when I see her, I forget about all that. Something about Natasha makes me think that fate has something much more extraordinary in store—for both of us.

The Universe: Every moment in our lives has brought us to this single moment. A million futures lie before us. Which one will come true?

My Thoughts —

Alright, so let me start by saying that I completely devoured this book. I gave myself about a week to get through it as I wanted to finish it before I left for my Florida trip but I literally completed it in 24 hours lol. So, I think it’s safe to say that I thoroughly enjoyed it.

This was not the first Nicola Yoon book that I’ve ever read. A couple summers back, I read “Everything, Everything” which, at the time, was really talked about because it was being adapted into a film. When I first read it, I really enjoyed it but when I started reading reviews by other readers, I started feeling uneasy because there was a lot of talk about how it sort of took the subject of disability and sort of diluted it for the purpose of the plot. In spite of this, I had heard a lot about “The Sun Is Also A Star” so I decided to give it a go.

There were two main things I really liked about this book. The first was the discussion on immigration, and the other was fate. Honestly, both were really well done. I loved how the two main characters were both influenced by immigration and yet their stories and circumstances were hardly similar. I liked the dichotomy in their families, pasts and lifestyles as I think it greatly impacted their lives and their viewpoints. In terms of the fate storyline, my favourite aspect wasn’t even really how the idea of fate affected the main characters’ love story, but rather who they came across in their 24 hour trek across New York City. In their day together, Natasha and Daniel met or passed several people and it was so interesting to see how they played off of one another and how their interactions were so important to one another’s lives.

I really don’t want to give away any of this story. It honestly took so many sharp turns and I think that giving away one detail sort of spoils all the fun! Personally, I think that if you’re considering reading this novel, I’d wait until you have the opportunity to really devote your time to it! For me, reading this novel in a day helped with the general flow of the novel, although I know that doing so isn’t possible for everyone. I’d just make sure you have time to read this in big chunks because I think it makes it easier to follow the different storylines and keep track of all the characters!

Do you believe in fate?

Felicia x

Mid-Year Book Freak Out Tag 2019

4548FCB3-31D0-4F94-A28E-E213B55FE29F.JPG

Hello my loves!

I know I say it every year and this is probably my catchphrase, but can you believe how quickly this year is going by?! It’s so cliche to say and I’m fully aware of it. But honestly, I can’t grasp that the first half of the year has gone by. How is it almost 2020? Wasn’t it just 2010? God help me.

Anyway, existential crisis aside, happy second half of 2019 everyone! If that’s a thing lol. Today’s post is going to be one that I did last year as well which I’m very excited about - the Mid-Year Book Freak Out Tag!! Woohoo! I love posting these sorts of blogs because it’s a good mini wrap-up of the books I’ve been reading because with the amount I’ve read so far these year, it can be hard to think of them all as a whole group. So this is a really good way to talk about them all at once!

Without further ado, let’s jump right in.

Best book you’ve read so far in 2019…

Y’all know how I am about making decisions… I am BAD at it. So I’m going to allow myself to give two books for this answer. That seems fair, right?! Okay, so the two best books I’ve read this year so far are Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid and My Plain Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton and Jodi Meadows. They were both so incredible and energetic. Honestly, there was never a moment reading either of these books where I was bored or wanted to put them down. I rated both of them 5 stars and they fully deserved it in every way conceivable.

Best sequel you’ve read so far in 2019…

Okay, so I struggle to call it a “sequel” but as it is part of the Lady Janies trilogy, I’m going to have to say that My Plain Jane was the best sequel I read in the first half of the year. I didn’t really read many sequels in the first half of the year. I only read Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (a classic, of course) and All For One by Melissa de la Cruz (which I did not enjoy sadly). I’ve wanted to get my hands on a good series but just haven’t found many that’ve caught my eye yet. If you have a good one, please let me know!!

A book you haven’t read but want to…

Y’all, I am so excited to read A Game of Thrones. You may know that I got really into the show this year and that I binge-watched it just before the series ended this past spring. I only just bought the first two books recently and I am so excited to jump right into these books! Obviously, I’ve heard very good things about this series and I really enjoyed the show on the whole. I wasn’t super keen on the final season, in particular the finale, so hopefully that will be rectified by George R.R. Martin in the final books?! While those books haven’t come out yet, I’ll definitely let you know what I think about the first two books in the second half of this year hopefully!

Most anticipated release for the 2nd half of 2019…

Oh my god I am so unbelievably excited for The Testaments by Margaret Atwood to be released!! It is coming out in early September and yes, I’ve already got it pre-ordered so it will be sent to me once it’s released which is very good news because I’ve got a crazy busy September! I read The Handmaid’s Tale about two-ish years ago and loved it. I’ve since started watching the show on Hulu and think it’s incredibly done. The whole concept of Handmaid’s Tale is just so freaking terrifying but I think everyone needs to read the book or watch the show because our world is headed in a direction where women are being stripped of basic civil rights and we need to see what happens when it goes too far. Feminists, non-feminists and those in between can learn a lot from this book. And The Testaments has been described by Margaret Atwood herself as the answer to the questions that readers have had about Gilead since the first book was released in the ‘80s, so I’m PUMPED.

Biggest disappointment of 2019…

Sigh. Y’all know this has to be All For One… I was so bummed with how Melissa de la Cruz chose to end this trilogy. The first book, Alex and Eliza, was such an enjoyable historical fiction for young adults. And Love and War was a little less amazing, but still good regardless. But All For One was just a whirlwind and not in a good way. It felt like the author had sort of gotten bored with the trilogy and just wanted to finish it as quickly as possible. Like, not only were the loose ends not strung together as is expected in most series ends, but it was almost like the author started up a whole new story with this third book. Not a fan.

Biggest surprise of 2019…

Honestly, the biggest surprise for me has been Women Talking by Miriam Toews. I wasn’t really expecting much, I just thought it would be an interesting read, and it seemed sort of out of my usual selection of books. But it ended up being absolutely incredible!! Honestly, this book totally messed me up. It was so shocking and horrifying and heartbreaking… But also extremely powerful and uplifting?? I’d definitely recommend reading it. And also it’s great to support a Canadian author!

New favourite author…

Taylor Jenkins Reid!! I really enjoyed reading The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo and Daisy Jones and the Six in this first half of the year. I’d definitely read more of her work in the future.

Newest fictional crush…

I loved Alexander Blackwood from My Plain Jane! So cute and charming. Love the archetype of grumpy men who are secretly soft and caring on the inside (ahem Luke Danes)

Newest favourite character…

A character I’ve been loving is Fleetwood Shuttleworth from The Familiars. Her character growth was pretty amazing throughout the book!

Book that made you cry…

Although I didn’t cry while reading them, the two that made me most emotional were The Sun Does Shine by Anthony Ray Hinton and Women Talking. Both handled very difficult subject matter and did a great job of it. But both broke my heart fully.

Book that made you happy…

Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy!! Yay for body positivity!!

Favourite book to movie adaptation…

D’ya know what’s funny? I haven’t seen a book to movie adaptation yet this year! But the Little Women adaptation is coming out in December, so I’ll let you know what I think of that when it comes out.

Favourite review you’ve written…

My review for The Royal We [review] was my favourite to write! It was one of the longest ones I’ve written and as it was for a book I really enjoyed, it was so fun to chat about!

Most beautiful book you’ve bought this year…

It’s genuinely been a year and I still don’t know if this is asking about the cover or the story… Last year I answered for the story, so let’s go with the cover this year! The most beautiful book I bought was The Familiars. It has an incredible navy blue cover with lovely woodland creatures and floral decorations.

Books you need to read by the end of 2019…

I’ve got a ton of books that I own that I still haven’t read. A few of those are: The Farm by Joanne Ramos, A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles, The Huntress by Kate Quinn, and My Dear Hamilton by Stephanie Dray.

I hope you enjoyed this little mid-year wrap-up!

Felicia x

If you fancy reading my book reviews from this year, you can find those all here.

And if you want to read last year’s Mid-Year Book Freak Out Tag, you can find that post here.

Review: My Plain Jane - Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton and Jodi Meadows

“If there was something strange in your neighborhood, you could, um, write the Society a letter, and they would promptly send an agent to take care of it.”

My Rating: ★★★★★

Genre(s): Fantasy, Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Retelling

Reading Challenge: 18 out of 35

Goodreads Synopsis —

You may think you know the story. After a miserable childhood, penniless orphan Jane Eyre embarks on a new life as a governess at Thornfield Hall. There, she meets one dark, brooding Mr. Rochester. Despite their significant age gap (!) and his uneven temper (!!), they fall in love—and, Reader, she marries him. (!!!)

Or does she?

Prepare for an adventure of Gothic proportions, in which all is not as it seems, a certain gentleman is hiding more than skeletons in his closets, and one orphan Jane Eyre, aspiring author Charlotte Brontë, and supernatural investigator Alexander Blackwood are about to be drawn together on the most epic ghost hunt this side of Wuthering Heights.

My Thoughts —

The Janies have released yet another retelling masterpiece. And reader, I loved it.

If you haven’t already read my review of My Lady Jane, which I posted last year, now would be a great time to do that! You can read that here.

Okay, onto the review! So, first thing to note is that you don’t need to read My Lady Jane before you read this book. In fact, you don’t need to read it at all - but you should! Because My Lady Jane was amazing and I love-love-loved it. But these books exist entirely on their own. The best way that I could explain the Lady Janies series is by comparing it to an anthology series like American Horror Story, where each season is about a different story and different characters. That’s what these books are. They’ve got a common thread (being about a Jane, whether fictional or historical) but they tell different stories and aren’t connected.

Unlike My Lady Jane, which was a historical retelling, My Plain Jane took on a fictional story - the Charlotte Brontë Gothic novel, Jane Eyre. Some literary purists would probably be really put off by a retelling of a classic, especially one that really changed the course of the novel, but personally, I thought it was so entertaining. The team of authors who jointly put together this book did such a fantastic job at creating a multi-faceted story that combined the original storyline of Jane Eyre with common Gothic era elements as well as contemporary ideas. In this book, just like in My Lady Jane, we saw previously overlooked female characters taking a stand for themselves which was so empowering and amazing.

Something I particularly enjoyed about this book was how Charlotte Brontë took a major part in not only the storytelling but also the plot. In My Plain Jane, Charlotte was a close friend of Jane’s from the beginning of the story and she became an integral part in the main character’s story. But, maintaining a bit of reality, Charlotte was constantly writing down notes about Jane’s life in a notebook to use for a novel, which would ultimately become Jane Eyre. On the whole, it made the story feel a whole lot personal.

And finally, just like in My Lady Jane, My Plain Jane had little author’s notes which was so funny and original. It felt like the authors were telling the reader a story in a more personal way, and that’s something I really love about their books!

All in all, an INCREDIBLE book. If you’re looking for some ghostly fun (maybe a good October read???), definitely check this out, especially if you’re into young adults novels. It’s well worth the 400-some-odd pages!

P.S. I have just found out from the Janies’ blog (here) that they will not only be releasing a third book of the Janies series, My Calamity Jane, but also another trilogy - the Marys!! Which will include a first book about my most favourite tragic lady in history, Mary, Queen of Scots! Can’t wait for her to get the justice she deserved.

Are you a fan of retellings?

Felicia x

Review: All For One - Melissa de la Cruz

IMG_8533.jpeg

“He in midnight-blue wool, she in dark rose silk with pink and chocolate accents - they were the picture of urbane, young New York society, and she noticed more than one set of eyes glancing at them both approvingly and enviously.”

My Rating: ★★★

Genre(s): Historical Fiction (American Revolution), Young Adult, Romance

Reading Challenge: 17 out of 35

Goodreads Synopsis —

1785. New York, New York.

As a young nation begins to take shape, Alexander Hamilton and Elizabeth Schuyler are on top of the world. They’re the toast of the town, keeping New York City buzzing with tales of their lavish parties, of Eliza’s legendary wit, and of Alex’s brilliant legal mind.

But new additions to Alex & Eliza’s little family mean change is afoot in the Hamilton household. When they agree to take in an orphaned teenage girl along with Eliza’s oldest brother, John Schuyler, Eliza can’t help but attempt a match. It’s not long before sparks start to fly…if only Eliza can keep herself from interfering too much in the course of true love. After all, she and Alex have an arrival of their own to plan for, though Alex’s latest case brings a perilous threat that may destroy everything.

The sweeping love story of Alexander Hamilton and Elizabeth Schuyler comes to a close in All for One, the riveting final instalment of the New York Times bestselling Alex & Eliza trilogy.

My Thoughts —

Whew. Okay. I’ve got a lot to say about this third and final instalment of the Alex and Eliza series, so let’s just jump right in.

As you guys may remember, I read the first book of this Young Adults’ series last October and then read the sequel very shortly after. For me, it was sort of a way to tide myself over until the Hamilton musical makes its way on up to Toronto in 2020. I didn’t really have the time to devote to Ron Chernow’s biography on the Founding Father - the one that Lin-Manuel Miranda based the musical on. So I thought that this YA series would be a great start.

Although I really enjoyed the first book, the sequel fell a little flat for me and this final book really disappointed me, and here’s why.

One of the things I noticed throughout this series is that there are quite a few historical inaccuracies. For the most part, this is pretty understandable because a) historical fiction as a genre leaves a lot of room for interpretation and b) this is a series meant for teens and some of the content of Alexander Hamilton’s history is ummmmm questionable? To say the least lol. I just looked past these little artistic licenses in the past. But in All For One, I honestly just couldn’t.

As the plot of the novel is set-up, we almost immediately find out that Eliza Hamilton is pregnant. Which is super odd because the main chunk of the novel is set during the year of 1785, while Eliza’s first child was actually born in 1782… Strange, right? It gets even weirder when a new, dangerous character called Maria Reynolds is introduced - remember her? If you know the story of the Reynolds affair, you’ll know that it didn’t even happen until 1791. So I’m not sure what the reasoning behind overlapping all of these stories was, but that’s what the author chose to do. I guess it sort of made it seem more dramatic to have all this chaos happening at once? But honestly, I think that the reality was far more tragic. There was a number of other changes made throughout the novel, some small and some consequential that I can’t mention without spoiling. But it just seemed odd and unnecessary and really bugged me.

Another thing that I took issue with in regards to this novel was the fact that it felt a lot like a retelling of Jane Austen’s Emma. Don’t get me wrong - Emma is one of my favourite Austen novels and even of my favourite novels ever. But I didn’t sign-up for a remake. And the Hamilton’s lives didn’t follow the same structure of that novel either. It felt like it was just an easy association to make between the two because they’re set in relatively the same time period and had the same social class dynamic. But then again, the characters that made up this portion of All For One - namely Emma Trask, the young girl that Eliza takes in as a ward/lady’s maid hybrid - weren’t a part of the Hamilton’s lives at all. It was just a strange deviation from the historical aspect of the novel and it made the story of All For One feel a little lacklustre to me.

Personally, as a whole, this series seemed to be geared more towards young teens - like preteens. But then again, the language was very complex for young readers. Although at times there were misplaced modern phrases used (“matchy-matchy” for instance), for the most part, the author chose to use elaborate language that felt like a mix of modern day and 18th century language. I wouldn’t compare the language of this novel to that used in Austen’s novels as this would be probably easier to comprehend for a young reader. But it’s worth mentioning for sure!

If you’re interested in reading these novels or having your kid or another young teen read these novels, I’d suggest taking the historical content with a grain of salt. This isn’t the place to go for a factual retelling of the Hamilton’s story. Consider it as The Other Boleyn Girl film adaptation of Young Adult novels lol.

Have you read a really good Hamilton historical fiction? Let me know in the comments!

Felicia x

Review: The Familiars - Stacey Halls

“If the Devil is poverty, and hunger, and grief, then yes, I think they know the Devil.”

My Rating: ★★★★

Genre(s): Historical Fiction (Pendle witches), Fantasy, Paranormal

Reading Challenge: 16 out of 35

Goodreads Synopsis —

Young Fleetwood Shuttleworth, a noblewoman, is with child again. None of her previous pregnancies have borne fruit, and her husband, Richard, is anxious for an heir. Then Fleetwood discovers a hidden doctor’s letter that carries a dire prediction: she will not survive another birth. By chance she meets a midwife named Alice Grey, who promises to help her deliver a healthy baby. But Alice soon stands accused of witchcraft.

Is there more to Alice than meets the eye? Fleetwood must risk everything to prove her innocence. As the two women’s lives become intertwined, the Witch Trials of 1612 loom. Time is running out; both their lives are at stake. Only they know the truth. Only they can save each other.

Rich and compelling, set against the frenzy of the real Pendle Hill Witch Trials, this novel explores the rights of 17th-century women and raises the question: Was witch-hunting really women-hunting? Fleetwood Shuttleworth, Alice Grey and the other characters are actual historical figures. King James I was obsessed with asserting power over the lawless countryside (even woodland creatures, or “familiars,” were suspected of dark magic) by capturing “witches”—in reality mostly poor and illiterate women.

My Thoughts —

Following my trend of only reading historical fiction novels (seriously, will I ever steer from this genre?!), I picked up this book after reading a bit about it on Goodreads. I’ve never really learned much about the history of witchcraft before, all though I knew about as much as the average person knows and after taking a recent course on the Stuart rule in England, I got the gist that James I wasn’t a big fan of witchcraft (or what he perceived to be witchcraft) in his kingdom. Despite my lack of knowledge, I picked this book up as sort of a beginner’s crash course on the topic. And it ended up doing the trick - I’m officially ready to learn more about this fascinating period of history!

I really liked how Stacey Halls flipped the perception of witches on its head completely by suggesting that the witch hunt was more of a fight for power and an attack on the poor than a reaction to an actual threat of danger. In this book, Fleetwood Shuttleworth - a young noblewoman - finds herself smack-dab in the middle of the Pendle witch trial when she believes someone to be wrongly accused and takes it upon herself to try to uncover the truth. What she finds is a world unlike her own, especially in regards to funds - those accused of witchcraft are disproportionately poor. Through her search, she discovers not only the truth about those involved in the alleged crimes, but also about those closest to her. The idea that the accused were not actually witches, but poor women who were unable to defend themselves is extremely eye-opening about the witch trials in general and how we perceive them today. In that time, what was unusual was considered evil, and the innocent were often persecuted.

Additionally, the way that women were portrayed in this novel was especially interesting. In the early 17th century, women had no rights and no position in the home or in society. They were silent figures that followed their fathers and their husbands - whether those men were good and right, or not. Fleetwood, our main character, has had significant hardship in her life as a young woman. At only 17 years old, she has endured horrors worst than most have in a lifetime. But these things have not broken her down - in fact, they have only made her stronger. And her friendship with her midwife, Alice, only empowers her more. But it is the witch trials that really sends her into full-force. She knows what she believes in and she follows this, regardless of if it is what her husband or society expects of her. Because of this, she becomes a full-fledged heroine. Through her journey, she highlights the greatest abuses against women in the early modern times and it is immensely inspiring.

Perhaps what I found most intriguing about this book, however, was what came after the novel - the Author’s Note, in which it was explained that the characters were real people who lived in 17th century England. That Alice Gray was accused and (perhaps more bogglingly) acquitted of witchcraft. The reason behind this acquittal has not been determined, even now, several hundred years later. Being a history nut myself, I found this mystery completely gripping and had even more appreciation for Stacey Halls, who gave a story to a woman whose life is an enigma.

Are you interested in the witch trials?

Felicia x

Review: Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald - Therese Anne Fowler

IMG_8277.jpeg

“Won’t we be quite the pair? - you with your bad heart, me with my bad head. Together, though, we might have something worthwhile.”

My Rating: ★★★★

Genre(s): Historical Fiction (1920s/Lost Generation), Fiction

Reading Challenge: 15 out of 35

Goodreads Synopsis —

A dazzling novel that captures all of the romance, glamour, and tragedy of the first flapper, Zelda Fitzgerald. 

When beautiful, reckless Southern belle Zelda Sayre meets F. Scott Fitzgerald at a country club dance in 1918, she is seventeen years old and he is a young army lieutenant stationed in Alabama. Before long, the "ungettable" Zelda has fallen for him despite his unsuitability: Scott isn't wealthy or prominent or even a Southerner, and keeps insisting, absurdly, that his writing will bring him both fortune and fame. 

Her father is deeply unimpressed. But after Scott sells his first novel, This Side of Paradise, to Scribner's, Zelda optimistically boards a train north, to marry him in the vestry of St. Patrick's Cathedral and take the rest as it comes.

My Thoughts —

My opinion completely changed over the course of this novel, in a way that has literally never happened to me before.

To me, it seemed like this book started off kind of slow. We see Zelda Sayre, young and fresh-faced southern girl, very naive about the world around her and even more full of spunk - much to her family’s dismay. In the final moments of the Great War, Zelda meets F. Scott Fitzgerald, a northerner that introduces her to a whole new world. The two fall in love and then embark on their lives together, first in Manhattan and then across the world. The early years of their lives are not nearly as tumultuous as the later years, so it’s sort of monotonous in the beginning as F. Scott Fitzgerald becomes quickly successful and the two ride on the money and fame that came along with it.

It’s not until about halfway through the book that things really start to take a turn and that the book begins to earn the 4-star rating I gave it in the end. The Fitzgeralds are not a couple to aspire to be, that’s for sure. In reality, if you’re familiar with the couple’s ill-fated romance, you’ll know that they both died quite young in the 1940s with Scott first dying of a heart attack and then Zelda dying of a fire in a mental hospital nearly ten years later. Zelda’s mental health condition during their marriage is well-known, with her going in and out of mental hospitals for years. But this book reframes her mental illness entirely. Diagnosed with schizophrenia after suffering from a mental breakdown, Zelda is constantly badgered by her husband and by psychiatrists to give up her aspirations of being a writer and ballet dancer, as these will inevitably be her downfall - it is only be accepting her role as wife and mother that she will be truly happy. But Zelda recognizes this as being wildly misogynistic and unfair. Despite the women’s rights movement being in its very early stages at that time, she knows women deserve a better place in society than what their predecessors were relegated to.

The tortured love between Scott and Zelda is absolutely fascinating throughout the novel as you wonder constantly if the two really loved each other or if they found comfort in each other and mistook that for love. Seeing the deterioration of their marriage and the unequal standards to which they held one another was entirely intriguing to read and I was completely roped in. And, last but certainly not least, I loved that this book focused on a real female figure who is so often overlooked in history because of the success of her husband - even though, as we learn in this novel, she was very much a part of his writing process and success.

Are you a fan of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s work? Did you know anything about Zelda’s story?

Felicia x

Review: Dear Evan Hansen - Val Emmich

IMG_8276.jpeg

“I looked up once more, at the whole world; it was beautiful, I knew it was, but I wasn’t a part of it. I was never going to be a part of it.”

My Rating: ★★★★

Genre(s): Young Adult, Contemporary, Fiction

Reading Challenge: 14 out of 35

Goodreads Synopsis —

Dear Evan Hansen,

Today's going to be an amazing day and here's why...


When a letter that was never meant to be seen by anyone draws high school senior Evan Hansen into a family's grief over the loss of their son, he is given the chance of a lifetime: to belong. He just has to stick to a lie he never meant to tell, that the notoriously troubled Connor Murphy was his secret best friend.

Suddenly, Evan isn't invisible anymore--even to the girl of his dreams. And Connor Murphy's parents, with their beautiful home on the other side of town, have taken him in like he was their own, desperate to know more about their enigmatic son from his closest friend. As Evan gets pulled deeper into their swirl of anger, regret, and confusion, he knows that what he's doing can't be right, but if he's helping people, how wrong can it be?

No longer tangled in his once-incapacitating anxiety, this new Evan has a purpose. And a website. He's confident. He's a viral phenomenon. Every day is amazing. Until everything is in danger of unraveling and he comes face to face with his greatest obstacle: himself.

A simple lie leads to complicated truths in this big-hearted coming-of-age story of grief, authenticity and the struggle to belong in an age of instant connectivity and profound isolation.

My Thoughts —

So, just a disclaimer right off the bat here that I’ve never seen the musical Dear Evan Hansen - yet. I’m seeing it on June 12 in Toronto, which I’m very excited about! My only knowledge of the musical going into this novel was the general plot and the soundtrack. With that in mind, this is a review only about the novel, Dear Evan Hansen, not the musical.

Now that we’ve cleared that up, let’s jump right in!

I enjoyed this novel immensely. I thought it was a very well-crafted Young Adults novel that dealt with a very important contemporary issue that effects teens. Right off the bat, I connected to Evan Hansen. Although they don’t outright say it, Evan clearly suffers from very severe social anxiety which I also suffer from. I know what it’s like to feel isolated and alone because of mental illness. It’s an all-consuming restriction on your life, especially before you learn how to manage it, and this novel shows Evan really having a hard time coming to terms with his anxiety. I also thought it was cool that they normalized therapy. Yes, he was initially reluctant to try the methods of the therapist but coming from someone who went into therapy telling everyone who would listen that it wasn’t going to work for me, that was definitely something I could relate to. As the book progressed, I think he really learned how important it was to follow through with the methods his therapist was giving him to cope and manage his anxieties, which was great. I got a very similar feeling from Under Rose-Tainted Skies, which I reviewed last year.

I thought it was really interesting how the creators chose to have Evan deal with the death by suicide of his classmate. I think it’s really easy to see Evan pretending to be Connor Murphy’s friend and creating a web of lies, and think he’s just a massive jerk or that the authors dealt with subject insensitively. But I didn’t see it that way. I saw it instead as a kid with limited social skills just completely making a disaster of a situation. What’s interesting about that is that you don’t have to view Evan Hansen as an incredible hero with zero flaws. If all characters were built that way, books would be extremely boring. I liked that he made a massive mistake, I liked that he did the wrong thing. It’s important for people to see characters make the wrong choices so that we can learn a lesson from it. At least, that’s my personal opinion!

Lastly, I just want to say that the real villain of this story was Alana Beck. I won’t spoil the story, but her influence on The Connor Project in the second half of the book left me fuming. I hope to god she’s not that insufferable in the musical.

Have you read Dear Evan Hansen? Or have you seen the musical? What are your thoughts?

Felicia x

Review: The Lost Girls of Paris - Pam Jenoff

IMG_8275.jpeg

“The truth is sometimes the very opposite from what you expect it to be.”

My Rating: ★★★★

Genre(s): Historical Fiction (WWII), Fiction

Reading Challenge: 13 out of 35

Goodreads Synopsis —

1946, Manhattan

Grace Healey is rebuilding her life after losing her husband during the war. One morning while passing through Grand Central Terminal on her way to work, she finds an abandoned suitcase tucked beneath a bench. Unable to resist her own curiosity, Grace opens the suitcase, where she discovers a dozen photographs—each of a different woman. In a moment of impulse, Grace takes the photographs and quickly leaves the station.

Grace soon learns that the suitcase belonged to a woman named Eleanor Trigg, leader of a ring of female secret agents who were deployed out of London during the war. Twelve of these women were sent to Occupied Europe as couriers and radio operators to aid the resistance, but they never returned home, their fates a mystery. Setting out to learn the truth behind the women in the photographs, Grace finds herself drawn to a young mother turned agent named Marie, whose daring mission overseas reveals a remarkable story of friendship, valor and betrayal.

My Thoughts —

Personally, this book wasn’t one of my favourites of all the historical fictions that I’ve read. I picked it up because it had a very similar premise to The Alice Network, in that it revolved around women who were sent undercover to Nazi-occupied Paris during WWII. While The Alice Network was about women who worked directly as spies, The Lost Girls of Paris was about women who were sent out as primarily radio operators. But I figured it would be quite similar in giving me the feeling that The Alice Network gave me.

Spoiler alert: it wasn’t. And there’s a couple of reasons why this book just didn’t really work for me.

Right off the bat, I had a really hard time getting invested in the characters. The story didn’t just focus on one character’s story, but instead several. So I couldn’t really get the characters straight at the beginning, especially as two of the character’s stories paralleled in time whereas the third character’s story was a couple years later. So mentally, I was having a difficult time discerning who was who and what plotline was going on when - if that makes any sense. Once I finally got a grip on that, the story had already long kicked off and so I wasn’t fully invested in the characters.

Also, I found it frustrating how simple things were and how easily things came to the characters. Obviously, yes, there was significant conflict which you can imagine in a story about women operating in Nazi-occupied territory. But for example, within three pages, a minor conflict was presented and solved. THAT. EASILY. It was really unsatisfying. As crazy as it sounds, I prefer to have a complex conflict that requires a lot of effort and time to resolve, rather than a knot that can be easily untied in a few paragraphs or pages.

Overall, on the surface, the book was entertaining! I enjoyed it for what it was. I think the main downfall here for me personally was that I read The Alice Network before this, and I unintentionally held Lost Girls to a higher standard because of it.

That being said, if you want to read my review of The Alice Network, you can find that here!

What historical fictions have you been loving recently?

Felicia x

Review: Epcot’s Flower and Garden Festival | 2019

IMG_7621.jpeg

Springtime is here y’all! The sun is out, the weather is warming up, flowers are a-bloomin’…

Well, at least, that’s true for Florida. Ontario hasn’t gotten the memo yet apparently.

I haven’t visited Epcot’s Flower and Garden Festival in 3 years. For me, that’s a long time! Considering I’m at the parks several times a year. It just so happened that I didn’t really have an opportunity to go. In the past, I would visit the Festival during March Break in high school or I would visit during the Cheerleading Worlds, like I did once when my boyfriend’s brother competed. But once I got to uni, I no longer had a March Break and school went to May. In first year, we visited New York City as our spring trip and then last year, we just stayed home until our summer trip to Orlando in June. But this year, we specifically planned a trip around the Festival because truth be told, we all missed it a lot! If you’ve never been, I would highly recommend it. It’s absolutely the loveliest.

While at the Festival this year, we tried quite a few treats. If you’ve ever been to an Epcot festival before, you’ll know how they set up numerous booths around the World Showcase which feature delectable treats from different countries around the globe. It’s a really great way to try some new food and experience the cultures of other nations. I’ve done multiple posts on the International Food and Wine Festival which I visit every year, including last year. So I thought I would review what I tried for the Flower and Garden Festival as well!

IMG_8017.jpeg

Frozen Desert Violet Lemonade

I feel like it’s absolutely necessary that I start off this post with perhaps the most beloved of all the Flower and Garden treats - the violet lemonade. To this point, I had never tried the violet lemonade. The last time I visited the festival, the lemonade was either not offered or just wasn’t as popular as it is now. Obviously, it’s grown massively in popularity over the years, as this year they even had merchandise devoted to this sweet drink! So I figured I had to give it a try. I love lemonade and this was absolutely no exception. I was genuinely obsessed with this!! It was really refreshing and tasty, although it is quite sweet so if you’re not into sweet drinks this may not be for you! I had this on two separate occasions because I loved it so much. Also, it was quite lovely that they tell you where the flower on top of your drink came from!

You can find this at the Pineapple Promenade booth near the Refreshment Port!

IMG_8037.jpeg

Watermelon Cucumber Slushy

Staying on the topic of drinks, my boyfriend and I shared one of these bad boys. I was actually quite nervous to try this! I’m not an adventurous person at all when it comes to food or drinks, and the idea of cucumber in a drink seemed like it wouldn’t really be my sort of thing. But I made it my goal to try new things on this trip! And I ended up loving this slushy! And so did my boyfriend, for that matter. The cucumber wasn’t overpowering at all and the bit of it that you could taste was really lovely and refreshing. I always love a good watermelon juice as well, so that part of it was definitely down my alley. I’m already trying to figure out how to make this on my own at home!

You can find this at the Florida Fresh booth between the France and Morocco pavilions!

IMG_7597.jpeg

Beef Tenderloin Tips

One of our first stops on our first trip to the Festival this year was Canada. I’ve recently learned that it’s actually “proper” or whatever to follow the World Showcase by doing Mexico first and ending in Canada, but we’ve always done the opposite! I think that it’s because we’re Canadian, we are automatically drawn to our own pavilion. My boyfriend wanted to try the Beef Tenderloin Tips from the booth so we ended up sharing a plate and it was so delicious!! It felt sort of reminiscent of the Wild Mushroom Filet that is served during Epcot’s Food and Wine Festival during the fall, except this one didn’t have the creamy gravy/sauce on top. It was really tender and cooked well (which is a blessing as I can’t eat any meat that isn’t cooked well). And the mashed potatoes underneath were wonderful!

You can find this at the Northern Bloom booth at the Canada pavilion!

IMG_7718.jpeg

Tri-Coloured Tortellini

First off, please take in how the pasta is literally almost falling out of the bowl smh. This is what happens when you try to take creative photos in ridiculous Florida heat and get a little dizzy. Let this be a cautionary tale lol. I’ve only recently gotten into tortellini as picky eater me thought it was weird. And even with dipping my toe in the tortellini world, I refused to eat multi-coloured tortellinis because I’m weird. However, we’re trying new things right?! So I tried this tri-coloured cheese tortellini and LOVED it. Like honestly this might have been my favourite dish at the festival. The sauce was a chicken veloute with sage butter which was really light and lovely, but oh-so-tasty. I’m already searching up how to cook this one at home, too!

You can find this at the Primavera Kitchen booth at the Italy pavilion!

IMG_8030.jpeg

Toasted Pretzel Bread

Let me preface this by saying that I absolutely adore pretzel bread. I love bread as it is, but pretzel bread is even better. Soft pretzels just rock, don’t they? So when I saw that Germany was offering some sort of pretzel bread sandwich, I was all in. This pretzel bread was sort of in the shape of a roll and toasted with black forest ham and melted gruyere cheese. It was so melty and savoury and delicious! It sort of reminds me of the Croissant Jambon Fromage at Les Halles Boulangerie-Patisserie in the France pavilion - which is ham, cheese and bechamel in a croissant. It was really well done and I think it would be an excellent treat for if you wanted something more sustaining to get you through a long park day, as opposed to the sweeter options around the Festival!

You can find this at the Bauernmarkt at the Germany pavilion!

IMG_8025.jpeg

Grilled Street Corn on the Cob

This was more so something that my boyfriend wanted to sample, and that I decided to try and ending up really enjoying! This corn on the cob is coated in a savoury garlic spread, which makes it absolutely so delicious that I can’t even put it into words. The corn itself was also very sweet which made it a really interesting mix of flavours - in the best way! I was sort of skeptical about just chomping down on a corn on the cob in the middle of a theme park but it was really tasty and I liked that they provided you with an aluminum foil covering at the bottom so you could hold the corn without touching it with your bare hands! Regardless, this was a super messy treat. The garlic spread got all over our faces lol so I would definitely recommend having plenty of napkins on hand if you decide to try this!

You can find this at the Trowel and Trellis booth near the Mexico pavilion!

Frushi

Lastly, we tried the famous Frushi. I’ve seen a ton of Instagrammers snacking on Frushi over the years at the Flower and Garden Festival, so I just had to know what was so great about it. I have NEVER eaten sushi before, in my life. I don’t even think I’ve seen anyone eat sushi in front of me before, unless maybe my dad did once upon a time. I’m not a seafood-eater at all so sushi isn’t in the cards for me. But fruit sushi is! Frushi is comprised of fresh pineapple, strawberry and melon rolled with raspberry coconut rice and sprinkled with toasted coconut, accompanied by whipped cream on the side (with some sort of raspberry sauce on it I think). I had no idea how to go about eating this lol my dad had to tell me to eat it in one bite which is hilarious because I only ever eat things in small bites. But it was good! I don’t know that I loved it, but it was refreshing and the fruit was so so tasty! I think the only thing that put me off might have been the raspberry coconut rice. But I’d try it again in the future!

You can find the frushi at the Hanami booth at the Japan pavilion!

♥ ♥ ♥

And that’s a close on my 2019 Flower and Garden Festival adventures! It was so lovely to be back at this beautiful festival, enjoying the wonderful treats and sights. I love how they integrate flowers in their sweets and how they keep everything fresh and themed to the season. We tried sooo many things this year but there were still so many things I wish I had time to sample! If you tried anything that I didn’t feature in this post, let me know what it was and what you thought of it!

Felicia x

epcotflowerandgarden pin.png

Review: Lincoln in the Bardo - George Saunders

shared62.jpeg

“Some blows fall too heavy upon those too fragile.”

My Rating: ★★★

Genre(s): Fiction, Historical Fiction (19th c.), Fantasy

Reading Challenge: 11 out of 35

Goodreads Synopsis —

In his long-awaited first novel, American master George Saunders delivers his most original, transcendent, and moving work yet. Unfolding in a graveyard over the course of a single night, narrated by a dazzling chorus of voices, Lincoln in the Bardo is a literary experience unlike any other—for no one but Saunders could conceive it.

February 1862. The Civil War is less than one year old. The fighting has begun in earnest, and the nation has begun to realize it is in for a long, bloody struggle. Meanwhile, President Lincoln’s beloved eleven-year-old son, Willie, lies upstairs in the White House, gravely ill. In a matter of days, despite predictions of a recovery, Willie dies and is laid to rest in a Georgetown cemetery. “My poor boy, he was too good for this earth,” the president says at the time. “God has called him home.” Newspapers report that a grief-stricken Lincoln returned to the crypt several times alone to hold his boy’s body.

From that seed of historical truth, George Saunders spins an unforgettable story of familial love and loss that breaks free of its realistic, historical framework into a thrilling, supernatural realm both hilarious and terrifying. Willie Lincoln finds himself in a strange purgatory, where ghosts mingle, gripe, commiserate, quarrel, and enact bizarre acts of penance. Within this transitional state—called, in the Tibetan tradition, the bardo—a monumental struggle erupts over young Willie’s soul.

Lincoln in the Bardo is an astonishing feat of imagination and a bold step forward from one of the most important and influential writers of his generation. Formally daring, generous in spirit, deeply concerned with matters of the heart, it is a testament to fiction’s ability to speak honestly and powerfully to the things that really matter to us. Saunders has invented a thrilling new form that deploys a kaleidoscopic, theatrical panorama of voices—living and dead, historical and invented—to ask a timeless, profound question: How do we live and love when we know that everything we love must end?

My Thoughts —

Okay, so this book didn’t really work for me. I KNOW, I’m like the only person who’s read this book that didn’t like it.

Not that I didn’t like it per se, but I just didn’t love it. Not as much as everyone else seems to enjoy it. I think the problem for me laid in the structure of the novel. There were essentially two types of chapters. The first was a chapter written sort of like a script, where the characters talked in both a dialogue and in a narrative format. The second was a selection of quotes that appeared to be from different sources that discussed Abraham Lincoln and his son, Willie’s death. Each chapter was so fast-paced and short that I just couldn’t get into the story enough.

I also found the style of the writing to be eerily similar to that of Samuel Beckett. If you’ve ever read Beckett and you’ve also read Lincoln in the Bardo, I’m sure you see what I’m talking about. I’m not a fan of Beckett at all so the similarities in the writing were not great for me.

Honestly, I’m not sure what more there is to say! I thought that the writing itself was well done. It’s just that this style of novels doesn’t particularly work for me. But considering the accolades that the book has been getting, I can tell I’m one of the few who sees it this way so don’t let this review deter you from reading it if you’re interested in it!

Felicia x

Review: Daisy Jones & the Six - Taylor Jenkins Reid

shared54.jpeg

“I had absolutely no interest in being somebody else’s muse. I am not a muse. I am the somebody.”

My Rating: ★★★★★

Genre(s): Historical Fiction (1970s), Fiction, Adult Fiction

Reading Challenge: 12 out of 35

Goodreads Synopsis —

Everyone knows Daisy Jones & The Six, but nobody knows the reason behind their split at the absolute height of their popularity . . . until now.

Daisy is a girl coming of age in L.A. in the late sixties, sneaking into clubs on the Sunset Strip, sleeping with rock stars, and dreaming of singing at the Whisky a Go Go. The sex and drugs are thrilling, but it’s the rock and roll she loves most. By the time she’s twenty, her voice is getting noticed, and she has the kind of heedless beauty that makes people do crazy things.

Also getting noticed is The Six, a band led by the brooding Billy Dunne. On the eve of their first tour, his girlfriend Camila finds out she’s pregnant, and with the pressure of impending fatherhood and fame, Billy goes a little wild on the road.

Daisy and Billy cross paths when a producer realizes that the key to supercharged success is to put the two together. What happens next will become the stuff of legend.

The making of that legend is chronicled in this riveting and unforgettable novel, written as an oral history of one of the biggest bands of the seventies. Taylor Jenkins Reid is a talented writer who takes her work to a new level with Daisy Jones & The Six, brilliantly capturing a place and time in an utterly distinctive voice.

My Thoughts —

You know when you pick up a book, read the first couple chapters, and just know you’re in for something good? That was this book.

Daisy Jones & The Six has easily become my favourite book of the year so far. It’s so exciting, and multidimensional, and just absolutely fascinating. I love ‘70s music so much. Some of my favourite bands and artists are from the ‘70s, including Fleetwood Mac. So when I started reading this, I immediately noticed the similarities between Daisy Jones and Stevie Nicks, and I think that made it all the more interesting for me.

I really liked how the book started off by already telling you that the band would break-up and when. You knew that the whole book would be a culmination of the tensions which would lead to this massive split in Chicago. I thought that was pretty interesting as then I spent the rest of the book trying to guess who or what would break-up the band. There was a lot of problems for and amongst the band members, so it was a massive guessing game trying to figure out what would be their ultimate demise!

There are so many topics covered in this novel. Overall, it’s about a band making music, bumping heads, and then eventually breaking up. But underneath it all, there’s addiction, love, heartbreak, family, grief, loss, abuse, abortion, and feminism. All wrapped up into one. The author touches on all these topics, weaving them into the storyline and using them to explain why the characters behave in certain ways. Everyone has a story behind their shiny surface. It was particularly interesting how when, for example, the author would have a character describe some event from the tour that shaped their lives forever, the other characters wouldn’t even know it ever happened. It goes to show how you can see someone every single day and think you know everything about that person, but you really don’t know them at all.

I absolutely believe this needs to be adapted into a film or a limited TV series. It’s all set up to be a mockumentary and the album lyrics are there, just waiting to have music added to them and be turned into an incredible soundtrack. It just seems to perfect to not be adapted. Plus, it’s a fairly original concept, different from the typical things you read or watch. Above all, I need the soundtrack to this more than I need air.

CW: drugs/addiction, abortion, abuse

Felicia x