2018 Favourites

Hello everybody!!

As we’ve recently entered a new year, I thought that now would be the perfect time to look back on the last one and reflect on some of my favourite things from 2018! Although in the grand scheme of things 2018 wasn’t my favourite year, it was a really great year for entertainment and beauty products for me. I discovered a bunch of new things that I absolutely love which I can’t wait to share with all of you.

Books Collage.jpg

BOOKS

1) “The Alice Network” by Kate Quinn - This book was crazy good!! I didn’t know I needed a book about female war spies until I read this book and it only left me longing for more. [FULL REVIEW]

2) “Beartown” by Fredrik Backman - As this was the last book I read in 2018, I don’t have a full review up for it yet. But trust me when I say that this book is FANTASTIC. In fact, it may just be the best book I read in the whole year. [FULL REVIEW]

3) “My Lady Jane” by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton and Jodi Meadows - I was a bit iffy about this one, but I ended up absolutely adoring it. It was a completely fictional retelling of the history of Lady Jane Grey, the Nine Days’ Queen. The fantasy elements were both tasteful and hilariously impractical at the same time. [FULL REVIEW]

4) “Under Rose-Tainted Skies” by Louise Gornall - Prior to reading this, I’d never come across a book that I connected to in regards to mental illness. But this one captured anxiety, and mental illness in general, in such a relatable and comforting way. I saw a lot of both my teenage and adult self in the main character, Norah. I really hope that other teens can read this novel and feel like they aren’t alone in the world! [FULL REVIEW]

5) “Fangirl” by Rainbow Rowell - I loooove Rainbow Rowell, and Fangirl perhaps only reinforced my love for her writing. This is easily my favourite of Rowell’s novels. I love how she represented fandoms and also encouraged aspiring authors to write fan fiction, as it’s such a great creative outlet! [FULL REVIEW]

6) “All We Ever Wanted” by Emily Giffin - Woww this book was insane. It took on such a powerful, contemporary issue. I really hadn’t expected to be as impacted by this novel as I was after reading it!! [FULL REVIEW]

TV collage.jpg

TV SHOWS

1) The Crown - Technically not a 2018 TV show, but this is one I binged - and loved - this year! I tried to watch The Crown for the first time in 2016 but never really got into it. When I tried to watch it again this year, I absolutely fell for it. Can’t wait for the new season to come out this year!

2) This Is Us - I feel like a lot of people can agree with me on this one. This Is Us seems like it’s stolen everyone’s hearts these past few years. It’s honestly such a heartwarming family drama - and we all know how I feel about family dramas!!

3) Big Little Lies - Again, this one didn’t come out in 2018. I read the book last year around the time that the show came out but I don’t have HBO so I had to wait for it to come out on dvd. FINALLY I got to watch this in the summer and oh my god I loved it so much!!!

FILMS

1) Love Simon - Is it possible for a movie to simultaneously warm and break your heart?? Cause this one sure had that effect on me. Personally I think this movie was long overdue, but I really hope that now this one’s come out, it’ll pave way for more LGBTQ films in the future!

2) Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again - I’ve literally waited ten years for another Mamma Mia film and I’m sooo happy that it finally came out. This movie was everything I wanted - comedy, amazing music, strong female characters, and a fabulous storyline!

3) Bohemian Rhapsody - Ohhh my gosh. I’ve been eagerly awaiting the release of a film about Freddie Mercury, and Bohemian Rhapsody surely did not disappoint. Rami Malek did such an excellent job as Freddie, I was truly blown away!

Music collage.jpg

MUSIC

1) Hamilton - Many of you probably already know that I’m 100% obsessed with the musical, Hamilton. Like OBSESSED. And have been for like three years. But this year, my obsession only strengthened because I found out that the musical is coming to Toronto in 2019!! So exciting!!

2) Shawn Mendes - Shawn Mendes released his third album this past May and I loved it. He’s one of my favourite artists, everything he puts out immediately grips my heart. I just love him. I think my favourite song on this album has to be Lost in Japan. Sooooo good. Can’t wait to see him live in concert this year!

3) 70s Music (Fleetwood Mac) - This past year, I got very into 70s music. I’m into old music as it is, but before I primarily stuck to 80s, 90s, and country music from the 60s (weird I know). But aside from my already steadfast love of Queen and ABBA, I decided to broaden my horizons a bit this year and got really into Fleetwood Mac, Elton John and Dolly Parton - all of whom I liked before, but now I totally love!!

photo.jpg

BEAUTY

1) E.l.f. Cosmetics Eyebrow Duo Kit - This has been one of my favourite beauty products for quite a few years, but I always have to mention it anyway. Considering how much I use eyebrow products, I can’t justify buying really expensive ones. But this is definitely the best drugstore brand eyebrow product I’ve come across!

2) Rimmel London Wonder Lash Mascara - I’ve been straight up obsessed with this mascara since I picked it up on a whim during the summer. It makes my lashes soooo bloody long and thick oh my goodness. I think the argan oil infusion really does a lot to help.

3) Too Faced Peach Blur Translucent Smoothing Finishing Powder - I was gifted this for Christmas last year and absolutely loved it.

4) Too Faced Just Peachy Mattes Palette - I picked this up this summer and am completely in love with it. I’ve been very into orange-y shades in 2018 (and into 2019 as well), so this was completely perfect for me!!

5) Colourpop Lippie Stix - The Colourpop lippie stix have basically been my go-to for lip colour in 2018. I love these so so so much. They’re perfect, long-lasting matte lipsticks and they come in soo many different gorgeous shades. The majority of the ones I have are dark reds or mauves lol.

What were your favourites of 2018?

Felicia x

Review: Beartown - Fredrik Backman

photo-1-1.jpg

“Everyone has a thousand wishes before a tragedy, but just one afterward.”

My Rating: ★★★★★

Genre(s): Fiction, Contemporary

Reading Challenge: 37 out of 50

Goodreads Synopsis —

People say Beartown is finished. A tiny community nestled deep in the forest, it is slowly losing ground to the ever encroaching trees. But down by the lake stands an old ice rink, built generations ago by the working men who founded this town. And in that ice rink is the reason people in Beartown believe tomorrow will be better than today. Their junior ice hockey team is about to compete in the national semi-finals, and they actually have a shot at winning. All the hopes and dreams of this place now rest on the shoulders of a handful of teenage boys.

Being responsible for the hopes of an entire town is a heavy burden, and the semi-final match is the catalyst for a violent act that will leave a young girl traumatized and a town in turmoil. Accusations are made and, like ripples on a pond, they travel through all of Beartown, leaving no resident unaffected.

Beartown explores the hopes that bring a small community together, the secrets that tear it apart, and the courage it takes for an individual to go against the grain. In this story of a small forest town, Fredrik Backman has found the entire world.

My Thoughts —

It’s not very often that I give a book a 5-star review. I’m the type of person who can be a tad too generous with throwing around 5-stars, even if a book doesn’t fully deserve it, so I try to be a bit more critical and put more thought into my ratings these days. That being said, Beartown deserved every point on each and every one of these five stars - and more.

It’s pretty funny, in hindsight, how much I loved this book because when I bought it, I had the wrong idea about what it’s about. Like completely wrong. I thought it was just a feel-good novel about a small town that rallies together to help their local hockey team with the championship game. Yes, there’s a hockey team. Yes, they’re from a small town, that does support them fully. But that’s where the similarities end. There’s so much more of a complex storyline to this book that I couldn’t even begin to describe without giving away all the suspenseful bits that made it so enjoyable to read.

The writing is what initially gripped me. Fredrik Backman knows what he’s doing, that’s for certain. The first few pages completely engulfed me in intrigue and excitement. I wanted to know what would happen. I wanted to devour this book in a day. Unfortunately, it took me a month to read because of finals and Christmas events. I was constantly itching to get back to reading this novel. Apparently, it wasn’t even originally written in English. That just blows me away. Not a lot of novels translate well, but this one definitely did.

Honestly, if I were to only recommend one book that I read in 2018, it would be Beartown.

Have you read Beartown? Did you love it as much as I did?

Felicia x

2018: A Year in Review

Can you believe that it’s almost 2019?! We’re just hours away by now and it’s completely blowing my mind. It will never not be weird to me how we an go from being in one year to being in the next in just the blink of an eye. Crazy stuff!!

For my last post of 2018, I thought I’d finish off with a review of my favourite memories of 2018! A lot has happened this past year… In some ways, it’s been simultaneously a not-so-great and a great year. But no matter what, I think it’s always good to look back on the past year and see what you’ve accomplished!

Attachment-1-3.jpeg

JANUARY

Happy New Year!! We started our year off with a bit of a blip, as we had a near-crisis where we thought that there was a gas leak in our house/garage. We called the fire dept and stood outside for over an hour, just to find out it was a false alarm! Shortly afterwards was one of my favourite memories of 2018 however, as it was when I got my first car!! I’m sure you’ve heard this all before, but in case you haven’t, it’s a used grey Kia Soul which I call Maggie (obvs, after Maggie Smith).

Attachment-2-3.jpeg

FEBRUARY

In late January/early February, my mum and I snuck away for a ~super secret~ girls trip to Orlando. At the time, no one outside my family knew that I wasn’t in uni so we kept it very discreet. Our trip was soo much fun and it was really cool seeing the Festival of the Arts at Epcot, as I’d never seen that before!! Also in February, Steven turned 20 which was really really exciting!

Attachment-3-2.jpeg

MARCH

Please look at this adorable picture of my pup sleeping in front of a fireplace omg. March was spent putting major work into my blog as this was around the time that I decided I wanted to take blogging more seriously. I was looking into different hosts, weighing out my options, and was starting to delve into social media more! This was also the month that my boyfriend bought his very first car!

Attachment-4-1.jpeg

APRIL

April, things were starting to warm up (slowly, but surely). My boyfriend and I headed to our uni for an end of year celebration with our really good friends, who I hadn’t seen in ages because I hadn’t been in school. It was such a great time - albeit a tad freezing!! (This is such a bad photo I KNOW)

Attachment-1-3-1.jpeg

MAY

As school was over for my boyfriend in late April and we had a month to spare before I left for Florida, we decided to spend some time exploring the south-western area of Ontario where my town is. We visited Ancaster, Port Dover, and Niagara-on-the-Lake. It was so much fun and I absolutely recommend acting like a tourist in your own town because you won’t know what you’re missing until you do!

Attachment-2-3-1.jpeg

JUNE

June is when my family and I left for our summer trip to Orlando. Although I was still having a hard time with my anxiety in the summer, June was a lot of fun and we got to do quite a few things. My mum celebrated her birthday at the end of the month and we all had dinner at Be Our Guest to celebrate!

Attachment-3-2-1.jpeg

JULY

The month started off with a road trip down to Orlando with my mum. I’ve never been huge on long-haul drives but we did get to go through Tennessee which is my fav state and it was as beautiful as ever! We also celebrated my dad’s birthday and my boyfriend came down to visit - I was so happy to see him, and the four of us go to see my beloved Sam Smith in concert (he was incredible, that man’s got TALENT).

Attachment-4-2.jpeg

AUGUST

In August, my boyfriend, parents, and I went on a staycation to Walt Disney’s Port Orleans French Quarter! We had such an amazing time and for the first time in a while, my anxiety was actually at a manageable level so that made the whole trip that much more enjoyable. I also celebrated my 20th birthday in Disney! You can read all about that vacation here.

SEPTEMBER

September marked one of the momentous events of the year: my big return to university. I was so nervous to go back to school, but luckily the transition went quite smoothly! If you haven’t heard about my decision to take a year off university, you can read about that here. My boyfriend and I also celebrated our five-year anniversary, for which he gifted me a beautiful Belle promise ring!

Attachment-2-4.jpeg

OCTOBER

October brought one of my favourite of our annual traditions and that is our trip to Disney where we do the Food & Wine Festival and Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party!! These are two of my all-time favourite events in Disney World and I’m so grateful that I’ve been able to spend them with my boyfriend these last few years. This year, we dressed up as Mary Poppins and Bert in honour of Mary Poppins Returns coming out this year!

NOVEMBER

November signalled the beginning of stressful/busy times. Fortunately, at the end of the month, we did get to do some of our favourite Christmas traditions like our town’s Light Up Night (which Steven sadly wasn’t able to attend) and Santa Claus Parade. Mostly, we spent the month preparing for the upcoming exam season which was especially stressful for me this year as a) it was the first time I’d be writing exams since spring 2017 and b) it was my first time studying for exams whilst living with my boyfriend, which makes for a very different study atmosphere.

Attachment-4-3.jpeg

DECEMBER

December has been the busiest month of all this year. We made a few trips out to Mississauga to visit Steven’s family, hosted my family’s annual Christmas party, wrote exams (I had two; Steven had four), and tried to keep ourselves sane with the mix of school pressure and upcoming holiday season. It was also the most triumphant month for my anxiety as I was told by my therapist that we would start cutting back on my appointments and I also did a number of anxiety-inducing things that went really really well!!


This year, ultimately, started off really crappy, but ended up turning into a really successful second-half of the year. Although I had a rough time, I proved to myself that with a bit of help I could overcome all my struggles and actually find what I wanted from life and how to get it, which was so so important. Hopefully, next year will all around be a better year than 2018 and I’m really looking forward to seeing what it has in store for me!

Felicia x

Christmas 2018 Travel Diary: Resort Hopping & Disney Springs

Hello friends! Merry belated Christmas.

If you haven’t been following along with my Instagram stories (shameless plug rn, follow me at @bookishbrunettegal) then you may not know that I’m currently away in Orlando on my annual Christmas family vacation! Our Christmas vacation is one of my favourite trips of the year. It’s full of festivities, and magic, and beautiful lights! So, I thought I’d bring you all along with me on my trip with some travel diaries! Starting off with our very first day on the trip, December 26.

IMG_5986.JPG

Our vacation was set in motion by one of my favourite new traditions, the Boxing Day brunch. For the past two years, we’ve had brunch on our first day at the Grand Floridian Cafe, which you probably know is my favourite brunch on Disney World property. This year, we got to sit out on the patio which probably because of how massively packed the restaurant was. Our reservation was at noon but still there were plenty of people waiting to be seated. Having our meal outside was sooo nice. The weather was absolutely lovely and we had such an amazing time. As usual, I ordered the traditional eggs benedict with a cup of coffee and it was delicious!!

5843ED73-8F69-40EB-8032-6EAAA65ECC09.jpeg
3ADE18C3-32C4-488F-A548-1307F79530B9.JPG

After brunch, we embarked on another one of our beloved Christmas traditions: the monorail resort hop. On Boxing Day, we love to go around to all the monorail resorts and check out their Christmas decorations, starting at the Grand Floridian. I already adore the Grand Floridian. But I love it even more at Christmas time. The decorations are so beautiful and delicate. They have a number of Christmas trees, including their massive showstopper on the main floor of the lobby, and of course, their famous Gingerbread House. This year, I actually remembered to buy a gingerbread shingle which you can actually buy at the counter inside the Gingerbread House. Unfortunately though, the line at the Grand Floridian was huge so I got my shingle at the Contemporary Resort later on in the hop - which is a good tip for anyone who doesn’t want to wait in a massive queue!

IMG_6066.JPG

Our next stop on the monorail journey was the Contemporary Resort. The Contemporary, unfortunately, isn’t a huge stop for decorations because of the monorail track through the middle of the resort. There is a huge tree outside of the resort by the road, but you basically have to stand in traffic to see it. So that’s not really an option. They do, however, have a really cute gingerbread set-up based on the Cinderella characters in the lobby. This is where you can buy a bunch of festive treats, like the gingerbread shingle!! Definitely a good alternative to the Grand Floridian shop in my opinion. You can also go through the number of gift shops at the Contemporary while you’re there which is always a fun time!

IMG_6067.JPG
IMG_6009.JPG

Lastly on our resort hop was the Polynesian Resort! I loooove the Polynesian. It’s so pretty and tropical, and like the Grand Floridian, has a ton of trees of different sizes throughout the lobby. Idk I just think the Polynesian looks extremely cute dressed up in her Christmas decor!! My mum also loves visiting the Polynesian because it means rooting about the gift shops for Lilo merchandise. Why is it that there’s always Stitch merch but never Lilo?! So disrespectful. A neat fact about the Polynesian is that it is one of the places on WDW property that sells Dole Whip!! If you’ve ever waited in line for Dole Whip in Magic Kingdom, you know how long it can take as so many people are always queued up at Aloha Isle. But at the Polynesian, there’s usually a minimal line! Just pop on over to the Pineapple Lanai. Enjoy your treat!!

IMG_6068.JPG

After we finished our grand tour of the monorail resorts, we headed on over to Disney Springs for a little bit of shopping. As I hadn’t been to the parks since October, I missed the opening of the new reimagined World of Disney shop so I was extremely excited to check that out! What did you guys think of the new World of Disney? Personally, I miss the old character-heavy design, but I think that the renovation has made it a lot more roomy and open, which makes it a lot more manageable during the heavy season (like Christmas time!). Luckily, I found the Christmas spirit jersey there which I was sooo happy about because I hadn’t seen it anywhere on our resort hop. We popped into a few other shops, namely Zara and my absolute fav, Uniqlo where I bought the most beautiful, cozy sweater EVER!!

Afterwards, we went home and ordered some pizza. It had been a long day, especially after a pretty gruesome travel on Christmas Day. So, that’s all for our first day! I’ll pop back in soon to share our other adventures in another travel diary post!

What did you guys get up to on Boxing Day?

Felicia x

Blogmas 2018 Day Fifteen: My Favourite Vlogmas YouTubers

Attachment-3.jpeg

Hello friends, welcome back!

I find that Youtube is a great place to really get into the festive spirit this time of year. So many Youtubers take part in Vlogmas (the Youtube equivalent of Blogmas) or just post holiday-themed videos throughout the month of December. As I’ve likely mentioned before, I like to watch Youtube videos while I’m getting ready in the morning and lately, it’s been really lovely to put on a Christmassy video instead. As this season rolled around, a lot of the Youtubers I regularly watch have switched into Vlogmas but I’ve also been introduced to new Youtubers as well because of their Vlogmas posts which is very cool!! So today I thought I’d share with you guys who and what I’ve been watching this past month.

AbigailsCupofTea [x]

I’ve only very recently discovered Abigail’s videos but I’m so glad that I did! She is honestly just a ray of sunshine and you can’t not be put in a good mood by watching her videos. In her most recent videos, she’s visited Universal Orlando’s Wizarding World and I’ve loved watching her vlogs, seeing her really take in the parks. She’s a huge Harry Potter fan (and a Hufflepuff, like me!) and you can tell that she genuinely loves the magic of the world!!

AcaciaCutie [x]

I’ve been following Acacia for a couple years now, since before she got pregnant with her first daughter, Brinley. Her family is so cute and so sweet. This year, they’re doing a Blogmas called “Kersmas” because their last name is Kersey (adorable, right??) Their videos are very casual and often have to do with family life or relationships. Acacia is also incredible at home decorating. Her husband renovated a trailer which they now live in and it’s honestly beautiful, so def check out their interior design videos!!

TheTimTracker [x]

I absolutely love Tim Tracker’s videos!!! His videos are primarily about Walt Disney World, Universal Studios Orlando and other fun things in the central Florida area. I love watching his videos for the latest scoop on new rides, attractions or merch at the theme parks when I can’t be there to experience it for myself. Him and his wife are so dorky but in a really funny and cute way, I love watching them so much! Lately, they’ve been focusing on Christmas and winter themed attractions which has been especially cool to watch during the holiday season!

Zoella [x]

Of course, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Zoella, the Youtuber who originally introduced me to the concept of both Blogmas and Vlogmas!! I’ve been watching her Vlogmas videos for years and years now, and they’re always a good time. I love to see her beautiful house all decorated, as she’s a really talented interior decorator. She also throws beautiful Christmas parties which are incredible to see!!

What’s your favourite Vlogmas YouTuber?

Felicia x

To view a list of all my Blogmas posts, click here.

Blogmas 2018 Day Eleven: Tips for Exam Prep During the Holidays

Attachment-2.jpeg

I think perhaps one of the cruellest things that they do in uni is scheduling the final exam period during the Christmas holidays. How am I supposed to focus on studying when I’ve got Christmas goodies to bake and things to decorate and presents to buy?! It’s really been a challenge during my couple years of uni thus far. Like most people, I already find it difficult enough to study for exams in the first place. I have a really tough time getting myself to hunker down and focus when I could be doing so many other things!! But in the December exam period, it’s nearly downright impossible for me to be motivated to study.

This year, exams are particularly stressful as my only two formal exams are scheduled for the 19th and 20th of December… Literally the last two days of the exam period. W H Y. How is anyone meant to focus on Jane Austen when it’s so close to Christmas?!

Fortunately, I’ve come up with a few tips and tricks for getting myself motivated whilst all the Christmas excitement and I thought I’d share them all with you, so you guys don’t have to suffer either!

~PLAN AHEAD~

There’s nothing worse than getting caught a couple of days before your exam with nothing prepared and no sense of what you’re getting yourself into to. A few weeks before your exam, start to mentally set out a schedule or a plan for what you what you’d like to accomplish, and on what timeline. This way, you can hold yourself to studying better and not get as easily distracted from your goal.

~SET ASIDE TIME EVERY DAY~

I know how easy it is to say “it’s cool, I’ll just do some studying later this week” and how quickly that turns into “oh shit, my exam is in two days and I haven’t even looked at my notes.” Trust me. We’ve all been there. And with all the Christmas festivities to get wrapped up into at this time of the year, it’s even easier to procrastinate studying. Getting an hour or two in of studying for each subject every day is a really easy way to stay up-to-date with your revision while still getting time to do all the fun stuff. And as you get closer to your exam, start increasing your daily studying by an hour. It does wonders, honestly.

~FESTIVE ENCOURAGEMENT~

Yeah, that’s right. I’m about to tell you to bribe yourself to do work. Ya gotta do what ya gotta do, am I right? If the only way that you can get yourself to revise your History notes is by tempting yourself with a Christmas film once you’ve finished, then do it. No judgment here. Once you’ve done your studying, does it really matter how you got there? Not really. Just matters that you’ve done it. Sometimes I’ll tell myself that if I finish my revision, I’ll treat myself to a Starbucks Holiday drink. And guess what? It motivates the hell outta me.

~DAMAGE CONTROL~

If you’ve just spent the past two days decorating your house or going out to do some Christmas shopping, and you know that you’ve neglected your school work, then you’ve gotta go right back to studying. Immediately. Don’t let yourself fall into the trap! It’s so easy to get wrapped up in constantly having fun during the holidays. I know how tempting it can be, but honestly, Christmas will still be there when you’ve finished your exams.

~DON’T BE AFRAID TO ASK FOR HELP~

This was a lesson that took me years to learn on my own so here I am, passing this onto you now: please ask for help if you need it. I always use to think that I had to figure things out on my own and suffer in silence. But taking a year off of school made me realize that that’s absolutely not the case whatsoever. There are so many people out there who are more than happy to lend a hand if you need it. If you’re feeling stressed during the holidays, talk to a friend, or a family member, or a counsellor at your school. And if you need help studying, reach out to a classmate or a friend. I’m the kind of person who usually needs to be tested on the information in order to fully understand it. If you’re that kind of person as well, don’t be afraid to ask someone to help you! Honestly, you’ll feel so much better getting that assistance that you need and it’ll drastically improve your grade overall.

What really helps you focus during the holidays?

Felicia x

To view a list of my other Blogmas posts, click here.


Blogmas 2018 Day Four: Tips for Christmas Shopping

Blogmas Shopping Tips.jpeg

Hello darlings!

Today I thought I’d do a bit of an advice post about one of the season’s most dreaded events: Christmas shopping. I’m the kind of person who loves buying gifts for people. I love finding the perfect present for a loved one, wrapping it up, writing the card, and placing it beneath the tree until I finally get to share it with them. But the whole process of actually buying the gifts can be extremely stressful especially if you suffer from anxiety, like me. So I thought I’d share a few of my favourite tips for making the most of the Christmas shopping experience.

1. Add a little bit of fun.

A lot of the time when we’re faced with stressful situations, it can be really easy to fall into the trap of telling ourselves it’s going to be an all around awful time. It can make a huge difference if you go into it thinking it won’t be so bad! If you’re going out to brave the pre-Christmas mall crowds, especially as it gets closer to the holidays, try to set up your trip with a few relaxing, fun things. Make a playlist of your favourite Christmas tunes and play it on the drive to the mall. Dress in layers (this is so important, malls get hot my friends). Bring a friend and grab a festive-flavoured coffee or tea that you can sip while you walk around the shops. Seriously, these might sound like such small things but they really do make a major impact on your overall stress level!!

2. Make a list.

There’s nothing worse than getting to the mall and falling into a panic because you have zero idea what you’re looking for or which shops to even go to. It makes you 100x more stressed out. Before you decide to head out, make a list of the things you’re considering for each person on your list. Even if you only have a vague idea of what you’re looking for, it will at least narrow down the shops you’ll have to go through and give you a better grasp on what you’re aiming to buy. There’s nothing worse than feeling completely overwhelmed by the chaos of the mall shoppers and the million shops with all of their displays. Make a list, put it on your phone, and look back at it whenever you’re feeling a little uneasy or lost.

3. Try online shopping.

This is my greatest Christmas shopping life-hack EVER. Online shopping has become my BFF over the last couple years, especially when my anxiety has been at it’s peak. You can basically buy anything online nowadays (thank god for that) and a lot of stores will offer online exclusive deals throughout the holiday season, like BOGO or free shipping - so definitely take advantage of that. There’s also a whole community out there of online independent shops! It’s always nice to buy from online shops (like from Etsy) because you know that the money is going to someone’s family, rather than just a corporation. Not to mention you’ll be gifting your friend or family something that is a lil more unique which is really special as well!

4. Shop on off-days.

Back to the in-store shopping… If you decide that online shopping isn’t for you or it’s not accessible, but you still hate those mall crowds, try to do your Christmas shopping on off-days, or even off-times. Shopping in the morning or afternoon on a Saturday or Sunday is going to bring you face-to-face with the roughest of shopping crowds. But if you go on a Tuesday or Wednesday night, or even on your lunch breaks throughout the week, you’ll definitely face far less intimidating crowds than on the weekend rush. You’ll have more time and space to get your creative gears going!

5. Check online for coupons or sales.

There’s no shame in getting a good deal on a gift!!! Lots of us are on tight budgets and what’s wrong in needing a little bit of help in buying our loved ones the perf gift? These days, coupons and sales are everywhere you look. If you sign-up for newsletters of stores you’re planning on shopping at, they’ll send out weekly or even daily emails full of information about how to save a few pennies. And if you’re shopping online, you can download a money-saver program like Honey or Wikibuy, which can go right on your Internet to directly save you money on purchases while you’re checking out your order.

What are your top tips for Christmas shopping?

Felicia x

To view a list of all my Blogmas posts, click here.

Blogmas 2018 Day Two: December Bucket List

Blogmas Winter Bucket List.jpeg

Welcome to Blogmas Day 2!

I’m a list-maker. I feel like making lists is extremely therapeutic, not to mention extremely useful. I make lists for everything. What I need to do in a day or in a week, shopping lists, reading lists, so on and so forth. One of the best lists to make, at least for me, are bucket lists! Of course, the whole idea of bucket lists are super morbid (kick the bucket… like really??) but I don’t take it that way. I see bucket lists more as a list of things I absolutely would love to do!

I first came across the idea of doing a monthly bucket list on Pinterest. I thought I’d give it a try and what better time to do it than in December, when all the Christmas festivities are in full action! December is one of my favourite months as it’s (in my opinion) the coziest month. Everything is so lovely and serene, and everyone’s in the mood to be merry! So without further ado, here’s my December bucket list!

~★~

1. Read a holiday-themed book.

2. Have a holiday film day.

3. Send out my Christmas cards (on time!!)

4. Do some holiday baking.

5. Visit a Christmas market.

6. Decorate a gingerbread house.

7. Light the perfect Christmas candle.

8. Get all my Christmas shopping done.

9. Make s’mores.

10. Get a Christmas-inspired manicure.

11. Have a holiday drink at Starbucks.

12. Rock a red lip.

13. Take a walk in the snow.

14. Have breakfast for dinner.

15. Do a random act of kindness.

16. Try a new hobby.

17. Have a Harry Potter film marathon (because why not?)

18. Build a snowman.

19. Try my hand at creating a festive holiday cocktail.

20. Add a new piece to my Christmas decor.

21. Watch my town’s Santa Claus parade.

22. Make the perfect cup of hot cocoa.

23. Brave the mall for some holiday shopping.

24. Have coffee with a friend.

25. Have a soak in the hot tub.

See you all again tomorrow!

Felicia x

To view a list of all my Blogmas posts, click here.

Blogmas 2018 Day One: The Christmas Tag

Happy first day of Blogmas!!

First things first, if you haven’t read my introductory Blogmas post, you can check that out here. It explains the whole Blogmas concept and will also stand as a constantly updated reference guide with all of the links to my Blogmas 2018 posts.

For my very first Blogmas post, I decided to start with one of my favourite Christmas-themed posts and that is the Christmas Tag! I try to do a Christmas tag every year at the start of the holiday season. I’ve done a few variations over the years, but this looks like it might just be a different one than usual so I’m going to give this a go!

~★~

1. What’s your favourite Christmas film?

My favourite Christmas film changes pretty much daily, I can never stick to just one! I guess I’d have to say that it’s probably a tie (right now) between Love Actually and White Christmas. White Christmas for me has a lot of sentimental value as it’s mine and my mum’s go-to Christmas film to watch together, so it has to be included for sure!

2. Have you ever had a white Christmas?

I live in Ontario, Canada. Every Christmas is a white Christmas!

3. Where do you usually spend your holiday?

My holiday is split up all over the place. I spend the morning with my parents at home, opening presents and having egg sandwiches for breaky. Then I head up to my hometown to spend a few hours with my boyfriend’s family. And finally, my parents, boyfriend, and I go to Orlando for our holiday vacay! It’s a loonnggggg day.

4. What is your favourite Christmas song?

Oh my gosh, it’s like choosing between children, isn’t it?! I guess I’ll narrow it down to a few, because just one ain’t happening… “Do They Know It’s Christmas” by Band Aid, “Last Christmas” by Wham!, and “White Christmas” by Michael Buble & Shania Twain are in my constant rotation!

5. Do you open any presents on Christmas Eve?

Yes! As per a longstanding tradition, I open one gift from my parents on Christmas Eve and then I get a new pair of pjs (as do my parents). I love our pj tradition the most as it means we all get to wear brand new pjs to bed and for Christmas morning!

6. Can you name all of Santa’s reindeer?

By heart? Dasher, Prancer, Comet, Vixen, Rudolph… How many are there? Does it make me a fake Christmas fan if I don’t know?

7. What holiday traditions are you looking forward to most this year?

All of them… Is that a valid answer? I’m very excited for my second time seeing my town’s annual light-up night. I also cannot wait to decorate the house and trim the tree!!

8. Is your Christmas tree real or fake?

All three of our trees (yes, three) are fake. I’d love to have a real one but I’ve heard that they’re poisonous for dogs and I don’t trust my pup enough!

9. What is your all-time favourite holiday food/sweet treat?

I positively love gingerbread cookies. Just the smell of gingerbread alone is simply divine.

10. Be honest: do you like giving gifts or receiving gifts better?

This is a hard question! I mean, everyone loves getting gifts, we all know that. I especially love the excitement in other people’s faces when I’m opening up a gift they bought me. But also, I love giving gifts so much because you get to pick out something for someone you love and wrap them up and watch them open them up!

11. What’s the best Christmas gift you’ve ever received?

Oooooh, I’ll actually be writing up a post about this in the near future so I won’t spoil it just yet :)

12. What would be your dream place to visit for the holiday season?

New York City! It is my absolute dream to stand in Rockefeller Center with all the lights and that massive Christmas tree.

13. Are you a pro-present wrapper or do you fail miserably?

Fail. MISERABLY. I don’t know what it is, but I just cannot figure out how to wrap a gift nicely. Even a perfectly shaped box turns out to be a disaster.

14. Most memorable holiday moment?

Probably the first time I ever went to Disney World during the holidays.

15. When did you realize the truth about Santa?

No idea what you’re talking about… :)

16. Do you make New Year’s resolutions? Do you stick to them?

I hate the idea of making resolutions because it’s become a huge cliche where you’re obligated to stick to them or else you’re a failure. I like to set (realistic!) year-long goals instead and reflect on how I did at achieving them by the end of the year.

17. What makes the holidays so special to you?

I just love the sentiment behind the holidays. Bringing the family together, no matter what else is going on in your lives, for no other reason than just celebration and being merry together!

See you tomorrow for Blogmas Day 2!

Felicia x

To view a list of all my Blogmas posts, click here.

Introducing... Blogmas 2018

The white lights are glowing…The trees are up and decorated…The smell of gingerbread is hanging in the air…

You know what that means. It must be Christmas!!

Tomorrow is the first day of December my darlings! And with that comes the start of a very special blogging tradition that I am extremely excited to say that I will be taking part in this year: Blogmas!

For many, many years, I’ve watched bloggers and youtubers alike doing Blogmas, starting with Zoella all the way back in 2012-2013. I’ve always loved the idea of Blogmas because I feel like it’s a way to not only celebrate the holidays as a community, but also to keep the festive feeling going throughout the season. I really think that Christmas is a holiday that is best spent with other people. But as bloggers can be scattered across the country, or even the globe, it’s nice that Blogmas gives us a way to come together and celebrate as a group!

If you haven’t heard of Blogmas before, I’ll give a little bit of a rundown. Essentially, it’s a post per day for 25 days, starting December 1. The posts can be Christmas or even winter themed. Anything that makes you feel festive or will put other people in the Christmas spirit. Although it’s so much fun, it’s also a ton of work which is why I haven’t attempted it before this year. I really hope that I can make it work while also preparing for my fall finals but if it does work out, I’ll definitely try to make this a new yearly tradition!

My very first post will be posted tomorrow morning at 10am, and the others will follow the same schedule.

I cannot wait to start uploading my posts! I’ll keep an updated list of all the links to my Blogmas posts here, as a quick and easy reference guide for readers (that’s you!)

See you tomorrow :)

Felicia x

P.s. If any of you guys are taking part in Blogmas, leave your blog URLs down in the comments. I’d love to follow along your own journeys this Christmas season!

~*~ BLOGMAS POSTS ~*~

Day One - The Christmas Tag

Day Two - December Bucket List

Day Three - My Favourite Christmas Films

Day Four - Tips for Christmas Shopping

Day Five - My Favourite Disney World Holiday Traditions

Day Six - Things I Love About the Holidays

Day Seven - Christmas Playlist

Day Eight - 10 Stocking Stuffers

Day Nine - Winter Skincare Routine

Day Ten - How I Decorate For Christmas

Review: Love & War - Melissa De La Cruz

IMG_5220.jpeg

“We will only stand if we learn to accept and even embrace each other’s differences rather than allow them to divide us.”

My Rating: ★★★

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

Reading Challenge: 32 out of 50

Goodreads Synopsis —

As the war for American Independence carries on, two newlyweds are settling into their new adventure: marriage. But the honeymoon's over, and Alexander Hamilton and Eliza Schuyler are learning firsthand just how tricky wedded life can be. Alex is still General George Washington's right-hand man and his attention these days is nothing if not divided--much like the colonies' interests as the end of the Revolution draws near. Alex & Eliza's relationship is tested further by lingering jealousies and family drama.

My Thoughts —

If you haven’t read my review of the first book in this trilogy, go ahead and give that a read here first!

I’m gonna come right out and say it. I didn’t enjoy this book as much as I enjoyed the first book, Alex & Eliza. I felt like this took a really different approach to the Hamiltons’ story than I was expecting. I get that it’s a YA series, so it may not deal with a lot of the more mature themes of their marriage (i.e. death, infidelity, etc.). But it just seemed a bit too light-hearted, if that makes sense? Even the conflicts they faced seemed to be solved almost immediately. It just seemed like they were living their own fairytale which, if you know the true history, you’ll know is not realistic.

I really hope that the final book of the trilogy, All For One (which is scheduled to be published in spring 2019) will be closer to the Hamiltons’ story. I just found that this novel was a lot more fiction than it was historical fiction. Sort of like Reign, but maybe even more far-fetched?

Have you read Love & War? What did you think?

Felicia x

Review: Gmorning, Gnight - Lin-Manuel Miranda

IMG_5221.jpeg

“Good night now, and rest. Today was a test. You passed it, you’re past it. Now breathe till unstressed.”

My Rating: ★★★★★

Genre(s): Poetry, Nonfiction, Self Help

Reading Challenge: 31 out of 50

Goodreads Synopsis —

Before he inspired the world with Hamilton and was catapulted to international fame, Lin-Manuel Miranda was inspiring his Twitter followers with words of encouragement at the beginning and end of each day. He wrote these original sayings, aphorisms, and poetry for himself as much as for others. But as Miranda's audience grew, these messages took on a life on their own. Now Miranda has gathered the best of his daily greetings into a beautiful collection illustrated by acclaimed artist (and fellow Twitter favorite) Jonny Sun.

Full of comfort and motivation, Gmorning, Gnight! is a touchstone for anyone who needs a quick lift.

My Thoughts —

So I may have mentioned this before, but I’ll say it again for the new readers: I absolutely adore Lin-Manuel Miranda. I think he’s oh so talented and practically the most inspiring person of our time, not to mention adorably dorky. And now he’s gone and created the most adorable, uplifting book I’ve ever laid eyes upon.

I really loved reading this book. It went by so quickly since it’s only about 200 pages and there’s only a few lines per page. But the little time I did spend with this book was lovely. Every passage was uplifting and empowering. I took to putting Post-It notes on the pages of my favourite passages, but that ended up being about 90% of the book by the end lol. I loved everything so much. Lin really has an incredibly way of putting things into perspective and making you appreciate the small things in life.

I think this would be a really excellent graduation gift idea, for those who know someone that’s graduating high school or post-secondary education! Also, if you want to read more of his “Gmorning, Gnight” style tweets, you can find those on his Twitter.

Are you a Lin-Manuel fan, like me?

Felicia x

Review: Alex and Eliza: A Love Story - Melissa De La Cruz

IMG_5228.jpeg

“And you, Colonel Hamilton, are mine, and I am yours always.”

My Rating: ★★★★

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

Reading Challenge: 30 out of 50

My Thoughts —

Their romance shaped a nation. The rest was history.

1777. Albany, New York. 

As battle cries of the American Revolution echo in the distance, servants flutter about preparing for one of New York society’s biggest events: the Schuylers’ grand ball. Descended from two of the oldest and most distinguished bloodlines in New York, the Schuylers are proud to be one of their fledgling country’s founding families, and even prouder still of their three daughters—Angelica, with her razor-sharp wit; Peggy, with her dazzling looks; and Eliza, whose beauty and charm rival that of both her sisters, though she’d rather be aiding the colonists’ cause than dressing up for some silly ball. 

Still, she can barely contain her excitement when she hears of the arrival of one Alexander Hamilton, a mysterious, rakish young colonel and General George Washington’s right-hand man. Though Alex has arrived as the bearer of bad news for the Schuylers, he can’t believe his luck—as an orphan, and a bastard one at that—to be in such esteemed company. And when Alex and Eliza meet that fateful night, so begins an epic love story that would forever change the course of American history.

My Thoughts —

Recently, I’ve become super obsessed with the musical, Hamilton. I’ve been in love with it for a few years now for whatever reason, my obsession has skyrocketed in the past few months. Sadly, I’ve not yet had the chance to see it. My boyfriend tried to get tickets for the two of us to see it in NYC last year, but they came out to about $2,000 US!! So that was NOT happening. Since it won’t be coming to Toronto until the 2019/2020 season, I’ve had to find other ways to fuel my addition - like reading Hamilton-inspired lit apparently.

Melissa De La Cruz was actually one of my fav authors when I was a preteen, back when Girl Stays in the Picture came out (THE THROWBACK). When my reading tastes changed, I moved on from her books. But I was excited to read another one of her books again after all these years and see what I’d been missing.

I loved this book!! As you may know, I’m a huge YA fan. This is so up my alley that it’s crazy. The love between Alex and Eliza was palpable and I think it really was the perfect kickoff for the long history of the Hamiltons. I thought this novel read a lot like a modern-day Jane Austen novel. Not even just because it was set in the 18th century, but because it has a romantic storyline with a strong heroine lead and it ends in a wedding. I loved the Austen-esque elements and although I’m not sure if the author intended to include them, I think they were pretty perfect!

I also thought it was quite interesting how the novel was told from both the perspectives of Alex and Eliza. Especially since there was a fair chunk of the novel where Alex was off doing war-related things. It was pretty cool because then you got to see both sides of the story. It also gave readers the opportunity to be introduced to other key historical figures such as the Sons of Liberty. I’m very 50/50 when it comes to dual narratives, but when they’re done effectively I’m quite keen on them and I think it was done very well in Alex & Eliza!

There were obviously a ton of differences between this novel and Hamilton which I think ultimately comes down to picking and choosing which details to include and which to omit. For instance, in the musical, a lot of details were excluded or altered to work with the storyline - this was also done with Alex & Eliza. I did find that with Alex & Eliza, everything was a lot more fluffy which makes sense as it’s a YA novel. So if you’re looking for a hard-hitting, authentic Revolutionary War retelling, maybe look elsewhere.

I’m really interested to see how this series progresses throughout the next couple books! I already started Love & War which is the sequel, but the third and final book isn’t being released until April 2019 - so I have a bit of time left until that one! Until then, keep an eye out for my Love & War review!

Are you a Hamilton fan?

Felicia x

Review: All We Ever Wanted - Emily Giffin

IMG_5219.jpeg

“Who was the person you trusted enough to be your most transparent self with, in both good times and bad?”

My Rating: ★★★★

Genre(s): Fiction, Women’s Fiction, Contemporary

Reading Challenge: 29 out of 50

Goodreads Synopsis —

Nina Browning is living the good life after marrying into Nashville’s elite. More recently, her husband made a fortune selling his tech business, and their adored son has been accepted to Princeton. Yet sometimes the middle-class small-town girl in Nina wonders if she’s strayed from the person she once was.

Tom Volpe is a single dad working multiple jobs while struggling to raise his headstrong daughter, Lyla. His road has been lonely, long, and hard, but he finally starts to relax after Lyla earns a scholarship to Windsor Academy, Nashville’s most prestigious private school.

Amid so much wealth and privilege, Lyla doesn’t always fit in—and her overprotective father doesn’t help—but in most ways, she’s a typical teenage girl, happy and thriving.

Then, one photograph, snapped in a drunken moment at a party, changes everything. As the image spreads like wildfire, the Windsor community is instantly polarized, buzzing with controversy and assigning blame.

At the heart of the lies and scandal, Tom, Nina, and Lyla are forced together—all questioning their closest relationships, asking themselves who they really are, and searching for the courage to live a life of true meaning.

My Thoughts —

So I actually ordered this book this summer whilst sitting at the Port Orleans resort, beignet in hand, trying to decide which three (yes, three) books to order from Indigo. It was the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make because a) I’m already indecisive enough and b) the five or so books I wanted were all so interesting and I couldn’t bear to part with even one. But this one really stuck out to me. Like, something told me I needed this book immediately after reading the synopsis.

This book was wild from start to finish y’all. I really had a difficult time putting it down. It’s intense but not in a suspenseful, action-packed way. I think that most importantly, it really speaks to my generation. With social media being so prominent in our society, things can get really messy. Social media is great in that it links our worlds together and creates an opportunity for mass communication and social change. But it can also become a nightmare real quick, if it’s used for the wrong thing. I think this book really shows the dangerous side of social media and the novel presents itself in a way as a cautionary tale to parents and even teens. Are teens reading Emily Giffin? I did in high school but who knows!

I thought that the characters of Lyla and Finch were really well-represented as modern teens. Every time I read novels by authors long out of high school, I keep an eye out for how the teenagers are portrayed because I think that sometimes authors are out of touch with the young-ins (lol). In All We Ever Wanted, this wasn’t the case at all. I could definitely see Lyla and Finch as being real teenagers at my old high school. Having authentic characters really enhances the reading experience for me. I don’t know if it bothers anyone else as much as me. Is it a me problem? Who knows.

Honestly, just go read this book. You won’t regret it. I can’t say much about it without giving away the plot. But it was so gripping and it dealt with a ton of intense conflicts outside of just the social media issue that I think makes the novel that much more important of a read. Definitely pick this up at your bookstore immediately. Like go, right now!

Have you read All We Ever Wanted? If you have, what did you think?

Felicia x

Review: Northanger Abbey - Jane Austen

IMG_5225.jpeg

“The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid.”

My Rating: ★★★★

Genre(s): Classics, Fiction, Romance

Reading Challenge: 27 out of 50

Goodreads Synopsis —

Jane Austen's first novel—published posthumously in 1818—tells the story of Catherine Morland and her dangerously sweet nature, innocence, and sometime self-delusion. Though Austen's fallible heroine is repeatedly drawn into scrapes while vacationing at Bath and during her subsequent visit to Northanger Abbey, Catherine eventually triumphs, blossoming into a discerning woman who learns truths about love, life, and the heady power of literature. The satirical novel pokes fun at the gothic novel while earnestly emphasizing caution to the female sex.

My Thoughts —

So, first off, Northanger Abbey is the first of Austen’s novels to be prepared for publication (even though it didn’t come out until after she died). I think that’s what makes this book less of a hit with me, compared to her later works - like my personal fav, Pride and Prejudice. But that’s definitely not to say that the writing in Northanger Abbey is immature! Jane Austen was always wise beyond her years and I still think Northanger Abbey is a great novel, just not one of the best. You know?

I thought it was quite clever that Jane Austen used Catherine’s love for Gothic novels almost as a flaw in her character. It was a really tongue-in-cheek jab at Ann Radcliffe. Catherine’s imagination and obsession with the novels gets her into quite a lot of trouble, which is a fairly amusing storyline.

The one thing that irks me though is that Henry Tilney, for the majority of the novel, is quite annoying. He’s presumptuous and condescending. Most of his time spent with Catherine, and his sister Eleanor for that matter, is by berating her for her interest in Gothic novels and how her perception of things is wrong. Blah blah blah. He does get less tiresome throughout the last half of the novel. THANK GOD.

All in all, it was a pretty good read! I might not read it again, though.

Are you a Jane Austen fan? Do you like Northanger Abbey?

Felicia x

Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party | 2018

IMG_4901-1.jpeg

It’s the mooost wonderful time of the yeaaaar!! That’s right, friends. It’s time for my annual write-up on Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party! If you’ve been here for awhile, you’ll probably know that I’ve been to Not So Scary twice before - once in 2015 and again last year. I absolutely love the party and I love writing these posts, too. It’s sort of like reliving everything all over again to me honestly. So, without further ado, let’s jump in.

If you’re interested, you can read my prior posts about Not So Scary from 2017 here.

IMG_4145.jpeg

You probably won’t be surprised to hear that I love Halloween at the parks. I’m sure I’ve said it a dozen times before, and I’ll say it another dozen times in the future. Disney really does everything better, especially the holidays. And Halloween gives them an opportunity to bring out some of the less popular characters. They also decorate the parks to the nines, with giant pumpkins everywhere, and bales of straw and other harvest-themed decor at every turn. If you love a good Jack O’ Lantern, look no further than Main Street U.S.A.!

If you’ve never heard about Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, you’re not alone. Until I went in 2015, I hadn’t heard much about it either. In the past few years, it’s been gaining more attention and popularity, but back in the day it was this super mysterious exclusive party that I never really knew much about (especially because I didn’t visit Disney in the autumn). Basically it’s a ticketed event held at Magic Kingdom on select nights from late August to Halloween, where you can go in ‘after hours’ and experience a bunch of attractions, rides, and shows that are Halloween themed. There’s also a massive dress-up component, as tons of people (myself included!) dress in costumes. Where else do you really get to do costumes anymore when you’re an adult??

The event starts at 7pm, so we got there about 6:30pm. At that point, cast members were desperately trying to control the crowds, getting the non-party guests out of the park and the party guests into the park, without causing too much of a commotion. We entered the park with our Magicbands as usual and then immediately got our wristbands for the party put on. If you’re already in the park when the party starts, there are stations set up all over where you can get your wristbands, too. Once we had our bands, we went onto Main Street and got to pose with this super cute car before going ~backstage~ to make our way into the party.

Initially, my boyfriend and I had decided not to do costumes this year. All summer we tried to figure out what we wanted to dress-up as but couldn’t decide on anything and when we did, the costume idea fell through, so we just gave up entirely. But then, about a week into September, I got the idea to do a Mary Poppins and Bert couples costume. We completely (and somewhat frantically) DIY’d our costumes, searching the depths of the Internet for pieces to put together (I’ll do a post on our DIY later!). I’m sooo happy with how our costumes turned out!! We had a few tiny last minute glitches but in the end it all worked out and the costumes were actually super comfy throughout the night thank god.

Although we didn’t get to experience everything that Not So Scary has to offer, we did get to see and do so much. Of course, we took part in a little bit of trick-or-treating as usual. My family likes to go to as many trick-or-treat stations as possible, and then bring all our collected candy home to handout to kids on Halloween. Making the most out of the cost of our tickets haha. We also got to see a bunch of the shows that are what make the party so incredible, in my opinion.

IMG_4923.jpeg

One of my all-time fav parts of Halloween as a whole is Hocus Pocus. And luckily for me Hocus Pocus is a big part of Not So Scary! They put on a show at the stage in front of Cinderella’s Castle called Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular. It has the Sanderson sisters, as well as a bunch of other Disney villains. And, of course, the performance of I Put A Spell On You always completes all my childhood dreams!! Honestly, the Sanderson sisters are the queens of Halloween and you can’t tell me otherwise.

Also, please check out that picture of the Hocus Pocus fireworks from behind the castle that I took while walking. Ugh I love.

IMG_5019.jpeg

I would be completely remiss if I didn’t mention my beloved HalloWishes fireworks! As you may know, the Wishes fireworks went away early last year which was devastating to all. But luckily, we still have a part of that old magic during the Halloween and Christmas holiday seasons! I absolutely love HalloWishes. I think that the different effects on the castle, the fireworks, and the music are all so incredible.

IMG_4936.jpeg

And, last but certainly not least, we got a chance to see my favourite Disney World attraction of all time: Mickey’s Boo To You Halloween Parade. I LOVE THIS PARADE!!! Absolute best parade of all time. There’s literally nothing about this parade I’m so-so on. I literally love every single part of this parade. The soundtrack is DIVINE. The whole Haunted Mansion part is sooo amazing. Especially because I absolutely love Haunted Mansion and everything related to it. I highly recommend carving out time to see this parade if you go to Not So Scary (it runs twice a night).

The only bummer of the party this year was that the Headless Horseman, who usually rides out in front of the first float, didn’t show up! Because of the rain, it wasn’t safe for the horse or the rider. So that was pretty disappointing however we totally understood that it just couldn’t happen. Hopefully next year we’ll see him again!!

Have you guys been to Not So Scary before? What’s your fav part!

Felicia x

Review: The Hate U Give - Angie Thomas

IMG_5227.jpeg

“What’s the point of having a voice if you’re gonna be silent in those moments you shouldn’t be?”

My Rating: ★★★★

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

Reading Challenge: 25 out of 50

Goodreads Synopsis —

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.

Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.

But what Starr does—or does not—say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.

My Thoughts —

This book really hit me hard. I was heartbroken, angry, empowered, and inspired - all at once. I cannot begin to imagine being in Starr’s place. As I read about her experience of Khalil’s death and the ramifications afterwards, I felt sick to my stomach all the way through. It’s already a horrific thing to see your own friend to be killed; but to have to fight to prove that the killer was actually at fault is something else entirely.

I truly feel like this might be one of the most powerful stories I’ve read in a very, very long time. Obviously the major problem in this book - police brutality and shooting of unarmed POC - is something that we are facing in modern day society every. single. day. It’s so frustrating to see this sort of thing happen all the time and there’s no justice for the victims whatsoever. That’s exactly what this book is about. I wholeheartedly believe this book should be a mandatory read in high school. The classics are great and all, but it’s time for a book like The Hate U Give to make an appearance in school curriculums and draw attention to major social issues.

Read this book. Take a stand against what’s wrong, stand for what you believe in. And go see the movie, too. This is the sort of thing that needs attention y’all.

Have you read The Hate U Give? What are your thoughts?

Felicia x

Back to Hogwarts

C49DA5CB-1B37-47D9-968B-8BF40CF23E45-1000.jpg

All aboard the Hogwarts Express, it's time to go back to Hogwarts! If you've read the books or seen the films, you know that September 1st is a big day for the Wizarding World - it's the day that students pile into Kings Cross Station, cross that barrier onto Platform 9 3/4, and make their way back to that fabulous castle for another year of classes!

Harry Potter was a substantial part of my life growing up. Although I was only about a week old when the first book was released in North America, it very easily became a staple in my life. When I was a very little girl, my godmother brought the first film over to my house on VHS (#tb) and my family watched it all together. From then on, I was hooked. My parents bought me all the available books in the series and I used to (try to) read them out loud to my parents every night before bed. Very quickly, Hermione became a role model for me. There's even a video of me at 5 or 6 years old, opening a Christmas present of a Hermione doll wrapped in Harry Potter wrapping paper. OBSESSED, MUCH?? 

In honour of this magical day, I thought that today I'd do the Harry Potter Tag which I've seen a bunch of other bloggers do over the past couple years. I've always wanted to do the tag and what better time to do it! 


1. What house are you in?

I'm in Hufflepuff! Originally, when Pottermore first opened, I was sorted into Gryffindor, which never seemed right to me. Flash forward to this past year when I took the Pottermore test again and was sorted into Hufflepuff! I feel it suits me quite well. Maybe I've changed over the past 8 years? Who knows. 

2. What is your Patronus? 

According to Pottermore, my Patronus is a Wild Rabbit. (Cute, right?) 

3. What is your wand? 

Silver Lime wood with a Phoenix feather core 10" and Slightly Yielding flexibility.

4. What would your boggart be?

This is a great question. I think that if the boggart could turn into something like a question mark or an empty space, to symbolize the unknown, then that would definitely be my boggart. I have a major fear of the unknown and am constantly plagued with "what ifs". 

5. What position would you play in Quidditch?

Uhh, the position of a spectator? I'm already bad enough at sports, and I feel like that wouldn't translate well to Wizard sports. Boring answer, I know. 

6. Would you be a pure-blood, half-blood, or muggle-born? 

I don't even know how to begin to answer this. I really have no idea. 

7. What job would you want to have after leaving Hogwarts?

Hmm, I'd love to be a professor at Hogwarts. Maybe I'd teach History of Magic? I am minoring in History, after all. That seems like it'd be up my alley! I think it would be incredible to work inside Hogwarts all the time and as a professor, you'd get to know all the secret things that students aren't allowed to know/see. 

8. Which of the Deathly Hallows would you choose?

I'd definitely go for the Invisibility Cloak. It seems like it'd be the most useful. Besides, the other ones are just too risky for me. I'm not looking for almighty power or whatever, haha. I just want to sneak around a little bit. 

9. Favourite book? 

This is so tough. It's like choosing between children haha. But I guess if I had to choose one, it'd have to be Prisoner of Azkaban. I really love Sirius and Remus, so having them introduced in the novel makes my heart happy. I also really like the whole time-turner bit - that might be one of my favourite bits of magic. 

10. Least favourite book? 

Order of the Phoenix. It's not that there's anything I specifically don't like. It's just I like it a little bit less than the others!

11. Favourite film? 

Half-Blood Prince. For a very specific reason. For whatever reason, I decided in like 2008 that I didn't like Harry Potter anymore. I think it was just that I wasn't big on the Order of the Phoenix film and thought I was ~too cool~ for Harry Potter now that I was a whole 10 years old. My parents dragged me to see Half-Blood Prince in theatres and that was it. I was back in love. So HBP will always have a special place in my heart, for that reason.

12. Least favourite film?

I don't love Order of the Phoenix. Maybe it's just that it's too difficult to take the longest book of the series and put it into a fairly short film.

13. Favourite character? 

Obviously, Hermione is my favourite. Being a bookworm and kind of annoying as a kid, I totally got her. 

14. Least favourite/most hated character? 

I hate Umbridge. But don't we all? 

15. Favourite teacher at Hogwarts? 

This is definitely a tie between Professor McGonagall and Professor Lupin. I love them both for different reasons, but I doubt I have to explain why to anyone haha. 

16. Least favourite teacher at Hogwarts? 

Umbridge. Again, reasons are quite obvious.

17. Do you have any unpopular opinions about the series?

*Sigh*... Okay. Let me preface this by saying I'm a super empathetic person. Like, in general and especially when it comes to fictional characters, specifically villains (do you see where I'm going with this?)... I have feelings about Draco Malfoy. I think his relationship with his father and the fact that his father was, ya know, a Death Eater and a total douche certainly had a real effect on him as a person. (This is especially true in the films because the film creators seem to be huge Draco sympathizers). 

Felicia x

Travel Diary: Disney World August 2018

2E08E5DB-F816-4DF3-B99E-3A150400CBC0-1000.jpg

Hello, everyone! Been awhile, huh? Sorry to have disappeared. If you've been following my Instagram stories, you probably saw that I mentioned I'd be taking a bit of a hiatus from the blog as I was on a week-long staycation at Walt Disney World. Crazy stuff, right!!

When I used to visit Walt Disney World as a kid, my family would always stay on-property. But when we bought our vacation home back in 2012, we didn't really have the need for staying in a resort anymore - that's what our vacation home was for, after all! But last year, all of that changed when my parents surprised me with a 2-night stay at Port Orleans French Quarter with my boyfriend as an early birthday gift. Needless to say, I caught the bug and we found ourselves back on-property this year! Today I thought I'd give you guys a bit of a run-down on what we got up to on our Disney trip this year...

port orleans french quarter

port orleans french quarter

port orleans french quarter

port orleans french quarter

THE RESORT

We stayed, once again, at the Port Orleans French Quarter resort. I've stayed at the French Quarter four times now and will keep coming back without a doubt. I absolutely love it. It's my favourite moderate-level resort by far. I love how small it is, how no matter where your room is located the lobby & restaurant are only a few steps away. The style of the resort is also amazing - the historic French Quarter style with cobblestone walkways, Mardi Gras decorations, and beautiful bursting colours is so pretty. And they even have horse-drawn carriages! How cute is that?! 

We stayed in two different rooms during our stay, because we extended our trip after we arrived and our first room wasn't available the entire length of our trip. But we were lucky enough to have both rooms in the 6th building, with a view of the man-made Sassagoula River. Although the rooms don't have balconies, the sights from the windows were GORGEOUS. I'd totally recommend trying to get a riverview room on your stay. It's not guaranteed you'll get one, but hey, it doesn't hurt to ask!

grand floridian

grand floridian

eggs benedict at grand floridian cafe

eggs benedict at grand floridian cafe

THE FOOD

Because we were staying on-property, we took advantage of the restaurants that are available within Walt Disney World - safe to say we were by no means restricted! There are dozens (maybe hundreds?) of restaurants of all types around the World for you to try. We ate a few times at the Sassagoula Floatworks and Food Factory, which is the quick-service on French Quarter property. I actually really enjoyed it! They had quite a different menu than typical quick-services because some of it was Cajun inspired and it was delicious (try the beignets!! you won't regret it).

We also tried out for the first time the Mobile Ordering at D-Luxe Burger in Disney Springs. It was super efficient and so easy to use! All we had to do was place our order on the app beforehand, click a button to let them know we'd arrived, and grab a buzzer at the restaurant to place on our table. We took a seat on the back patio, listened to some live music while we waited, and within minutes, someone was bringing our food over! Sure beats waiting in the massive line to order and wait for food to be made. I'll definitely be using that feature again and I highly recommend trying it! 

And, of course, no trip to Disney would be complete without brunch at the Grand Floridian Cafe! If you know anything about me, you know how much I adore the Grand Floridian resort. I've decided I won't stay there until my wedding (dramatic af, I know) so I've got to get my fix somehow. And that's by having the delicious brunch at the Cafe. I always order the traditional eggs benedict and it's wonderful! 

disney springs

disney springs

MEMORIES

This trip was extremely special for me as we were there to celebrate my twentieth birthday! We spent the evening of my bday at the Magic Kingdom, where we did the Happily Ever After Fireworks Dessert Party. I did the Party last year for the first time with my bf and it was such an incredible experience that we decided to do it again for my bday. The Dessert Party is so much fun - there are a ton of sweets and goodies to try and best of all, you get prime viewing for the fireworks. We had a space of the hub grass to ourselves to just sit down, spread out, and relax while we waited for the fireworks - and even got to stay seated during the show. I'm spoiled forever and now standing during the show like a sardine in the crowds will never be the same!

Birthday outfit -- Top:  GREYLITTLEARROWS on ETSY ; SKIRT:  similiar - forever 21 ; EARS:  SHOPDISNEY

Birthday outfit -- Top: GREYLITTLEARROWS on ETSY; SKIRT: similiar - forever 21; EARS: SHOPDISNEY

Easily one of my favourite moments of the trip, however, was my date night with my boyfriend. The two of us went over to Epcot, as we had a dinner reservation at Les Chefs de France. If you've ever been to Epcot, you've probably walked right past this place. It's that beautiful brasserie at the edge of the France pavilion, with the expansive windows and glistening rooftop. We both ordered the boeuf bourguignon and it was TO DIE FOR!! I've tried this dish before at the International Food and Wine Festival but it was even better in the restaurant. We had a delicious meal with an incredible server (shoutout to Kevin!) and then ended our perfectly romantic evening off with a stroll around the park beneath the sunset! 

yummmm

yummmm

boeuf bourguignon at les chefs de france

boeuf bourguignon at les chefs de france

Sunset over world showcase

Sunset over world showcase

On our first trip to Port Orleans as a couple last year, my bf and I decided to do a little resort hopping to see what the other resorts had to offer. When else will you get the chance to do it? This time, we brought along my parents to join us! We checked out Port Orleans Riverside and my personal fav, Old Key West. Riverside was so so beautiful and I thought it was quite cool how they had two different areas (my bf loved the Alligator Bayou area) but honestly it was too big for me and I can't see myself choosing it over my one true love, French Quarter! Old Key West, on the other hand, is a dream stay of mine. I def want to stay there someday (next summer perhaps?) and think it's just the greatest. I've always had a soft spot for Key West, FL and I think this resort really nails it. 

port orleans riverside

port orleans riverside

Old Key West

Old Key West

And just like that, I'm back to regular life! I can't believe how quickly a week in the parks went by... What will I do without my Must-Do Disney with Stacey?! The post-Disney depression is settling in. But luckily, now I get to look forward to next year's trip! Is a year in advance too early for starting to plan a Disney trip?? Asking for a friend...

port orleans french quarter

port orleans french quarter

Talk to you all very soon! x

Felicia 

Mid-Year Book Freak Out Tag 2018

F1EA9CA3-1418-4863-840C-083EBE361670-1000.jpg

Happy National Book Lovers Day!! x

We're officially into the second half of 2018 folks!! Can you hear my hyperventilation through the computer? How could we possibly be in the latter half of this year? Wasn't it just January? Luckily, August is a pretty good month for me, as it is my birthday month (WOO HOO) and my boyfriend's coming down to Florida so soon! 

I've never done the Mid-Year Book Freak Out tag before, both because I have only just started blogging about books this year and because I'd never heard of it until recently. I love the idea of wrapping up the first half of the year in a post and this seems to be the perfect way to do so!

Best book you've read so far in 2018...

This is a tremendously difficult question to answer. How could I choose just one? Please don't force me to make decisions! Alright, if I had to choose just one, I'd have to say Under Rose-Tainted Skies by Louise Gornall. After my anxiety reared it's ugly head in late 2017, I spent the better part of the first half of 2018 struggling with my mental health, which ultimately left me unable to leave my house for days on end. That's when Under Rose-Tainted Skies entered my life. I completely identified with Norah's struggles in the book; although our mental illnesses aren't quite the same, I was facing a lot of the same problems as her and it made me feel a little less alone!

Best sequel you've read so far in 2018...

I haven't read a single sequel yet this year. Isn't that crazy? I guess with trying to keep up with my reading challenge, I made the executive decision at some point to just keep series out of it - at least for the first bit of the challenge (I do have a hankering to re-read the Harry Potter series...). 

A book you haven't read but want to...

So. Many. Books!! My TBR is getting longer as the year goes on... I'm quite positive that's the exact opposite of what's supposed to happen. Obviously I'm not about to go and list every individual title on my TBR, but one book I'm eager to read is The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo. I've heard really good things about it and can't wait to get to it.

Most anticipated release for the 2nd half of 2018...

What If It's Us!!!! 100%.

Biggest disappointment of 2018...

Where'd You Go, Bernadette. I was really looking forward to reading it after all the high praise but I just didn't like it at all. It was so bummed out.

Biggest surprise of 2018...

Oddly enough, the biggest surprise for me so far was The Alice Network. I mean, usually I can be pulled in by any half-decent historical fiction. But considering I grabbed this one off the shelf with absolutely zero idea what I was going into, I was just expecting an interesting story about the world wars. But it was actually incredible. It was such a powerful story about women and their role in history. 

New favourite author...

Becky Albertalli, Kate Quinn, Louise Gornall, Gail Honeyman... Just to name a few!!

Newest fictional crush...

Hmm... I'd probably have to say Levi from Fangirl or Simon from Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda. They're both adorbs!

Newest favourite character...

Eve Gardiner from The Alice Network. Hands down. She's so fascinating and I loved seeing her go from a somewhat timid young woman to a total badass. 

Book that made you cry...

None so far that I can remember! But I've been reading pretty light-hearted books lately. 

Book that made you happy...

Fangirl! It was so cute, even though Cath went through a bunch of tough things, in the end it was a feel-good read. 

Favourite book to movie adaptation...

Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda, EASILY.

Favourite review you've written...

I don't think there was any one review that I enjoyed writing over the others. I loved all my reviews equally!

Most beautiful book you've bought this year...

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine. It was honestly so amazing. No words can describe how beautiful - and heartbreaking - it was. 

Books you need to read by the end of 2018...

There are so many (I do have 25 books left on my reading challenge). But to name a couple... Dumplin', Little Fires Everywhere, What If It's Us, I'll Give You The Sun, and Bachelor Girl.


I hope you guys enjoyed reading this post!! If anyone can let me know a way to slow down this year, let me know in the comments, haha. 

What are your favourite books of 2018 so far?

Felicia x