Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban | {Book Review}

Which is your favorite Harry Potter book? Is it the Prisoner of Azkaban? Since I first read the series, this was my favorite book out of them all! I give this book 5 stars, even now ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

I highly recommend giving this a reread during the autumn months.

What I remember from my first read of this that had me enamored was the way the magical world was opened up. There were darker players in the mix who were helping Voldemort. Dementors were added to the story, along with some insight into Harry’s past and what happened to his parents. As readers we are also introduced to Hogsmeade and Honeydukes, which balance just enough sweet to the shadowy parts of the story that begin to weave a spookier tone. Of course my favorite part about the book is that Sirius Black is introduced, and he is my all-time favorite Harry Potter character. The kids are also starting to grow up and develop crushes on each other. The threat to Hogwarts and the stability of the Wizarding World becomes greater, and yet the magic of the series is strong and comforting, like coming back home after a long time traveling.

I was given this set of books as a Christmas present from my parents and I love the paperback covers. Please share with me what you love about this series and if this is also your favorite book! Happy reading!

-Heather

Style Diaries: Cottage Core

Shirt: Target | Skirt: Modcloth | Hat: Target

Think of some of the cozy comforts of rural living, like having afternoon tea, enjoying the nature of the countryside, lighting a fire in the cottage hearth, and viewing the stars after a day of hard work. Cottage Core has risen in popularity on sites like Tumblr and Instagram to romanticize those simple pleasures. This classic and comfortable style has also been dubbed “Granda Core” for the grannyish aspects, ones that I have to admit that I love.

Imagine: collecting fruits and vegetables from the garden to prepare in the kitchen, admiring the way your cat stalks through the grass while watching a pair of geese walk by. And journaling, putting all your morning-till dusk days into writing so that you can soak up every aspect of your living in the sunshine.

The kinds of accessories that I enjoy wearing that fit this style are always straw and wicker, which give a very Beatrix Potter vibe. Also old leather belts with classic detailing. This style requires very little jewelry, but when I wear it, I like to go with natural elements, like this bee necklace that was gifted to me. The result is a timeless feel that doesn’t come off as stuffy or chic, just simply comfortable.

The whole point of Cottage Core is that happiness comes from homemade and handmade things. Baking pies from scratch, creating a garden, and making a picnic are great examples of finding the joy in your creations.

It is the satisfaction of picking your ripe tomatoes that you grew yourself, the swelling in your heart when the delicate dusk light falls on your garden just before night comes. And even if your house is full of the clutter and cozy creations that you’ve made, that’s okay! That’s all a part of this style.

Because we are going from summer to fall, I am using earthy tones in these outfits.
Many greens, browns, and neutrals. The colors of nature, the colors of straw and leather. Organic materials are the inspiration.

One part of this celebration of the natural world is animals, whether it be the interaction of pets, farm animals, or wildlife. As Lady Mary Wortley said, “The gentleman falls in love with his dogs and horses, and out of love with everything else.”

I love the mixture of fabrics, like plaid wool skirts, velvet, and the lightness of delicate lace against straw accessories. It reminds me of bundling up picnic blankets and heading to the park, maybe visiting a farm to pet the sheep. To me, some inspiration comes from my family in Scotland, so perhaps you might bring a drink like some Scotch (thought I could not keep it down myself). The countryside is the inspiration, with apples falling from trees and sheep in the fields.

From my journal: “Before the leaves turn and fall, the creatures of the forest will dance in the wood, and I will paint the flowers before they die,
and I will explore the last of the dappled summer sunlight.”

Honestly, it is easy to capture this aesthetic, as you only need to wander with a camera as your friend on adventures. There is magic hiding in the woods and the shelter of the countryside.

Classic prints on light fabrics pair well with quirky jewelry, like my bee necklace.

Looking for inspiration? Here’s some Cottage Core inspired books:
Beatrix Potter: A Life in Nature by Linda Lear
Far From the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy

Here is a playlist that I listen to for Cottage Core vibes: Listen here on Spotify

Shirt: TJMaxx | Skirt: Thrifted | Belt: Target | Bow in hair: J.Crew

Films & Shows:
Pride & Pride & Prejudice (2005)
Alias Grace (2017)
The Last Unicorn (1982)
Far From the Madding Crowd (2015)
Atonement (2007)
Midsommar (2019) (horror)
Miss Potter (2006)

From Alias Grace
Lace dress: Anthropologie | Straw bag: TJMaxx | Hat: Target

This brings me to the end of my first Style Diaries series. I hope it inspires you to roam the countryside to find castles in the wild, soaking in the mist that rolls down from the hills, admiring the faint shape of a fawn’s head over the overgrown bushes. Enjoy mossy rocks that live next to gushing streams. Paint flowers and press ferns so that you will find them years in the future and remember what life felt like at this moment.

Mid Year Book Freak Out Tag

Hello!
Can you imagine that we are already more than half way through the year? This is the second year that I have really been tracking what I read (using Goodreads, follow me here!) and I recently took a look back on the books I finished in 2019. This tag was the perfect way for me to compartmentalize all of my books, so here goes!

BEST BOOK YOU’VE READ SO FAR IN 2019:
The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

I have a whole other review on how I feel about this book, which is in my last blog post. Honestly, I have read a lot of other fantastic books this year, but The Goldfinch really punched me in the face. It’s a hefty read, nearly 800 pages. But I was back in the beautiful mind of Tartt, and it was truly a beautiful story. It was definitely long and wordy, but that is just the way Tartt books go. Highly recommend if you can handle emotional books like this one.

BEST SEQUEL YOU’VE READ SO FAR:
The Wicked King by Holly Black

I practically ran to get this book when I finished The Cruel Prince. How does Holly Black create a fae world that is just so angsty and beautiful and relatable?
I am also giving points to the All The Wrong Questions series by Lemony Snicket. I started reading these and still have to finish, but I love being back in the Snicketverse with a bit of noir thrown in.

NEW RELEASE YOU HAVEN’T READ YET, BUT WANT TO:
Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo

I have heard only good things about this book. And hey, it’s dark academia, so I’m going to totally be in love with it. I’m still debating if I want to buy this when it comes out or attempt to get it from my library. I haven’t read anything by this author before, so I have no idea of the writing style yet.

MOST ANTICIPATED RELEASE FOR THE SECOND HALF OF THE YEAR:
The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern

The Night Circus is my second favorite book, so this was an obvious preorder for me. I have seen raving reviews already, so I can’t wait to get my hands on it.

BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT:
A Death of No Importance by Mariah Fredericks

I had no idea about this series or this author going into reading this, but I put it down without getting half way through. This wasn’t particularly bad, and the writing was actually pretty good. The real problem for me was the story. It was so much like every other murder mystery story that I’ve read, and I got bored.

BIGGEST SURPRISE:
Enchantée by Gita Trelease

I received this book in my Once Upon a Book Club box and was in love with it the entire time that I read it. Also an honorable mention to Fox 8 by George Saunders, which was one of the most unique books that I’ve ever read. I would definitely recommend it for something funny that is simultaneously sobering.

FAVORITE NEW TO YOU OR DEBUT AUTHOR
If We Were Villains by M. L. Rio

I loved this book so much and I am hungry for anything else this author writes. I was so taken with it that I made a wallpaper for my phone inspired by it (above) and I have it shelved with the rest of my dark academia books. Also an honorable mention to Amber & Dusk by Lyra Selene. I rarely read fantasy series, but this one was enchanting and I can’t wait for the sequel.

NEWEST FICTION CRUSH:
Theo Decker from The Goldfinch

Look, I know he’s got issues. He also might be gay, but I love him. Honorable mention to Cardan from The Folk of the Air series, because he is my favorite character. He also has issues, but hey, he’s beautiful.

NEWEST FAVORITE CHARACTER:
Jude Duarte from The Folk of the Air series

Jude is strong, determined, loving, and a series badass. Honorable mention to Hazel from The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black. She is many things that Jude is, and she has red hair like me!

BOOKS THAT MADE YOU CRY:
The Goldfinch

I cried the whole time!

BOOKS THAT MADE YOU HAPPY:
Through the Woods by Emily Carroll

Weird that this made me happy, because it is a graphic novel of short horror stories. But we all know I love horror, and this was just done so well.

FAVORITE BOOK-TO-FILM ADAPTATION:
Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark

All of my childhood dreams came true (thank you, Guillermo del Toro)

MOST BEAUTIFUL BOOK YOU’VE BOUGHT THIS YEAR:
Mary Who Wrote Frankenstein by Linda Bailey, illustrated by Júlia Sardà

Yes, it’s a picture book, but it’s the most beautiful one that I’ve ever purchased. Júlia is one of my favorite illustrators ever. Also, it’s about my girl, my goth icon, Mary Shelley.

WHAT BOOKS DO YOU NEED TO READ BY THE END OF THE YEAR:
Queen of Nothing by Holly Black

I’ve already established that I have to read this immediately as it comes out. The characters will not rest in my mind. That is how powerful Holly Black’s writing is.

Let me know your thoughts on books that you’ve read this year! And please tell me if you’ve read any of the books that I mentioned here. I’m hoping to read many more books before the year is through.
Happy reading!

My Favorite Books of 2019 (so far)

We’re over half-way through the year and man, have I read some books. I’m on my 20th book now! I have a feeling I will reach my 30 book goal by the end of the year. And while I’ve read a lot that I loved, there are a few that take the top spots for me that are really good.

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

Ah, my favorite writer. After The Secret History, everyone told me to read The Goldfinch next. I actually bought this secondhand copy (hence the rip in the cover) and it sat on my shelf for the longest time. I know from experience that you need to be in the right headspace to read Donna Tartt novels, and I wasn’t ready yet.
Until this past week. All the trailers are coming out for the movie and I felt left out, so I started it. And yeah, it’s safe to say that I understand the buzz, because it is one of the best books that I’ve ever read. Does it really get there for me the way that The Secret History did? Not entirely, but that’s mainly because a group of pretentious students at a private New England college who commit murder is just My Thing.
Still, The Goldfinch has blown me away. I cried so often while reading this. The details, the heart-wrenching story, the melancholy! I’m elated that I’ve read it before the movie comes out. I only regret not having read it sooner.

The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami

Oh, what to say about this book. I read it while I was traveling throughout France and The Netherlands, so there is a certain fondness that carries with it. Murakami is one of my idols when it comes to magical realism. He weaves in other realities, magic, and the unbelievable into such relatable realities that you never for a second doubt the writing. This is my second read by him, and I have to say that it’s my favorite.
If I had to compare reading this to anything, it feels more like stepping into someone else live and observing the strange happenings, more than it feels like reading a novel. I often found myself laughing and then teetering on the edge of my seat (which was a train and sometimes a plane and sometimes a bus) to see what happened next.
This is one of those books that everyone talks about reading, and I completely agree that if you haven’t read it yet, you should! The story itself is interwoven with stark realism, dream-like premonitions, interesting characters and an undertone of darkness that comes out at just the right times. I will probably need to read it again to fully absorb everything in this book.

The Deepest Blue by Sarah Beth Durst

As someone who won’t always lean into full fantasy worlds, I was surprised at how much I loved this book. And even more than that, it was set in a tropical setting, which is very unlike my favorite books. There are twists and turns in all the right places, which keeps you hanging onto every word.
An adult fantasy book that is packaged the way this one was (as if it were a Hunger Games type of story) would sometimes turn me away, but I found it to be so original. The thing I liked best were the spirits that threatened the natives of the islands. And because of the lovable characters and action scenes, this is a really easy book to get into and finish quickly.
While there were a few areas that lagged, I was always so curious as to what would happen that I had to pick this up again and finish it. I don’t know how popular the other books are in the series, but I would really consider reading the others if I were looking for another fantasy fix. All around a very enticing story, and one I was surprised to have liked as much as I did!

The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

Here we go with me saying I don’t love fantasy all that much, and yet…This book had me going crazy and still has me going crazy. After reading this I could not stop thinking about it until I quickly read the sequel, The Wicked King. And then I was so crazy over that, I’ve been reading fan fiction religiously until The Queen of Nothing comes out this November.
This has all the kinds of characters you want to see, including: A badass heroine that has problems with emotional intimacy, a pretty far boy who acts Tough by is really Soft, evil princes, gay sisters, etc. I can’t recommend this enough for people who want to get their hearts ripped out by a delicious story, full of action, romance, lies, power, and very nice descriptions of fairy clothing.
I think a few books that I read after this book were actually ruined because I could only think about this series. Seriously, it is that good.

This Little Art by Kate Briggs

Before reading this, I gave literally zero thought to the art of translations. And that may be my fault for not looking into it sooner, but this book really opened by eyes.
As someone who speaks one language (sadly) I found the tangle of art of translations to be fascinating. And yet complicated! Very, very complicated.
I think this is a book that will be enjoyed whether you speak multiple languages or not. It changed the way my brain thought about words and meaning and storytelling.

Enchantée by Gita Trelease

Oh boy, did this hit all the marks. Magic? During the French Revolution? With Marie Antoinette? Rags to riches story? It has it all, folks.
This blends historical fiction and fantasy shockingly well, so much so that you barely thought about the logistics of the magic system and just went along for the ride. There is a clear message about the way the royals of the courts lived versus the common people in Paris, and I’m glad it was incorporated in a way that was accurate but also pushed the story along. The main character is beautiful and strong but very flawed at times, which makes for a relatable storyline. And there are cute French boys! In hot air balloons! You can’t beat that.

Lost Forest by Alexandra Dvornikova

This is a bit of an unusual pick because while it is a story, it reads a lot like a picture book. I ordered this after seeing it on Alexandra’s instagram, mainly because I am so taken with her illustration style. Beautifully bound and bursting with inspiration, this is a special kind of book. And if you like spooky, haunting forests like I do, you will love this.

Girly 1970s

Billowing florals, lace-up bodices, sheer fabrics and all-pink bedrooms. These are the beautiful textures that I associate with spring this year. I like to imagine picking oranges and eating them in my bedroom with the lazy afternoon sun coming through. Picking a handful of daisies and putting them in a vase while a record plays on an old turntable. The modern resurgence of 1970s fashion has come into play the past few years, but lately there are more girly prints and feminine cuts that are appearing for Spring 2019.

(via Pinterest)

Even though it’s Spring, there are a lot of yellows and mustards emerging this season. I think some of this can be inspired by the color palette of the 70s. You can see in the photo above that mixing those colors with brown tones and black is nice and striking. I’m seeing a lot of this in 2019, which is exciting! On the left, the yellow collar on the shirt is pointed down, a style that has been very popular lately.

Just one look at Mulberry’s Spring 2019 Ready-to-Wear show gives you an idea of where these styles are heading.

This is an extremely fun way to incorperate 70s flair in a super feminine way. I love the use of color with such classic shapes.

The use of plaid is evident. Big buffalo checks and smaller houndstooths were seen all through fall and winter, and this is a perfect way to use them in spring. I am a firm believer in check patterns being classic and timeless, but these give an added punch of color.

Using wellies and raincoats in their show gives this a quintessential British vibe. That makes sense, since Mulberry is a British company and they stick to their classic style for the most part. But there are some risks here that are very fun, like the embroidered clear raincoat and platform heels. The shapes of all the jackets read like those from the 70s, bringing the cool retro feel that we’ve been seeing for awhile.

But the most fun part about this is when they added pieces with less structure. The floor-length blue dress screams retro without any collars or large buttons or classic patterns. The ruffle at the neckline that cascades to the floor resembles waves in the ocean. The late jeweled belt hints at a little bit of hippie influence. But best of all are those sheer sleeves, which are absolutely stunning. (See the show here.)

(via Pinterest)

Something that I’ve done in the past and would love to do more of this spring is opaque, colored tights. That might seem like an Autumn trend, but with the colors we’ve been seeing, they could totally look cool for Spring too. Mixed with the plaids and berets, this is perfect for the chilly and rainy days we’ve been experiencing before it warms up all the way.

Hats are a big element to the style. And while it’s still a little cold outside, we can really get away with berets and knitted beanies for awhile! I’m reluctant to jump right into summer clothing because it’s harder to have that vintage aesthetic when it’s so hot outside. Light jackets and interesting tights are a fun way to bring color to the rainy days of spring. And like we’ve seen with Mulberry, the check patterns are getting brightly-colored as well!

Since seeing so much 70s inspiration in the past 5-10 years, we have almost classified it as “classic” when it was not seen that way at first. This is certainly different than when Victorian-inspired clothing was coming out, which was absolutely considered classic. As the years go on, 60s and 70s styles are lumped together as being a “retro aesthetic” and therefore classic. Mixed with modern pieces, I think they look fantastic. I have found my favorite thing to do lately is using brown leather belts, boots and bags to add to the aged look.

(Cheryl Tiegs)

For when the weather gets warmer, 70s style can still come into play with unique shapes. Still, I think this beachy look on Cheryl Tiegs would now be considered classic compared to modern beach wear.

Recommendations:

Books:
1. The Shining by Stephen King
2. Helter Skelter by Vincent Bugliosi & Curt Gentry
3. Ragtime by E. L. Doctorow
4. The Stand by Stephen King
5. The Right Stuff by Tom Wolfe
6. Rosemary’s Baby by Ira Levin
7. Superfudge by Judy Blume

Let me know what you think of this style below!

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The Cruel Prince by Holly Black {Book Review}

“What could I become if I stopped worrying about death, about pain, about anything? If I stopped trying to belong? Instead of being afraid, I could become something to fear.” – Holly Black 🖤

The Cruel Prince
☆☆☆☆☆/5

It has happened. Holly Black has become one of my favorite authors. I think Leigh Bardugo said it best when reviewing this book. “Lush, dangerous, a dark jewel of a book.” Even when I thought I knew what was going to happen to a character in this book, I ended up pleasant surprised and shocked! This is the story of Jude, a mortal living in the High Court of Faerie. She is set on being a knight, even though it is clear the faerie folk she lives amongst do not approve (although there are quite a few surprise with these folk!). When a knew king is crowned, the court is due for change and Jude is trying to make her way and prove her strength in their world. And the magical members of her family have their own struggles and battles that they are dealing with as well. Jude does her best to navigate her way through enemies, lovers, and family members. This book does a fantastic job of keeping you on your toes and questioning everyone’s loyalties. There were so many parts of this book that I did NOT see coming. Holly Black does a beautiful job of writing a fantasy world that is vivid and opulent while being gritty and horrific. Her descriptions are excellent. The characters are complex and flawed while remaining intriguing and even appealing. There are some slow burns for romance in this and enemies-to-lovers which I usually dislike…but not this time. The story is addictive and I think it’s fair to warn that if you start reading this, you will not be able to put it down!

Question for everyone: Do you prefer full-fantasy worlds, or ones where our reality also exists? I like when the human world plays a part in magical stories.

See my Goodreads for other books that I’m loving!

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On Instagram & Online Presence

I wanted to take a moment to write down my thoughts about Instagram, social media, and all sharing online. One of my favorite things to do is take pictures. I love staging photos in my room for Instagram, Tumblr, and my blog here. I also love taking photos of my outfits. I love taking photos of my friends, of places that I travel to, and of my coffee at little cafes.

The downsides of social media are apparent. Just like everyone else, when I’m feeling sad and I browse Instagram, I feel left out and lame. On so many occasions I have told my friends that I didn’t follow someone else because I was embarrassed about my Instagram and what someone would think of me. Every single time, my friends were shocked. They think my Instagram is beautiful! So why do I feel this way? We’ve saturated the internet with our feelings and photos and ideas. But hey, it isn’t always bad.

Sometimes when I look back on my past blog posts or my popular Tumblr posts or my Instagram feed, I feel a sense of happiness from all the good times that I documented. I can’t always keep all my photos stored on my phone, and it comforts me that they all live somewhere, and that I can look back on them when I want to. I can keep forever my trips to Maine in the summer, my travels to Europe with my family, my day trips to the coast with my friends. These things are valuable, don’t get me wrong.

But there are times when I am tired of documenting. There are days when I want to put my phone down. Sometimes I want to experience life without the pressure of capturing it perfectly.

Today I spent a very long (and wonderful) day celebrating my friend’s birthday in Boston with a few of our other friends. And while there were some hiccups (missing buses, almost missing trains, spilling my lemonade all over the Panera floor) I had a wonderful time. I read on the train, walked around Newbury street, ate at a French gelato place, shopped for spring clothes, spent the day with my friend and people that we love dearly, etc. And while I snapped a few pictures here and there of my day, I did not feel like putting any photos on social media at all.

There are days that I spend with friends where I’m in the mood and I update on my Instagram story, or I take my camera to photograph our trip for my blog. Or I’ll bring a film camera and try to get interesting photos of our adventures. But other days, I want to live the day without the need to document. It scares me that there are beautiful moments in my life that when I don’t get a good photo, I ask myself if it was even worth living. Because I wasn’t able to share it with the world, because I wasn’t able to show off that I’d experienced it. That is not a healthy or authentic way to live.

In no way is this bashing social media. It is the bridge of communications that allows our personal expression to connect with those all around the world. It lets us make new friends, contact favorite authors, feel closer to our favorite musicians. But this post is a way to remind myself that even though I didn’t get a photo of my entire day, I still lived it, and it was beautiful. The real parts of life, the happiness of being with friends, the stress of missing a bus, the thrill of spending too much money on new clothes, the sadness of seeing the streets that I walked with someone I once loved, the longing to reach out to strangers in the city. When I took the train back to my car, it was late and the sky was black, and I sat alone while I watched the twinkling of lights through the windows, and I tried to force myself to remember that this is real life, it is not on a screen. All of it was irreplaceable, and that is how I will remember it.