High Five / 05

High Five 05Long time, no see! Though Ciao Bella has been more quiet than usual, my spring break has been all sorts of wonderful, providing ample time for day trips with my family, events with friends, and reading books aplenty. Better yet? This week off has me looking forward to ending the school year on a strong note. I get ahead of myself though – for today, I’ll be studying for my APUSH exam {practice essays galore}, wrapping up Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock’s The Smell of Other People’s Houses {I’m digging it so far}, and sharing yet another High Five. What’s on your Sunday agenda?

[1] My interest in theater – and in particular, stage management – has long been a part of my life, shaping my extracurricular schedule and certainly influencing my college search! It’s a passion I’ll gladly discuss with anyone and everyone if given the chance, so you can only imagine my excitement when an opportunity arose to sit backstage on the national tour of The Wizard of Oz. I was allowed to shadow the stage manager, hopping on headset, watching the monitors, and learning her technical tricks – as someone whose crew work lies only in school auditoriums, I couldn’t ask for a cooler experience. Many thanks to the friendly crew for showing me the ropes and, of course, to my amazing middle school drama teacher for setting it all up. Are you involved in any production at the moment?

[2] I’m incredibly late to the party in just setting up a Spotify account this month, but in my opinion, better late than never! In all truth, I couldn’t have timed it better; after watching Begin Again {starring Keira Knightley and Mark Ruffalo} with my sister and friend, I was happy to find the film’s soundtrack available to listen to as I draft blog posts, prepare for quizzes and tests, and reply to emails. Knightley has a gorgeous voice, and it’s the perfect complement to Adam Levine’s own. To play the favorites game, my most-played tracks include “Lost Stars,” “Like a Fool,” and “Tell Me If You Wanna Go Home,” but that may change once I add in the songs of Once :) Have you seen Begin Again? I’m on an indie kick, so if you have any recommendations, I’d love to hear them.

[3] History nuts and The Mother-Daughter Book Club readers alike will recognize the picture above: it’s a snapshot from the reenactment of the Battle of Lexington, performed annually on the Lexington Green by the Minute Men. It’s been several years since my family had last gone, but with nothing else planned that early in the morning, my dad, sister, and I thought the fun of it would outweigh the 3:30 wake-up call! I’ll be the first to admit that the battle itself is anticlimactic, but what I love most is that it takes what you read about in textbooks and brings it to life. Coupled with my daily playings of the Hamilton soundtrack and my watching of Selma, it’s been one history filled vacation.

[4] My other theater outing of the week was to see a performance of Little Women at my local community theater. I’ve gone there only a few times before, but I love the March sisters too much to miss seeing them on the stage. The show was met with criticism when it hit Broadway in 2005 that I didn’t know what to expect, but I’m delighted to report that the production was incredibly well-done, especially for the venue: a tiny black-box theater! Hearing Meg and Mr. Brooke sing of their engagement, Jo of her publications, Beth and Mr. Laurence in a charming duet, and Amy of her crooked nose has me tempted to revisit the book or, at the very least, watch the film with Winona Ryder another time. Have you read Little Women?

[5] Finally, I caught a showing of The Jungle Book early last week, and I enjoyed it even more than I expected! I’ll admit, I have yet to see a Disney movie I’ve haven’t liked, but I was wholeheartedly impressed with the extensive CGI work and the performance of young actor Neel Sethi. I haven’t watched the cartoon version in ages, so the live-action remake served as a welcome refresher of the story {and the beloved song!}. Furthermore, the lush graphics drew me in from the opening scene to the final credits, which is to say: my eyes never left the screen. Rumor has it a sequel may be in the works, but during the wait, I’d be happy to watch this first film again. What movies have you seen recently?

Have a lovely rest of your weekend!

Do Tell / Bookish Buzzwords


Do TellLook through my Goodreads shelves, and you’ll see few negative reviews. Some may say that such a fact is merely a reflection of my positive personality, but I like to think that it’s because I know myself as a reader: the authors I adore, the genres I enjoy, and the stories I do or will love. With no shortage of books catching my eye and limited time to check them all out, I’ve learned that if there’s any hope of narrowing down my TBR list, it’s helpful have a strong sense of what I like to read about first, rather than go to the library shelves blind.

I haven’t done a Do Tell post in quite a while, but in thinking of discussion topics, I was reminded of Josephine’s wonderful post from the winter, in which she asks: What are your bookish buzzwords? If “buzzwords” brings bees instead of books to mind, never to fear: buzzwords are simply terms or phrases used to describe a novel that make it a personal must-have. Listing them, as I did below, is a fun exercise for any bookworm, even those who think they have their reading tastes set in stone :) What are your bookish buzzwords?

Boarding SchoolsBooks that take place in boarding schools always grab my attention, perhaps because the setting is so unlike my public school district – in other words, I’m on the lookout for an interesting change of scenery! Ivy-covered walls and preppy uniforms are staples of modern-set stories, such as E. Lockhart’s The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau Banks and Andrew Smith’s Winger, but novels set decades, or in The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place‘s case, a century before, share the same set of story elements: strict headmasters, numerous school policies, and long-lasting friendships. In addition, the boarding school stories I’ve read prompt a sense of rebellion in their characters, all the better for someone who likes a bit of mischief or revenge in their plots.

Choir and TheaterHaving participated in so many theatrical productions, I think it’s only natural that I search for mention of the performing arts in my literature too! Finding characters with a similar affection for the theater makes me giddy, and art school settings only add to my excitement. Unfortunately, theater is one of many topics that is underrepresented in YA, so for now, I’ll settle for happily re-reading the books that include it and write of it well: Elizabeth Eulberg’s Take a Bow, about four teens with different musical talents; Raina Telgemeier’s acclaimed graphic novel Drama, which tells of  one crew member’s role in a school production, and Amy Spalding’s The Reece Malcolm List, whose protagonist’s passion for singing is only one of many things I like about it.

Memorable FamiliesI have a soft spot for adorable family-centered stories, no doubt a result of my long-ago-formed love of Jeanne Birdsall’s classic, The Penderwicks. While they aren’t always the most realistic of books in comparison to more gritty contemporary novels, they emphasize the importance of family, no matter the structure, whereas many other middle grade genres resort to leaving parents out of the narrative altogether. Similar books I’ve enjoyed? The Misadventures of the Family Fletcher, Dana Alison Levy’s debut, and The Mother-Daughter Book Club, the first installment in Heather Vogel Frederick’s best-selling series. I’d move to any of the three book’s households in seconds.

Spies and SuchOne of my favorite television programs is Chuck, a show that follows self-proclaimed nerd Chuck Bartowski on missions as a CIA agent. Though Chuck is no longer on the air, my love of spy stories hasn’t seemed to disappear. I’m a sucker for any and all mysteries, but books with spies at the forefront are my favorite; they offer smarts, adventure, and humor all in one package. Ally Carter is one of the most popular authors in this genre for her Gallagher Girl series, but Robin Benway has proven her equal with the 2013 release of Also Known AsWhen it comes to MG novels {I flow between both shelves with pleasure}, Stuart Gibbs’ Spy School and the subsequent books in the series earn my full recommendation.

The 1950s and 60sFinally, set a book in these decades, and you can be certain I’ll want it in my hands come its release. With so much happening both at home and abroad, in society and foreign affairs, in politics and pop culture, the events of the time grab this history nut’s attention, as do the societal trends and consequences of the era. Furthermore, as with any historical fiction, authors must pay close attention to detail and character development – at the very least, then, I’m looking to be immersed in a good book. Among the best of this topic include Countdown by Deborah Wiles, The Notorious Pagan Jones by Nina Berry, and Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley.

Have a terrific Wednesday!

Picture Perfect / 05


Picture PerfectWe could argue for hours on the benefits and disadvantages of our social-media-dominated society, but I think one thing is for certain: the rise of Pinterest, Instagram, and the like has deepened the appreciation for all things visual. It may seem superficial, sure, and I’m biased, I admit, as I adore graphic design, but nevertheless, I love filling my feeds with items pleasing to the eye {in other words: curating images sounds like my type of fun}. With art on the mind and spring in full force, it seemed like an opportune time to share yet another round of Picture Perfect, a feature that fulfills my love of photography and shopping as I group things around a particular photo.

Picture Perfect 05{via}

As the saying goes, April showers bring May flowers; always one to look ahead, I was drawn to the work of James Fitzgerald III in a Kinfolk article from a few years back. Flowers make for gorgeous photographs, and this here was no exception; the vivid palette and garden narrative have me wishing for a trip to the Adelman Peony Gardens in Oregon where the shoot took place. While I won’t be hopping on a plane anytime soon, that didn’t stop me from searching for items that fit the photo’s romantic vibe and the beauty of the pink blooms, ending in a collection with everything from a periwinkle camera to a floral-covered classic. What’s your favorite object of the bunch? :)

Picture Perfect 051 ◊ Literary Tote Bag from Obvious State

2 ◊ Fujifilm Instax Mini 8 Camera in Blue from Amazon

3 ◊ Bear Floral Sketch from Kari Herer

4 ◊ Factory Twill Parka in Coastal Pink from J.Crew Factory

5 ◊ The Age of Adaline from Amazon

6 ◊ Paper Peonies from A Petal Unfolds

7 ◊ The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides from Amazon

Have a lovely Monday!

Psst. Other art-focused posts from the archives: creative Instagram accounts to follow, by far, one of my favorite musical moodboards to make, and a collection of pretty – and free! – fonts.