My Winter 2018 TBR List

Hi!
Top Ten TuesdayHappy Tuesday! For my American readers, did you have a nice Thanksgiving? One with lots of turkey and parade floats and pie? My own Thanksgiving break was just what I needed: I was able to catch up with friends while we were all home, watch a few seasonal favorites (I’m partial to the original Miracle on 34th Street this time of year), and get ahead on a few assignments before the final push of the semester.

I was also able to scope out the reading landscape of 2018. It’s something I’ve let slide in favor of schoolwork, extracurriculars, and the like, but as a result, I feel sorely out of the loop on what debuts and sequels and other titles are coming out next year! Thankfully, this week’s Top Ten Tuesday prompt – winter TBR lists –  gave me the perfect excuse to browse Goodreads for hours on end. In this case, I’ve limited the new releases of my TBR to the dates of the winter season, so all of the books below will have hit shelves by March 20, if they are not out in bookstores already. What are you hoping to read in the next few months?

And, of course, Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the amazing team of bloggers at The Broke and the Bookish. Head on over to see the posts of others or to write and link a TBR list of your own!

Meet CuteI have yet to find a cuter cover in the slew of 2018 releases than that of Meet Cute, a short story anthology about first instances of love. The brief descriptions already warm my heart: Emery Lord has a story about two girls stuck in an airport, Nina LaCour writes about two girls who bond over customer service and social media, and Julie Murphy reinvents a reality dating show competition in her piece. With contributions from these authors and numerous others, I’m expecting nothing less than a wonderful collection. The perfect read for Valentine’s Day? I sure think so. {Out January 2}

The Nature FixAs I look ahead to the new year and start planning for the coming semester, I’ve really taken to Hurry Slowly, a podcast devoted to mindfulness, productivity, and time management (listen HERE, if you’d like). Tangent aside, one speaker featured on a recent episode was Florence Williams, author of the well-received book The Nature Fix. It’s my nonfiction pick for the winter months, exploring what positive effects nature has on our brains and explaining the modern research that aims to find out. I’m excited to dig in, though I admit: I’ll be reading it indoors. {Already out}

All's Faire in Middle SchoolRoller Girl is a graphic novel done right; its vibrant and relevant illustrations are matched only by the empowering, realistic text. All of this is to say that I will read any release from author Victoria Jamieson, so naturally, her newest book, All’s Faire in Middle School, has landed a spot on my TBR list. Following the narrator’s transition to public school after being homeschooled for years (and growing up with her parents at the Renaissance Faire), it sounds like it strikes a similar balance between humor and heart. I’m hoping to fit this one in before the holidays hit. {Already out}

Being FishkillI haven’t heard much about Ruth Lehrer’s YA debut, Being Fishkill, on the YA circuit, but one look at the synopsis and it seems to have everything I look for in a contemporary: a strong, well-drawn main character, an intriguing plot, and themes of family, love, and the ubiquitous “coming of age.” From a recent review at Forever Literary, Being Fishkill “tackles an array of issues, but gives proper attention and care to each one, creating a multifaceted emotional roller coaster of a story.” When it receives such a glowing endorsement from Emily, I know I’m in for a good read. {Already out}

Foolish HeartsIf there is one author I’m kicking myself for not having checked out yet, it’s YA contemporary writer Emma Mills. I’m determined to remedy the situation this winter break, a task fortunately made all the easier with the release of Foolish Hearts in December. In Mills’ third novel, main character Claudia faces drama, first love, and new friendships as she participates in her school’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. In other words, it’s a book that’s right up my alley. Here’s hoping a library copy will be waiting for me when I return home. {Out December 4}

You Bring the Distance NearI left the Boston Teen Author Book Festival earlier this fall with a number of titles I couldn’t wait to research. Among them? Mitali Perkins’ You Bring the Distance Near, an immersive, relatable story that spans the course of three generations. Family is a recurring theme in the novels I’m choosing this season, but how could I pass up a gem that offers five different characters to speak about their experiences with identity and culture? It took far too long for me to put a copy on hold at the local library, but I think or rather, know, I’ll devour it in days once it comes in. {Already out}

A Taxonomy of LoveI read The Revenge Playbook on a whim a few years ago and absolutely adored it. From its developed cast of characters to its themes of feminism and friendship, the novel proved that Rachael Allen is one heck of an author. My excitement is thus sky-high for her next release, A Taxonomy of Love, a sweet-sounding story that follows protagonist Spencer as he navigates a friendship that has the potential to be something more. (It helps that the novel also champions diversity and sports a stellar cover). Catch me reading this under a blanket and hot cocoa in hand come January. {Out January 9}

The Hazel WoodIf there’s one book I’ve seen praised again and again this winter season, it’s Melissa Albert’s debut The Hazel Wood (One reviewer called it the “most mesmerizing, creepy, and creative stories” she has ever read). As far as I can tell, however, it’s deserving of such hype, inviting readers into the ominous “Hazel Wood” alongside narrator Alice and classmate Ellery through its lush, innovative writing. Though I was cautious to add it my TBR list at first – series weary me and I’m not a fan of high fantasy – this YA novel seems to be neither. In other words? Count me in! {Out January 30}

Long Way DownI’m never not impressed by the rate at which Jason Reynolds releases his novels – he always seems to have a new one hitting shelves! That said, I’m making room in my schedule next month to read his newest book, Long Way Down, released earlier this fall. A novel-in-verse, it is set over sixty seconds in an elevator as the narrator debates taking revenge after the murder of his brother. From previous experience, I know to expect powerful writing and interesting characters, and it sounds like no different of a case here. I’m so excited. {Already out}

Not Now, Not EverFinally, I’m not typically one to award such praise to school-required reads, but I’ll be the first to admit: I adored reading The Importance of Being Earnest last year in English class. The sharp satire had me laughing with each turn of the page! Unfortunately, I hadn’t seen it adapted into a YA narrative, that is, until I came across Lily Anderson’s Not Now, Not Ever, a novel that involves academic decathlons, new identities, science fiction, and heavy doses of humor. What a delight. (And to note: this is a sequel, so include The Only Thing Worse Than Me is You on the TBR list too!). {Already out}

Have a lovely Tuesday!
Bella

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Eye on Art / 19

Hello!

Eye on ArtHappy Tuesday! How is your week coming along? For fellow students, how is your school year so far? On my end, after this month of midterms, production schedules, and the continued transition into college, I’m looking forward to the break Thanksgiving will provide. Brown is starting to feel like a home away from home, but I’ll admit: I’ve been counting down the days until I can see my friends in person and have my favorite Turkey Day dishes (homemade cranberry sauce, anyone?).

This morning, I still have a few readings to attend to, news to catch up on, and a Secret Santa present to plan (!!), but I first wanted to share another edition of Eye on Art. I keep a running list of people I’d like to feature in this series — some of which I add after seeing only one piece of theirs — but the three below are artists I’ve long admired. Whether it’s in the form of books, illustrations, or portraits, they make me want to create all day long! What art have you been crushing on as of late?

Jennifer GriffithsTo start, it’s not often that I see book covers treated as works of art outside of the bookish community. It’s a shame, because I’ve found many a gem in the portfolios of cover designers and art directors. One of my most recent favorites is the work of Penguin Random House designer Jennifer Griffiths, a small sample of which is shown above. Though the genres of the books she designs differ, they are consistent in their display of a strong understanding of type, image, and the ways in which they can intertwine.

I’d say I’d like to have copies of all of the books she designed for my shelves, but to do that would leave the covers unseen. I’ll settle instead for admiring from afar — particularly the cover and interior design of The Dead Husband Project. Isn’t it stunning? (Psst: If you want more thoughts on all things cover design, I suggest The Casual Optimist. The archives are a fun afternoon read!). {website}

Oana BefortI hate to use the term “hygge,” for I fear it’s wrongly being overused, but I can’t think of a better word to describe the artwork of Romanian illustrator Oana Befort. Clearly adept in her use of gouache, watercolor, and a number of other mediums, Befort captures, for me at least, coziness and nostalgia, not to mention the simplistic beauty of the outdoors.

With such a distinct illustrative design, it’s easy to see why Befort is in such high demand as a freelancer; in addition to her editorial and client work, she also has an Etsy shop where her prints are available for purchase. I myself want to buy a few of her pieces for my dorm room gallery wall — I happen to think the bunny or the deer paintings would provide much-needed warmth in the second semester. {website}

Rikki NiehausFinally, I’m never one to turn down a trip to IKEA — even if it’s only through paintings! As the humorous title suggests, the Swedish Landscapes series by artist Rikki Niehaus showcases the interior of the furniture superstore. It’s among her most acclaimed work, and for good reason: it’s a creative commentary on classic portraits and the all-encompassing quality of IKEA stores.

Niehaus’ portfolio, however, is not limited to showcasing suited men in patterned chairs. Her other paintings, which range from a smiling ballerina to a stony-faced and sitting duo, all illustrate her expertise in portraiture; as she writes, Niehaus uses the style to “confront and engage the viewer directly.” If I haven’t made this clear already, choosing a favorite would be a near impossible task — I like them all. {website}

Have the most wonderful Tuesday!
Bella

Currently: October 2017

Hi friends!

How are you? Thank you for sticking with me through this brief hiatus: things have been busy, there’s lots happening in the world, and sometimes, I feel it best to put blogging on the back-burner. To get back into the swing of things now, however, I wanted to share a “Currently” post highlighting what’s made my past few weeks. How is your October coming along?

Fall Television{Clockwise, from top left: The Good PlaceJane the VirginThis is Us, and Brooklyn Nine-Nine}

Watching: Fall Television | To start, there are many things to love about autumn — Halloween, sweater weather, baking with apples and pumpkins, to name just a few — but the best might be the number of television shows that premiere over the fall months. Thanks to Brown’s free recording services, streaming my favorites has been a breeze: episodes of Brooklyn Nine-Nine and The Good Place provide much-needed laughs week after week, the characters of Jane the Virgin and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend are as zany as ever, and the new season of This is Us never fails to melt my heart. Similar to a beloved book or talking with old friends, returning to the same stories and settings each week has proven, however unexpectedly, a help for my homesickness. With that said, what shows have you been enjoying this fall? Any to recommend?

Nicole AtkinsListening: Nicole Atkins | My Spotify account has seen plenty of action over the past several weeks: I have music playing when I neaten my room, while I chip away at my midterm papers, and even as I get ready for bed! I like to create a playlist specific to each month with a variety of artists and genres; my October edition, for example, features “On the Water” from Steve Martin’s new album alongside a few tracks from singer and songwriter Nicole Atkins. I only just came across her work, but Atkins’ career is lengthy, with her first LP coming out in 2007. Her latest album Goodnight Rhonda Lee was released in the summer, but I’ve declared it the soundtrack for my fall semester (particularly songs “Listen Up” and “I Love Living Here (Even When I Don’t)”). Do you have any artists or albums you can’t stop listening to?

Accidental Wes AndersonLoving: Accidentally Wes Anderson | When I went home for Columbus Day weekend, I was eager to see and catch up with my sister, Lulu, but more importantly, I couldn’t wait to resume our tradition of weekly movie nights. The film we ended up choosing? Wes Anderson’s The Royal Tenenbaums, a pick inspired, in part, by my new favorite Instagram account: Accidentally Wes Anderson. Stemming from a Reddit thread of the same name, the account documents locations around the world that match the filmmaker’s famous aesthetic; that is to say, the places are all symmetrical, colorful, and whimsical in some way. I’ve found the posts to be visual goodies that brighten up my feed, and furthermore, they contribute to my ever-growing sense of wanderlust. Certainly worth a peek.

Providence AthenaeumGoing: Providence Athenaeum | I’m a sucker for good libraries, and in my opinion, the Providence Athenaeum is among the very best. Dating back to the mid-1800s, the private library has acquired an impressive collection of new and old titles, all of which are housed in a striking building reminiscent of Greek architecture. The library is only a short walk from my dorm, so I’ve taken to carving out a spot in its reading room during afternoon study sessions. However, with packed bookshelves and cozy lighting in every nook and cranny, I think I could sit anywhere and feel at home. Bookworms and history nuts would do well to check it out. 

Knead Doughnuts{via the Knead Doughnuts Facebook}

Eating: Knead Doughnuts | Similarly, if you’re in the Rhode Island area and haven’t yet checked out Knead Doughnuts, may I suggest a visit this weekend? Though the shop opened up only a year ago, I’d say they’ve grown into a Providence staple — and they happen to be right downtown! After many opportunities for taste-testing, Lulu and I have grown partial to their seasonal and delicious apple cider doughnuts, but the options are plentiful, with everything from a classic glazed vanilla to a more inventive blueberry lemonade. If doughnuts are the new “foodie” trend, I can’t complain; Knead has made me a fan through and through. YUM.

My Lady Jane and My Plain JaneReading: My Lady Jane | If there’s one thing I hope to remedy before the semester ends, it’s increasing my reading time. Between class assignments and extracurricular commitments, I’ve struggled to fit in a few novels without feeling bad over using the time that would otherwise be devoted to schoolwork. It’s a balance I’m sure I will soon find, but in the meantime, I wanted to give attention to one of my favorite reads of the summer: the delightful My Lady Jane by YA veterans Brodi Ashton, Cynthia Hand, and Jodi Meadows. It was one of the last books I read in August, and I’m kicking myself that I didn’t think to pick it up sooner. With a hilarious premise and plot, a strong narrative style, and admirable characters to boot, it’s a winner from beginning to end. If you’ve already read it, can we then admire the cover for the sequel, My Plain Janetogether? June could come sooner.

Melancholy PlayMissing: Melancholy Play | Finally, it’s only been a few days since my first college production closed, but already am I missing my time in rehearsal with the cast and crew! I had the pleasure of assistant stage managing a production of Melancholy Play through one of the many student theater groups here at Brown, and we wrapped up our last performance on Monday evening (You can catch a small glimpse of the rehearsal process HERE, if you’d like). It was a wonderful experience, and I’m grateful to have worked with such a talented and welcoming group of people. Fortunately, with the number of performing arts opportunities on campus, it didn’t take me long to find my next project: being an ASM on the department musical Lives of the Great Poisoners. I’m excited about the weeks ahead.

Here’s to a lovely Friday and an even better weekend!
Bella