Saturday, August 20, 2011

weekend roundup.

Listening To: Honey Come Home by Elenowen

Hey party animals! As I finish typing this post, I'm sure you're out having a wild rumpus somewhere. I mean, it is Saturday and all. Today is a day I usually set aside for drinking lots of coffee and eating lunch with my mom and watching Say Yes to the Dress with my dog.
But this weekend I'm off to a birthday tea for a very dear friend. She said not to be intimidated by the fussy-frilly images a "tea" might bring to mind. She said we can wear whatever we want so I've decided to take my inspiration from The Mad Hatter. The Johnny Depp version. 

It is a tea, after all.

Also, I'm going to finish reading Victoria Schwab's The Near Witch.

Might I gush over The Near Witch for a moment?

The Near Witch is so good and so beautifully written. And even though I keep stopping to re-read all The Gorgeous, because I'm nerdy that way, I cannot allow myself more than two re-reads. Because the suspense is getting to me. I kind of need to figure it out what happens NOW. Most of the time, I read the end of a book before I read the beginning. I know most readers and writers consider this blasphemy, but that's just how I roll. Knowing the ending doesn't ruin the story for me.

But I did not read ahead on The Near Witch. I'm truly trying to figure this thing out as I go.

The mystery is packed so tightly into this book that I'm jumpy over it. Way jumpy.

Jumpy like: I put toast in the toaster and, while the toasting commences, I think about The Near Witch. I think about Lexi and Cole running through the woods and hiding because they hear something and I think about what the heck is under the plot of grassless ground in Dreska's garden?! and how suddenly the dark gets so dark that Cole and Lexi can't see each other and then there are voices, creepy little kid voices, and then

.... BAM!!!! ... the toast pops out of the toaster and I jump and yell "shoot!"* and spill my tea. And Biscuit wags her tail.

Did I mention that the book is a bit creepy? Because it definitely is (though not in a gory way at all) (which is almost scarier, don't you think? When a writer trusts a reader enough to let you use your own imagination?). The book is kinda creepy and definitely gorgeous. Creepy-gorgeous is one of my favorite pairings. The book is a fairy-tale and a love story, though I hesitate to call it either because, I don't want you to think glitter tumbles loose from the pages when you turn them. Lexi is not frilly. Lexi, the protag in The Near Witch, wears a skirt and boots and she can track better than all the boys. She's doing the saving too; not waiting for a boy to save her. I am always down for a heroine like that. And there is some kissing too, and the kissing parts are pretty darn sweet.

If you're in need of a good read, go buy The Near Witch this weekend and then holler when you're finished reading. I would love to hear your favorite part!

A note about the cover: I'm not crazy about face covers. But that's just because I'm me. Apparently, lots of people dig them because I see bunches of them in YA. So, again, this is just my own weird thing - but I don't think the tone of story matches the cover image here. I would have pictured the cover more like this or this. Both of those technically do have faces, but the face is not so in-my-face. You savvy? The Near Witch is so atmospheric - so much about the wind and the moors and the woods. And Lexi is such a part of the world she's in; she knows the moors by heart because she's tracked all over them with her father. (That's one of my favorite things about the novel; that Lexi discovers so much about a place she thought she knew.) The setting feels like another character in this story. And there is some setting-stuff on the back cover. So, like I said, that's just my silly opinion. The cover is cool as it is and, even if it was a bad cover, even if it was, like, an aardvark wearing a party hat, the amazingness of the story would still be completely in tact.

I was able to attend Victoria Schwab's book signing in Knoxville (part of the Ash2Nash tour, which was 100% fab). I had planned to get my book signed (odds were in my favor ... considering it was ... a book signing) and tell Victoria that I liked her blog and that I'd been stoked about The Near Witch ever since I first read about it way back when.

I think I mumbled something like, "I like .... blogs." And I never made eye-contact when I said this and I never said anything else. I mostly stared at the floor. And twitched. Because sometimes I get so awkwardly weird and shy when I meet writer-types. But Victoria was super sweet and she signed my book even though I'm twitchy. She also had some wonderful things to say to the masses that day about writing (not just about writing TNW but about the craft of writing in general). Also, she loves cake pops and narwhals. You'll adore her and you'll adore her book. You can visit her blog here.

Some more of my favorite finds this week:

* This IRONSON dress from JC Penney. It is way, way too cute. I'm talking Anthropologie cute. Sadly, the dress looked like a very chic sack when I tried it on. I don't have curves (... in the right places) so the fit was wonky on me. Dresses that cinch like that never do much for my body. (I'm extremely picky-specific about fit and proportion.) I had hoped to buy the Ronson dress for this weekend's tea shabang but it didn't work out. But maybe it will work out for you. (That picture doesn't do it justice. Trust.) (Note: the dress I am wearing this weekend is sassy and cute, so I'm not distressed.)

* These Steve Maddens. I would wear boots all year long if a.) the weather permitted and b.) I could 
afford them. Ashley has an entire board just for boots on Pinterest. This is one of many reasons she's awesome.

* This is a recipe for mint chocolate chip cookies. My heart cannot take it. Mint + Chocolate = ♥ (And the cookies are green!)

* I'm crazy about Jazmin Berakha's embroideed art. I've never seen embroidery like this before. They're all gorgeous. This one is my favorite. I wish I had it on my wall. (It is currently the background on my computer):

* Jenny B. Jones knew about the secret Starbucks menu before I did (... how did I not know of this?!). And yet ... I don't know that any of these sound so tasty. Personal Style and Personal Java are similar to me in this way: I don't like too many accessories. When it comes to style, I've never been into jewelry. I wear one or two pieces, if any, and that's it. I don't like to muddle up the flavor of coffee too much either. This is odd, considering I have a mad-crazy sweet tooth. But when it comes to coffee, I still want to taste the coffee part. Have you tried any of these drinks? Am I missing out?

* I loved reading about how Emily Cummins is re-thinking the concept of church. She writes, "I'm over stained-glass windows and pretty decor. I'm done with nifty little slogans and perfect church signs. I want something real; something raw and imperfect."

* I adore Katie's pictures of France. Sadly for Katie, I'm going to one-up her snazzy Paris pics next week when I show you pictures of ... my visit to the Goonies Museum. Paris Shmaris! I got the rich stuff! ; )

* Really enjoyed this article about Kjerstin Gruys, who has decided not to look in a mirror for an entire year (including the day of her wedding). Kjerstin says she's hopeful a year without her mirror will help her gain some self-esteem (or maybe just remember where true worth comes from, etc.). I think that's super interesting and I hope there are some periodic updates. The article says she took some lessons so she could learn to apply her makeup without looking. Which reminded me of the scene from Friends when Rachel was hurt and Ross did her makeup for her. Heh. :) Do you think you could go a year without a mirror? (Do you think you could do your makeup without looking?)

* I don't know if this is legit but I hope it is. Because it is fantastic:
* This is also fantastic but for all the wrong reasons:

I can't get over their faces. How crazy is his face?!

* I'm listening to Elenowen this morning. Do you remember how I wrote about Elenowen forever ago? Back when Sarah and I saw them open for Sara Watkins? And then Blake Shelton picked them for his team on ... that show? (I only watched the Elenowen clips online.) Even though they didn't win, this blog remains staunchly Team Elenowen. And Sarah and I remain all, "We told you they were going to be big!" I like them so much. I like their sound and their style and how their songs weave back and forth between hope and heartbreak and hope again. I can't wait until they win their first Grammy. Because then we can all be like, "Pffft. Please. We've been listening to Elenowen forever." Could these two possibly be any cuter?

Would love to hear about your weekend adventures down in the comments! Hope you have the sweetest of summer days :)

* ish.


  1. 1) I want the Near Witch sooo badly. But, a) my library does not own it, and b) my job (YES! I have a JOB) doesn't pay very much.

    2) Boots are the best. I'm never going to Europe again, regardless of the season, without my leather boots.

    3) That embroidered art is so gorgeous.

    4) Secret Starbucks? I must try this out! I agree about not letting the sweet overwhelm the flavor. The only time I drink anything but straight-up black coffee is when I'm at, say, Starbucks. I'm already getting excited about the Pumpkin Lattes. :)

    5) ahhh my photos! But, yes, the Goonies Museum is to Paris what MINT chocolate chip cookies are the regular chocolate chip cookies. You win this one, Natalie ;)

    6) That's a really interesting article. I wonder how long I would last without a mirror...

    7) It is very legit! Tom Felton is funny on Twitter. He's my favorite. :)

    8) Oh. My. Goodness. Will's face! This is priceless.

  2. that book sounds intriguing.
    i've always wanted to go to paris, but you're right, the goonies, the rich stuff, WAY cooler, one can see pics of paris any day.
    i LOVE Tom Felton, LOVE.

  3. Green mint cookies! Oh my goodness. Please tell me that means they somehow count as a vegetable.

    There is no way that I could go a year without looking in a mirror, but I think it's a fantastic (though potentially tricky) idea. Honestly, though I do struggle with self-esteem, I don't spend a lot of time in front of the mirror. I don't wear makeup so that probably helps cut back mirror time. :)

    Tom Felton is awesome. He seems like such a genuinely nice and funny guy.

    The faces of the Will and Kate dolls are so creepy! Hers looks like a different shade than the rest of her skin, and he has Griphook's eyes and nose.


  4. Adding 'The Near Witch' to my goodreads list now! Thanks for the addition, Natalie! =)

    Today I am writing about seeing beauty in the little things, and where we have been planted at by Christ on my blog. I'm listening to Jenny & Tyler and JJ Heller. Then it's off to work at the bookstore for me (love working at Family Christian Stores!)

    Also, I just wanted to say that THIS random girl L O V E S your info packed long and beautifully ranty blog posts!! =)))

    Hope you have fun at the tea party!

  5. Elenowen may be my new love thanks to you.

  6. You just might be five shades of adorable.

    If it makes you feel better, I have those toaster moments while thinking about plot, too :p

    ~Victoria (Schwab)

  7. Ooh a tea party birthday! That sounds wonderful. You should post a picture of your dress, I'm sure it's lovely!

    My weekend has been pretty boring. I'm still doing summer reading for school (which starts THIS Monday :( ) because I started late with moving and all. So I spent a good chunk of my weekend reading and then I had to take a practice PSAT test all morning. Not fun.

    Oh well. Next weekend will be better. :)

    PS You need to write about The Help! I want to read your thoughts on it. I absolutely loved it. And the book was so amazing too. I loved how the characters just come alive!

    PSS oh and I read this poem and I immediately thought of you!

  8. Katie, your profile picture is so pretty! So iconic looking! And I'm with you on all of this. Except I'm still not woman enough to drink black coffee. Even though I like the kick, I still dilute so much of the actual flavor :) And FYI - your Paris pictures trump everything I put on this blog. But I agree that Goonies is a different kind of wonderful. I can verify that The Near Witch is a wonderful and worthwhile purchase!

    LF ... I'm gathering that Tom Felton knows how to bring the funny. That one straight up made me laugh! :) You'll love the Goonies tour. It did not disappoint.

    Kristin - GRIPHOOK! That's it! I was trying to place where I'd seen that face before. At first, I thought it just sort of looked like a creepy puppet. But it's definitely goblin-esc. Good call.

    Thanks for the compliment, Sarah! I love your music mix. JJ Heller's music puts my heart in a good place. I usually go for a walk in the afternoon and I have an entire JJ Heller station on Pandora that I listen to. She makes my heart wander in a good way. :) I hope you had a fab day at work!

    Emmy - Woo to the Hoo! :) I didn't watch The Voice much b/c they didn't do original songs on there. When they do their own songs, they are out of this world. They do covers great too, but the songwriting and the vocals together is, in my opinion, what makes them so special. I can't get enough of their sound.

    Victoria - gracious sakes. Thanks so much for stopping by the blog. And thanks for writing such a lovely book. It is keeping me in perpetual state of freak-out. :) I can't wait to read more of your work!

    Courtney - I'll try to gather up my thoughts on The Help soon! Mostly, I want to write about it so I can hear what y'all thought about it. That book and movie is amazing when it comes to the discussion (positive and negative) that it generates. I thought the film was really special - not just the film itself but the experience of seeing it. I haven't seen a more visceral reaction in a theater in a very long time.

  9. I'm putting The Near Witch on my reading list. It sounds fabulous. p.s. Ever since you talked about Matched on here forever ago, I've been wanting to read the book. I only just got it from the library today and am so excited to start reading it!

    That I<3Ronson dress is super cute! I know what you mean with the not fitting though - I'm 5'1" and have a short torso and the day I find a dress with a neckline that hits me properly will probably be one of my lifelong favorites.

    Haha, that Tom Felton tweet is hilarious.

    My weekend has been very slow - a friend came over yesterday and we hung out and organized the apartment I just moved into. Another friend came over today and we ate pizza and watched TV. Other than that I've just been reading and dashing out to the library in a thunderstorm. It was an adventure; that's for sure!

  10. Elenowen opened for one of my favorite bands last night - The Vespers. Check them OUT!! (Noisetrade!)

  11. i love jj heller too and...he does look like griphook, eww.

  12. Definitely going to find a copy of The Near Witch soon after such a compelling recommendation.

    I was Team Elenowen while they were on the show. And I echo the other commenter who recommended The Vespers- they are electric performers, definitely going places.

    This past weekend friends and I explored the Eastside of Nashville, which was great fun. I hadn't spent much time there previously. We found our new favorite restaurant: The Silly Goose. Also worked on a few projects as my laptop caught a virus on Friday ensuring that I could not work on my WIP as usual. Laptop is now back in my possession, thankfully.