Two charming books for fellow dog lovers
Two charming books for fellow dog lovers #booklovers #bookbloggers #lbloggers #puppylove

This post goes out to all my fur mamas. In February of 2014, Penny Gibson adopted us and since then our lives have been significantly enhanced. Her joy for life and food and pets is infectious. Whenever I’m having a challenging day at work I can always count on coming home and being greeted with genuine love and excitement. It is such an amazing feeling. It is because of her, or rather my love for her, that books about dogs seem to affect me quite a lot—i.e. I was not able to get through A Dog’s Purpose. (Have you read that book? I know the movie was a bit controversial but overall most who watched it enjoyed it.) When I think about losing her…I have a hard time seeing what life would be like...thankfully, there are plenty of wonderful stories that paint that reality, in the best possible way, which allow me to see that it will be okay. Life will be different, but okay. Here are two books that have touched me and that have not totally broken my heart in the process.

Two charming books for fellow dog lovers #furmom #puppylove #bookbloggers #booklovers #lbloggers
Two charming books for fellow dog lovers #furmom #puppylove #bookbloggers #booklovers #lbloggers

Little Dog Lost by Marion Dane Bauer

This little book is written in verse. (Here is a sample.) I was not expecting that given that it was an affordable cover buy from BookOutlet.com—one of my favourite sites to buy books I would never otherwise buy. (Be warned, their prices are incredible.) As soon as I received it, I inhaled it and then read it again because it was so sweet, and I think that Penny was getting her teeth cleaned that weekend so it helped me cope. (Not my favourite time of the year.)

The story follows Buddy around on her journey to reconnect with her owner. She is adorable. She is skittish. She reminds me of Penny Gibson. I mean look at her.

Two charming books for fellow dog lovers #furmom #puppylove #bookbloggers #booklovers #lbloggers

I love everything about this book. It is a sweet story. It is written in a sweet lyrical way and I think it is a story any dog owner can enjoy as we all love a good happy ending.  

The Dogs of Christmas by W. Bruce Cameron

This was my introduction to W. Bruce Cameron’s storytelling. Honestly, I do not know very much about him but it is clear that he understands the spirit of a dog lover. He understands that we tend to love hard and have a hard time letting go. I think that his novels are his way of doing us a favour as he attempts to prepare us for the inevitable in a direct yet loving way.

This is a beautiful book and a beautiful story. It follows Josh Michaels who unexpectedly falls in love with Lucy, a very pregnant dog. She is sweet and smart and loving. Josh is going through a challenging time in his life at the time but somehow this little creature provides him with a cure. It is because of her that he meets an amazing woman who helps him navigate the challenges of owning a beautiful pregnant dog and once she gives labour she assists with the puppies. (Here is a sample.)

This is the perfect book for anyone in my shoes; anyone who finds it difficult to envision what it would be like to let go of their furry best friend.  Yes, it was a tough read but it was really therapeutic as well. I will definitly be revisiting this story in the near future. 

What are some of your favorite books about furry friends? 

I hope you enjoyed a loving Mother's Day. 

Two charming books for fellow dog lovers #furmom #puppylove #bookbloggers #booklovers #lbloggers

P.S. This post is not sponsored. 

A blog post to honor three strong literary mother figures
A blog post honoring three literary mother figures #lbloggers #bookbloggers #booklovers #bookishpost #mothersday

Mother’s Day is right around the corner—happy early Mother’s Day to all my loving goddesses! Thank you all so much for your compassion, patience, and love. Because of your dedication, our world is a better place.

In honor of Mother’s Day, I wanted to provide a bit of a spotlight to a few amazing literary mother figures that have touched my heart. When I read/listen to a story, I cannot help but dive head first into a book when I feel a personal connection with a story. As a result, I end up falling in love with characters, thinking about them at unexpected times and somehow making them a part of my life. I know I am not alone in this sentiment as I have watched a lot of BookTube and read blog posts from book bloggers that make similar statements. Today, I am sharing just a few of the characters that have stayed with me, long after finishing their literary journey.

Please note that I have left out a lot of what makes these women especially amazing as that would be giving away big parts of the story. My hope is that my post inspires others to start their journey with these characters or to be reminded of it.

A blog post honoring three literary mother figures #lbloggers #bookbloggers #booklovers #bookishpost #mothersday
A blog post honoring three literary mother figures #lbloggers #bookbloggers #booklovers #bookishpost #mothersday

Abby O’Chanter from Paul Durham’s series The Luck Uglies

Abby O’Chanter is Rye’s mom in Paul Durham’s series The Luck Uglies. She is an amazing enigma. She is the woman I wish I could be. By day she takes on the role of “single” mother of two who runs a shop of random magical artifacts. By night, when needed, she becomes a fearless warrior. She wards off danger with a bow and arrow and, occasionally, with a strategically placed knife aptly named “Fair Warning.” I wrote “single” in quotes because she is completely taken, although her husband seems to always be off on a mission. I think of her as an Army wife—patient, brilliant, fierce. While she is quite a strong character, you do not really get to see her in action in the first book. She takes on a bigger role in the last book of the series, which, by the way, was quite a satisfying book indeed as it provided a lot of action and resolution.

If like me you do not currently have the time to sit down and enjoy a good book, you should look to the audiobook because it is narrated by Fiona Hardingham. Her performances are consistently beautiful and steady in pace.

The Fault In Our Stars by John Green

Mrs. Lancaster from John Green’s The Fault In Our Stars

Mrs. Lancaster is probably the character that most reminds me of my mom. She is relentless, strong, supportive, and nurturing to a fault. Thankfully my own has not had to face the exact struggles Mrs. Lancaster faced, but I could envision her handling the situation similarly. While Mrs. Lancaster has a small part in the book, she made a big impression on me. She somehow guides her family together through great heartache and finds her calling in the process. She is amazing.

The Fault In Our Stars by John Green was the first fiction book that totally blew me away as an audiobook. I was captivated from beginning to end, and let me tell you, given the content of the book I am almost 100% sure that I would never have been able to read it on my own if not for the assistance of Kate Rudd. She was brilliant. Her voice lends itself perfectly to this story. While at times I found the story challenging, Kate Rudd brought a bit of levity when needed. I know I would not have been able to provide myself the same experience.  

If you still have doubts about reading this book, if you have not already, you should watch this interview with Kate Rudd. It is lovely.

A blog post honoring three literary mother figures #lbloggers #bookbloggers #booklovers #bookishpost #mothersday
A blog post honoring three literary mother figures #lbloggers #bookbloggers #booklovers #bookishpost #mothersday

Bronwyn from Juliet Blackwell’s series A Witchcraft Mystery Series

Bronwyn is Lily’s business partner and trusted friend in Juliet Blackwell’s enchanting witchy series A Witchcraft Mystery Series. Bronwyn practices Wicca, a spiritual practice, and because of her beliefs has a distant relationship with her daughter, who is unaccepting of her beliefs. Of course. that broke my heart. Bronwyn is one of the kindest, open and honest characters I have ever had the pleasure to meet. She is loyal, friendly, loving, accepting and patient. She is a grounding force in the series and often provides guidance and knowledge to Lily who has serious family & trust problems. If not for Bronwyn, I think Lily would have found it much more challenging to allow so many wonderful characters into her life.

Again, I highly recommend that you listen to this series on audiobook. Xe Sands lends a bit of mystic and romance to the story I am certain would not be present in my own voice. Whether or not you have listened to one of her performances, I think you might enjoy her narration of The Velveteen Rabbit. It is a soothing, short sweet read.

I have digressed—if you love a magical, clean, and subtly romantic series. I think this series will satisfy your needs.

Who are some of your favorite fictional mother figures? How are you celebrating your mom this year? I will most likely be spending the morning with her as he works from 12 pm to 8 pm. Hopefully, we will enjoy a lovely breakfast at home…if I don’t make a mess of things, of course.

A blog post dedicated to literary moms. #bookish #booklove #bookmoms #motherlylove

P.S. This is not a sponsored post.

How To Take Care Of Your Lovely Brass Jewelry

How to care for your brass jewelry.

Brass jewelry is versatile, affordable and relatively low maintenance. That is why I love it. Second to brass jewelry, I love silver jewelry but unlike brass jewelry, it tends to tarnish quite quickly. Honestly, I do not know of an alloy that does not tarnish but some tend to tarnish more quickly than others and silver is one of those that has caused me heartache over my lifetime. For the price paid for such pieces, I just expect that the tarnishing process would take longer, but it is rarely the case as it simply cannot be helped.  Alas, I have had to learn to work with what I have—and such is the motto of my life.  

If you are a jewelry lover like I am, chances are you have also run into the unavoidable tarnishing problem and have researched different ways of keeping your gems shiny and new. If this is you, I would love to know which process is your favorite.

My two favorite ways of keeping my brass jewelry clean involve 1) cleaning as infrequently as possible with the help of Ziploc Bags and 2) using water and a gentle soap.

How to take care of your lovely brass jewelry #jewelrylovers #fbloggers #lbloggers #cbloggers
How to take care of your lovely brass jewelry #jewelrylovers #fbloggers #lbloggers #cbloggers

Ziploc Bags

It is not a glamorous way of storing my pieces but it sure is effective. Using a Ziploc Bag has been wonderful for my pieces. I especially love tiny little bags as the less my pieces rattle around the more likely they are to stay detangled, and the less space they take up in my jewelry box.

Soap and water

I like to think of this method as a simple tune-up. No soaking. No harsh chemicals. All you do is run a steady stream of water on your piece of jewelry while cleansing with a nonabrasive cloth & dish soap. I personally use Dawn Dish Soap. Once satisfied with the cleanliness of each piece, I use a nonabrasive dry cloth to remove as much of the moisture as possible. If after doing all of the above I still feel grime on the piece I start all over again and repeat until satisfied with the feel of the piece.

How to take care of your lovely brass jewelry #jewelrylovers #lbloggers #cbloggers #accessories
How to take care of your lovely brass jewelry #jewelrylovers #fbloggers #lbloggers #cbloggers

Stronger Cleaning Solutions

The methods above work great for maintenance but sometimes the grime becomes too excessive. This is when I bring out the big guns. The stronger chemicals, but only when things get to an unmanageable level.

I can not stress enough that I only use the following as a last resort as I find that they can be a bit too harsh if used too frequently. The original finish may be compromised and as a result, pieces may end up raw. Raw alloys tend to tarnish faster and once this happens your piece will lose its original aesthetic. Alloys that have been treated have a stronger defense against tarnishing, hence it is important to use the following options as a last resort.

EZ Brite Penny Brite Copper & Brass Cleaner / Polish 7oz by EZ Brite Brands

The first necklace I ever made was made with a combination of copper chain, a magnetic heart clasp, and seed beads. To this day it is my favorite necklace, maybe because it has such sentimental value. Unfortunately, I stored it in a bag that was not locked securely, and it tarnished. I tried soap and water but when I first wore it I could smell the scent of tarnish grime. I turned to Amazon and found that this little gem is quite affordable and highly rated. Most customers complain that when it arrives it is not clean or a full jar. I totally agree with them. When mine arrived, it was wrapped in some bubble wrap which was also covered in the product resulting in a tub that was almost half empty. Yes, I was disappointed with the shipping and handling but the results derived from using the product were amazing! My necklace cleaned right up, and the smell was virtually nonexistent. I used so little that what I had that I have not felt the need to repurchase. I highly recommend this little tub of magic if you are in the market for something effective and affordable.

Lemon Juice

WARNING - Whatever you do, do not soak your jewelry in lemon juice. If you do, expect that you will forever change the appearance of your jewelry.

The best way to use lemon juice is sparingly. Moisten a soft toothbrush with lemon juice and use it to apply the lemon juice to your jewelry. Brush with as much vigor as you see fit but do be careful. The end game is to clean your piece, not change its composition. (Well, at least in this case.) Once you have brushed off as much of the grime as you can, whip it off with a soft cloth dampened with water. Promptly follow this step by drying your piece with a soft dry cloth.

Following this step, I like to smell and tactically inspect my pieces to ensure that there is no lemon juice residue. If I smell lemon juice or feel the presence of it, I again use my soft dampened cloth and again quickly dry it off. I repeat these steps as often as I see fit as the last thing I am looking for is to forever change the appearance of my jewelry pieces.

I hope you found this post useful. It is by no means all-inclusive. These are measures I have used and tested and found to be most effective and cost-efficient.

Again, if you have a favorite method of cleaning your brass jewelry which I did not cover here, please share it with us as we would all love to hear.

Thank you so much for stopping by. I really appreciate your time.  

How to take care of your lovely brass jewelry #jewelrylovers #fbloggers #lbloggers #cbloggers

PS: All of the pieces featured in this post were handmade by me. Some can be found in my shop

PPS: This post is not sponsored. Thank you so much for stopping by. I really appreciate your time.  

Vintage Fashion Inspiration from A Powerful Witch
Vintage Fashion Inspiration from A Powerful Witch #booklove #booklovers #bookish #fbloggers #fashionista

Have you heard of Juliette Blackwell’s A Witchcraft Mysteries Series? It has become my newest obsession! This series inspires me to be a better person as well as to be more adventurous with my wardrobe, hence my OOTD.

A Witchcraft Mystery Series by Juliet Blackwell

Calling on Lily Ivory - a post inspired by Juliet Blackwell's Witchcraft Mysteries Series #booklove #booklovers #bookish #fbloggers #fashionista

This is such an addicting series. It offers a bit of magic, a lovely leading lady, a diverse cast of characters – including one adorable pot belly pig – and it often focuses on the importance of friendship. There is also a bit of romance, but that really is not a main focus in the series. It has added to the storyline and helped us understand Lily, our heroine, a lot better as her story is told in flashbacks. I have yet to finish the series. There are now, as of April 2018, nine books in the series and I have read four of them.

#BookTalk - A Witchcraft Mystery Series Jul#bookbloggers #booklove #audiobooks #bookishpost
Calling on Lily Ivory - a post inspired by Juliet Blackwell's Witchcraft Mysteries Series #booklove #booklovers #bookish #fbloggers #fashionista
Calling on Lily Ivory - a post inspired by Juliet Blackwell's Witchcraft Mysteries Series #booklove #booklovers #bookish #fbloggers #fashionista
Vintage Fashion Inspiration from A Powerful Witch #booklove #booklovers #bookish #fbloggers #fashionista

Things that I love about this series:

·        No time jumps from book to book – at least not as of book four.

My problem with time jumps is that I feel like I have missed out on crucial parts of my favorite character’s story. If I am invested in a series, chances are I’m going to seek out the next book right away because I do not want to forget anything or lose the spark. However, if the next book has a time jump then I kind of feel like the spark is lost.

·        Aunt Cora’s Closet

Lily has a love for vintage dresses. She sells them and often wears them, and I feel inspired.  I love the description of her outfits and I love that her shoe of choice is a pair of Keds because fashion need not be uncomfortable– a woman after my own heart. Of course, many of her outfits are procured from the inventory in Aunt Cora’s Closet. (What a dream to own a successful vintage clothing store and also wear its treasures…)

Aunt Cora’s Closet is a place I would like to visit. It seems like the perfect setting to wind down with friends and explore racks of beautiful clothes. Oh yeah – and if I’m in need of some herbs or a talisman these too would be available. Unfortunately, no such place exists. I’ve looked. It is totally fictional.

·        Oscar.

Oscar is Lily’s gargoyle/potbelly pig familiar. He may not be the voice of reason but he sure is adorable and funny.

·        The cast.

The cast of characters is wonderfully diverse. It is made up of believers and skeptics as well as people from all walks of life. All together they add a sense of familiarity to the story, which keeps me coming back to the series.

·        The atmospheric setting.

The series takes place in San Francisco – one of my favorite places to visit. It is colorful and lively and oozing with magic IRL. I literally can not imagine a better setting for this series.

·        Magic and how it is explained and described.  

Do you believe in magic? I do. However, I am not an expert on the subject and explanations and descriptions of what is going one are greatly appreciated. Maybe one day I will pick up a book on the lore of witchcraft as I think it would benefit my enjoyment of fictitious books about witches.

·        The theme of self-acceptance.

Lily identifies as an outsider; hence, she finds it hard to enter new relationships with muggles. While she now embraces her talents, that was not always the case and a lot of her progress has to do with the theme of self-acceptance.

Witch or not, I think we can all relate, to some degree, to the feeling of being misunderstood. Some may try to fight it and blend in while others embrace their differences and do their thing regardless of an outsider’s perspective.  

·        It’s not too deep.

The series deals with some serious issues, tangibly. I really appreciate that as I often feel beat up by books that dive in head first. I know that such books are meant to educate but where is the line between educating and overdoing it? I think that it all depends on what the writer wants to accomplish and what the reader expects from a book. I expect to learn while being entertained and this series has not disappointed.

·        Xe Sands narrates the whole series.

If you are an audiobook addict, then you probably have a set of favorite narrators. Is Xe is one of them? If not, please let me know why she has not made it to your list and please share some of your favorite narrators. I love Xe Sands as a narrator. Her voice is soothing as well as animated which I can not say of many other narrators – even those on my favorites list. The series is mysterious as well as magical hence her voice lends itself well to creating the perfect setting.

Do you have any witchy book recommendations? I, seriously, can not get enough these days.

Vintage Fashion Inspiration from A Powerful Witch #booklove #booklovers #bookish #fbloggers #fashionista
Calling on Lily Ivory - a post inspired by Juliet Blackwell's Witchcraft Mysteries Series #booklove #booklovers #bookish #fbloggers #fashionista
Vintage Fashion Inspiration from A Powerful Witch #booklove #booklovers #bookish #fbloggers #fashionista
Vintage Fashion Inspiration from A Powerful Witch #booklove #booklovers #bookish #fbloggers #fashionista

P.S. My dress is from Modcloth. My shoes are from Convers, and my necklace and bracelet – which is actually a necklace styled as a bracelet –  are both from my Starry Night collection. They are the Shooting Star Choker & the Star Necklace – Ribbon or No Ribbon.

Calling on Lily Ivory - a post inspired by Juliet Blackwell's Witchcraft Mysteries Series #booklove #booklovers #bookish #fbloggers #fashionista (60).JPG

P.P.S. This post is not sponsored.

Narrators - they make or break an audiobook
The thing about audiobooks... #bookbloggers #booklove #audiobooks #bookishpost

What makes a good audiobook? A great story? A great narrator? Both? Yes! All of the above.

The thing about audiobooks is that you give up control of your experience of the book to a narrator. This can often be a good thing because a skilled narrator can exponentially enhance your experience of the book, especially when you find it hard to sit down and read fully engrossed. Lately, I’ve found myself in that camp. I find that my mind wanders and I am left reading unintelligibly. I catch myself and read the same page over until I feel caught up. Thank goodness for audiobooks and for Audible’s Romance Package as together they allow me to find inspiration in books and beautiful stories more readily than I otherwise would. Unfortunately, not all narrators enhance the reading experience. That is what this post is about.

I listened to The Price Guide To The Occult by Lesyle Walton, a story about a reluctant powerful young witch, Nor, who has a bit of a dysfunctional family. I really enjoyed it, but I do not love it and it has everything to do with the narrator, Whitney Dykhouse,  and very little to do with the story. Please note that I am not, not a fan of the narrator. Her talent is palpable when it comes to her delivery of side characters. I am not sure why she was asked or chose to deliver Nor’s parts in a subdued melancholic way, but she does and that, to me, was distracting because Nor’s voice makes up most of the story. If I concentrate hard enough on the words, I love the story. It is atmospheric and engrossing – but only when I concentrate hard enough on the words and that is unfortunate because one should complement or enhance the other. I ultimately rated this book 4/5 stars taking off one star due to the narration because I cannot separate the two.

The thing about audiobooks... #bookbloggers #booklove #audiobooks #bookishpost

While Whitney’s performance was a bit subdued Jim Dale’s performance can be a bit too colorful.

Jim Dale is a wonderful narrator. His performances tend to be colorful, charming and addicting, however, sometimes I find his delivery distracting. This is especially true when I am listening to a story for the first time. The amount of flourish that he inserts in his performance detracts from a story. That was my experience of his reading of Peter Pan. I ended up choosing a different narrator and coming back to listen to his performance just for fun. It was so much better for me this way.

Narrators that get it just right.

The thing about audiobooks... #bookbloggers #booklove #audiobooks #bookishpost

I will not shy away from listening to more books narrated by Whitney as I’m anxious to find new talent to follow given that I tend to gravitate to my handful of favorite narrators – Xe Sands, Kate Rudd, Fiona Hardingham, Jennifer Ikeda, Davina Porter, and (my queen) Katherine Kellgren. These women are incredible! They have made me fall in love with stories I knew nothing about previously – and that is amazing!

What do they get right that others don’t? They brighten up stories they perform without distraction. It is as if the characters come alive and you sort of forget that someone else is carrying you along. That is why memoirs narrated by the author are consistently perfect and enjoyable.

Who are some of your favorite narrators?

The thing about audiobooks... #bookbloggers #booklove #audiobooks #bookishpost
Life lessons from my mom
Life lessons from my mom #lbloggers #cbloggers #fbloggers #lifelessons #funtimes

March is National Women’s History Month and so I thought it was due time to put fingers to keyboard and share a little bit about the most influential woman in my life, my mom. On a day to day basis I think about her at least three times a day. I think about what she would tell me about my outfit, because she always has something colorful to say. I think about how grateful I should be for being able to go and visit her at moment’s notice as we both live in the same state but somehow, I only manage to visit every other week. When I think about my failures I can also always count on my mom’s wisdom to bring me back to reality and see that life is not as bad as I am making it out to be, especially since there is always great food to eat – i.e. Kraft mac and cheese or chiles rellenos.

Life lessons from my mom #bloggers #pbloggers #lessonslearned #specialmoments
Lessons Learned From My Mom #lbloggers #fbloggers #cbloggers #lifelessons #nationalwomenshistory.jpg

A few more lessons from my mom:

If you get a C+, you are above average.

As much as I want to an A student, I’ve always been more of an mostly A’s, some B’s and an occasional C student. Those occasional C’s really hit me hard. I remember crying uncontrollably over getting a C+ in a biology class. In hind sight, I think my reaction was incredibly petty. My mom on the other hand, was so sweet and supportive. She held my hand – her signature move – and said, “My love, this class does not define you. On the up side, it does prove that you’re above average.” I did not laugh at the time, but thinking back, I can’t help but smile.

Being fashionable is relative.

In my teens I went through a phase where I wanted to look like a chola, then in my early 20s I went through a phase where I wanted to look like I lived in the 50’s. Through it all, she was supportive. She loved a lot of what I wore, but whenever I went overboard she would call me out. She appreciated my fashion choices as fashion is relative. If you wear it with confidence, it is sure to suit you.

It’s okay if you have a messy house.

Growing up, our home was rarely clean. Both mom and dad worked all day and the only time our home would see the broom would be during the weekend. It was an all hands on deck deal. It was not my favorite thing to do, but given that she was rarely hard on us about the state of the house we all pitched in.

Now that I’ve grown up, I realize that our home must have been such a mess as it got closer to the weekend. We, as kids, rarely picked up after ourselves and made great use of all the toys we had so I can just imagine how frustrating it must have been for my mom. She now tells me that she did not mind very much as it was symbolic of a happy family. I appreciate that very much, as it means we got away with a lot, but I do think having a messy home stressed her out a bit at times.

It’s okay if you aren’t currently fulfilled with your day job, just be grateful for it and work towards the job you want.

Most of my life, I have held jobs that pay the bills and so has my mom. While I am grateful that I can pay my bills, I do get down at times that I do not feel utterly fulfilled. If I am having an especially hard time, I’ll talk to her and of course she’ll make me feel better and advise to continue to be grateful for my day job. It is because of it that I can pursue my life’s ambition and that is awesome. I love her so much for giving me such reality checks as I desperately need them at times.  

Just let it out…you’ll feel better for it.

Need I say more?

What are some lessons you’ve learned from an influential lady in your life?