Book Review: A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

 
A Discovery of Witches
by Deborah  Harkness
592 pages
Available for purchase here

I do love me some witch/vampire love stories. And boy oh boy does A Discovery of Witches deliver

Diana Bishop comes from a distinguished and powerful line of witches, but wants nothing to do with her skill set. Absolutely nothing. She has spent her life denying her powers, focusing on her career as a scholar. But all that changes amongst the stacks of Oxford’s Bodleian Library, where she unwittingly stumbles upon a bewitched alchemical manuscript while doing research. This discovery stirs up the fantasy world, bringing forth daemons, witches and well, one particularly good looking vampire — all interested in finding out more about Ms. Bishop, the only person who can break the spell on the manuscript.

I read this book back in January, began this review and well…just stopped blogging. I feel like I need to post this review even if it’s SUPER late, because the book really was that good. This isn’t your typical romance novel. Harkness does a great job weaving in suspense and mystery, and throws the readers quite a few curve balls with the different mystical elements. I would say the 2nd half of the book whips the floor with the first half, but that’s just because you’ve gotten through all the “setting of the stage” and background and are finally totally immersed in the rich history – and mystery – of the supernatural world.

This book is the first in All Souls Trilogy. The second book is actually out now, but I haven’t read it just yet (soon, soon!) If you enjoy books about magic and forbidden love, I’m telling you – this series is for you!

My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

I’m big time behind on writing book reviews (that’s what happens when you go on a 9 month blogging break!), but if you want to check out the books I have recently read – please become my friend on Good Reads! My username is Ajanelewis. Hope to see you on there!

Book Review: Witches of East End by Melissa de la Cruz

Remember when I said that I was going to start posting book reviews? Well, ladies and gents…here we go!

Witches of East End
by Melissa de la Cruz
272 pages
Available for purchase here
Witches Of East End by Melissa de la Cruz is the first book in a slated series. The novel has a few noteworthy themes: magic, romance (sexy-time!) and mystery. Pretty standard themes for a good story.

The novel follows the lives of two sisters, Ingrid and Freya Beauchamp, and their mother Joanna. The Beauchamp’s are not just regular Long Islanders (yes, my stomping ground) — they are witches, each with their own particular set of powers.  They are banned from using their skills (by the ominous “counsel”), but slowly each woman begins using magic on their own, despite the potential consequences.

Not going to lie, while the book moved quickly and was amusing, I couldn’t help but feel like it fell on the cheesy side. I felt like de la Cruz rushed through the storyline, and you never really got to “know” the characters. More than halfway through the book she began weaving in characters from a previous series of hers (Blue Bloods), while introducing other supernatural forces and tying it with a bizarre Norse Mythology-bow, right at the end. Needless to say, the book teased a lot, but didn’t flesh out much of anything.

The next book in The Beauchamp Family series is slated to come out in June 2012. While this book was certainly not the best thing I have ever read, it was entertaining and a really easy, quick read. Perfect for a summer beach day when you don’t want to concentrate that hard.

My rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars

Oh Hay, 2012!

Happy 2012, everyone! I truly hope you had a wonderful holiday and new year with your loved ones. I sure did!

2011 was hands down the best year of my life. Not only did I spend a great amount of time with my family and friends, but I married the man of my dreams, we got our first place together, and went on a trip of a lifetime.

The highlights of our year include:

Ringing in 2011 aka “Our Wedding Year” with the best of friends in Astoria.

My mother and bridal party threw me a bridal shower in April. I thought I was going to my MIL’s surprise birthday party, so you can only imagine MY surprise. It was a day I’ll never forget.

In May, my bridal party threw me an epic bachelorette party on the Norwegian Gem cruise ship. My best fried who lives in London flew in for the party as a surprise to me. When she tapped me on the shoulder on the deck of the boat I literally almost had a heart attack. Thinking about that day still fills my heart with joy.

At the end of May (talk about waiting until the last minute!) we finally found our dream apartment. We searched, and searched, and searched and finally found the place we knew was perfect for us.

Oh, June 18th. The best day of my life. The day I became Mrs. John Dickerson.

We went on a dream honeymoon to Hawaii. We spent time on Oahu, Maui and Kauai. I wish we were back there right now!

In August I started this blog! It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a long time, but never had the gumption to start. There are days when I still question what the heck I’m doing, and the internal battle of “but I have nothing important to say!” happens on a daily basis, but I’m glad I finally went through with it.

December marked our first Christmas together and it was amazing. I didn’t realize it would be so different now that we were living together and married, but it really was. Different in a great way.

So there ya have it, our 2011 in review. I have to say, the last few months have been really amazing, so I can’t help but think 2012 is going to top this past year.

Yea, I said it. Bring it, 2012!

Santa! I know him!

First off, thank you all for your kind words about my puppy, Lucy. She was 17 when she passed, so she lived a long life and we have so many good memories of her. I really appreciate all your sweet words.

On a happier note, can you believe Christmas Eve is tomorrow?! I love Christmas. I’m pretty much done wrapping (just need two tiny gifts I ordered my mom to arrive and then I’ll be DONE) and the apartment is all decorated.

I realized I never showed you pictures of my kitchen decorated, besides my cookie cutter craft. How rude of me!

Inspired by Pinterest, I put ribbon on my kitchen cabinets and hung our Christmas cards from it. I love how it looks. It’s fun to be able to see all the cards nicely on display.

The other side of the kitchen is our table, which in this picture is all decked out with alcohol for our party. Usually doesn’t so predominately display our love of wine and spirits…

You’ve seen our decorated living room before, but I figured I’d send you a little reminder.

I have to say, I love having the apartment decorated for Christmas! It’s so homey and warm in here. Why can’t we decorate like this all year long?

Hope you all have a WONDERFUL Christmas! I will chat with you all on Monday. xoxo

Heavy Heart

On Friday I found that out my dog wasn’t doing well, and we had to put her to sleep on Monday. Because of that, I haven’t been in the mood to write on the blog. I’m sad, but I feel relieved that she’s no longer in pain.  Truthfully, I selfishly kept hoping she’d start feeling a little better so we wouldn’t have to put her down, but that didn’t happen. By the end of her days, she could barely walk, cried when you even touched her, and was almost completely blind. It was selfish to keep her around just because we were too sad to let her go.

It’s kind of full circle that she passed right before Christmas, as she was a Christmas present to me and my sister. Lucy was a dog with such a personality, she was like a human. I could tell funny “Lucy stories” all day long. Care to know my favorite?

My family is a bunch of runners. When Lucy was about 4 months old, my dad took her to the running trails about two miles from my home. He let Lucy off her leash so she could run around and chase squirrels (she was a hunting dog, after all!) and after a while, he realized Lucy wasn’t with him anymore. He spent two hours walking around the woods, calling her name and whistling. She always answered to “Swinging on a Star.” He finally decided he needed to go home and break it to his daughters that he lost the dog. As he drove home and pulled into the driveway, trying to come up with a story to tell us, he saw Lucy sitting on our front porch…just waiting for him. She just looked at him like, “Where have you been, buddy?”

That was my girl, Lucy.

To help keep the memory alive of my Christmas pup, I bought both my mom and myself a  glass beagle ornament for our tree. I rush delivered them, so fingers crossed the package arrives before Saturday. I hope so, because I’d love to be able to give my mom this on Christmas.

RIP Lucy. You sure were a great dog. We are all going to miss you.

Lucy wearing her "flower girl dress" the morning of my wedding

She really is a funny girl…

When I decided to finally start this blog, I read a lot of “blogging tips.” The most common? Write what you are passionate about.
 
I’ve noticed my blog posts over the last few months have primarily focused on getting my bearings as a newlywed. Making our apartment a home, learning to cook, and even some emotional high’s and low’s. Those things are 100% me.
 
But those things aren’t EVERYTHING I’m passionate about. If you asked any of my friends or family what I could talk all day about, I think the top answer would…reading (or books). 
 
I’m a HUGE book-worm. I constantly say that I don’t just read books, I devour them.  So I’m going to start talking about what I’m reading here, on my blog.
 
Blame it on Disney’s Beauty & the Beast, but I’ve always identified with dreamer Belle and her “nose stuck in a book.” I dream of a house with a library like the one she had in the castle, or one maybe slightly less grand, but still magnificent, like these:

via Houzz

via Pinterest

via Diary of a Renovation

via Jean-Loup Daraux

 

Don’t worry, this isn’t going to become a book blog. But I figured the blog’s called Lewis in Love, so I should post more about the things I really do love, right?

So stay tuned for some fine-tuning around here,  hopefully resulting in a new “What’s on our Shelf?” page.

Because what’s more homey than snuggling up on your couch, in your [perfectly designed, DIY, and blogged about] living room? I can’t think of much.

Quick look at our living room

We’re almost ready for Santa at the Dickerson household!

We finally got our garland up, and I kind of LOVE how it looks over our main window. Can I keep garland up all year long?

We also hung our brand new Pottery Barn stockings. I’m OB-SESSED with them. They were an early Christmas gift from my brother and sister-in-law, and I just think they are the prettiest things ever. I just love how they have an old-school vibe to them. By now, you probably have picked up on my obsession with Pottery Barn, so I’m Pumped (yes, with a capital P) that these bad boys will be a part of our Christmases to come.

I was inspired by this post from The View Along the Way, and added the leftover garland from our window to our television stand. The garland is pretty looking a little pathetic, so I’m hoping to figure out a way to spice it up the way Kelly did. I need to start stealing branches from the outdoors pronto!

And yes…we were watching “Princess Bride” last night.

I forgot to take a wide shot picture of our entire living room, so I’ll have to share that at a later time. With the Christmas tree up, it’s certainly looking [and smelling!] a whole lot more like Christmas!!

Psst — remember my mustard yellow post? Well, we finally started incorporating color in our living room! Did you see the sneak peek in one of the pictures above?

Fa La La La…our Christmas tree!

Well, ho ho ho, our tree is up!

There are few things that my husband puts his “foot down” about. Getting a real Christmas tree was one of them. He grew up with a real tree, as did I, but in the last 5 or so years, my parents switched over to an artificial tree. John was adamant that we have a real one, no if’s and’s or but’s about it.

So we got ourself a 6-foot Frasier tree, and finally got her up and decorated in the apartment.

It’s funny what you learn with your first Christmas tree. Like the fact 400 lights means diddly squat to a tree that’s lush and full. Whoops. Next year we will be buying more.

Another thing we learned is while it seemed like we had a ton of ornaments, our tree literally ate them up. We have so many empty spots just YEARNING for an ornament. John thinks I’m overreacting, since this is our first tree and the whole point is that we have a lifetime together to obtain ornaments that actually mean something to us. And well, I know he’s right…but still.

Being that we are newlyweds, a lot of our ornaments have a marriage or love theme. Lots of heart-shapes, like these love birds…

And whimsical bridal froggies…

My mother bought us this Lenox 2011 bride and groom. Probably the classiest ornament we have on the tree, and it’s definitely a keepsake…

Stemming from a tradition my family keeps, we bought an ornament from our honeymoon in Hawaii. Our plan is to buy an ornament from every vacation or journey we take, so every year our Christmas tree is like a little time capsule. What I love about my parents tree is you can walk up to it, see the 1993 Disney ornament and immediately have a conversation starter. I want that for my family.

Overall, it’s not a bad start us new newlyweds. It’s fun to snuggle on the couch and look at our first-ever Christmas tree. I don’t know about you, but I find something so magical about Christmas.

Psst…did you notice that we bought the Target tree topper I talked about a couple weeks ago? It came in gold and silver, and we snagged the silver option. It’s so pretty with the lights both on and off!

Christmas Party Plans

Man oh man, we have been busy! Our tree is up, Christmas cards out, stockings are hung and the Christmas party planning in full swing!

I promise to share pictures of our holiday decor later in the week, but for now wanted to focus on the task at hand: our first Christmas party. Being that Christmas is both John and mine’s favorite holiday, we decided to start a tradition of hosting a Christmas party the Saturday before the big day. Since we are still in an apartment, our party will start small, but we have big plans of making this a big friends and family party in later years.

So the question I keep asking myself is, what makes a good Christmas party?

There are the obvious :

Music

  • No Christmas party is legit without Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas” blasting throughout the space. Right?

Festive decorations

  • The tree must be up, as well as any other decorations you choose to have. John vetoed the human-sized reindeer that I fell in love with from HomeGoods, so our party will be missing that (unfortunately), but we do have some other fun things up and around the apartment. We even have some presents wrapped under the tree!

Food

  • Now this is the big one. Our menu isn’t set, but I’ve already started making a list of good hors d’oeuvres to place around the apartment. We won’t be serving a meal per say, but I plan on having a ton of finger foods for people to snack on.

So what are my other Christmas party must-have’s?

Mistletoe

  • What would a Christmas party be without some awkward forced kissing situations? Unfortunately for me, I’m having a VERY difficult time finding some mistletoe. I’ve gone to a few places and they have all been out of smooch-inducing plant. I don’t want fake mistletoe, so I’ve held off purchasing any. I’m not giving up, though. I will locate some before Saturday!

Eggnog

  • Ahh, good ol’ eggnog. I don’t really know anyone who actually drinks it (besides my dad) but it WILL be at the party. Maybe I’ll even try it this year and like it. Maybe.

Champagne

  • Call me crazy, but I don’t think any celebration is set without some bubbles. In fact, one of my favorite Christmas drinks is a Mistletoe; champagne with a spash of cranberry juice. Yum!

 

Because no blog post is ever really finished without some photos, I wanted to share some living rooms decked out for Christmas that are totally inspiring:

 

via Better Homes & Gardens

 The ceiling in this space is just divine. Yes, I know that has absolutely nothing to do with Christmas, but it absolutely adds to the rustic Christmas vibe this living room has going on. I even love the mini Charlie Brown tree on the mantle!

via Country Living

The lime green in this space knocks my socks off. Admittedly, I’d probably never decorate with this color. Not because I don’t like it, but because when I think “Christmas” I think red and dark green. But wow, this color really works and is just a little bit unexpected!

via Pottery Barn
 
What doesn’t Pottery Barn do right? This space just screams Christmas cozy. I want nothing more than to be laying on the couch, under that blanket, in front of the fire. A girl can dream, right?
 
via Pinterest
I had to include this room because it’s so FUN! I can’t help but think sometimes people decorate too seriously for Christmas, with no color or well…Christmas spirit. Well, THIS Christmas room is the epitome of fun and festive. I love how whimsical it is.  You KNOW this family is having a jolly Christmas!
 

Do you have any suggestions on how to make a Christmas party great? Would love to know your suggestions! Have a great Monday, all!

 

Happy Birthday, John!

I need to send some BIG birthday wishes out to my wonderful husband, John. Today he turns the big 2-9 and I just want him to know how much I love him and how happy I am to have him in my life.

Happy birthday, babe! I hope all of your birthday wishes come true.

xoxo