Introducing Books and Pixels!

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Hi friends!

I’m writing to announce, if you haven’t noticed already, that I have finally changed my domain name for my book blog! Ink Keys & Other Things is now Books and Pixels, which I think is name that much better suits what I blog about here on this website: books, writing, and my studies of all things digital (i.e. stuff made of pixels).

This is something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time, but my old domain name expiring this month really put the pressure on to finally address this issue today. Also, I’ve wanted to make sure to end 2016 with a bang and for me that meant revamping my blog, so I’m also on the lookout for a new blog theme.

Nothing else will really be changing here, except that hopefully I will become a bit more active with posting and interacting online. The semester is almost over and I will have all of December to plan and create and hopefully I will be able to share new things that you find exciting and useful. So that this happens, I’ll probably be creating a poll this weekend I can insert here on the blog so that you can vote for what you most want to see more of on this blog.

Blog Giveaway

In celebration of my blog rejuvenation, I want to host my first blog giveaway at the end of the month as a way to say thanks! I also hope it will get word of my blog out there and help new followers who might like my the content of my blog find it.

I never thought I would do a giveaway, because they always seem so insincere and purely motivated by the desire to hype a so-so book or the so-so blog that hosts it. So I want to really make this giveaway personal to me, the books I like, and the kinds of people who I think will really like my blog. Therefore, I think I’m going to personally select the books that will be in the giveaway and select entry methods that make sure the winner is someone who will hopefully truly appreciate the grand prize.

Expect more on this giveaway at the end of the month probably around Thanksgiving Break. There is one specific book I already know I’d like to be in the giveaway that debuts at the end of the month (hint, hint) and I really hope the winner of the giveaway is as big a fan of this book’s series as I am!

End Note

I hope you’re as excited as I am about the future of this blog. I will have another post out tomorrow about how I’ve been doing on the first week of NaNoWriMo. If you’re participating, I hope you’re managing to stay afloat and take of yourself. If you like my blog or the direction it’s been going, please feel free to leave a comment down below or share my blog. (If you do share my blog on your own, let me know in the comments because I don’t get notifications when my blog URL is posted somewhere and I’d really like to go show your blog some love as well! <3)

Thank you for reading!
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The Last Week of October ’16 | Life & Mind

lastweekoctI’ve been a little stressed recently by how little time I’ve felt I’ve had for recreational reading. In addition the readings I’m assigned every week for my three classes, I’ve also been reading a lot of articles related to my research topic. So it’s not that I’m not reading, it’s just that I have a lot of untrackable reading. But I’m thinking I’ll start talking more about some of the more interesting academic articles I read here on my blog.

I like to reflect on what I read, which is why I love documenting every book I read on Goodreads and in wrap ups each month. I feel like it makes it easier to look back and remember what was going on in my life whenever I read any given book. So I want to talk more about the reading experiences I have as a student, as there has been so much recently.

This is something that’s been on my mind recently, and since I haven’t posted in a while I wanted to do a random little post talking about some of the things on my mind as the month is near its end.

Currently Reading

I just finished Slasher Girls and Monster Boys which I decided to finally pick up this weekend while I was house-sitting for my parents. It was the first weekend I felt I could allow myself a personal book selection and it felt so luxurious. It was a fantastic read, overall, and I still find myself marveling over the beauty and the horror of some of the stories in this anthology. If you possess this book and haven’t yet read it, I think this is the perfect time of the year to read it.

This week, I will be reading Cat and Mouse by Günter Grass which is due for next week. I’m hoping to finish it before the weekend so I can start another book before the end of the month, possibly Boxers by Gene Luen Yang which is a graphic novel I’d love to be able to breeze through, along with its companion novel Saints. I have to read three additional books for my German lit. class over the next couple of weeks so that might preoccupy the first half of November’s readings, but I’m also hoping to squeeze in some fantasy novels.

I’m still planning to participate in NaNoWriMo 2016 this November, and I really wish I had more time to read books that have inspired my own novel with the hopes that by reading good writing I’ll be more likely to write good words. We’ll just have to see how the next couple of weeks unfold, because like I said before, I also have a lot to read that isn’t just books!

NaNoWriMo 2016

I’m sorry I never quite worked out the time for my NaNoWriMo Prep series! Some of my most favorite posts to do are on writing tips/advice, so do know that all the posts I proposed earlier this month will most likely come out eventually. Even if they don’t make it out over November. I might have a laid back summer next year, so maybe I’ll generate some sort of plan for June/July geared towards preparation for Camp NaNoWriMo July.

I haven’t had much time to work on my story at all this month, except for maybe 2–3 days here and there. I’m a little worried about what I’ll come up with over November, but not so much that I’m in a panic. I have a rough outline for the novel I want to write, but I’m actually open to specific parts of that changing, so I’m not going to kill myself trying to stick to the outline. Unless I’m able to work on the outline this weekend and fix the problem areas I’ve already identified, in which case I do hope to stick the outline!

But I also have been keeping a list of short story ideas for side characters in this novel, so I’m prepared to be happy with a combination of a novel and some short story drafts. I think my flexibility here will ensure that I’m able to write 50,000 words and end the month with a good foundation, which is all I really end right now I think.

End Note

I hope you enjoyed this little post. I feel like I definitely psyche myself out sometimes when it comes to writing them, when blogging should just be a fun way to organize and record my thoughts. There’s a lot of post ideas swirling around in my brain, so I’m hoping those will materialize this weekend. I’ll probably do an official What I’m Writing for NaNoWriMo post soon, along with some sort of wrap up for the month. I also want to do a post about my grad school research and potential projects I’ll be starting soon. I just need to get on top of my school work and some upcoming deadlines in November.

Thanks for sticking with me! Let me know in the comments what you’d like to see more of in the future from this blog!

Thank you for reading!
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Time to Catch Up | Life & Mind

Hello, everyone! And welcome to my new followers! It’s always such a little thrill when I get that notification email that someone else has decided to start following my blog. I’m especially sorry I’ve been a little absent lately. So much has been going on with school and I’ve had to do a lot of thinking about the future. I think it’s very appropriate that I do a life update today because I finally I made a decision I’ve not wanted to make.

But first, I thought I’d catch you all up on what’s been going on, starting with moving into my apartment last month…

I moved into my on-campus apartment finally! 

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At the end of September I received an email telling me I received a placement! I have a two bedroom, two bathroom apartment with an undergraduate, but she’s been quiet and sweet so it’s not been too bad (although I’d still prefer a private apartment). The only thing that has sucked is that the building has had an on-going bug problem, so the week I moved it I was getting eaten alive. It was really bad, my legs and feet are still healing. I seriously thought it was bed bugs, but luckily that’s been debunked. So now I just need to spray every now and then for safety, and I’ve not had any problems on that front for a couple of weeks now.

My car was rear ended in the apartment parking lot.

It happened the week I moved in and was so frustrating. Luckily I saw the girl do it so I was able to get her license plate number, but she was pretty cooperative. She didn’t want to settle with insurance, though, so there was a lot of stress on my end with finding where to get my car repaired (a tail light cover had to be replaced) and getting an estimate for her so she could write me a check. I’m so glad that’s over with now.

Film studies is the bane of my existence right now.

The instructor is a very harsh grader. I’ve gotten no grade higher than a B- on the two major assignments I’ve turned in and it honestly feels very unfair. I know I’ve not turned in A-quality work or anything, but I don’t think they’ve deserved Cs either. I wish I could drop the class, but it’s requirement I’ll need to get out of the way eventually. And I need to be a full-time student to keep my scholarship. She’s letting us revise all our papers, but I honestly don’t know it’s worth the effort or not. I have some time to decide what to do. I might need to go in and have some words with this woman.

& in more exciting, slightly more positive news…

I’ve refined my research goals for the semester.

I’ve been struggling in my research methods class because I have a stronger affinity for critical theory research and it’s been an adjustment to think about more quantitative research. I’ve definitely seen the value in it, though, and see how it will make me stronger academically. I also feel confidence that my interests are leading me into slightly uncharted waters, which is exciting because I feel like I’m carving out my own place in academia.

I think I want to do a whole post on what I’m researching in the near future, especially now as I have a better idea of where I’m going with it after speaking with my instructor today. It very much ties into book blogging and online community, so hopefully you might be interested in it! I’d also like to involve any of you who are interested in it in some way, shape, or form as I discover how I want to collect data.

I’m extending my studies at UT Dallas.

This is the tough decision I did not really want to make, but realized today is in my best interest. In my last Sunday Snapshot, I talked about realizing where I wanted to go to for my PhD and registering for the GRE. Well, I’ve realized that I probably will have a better chance of being admitted if I do another year at UT Dallas. I can get more TA experience if I stay. I’ll have more time to develop research projects that I’m finally establishing now this semester. I’ll also have more time to build my CV with publications and conferences. So yeah…It’s not really the worst.

Now I know a lot of people in the program and will be able to build stronger connections here. I’ll also be able to take more advantage of the specific professors I have here and what they can teach me. Today I went to a workshop where I learned about Lilypad Arduino and learned about the possibilities of wearable technology. Fun, cool stuff like this is why I’ve loved this program and make me think that another year here will not be the end of the world.

So, I need to decide what I’m doing with this blog next…

I do not intend to stop, but I do feel the itch for change again. My domain name is going to expire this year, so I’d like to change it to something more catchy, shorter, easy to remember. That will also entail some new blog graphics which I only just did this summer! But I know it’ll be worth it. I’m honestly thinking of working with a professional to create something cool and unique that I won’t be tempted to change every few months.

As for what is immediately coming next (as in this weekend), I intend to do a Fall ’16 TBR with the list of books I want read by the end of the year. I only need 16 more to complete my Goodreads Challenge, so I’m going to start looking for shorter books so that I can accomplish this because I just don’t have the time, or inclination really, to be devouring so many books each month anymore.

I also want to do my NaNoWriMo Prep Series either next week or the week after that (last of October), because I still intend to participate in NaNoWriMo and I know a few of you have been waiting for it and I’m so sorry! I intend to dedicate some good time and effort to those posts so they were worth the wait (hopefully)!

Thank you for reading!
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September ’16 Notes

This post is coming a little later than I had originally planned! My apologies to anyone who may have seen an unfinished version this past weekend. Part of the reason I held off on finishing it was I was struggling to finish Six of Crows so that I could crack open Crooked Kingdom, and I wanted my reread to count towards last month. So silly. So even though I read most of it in the beginning of October, I’m still including it here!

September was a crazy month for me and I don’t quite have time to share everything that’s been going on in my life over the past couple of weeks in this post, but I might do a Sunday Snapshot this weekend just so you know what I’ve been having to deal with. It’s not been all fun and games in this blogger’s life.

Without any further ado, here are some mini-reviews of all books I read this month along with some of the books I’m currently reading. I also summarize what I got done in writing this month and provide an update on the October NaNo Prep series which I’m still planning to do, although possibly not this week.

What I Read

For the most part I stuck to my September ’16 TBR very well. The only three books which I completely bypassed which I do not fully regret to have skipped; I’m sure I’ll read them in the future. In total I read eight books and am in the progress of reading two.

Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton ||  I was wary of this book going into it, because I feel like it was over-marketed by the publisher. Too many BookTubers talked about it all at once and it was very clearly the recipient of ad sponsorship. But I was glad I ultimately picked it up when I saw it at the library because I thought the world was really fun and I like to read fantasy books that kick off a series. If I see the sequel at the library, I’ll most definitely be picking it up. I feel no temptation to buy it though. || ★★★½

Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas || I ordered this book via the Kindle app on my iPhone as this has just been the medium I’ve used to read this series from the beginning. The only book I’ve read in a physical copy is Heir of Fire and I’ve semi-regretted not buying it because it was my favorite book in the series. Until I read this book that is! Actually, they may be about equal. Heir of Fire feels a lot more original, Empire of Storms I feel like SJM learned a lot from Six of Crows on how to write Aelin better (she seemed a lot more like Kaz than she did before). Anyway, I loved this book and can’t wait to see what happens next. ||

All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque || I was assigned this book in my German Lit. & Ideas class and I found it a very quick but moving read. I’d never read it before, although I do remember learning of it in AP World History (10th grade). I’ve read books that are critical of war, which have no doubt been influenced by this book. But I’m appreciative of having been able to read it in this context where I’m learning about German culture and society during this time. ||★½

The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo by Amy Schumer || This book started of a bit rocky for me. I’ve read and loved the books of Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, and Mindy Kaling, but this book just didn’t all the way do it for me. I think because Schumer is so far off from me and I cringed with disgust at a lot of stories. I do like what she does, though, and this book ended on a very strong note for me. Not worth buying, but if you find it in the library (as I did), have seen Trainwreck (2015), liked it and want something out of the norm, I’d say why not. || ★★★½

Anya’s Ghost by Vera Brosgol || It took me a while to trudge through Amy Schumer’s book and so I picked this book up when I discovered the Juvenile Lit. section of the library. I feel like Amazon and/or Goodreads has tried to recommend this book to me in the past with no success (except I guess cover recognition), and as it was so small, I decided to give it a go. If only to get a quick read in. I think I might have liked it when I was little, but it’s very much…juvenile. It’s not that complex a story and the resolution did not feel too…realistic. || ★★½

And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie || I had picked this book up in August when I was in a mood for mystery, then ended up saving it for the Mystery-A-Thon which I ultimately wasn’t able to participate in. So I decided to finally get to it this month. I’m sorry to say it was probably my least favorite of the Christie books I’ve read (there’ve been two others), but I can see how this book has set a standard in the mystery genre. It was a intriguing read I think I would have been able to better appreciate when I was younger. || ★★★½

Film: A Very Short Introduction by Michael Wood || I don’t really know what I can say about this one. It was required reading for my Intro to Film Studies class and is exactly was it claims to be. It was a very easy and quick read, illuminating as I have no background in the history of film or its theory. ||no-rating

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo || I started this book on the last day of September after I had already been able to receive Crooked Kingdom (it unexpectedly arrived the day it was released!) Because I knew what was going to happen, I did drag my feet a little on reading this book. But ultimately I was drawn in again because of this fantastic world and great characters. This book is literally…everything. There were a few things I had forgotten about the end, so I’m really happy I was able to read this again before I jumped into Crooked Kingdom. || 

CURRENTLY READING

Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo // I hadn’t thought I would receive this book the day it debuted, but Amazon definitely surprised me! I started it this weekend immediately after finishing my reread of Six of Crows, and I expect to finish it as soon as my school week is over.

Teaching to Transgress: Education as the Practice of Freedom by bell hooks // I’m really enjoying this book so far and am happy it was recommended to me. I love hooks’ perspective on how education can, and maybe should, be linked to self-actualization.

What I Wrote

In September I made a lot of headway on my novel. I plotted my MC’s entire journey through The Hollow Combs and did some extensive world-building by establishing the magic system, more of the world’s history, population diversity, and societal structures. I feel like the world really came to life this month. The latest thing I’ve been working on is the villain and how she has influenced the course of history and magic for my protagonist. She’s been a gateway through which I’ve discovered a lot more about this world.

In my latest writing post, I announced the NaNo Prep series I will be doing this month leading up to NaNoWriMo 2016 in November. To be quite honest, I wasn’t quite ready to upload that post but left it up anyway because the bare bones of the info was there. I’m still planning to do the posts I listed in that series, but I’m thinking of making it a week-long series so I’ll share more on that over the next few days.

End Note

As I write this note, I am actually procrastinating on two assignments which are currently driving me crazy, which is the only reason I have found the time. Other than reading Crooked Kingdom, I haven’t been able to do much for myself this week and I nearly fell into a blogging slump. I have a few more things I’m hoping to change around here and on my online presence as a whole, nothing crazy drastic, but there are some things I’ve been putting off for a while. Hopefully I’ll be able to explain more this weekend as I start to implement these changes.

I will tell you a domain name change is potentially on the horizon…

Thank you for reading!
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A Book Blogger’s Haul!

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Just to treat myself after an incredibly stressful week (see yesterday’s post), I went shopping today for some nonessentials for book blogging pictures that I’ve been wanting to get for a while, plus a few extra things that caught my eye. The places I went had some amazing deals today, so I thought I’d do a quick post sharing so that if anyone else wants to pay them a visit they can take the utmost advantage!

Below I’ve divided my haul’s contents into sections by store: Target and Hobby Lobby. I’ve also included the item prices and rationale for why I bought them. If you have any other tips for how I might make the best use of these things, please let me know in the comments below! Also let me know if you like this sort of post as I can do more in the future. Not too regularly though, as I’m not that frequent a shopper! ^_^

Target Haul

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Paper mouse pad monthly calendar | $1

I hadn’t realized these were for use as a mouse pad, but I just intend to keep it on my desk or stick them on the wall with push pins. I wanted a displayable calendar so that I could keep track of my reading, writing, and research goals and motivate myself with placing stickers on the days where I’ve been successful! (V.E. Schwab was the inspiration behind this idea.) I might also use a separate one each month for important test/assignment due dates.

Starry copper-wired LED lights (10 ct.) | $3

I love buying fairy lights! These I found in the cheap/seasonal section at the Target entry. I’ve seen some bookstagrammers use them in their photos so I thought they might be a nice little addition to some photos. They are battery-powered, so I’ll need to make sure I have the right batteries.

Adhesive fall leaf shapes  (20 ct.) | $3

These were another random purchase! Fall is my favorite season, so I can see myself decorating my desk area or corkboard with these or using them as #bookstagram photo fillers in the next few months. I’m sure they’ll be fun to play with.

Halloween-themed 3D stickers (86 ct.) | $2.99

On the hunt for star stickers at Target for my calendar, I ran across these bad boys in the stationary isles. They were an impulse buy, but I’m sure I’ll find more ways to use them. I had a bad habit of collecting stickers as a kid, saving them because I want to use them on something extra special. So I’m going to try and not be so precious about these stickers! Life’s too short.

Hobby Lobby Haul

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Gypsophila paniculata (aka “baby’s breath”) | Reg. price $11.99 (On sale: 50% off!)

Some of my favorite bookstagrammers use baby’s breath in their photos and I’ve long wanted to get my hands on some! It was the main reason I went to Hobby Lobby today. As they were on sale, I got the natural looking beige/off-white bouquet and the ones dyed in this vibrant blue color that reminds me of when I dyed my hair in February!

Star stickers (226 ct.) | Reg. price $1.99 (On sale: 50% off!)

I’d wanted to buy some more star stickers for my external motivation. I bought some at Target (160 ct. for $2.49), but I knew Hobby Lobby would have a much better selection. To my surprise, the huge collection of stickers by The Paper Studio were 50% off today as well! I was tempted to splurge, but I told myself to wait and maybe return later if I could think of practical uses for more. So I just bought two packets of 226 stickers each. I think it’s safe to say I’m well set on star stickers for a while.

Thank you for reading!
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The Struggle is Real | Life & Mind

I had hoped to be moved into my apartment by this time this week and had packed up my car full of stuff before leaving from Houston this past weekend. But I only found out yesterday (Wednesday) that I won’t be able to move in until next Wednesday. Also, they’d given me my last housing preference, even though I’d responded quickly enough to receive my first place preference (okay, this I can only presume). So I’ll be sharing an apartment with a stranger. That is if I’m not in trouble for not paying my prepayment yesterday because they don’t accept debit/credit cards.

Yesterday was just the absolute worst.

Housing dilemmas aside, I’ve also been struggling in my Social Science Perspective of Emerging Media and Communications class. I spent all afternoon yesterday (~6 hours) doing my homework only to discover the article I chose were not social research articles, but humanities ones. So much time was wasted, not necessarily for nothing but almost. It especially sucked because I liked those articles. So now I need to find articles that will actually work for my research questions.

The worst thing about all of these stressful things is I feel like I am slipping into a reading slump and I don’t feel like I have the quality time I need to work on my writing. That’s in part why I’m even writing this blog post, because this blog is primarily about reading and writing and I want to let you all know that I’m struggling right now.

I might be skipping my film studies class this afternoon so that I can go off campus to get a money order for my apartment’s prepayment (which was due yesterday). I might have time to go to class after running that errand, but finding parking can be a nightmare in the afternoon and be just as bad getting off campus at 7 p.m. when my class ends. Since I’ll be driving back to Houston for the weekend, I think it’d just be for the best to avoid the extra stress right now. Besides, I don’t think I’ll be missing anything major.

What I’m Reading

I’ve not been in the mood to read mystery because parts of my life feel like a mystery right now, so I just picked up Amy Schumer’s The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo from the library. I’m about 40 pages in, and it’s nothing groundbreaking yet, but I choose it because I feel like I need something very light to read over the weekend. I’m also about 20 pages into And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie, which I started before this week before my life started to feel like a mess. I think I might be able to finish it this weekend. I just need a few hours to set aside to get back into it. I may need to start over completely though because I may need to be reintroduced to the characters.

What I’m Writing

I figure if I’m doing a brief reading update, I’ll do a writing one as well. Last week I plotted my MC’s story from beginning to end using the Three-Act Structure. But I realized I have three other characters with their own agendas who I need to also plot, as their stories intersect at major plot points with my MC’s. So that will be top priority as soon as I find the time. I’ve also decided I want to start properly writing by or on October 1st, so I have exactly 15 days to finish up anything else I’ve had in my pre-writing phase.

After finishing Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas this week, I finally watched an interview between SJM and emmmabooks, a BookTuber I’m subscribed to. You do not need to have read the ACOTAR series, or even Empire of Storms. This interview is remarkably spoiler-free and deals a lot with the writing process of this successful YA fantasy author. As my friend Sara was really inspired by it too, I thought I’d share it here in case any of you are interested. (Beware: The audio is pretty bad and there’s an annoying crying kid in the background, but the video has subtitles/closed captions.)

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 End Note

Even though I’ll be at my parents’ house, I’m really going to try and be hermit this weekend so I can recharge and try to regain control over my life and studies. This is my game plan:

  1. I’m going to try to get my homework for EMAC 6375 out of the way early. All I need to do is revise my RQs and write some definitions for the operationalized variables in our whole class content analysis project. I also want to try and find articles that are truly social research articles, just to make my life easier later this semester.
  2. I’m going to prioritize my German Lit. & Ideas readings. It’s been two weeks since I’ve been to class because of Labor Day, so I’ve gotten used to not having this class to worry about. So I need to get back in the swing of reading for this class. I need to finish Man of Straw eventually (although maybe not this weekend…), but I also have readings specifically for class next Monday that I want to be done with early so I’ll probably start them tomorrow (Friday).
  3. I’m going to swear off YouTube and other forms of audiovisual media. I really want to be able to read and write this weekend, also work on some blog post ideas and other creative projects. YouTube can turn into a major time-suck, so I’ll probably only allow myself to watch the uploads of the two daily vlog channels I’m subscribed to, but only after I’ve already been productive.
  4. I’m going to work out everyday this weekend. I’m not going to lie, I’m really pissed right now just in general. I like to think I’ve been able to hide it pretty well IRL and in this blog post. But I know I need to blow off some steam soon for my mental sanity, so I’m going to make sure to get in some cardio this weekend. I’d like to start working out everyday once I move into my apartment, but even next week I think I’ll try to push myself to go to the gym in the afternoon. I just need to get organized about it.

Are you currently annoyed with something going on it you’re life right now? Feel free to vent in the comments! ^_^ I’d totally love to hear about the things going wrong in other people’s lives right now!

Thank you for reading!
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All the Things | Sunday Snapshot

I haven’t done a Sunday Snapshot in ages and I had planned to do one this weekend as I felt like there’s so much going on right now, I really wanted to do a post talking about it all. Then I spent all weekend reading Empire of Storms (★★★★★) and I just didn’t have enough time to make this the post I wanted it to be. But I’m going to try and do it anyway before I go to sleep, as I don’t think I’ll be able to blog at all this week.

ss911First, of all, I do want to apologize to anyone who might have seen an incomplete version of a post I want to do about how I’ve managed to balance all my commitments (school, blogging, writing, etc.) It was supposed to go up this weekend, but I haven’t had time to finish it because of the reading I mentioned above! Empire of Storms really couldn’t have come out a worse week! I’m sure to suffer tomorrow night in German Lit. as I was supposed to read Man of Straw by Heinrich Mann in it’s entirety, but now I’m just hoping I can reach the halfway point and can find something like Sparknotes on it. (I do plan to read it thoroughly eventually however, as my presentation for this class will be on Mann and his brother, Thomas.)

This weekend I was at my parents’ home dog-sitting. My dad turned 50 this weekend and they had celebrated by going to Louisiana to the casinos. I was happy to do that for them, as I didn’t have much else in mind for a present and I miss the dogs so much while I’m at college. Enjoy a picture of my Jack Russell mutt called Ty (to the left).

Tomorrow I drive back to Dallas with a car filled with kitchen things, a vacuum, and some trashcans as I believe I will be finally able to move into an on-campus apartment tomorrow! I received an email on Friday presenting me with some options and I responded quickly with my top three preferences. As I responded so quickly, I’m fairly hopeful I’ll be given my first choice. I await confirmation, though. So I’ll probably call tomorrow morning before I leave to try to make sure. Moving in will be a week-long process, and I’ll not get my furniture before next weekend when my parents are able to drive it all up.

These past three weeks have not been the easiest, but I’m really pleased at how I’m managed and I’m happy that I’ll soon have some stability as I complete my final two semesters at the University of Texas at Dallas (UTD). I’m certain I want to graduate this spring, and it’s all beginning to feel quite sudden as I’ve finally begun looking into my options for a doctoral program and I’ve found one that looks like a perfect fit for me and my interests at Boston University (BU). They have a PhD program in Emerging Media Studies that I think will expand upon what I’ve been learning at UTD. Best of all, it’s in a location that I’ve always wanted to end up.

This past Thursday I signed up for the GRE (Graduate Record Examination) which is a standardized test that many graduate schools require applicants take. I’ll take it at the end of October, so I plan to start preparing for it soon so that I can do really well on it. I also really want to direct more attention toward the research I’m most interested in and want to find my niche in. My CV could use a lot of beefing up at the moment, so I also want to find other things I can do, this semester especially, that can go onto it. The deadline for the application to BU is due on January 15, 2017, so I essentially just have this semester to prove myself worthy of acceptance.

End Note

This week I will be oh so busy with moving into my apartment and keeping up with classes that I doubt I will be read or write much, yet alone blog. I am truly annoyed at the timing as this week is the Mystery-A-Thon which I was so excited about. I do think I will be able to finish at least one book for it this week, which I had hoped to actually finish before this week: And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie.

Thank you for taking the time to read this post if you made it this far! Every one of my blog readers mean the world to me. I’m really excited to share more about my writing soon (as I did have some more developments this past week). I’m also excited to experiment with new ways of book blogging, as I’ve always wanted to do on this blog. Overall, I’m really excited about everything right now and I’m sorry I’ll be a little absent this week. To keep up with me while I’m too busy to blog, make sure to follow me on social media (links down below). See you soon! ^_^

Thank you for reading!
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September ’16 TBR

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It turns out that I have enough books on my September TBR to warrant a full post talking about them! Two of my most anticipated releases come out in September, but I also have books I’ll need to read for class and books which correspond with a read-a-thon I’ll be participating in this month. Below are some of the books I want/need to finish this month, in roughly the order I think I will be getting to them.

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Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton. I started reading this book at the end of August after Bout of Books 17.0, but it was very hard to find time to read it during the school week and I’ve just been dragging my feet over it now. I’m actually hoping to finish this quite soon so that I can move onto other things. (Update: I finished it the day before this post went up.)

Film: A Very Short Introduction by Michael Wood. This is a a very short book that I had to read most of already for my Introduction to Film Studies class last month. There are a few more readings I’ll need to read for future class meetings, but I figure I can just finish this book up easily and chalk it off as another book read!

Teaching to Transgress by bell hooks. This is the textbook I was asked to buy by my advisor for my TA studies. I think it will be different from much of the pedagogy I got while I was an English Education major during my undergraduate career.

Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas. This is the latest installment of Maas’ Throne of Glass series and the first time that I’m eagerly awaiting a new debut. I did not absolutely love Queen of the Shadows (#4), which is why I’m not dedicating time to a thorough rereading of it, but I am committed to sticking with this series through the end and can’t wait to see what will happen next!

Man of Straw by Heinrich Mann. This is the first full length book I need to read for my German Lit & Ideas class for next week. I also will have to do a presentation on this author and his brother (the more famous Thomas Mann), so I’ll need to do a fairly close reading of this book.

And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie. I might not actually have time to get to this book until Mystery-A-Thon, which will work out fine! But I had been hoping to read it before the read-a-thon, just because I know it will be a fast read and I’m loving those right now. ^_^

The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith. I think this will be the first book I start for Mystery-A-Thon next week, as I’m at least familiar with the author and am fairly sure I won’t DNF it. I’m just hoping that even though it’s a long book that it won’t take too long to finish.

Night Film by Marisha Pessl. This might be the only book on this list that I’m not feeling like I’ll finish if it doesn’t immediately grip me. It’s another long one and, the more I think about it, I’m not sure I’ll mange to read one contemporary mystery after another, specifically given the size of these books. So this book I might just put a hold on.

All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque. This is the second book I will need to read for my German Lit. & Ideas class this month. I’m actually a little embarrassed to have not read this book already. I think I had a chance my sophomore year of high school in AP World History, as just didn’t feel like it. To be fair, I wasn’t interested to read any books about war in high school.

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo. Even though I’ve already read this book this year, I am so excited to read it again to prepare for Crooked Kingdom‘s debut! I would have reread this book earlier already if I had less restraint. I loved this book and cannot wait to jump into this world again. I especially can’t wait to get my hands on Crooked Kingdom, which I’m thinking will arrive early October. T.T

End Note

September sure will be a busy month, but I’m excited to get through all of these books. I am worried I won’t be reading much that will inspire my own writing, but as always this list is not set in stone. If one of the elective readings I’ve selected is just not working for me, I’ll not waste time trying to trudge through it. Let me know in the comments if you’ve read any of these books and what you thought!

Thank you for reading!
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August ’16 Notes

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Welcome back to another in my monthly Notes series. As I have a lot of new followers this month, I thought I’d explain that you can essentially think of this as a monthly wrap up. I tend to hit on more than just the reading highlights, so I call it my Notes. I realize I forgot (or didn’t finish) my June or July ’16 Notes…whoops! If you want to read my last one, it was my May Notes. Anywho, August was an eventful month! I went back to Dallas for my second year of graduate school and I dyed the remainder of the blue out of my hair. Despite how busy I’ve become, I also managed to read a great deal this month.

What I Read

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My goal, as stated in my August ’16 TBR, was to read ten books, but I only managed to finish seven books in the end for a few reasons. I struggled at the beginning of the month because I was reading some books I just did not enjoy all that much. But I am pleased to say with the help of the Bout of Books 17.0 Read-A-Thon, and in general just not having access to WiFi at my Airbnb place this month, I’ve managed to do some good reading in the end!

The Golem’s Eye by Jonathan Stroud. This was the first book I decided to tick off my August TBR, and in hindsight I kind of regret starting here. It took forever for me to finish. I just could not get into enough to power through as I normally do with a book I’m thoroughly enjoying.

Ptolemy’s Gate by Jonathan Stroud. After struggling through The Golem’s Eye, I felt determined to finish this series once and for all. Once again, I found myself struggling with this book. It was slightly better than The Golem’s Eye, just because it tied up a lot of loose ends that had been dangling since the first book. I was unsatisfied with the character development and the quite put off by the ending. It just felt lazy to me with specific regards to Kitty’s character and the state of the world. I think I might have enjoyed these books much more if I had read them in middle school as I did The Amulet of Samarkand. If I had not had the emotional attachment to the first book, I would have put such effort into finishing this series.

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie. By the time I had returned to Dallas, I knew I needed to kick my reading into high gear to make up for the first half of the month. I remembered fondly reading Murder on the Orient Express last year and how quickly I was able to do it. So I picked up this book and And Then There Were None knowing they’d help me catch up on my Goodreads Challenge again. Roger Ackroyd was indeed an entertaining read, making me once again marvel at the genius of Ms. Christie.

How to Do Media and Cultural Studies by Jane Stokes. I’ve been reading this small tome all summer and realized I could very easily just finish it if I made my mind up to do so, so that’s what I did immediately after completing The Murder of Roger Ackroyd. I have found this book valuable in numerous ways, but it isn’t all that applicable to the Capstone project I had in mind.

Stars Above by Marissa Meyer. I wasn’t willing to buy this anthology, but I was very happy find it stocked in my school library. I started it the Sunday before Bout of Books just because I couldn’t wait and who was to say I couldn’t?! It turned out to be nothing more or less than I expected. It was a nice revisiting of characters I loved from the Lunar Chronicles, but didn’t introduce any new insight to those books.

The Rose and the Dagger by Renee Ahdieh. This book was one of my most anticipated Bout of Books reads in my TBR after reading the first book in this series in April. It was no where near as amazing as the first book was for me (especially in terms of plot and conflict), especially as it felt unnecessary and removed from the first book focusing much more on Shahrzad’s family (which I didn’t want).

Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys. Salt to the Sea feels like my most random read of August mostly because I’d not felt any great urgency to pick it up. The appeal was based on two things: Ely’s glowing review earlier this year and its shortness (a great trait for a read-a-thon pick). It might be my surprise favorite of the month, however, as it is still on my mind. It was also a great book to read as I’ve been learning about history of Germany in my German Lit. & Ideas class and this book gave me some context of the racial/ethnic tensions.

What I Watched

At the beginning of August I managed to binge-watch two Netflix original series: Stranger Things (2016) and Jessica Jones (2015). I loved them both and was sad to run out of episodes of each. I can’t help but feel like Stranger Things, while awesome, has been slightly overhyped at this point as I did have some criticism of certain story choices (like how unnecessary a character was my Mike’s little sister?). I am excited to see what will happen with Eleven and Hopper. Luckily Jessica Jones should be back sooner for me with a new season this fall, right? I know there are some loose ends with Simpson and how Jessica got her powers that will need to be explored!

What I Wrote

I’ve not managed to write any words for a few months, but I did make some great strides in my story at the end of August! I feel like I have a better idea of the overall plot structure of this novel and also the world conflict. Even the magic system I have a loose idea of where I want to go with it. So now I’m thinking I might start writing either in October or November for NaNoWriMo. I’m shooting more for October, though. I really want to be able to finish this draft by the end of the year and like the quality of my words.

End Note

August ended up becoming a pretty successful month with some great reading, watching, and writing. I’m sure September will also bring some great productivity and inspiration. I will be post my September ’16 TBR tomorrow night, as there are quite a few books I know I need/want to read this September. I also am tentatively planning two other posts for this week! We’ll see if they materialize. I currently have about two days left here in Conroe before I need to return to Dallas, then I’ll only be there for two nights before returning back to Conroe to house-sit. So time will be of the essence until next weekend!

Thank you for reading!
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Mystery-A-Thon Announcement + TBR

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I love me a good mystery right now and I’m so excited to announce this new read-a-thon hosted my good pal Ely @ Tea & Titles (see her announcement + TBR). It’ll be running from September 12–19th this month, and the aim is to read books of the mystery genre, specifically those my Agatha Christie if you’re able to get your hands on any. They are very quick, fun reads that are classics that everyone should experience at least once.

I’ve so far read three books by Agatha Christie, the first two being Murder on the Orient Express and The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, in that order. So I can strongly recommend either of these to new Christie readers. They both star the famous detective genius of Hercule Poirot who is a lot of fun to follow as he gathers clues to solve these murder mysteries. There’s also what is probably Christie’s most famous work: And Then There Were None, which I personally might read right before this read-a-thon!

Since my library is limited on Agatha Christie novels and I don’t expect to be able to finish more than two books this read-a-thon, I’ve decided to pick up just two books, both contemporary mystery novels which have come out over the last few years. They’re both also humongous, so I’ll be really happy if I manage to finish only one!

TBR

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The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith. I’ve long been waiting for a good reason to give J.K. Rowling’s adult literature a chance, and this read-a-thon provides a great excuse. I think it will be interesting because this mystery is centered in a world of the wealthy and famous, so it will be unlike anything I’ve ever read.

Night Film by Marisha Pessl. This is a book has been under my radar for a little over a year now, and I’m finally able to pick it up. After reading the book blurb on the inside cover, I think this book will also have links to the entertainment industry through a mysterious director character. So once again, this book should open my mind’s eye to a different world existing in ours that I rarely think about.

End Note

In the comments, let me know if you’re participating in this read-a-thon. Also let me know if you have any really good contemporary mystery recommendations, as I’d like to explore more in the genre that is set in this day and age. I’m really excited about the books on my TBR, so if you want to read along with me, I’ll probably be doing daily blog updates again (just because I had so much fun with it during Bout of Books 17.0).

Thank you for reading!
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