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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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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Bout of Books 17.0 Wrap Up!

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Bout of Books 17.0 ended last night with nary a bang. I did not end up doing a Day 5 or 6 update because I left Dallas Friday evening after my daylong TA orientation and just did not have time to read much while I’ve been back in Conroe. So I didn’t have any reading progress worth mentioning, and my school week was essentially over.

This weekend was just what I needed after such a long exhausting first week back at school. I was able to relax, eat well, and do some late back-to-school shopping. Saturday afternoon was defined by going to the Willowbrook Mall in Houston, where I bought a couple of light-weight sweaters for the weird Texas autumns we have here. And Sunday was defined by touching up my hair color with a home kit. I also went to Target and Kohl’s for a few more blouses for school. I also bought an awesome new floor lamp that matches my bookshelves beautifully, but is currently sitting beside my bed.

Reading Wrap Up

I had hoped to read four books this read-a-thon, and it is only by rounding up that I’m saying I only finished three! But I’m rather pleased with what I got to and happy that I’m that much closer to being on track with my Goodreads Reading Challenge. In fact, I think if I read two more books this week, I’ll officially be all caught up! So that’s most definitely the plan. Anyway, here’s the list of the books I read for Bout of Books 17.0:

  1. Stars Above by Marissa Meyer.
  2. The Rose and the Dagger by Renee Ahdieh.
  3. Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys.

Because I’ll be summarizing my thoughts on each of these books in my August wrap up later this week, I’ll not go into them here. If you’ve been reading my daily blogs or are friends with me on Goodreads, you probably already know what I thought anyway! I will say that, overall, these were all pretty pleasant reads and good read-a-thon selections.

For my own ease to look back on this read-a-thon (as well as yours, if it suits your fancy), I’ve provided a list of the blog posts from last week below:

Bout of Books 17.0 Day 1 | 2 | 3 | 4

End Note

Bout of Books 17.0 could not have come at a better time. Last week was so frantic with things I needed to do concerning my TA position and getting into the swing of going to class. The read-a-thon gave my life a semblance of structure and probably helped me keep my head above water, which is weird because I’ve always felt like read-a-thons make my life busier; this time it helped me keep my sanity.

I have a lot of posts in the queue for the next couple of weeks, starting with a new writing post going up this Wednesday! I also will be doing an August wrap up and a read-a-thon announcement this coming weekend, so there’s lots of fun things ahead!

Thank you for reading!
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Bout of Books 17.0 | Day 4

Thursday turned out to be a miserable day for me. I woke up after only about 5 hours of sleep with a head ache, but I had to get going because I’ve just found that it’s easiest to get where I need to go as early as feasible. Knowing I’d be on campus all afternoon, I wanted to gas up my car for the trip back to Conroe on Saturday. It ended up being a horrible mistake, though, as I literally had to drive around campus for over 30 minutes looking for parking, only to find I needed to accept a back lot spot.

And it was a super hot, disgusting day so walking outside made me melt.

I had my final first day of class on Thursday which was Introduction to Film Studies. I was happy to have at least one person I knew it that class, but things quickly took a turn for the worse for me as the teacher was introducing herself and the talking through the syllabus. I honestly felt like I was either going to faint or throw up, and I didn’t want to be rude and walk out on the class. Luckily neither happened, but I regret not being able to fully enjoy learning about what to expect this semester.

Reading Progress

Salt-To-The-SeaI did not manage to get much of any writing done on-campus Thursday, as I had the previous days. I didn’t even begin to read right when I got back to my room. I was only able to read after a much needed three-hour nap. First thing I did was I finish the last hundred or so pages left in The Rose and the Dagger.

Having finally read the whole thing through, I stand by my assertion that this story should have either been one book or a trilogy. This sequel, while enjoyable because Renee Ahdieh is a very good writer, felt very rushed to me. There were new characters introduced (that I talked about yesterday) that ended up playing very little role in the story by the end. And every major plot point in the story felt…anti-climactic. Overall, I think I would still give it 3.5 stars.

Next I picked up Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys. I managed to read 50 pages and they’re been very enjoyable and fast-paced. This book alternates in its characters’ first-person perspectives very rapidly, but it hasn’t been hard to keep them straight as most of these characters are interacting with each other. Because of the short chapters, this format style has not been intimidating. And it’s actually probably helped me to read more than I would have being as I was so tired. I hope this will become a very quick read as soon as I have more time to dive into it.

End Note

I’m happy to be finishing this blog post up early Friday morning, as I have another TA orientation today spanning from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. So I doubt I’d be able to finish it during the lunch break as last Friday I ended up talking to people a lot more than I thought I would have to. Not that I minded! Anyway, I’m sorry if it’s a little on the short side. Tomorrow is Saturday and I barely contain my excitement! If you want to catch up on past days of this read-a-thon, I’ve provided a list of the blog posts below.

Bout of Books 17.0 Day 1 | 2 | 3

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Bout of Books 17.0 | Day 3

backpackI apologize for the fact that this post is coming a little later than usual. It’s been a fairly busy week and it’s finally catching up with me! Wednesday was not a great day for reading as I was on-campus most of the day once again and had a bunch of mini-tasks to complete, most of them in the shopping department!

I had to visit Off Campus Books to find some of the books I will be needing sooner rather than later for classes, including The Feminist Reader, All Quiet on the Western Front, and A Nervous Splendor: Vienna 1888–1889.

I also wanted to go to Target again, specifically to buy a new backpack as the one I’ve had for almost two years now has a mesh back and has ruined the backs of numerous articles of clothing. Also it’s a heavy backpack, even when there’s not much in it. Great for heavy duty tasks, but just not what I need right now. I need something light weight and I love what I found.

It’s green with white polka dots and has camel-colored suede flatslining the bottom, which is kind of reminiscent of classic Jansport backpacks which I love. I also ended up buying a pair of black jeggings, because I needed something that wasn’t blue jeans, and a new pair of plum-colored ballet flats to replace my old ones that I’ve had since 2013 and finally decided to donate this summer.

After a short nap, I had to return to campus for my Wednesday night class: Social Science Perspectives of Emerging Media and Communication. This has been the class I’ve been most excited about because I’d get to see all the people I meet last year! And the class did not disappoint. I was able to catch up a little with most of them. I can tell it’s going to be a very relaxing environment in which to learn, and the instructor seems fantastic. I actually met her the Friday before for my first TA orientation so I knew she would be awesome. This could easily be my favorite class this semester.

 Reading Progress

rosedaggerI did actually get a lot more reading done yesterday than I had thought I would and most it is because I read while I was at the library waiting for my class to start. And the story got really good pretty quickly! Shahrzad was reunited with Khalid about a third of the way into the book, and there have been two new characters introduced into the story that I’m really loving so far.

First, there’s Shahrzad’s sister who I didn’t remember from the first book. She is almost nothing like her sister, as she’s very timid and dutiful. In this novel, she’s discovering her first love and coming out of her shell, which is a pleasure to watch. She’s such a fun contrast to Shahrzad, who I also love. Then, there’s the mysterious and unruly Artan whose aunt might be the only one who can help Shahrzad break Khalid’s curse so they can live happily ever after and bring peace to Khorasan.

I don’t want to get into potentially spoiler-y details, so the last thing I will say is that I’m really happy with how the novel’s turned out. I really didn’t like the cliffhanger the first book was left on as it was clearly a set-up for a sequel, which I still think was unnecessary. It could have been one big book, if there was less focus on characters from Shahrzad’s previous life (which is what this book does). I’m now 71% done with the novel and expect to finish it on Thursday.

End Note

It is almost noon on Thursday as I wrap this up and I’m about to try and read a bit more of The Rose and the Dagger before I need to go to the class I will be observing this semester (which runs T/R from 1–2:15 p.m.). Then I will have my final class of the week, Introduction to Film Studies.

I’ve been doing a lot of blog post drafting and have quite a lot planned to go up after Bout of Books 17.0 is over, specifically writing posts! And there’s another read-a-thon happening in September which I fully plan to participate in centered on mystery novels. I hope you’re enjoying these posts! I’m quite enjoying writing them as they’re a nice change of pace for me a blogger. See you tomorrow with another one.

Thank you for reading!
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Bout of Books 17.0 | Day 1

As I explained in my Bout of Books 17.0 read-a-thon announcement and TBR, I’ve decided to do daily updates on my reading progress as well as some general life highlights from the day as this is my first week of school and quite an exciting time for me as I learn about my new job. I also might have some short writing updates on occasion.

Monday night I had my first class, German Lit & Ideas (1870–1960). As I explained in my post about my class schedule this semester, this is a free elective I chose because of interest in the content and thoughts that the class might prove useful for my writing. After attending my first class meeting last night, I feel like I’ll gain a lot.

It is a small class with between seven to nine students. The instructor is ancient, but I can tell she’s passionate about the readings and the history. She’s also Hungarian and came over to the U.S. probably around the 40s or 50s. She also just seems really sweet, and I don’t think I’ll be nervous asking her for help or speaking up. I can tell she knows she talks a lot and will want us to speak up, so that’s reassuring! ^_^

After introductions, going over the syllabus, and a mini-history lesson relating to artistic/literary movements (romantic, realistic, expressionist, etc.) we watched the first hour of a silent film called Metropolis (1927), which is a critique of the bourgeois class’ exploitation of workers. It’s a very abstract and strange film that I was worried I’d have nightmares over to be honest! (All the actors looked deranged and scary to me!) But I’m hoping to finish the movie soon. Maybe this weekend. (I found it on YouTube, here.) If you’re familiar with it, or would like to watch it & chat about it, please let me know!

Reading Progress

StarsAboveI decided to start reading off my TBR on Sunday after finishing The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie, because I couldn’t see why not! I’ve been so behind on my reading challenge, I wasn’t going to not read because I was waiting for Bout of Books 17.0 to officially start in my time zone. So I started Stars Above Sunday evening and got about half way through before I finally went to sleep.

Most of the stories I read that night introduced no new insights into the characters from the Lunar Chronicles. In fact most of these stories felt like deleted scenes, because their content was explained away much more simply in the books. Nevertheless, I really enjoyed the Lunar Chronicles and did not mind revisiting these characters, even if was just to see them as they were as children.

I don’t know which of these stories were new or what had already been published, but stuff that truly felt new to me came at the end, starting with “The Little Android.” I was confused at first as the protagonist is a new character that meets Cinder as the mechanic, and she’s another android with a personality (like Iko, minus the sass). But it was sweet and reinforced the idea of cyborg-android rights that are such a big problem in this world. I also enjoyed seeing the whole gang back together for a wedding in the final story. It was just a sweet revisiting.

After returning to my place after class Monday night, I tried to read some of The Rose and the Dagger by Renee Ahdieh, but I was so knackered I decided to call it an early night (it was nearly midnight, but that’s early for me!)

End Note

Just as a reminder, these posts will be going up the morning after the day they record. So as I finish up this post it is Tuesday morning and I have set up camp at the library. In case you missed it, I published a new writing update yesterday as I had a lot to share, too much for this post in fact! So go see, News After Another Long Drought | #AmWriting is you’re feeling so inclined.

See you tomorrow with another post! Good luck with you’re own reading and writing. <3

Thank you for reading!
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Bout of Books 17.0 Read-A-Thon TBR

YKdCOt4Bout of Books 17.0 starts tomorrow and will run until the next Sunday. As promised in my Bout of Books 17.0 Read-A-Thon Announcement post, I now have a list of books from which I will choose what books I read this week. The first thing I did when I returned to Dallas is visit the on-campus library, so my little “haul” will feature in this post along with the few books I ended up bringing with me to Dallas.

I have a pretty good idea of the order in that I will start with, but I like to have some flexibility just in case which is exactly why I have so many books to share! In the comments, let me know if you’ve read any of these books!

From the Library

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Stars Above by Marissa Meyer. I didn’t want to buy this book, because I really disliked Fairest which is a kind of short story. But I still miss having stories to read about Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, and Winter so I thought this would be an excellent read for a read-a-thon! I’m able to zoom through Meyer’s work so I figure it’s a smart selection as well to start of the week right.

The Rose and the Dagger by Renee Ahdieh. I think this will be my second read during the read-a-thon! I read The Wrath and the Dawn in spring (and wrote a rare review) and wasn’t too happy with the cliffhanger ending, so I wasn’t sure if I’d pick this one up. I think I remember the first book well enough that I can jump right back into this world and story without much confusion. I’m expecting great things, so hopefully this isn’t a disappointment!

Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys. I’m in a little bit of a mood to read WWII literature right now so I’m expecting this will be just the right book to read this month. It also does not look like it will take much time to finish either.

Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton. I feel like everyone reviewed this book when it came out and it sounded to me like it would be worth seeing what all the hype was about. As I’m trying to write my first book, I like to read books like this, even if I’m not sure if I’ll like them or not, just to see what can be learned.

Books I Brought With Me

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Ptolemy’s Gate by Jonathan Stroud. This is the final book in the Bartimaeus trilogy. I’ve been reading this series all year and I’ve decided once and for all to complete it. I thought it would be a breeze, but I found it difficult to stay emerged in the story with all the changes in perspective. I actually finished it already and cannot lie: I’m a little disappointed.

Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes. I brought this and its sequel Rebel Springs with me hoping that this series would be captivating enough to propel me through the read-a-thon. I don’t really know what to expect, so I’ll be going into this series blind. I’m really excited to see if it’s worth buying the next two books in the series, as I currently have a shopping cart I’m trying to fill so I can get free shipping!

Consent of the Networked by Rebecca MacKinnon. This is a non-fiction book that I had hoped to read before coming to Dallas. I think it’d be a good backup read for the read-a-thon if I get a book hangover from all the fantasy I’ll be reading.

End Note

I think I’m most definitely going to start with the books from my library haul, specifically Stars Above and The Rose and the Dagger, but I don’t know what I’ll be in the mood to read most immediately after, probably Salt to the Sea or Falling Kingdoms.

And as I mentioned in my previous post, I am planing to do daily blog posts with read-a-thon updates. I think they will go up the day after, however, as I do not have internet in my Airbnb place and “the end of the day” for me usually comes after midnight anyway. So you can expect my first update on Tuesday! Good luck to fellow participants!

Thank you for reading!
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Bout of Books 17.0 Read-A-Thon Announcement

Hello, my lovelies.

After watching Little Book Owl‘s Bout of Books 17.0 TBR video, I have also decided to participate in this read-a-thon as my reading has slowed down quite a bit with the turn of this new month and I’m still playing a game of cat-and-mouse with my Goodreads Reading Challenge. Bout of Books 17.0 takes place from August 22–28th, which just so happens to be my first week back to school and first proper week learning about my new job. So it’s going to be craziness! But I’m sure I’ll manage to learn and read a lot of great new stuff and have fun to boot.

Here’s the blurb provided by the ladies hosting the read-a-thon:

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The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, August 22nd and runs through Sunday, August 28th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 17 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. 

– From the Bout of Books team

Personally I’m just going to try and be reading as much as possible. I’m not really a slow reader, but I do find it necessary to take time in between reading books to digest, particularly if I’ve been really moved by my last read. So if I can read four books, that would be great for me.

Read-A-Thon TBR

I actually do not yet know what I’ll be reading yet! I’m returning to Dallas tomorrow (Thursday, August 18th) so I’ll be reunited with my on-campus library which is decently stocked with new popular releases. So I have a few books in mind that I’m hoping I’ll be able to find, but I can’t set my TBR officially just yet.

Most likely I will pull a selection of books tomorrow that I’m most eager to read and then just see what I get to next week. I think I will do an “official” Bout of Books 17.0 TBR on Sunday most likely, which will essentially double as a library book haul.

Also Next Week

What I would like to do next week (Monday–Friday) is some daily blogging. In addition to my daily progress through this read-a-thon, I imagine there will be some other things going on in my life that I’ll also want to record. So hopefully I’ll come up with a fun format with which to do that so you can easily cherry-pick what you want to read. Also let me know if you have any suggestions or recommendations on how to do that!

Hopefully after this read-a-thon, I’ll begin to do more #AmWriting posts! My mind is still on my story, but I’m still struggling a little bit. I think once I’m settled back in Dallas, I will be able to work more diligently on writing and share once again. Reading is just a little more of a priority for me at the moment! (And I like to think it’s helping me become a better writer anyway.)

Thank you for reading!
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July ’16 Wrap Up + Book Haul!

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This has been a most excellent month in reading for me! I read a grand total of NINE books this past month, which is probably the most I’ve read since spring of LAST YEAR. It definitely has had something to do with picking up the Lunar Chronicles this month starting with the #MakeMeRead read-a-thon, in which Cinder won first place in the poll which I created to create my TBR! I’m so glad I decided to participate again and can’t wait to do so next year! I can’t even imagine what I might discover then. (Last year was Throne of Glass, and it’s been a long, strange (and fun) trip through Sarah J. Maas’ work since then!)

As I’m at a loss for what to do about book reviews right now, I’m really happy to finally share my thoughts on all the books I read this month in a cumulative wrap up post. I also ended up acquiring a few books over the past couple of weeks and thought I’d throw in a cheeky book haul as well! (It will probably be my last until Christmas anyway.)

What I Read

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Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo | In June I started my reread of this series with my friend Sara who was reading the Grisha trilogy for the first time. Siege and Storm ended up being my first read of July. I liked it just as much as I did the first time! (★★★½)

Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo | I ended up loving this book so much more upon my second reading! The first time around, I was seriously disappointed by the plot’s twists and turns. This time I appreciated Bardugo’s decisions more and enjoyed reading it. (★★★★★)

Cinder by Marissa Meyer | The was the first place book on my #MakeMeRead It TBR poll and the only book I finished by the end of the read-a-thon, because I wanted to finish rereading the Grisha trilogy before I started a new series. I really, really enjoyed the fast-paced, (soft) science fiction adventure that’s inspired by (Disney’s) Cinderella. It was so different from everything I’ve been reading lately and much appreciated. It did end a little flat for me though, which brought down my rating. (★★★)

Scarlet by Marissa Meyer | I started this book immediately after finishing Cinder, but I had trouble getting into it. I didn’t really like how stereotypical Scarlet was as a fiery redhead with a temper who cared about nothing else than rescuing her grandmother, even when it put her in harm’s way when it was clear that was the last thing her grandmother would have wanted. I did like that this book didn’t completely abandon Cinder’s storyline and when hers and Scarlet’s finally merged.  (★★★)

Cress by Marissa Meyer | Cress is probably my favorite protagonist of the four girls of the Lunar Chronicles! Her book was the first in the series that was really exciting and didn’t lag or disappoint for me by the end. I loved all the traveling and how the characters were separated and brought back together again. I think this book even made me tear up at points, making me feel quite silly. (★★★★)

Fairest by Marissa Meyer | Fortunately this was a very quick read, because I did not enjoy it in the slightest. It serves as a decent bridge book between Cress and Winter because it helps explain Levana’s confusing relationship to Winter and shows what Levana and Cinder have in common. But it didn’t help me empathize with her. And it was distracting to me as I read how badly it was written. (★★)

The Kitchen Boy: A Novel of the Last Tsar by Robert Alexander | While I was waiting for Winter to arrive, I decided to read something short and non-fantasy that would not pull me out of the series. This was quite perfect. I think it was a very well researched book that taught me more about the real Romanovs than I knew before, especially about their lives in captivity. But it was a tad heavy-handed on the foreshadowing, and there’s a twist at the end that didn’t do anything for me in the slightest. Except annoy. (★★½)

Winter by Marissa Meyer | This book was a rollercoaster of emotion for me! I read it all day and night once I got it, with breaks in between to breathe and assess. There were two major events in the story that were torturous for me involving Kai and Wolf respectively, that I still don’t want to talk about (and not just for the sake of not spoiling anything)! The climactic ending was predictable, but I could not help but reread the resolution chapters a few more times even after I’d finished the book. The series was ended satisfactorily enough for me. I would love to read more about the lives of these characters in the future! (★★★★★)

The Quick by Lauren Owen | I had trouble leaving the world of the Lunar Chronicles after Winter, so I needed to read something that wasn’t going to be fluffy YA fantasy. After watching Crimson Peak (2015) one night, I decided I’d love to read a gothic romance. I have a handful of books that fit that bill, but the most enticing to me at the time was The Quick. It started off well-enough, and I enjoyed the characters and how their storylines ultimately converged, but I hated the ending. There was a lot of unresolved questions left for me. Overall, I’m just glad I can scratch this one off my TBR. (★★½)

July Book Haul

I had unofficially been on a self-imposed book-buying ban this summer on account of there being zero books I neeeeeeeded and lack of spare money. But I ended up acquiring six books in the second half of July, some to complete my series set and others due to…impulsiveness.

The first two books I bought at a Target whilst on vacation. I had just finished Cress, the third book in the Lunar Chronicles series, and needed to have the last book. Unfortunately Target did not offer Winter at a great price, so I settled for Fairest, the bridge book between the third and fourth book. I also picked up The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry which I learned of from Kristina Horner who I follow on Goodreads, which was a Target Book Club pick that seemed like would be a pleasant read.

The next two books I bought, I ordered from Amazon after realizing I wouldn’t find Winter in a physical bookstore at a price I liked. And so that I would get free shipping, I decided to also finally get Inheritance which is the final book in the Eragon series (actually it’s called the Inheritance series, but I call it the Eragon series so people know what I’m talking about!). I hope to finally finish reading that series before I return to Dallas at the end of August.

The final two books I ended up purchasing were new paperback editions of These Broken Stars and This Shattered World, the first two books in the Starbound trilogy which I borrowed from the Ames Public Library during my last semester of my undergrad at Iowa State University and absolutely loved. I was able to get them a slightly discounted priced at a Hastings, which is shutting down. It’s kind of sad because it was the only bookstore in this town, but it wasn’t even a real bookstore. I’m hoping they begin to have better deals soon so I can scour the store for more goodies!

End Note

I am now only five books behind on my Goodreads 2016 Reading Challenge, so if I can read another nine books by the end of August I will be in really good shape for the last four months of 2016. This was actually one of my summer goals, to catch up on my reading challenge. So it will be great to be able to tick that off my list! I’ll be needing to reconsult that list and see what else I might still accomplish by the end of August.

My next post will be either writing-related (as I am still trying to write) or an August TBR (because I do hope to read a lot this month before I must return to Dallas). Until then, I hope you enjoyed this long post and have maybe decided to pick up one of these books for yourself!

Thank you for reading!
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