Not Books, Personal

2019 Non-Bookish Resolutions

I feel a little iffy about New Year’s resolutions, mainly because it feels like they always fizzle out. But there are things about my life I’d like to improve, and now seems like as good a time as any! I’ve made a list of somewhat specific resolutions (things I can actually measure in some way, rather than “work out more” etc.) that I’d like to work toward achieving in the coming months. While the list may seem a little overwhelming, I’ve decided to use the “Monday resolutions” method — I’ll work to implement one of these every week or three and slowly incorporate them into my life.


Journal 4+ days a week

I used to journal religiously every single day, usually 3 full handwritten pages. I don’t know exactly when or how I fell off the bandwagon but I miss it. It helped me to remember things I had been up to, and helped me to organize myself in some ways. I’ve tried to keep telling myself to start up again, but have finally realized it may not be feasible to jump back into journaling every day! Instead, I decided I’d like to journal most days. See how that may be a little easier? This way, I’m less likely to feel like I’ll run out of things to say, and I don’t have to beat myself up if I don’t have the chance to get to it. You’ll see that a lot of my resolutions have been structured similarly.

Exercise 3+ days a week

By exercise, I mean go to the gym for 20-30+ minutes or go running outside. I have a membership to the gym a block from my office so I have no reason not to get back to this one (except for depression and fatigue…). I always feel so much better when I’m actively exercising and if I can do it before work, I don’t have to worry about being too exhausted at the end of the day!

Spend (IRL) time with someone who isn’t my sister 1+ day a week

This is an easier goal than “make more friends” which can feel daunting. But in winter especially, I really need to focus on spending time with others and not self-isolating. I live with my sister so we “hang out” a lot, but I think I would feel more enriched if I made an effort to spend time with others!

Create 1+ days a week

This can be drawing, writing, knitting, etc. I haven’t really been creating in a while and I feel so stale. My friend Marlaina and I have been trying to do drawing challenges but I’ve been terrible about actually doing them. Instead of beating myself up about it, I just want to try to do anything creative at least once a week.

Order takeout and eat out twice or less a week

I’m a takeout fiend, and it is really cutting into my budget! My sister and I recently started doing Peapod, so it should be much easier for me to eat food I already have at home. I started this rule a while ago and fell out of it, but it wasn’t actually too difficult to stick to! I just need to be really conscientious of how much I’m eating out. Usually I’ll try to save it for the weekend and even just cutting out weekdays has helped a lot!

Praise myself more

I’ve always been in the habit of getting down on myself about stuff, so I really want to focus on praising myself more! Anytime I work toward any of the above goals, or do anything good for myself, I’m going to try to praise myself for it. This doesn’t necessarily mean treating myself, or rewarding myself, but just saying some nice things to myself and recognizing any progress I’ve made!


How do y’all feel about New Year’s resolutions? Do you have any you’re going to try out in 2019?

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Book Tags, Bookworm Blogging

TBR Lows & Highs #9

Okay, so I’d been doing Down the TBR Hole for quite some time and really loved it. BUT, it started to feel a bit like a chore, which is why I’d cut down on it. Luckily, Destiny decided to create a new similar-but-different feature that’s loads of fun called TBR Lows and Highs!

She recently tweaked it a little bit, and I LOVE the tweak because I’ve been struggling to remove more and more stuff! Here is the new additional rule: I’d like y’all to pick ONE book from the “lows” that you think I should prioritize and I’ll add the top pick to my TBR ASAP shelf. So comment with your vote! 🙂

Rules:

  • Link back to the original post at Howling Libraries
  • Sort your Goodreads TBR shelf by date added, ascending
  • Find 5-10 (or more, if you feel ambitious!) titles to purge from your TBR (the “lows”)
    • ALTERNATIVE OPTION: Find 5+ titles that are at the BOTTOM of your TBR—books you want to read someday, just not right now! (Thank you for this idea, Ari!)
  • Post those 5 books in the list, with a brief explanation
  • Next, sort your Goodreads TBR shelf by date added, descending
  • List the last 5 (or more!) books you added to your TBR, with a synopsis or your brief summary of why you added it (the “highs”)

The Lows

Annabel
This one appears to have a main character who is intersex, which I don’t think I’ve experienced in a book before!

Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe
This is some real Vintage Gay. Believe it or not I haven’t seen the movie yet, so I figure I may as well read the book first!

P.O.W.ER
Seems like some fun fantasy stuff!

An Unquiet Mind & Night Falls Fast
These were both recommended by my old psychiatrist, so I’m hoping to get around to them at some point.

The Highs

I’m Telling the Truth, but I’m Lying & The Trial of Lizzie Borden
These were both featured at What’s Nonfiction? on this list of 12 titles to look forward to in 2019. There are a lot of intriguing titles on there, so definitely check it out if you like to read non-fiction — or if you want to start!

Bad Blood
This was reviewed by Hannah and sounds like an extremely fascinating read. It’s also somewhat related to the field I work in, so that makes me want to read it extra badly!

Gossip Girl
I never managed to read these when I was younger, nor did I watch the TV show BUT my sister and I recently started watching it together so I think I’d like to give the books a shot at some point.

Sugar Town
I saw my friend Kyra had rated this highly AND the blurb calls it “a bisexual, polyamorous love story” which is totally what I’m all about.

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Book Tags, Bookworm Blogging

My Good Reading Habits [tag]

I was tagged by Ally in this a couple weeks ago and have seen a few others do it as well. I love this tag because it’s so positive! It’s easy to think of the things we want to do, but it’s also important to think of the things that we already do!

Rules

  • Pingback to this post or me!
  • List some of your good reading habits, the things you think you do well
  • Nominate some of your blogging friends

Not buying new books

I know this is one of the biggest things I see other book lovers shaming themselves for, but I’ve been really good about not buying new books for a couple years now! I’ve started loosening the reins a bit, but still have a pretty strict criteria for what I buy. And yet, I still can’t seem to stop buying takeout.

Keeping a book journal

My book journal is literally the only way I can blog. I write down my thoughts on the book, possible triggers I come across, and any quotes I like. It’s fun because I can see what books I was reading at the same time, as well as how long it took me to get through each. It’s also the only way to keep my reviews in order, because I wouldn’t remember anything about the book otherwise.

Using the library

I’ll probably make a more detailed stats-of-the-year post sometime soon, but according to the spreadsheet I use, a whopping 40% of the books I’ve read so far this year have come from the library! I’ve borrowed physical books, ebooks, AND digital audiobooks from them and I’m so grateful that my library has such a good selection!


So, what are some good reading habits that you have? Drop a link below if you do this tag so that I can see yours! I tag Destiny, Anna, Avery, and anyone else who would like to do it. 🙂

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Book Reviews, Bookworm Blogging

The Witch of Willow Hall [review]

The Witch of Willow Hall by Hester Fox
Published by Graydon House on October 2, 2018
my rating: ★★★
Goodreads avg: 
3.79 (as of 2018-12-17)
cw: familial death, incest, suicide, miscarriage, child death
disclaimer: I received an advanced copy of this book from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for review consideration. All of the opinions presented below are my own.

Spoiler-free Review

Goodreads | IndieBound | Author’s Website

Two centuries after the Salem witch trials, there’s still one witch left in Massachusetts. But she doesn’t even know it.

Take this as a warning: if you are not able or willing to control yourself, it will not only be you who suffers the consequences, but those around you, as well.

New Oldbury, 1821 

In the wake of a scandal, the Montrose family and their three daughters—Catherine, Lydia and Emeline—flee Boston for their new country home, Willow Hall.

The estate seems sleepy and idyllic. But a subtle menace creeps into the atmosphere, remnants of a dark history that call to Lydia, and to the youngest, Emeline.

All three daughters will be irrevocably changed by what follows, but none more than Lydia, who must draw on a power she never knew she possessed if she wants to protect those she loves. For Willow Hall’s secrets will rise, in the end…

Sometimes I feel as if we are standing on opposite sides of a great chasm, and I must watch helplessly as the gaping space between us widens.

→ What I Liked:

The Romance

I enjoyed the connection between the main character, Lydia, and her love interest. Their interactions were by far my favorite to read and the romance was really what kept me going through this. I really wanted to know how things came together (or didn’t) for the two of them.

The Readability

While it took some time to gain my interest, this took on an unputdownable quality for me. It really turned into quite the page turner and I read the entire second half of the book in one sitting.

→ What I Didn’t Like:

The Characters

Besides Lydia and, to some extent, her love interest, there wasn’t much depth among the characters. They all felt quite one-dimensional and were defined by one or two qualities that didn’t really change. I also hated the way the older sister Catherine was written — she was a stereotypical catty teenage girl whose only purpose was to cause strife. I’ve been over characterizations like these for a while now.

The Lack of Subtlety

I was literally rolling my eyes at the beginning of this with how hard it was hitting me over the head with the witch stuff. There were plenty of “hints” about Lydia’s true nature, but they were so blatant that they may as well have been screaming off the page. It really drew from the story itself for me.

The Ending

There was so much stuffed into this ending that it felt very rushed to me. A lot of it just felt so very… convenient. And the focus was so much on the romance and so little on the witchcraft that I was left dissatisfied and with very many questions. I want a sequel to learn more about Lydia’s abilities and family history, but felt like the way this ended didn’t leave much room for that.

→ TL;DR:

  • Romance was enjoyable
  • Page-turner
  • Side characters needed work
  • Lots of eyerolls
  • Ending was way too busy
  • Would recommend, but think of this more as a YA romance with paranormal elements than a fantasy or horror with romance on the side
  • Will pick up Hester Fox’s next book
Book Tags, Bookworm Blogging

T10T: Winter TBR

ttt-new

Top Ten Tuesday was originally put together by The Broke and the Bookish and has been taken over by That Artsy Reader Girl. This week’s theme is Winter TBRs! Now, I’m not one for making a set TBR but I do keep a “tbr asap” shelf on Goodreads meant for books I’d like to prioritize. This doesn’t always mean I get to them quickly, but it is helpful for remembering which reads I’m anticipating! Today I plan to list books that it seems likely I’ll read before spring (which is June 21st here).

Ghost Wall

I received an ARC of this a few months ago and am really excited to get to it, especially after seeing some glowing reviews from friends. I think I’ll probably read it during Short-a-thon, since it seems like a quick read.

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet

I won a beautiful paperback copy of this in a giveaway, but just haven’t had a chance to get to it yet. Hopefully over the next month or two, though!

I’ll Be Gone in the Dark

I bought a hardcover copy of this when I was visiting Rachel AGES ago and keep putting off reading it because, to be quite honest, I’m a little scared to. I’m paranoid enough as is, but know I’ll definitely want to get to it sometime soon.

It Devours!

My friend bought me this for my birthday in MARCH and it’s still sitting on my shelf waiting to be read. Why are owned TBRs the hardest to tackle???

Where You’ll Find Me

I think I mentioned this somewhere in a previous post, BUT my sister owns a copy of this and has recommended it to me a couple times. I’m really hoping to get to it soon, and winter seems like an appropriate time to read it.

The Raven King (The Raven Cycle #4)

I bought this in October while visiting my bff Grace in Austin, TX. I know once I start it I won’t be able to put it down, but I’m having trouble picking it up for whatever reason!

Sex at Dawn

I’m actually about halfway through this right now and may finish it before winter officially starts (on the 21st), but it’s overdue to the library so I may have to finish it later! Either way, I’m enjoying it a lot and will definitely finish it before spring.

So, do you all have any books you plan to read over the winter? Feel free to drop the links to your own Top Ten Tuesday posts in the comments so I can check them out. Thanks for reading! 🙂

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Bookworm Blogging

TBR Lows & Highs #8

Okay, so I’d been doing Down the TBR Hole for quite some time and really loved it. BUT, it started to feel a bit like a chore, which is why I’d cut down on it. Luckily, Destiny decided to create a new similar-but-different feature that’s loads of fun called TBR Lows and Highs!

She recently tweaked it a little bit, and I LOVE the tweak because I’ve been struggling to remove more and more stuff! Here is the new additional rule: I’d like y’all to pick ONE book from the “lows” that you think I should prioritize and I’ll add the top pick to my TBR ASAP shelf. So comment with your vote! 🙂

Rules:

  • Link back to the original post at Howling Libraries
  • Sort your Goodreads TBR shelf by date added, ascending
  • Find 5-10 (or more, if you feel ambitious!) titles to purge from your TBR (the “lows”)
    • ALTERNATIVE OPTION: Find 5+ titles that are at the BOTTOM of your TBR—books you want to read someday, just not right now! (Thank you for this idea, Ari!)
  • Post those 5 books in the list, with a brief explanation
  • Next, sort your Goodreads TBR shelf by date added, descending
  • List the last 5 (or more!) books you added to your TBR, with a synopsis or your brief summary of why you added it (the “highs”)

The Lows

A Guide to Being Born
Awayland was sort of middle-of-the-road for me, but I LOVE this cover and I love the description!

Dorothy Must Die
This one seems somewhat intriguing, I just haven’t managed to get around to it yet.

The Girl With All the Gifts
This one is definitely a “must read” for me. It sounds super interesting AND I want to read it before I see the movie.

Raptor Red
I’m still a bit on the fence with this one, but still interested enough to keep it on the TBR.

The Lovely Bones
I know this one will be intense, but I’ve had people telling me to read it since middle school so I gotta!

So what do y’all think? Which of these should I prioritize reading next?

The Highs

Hark! the Herald Angels Scream
Destiny reviewed this and I was immediately SOLD!

The Last & Loyalties
These were both on Rachel’s Anticipated 2019 Releases post and I thought they might be up my alley.

Archival Quality
Another great review by Destiny prompted me to add this to my TBR!

Do You Have Kids?
This one just happened to pop up in my Goodreads feed, but as someone who plans to never have children, I find discussions on the subject to be quite interesting!  

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Bookworm Blogging, Readathons

Short-a-thon 2018 TBR Shortlist

Several weeks ago, I shared my Short-a-thon 2018 TBR with you. I’ve decided to whittle it down to a (randomly selected) shortlist so that I can make an attempt to actually get the books I plan to read! Throughout this year I’ve averaged about 60 pages a day, so my goal is to pull books until I have a total of approximately 600 pages (the readathon is 10 days, BUT there are holidays packed in there so I’m not sure how much reading will get done!). So, without further ado, here is my shortlist:

  • May We Shed These Human Bodies – Amber Sparks
  • The Stepford Wives – Ira Levin
  • Ariel – Sylvia Plath
  • Avi Cantor Has Six Months to Live – Sacha Lamb
  • The Buddha in the Attic – Julie Otsuka

Obviously I may read more, but this is my starter list. I’m SO excited for this readathon and hope some of y’all participate with us. 🙂

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Book Tags, Bookworm Blogging

T10T: Books I DNFed in 2018

ttt-new

Top Ten Tuesday was originally put together by The Broke and the Bookish and has been taken over by That Artsy Reader Girl. This week’s theme is a freebie and since I saw Amanda’s post about books she’s DNFed this year, I thought I’d do the same. It’s interesting, because I DNFed a LOT of books at the beginning of the year but stopped doing so around June (save for one outlier in October). I believe that’s because I’ve gotten a lot better at picking out which books I’ll actually enjoy! I DNFed 22 books in 2018, so I’ll share just a few with you today.

Wildcard

This was probably one of my most disappointing DNFs of the year. It was the rogue October one and was a huge bummer because I loved Warcross, but just couldn’t get invested in the sequel.

As I Descended

Oof, this one was rough y’all. DNFed at 13% due to homophobia/biphobia/misogyny. Huge regrets.

Caged

This had potential, but the writing really needed some polishing. I was finding it kind of difficult to wade through and finally gave up.

Asperger’s Children

I was bummed because it seemed this would contain some interesting and important information, but it was too dry and dense for me to get through. I’m almost wishing I had kept at it and just skimmed.

I know everyone has differing opinions on DNFing,  but I find it’s the best way for me to keep reading! If I try to force myself through a book I’m not enjoying, I won’t read it at all. That being said, I have a lot of respect for people who don’t DNF and still manage to love reading. I think it’s lovely that we can all have our own ways of doing things.

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Bookworm Blogging, Monthly Wrap-Ups

November 2018 Wrap-Up

Hey friends! November into December was kind of rough for me. Holidays are busy AND I’ve been extremely sick. It’s been very difficult to focus enough to get any reading or blogging done, which is why I’ve fallen off the map for a couple weeks. Hopefully I’ll start feeling better soon! I’m going to work my way back into blogging on my regular schedule (Tu, Th, Sat), but it’ll probably be a gradual effort since I’m still feeling pretty exhausted and sick. Thanks for your patience, and happy reading! ❤

Books Read:

  • The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson. 4/5 stars, review.
  • Believe Me by JP Delaney. 3.5/5 stars, review.

Books read: 2 books (YIKES)
Average Rating:  3.75 stars

Other Posts:

Reading Goal Progress:

This month, I read 2 books, which puts me at a total of 70 books for the year. I’m 1 book ahead of schedule and at 93% of my reading goal for the year.

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Bookworm Blogging, Readathons

Short-a-thon 2018

I can’t remember the last time I participated in a readathon (I’m so bad at them!) but Destiny @ Howling Libraries and Kathy @ Books and Munches have put together this super fun one that I just had to join. 🙂

Here’s all the important info, snagged directly from Destiny’s post:

SHORT-A-THON!

Short-a-thon is a readathon that is going to take place from 12:00AM December 21st to 11:59PM December 31st. (You can go by your own time zone!)

The goal is simple: to focus on reading the SHORTEST books in your TBR! These can be short stories, novellas, graphic novels, manga—if it’s got a low page count, it works! Of course, our ideas of “short” books will all vary, so go by whatever YOU consider short!

We liked the idea of hosting this readathon for two reasons:
1) It’s unique!
2) BOOST THOSE READING CHALLENGE NUMBERS! Your December end-of-year wrap could look amazing with a big stack of short books thrown on top!

Here’s how you can join in…

Create a TBR in a blog post, tweet, or whatever else you like to use. We recommend making a list of your TEN (10) shortest books!

Leave a comment here or on Kathy’s post with a link to your TBR so she can add you to our official participants list (you can do this any time between now and December 21st).

Use #shortathon18 on social media so we can all find each other and cheer one another one, and be sure to follow us on Twitter at @shortathon! We’ll be hosting reading sprints and challenges everyday.

My Short-a-thon TBR

I decided to choose the same method as Destiny: I’ll write out a list of shorter books on my TBR (all under 150 pages) and choose my TBR at random. I’ve also split them up based on number of pages, like Destiny did! Some of these may not be published yet, and some I may not be able to get a hold of. I’ll select and random and read whatever I actually can and skip what I can’t. 🙂 Here are the books I’ve selected as options:

1-50 Pages: 

  1. A Monstrous Love: Two Halloween Romances – Magen Cubed
  2. Wet Nails – Shira Glassman
  3. Heaven or This – Topaz Winters
  4. Hex Wives #1 – Ben Blacker
  5. The Goddess Collection – Ailie Wallace
  6. Waiting on a Bright Moon – J.Y. Yang
  7. Complementary and Acute – Ella Lyons
  8. A Guide to Undressing Your Monsters – Sam Sax
  9. Throttle – Joe Hill
  10. A Jury of Her Peers – Susan Glaspell
  11. Hunting Monsters – S.L. Huang

50-100 Pages:

  1. The Terracotta Bride – Zen Cho
  2. We Should All Be Feminists – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  3. New American Best Friend – Olivia Gatwood
  4. In the Tall Grass – Stephen King
  5. By the Bog of Cats – Marina Carr
  6. Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions – 
    Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  7. The Grownup – Gillian Flynn
  8. Sour Candy – Kealan Patrick Burke
  9. Avi Cantor Has Six Months to Live – Sacha Lamb
  10. Rose – Li-Young Lee
  11. This Way to the Sugar – Hieu Minh Nguyen
  12. The Little Red Wolf – Amélie Fléchais
  13. White Nights – Fyodor Dostoyevsky
  14. The Curse Catcher – Laura Thalassa
  15. Night Sky with Exit Wounds – Ocean Vuong
  16. Black Helicopters – Caitlín R. Kiernan
  17. Riding the Track – Kara Ripley
  18. Bingo Love – Tee Franklin
  19. Learning Curves – Ceillie Simkiss
  20. Don’t Tell My Mother – Brigitte Bautista
  21. I’m Afraid of Men – Vivek Shraya
  22. The Lost Path – Amélie Fléchais
  23. ApocalyptiGirl – Andrew MacLean
  24. Jealousy Survival Guide – Kitty Chambliss
  25. Bluets – Maggie Nelson

100-150 Pages:

  1. Pizzeria Kamikaze – Etgar Keret
  2. Ongoingness – Sarah Manguso
  3. The Atrocities – Jeremy C. Shipp
  4. Ariel – Sylvia Plath
  5. Some New Ambush – Carys Davies
  6. Heathen Volume #1 – Natasha Alterici
  7. Afterlife – Melissa Jennings
  8. The Black God’s Drums – P. Djèlí Clark
  9. Do/ Story/ – Bobette Buster
  10. Wenjack – Joseph Boyden
  11. Water Memory – Mathieu Reynès
  12. The Backstagers Vol. 1 – James Tynion IV
  13. The Lamb Will Slaughter the Lion – Margaret Killjoy
  14. Heavy Vinyl Vol. 1 – Carly Usdin
  15. Evidence of the Affair – Taylor Jenkins Reid
  16. Women & Power – Mary Beard
  17. A House at the Bottom of a Lake – Josh Malerman
  18. Moonstruck Vol. 1 – Grace Ellis
  19. The Devil You Know – KJ Parker
  20. Love Beyond Body, Space, and Time – Hope Nicholson
  21. Taproot – Keezy Young
  22. Giant Days Vol. 1 – John Allison
  23. Stairway – Matt Hawkins
  24. Kingdom of Needle and Bone – Mira Grant
  25. Sex Criminals Vol. 1 – Matt Fraction
  26. You Should Have Left – Daniel Kehlmann
  27. The Murders of Molly Southbourne
  28. Written on the Body – Lexie Bean
  29. The Buddha in the Attic – Julie Otsuka
  30. Dead Leaves – Patrick Kealan Burke
  31. All Hail the House Gods – Andrew J Stone
  32. The Reason I Jump – Naoki Higashida
  33. Zodiac Starforce Vol. 1 – Kevin Panetta
  34. Mockingbird Vol. 1 – Chelsea Cain
  35. Spell on Wheels – Kate Leth
  36. Runaways Vol. 1 – Rainbow Rowell
  37. Patsy Walker AKA Hellcat! Vol. 1 – Kate Leth
  38. Oh Honey – Emily Austin
  39. My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness – Kabi Nagata
  40. The ABCs of Socialism – Bhaskar Sunkara
  41. Batgirl Vol. 1 – Gail Simone
  42. Almost Midnight – Rainbow Rowell
  43. The Stepford Wives – Ira Levin
  44. Cold, Thin Air – CK Walter
  45. The Melody of You and Me – M. Hollis
  46. Anarchism and Its Aspirations – Cindy Milstein
  47. The Man in the Picture – Susan Hill
  48. Roadside Picnic – Arkady Strugatsky
  49. Who Framed Roger Rabbit? – Martin Noble
  50. May We Shed These Human Bodies – Amber Sparks

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