Tag Archives: books

Monthly Recap: September

I hate how late this recap is! I’ll try to do better next month…

Books I Read

Finished my reread of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling

A Dash of Dragon by Heidi Lang and Kat Bartkowski

#bookstagram Images of the Month

Watched

Sing (cute), The Secret Life of Pets (forgettable), and Wonder Woman (finally, I know – I really enjoyed it but maybe not quite as much as everyone else).

September Happenings

I went on vacation in Savannah (the week after Irma hit)! I still want to talk more about this in a future post, but you can read my thoughts on two of the city’s bookstores here and just know that I really enjoyed my time there! It’s such a beautiful city.

My birthday! I turned 31 and it wasn’t even too painful, ha ha. It was a good one, with several celebratory dinners around it.

I attended the SCBWI Midsouth Conference for the fourth (I think?) year in a row, and it was such an enriching experience, as usual. But it didn’t start out roses and rainbows.

For the first time, I paid for a critique from an editor. You can do face-to-face or written, and I chose the latter. I submitted the first ten pages of the WIP I have been pouring into pretty much since my first SCBWI conference, and had recently revised due to feedback from various CPs. I thought it was in pretty good shape and was hoping for some constructive criticism. While the feedback I got back from the editor wasn’t flat out negative, it wasn’t very positive either. I understood some of what she was saying, but some of it was clear she just wasn’t getting the story. Whether that was my fault or not, I don’t know, but that was the reality.

But I immersed myself in the conference and didn’t worry too much about the critique. Then came time for our optional critique group, which is where you’re assigned to a group to critique a few pages of each other’s work. Between getting the paid critique and just already getting a lot of feedback on Earthbound, I decided to share the beginnings of a new story I just recently started working on and haven’t even completed a draft of yet. The response from those in my group was so positive that it really kind of blew me away, and definitely encouraged me. I could feel in my soul what my next course of action was – shelve Earthbound for now, give it time to simmer, and focus all my efforts on my new project.

So I’m excited! It can be hard to move on from something you’ve spent so much time on, but I honestly feel really liberated. Earthbound would be a hard sell for a debut author; this new contemporary is much easier to grasp onto. If I can write it as well as I believe I can, I believe getting an agent with it will be very possible. And here’s hoping that I can bring Earthbound back out one day, once I have that trust in place. My goal is to have my first draft of Love and Sax finished by the end of the year.

Also, these ladies are my writing lifeline!

Looking forward to in October…

Needtobreathe concert! I get to see my other favorite band this month and I cannot wait!

How was your September? 

Bookstore Tourist: Savannah, GA

I recently got back from a lovely trip to Savannah, GA, and just had to share about the two indie bookstores I went to there.

The Book Lady

Imagine a large library collection in an old house that spills over onto the floor and into multiple rooms, and you’ll have an idea of what The Book Lady feels like. There’s a mix of used gems and new books, as well as a small (secured) section of rare and special books. When my husband saw a hardback copy of Jumanji and wondered out loud what made it special or rare, the guy at the store unlocked the case and showed us the author’s signature inside. If you’re a big fan of rummaging to find that perfect book, this is a place you’ve got to check out.

E Shaver

I enjoyed The Book Lady, but I absolutely adored E Shaver. I’m sure their bookstore kitties helped with that. 🙂 (The Book Lady does have bookstore dogs, but they were off-duty when we were there.) There were so many gorgeous covers I had never seen before for books I already own and really don’t need another copy of (#bookworm probs) and some other fun things there as well.

I hope to share more just a little more about my trip to Savannah in a future post, but just had to share the bookstore love!

Have you ever found a gem in a used bookstore? What’s your favorite indie bookstore that you’ve visited and isn’t local to you?

It’s Been A While Since I’ve Talked About Books

As the title suggests, it’s been a while since I’ve talked about books on this blog. It probably doesn’t help I’m blogging pretty inconsistently these days, but the point is, when I do blog I focus more on TV/movies. I’ve been reading plenty, but this has pretty much been the okayest year of reading for me so far since I got serious about my reading. Almost everything has been getting 4 stars, which I might have inadvertently been turning the new 3 star into. Technically 3 stars should be average but still enjoyable, right? I think several of the books I’ve read have genuinely rose above that into 4 star territory, but some were probably more like 3’s or 3.5’s, but I always try to focus more on my positive feelings for books than my negative ones. Besides, I read books I hope to like and intend to like. If I’m not feeling a book I DNF it, which thankfully doesn’t happen very often.

But it’s been entirely too long since I’ve read a book that I felt really got into my soul the way I want my 5 star reads to do. When I find that book, believe me, I will discuss it here. The closest I’ve gotten is Better Off Friends, which is the only book I’ve read this year I’m calling a true 5 star, but even it is a little bit of a low-end 5 star, if that makes any sense. (Please tell me I’m not the only one with such complexities and nuances within simple numeral ratings.) I thought A Wrinkle in Time might be for that book for me this year, but then I felt the ending lacked a little something to really take it all the way there for me. And then on top of all that, I just didn’t love Dunkirk (the movie) the way I really wanted to. So dang it, what’s wrong with me?

I’ve been rereading Harry Potter this year though, and reread two other books as well, and those have all still been great. My soul can still be reached, the dementors haven’t quite gotten me yet. 😉 But it can be hard to find those elusive unicorn stories that really check off all the boxes, especially since I’m reading “only” 45ish books a year (a lot compared to many people, but very few in the online bookish community). I have been trying to switch up genres a good bit, so I don’t think I’m too burnt out on anything in particular.

I’m not in a reading slump, not really, but I’m really itching to find that next great story to read. And meanwhile, writing has been hard. How much do I change my WIP of years? Do I keep editing that and try to query it again, or focus exclusively on something newer? Of course, it doesn’t help I’ve been avoiding writing a lot lately too. So I’ll just keep reading and try to keep writing too, and hope that one day something magical sticks.

How’s your reading year sizing up? Do you have any book recs for me that might help make my reading year feel a little better than OK? 

Monthly Recap: July

Books I Read

A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro

This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab

To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee (reread)

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle

She Is Not Invisible by Marcus Sedgwick (finished July 1)

So I read A Wrinkle In Time for the first time. And I can see why it’s so beloved and classic. However, some of it was too on-the-nose for me and some of it was a hair too out-there. It’s like when I watched Interstellar for the first time, and I was pretty sure where it was going and I watched as this movie teeter-tottered on the fine line between interesting sci-fi and going off the deep end. I wanted to feel just a little more invested in the characters and could have done with less unnecessary riddles. I also watched the trailer of the new movie coming out the same day I finished and felt a little disappointed. I guess I wanted the movie to feel more classic, but to me it already screams: THIS WAS MADE IN 2017, so I don’t see it enduring as a movie. But that’s based off a two-minute trailer, so what do I know? Maybe it will be amazing.

A New Favorite…

Baking mix! Though don’t let the fact that it comes in a box fool you, this is almost as involved as made-from-scratch, but just as delicious and so worth it!

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

For some reason, it feels really momentous to have finished Deep Space Nine again. Probably because I love the show so much and the end is just so satisfying for me. As is reflected by my top episode of the season, the Nog arc really did it for me. But of course there are also the great arcs we see for Kira, Bashir, Damar, Sisko… It could be talked about forever, which is why there are podcasts dedicated to such. (If you’re a fan of DS9, be sure to give The Orb podcast a listen.)

#bookstagram Images of the Month

I think that both Caraval and Wall-E have made it onto my #bookstagram images of the month before, but they’re just so photogenic!

Movies I Watched

My husband and I saw Spider-man: Homecoming and Dunkirk. I reviewed Spider-man here, and I’m still sorting out my feelings for Dunkirk. It’s incredibly raw and intense, but without much of a narrative it was hard for me to appreciate it as a story. It’s a beautiful film, that’s for sure, but I would have loved to have gotten to know the characters onscreen better. I mean, in a way we know them because we see them when they’re afraid, but… I just wish I could adequately describe how I respect what Nolan was doing but just don’t really love it but I desperately want to. I actually want to try to see it again, preferably in film, now that I better understand what happened, thanks to the movie’s Wikipedia page that spelled it out.

In Case You Missed It…

I was featured on Andi’s ABCs talking about what decision I wish technology would make for me!

Plans for August

Switchfoot concert! I’m so excited. I lost count on how many times I’ve seen them long ago. It’s got to be around the dozen mark at this point. It’s also my husband’s birthday month! Which means CAKE! Oh, and celebrating my wonderful husband. 🙂 It also means my birthday is around the corner SOS I don’t want to get older.

Potential July TBR

It Started With Goodbye by Christina June (already started)

These Vicious Masks by Kelly Zekas and Tarun Shanker

Without a Summer (Glamourist Histories #3) by Mary Robinette Kowal

(yes I know those last two were on last month’s list… shhh…)

How was your July? What are you looking forward to in August?

Monthly Recap: June

Books I Read

Better Off Friends by Elizabeth Eulberg

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling (reread)

By Your Side by Kasie West

(Finished on July 1) Duels and Deceptions by Cindy Anstey

So Better Off Friends… Why did no one tell me this book was a ME book? OK, I guess no one else could know that. It wasn’t quite as amazing as The Start of Me and You (AKA the most ME young adult contemporary I have ever read), but still pretty great.

Also, I ran out of time on my To Kill A Mockingbird audiobook from the library I was listening to, so I haven’t finished it yet, but I plan to physically read the rest once my hold from the library comes from (or until I find the physical copy in our house that I am pretty sure we own… whichever comes first). I was having a hard time with the narrator’s portrayal of Scout anyway. She made her sound like a very irritating girl with a very annoying Southern accent, instead of the more precocious girl with a not-annoying Southern accent that I imagine in my mind.

Stanley Cup Finals

I was pretty unhappy with how the Finals played out in games 5 & 6 (do not even get me started on the refs) but I am still proud of the Preds for getting so far when none of the experts expected it and enjoyed the ride! I also now have two Preds t-shirts and look forward to rooting for them in the future!

#bookstagram Images of the MonthPotential July TBR

This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab

A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro

These Vicious Masks by Kelly Zekas and Tarun Shanker

Without a Summer (Glamourist Histories #3) by Mary Robinette Kowal

Movies I Plan to See in July…

Spider-man: Homecoming and Dunkirk! My husband and I haven’t made it out for Wonder Woman so I think we’re waiting for it on Redbox at this point, but Spider-man and Dunkirk are two movies we are going to make a point to go see. If you don’t know anything about Dunkirk, all you need to know is that Christopher Nolan made it. SOLD.

I did a thing…

I ordered from Book Outlet for the first time and got seven books for $37… Which I think is a pretty good deal but it’s still not a very me thing to do. I slept on it before I made the purchase though and as long as I enjoy my books I see no reason to regret it… other than the fact that I already need less stuff in my house rather than more… but books are different, right?!Totes.

How was your June? Any big plans for July?