Category Archives: Life

A Much Overdue Update

*Taps microphone*

Is this thing on?

This corner of the internet that I have neglected has remained in the back of my mind for the past year and a half, but when I half-heartedly renewed my domain again, I thought it was really and truly time to hop back on and post. I don’t know if anyone is reading this and I’m not promising regular content, but I did want to clear out the virtual cobwebs.

So we don’t have to go into the craziness of 2020, we’re all living it, but the other major life update I can share is that in May 2019 I welcomed my beautiful daughter in the world and obviously nothing has been the same since – both in the best way and the hardest way. She is now a crazy smart, crazy active, and crazy cute fourteen month old who wears me out and lights up my life all at the same time.

I am still actively reading, but it has slowed down quite a bit (unless we count my daily consumption of the works of Sandra Boynton as well as Corduroy’s Colors and whatever else baby girl’s favorite is that week). I am starting to feel burned out on YA, at least newer YA, as well as some of the negativity of the culture in general, and I am trying to get more into non-fiction, but have not actually read much of it yet. I think starting next month I will start a monthly goal of reading 1 YA fiction, 1 non-fiction, and 1 other fiction and see how that goes.

I am also on and off with writing lately, but since I am back in rotation with my writing critique group I need to get my act together and get back into that. Things have just been kind of crazy in my personal life these past couple of weeks, with my husband’s grandfather’s health failing (not technically COVID-releated, though I think being in lockdown didn’t help him), a less-than-relaxing vacation, and then my husband’s grandfather ultimately passing away. I am ready for things to normalize again, as much as they can these days anyway.

I would like to occasionally post again, but I’m not sure what it will look like if I do. 2019 feels so long ago I can’t imagine doing a post on my top reads of the year, and I’m not enthusiastic enough about my reads of 2020 to discuss what I’ve read so far this year. Mostly, this is just a little wave into hyperspace, to let you know I’m here. I’ve slowed down my activity on Twitter and somewhat on Instagram, but you can still find me there, @acshawya.

See you around…

What I Read in October & November + NEWS!

Audiobook reads:

The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater (reread – I actually started reading this one physically but switched to the audiobook when my library hold for it came through)

Etiquette & Espionage (Finishing School #1) by Gail Carriger

Curtsies & Conspiracies (Finishing School #2) by Gail Carriger

Waistcoats & Weaponry (Finishing School #3) by Gail Carriger

Physical reads:

Remember God by Annie F. Downs

These Vicious Masks by Tarun Shanker and Kelly Sekas

Escaping from Houdini by Kerri Maniscalco

(Set aside for now – Fawkes by Nadine Brandes – I want to try again later, but despite my best efforts I could not get into this one)

Emily Climbs by L.M. Montgomery

Its amazing how combining my two months of reads in this one post, the books I read in October feel like forever ago! I’m enjoying going through the Finishing School audiobooks right now. I don’t love everything about them, but they’re definitely entertaining listens for my work day. I also really enjoyed These Vicious Masks and Escaping From Houdini.

So NEWS! In case you missed it from my Instagram, I’m pregnant! As of right now I’m at 17 weeks, baby due in May just days before my wedding anniversary. My husband and I very excited and sometimes it still feels a little surreal. I’ll find out New Year’s Eve if we’re having a boy or girl. I’ll keep y’all updated. 🙂

Fave Five: Summer Songs

Once upon a time, I decided I wanted to start a feature called Fave 5, and then proceeded to only do the feature twice, both times involving trips I took. But I wanted to revive it again to talk about the music I have been enjoying this year, particularly this summer.

My relationship with music is when I love it I LOOOOOVE it, but I listen to a very limited group of artists and have a particular taste that I don’t even know how to quantify. To make this list more diverse, I decided to limit my list to to songs that have been officially released as singles (not necessarily radio singles, just released singles) so they wouldn’t all just be from the forthcoming The Gray Havens album I’ve had the pleasure of obtaining early as a Kickstarter backer. Also, to keep it in the summer theme, I limited myself to music released this year, so I couldn’t put any of Echosmith’s music from their EP released last fall even though I’ve listened to it a good bit this summer. On to my choices, in no particular order.

1. Magnetic by Phillip Phillips

Hello, saxophone. Seriously, I’ve seen Phillip Phillips in concert twice now and his band is incredible, and they’re on full display in this song.

2. Over My Head by Echosmith

I really enjoy Echosmith and this is such a fun song. I’m looking forward to their new project whenever it releases.

3. Better Than I Used to Be by Mat Kearney featuring Afsheen

While he’s not what I consider one of my favorite artists, I do enjoy a lot of Mat Kearney’s songs and I just love the vibe of this particular song. I practically had it on repeat during my vacation in Destin in May.

4. Forever On Your Side by Needtobreathe featuring JohnnySwim

This is the title track of Needtobreathe’s new EP and it definitely has a fun vibe to it. I also enjoy the accompaniment on it from Johnnyswim, and look forward to seeing them perform this song live together later this month when I see them in concert!

5. Storehouse by The Gray Havens

I am 110% obsessed with this song. It’s definitely a Christian song with the theme of repentance and redemption, but even if you’re not a Christian you might still enjoy listening to it once for its cool vibe. This is exactly why I love The Gray Havens, because they write very spiritually mature lyrics and pair them with very masterful, artful music, unlike many other Christian artists I won’t name who are fond of the copy & paste functions and chord charts (which I’m not completely hating on but it does get a little old). Their new album with this song comes out in October, and if you like this song you should pre-order the album because the whole thing is AMAZING.

What have you been listening to this summer? (Chances are I haven’t heard of it because I’m oblivious to popular music but share anyway!) 

What I Read in June + I Met Stephanie Garber!

June was another month that felt slow for physical reading, and I’m just resigning myself to the fact that this is the pace I am going to read at in my current life phase (which seems to be perpetually busy for unknown reasons). And that’s fine. Audiobooks are helping me read more overall, even if I feel like it doesn’t completely count, even though everyone assures me it does! And it guess I should acknowledge that it really does, considering some of my favorite books so far have been ones I listened to… stay tuned for my top 10 books I’ve read so far this year list next week!

Audiobook reads:

Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalo

Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie

Hunting Prince Dracula by Kerri Maniscalo

The Siren by Kiera Cass

Physical reads:

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

Love & Luck by Jenna Evans Welch

Legendary by Stephanie Garber

I enjoyed all of these, with my top two faves being Stalking Jack the Ripper and Legendary, which is great because I got to meet both authors in June!

So Stephanie and I actually go back a little ways, when once upon a time we met through blogging! She hopped onto Heidi Lang and Kat Bartkowski’s blog when the two girls were Stephanie’s Pitch Wars mentees, and we got to know each other online. Flash forward to her selling Caraval (and Heidi and Kat are also published now with the delightful middle grade A Dash of Dragon and upcoming A Hint of Hydra), and it’s been so fun to watch her dream of becoming a published author turn into a reality! So when she announced her book tour for Legendary and I saw Nashville’s Parnassus Books on the list, I was ecstatic that I would have the chance to meet Stephanie in real life!

I have to say, I was really nervous! I think Stephanie knew I was coming, but I still wondered if I needed to be like, “Hey, it’s me, Amy!” or if she would recognize me on her own. Thankfully, it only took her a couple of seconds of looking at me to recognize me and was instantly like, “Can I give you a hug?” Of course! Stephanie is just the sweetest and everything about the evening was so fun. I had just listened to Jack the Ripper on audio the week before when I realized Kerri would be at the event too, and while I’m sad I didn’t have a book for her to sign, I told her I enjoyed it and she gave me an autographed bookmark for Escaping from Houdini, which I am excited for! 

I love how books and writing can bring people together!

Tell me what your favorite book you read in June was! 

What I Read in April

Audiobook reads:

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

The Golden Braid by Melanie Dickerson

An Uncertain Choice by Jody Hedlund

Somewhere between 1/4 and 1/3 of The Radium Girls by Kate Moore: This nonfiction account was feeling very repetitive so I skipped ahead to close to the end to learn the resolution.

Physical reads:

Emily Of New Moon by L.M. Montgomery

100 Days to Brave by Annie F. Downs (Started in January and read one section a day until April 10)

The Glass Sentence by S.E. Grove

The Fates Divide by Veronica Roth (finished May 2)

Everything I read this month took me a long freaking time to read for one reason or another. But my clear favorite was The Glass Sentence, an amazingly unique story with incredible world-building and a loveable, independent heroine. I can’t wait to read the two sequels and I highly recommend it!

What was your favorite read in April?