Yesterday on my Bookstagram (linked in the About Me page), I posted my tentative February TBR.
But as I mentioned in my January Recap post, I am definitely a mood reader. So this list, even though I wrote it 6 hours ago has already changed. Obviously before I read Lovecraft Country I should probably read some of the HP Lovecraft collection that I have, and before I read Reaper at the Gates I have to finish Torch Against the Night. All of the books listed are either books I’ve started already or books that currently fit the mood I’m in.
The potion bottles were purchased with the Patronus Potions Year 2 mystery box.
Last year, between the New York shut down and the reduced in person hours at work places, there was a lot of time to read. During this time, I joined Alexandra Bracken’s Brackfast Book Club (link in currently reading), and the books we read were voted on by everyone in the group. This led to us reading things that I wouldn’t normally have read on my own and it was an interesting way to analyze how I read different types of books. It was fascinating to see how my brain tackled series verses standalones, and how tracking my reading differently changed the way I was reading.
Most trackers focus on the number of books finished in the month but for me, I have trouble focusing on just one book at a time. So, I decided to start using my Happy Planner as a way to track pages and books read in a day.
This way of tracking and reading came about because of the book club. Specifically, with standalones and binging series, I kept getting bogged down with all of the information going into my brain at once. So, I started reading side books to break up the reading for the book club. But that also put me behind the book club’s pace and made me feel like I couldn’t keep up. Tracking the books differently wasn’t going to make me read faster, or help me keep up, but it made me reevaluate my goals and expectations for myself and experience less burn out. This is how it worked out for January’s tracker:
This month I was trying to finish We Hunt the Flame from the book club, but it’s just too much world building for me to speed read. So, I focused on a couple of other books that I had been meaning to read instead and got pretty far in all of them. Tracking this way had not only given me a more visual representation of my accomplishments, but also a way to make time to slow down and process what I was reading. I even wrote notes on the books for reviews.
In the end of the month I had made it 25% of the way through We Hunt the Flame, 15% of the way through The Naming, 15% of the way through This Time by Azaa Davis, and 17% of the way through Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith.
This wouldn’t be a recap without a brief description of the books I read so:
We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal follows Zafira and Nasir in the kingdom of Arawiya. Zafira is a woman in a society that doesn’t value their contributions beyond being in the home and working under men. But she desires more, and has lost much to get it. Nasir is deadly, but his actions are not his own. They are sent on a mission, both to seek, one to kill, one to survive. This book has the feel of The Hunger Games.
The Naming by Alison Croggon follows Maerad from her life in slavery, to her daring escape with her rescuer Cadvan. Along this journey she discovers that she is from a line of very powerful Bards, and her destiny may be more important than that of a simple slave. This book has the feel of Tamora Pierce’s Immortals Quartet.
This Time by Azaaa Davis (free copy for review) follows Nadira, a demon hunter who wakes up in a strange place and is unsure of how she got there or how long she had been there and once she escapes is shocked to find the answers she’s looking for. This book has the feel of Supernatural and Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
So that was my January 2021, I didn’t finish any of the books but that’s okay, I’m sure I’ll finish some eventually and it’s the reading that’s important not the pace.
I recently started a “Bookstagram” Account and honestly it is so fun! I definitely needed a new platform and outlet for my creativity. Between the pictures and the captions, this new Instagram account definitely has new opportunities for my brain to play around. There are all sorts of different challenges you could participate in and so many other community members to follow. It also gives me a new way to share and track my TBR list. If you would like to come follow me, click on the link in the Social Media sidebar.
For my March TBR, I’ve decided to take one more attack on my old February TBR before setting them aside for a while to try and match my mood. So for the first two weeks I’m going to continue withIron King,Hunting Prince Dracula, A Gathering of Shadows, and Bloodwitch. Now, I know most people would say if you have to take a break from a book, it’s not a good book. But as someone with an anxiety disorder that makes it hard to focus on one specific thing over time, I feel like that is a lot of responsibility to put on a book. That being said, these books are still very good, but my brain just can’t hold on to them right now. So I’m going to give them one more shot before moving on to one of these beautiful collections that are calling to my attention.
This month is also the first month that I have gotten to play with my new Keys and Curios journal from Wizarding World Gold. So that will be another fun little thing to go back to periodically through out the month.
I’ve also started using my bullet journal daily this year, and may have to start incorporating that into my posts and stories. It has been a good way to keep track of my to do list and my TBR. It’s also been a tactile way to let my brain and my hands work out what they need. It’s made budgeting easier. It’s made time management sort of easier, my brain still has its own limitations.
Really, for me this whole month is probably going to be about getting back to my creativity. I always seem to lose it over winter. And with the loss of my creativity, my focus and my mood both fluctuate. This month I want to get back to me and stop trying to focus on other people’s opinions of me. This month is all about me and my needs.
(As always, look for this post image on my business pages for any updates on Paparazzi or Younique.)
This month FaeCrate (a book subscription box service) is doing a Read-A-long of the Iron Fey Series by Julie Kagawa. Today was the first day of the Read-A-Long so if you want to join in you still have time. The dates are listed below, and that picture should link to the Event FaeCrate has created on Facebook: (EDIT 1/13/20: The Facebook link broke, so I added the Instagram one instead)
I have not read this series, but own the first two so I am going to use this as a way to finally find time to read the books. This will hopefully get me closer to my Goodreads 2020 Reading Goal as well. If you’re participating and have a blog or Bookstagram or Booktube comment below so I can check them out!
I had initially started writing this review as just a standard review. But then I saw a post on Ms. Susan Dennard’s Instagram advertising for a Witchlander run blog tour. I’ve never participated in before so I decided to sign up! So first, some information. This blog tour is for the Witchlands Boxed Set which comes out October 8th, 2019. So in 7 days!
This boxed set includes the first three full length novels in the Witchlands series. For Truthwitch and Windwitch it also contains brand new dust jacket covers that are made to match the original cover of Bloodwitch. Unfortunately, the boxed set does not include a copy of Sightwitch, the Witchlands novella. This however, can be purchased separately in hardcover at any general retailer. (It’s also available as an ebook on all the retailers’ sites).
Now if you’ve never heard of the Witchlands series or Susan Dennard you’re probably very confused. But hopefully by the end you won’t be. If you really are new I would definitely say that this boxed set is the best way to get into the series because I promise you are going to want the sequels immediately if not sooner.
This series kicks off with Truthwitch which is the best hook you could ever hope for. You are immediately thrown into an action scene and are just swooped into a world and an adventure that keeps you captivated and curious. There are so many pieces and puzzles, lore and love, fights and flights. You get to see how lives weave together and plots twist and turn. It’s really a wonderful book.
It reads like a D&D campaign and that’s wholly unsurprising because it is one of her interests. There are certain authors who are good at weaving a tale together and drawing you into it and Susan Dennard is definitely one of them. She can world build without it being overbearing. Keeping you focused on the plot but also describing what the world looks like and making it real. It’s one of those books that can build a universe with out being over 1000 pages. And it is definitely a beautiful world. It is the reason that I fell so head over heels for the series.
It’s a good, quick read that sweeps you up and keeps you entertained but doesn’t take a whole year to finish. It was just the book I needed to keep me reading while I geared up to start taking classes again for the first time in a few years. And if you’re someone who is already taking classes and needs something to break a reading slump I highly recommend these books. It’s very hard to give you a summary without spoiling some aspect that you want to be surprised by so if you’re on my blog reading this I would recommend skipping the end of this post and heading over to Goodreads to read their synopsis because they are much better at it than I am. But if you don’t mind a quick play by play that uses that initial hook to bring you into the story keep reading below the bold-faced potential spoiler warning below. I personally think that the hook is one of the best I’ve read in a very long time and I would just jump right in with it if it were me.
Potential Spoiler Warning (hook, and story structure)
This story starts out following Safiya fon Hasstrel and Iseult det Midenzi running a heist against “Chiseled Cheater”, a guy Safi had met in a bar/gambling den sort of place where Safi ended up losing all of her money. This plan had been Safi’s idea from the start, she had assured Iseult that she could win big at this place and that they would be living large by the end of it. But it didn’t quite work out that way and now Safi had made it even worse. How? Because this was not Chiseled Cheater’s caravan of wagons approaching the ambush they had set up. No, this was the head of the Dalmoti Gold Guild, and he had a tracker with him.
Now, this was not some regular tracker, no this was a Bloodwitch. Because in the Witchlands people had power. There are different types of power, each tied to one of the Origin Wells. The Bloodwitch held power over blood. He could smell it, identify you by it, track you by it and control it. As soon as he has your smell you’re pretty much doomed to be caught. And Safi and Iseult could not get caught.
Here enters the master plot. They run. They get away from the Bloodwitch, but not in a way that they cannot be tracked. No one can run far enough for that. But they run to the docks to try and sail away because a Bloodwitch, while powerful, cannot outrun a ship. They were going to escape the city and come back when it was safer, when maybe it was all forgotten. But Safi’s Uncle had other plans and they were not to be ruined by Safi.
So Safi is whisked away by Habim to the peace summit she is supposed to be attending, and Iseult is sent off alone to escape the city. But plans always fail, and one marriage proposal, a “kidnapping”, and a high speed chase later and Safi and Iseult are on the run. They are not quite sure who they are running from or where they are running to. All they have is a Wordwitched contract that is nearly impossible to keep and a prince turned sailor to help them along the way as plots unfold, war breaks out, and mysteries become unveiled slowly.
Tomorrow kicks off the Witchlands Boxed Set blog tour, and I will be participating. This is the first blog tour I’ve ever been a part of so I’m really excited for it! My date on the tour is tomorrow so look out for my post.
The tour is being hosted by Adriyanna Zimmermann over at Life Writings of a Reader. So you should go over and check out her blog for any news or interesting information. The post that I’m putting up tomorrow will be a review of Truthwitch and then later in the month when I finish reading Bloodwitch I’ll probably do a series recap.
The boxed set comes out October 8th, 2019; and you can pre-order from most of the usual places. But based on a recent twitter thread I’m going to include only certain pre-order links below.
These books will take priority over any
of the personal reading books on the list. So don’t be surprised if my
Goodreads is flooded with textbook updates and my posts take on a more
scientific nature again. I’ve definitely missed science discussions and topics.
So my interests definitely are going to start swaying back towards science.
That being said, the goals I set for myself last month are still on my list.
With some slight changes for new releases and challenges.
Bloodwitch by Susan Dennard
I am just so hooked on this series that I could not give it up no matter what else I have going on. I’m so invested in these characters. I need to know what happens to them! I have a feeling this one will take a majority of my down time.
V.E. Schwab is co-hosting a Schwab-tember challenge with some people. This challenges her readers, followers, and fans to read any of her books during September. And I can’t think of a better book to follow up the void left behind by finishing Bloodwitch.
These are what I’m excited about for
September. As far as products go, I don’t really have any that I’m dying to try
this month. If I find anything I’m super excited about I’ll probably post about
it in a separate post. There have been some really cool new releases from
Younique this month and a pretty exciting Kudos. But I will probably post about
them separately on my Facebook page.
So after writing up my July recaps I
decided to also write up an August TBR list and an August To Try Out List.
However, life caught up to me and so I’m still going to post it, but I’m going
to edit it into a recap of sorts instead. So let’s kick things off with my TBR.
These first books on the list were the books
that I had started in a previous month and just wanted to finish this month if
I had the time.
Windwitch By Susan Dennard
I had started this book last month immediately after finishing Truthwitch by Susan Dennard. By the end of July, I was just about halfway through the book so it wasn’t hard to finish this one. I am now so invested in this world that I don’t think I’ll ever get bored of reading about it. Since finishing this book, I have also started Sightwitch which is the short story in between Windwitch and Bloodwitch. Sightwithch was not initially on this TBR list because I didn’t at the time have the book since it was an ebook only.
This book is really big so I’m just sort of reading it in pieces. As much as I can get through in each month. I didn’t read any of it for this month so it will definitely be on the September TBR list that I post on the 1st.
I started reading this as soon as it came out and before the Barnes & Noble Book Club night. But I never quite absorbed the full ending of the book because of how fast I was reading it. I was forcing myself to rush for the Book Club and I wanted to finish the book quickly. But now I went back and restarted and started reading it slowly this time. But then I started reading The Witchlands series. So this also did not get finished this time.
That was my short list for August, and
the progress that I made on them. Obviously, my To Read List is much bigger and
will continue to grow. So September’s will build off of that. Here are some things
I had wanted to try out in August:
You-ology Exfoliating Mask: I had hear that exfoliating masks are really good for your face and getting rid of gunk that has seeped into your pores. Now, my day job is really dirty. Boxes are disgusting. So I really need something to take care of my face. The Bioclarity that I use is very good at keeping my face clean and hydrated but I needed something a little more aggressive to combat all of the layers of gunk on my face. I’ve only used this product three times so far and it has helped make my face softer and smoother. But I’ll keep you posted as I keep using the product.
Relics and Rarities: This is a show by Geek & Sundry, and it’s another RPG campaign stream. It is a fascinating concept. It basically arcs the story around what artifacts they choose at the beginning of the episode, and there’s a new guest star every week. They are still trying to complete an overall goal, but it’s not the same set up as Critical Role is. It’s very quirky. I like it.
Webtoon: This is an app that allows you to read online comics. An author I follow on Instagram (Alexandra Bracken), had mentioned that a webcomic called Lore Olympus existed that might mean her latest novel title might have to change. When she mentioned it, I immediately googled it to see what she was talking about because the description sounded like something I had seen pictures of online. So I signed up for the Webtoon app and I was not disappointed! Lore Olympus is SO GOOD! I would definitely recommend this webcomic if you haven’t read it yet.
Chokers by Paparazzi Accessories: Paparazzi came out with some pretty cute chokers recently and I really want to get some. I’m just not sure which one to get. I sort of want the cute silver ones, but I also want the corded ones. So I’m not sure which one I’m going to get. But I definitely want one.
Calisto6: This is another RPG stream that I wanted to start watching but I never got fully into it. It’s set in a futuristic sci-fi version of L.A. It’s a very different concept, from the description. So it will go on into my September TTO list.
So I always see people online talking
about their favorites for the month. So I thought I’d take the time to write
out a few of mine. I think at the end of this post I will also make an August
To Try list and an August TBR. But maybe that will be a separate post. I
haven’t decided yet. This might just be a summary of what I’ve used the most.
It’ll be broken up into different parts.
Part 1: Books
Dune by Frank Herbert
The first one I started reading back in June, but continued reading in July, is Dune by Frank Herbert. I know that everyone is going to say that I’m only reading it because of the movie and that I’m not a real fan. But this book came out 31 years before I was born so I would say the fact that it has still captured my interest after all this time is quite a feat. If we’re being honest though, this book as been on my “To Read” list since I saw it on the shelves in my bookstore a few years back. But it was the movie that finally got me to read the book. It’s not that I didn’t want to read it before, I just was reading other things that my friends wanted to discuss at the time and that is really what drives me to read something or see something. I need someone to discuss things with. So that’s why Dune was book number 1 of the month.
This book is the first book in the Witchlands series by Susan Dennard. While reading this book I achieved one of the fastest read times I’ve had in a really long time. If I had read this straight through, I could have finished it in less than 1 day. It’s also such a cool concept for a book. It’s got its own cool lore and plays off of the environmental witch type of magic set up but with a twist. It’s really quite interesting and I can’t wait to write a review for it. It also relates to book 3 of the month.
This is the second book in the Witchlands series by Susan Dennard and I had only just started this book towards the end of July so it definitely is the first on my August TBR. So far it is a little slower than Truthwitch was. But it’s still keeping me captivated.
“A Hole in the Plan” Critical Role |Campaign 2, Episode 42: Geek and Sundry
I have finally made it to episode 42 of Critical Role Campaign 2. This series is so good. You don’t really have to watch Campaign 1 in order to be invested in Campaign 2 but I would highly recommend both. This is an online D&D Campaign that is live streamed. It features Matthew Mercer, Travis Willingham, Marisha Ray, Liam O’Brien, Sam Riegel, Laura Bailey, and Taliesin Jaffe. All of their characters are so easy to get attached to. They’re funny and interesting, moody and heartfelt. You grow with them as they go through each new task. It’s basically just like listening to an audio book but with the characters acting in real time. SPOILERS AHEAD: In this current episode, they are with a band of pirates on a quest for a magical orb that grants special powers to its owner. It’s really interesting, it has spurred most of my other recent interests. From getting me hooked on Loot Crate, to introducing me to Tor Books, and even rekindling my interest in writing, reading, and blog posting. It’s really been a good creative boost for me.
So this is a new thing for me at least, and I think for most of the internet. Susan Dennard is the author of the Witchlands series, and the Something Strange and Deadly series, and she has started a Twitter “Choose Your Own Adventure” for one of her books that she was going to publish. It is amazing. It’s such a good story, I’m invested. This story has me going back to Twitter everyday to check this thread. It’s so fun to see where it’s going to turn, to see what is going to divide our decisions. It’s so fun to interact with other fans, other participants, to read their comments and join discussions. It’s really such a good community. I love it so much.
So this is Part 1 of my July recap. The
rest will be in part 2 it’s just less organized and more of a Miscellaneous Stuff
kind of post. So that will be Part 2. Then will come the August TBR/TTO List with
products I want to try in August or things I’m going to read in August. This
took way longer to write than I thought it would so everything’s behind. September’s
will be much more put together. You can also expect more reviews from me in the
near future assuming that the classes I’m taking again won’t interfere. See you
soon for Part 2.
This book follows Beka Cooper, a sixteen-year-old woman (most would say girl but if you read the book, she deserves the term woman), who is training to be a Dog. Now, in this world that is the same as the State police from what I can gather from the explanation of its structure. She started out living in the streets after her parents could no longer support her and her siblings. So the Lord in charge of the district ended up taking her in.
This Lord is also the head of the Provost’s Guard which contains the Dogs. This gives Beka an advantage most don’t have. She has both the knowledge of the lower city and the basic training that any one needs to survive on the street. But those aren’t the only resources Beka has. Armed with a magical cat and some unconventional informants, Beka solved some pretty horrendous cases.
This book was fast paced for the most part with some lag in the middle where the case took a back burner. The first-person narrative really draws you into the story and the cases. You feel what Beka feels. You learn things as Beka learns things. It keeps you guessing until Beka finally puts all of the pieces together at the end.
I mentioned in my previous post that something about it seemed safe and comforting and I think that’s the fact that and I think that’s the fact that it’s like I have a friend. The journal style of writing makes you feel like you are reading the journal of a friend or a letter from a friend.
Beka is also someone with severe social anxiety and the whole journey of her training to be a Dog was sort of also her trying to overcome that.
I think having a character who doesn’t really interact with people very well who has a feline companion to help her get through life is a really good idea in this current climate. It brings awareness to something that people don’t really know how to address still. It discusses having a mental illness without it having a name while still validating it and not letting it hold the character back.
I feel like it’s especially useful for the age demographic the book is “intended” for. This book came out when I was in middle school and is geared towards the YA age group. They are the ones who usually have the beginnings of mental illness symptoms and don’t know how to discuss them or are uncomfortable with doing so.
This book isn’t just good because of its background social commentary it has other elements that make it a really good book. For me those elements are: Interesting characters, minimal focus on love interests (this is good for the type of book that it is), and a fast paced and interesting plot. Overall, I would definitely recommend this book, to anyone not just YA. (A fight for another time)