Wednesday, November 30, 2016

November Wrap Up

Trying to get back on track this month. Let's see if I can meet all of my goals!

Books read this month:
  • East of Eden by John Steinback. An interesting and in depth story.
  • Shadow Magic by Patricia Wrede. Definitely an early novel by her; she was not nearly the writer she is now.
  • The White Tiger by Tamora Pierce and Timothy Liebe. For the graphic novel part of my challenge. And strong, female super heroes written by TP? Count me in!
  • Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse. I liked it, but feel as though I need to read it again to really understand and feel it out.
  • P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han. Sooo much teenage drama! If I didn't like the main family so much, I never would have continued after the first book.
  • Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. A futuristic dystopia of sorts where nearly everyone lives out their lives in a virtual reality game. Bonus: the audiobook is read by Wil Wheaton for the full nerd experience.
  • Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo. Loved the first book and now this one. I love the characters and am sad it's over.
Goals completed:
  • A classic book: East of Eden
  • A graphic novel: The White Tiger
  • A book you should have read by now: Siddhartha
  • A book that takes place in the future: Ready Player One
  • A book from the end of a series: Crooked Kingdom (it's a duology, but I'm counting it)
Least favorite book read this month:
P.S. I Still Love You for sure. I loathed the ending and was not fond of the message it sends to young girls.

Favorite book read this month:
Ready Player One surprised me and I enjoyed it way more than I anticipated. Or Crooked Kingdom because I love it.

I only have 5 books left to complete my goal to read at least 75 books this year. For my 2016 reading challenge, I only have one left to complete. It looks like I might just make it! It seemed kind of iffy there for a while. I'm not really sure what I am going to do for 2017 yet, but I have a whole month to think about it. Anyone have particular reading goals or challenges for 2017 to share? I am also looking to maybe participate in a book-ish photo challenge in December if anyone has any good ones lying around.

I didn't by many books this month. Well, I bought several audiobooks, but I don't generally count those. Here is my book haul:

That's it for November! Thanks for reading!

Monday, October 31, 2016

October Wrap Up

Alright! Full reviews are posted on my book blog, as usual (except for The Graveyard Book because my review of that is on my Goodreads account).

All books read this month!
Spooky books read this month:
  • Shiver by Maggie Steifvater. Like Twilight, but way better, and with werewolves instead of vampires. Also, much as I love Maggie Stiefvater, I feel like this book was before she really developed her writing voice (which comes across so very clearly in The Raven Cycle).
  • A Tale Dark and Grimm by Adam Gidwitz. A twist on the Hansel and Gretel story. I was not a fan of the narration (I thought that maybe I was too old to read it, but I read books for younger ages all of the time, ie: Rick Riordan and Tamora Pierce and I love their stuff, so maybe it isn't just me).
  • The Hammer of Thor by Rick Riordan. Wow I love his books. I love these characters and the addition of Alex was a pleasant surprise.
  • Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury. Interesting, spooky carnival story.
  • The Halloween Tree by Ray Bradbury. Kind of a fun story that explores some of the history of Halloween. Also, where the heck are all of the girls in his stories?? Is he only capable of writing men/boys??
  • The Diviners by Libba Bray. Definitely a good, spooky Halloween read! Ghosts, monsters, people with special gifts, grisly murders; basically anything you could want in a spooky read.
  • Eighth Grave After Dark by Darynda Jones. I randomly got this in an audible sale, not realizing it is part of a series. But it was pretty good, reminds me a bit of Janet Evanovich. I may go back and read the first seven books...
  • The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman. I love this book so much. It wouldn't feel right to have an October without reading it. And I always cry at the end...
  • Wicked Charms by Janet Evanovich and Phoef Sutton. Not sure why the additional author, but I think these books are fun to read around Halloween.
Favorite book read this month:
Magnus Chase and the Hammer of Thor or The Graveyard Book. The Diviners was great, too.

Least favorite book read this month:
A Tale Dark and Grimm

Challenges completed:
  • A book you bought on a whim: Eighth Grave After Dark
Only one, sadly, but the point of this month was to read my spooky books, and I did manage to read everything on my list! Yay!

This month's book haul:
Not too many books this month

November doesn't have any special themes. I will try to get back on track to finish my 2016 reading challenge and to finish my Goodreads reading challenge, too. I am a couple of books behind schedule. I need to read twelve more books for my Goodreads challenge, but I only need six more to complete my 2016 challenge (and two are already in the works)!

I love October and Halloween so much. I'm sad that it's over. I already have a huge list of books to choose from for next year.

Friday, September 30, 2016

September Wrap Up

Ok! I read lots of books this month, so be prepared. As usual, review can be found on my book blog!

Books read this month:
  • The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton. A story about a gang of boys and of friendship and family.
  • The Tempest by William Shakespeare. Finally read the tale of Prospero for two reasons: to see where Prospero the Magician from The Night Circus took his name from, and to read Ariel's part as Colin Morgan recently played him in a London stage production of this play.
  • Let's Pretend This Never Happened (A Mostly True Memoir) by Jenny Lawson. An audiobook re-read because I love this book...
  • Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë. Decent, but my least favorite Brontë novel so far.
  • This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab. A book about monsters and good versus evil. So good!
  • My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows. Fun, alternate fantasy/history of Lady Jane Grey.
  • A Dog's Purpose by W. Bruce Cameron. The story follows a dog through a few incarnations as he finds his purpose in life.
  • The Sword of Summer by Rick Riordan. Re-read to prepare myself for the next book which comes out soon!
Challenges completed:
  • A book that taught you something: The Outsiders
  • A play: The Tempest
  • A book with a very long title: Let's Pretend This Never Happened (A Mostly True Memoir)
  • A book from somewhere you want to travel to: Wuthering Heights (Because I want to go back to England, I say it counts)
  • A book with not enough hype: This Savage Song
  • A book written by two or more authors: My Lady Jane
  • A book with a non-human main character: A Dog's Purpose
Least favorite book read this month:
Wuthering Heights.

Favorite book read this month:
This Savage Song. Totally underrated. It gave me nightmares--it would have been a great October Halloween-y read! Plus, I loved the nursery rhyme:
Next month is October! Hooray! That means I stop reading everything I am currently reading (I tried really hard to get through everything, but I didn't quite make it...) to read Halloween-y books! Except for Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater. It is about werewolves, so it is Halloween-y enough to continue.

Goals for October!
     Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater
Read:      The Diviners by Libba Bray
     A Tale Dark and Grimm by Adam Gidwitz
     Wicked Charms by Janet Evanovich and Phoef Sutton
Listen to:
    The Halloween Tree by Ray Bradbury
     Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury
    Eighth Grave After Dark by Darynda Jones

If there is time, I will read or listen to my very favorite: The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

The exception:
I will also listen to The Hammer of Thor by Rick Riordan because his books usually come out in October and I am Rick Riordan trash. I can't wait a whole month! It comes out the 4th though, so I will finish it nice and early.

Anyone else have any exciting Halloween reads planned?

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

August Wrap Up

I've felt like a bit of a slacker lately when it comes to reading. I got back on track a little bit this month, but I keep setting aside Wuthering Heights to read other things. Like The Girl With the Lower Back Tattoo. And to re-read Let's Pretend This Never Happened. I will get there eventually. Sometimes I just need things that are more light-hearted and funny.

Anyway, here is the line up this month. Full reviews are posted on my book blog.

Books read this month:
  • Everland by Wendy Spinale. An interesting re-telling of Peter Pan, but steampunk.
  • The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Brontë. Awesome feminist novel about a woman who leaves her abusive husband.
  • Shatterglass by Tamora Pierce. An old favorite.
  • Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany, and Jack Thorne. The eighth Harry Potter tale, many years later.
  • Smokin' Seventeen by Janet Evanovich. The Stephanie Plum antics continue.
  • The Girl With the Lower Back Tattoo by Amy Schumer. A collection of essays about her life.
Challenges completed:
  • A book with a place name for a title: Everland (Does this count? I think it counts.)
  • A book written before you were born: The Tenant of Wildfell Hall
  • A re-read: Shatterglass
  • A best seller: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
  • A book with a boring cover: Smokin' Seventeen
  • A feminist book: The Girl With the Lower Back Tattoo
 Favorite book read this month: Hard to say. I always love Shatterglass. I really enjoyed The Tenant of Wildfell Hall and The Girl With the Lower Back Tattoo.

Least favorite book read this month: I liked Everland, but just not as much as I was hoping, I think.

August book haul:
Actually, The Savage Song was a book from last month, but I forgot to include it in July's wrap up. It sounds super good!
I have been trying to refrain from buying too many books because I have a vacation coming up as well as medical expenses. I've been pretty good. Though this doesn't include my audiobooks and I have bought a handful of those... Just ones that were on sale, though!

Otherwise, I am still dancing and recently started working out. Mostly because I can't do my dance routine. I can mostly do it, but I am not in good enough shape to do it correctly.

I broke up with the guy I was seeing. I was actually really sad and upset about it, but I think it was for the best. It's sad though, we had an awful lot of fun together. Plus, I've been having runs of sad days, lately (as you know if you read my last post). It's just been rough recently and I am trying really hard to keep myself distracted. Reading helps.

I suppose that is about it! Happy reading!

Sunday, August 28, 2016

The Sad Days

I'm still having a lot of sad days. I was doing really well for a while, but seem to have relapsed in the last couple of months. I think my heart is still really broken. And I thought I was doing better, but I'm starting to feel that this is not true.

Some of my friends have probably noticed that I am struggling. There have been so many days when I should be sleeping, but I can stop crying long enough to fall asleep. Some days I get to work early with the intention of reading my book, and dissolve into tears for 20 minutes instead, until I can distract myself away from the pit. And some days the pain is so great that I've had to reach out for help. And luckily for me, several of my friends reach back and text or message me to help me step out of the quicksand.

I usually try to stay quiet about my pain and tears. And, to be honest, I'm a bit embarrassed that I'm still hung up on it all. And eventually my feelings seem to dissolve into self pity and self hate, which makes me feel even more embarrassed. No body needs to see that.

I so badly want to be better. I want to move on. And I want to find someone new to love. The problem is that I loved my ex so much, so completely, and with all that I am. It's terrifying (and a little amazing, actually) to love someone so much. It wasn't perfect, but on the whole, I was so happy and I had decided that he was all I wanted in a partner.

I know this sounds corny, but sometimes I really did feel like maybe he was my soul mate, my one true love. I desperately hope that I am wrong. Because it is terrible to feel that way about someone who doesn't love you and didn't love you nearly as much as you loved them. Someone you could never be enough for. And I'm smart enough to never go back to that. I think that put me in a bad and vulnerable position. But knowing that doesn't help me pick up the pieces any faster or more efficiently.

Being with him was so easy and it felt so right. And I can't imagine feeling that way again. I've gone on a couple of dates and even though I really liked one guy, there were no deeper feelings to be had. And I have felt very awkward around them and it has not been easy and natural like I think it should be. Maybe there isn't anyone else like that for me, and I've had my time. I can't even picture finding that again. I don't know what it looks like. Anyway, it's a moot point, I think. I'm not going to be actively looking for anyone for a while. Maybe I just need more time to heal. The gal who has been doing my hair rainbow reminds me a little of myself. She was very in love with a guy. They were together for four years and I asked her how long it had been since they broke up. "Four years." And that stuck with me, for some reason. I think it inspired me a little. She really gave it time to be mourned and to move on, and maybe I am trying to rush my healing too much in my desperate attempts to normalize my life again. On the other hand, I also don't want to be feeling this way forever (which is already how it feels at this point).

Sorry for the downer. I'm just having a really hard time right now. It helps to get it all out in writing, even if no one reads it. If you are reading this, thank you and thank you for caring enough to read my sob story. I promise I don't feel hopeless and sad all of the time. And some days are even good days. Right now, though, I'm still really low on spoons. (Yes spoons, see On Just Being OK if you missed the reference.)

Monday, August 1, 2016

July Wrap Up

Ok, as usual, book updates first. I'm a bit behind on my reading challenges. I have 20 left to do of my 50 books challenge, which is fine. But I have only read 39 toward my goal of 75 books for the year. According to Goodreads, I am four books behind schedule. In my defense, I have been reading one book since May, but it is not very good, but I am more than halfway through, so I am struggling to finish it anyway. Ugh. I may need to drop it and move on. Anyhow...

Books read this month:
  • Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by Newt Scamander (aka J.K. Rowling). Fun and silly.
  • The Black Death: The World's Most Devastating Plague by The Great Courses/Dorsey Armstrong. Super interesting and exciting if you love the plague like I do.
  • The Ghost and Mrs. Muir by Josephine Leslie (aka R.A. Dick). An old favorite of mine.
  • Wild Born by Brandon Mull. Fun story about people who have spirit animals and magic.
  • The Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard. Interesting, vaguely dystopian story.
Challenges completed this month:
  • A book under 100 pages: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
  • A history book: The Black Death
  • A book turned into a movie: The Ghost and Mrs. Muir
  • A book that takes place in another world: Wild Born
  • A book with a lot of hype: The Red Queen
Favorite book read this month:
The Black Death or The Ghost and Mrs. Muir

Least favorite book read this month:
I guess Wild Born, not because it was bad, but just because I enjoyed the other books more.

I participated in an interesting book exchange this month. It was informal via Facebook and I saw that one of my high school teachers had posted it. The deal is that anyone who liked her status received a message with details. What happens is that the people who like your status send books two people back. So I didn't send a book to my teacher, but to her friend whose status my teacher liked. Then I posted the message in my status and people who liked my status (hopefully) sent a book to my teacher and so on and so forth. So I sent a copy of The Eyre Affair to my teacher's friend, who is an English teacher, so I hope she will like it. Anyway, that is a very convoluted story, but I received a couple of books which I was very excited about:

Here is my book haul for the month. I was bad and replaced my paperback copies of the Raven Cycle with hardback copies with signed bookplates to match my beautiful copy of the Raven King (which is not a new purchase, but I wanted to showcase here. Because these books and the artwork (by the author, mind you) are SOOOOO pretty!

I may have bought a few too many books this month. And this doesn't include my audiobook purchases. Oops... Oh well.

Otherwise, not much has been going on. I'm still dancing (and trying to get into better shape so that I can actually do my routine in October). I am still going on dates with the guy I've been seeing. We've done a few fun things, including a Dinner Detective Mystery Theater dinner, which was very entertaining. Here is the link if anyone is interested: The Dinner Detective. It was fun and interactive (which almost deterred me. And since my hair is rainbow colored, I drew attention and I did have to participate in front of everyone. Which I wasn't wild about, but it was still enjoyable). We also did an escape room. I had no idea what to expect, but that was actually very fun and I would definitely do it again. Here is the link to the place we went: Denver Escape Room.

The first part of this month was very rough for me. I am happy to say that I have officially made it through one year since the break up. While I felt that it destroyed me (and still does, sometimes), and my heart is sometimes still broken, I am proud that I have made it. And it sucked and it was hard and I never want to do it again. But it keeps getting easier and I know that I can make it. They say the first year is the hardest and I am glad that that is now behind me.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

June Wrap Up

As usual, book reviews can be found on my book blog, if you are interested.

Alright, books read this month:
Flawed by Cecelia Ahern. The first installment of a young adult dystopian series.
Lost in a Good Book by Jasper Fforde. Awesome and funny sequel to The Eyre Affair.
Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke. A calssically-written story about restoring magic to England.

Challenges completed:
A book you recently bought: Flawed
A book that made you laugh: Lost in a Good Book
A book over 700 pages: Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell

Favorite book read this month:
Lost in a Good Book

Least favorite book read this month:

And my book haul for the month:
My copy of The Scorpio Races is signed by Maggie Stiefvater! So extra exciting.

And I feel like I need to defend myself for owning another book by Sarah J. Maas... I read (and seriously disliked) Throne of Glass. I hear that her books get better, but I was very skeptical and unwilling to read more to find out. Well, this copy came in a book box I subscribe to (The Best Damn Book Box) for last month's Beauty and the Beast themed box. So... there it is. I'm not sure if I will read it or not. It is very pretty. And maybe I can read it without reading any of the others? We will see. I don't have high hopes really.

I also bought a set of tarot cards that came with a book all made/written by Maggie Stiefvater, which is absolutely amazing! They are so pretty! I'm not sure if that counts in my book haul...

Anyway, I will leave it at that for this month.

Oh! And I dyed my hair rainbow colors! Which has been super fun and I am really enjoying it!

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

May Wrap Up

Books! So after I dropped everything to read The Raven King, the first Trials of Apollo book, The Hidden Oracle, by Rick Riordan came out. I left everything where I dropped it, more or less, to listen to that book. See where my priorities are? Apparently with The Raven Cycle and Rick Riordan's books... Sometimes I'm amazed that I make any progress on my TBR pile.

As usual, most of these have been reviewed on my book blog.

Books read this month:
  • The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater. Oh my gosh. I am so in love with this series. I have no words. And Ronan and Adam's love story warms my heart.
  • Demigods and Magicians by Rick Riordan. Collection of three short stories where Greek and Egyptian worlds collide.
  • March by Geraldine Brooks. A take on Mr. March's story from the classic Little Women.
  • The Hidden Oracle by Rick Riordan. New series starring mortal Apollo in all of his bisexual glorious-ness.
  • Cress by Marissa Meyer. Took me forever to read, but really enjoyed it.
  • Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo. Very good book set in the Grisha universe. Interesting characters.
  • The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner. A book following three friends for their last year of high school--a much better read than I was expecting.
  • The Selection by Kiera Cass. The story of 35 girls competing to win the hand of the crown prince.
Challenges completed this month:
  • A book you've been highly anticipating: The Raven King
  • A short story: Demigods and Magicians (it's three short stories, that counts right?)
  • A stand alone book: March 
  • A book someone recommended to you: Cress
  • A book by an author from your country: The Hidden Oracle
  • A book with multiple points of view: Six of Crows
  • A book with a beautiful cover: The Selection
Favorite book read this month:
The Raven King, I just loved this series so much. 

Least favorite book read this month:
The Selection. I was less than impressed.

Book haul:

I was pretty good this month, only three books!

In other news, dance is going well, it is still fun and good exercise. I went on a couple of dates with one guy and I have been enjoying that. I trained in my new position at work and feel like an official lab tech now. Overall, things are pretty good!

Monday, May 16, 2016

Big Steps

After some conversations with my counselor (and my mom and my dance instructor... like, really?) and some soul searching and research of my own, I have decided to put myself out there and try dating again. By again, I just mean, try dating, because I did very little of that um... ever.

I did quite a bit of reading, looking for advice, tips, and personal accounts. How long is long enough? How do you know you are ready?

I won't lie, I knew I wasn't ready for a long time. And actually, when I initially started to look into dating and started to create a profile, I totally freaked and knew that I wasn't quite there yet.

After some time and more thinking, I decided to try again. I did more reading and looked specifically on eHarmony. I figured, working nights and no social life leaves me next to no chance of meeting someone and that this would help me "weed out" the ones who are not serious and not interested in the same things I am. Plus my counselor and I discussed it and she thinks that I have come a really long way and that it is a good idea. So with her approval, I decided to try.

I went through, what seemed like, a never-ending mourning period. All of the sudden, about 3-4 weeks ago, something (I have no idea what) changed. I suddenly started feeling so much better, more motivated and less depressed. I have only had a couple of sad periods since then (and both were brief). The relief is incredible. I wish I knew what happened, but I am so glad that it did. I would attribute some of it to counseling and some of it to dance (which makes me more happy than I thought it could). Even a couple of my friends who saw me in the past week or so told me that I look and sound so much better.

This is a pretty big step for me, but I feel like I am ready to look for a new, meaningful connection. I would like to have that bond and that closeness again, but with someone new and who is, hopefully, a better fit for me.

It's still really new, but I am feeling fairly optimistic. (And I have my first date coming up pretty soon, and I am actually excited. And a bit nervous, but mostly excited. We went through the eHarmony communications and eventually exchanged numbers and have been talking/texting every day for extended periods of time. It's been pretty wonderful. We will see how it goes!)

So there you have it. Does anyone out there have any advice for me and other people like me? Any hazards of online dating to avoid? Stories and experiences to share? I would like to hear them! And maybe sometime soon, I will even have some advice and stories to share.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

April Wrap Up

I totally derailed this month! I started strong and then ended up reading waaay too many books. I am still working my way through Cress. It's been months. The book is good, I just keep putting it down to read other things. Like The White Cliffs. Or Demigods and Magicians... And then I was about a third of the way through Six of Crows audiobook when The Raven King was released at which point I dropped nearly everything to listen to that audiobook because OH MY GOD IT'S FINALLY HERE. I'm not finished yet, but it is SOOO good so far. I'm so in love...

April Book Haul

My copy of The Raven King that I ordered. Doodled in my Maggie Stiefvater herself! I love it!
Books read this month:
  • Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater. I LOVED this book and was so excited for the last book to come out this month.
  • The White Cliffs by Alice Duer Miller. I was reminded of this when I read Born With Teeth. My copy belonged to my great grandmother, so it's pretty special.
  • I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson. Interesting sort of growing/coming of age story about twins Noah and Jude.

Favorite book read this month:
Definitely Blue Lily, Lily Blue

Least favorite book read this month:
Probably The White Cliffs? If only because poetry isn't my go-to genre.

Challenges completed:
A poetry book: The White Cliffs
A book with a colorful cover: I'll Give You the Sun

In other news, dancing continues to go well and I am still loving it.

I have also been feeling better, especially the last two weeks or so. My sad days are finally getting fewer and further between, and when I have them, they aren't as hard. I am feeling better about myself and my situation. There is still some hurt, anger, and bitterness there, but it is, amazingly and suddenly, more manageable. I'm so relieved. It really does start to get better.

I got a couple more rats, which some of you have seen and heard about. Introductions are... proceeding. I've been reading articles and getting tips from other rat owners. I need them all to get along!

I have some other news, but it is a bit different and I am going to save it for a separate post.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

March Wrap Up

Book stuff first. As always, actual reviews can be found on my book blog.

Books read this month:
  • Worlds of Ink and Shadow by Lena Coakley. A twist on the story of the Brontë siblings.
  • The Sleeper and the Spindle by Neil Gaiman. A short twist on the Sleeping Beauty tale with lovely artwork by Chris Riddell.
  • Blackveil by Kristen Britian. Fourth book in the Green Rider series.
  • The Love that Split the World by Emily Henry. Feburary Owlcrate book that combines a love story and science fiction.
  • The Dream Thieves by Maggie Steifvater. The second in The Raven Cycle series. I didn't like it as much as the first. Which isn't saying much because I LOVED the first one. I am seriously enjoying this series.

Challenges completed:
  • A book released this year: Worlds of Ink and Shadow
  • A book with illustrations: The Sleeper and the Spindle
  • A book that made you cry: The Love That Split the World

Favorite book read this month:
Torn between The Dream Thieves and The Love That Split the World

Least favorite book read this month:

I participated in a March book photo challenge under the tag #KeepBookMarching on Instagram. I only missed a couple days. It was a fun little challenge. Made my first #BookishRainbow, it's not great, but it was fun:

And here was my reading goal photo and I almost made it. I barely started March, and I didn't quite finish Cress. But I also re-read A Charmed Life by Diana Wynne Jones because I love it and I really wanted to. And I started Blue Lily, Lily Blue. So I call it a success.
Reading Goals
March Wrap Up
And non-book related things.

My counselor has been trying to encourage me to do more social things. Working nights has a very detrimental effect on my social life (aka: I don't have a social life). I have been meaning to be more physically active, but can't bring myself to care to make it to a gym. So this was our compromise: get back into ballroom dancing.

I started ballroom when I turned 16 and kept at it for 3 solid years. I did it a little on and off again for the next few years and then stopped altogether. When I showed up to my instructor's studio that first night, his greeting was so warm and welcoming that I immediately knew that I had made a good decision. I didn't know any of the other students and had never been to my instructor's new studio, but part of me still felt like I came home to something. And despite the many blisters on my feet (at least three on each foot) from not wearing my shoes for soooo many years, I am looking forward to going back.

I have been back a few times since that first lesson and started to feel like maybe I was getting a little piece of myself back. I guess my counselor was right.

That's about it for this month. Thanks for reading!

Monday, February 29, 2016

February Wrap Up

Alright! What did I read this month?

I finished:
  • Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks. It was a gift from a friend who always finds the best books.
  • The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald. Read as an audiobook. Very charming. Plus I love the title.
  • Symptoms of Being Human by Jeff Garvin. A book about a transgender teen. So good. Well written and clever.
  • Raising My Rainbow: Adventures in Raising a Fabulous, Gender Creative Son by Lori Duron. Lovely read, very touching.
  • Spindle's End by Robin McKinley. Re-telling of Sleeping Beauty. 
  • Scarlet by Marissa Meyer. I like Cinder a bit better, but very good. I'm excited to read Cress next.
  • 1984 by George Orwell. This was a re-read because my student was reading it for class and I wanted to help her out. Still a good dystopia.
  • The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater. There has been some hype surrounding this book and it definitely lived up to it.

As usual, my actual reviews are posted on my book blog, if you are interested in reading them.

I felt like I was slowing down on my reading, but for a while there I was reading up to 5 books at once, which is just too many. Once I finished Year of Wonders, I started to feel a little more in control, though 4 is still about 1 over my usual limit. After finishing 1984, I was able to bring it back down to three and I got back up to pace.

I had to rearrange which books I read at what time. I started Worlds of Ink and Shadow, but parts of it were eerie and spooky so I had to stop reading it before bed and switch it with Cress, my "daytime" book (I work nights, hence the quotations). Anyone else do that? Nothing creepy before bed; gives me nightmares.

Completed 2016 Reading Challenges:
  • A book from a debut author: The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald.
  • A book you received as a gift: Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks.
  • A book with LGBTQA+ lead character: Symptoms of Being Human by Jeff Garvin.
  • A non-fiction book: Raising my Rainbow by Lori Duron
  • A book with magic: Spindle's End by Robin McKinley 
  • A book typically read in school: 1984 by George Orwell

Favorite Book Read This Month:
The Raven Boys followed closely by Symptoms of Being Human.

Least Favorite Book Read This Month:
Tough one, maybe 1984 because I had already read it so it was less interesting. Or Spindle's End. I like Robin McKinley, but this was not her best work.

Lastly, I am planning to participate in an Instagram Book Photo Challenge:

And please feel free to join and check out the hosts' accounts-they are all pretty awesome!

My photos will only be posted on my Instagram and book blog. Head there if you are interested in seeing my (mediocre) photos.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Dealing With Loneliness

Lately, I have been struggling with loneliness.

I felt that I had actually been doing OK up until about Wednesday. Wednesday was my night off and I decided to go out for some coffee. By myself, which is not so unusual. But it suddenly hit me that I am nearly always alone.

I am a person who likes my alone time, which has helped me during the break up. But I don't like being alone all the time. I went out, realizing that I was going out alone. Again. And for some reason, I couldn't shake it. (It was also a bit on the late side for most of my friends on a weekday).

I no longer have a standing dinner date, lunch date, coffee date, drink date. My friends all are very busy people and I haven't seen them often lately, which I know doesn't help my mood and mentality.

A couple of nights later, it seemed like everyone I had contact with (that being my mom and my coworkers mostly) had a date night this weekend or a fun get together planned. And I was so heartbroken that I don't have anyone to plan a date with. No one will grab lunch with me or make dinner for me, just to be nice. And I felt so left out. I go out and it's always dinner for one. Just one beer, please.

I don't have anyone to tell the details about my day, like I used to. And I have been sick and mopey because there isn't anyone who wants to help take care of me. Maybe that's selfish. It's just hard because I used to have that.

No one to talk to when I get home, to cuddle up and watch a movie with. I miss being hugged and held and I miss feeling that kind of love.

So I suppose that "dealing" with loneliness is misleading, since I don't seem to be dealing well at all. And as always, when I am feeling upset, I have dreams about my ex and about the break up which always make things worse.

I also got un-invited to a Super Bowl gathering because I'm sick. I get it, but that was disheartening. I felt too sick and tired to deal with a large crowd, so I didn't end up going anywhere else, either.

I guess I've just been so down and sad these last several days. I seriously hope that it will pass soon. I still hate the sad days the most. I will be attempting to drown my sorrows in my books if anyone needs me.

Monday, February 1, 2016

January Wrap Up

I thought I would start doing an end of the month wrap up mostly to get some more book stuff on to this blog. (I still have my book blog here if you want to follow book reviews and news and things of that nature. I post there fairly regularly.)

I may also include little or big things that have happened in the previous month. I'm not really sure yet what I want to do with these. So bear with me. Or share suggestions!

So I decided to participate in a general reading challenge posted by The Bookish Canuck:
 The original link can be found here.

I hope this will give me a change to finally get to books that have been on my to-read list forever because I will have to read more than just my usual stuff. Some of the categories have various possibilities, but I did manage to cross a few off this month.

Completed Challenges:
A book from the start of a series: Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
A book you read in a day: Mary Poppins by P.L. Travers
A biography/autobiography (I count memoirs): Are You There, God? It's Me, Chelsea by Chelsea Handler.
And more are in the works.

My favorite book read this month: Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo. Seriously under-hyped book. I thought it was outstanding.
Least favorite book read this month: Are You There, Vodka? It's Me, Chelsea by Chelsea Handler.
(Head to my book blog to see reviews.)

Other happenings this month:
Death of David Bowie and Alan Rickman, both of which made me very sad. I still cry about David Bowie's death. Being a fan of his is part of my identity (which you see if you read my profiles anywhere and everywhere). But this did lead me to get my tattoo in his memory, which I love.

I bought a new (to me) car, which was a huge step.

Here is to a better February!

(And forgive the delay, I tried to post this last night, but our internet was out for a while.)

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Tattoo Number Five

Today I went and got my latest tattoo. Number five, the David Bowie tattoo.

Story time. I dreamed that one day I would get to see David Bowie perform. I wanted to spend any amount of money necessary to see him and, if at all possible, meet him in person.

At that point, I would be an obnoxious fan and spout all about how much I loved his music and how much it meant to me, yada yada, the same old stuff he's heard all the time. And then I wanted his autograph. My plan was to have him sign my body and have a tattoo artist go over it later.

Obviously that is no longer an option. So I went to my usual shop (Fallen Owl Tattoo) and told them that I needed an artist to forge an autograph. The owner (who did my first two tattoos, the first when he was just getting started as a tattooist) recommended his newest hire, Jim, who was also a DB fan.

Jim and I discussed the tattoo and changed things around a few times, but we finally came up with the right one. It consists of DB's (forged) autograph, a song quote, and a black star.

I explained the autograph. The black star is, of course, for the last album he left us, Blackstar.

The song quote is "I'm screaming that I'm gonna be living on till the end of time." It is from the song Never Get Old on the album Reality.

I knew I wanted a song quote, but I had to mull over it for a while before I decided. I had it narrowed it down to this one, "I'm never ever gonna get old" from the same song, and "I'll never let you down" from the song Never Let You Down from the album of the same title. (I had considered SOOO many more than just these three, but these were my top contenders.)

I wanted a quote of significance that fit the situation. I thought about doing something from Blackstar as the last songs he gave us, but nothing struck me, possibly because it is still too new. Never Let Me Down was released the year I was born and it is one of my favorite albums, so that is significant to me. I also loved Heathen, Hunky Dory, ...hours and Reality. Heathen, Hunky Dory, and ...hours didn't have a song or a quote that really fit the situation, so I ended up turning to Reality which had several possibilities.

Once I had this quote picked out, it was the one I kept going back to. I would wake up thinking about it. I knew that was the one I needed to get. Plus, that is how DB was to me: immortal. Part of me honestly thought that he would defy the test of time and live forever. And I hoped that he would. It's hard to see your heroes die.

So in honor of David Bowie. You and your music has meant the world to me. In fact, it is hard to imagine a world without you in it, continuing to make music. You will be so, so missed, especially in my world. RIP.

Monday, January 11, 2016

An Ode to Bowie

I have spent the last couple of days listening to Blackstar and getting ready to release a blog post about the songs and my reflections.

And I don't have the heart to anymore.

For anyone who hasn't heard (and I imagine most people heard very quickly), David Bowie died early this morning, January 11th, 2016. Just 3 days after his 69th birthday and the release of his album. (I also read that it happened late on January 10, 2016. I guess the date doesn't matter so much though. Not to me, anyway.)

I am heartbroken. And it feels a little surreal. Part of me thought (and hoped) that he would just go on living forever.

This was a hard hit for me for so many reasons.

As a younger member of his fan base, I never got the chance to see him perform. And it was one of my very greatest wishes to do so. I promised myself that if he ever toured again, I would break the bank and do whatever I needed to do to make sure that I got a good ticket and (if possible) a back stage pass. I was willing to travel to do this. And I always said that if I could see him perform, even just once, and meet him (no matter how brief), that I could die happy. That's a pretty big deal to be letting go right now.

I discovered DB when I watched Labyrinth the first time. I must have been 12 or 13 at the time. Later, I rediscovered it and fell in love with the music performed by this weird man who was more popular than I thought he could ever be. I convinced my mom to buy the Labyrinth sound track followed by the first 3 DB albums I ever heard: Let's Dance, Young American, and Aladdin Sane. These sustained me for a year or so. Heathen came out or had recently been released during this time, and I remember my mom bringing that one home and I instantly fell in love with it. Then Reality was released. I still remember the day my mom picked me up from school with the CD playing to surprise me.

It was during the Reality tour that, in Germany, DB had a little heart attack which stopped his tour. After that, he did almost no more performing at all and didn't release another album for 10 years. By the time that Reality was released, I don't think I even had gotten my driver's license yet, so you can see why I've never had the opportunity to see him.

In general, I am not overly impressed with celebrities. And while I may be a fan or find some of them talented or attractive, I am never so in awe that I forget they are human. Except for DB. He inspired that awe in me. And to me, he was not human, but a god. He was my idol. The one that I admired and thought so much of that he was raised in status above a mere human.

And why is that?

Frankly, I don't know. My love of DB has never been something that I hid or felt shy about, but my level of devotion is also not shared by most people that I know, even among those who like him.

The connection that I feel with DB is something that has been very personal and a little strange. He is exactly the type of person I would usually dislike. I disapproved of most of his life and the choices he made. Despite the fact that he and I seem like polar opposites, I cannot help but love his music.

Another thing that people assume about my love for DB: that there is something sexual about it. While I will admit that he is and was always attractive, I feel that more objectively than personally. I think that he aged well and became handsome and that his looks were always unique and intriguing. But I think any implication of it being somehow sexual is creepy. Yes, I love DB, no, I never had any even remote desire to sleep with him. I imagine that feeling is not shared by all of his fanbase though.

His music meant so much to me. There is something about his songs that speak to me and draw me in and become so meaningful to me. It is a very personal connection that I feel with his songs and that can't really be shared with someone else. Sometimes I think that, when I listen to his songs in the company of others, that we are not even hearing the same song. His music strikes me on a different level, and I think his song writing was amazingly brilliant. How can someone so different from me who writes songs for himself and his personas speak directly to my soul? We are so different, but I think that he is (was) just that amazing.

I think that he was inspiring. He has always been such an advocate for being yourself and being an individual. I think striving to be yourself is always a worthwhile goal and that influenced me, too.

I suppose the worst part is knowing that this is it. There will never be another album, another song. I won't ever buy another brand new CD and pop it in and feel elated at hearing the familiar sound of his voice while relishing in the new sound of his music. That was the best thing about new songs. I always felt such a jolt of happiness hearing that voice. Something old and something new all at once. It was always a little bit magical for me. And I'm sad that I won't have that again. Blackstar was my last chance.

Anyway, this has hit me hard and I have been crying since the moment I read the second or third article (I couldn't believe the first). And my heart goes out to his family, who I have also fallen in love with.

I'm absolutely devastated. I feel like a part of me has been lost. Is that pathetic? I don't think I realized how tightly I had bound myself to DB until now.

Rest in peace, DB. Your loss will be felt so deeply.

"Never mind the stares. 'If I'm going to do something that could be provocative or artistically relevant, I have to be prepared to put myself in a place where I feel unsafe, not completely in control. I have no fear of failure whatsoever, because often out of that uncertainty something is salvaged, something that is worthwhile comes about. There is no progress without failure. And each failure is a lesson learned. Unnecessary failures are the ones where an artist tries to second guess an audience's taste, and little comes out of that situation except a kind of inward humiliation.'"~David Bowie

If anyone is interested, here are most of my DB posts from the past. The first one meant the most to me.
David Bowie and Me 
David Bowie's "The Next Day" 
David Bowie and Other Oddaments 
A David Bowie Birthday 
Random David Bowie Post 
There are others, but these were the more important ones.