Looking ahead at 2019!

Happy 2019!

giphy

I hope you all had a safe, fun, and relaxing start to the year. Whether you went out or stayed in, I hope that you brought in the new year in the best way for you.

I am honestly kind of excited for this year and I really can’t put my finger on the why. 2018 was a tough year for me. While I had a lot to celebrate (and I have made sure to celebrate those accomplishments) I also had some lows. Those lows have definitely helped me see some things I need to change, but it also showed me how resilient I truly am. I am really proud of how far I’ve come. I know I’m not where I could be yet, but I took a massive leap from the beginning of 2018 to the end, and I think it’s only going to go up from here.

I know you are seeing a ton of New Year Resolutions. The phrase “New year, New me” is everywhere, and honestly…not a fan. If you can say that and stick to it, awesome. Unfortunately, I don’t see many people stick to that. I haven’t stuck to it when I’ve used it. Because of this, I feel like I approach the new year a little differently.

Each year I make goals for myself. I find that goals are things I can get to, and once I reach them I reevaluate to challenge myself more. I have found that these evolve more than a resolution would, and making the goals have helped me have even better years (and grow even more).

giphy-1

So, here are a few of my goals for 2019:

  • Read 50 books. This is down a bit from last year, but my reading slowed a bit towards the end of 2018, so I figured just roll with it and I can always adjust and add more.
  • Buddy read at least 2 times this year. Obviously I’ll go for more, but I do miss buddy reading and did it way less than I had wanted to last year. I started a Buddy Reading group on twitter (let me know if you want to join!) so I’m hoping that it’s a group I can come back to in search of people to read a book with me.
  • Blog 2 times a month. I obviously won’t stop at 2 times a month, but I think trying to establish at least 2 a month will help me get back to it. I miss blogging a lot, but I have found myself not always making the time.
  • Read more diversely. I think I did a fairly good job of this last year, but I can always do better. I want to read from a wide range of authors and in a wide range of stories.
  • Less screen time. I find myself scrolling through my phone all too much. I would love to be able to not look at my phone for at least a half hour before I go to bed, and to try to set more time limits.
  • Budget! We have had some financial bumps, as people do, and instead of just hiding and hoping it goes away I am ready to take it on. My husband and I are cutting some things, limiting other things, and trying to buckle down to pay some stuff down. I am hoping that instead of buying books I will utilize my library more. I am hoping to cook more, do more homemade things, and find more fun date nights in. My husband and I are both fed up and so ready for a change. I think we are finally in the mindset to make it.
  • Do a pullup. I have gotten back into working out over the past few year but my upper body strength is severely lacking. I want to do an unassisted pull-up. Once I do that I want to continue to add more.
  • Take another trip. I haven’t decided where to, but I want to go somewhere new, or explore somewhere known just a little more, with my husband. Vacations are so good for you, and I think taking a trip this past year was so good for me!
  • Focus on eating what makes me feel good. I am a sucker for sweets, a sucker for grease, and a sucker for gluten. None of these things make me feel good unless I watch my portions, and even then they don’t always make me feel good. I want to remind myself that I do like vegetables and food that is a little bit healthier. I want to keep my portions in mind and I want to feel better about myself. Food is such a huge step in that.
  • Journal. I think I need to get back on the journaling train. I want to set aside a certain amount of time each day to write. I don’t care what it’s about, I just need to write. 2018 was a year of some high emotions and a year of some drama. I think I would have handled things better if I could have written things out instead of letting them bottle up in my head.

I have more goals, but I think some are less firm goals and more ideas. I want less drama, I want more connections, I want to do more and collect less, I want to make running fun and try a few more races…I have many personal goals that I want to keep to myself too. I am just really feeling the whole mindset of the new year lately, and I am trying my best to embrace it.

What are some of your goals for 2019?

emily

Advertisements

Saying Goodbye to 2018

Can you believe we are finally saying goodbye to 2018?

I’m stuck between “Where did 2018 go?” and “OH MY GOSH HOW IS THIS YEAR STILL GOING ON!?”

A lot has happened this year. A lot of good, some not so good, and a lot of in between. My blogging has been minimal, but I think that has been pretty necessary for me and for my life at that time. I like that I can pop in and out and hope that in 2019 I can do even more popping in.

But I’m not talking 2019 yet. It’s still 2018! I want to give you some of the highlights from the past year, both with books and with myself.

So…here’s a bit of 2018 that I’m looking back on:

BOOKS:

**I read 59 books in 2018 (my goal was 52). I read a lot a good books, but my top ten would have to be:

Kids of Appetite by David Arnold | Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz | Beartown by Fredrik Backman | Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi | Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly | Turtles All the Way Down by John Green | Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel | The Librarian of Auschwitz by Antonio Iturbe | Saga series by Brian Vaughan and Fiona Staples | To All the Boys I Loved Before series by Jenny Han

**Some interesting facts about my reading:

A few fave songs from 2018:

Montana by Justin Timberlake | Paper Rain by Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness | Last Hope by Paramore |  Wolf by Miguel | Best Part by Daniel Cesar and H.E.R. | Freeee by Kids See Ghosts | Forever by Sa-Roc | Pressure by Muse | Everything by Ella Mai and John Legend | Tender Offerings by First Aid Kit

Movies and TV in 2018:

BASICALLY JUST EVERYONE NEEDS TO WATCH SCHITT’S CREEK! Other than that let’s see…I rewatched a lot of Friends, as one does. I become OBSESSED with Queer Eye and really could use the new season. I went to a lot of good movies, such as The Greatest Showman, Crazy Rich Asians, Crimes of Grindewald and so many others. I could probably make a whole post just on this alone, but I won’t. Feel free to discuss movies and TV with me any time!

My personal Life in 2018:

I did a lot this year. Like, a lot a lot. I quit my job as summer began and felt free. I knew the job was dragging me down, but I didn’t really know how much. I didn’t have much of a backup plan besides substitute teaching, but a month and a half after I quit I had a new job in a place that challenges me. I feel comfortable at my new job, I feel capable, and I feel like I can rise to whatever may come my way. My new job was a HUGE thing for me.

46498059_10213369417211538_1873276069486788608_n

I ran a few races in 2018, including my first ever half marathon. My ultimate goal was to finish in under 3 hours, and I did it in 2:57. Go me! I also started weight lifting and joined a tap fitness class.

What else did I do? I saw some baseball, saw some hockey, survived a blizzard, attended a few weddings, saw Les Miserables, didn’t die at a trampoline park, ran a beer can race, and caught up with friends I hadn’t seen in ages.

I went on a road trip! I honestly don’t remember the last time I took a legitimate vacation. Maybe California like 3 years ago? Maybe…For this road trip we drove out to Spokane, WA and back, stopping in places like the Black Hills, Bighorn National Forest, and Yellowstone along the way. It was a wonderful trip that I so needed and I honestly don’t know if I have the words to describe it.

I saw Justin Timberlake! Words cannot describe this experience. We were able to get upgraded to the floor and I was definitely within shouting distance of him (like he probably could have heard me and he potentially could have spotted me but I’m not going to think about that). It was the concert of a lifetime and I am so happy that I was able to go.

Oh, and I JUST RECENTLY SAW ARIKA! She and I live quite a distance apart but it actually worked for us to meet up for lunch with a few other friends while we were home for Christmas. Of course, like idiots, we forgot to take pictures. We were just so busy living in the moment, enjoying the football game, and getting really excited about some awesome things coming up in the new year! The last time I saw Arika was 2 years ago at her wedding, so this was long overdue.

On a personal note, this year has been crazy. I have been so upset with myself, so angry, so frustrated, so stuck. And for once…FOR ONCE….I used that to my advantage and finally pushed myself to better myself. I still have a long way to go, but I am so happy with the progress I have made and I cannot wait to see what is up next for me.

Thanks for everything 2018. The ups and the downs. I learned from everything that you threw at me and I can’t wait to own 2019.

giphy1

emily

Let’s Talk About…Two Can Keep a Secret by Karen M. McManus

If you have been following me at all on social media you know that I’ve had a pretty solid reading year. I’ve read a lot of good books, but I think I’ve been missing that feeling of OH MY GOSH I CAN’T PUT THIS DOWN. I had books I felt very hooked in, but not a lot that I was constantly turning the pages because I just had to know what happened next. I was a little frustrated with this, which seems odd because why complain about the lack of a book hangover? I tried to not let that frustration get to me because I was reading a lot of good books, why complain because something really good isn’t at that next level?

Well I found it…I found that book that I could not put down and gave me that temporary book hangover that had me wondering just what I should do next.

That book is Two Can Keep a Secret by Karen M. McManus

Echo Ridge is small-town America. Ellery’s never been there, but she’s heard all about it. Her aunt went missing there at age seventeen. And only five years ago, a homecoming queen put the town on the map when she was killed. Now Ellery has to move there to live with a grandmother she barely knows. The town is picture-perfect, but it’s hiding secrets. And before school even begins for Ellery, someone’s declared open season on homecoming, promising to make it as dangerous as it was five years ago. Then, almost as if to prove it, another girl goes missing. Ellery knows all about secrets. Her mother has them; her grandmother does too. And the longer she’s in Echo Ridge, the clearer it becomes that everyone there is hiding something. The thing is, secrets are dangerous–and most people aren’t good at keeping them. Which is why in Echo Ridge, it’s safest to keep your secrets to yourself.

I’m trying to think of how best to describe my thoughts and feelings on this book without massive amounts of gibberish, fangirling, and spoilers. Because it would not be hard to spoil this book. So instead…I think I’m going to tell you about the things that hooked me.

  • Ellery. I liked both her and Ezra, but Ellery really struck me. She had a bit of a fascination with true crime, which made sense, but it wasn’t something that took over her entire life. Yes, she was more cautious about things and had theories constantly, but she was able to admit that she was wrong when she was and to move on. I think this made her so much more human to me. She could admit her wrongs, she would feel bad about them, she would have more theories (obviously), but she didn’t let them get too in the way of friendships, etc.
  • Twists and turns that were both subtle and shocking. Ok, there were so many times that I told myself that I knew who did it, because ALL the signs were there. But instead McManus uses this small details and subtle changes to basically say “HA EMILY YOU ARE SO WRONG!” I loved that it wasn’t like huge, over the top reveals. Every twist and turn was subtle, flowed well within the story, and had me really upset because I was so sure so many times I had it figured out. Dear Karen, you are a master.
  • I felt that this was just well drawn up. Everything seemed believable. YOu know how sometimes when you’re reading a book or watching a movie about disappearances and cold cases and you just feel like it’s far fetched? Or there’s like the person who has never been there suddenly there and it just fixes everything magically and all is solved and they ride off into the sunset? That did not happen in this book. Not only was it believable but you also got some legitimate small town vibes. It felt like it could actually happen, and that kind of freaked me out a bit.

At this point this is really all I can say without giving spoilers. Because at this point I want to get into the nitty gritty. I want to tell you what happens and then scream “CAN YOU BELIEVE IT!?” But I can’t do that. I want to…but I can’t.

This book was a page turner. I was hooked in the beginning with always a little bit of sadness to put it down, but them by about page 150 I was fully immersed and any moment I had to put it down KILLED me. I just had to know why things weren’t going as I had assumed they would and I had to know who did it. If you are looking for a book that will fully suck you in until the end, and still leave you wanting just a little bit more…this is the book.

This book is released on January 8th, 2019. You best get your hands on it when it gets here, because you will not regret it.

Add this book to GoodreadsAbout the AuthorBuy this book

Why I Read Holocaust Stories

45177492_10213231431201974_1761456776324055040_n

I can’t even begin to tell you the number of times I have started to type things about this book and then immediately deleted them. I’m hitting that point where I just don’t know if my words will do this book justice. And while that fear is very real, I realize that I can’t keep going on just not talking about this book. Why? Because this book moved me. It made me smile, it shocked me, it made me cry. It was an incredibly important book and it really bothers me that more people aren’t talking about it.

So, I am about to do my best to tell you reasons that you should read The Librarian of Auschwitz by Antonio Iturbe.

31145052Based on the experience of real-life Auschwitz prisoner Dita Kraus, this is the incredible story of a girl who risked her life to keep the magic of books alive during the Holocaust.
Fourteen-year-old Dita is one of the many imprisoned by the Nazis at Auschwitz. Taken, along with her mother and father, from the Terezín ghetto in Prague, Dita is adjusting to the constant terror that is life in the camp. When Jewish leader Freddy Hirsch asks Dita to take charge of the eight precious volumes the prisoners have managed to sneak past the guards, she agrees. And so Dita becomes the librarian of Auschwitz. 

Out of one of the darkest chapters of human history comes this extraordinary story of courage and hope.

This book was picked up kind of on a whim. When I was on vacation my friend kept talking about it, and then my sister in law had also started gushing about it (and she hadn’t even had the chance to finish it yet). So I filed it away to remember to grab it if I saw it at some point. Well let me tell you, I was so excited when it was sitting on the shelves at the library. I snatched it up immediately, determined that this was my next read (even if it meant my current read took a pause).

There was not a single second that I was disappointed in prioritizing this book. This book took me through a wide range of emotions as I read Dita’s story. I cheered in her happy moments, I cried in her gut-wrenching moments, and I continued to question just how humans could treat someone so poorly just because of their race, because of their culture, because of who they are.

I find that I read a lot of books about WWII, especially those surrounding people that suffered through the Holocaust. Sometimes I sit back and ask myself why…why would I willingly let myself read these tragedies, crying over the treatment of these people and the deaths? I asked myself these questions after I finished The Librarian of Auschwitz, and I think this book gave me all my reasons.

  1. To see the story of bravery in a dark time. I honestly don’t know how those imprisoned in concentration camps found the courage to keep going every single day. They were treated like they were worse than dirt. They were beaten, starved, experimented on. They were torn down and apart nearly every waking minute of the day. Their living situations were so awful that many died just from being sick from sleeping where they did. How…how does one gather the courage to face each day? Dita showed me that courage. She showed the struggle of wanting to give up. She showed me that it was worth it. That fighting through each and every moment, that fighting to survive, was worth it. She touched lives just by doing her job as the librarian, something that should be so simple. I read these stories to see bravery in the darkest of times.
  2. To see that people survived and have lived a good life. I think in just about every Holocaust story that I have read they have talked about the survivors, whether that be the main character or not. To see that someone can go through hell and come out to live a life is inspiring. I have only read about what they went through, and I know that’s just a small look into the terrible days and nights, but to know that some little bit of humanity survived the terror…it’s amazing. I know that the lives of survivors hasn’t been easy. I can’t imagine what they have had to overcome, but to know that so many have overcome that and have gone on to do good things…that helps me to see the good coming out of the bad.
  3. To be reminded of the past. I think it’s so important that we learn from the past, personally and as a society. I mean, if we don’t look to the mistakes and choices of the past are we really able to grow? When I read stories coming out of the Holocaust I think about what we as a society can do to ensure that something like this never happens. It’s a big thing to think of, especially today when we see so much that we question and don’t agree with. Reading books such as this one help us to see the terror that a nation caused because they don’t like someone’s race, culture, lifestyles, etc. It reminds us that it’s not ok (not that we should need the reminder, but I think it kind of amps the knowledge of what’s right and wrong up).
  4. To see good overcome evil in a real way. There’s so much evil in the world. So much. And sometimes reading the news, seeing everything play out…it just becomes overwhelming. I find it hard to maintain that hope that good will overcome some days. Books like these, stories like Dita’s, are reminders of how good overcame one of the worst evils. It’s a reminder that good WILL overcome, but we just need to do something before it goes as far as it did during WWII.

Dita’s story reminded me of the reasons I read stories of the Holocaust, both of survival and of those that went down with a fight. Dita’s story reminded me that one single person can make a difference to the lives of those around you. She reminded me that to be strong doesn’t mean you don’t break a little. She reminded me that courage can be a small act (even though her small act was a pretty big deal while in Auschwitz).

If you need a story of hope in the darkest places, read this book. If you want to see a girl risk her life to preserve books and the stories and lessons they hold, read this book. You will smile, you will cry…it’s a roller coaster but so worth it (though I do recommend not reading in public, unless you’re ok with the ugly cry in public).

Do you read WWII books? Why do you read them?

emily

My Fear of Finishing Throne of Glass

I have a confession to make…a book nerd confession that I’m sure others can relate to in some way so I’m hoping this is a safe space to confess this.

I am afraid to finish the Throne of Glass series.

giphy

I have read the first six (I’m including the prequel book) and I am scared to finish the last two books.

You may be wondering why I feel this way, but first you need a little history between me and this book series.

I started this book series in 2014. I had just packed up my entire life with my husband and moved to a different state. I was struggling to find a job (I think I had finally settled into retail at this point) and just wasn’t happy in general. This move has taken YEARS to adjust to, if I’m being honest, but it was particularly hard when I was poor, working a crappy job, and only knew my husband (and we literally didn’t have enough money to do anything but sit at home).

At this point in my life I needed an escape: enter the brain of Sarah J Maas.

I picked up the first Throne of Glass book on a whim. It sounded like something that would help me take a temporary break from the sadness of my current situation, and it did just that. I fell in love with the first book and immediately jumped to the second one. I was lucky enough to start this series right before book 3 came out, so within that first year of living in this new place I had devoured the first three books and was hooked. This book series gave me an escape, it gave me something to be excited about, it honestly helped me to start caring about things again.

Throughout the years I have still read these books and supported the author. I have read other books by her and have been a constant fan, but now…we’re coming to the end. And I am terrified.

14088443_10207281798704880_4832954945865023542_n

So, you might be asking yourself why. Why is someone who has been through all of this with her books suddenly be scared to finish this series?

Well, first off, there seems to be a lot of drama surrounding her books. I know people have brought up some problematic things about the series which I have seen and can acknowledge, but I’m also the type that needs to read it so that they can see exactly what it is. I have also seen many people bringing others down for reading this book series, and that in itself kind of scares me. In general, people either love or hate this series and I seem to be easily influenced by others sometimes. I really just need to not let it get to me. I do want to know how it ends. 

Secondly, there’s the ending. WHAT KIND OF ENDING WILL THERE BE!? Will it be happy or sad? Will everyone I love die a horrible and tragic death, or will the frolic through the meadow off into the sunset? I personally don’t know what kind of ending I want or even need from this series. After all the emotions it has given me over the years I wouldn’t be shocked if they all died in the end, but I don’t think that’s what I want. And honestly, series enders can make or break it all. I like the Hunger Games series a little less because I absolutely HATED the ending to it. Just hated it. I enjoyed Divergent and then THAT ENDING (that I told myself I liked initially but I really don’t think I did). How will this book end????

Third, WHAT DO I HAVE ONCE IT’S OVER? I have been a part of this series for a very long time. What do I do with my life when I no longer have a Throne of Glass book to look forward to? How will I cope with what happens to my favorites if I don’t have the promise of another book? What do I do with my life when this is no longer a part of it?

And lastly, and probably the most realistic of all of my fears, is the fear that the book will let me down. This isn’t just because of the ending, but mostly because of fear of the author jamming all kinds of things in at the last minute. Too many times I have finished a series where, during the last book, they just jam all kinds of craziness in there, some of which does not even seem to matter to the plot in general. I’m not about throwing in last minute relationships, last minute details that don’t pertain to the plot, etc. Sometimes it’s like an author gets to the end and tries to change what the series is. I don’t know the best way to explain this really. I think it’s obvious that as the series goes on the author’s writing experience changes. I totally get that. But sometimes I feel like they don’t always stick to what the the core of the story is. I don’t know. Stories evolve, I get it. But those last minute details that don’t really move the plot along they come across as a way to fill a hole. I’m definitely scared that this book won’t live up to what I remembered and loved from book 1 to present. That is probably my biggest fear.

33590260

Yes, I will read Kingdom of Ash. I hope that I can read it soon, but man…I have some fear.

Can you relate to this struggle? Are there book series that you haven’t finished because you are scared to do so? 

emily

If We Were Having Tea (5)

20638302_10210095186557818_268576923072112750_nI have seen this post many times over at Jamie’s page (The Perpetual Page Turner) and have always wanted to give it a shot. I think it’s fun, personable, and a great way to kind of get to know one another. So, I thought why not give it a shot? But there will be a bit of a difference…we won’t be having coffee. Instead I will be having tea.

If we were having tea…

 

  • I would tell you that reading has been a STRUGGLE lately. It’s not that I’m not reading anything good, it’s that my life feels like it’s just chaos and there’s something to be said about sitting in front of Netflix when life is a mess. I am still working on War and Peace (just had to catch up after being 2 weeks behind…oops) and am currently working on The Librarian of Auschwitz (SO good!)
  • I would tell you that it’s clearly been awhile since I wrote anything with life updates. I remember talking about my half marathon a lot because I was nervous. Well, I DID IT! In August. I ran with a goal to finish in under 3 hours and I finished in 2:58. Pretty awesome right? I didn’t cry at the finish line but I did cry when my husband called me. He was gone for military stuff that month and it was nice to have him call me and congratulate me. While I wish he could have been there, I am super proud of myself and definitely plan to do another one.
  • I would tell you that I GOT A NEW JOB! I don’t think I’ve written about that at all. I have officially exited the education world and am now working in an office coordinating schedules. It’s been a learning curve for sure, but I am loving it. It’s amazing to get to the point in life where I don’t dread coming in to work. I miss my old job at times. I miss some of my former co-workers and those kids always made things interesting, but I felt like I made the best choice for me and I am loving it.
  • I would tell you that I went on a road trip in September and it was amazing. We drove out to Washington to see some family, and made some stops along the way. I won’t post all the pictures, but know that I had so much fun. It was so nice to get a break and to camp and just enjoy the beauty that is the West.
  • I would tell you that I’m kind of, sort of, potentially debating starting another blog. In case you were concerned, this blog would be IN ADDITION TO the one you’re currently reading this post on. I think this other blog would be a different part of my life that I don’t really share a ton of on here, but I’m not sure yet. It’s a lot to think about, but I’m also getting more excited about the idea of it. I obviously will let you know if that’s a thing. But I will continue to blog about books and nerdy things here (once I get my act together, which is feeling like it’s happening).
  • I would tell you that I am searching for some sort of escape. Not to like run away or anything like that, but it’s been a lot of drama around here these days. While I’m not directly in the line of fire I am still getting hit with things and I just need a break. What do you recommend when life gets like that, where you just need a temporary escape from it all?landscape-1470146734-harley-quinn-reading-tea
  • I would tell you that I am so ready for the Holidays. I was thinking about my Christmas tree yesterday and all the logistics that go with it. I’m not the best decorator in the world, but I have a lot of fun with it. Christmas is so nostalgic for me and I am so ready to dive into that feeling.
  • I would tell you that I recently have been super into the podcast My Favorite Murder. I don’t typically get into podcasts like this, but they have a way of talking about these horrendous things that creates a feeling of empathy. It’s also a great reminder of what to do if you get into one of those uncomfortable situations. Anyone else in to podcasts? What ones?tenor
  • I would tell you that I have the urge to treat myself to a movie. My husband is out of town constantly and I have been wanting to go to a movie, but I seem to feel weird taking myself. Anyone else like this? Well I’m thinking it’s time I get over this and go to a movie. But…what movie should I go see???? I’ve been wanting to see A Star is Born and The Hate U Give but I can’t decide which one is priority…..first world problems. Have you seen anything good lately? What should I go to (pending my theater has it…)?
  • I would tell you that I HAD A LIFE CHANGING NIGHT IN SEPTEMBER (EXACTLY ONE MONTH AGO THIS DAY)! I WAS LESS THAN 10 FEET AWAY FROM JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE AT HIS CONCERT IN MINNESOTA! It was a crazy night where our nosebleed seats got upgraded to ground floor FOR FREE and we were able to get as close as possible and oh man. I cried a bit. I have loved Justin since NSYNC. I would say he was my first celebrity crush for sure. So yea, I think I am still riding that high. My sister continually made fun of me because she said I had zero chill, but I would like to say there were SO many people there that were worse than me and that it was a legit excuse to have no chill. But I also have video from the concert and you can definitely hear me like scream crying in the background. It’s whatever. I’m not ashamed. This, on top of vacation, and a few other moments made a typically crappy month AMAZING. Justin Timberlake, you will most definitely be in one of those top moments of my life. Thank you for that.

     

So…how have you all been doing!? I’ve missed you all so much. Let me know what’s up in your life. And don’t you worry, I’ll be back very soon!

emily

What Would You Miss?

514cef51be3e5a8037b053120d71fab9

I just finished a book. 

This is nothing shocking. I’ve been killing it with reading this year, it’s just the blogging aspect that has been slacking a bit but I’m working on that.

I just finished a book that’s been sitting on my shelf for YEARS that I was dying to read but kept putting off.

The book…Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel.

42339729_10212965256507773_1075772016386113536_n

This book is set in a dystopian US in which the world has fallen. Humanity as we know it is no longer a thing, and people are doing whatever they can to survive. I don’t want to give too much away, but the book really focuses less on the HUGE dramatic events that sometimes take place (people banding together to fight evil, etc) and focuses more on how humanity has changed and what is necessary for survival. I loved that the author took that turn with this kind of story, and I think that’s what kept me so invested. She told this story in such a beautiful and haunting way, in a way that I could actually see it happening. This lead me to ask myself a simple question…

If the world as I knew it changed, if all that I knew was no more, what would I miss?

“No more Internet. No more social media, no more scrolling through litanies of dreams and nervous hopes and photographs of lunches, cries for help and expressions of contentment and relationship-status updates with heart icons whole or broken, plans to meet up later, pleas, complaints, desires, pictures of babies dressed as bears or peppers for Halloween. No more reading and commenting on the lives of others, and in so doing, feeling slightly less alone in the room. No more avatars.”

A world without internet, a world without fresh fruit easily accessible, a world without electricity and running water…what would I miss the most?

I think I would miss social media, but not for the reasons some people would. I think I could give up some aspects of it no problem, but the fact that it is a way that I can connect with friends and family all over the world…I can’t imagine a world where I can’t contact them instantly. I can’t comprehend a world where I can’t know what is going on in their lives even though we are far apart. I can’t imagine being alive in a time where distance doesn’t kill everything. That would be hard to give up.

I would miss food as we know it. I would miss ice cream (just demolished some today because football nearly killed me it was so bad). I would miss the access to fresh fruits and vegetables. I remember one character talking about eating his last orange, and I just cannot comprehend that. To suddenly no longer have that, it would be tough.

I would miss those basic human needs that we all have. I have a home, I have running water and electricity, I have clothes on my back. Sure, I would probably be able to have a home, and I would have clothes, but everything else would be difficult to adjust to.  I drink water constantly. I shower almost every day. I use a washer and dryer. While I know that this isn’t something everyone has and some things that they survive without, to go from having that to not having it would be difficult.

I would miss modern transportation. We can literally fly to the other side of the world in a day. In this world, after humans are knocked down a bit, that doesn’t exist. Planes don’t take off, cars don’t go…it’s a lot of walking and lot of horses. Suddenly it’s not as easy to get places. Working 15-20 miles away from my home would not be doable because it would take me longer to get there. I feel like my world would become smaller, and I just can’t picture that.

There are so many other things I think I would miss…sporting events, concerts, reading until all hours of the night because I could turn on a light, modern medicine…so many things about my world that would change. This book had me thinking about how grateful I am about all of the things that I have.

On top of thinking about all of this, the book was really well written with so many moments that made me feel sadness, grief, and even (sometimes) happiness.

I am so sad that I sat on this book for so long. I regret sitting on it and I am so glad I finally took the time to dive in. It’s definitely a book that has changed my thinking in life.

Have you read this book? What did you think?

And if you haven’t read this book…PUT IT ON YOUR LIST NOW! You won’t regret it.

Question: What’s something you would miss at the end of the world?

emily

Blog Tour: An Excerpt of Star-Touched Stories by Roshani Chokshi

Hey everyone! I can’t believe how long it’s been since I have been on here. Too long! But no worries, I have plans to getting back into this and it starts with some really awesome.

Today I am bringing you an excerpt from Star-Touched Stories by Roshani Chokshi! How exciting right?!

giphy

Before I dive in with the excerpt, let’s talk a little bit about the world you are about to dive in to. If you haven’t read the Star-Touched series then you need to know just how crazy good they are. Chokshi writes an amazingly GORGEOUS world that I fell in love with instantly. Seriously, she has a talent for making the world come alive and describing even something that I may think of as mundane in an incredibly way. If you haven’t read her books you really need to. They are filled with mystery, swoons, shock, and characters that you are bound to connect to in some way.

Star-Touched Stories are just that, stories set in the Star- Touched world. The book features three stories within this world that are bound to capture your interest, especially if you are in love with the series as I was.

So, without further ado…here is a little excerpt. I must say, after reading it myself I really can’t wait to continue on…

Star Touched Stories_cover image

•» 1 «•

DEATH

I stood outside the home, watching as the light beaded and dripped down the length of the Tapestry thread. I waited. There was never any rush. Not for me at least.

The light dangled from the end of the string, clinging and reluctant. A passing wind stirred the ends of the thread, teasing out strands of memory. The memories plumed into the air, releasing the scent of a life lived in love. One by one, the memories unraveled— a pillow shared by two heads bent close in secrecy, a frayed blanket kept inside an eternally empty cradle, a table that sagged from the weight of uncertain feasts. Happiness stolen from the edges of sorrow.

I stepped over the threshold.

The lights in the hut extinguished. Shadows slipped off the walls to gather around my feet. Inside the hut, someone had propped up a stingy fire. Cinnamon scented the air. Past the dusty vestibule, rows upon rows of bay leaves hung from the ceiling. Strange runes scratched into small animal bones and ivory hairpins lay in carefully constructed patterns. I laughed. Someone had tried to ward me away. But there was no
door that didn’t open to me.

At the far corner of the house huddled two people. A man in the arms of a woman. Old age had blessed him, yet for all his gnarled veins and silver-streaked hair, the woman cradled him as if he were a child. He murmured softly into the crook of her neck. I watched them. She wasn’t crying.

The woman looked up . . . and saw me.

How refreshing.

“Greetings, Dharma Raja,” said the woman in a clear voice.

I took in the bay leaves and bone pins. “You were expecting me, I take it.”

“Yes,” she said, hanging her head. “I regret that I cannot serve you any food or drink or treat you as a guest in our home.”

“Don’t let it trouble you,” I said, waving my hand. “I am rarely a guest. Merely an inevitable occurrence.”

Her husband did not stir in her arms. His breath had grown soft. While the woman had kept her eyes trained on me, I had taken away his pain, siphoned it bit by bit. I was in a generous mood.

“You have come for him.”

“As I will for you, one day. I could tell you the hour, if
you wish it.”

“No.”

I shrugged. “Very well.”

She clutched him tighter. Her hands trembled. I knew she could feel his life unspooling. She may have seen me, but she did not see his life pooling beneath him.

“May I ask something of you, Dharma Raja?”

“You may.”

But I need not honor it. 

“We always wished to leave this life together.”

“I cannot change your appointed time, even if I wished.”

She closed her eyes. “Then may I request, instead, that you not let him pass to the next life until I may join him there?”

Now this was interesting. I sank backward into the air, and an onyx throne swirled up to meet me. I tilted my head, watching her. “Why? I haven’t weighed your life yet. What if you were far more honorable than your husband in this life? I could pour your soul into the mold of a princess blessed with beauty and intellect, riches and wonders. I could add silver to your heart and fortify you from any heartbreak. I could give you a life worthy of legends.”

She shook her head. “I would rather have him.”

“You’d rather have him, and whatever life that entails?” I leaned forward, eyeing the dingy room.

Her eyes flashed. “Yes.”

“He may not even come back as a human. Believe me. I’ve remade emperors into cockroaches and cockroaches into kings. You seem like a reasonably intelligent woman. Would you truly like to keep house for a bug?”

She lifted her chin. “I would be his mate in any form.”

A curious emotion prickled my skin, nudging the back of my thoughts. My hands tightened on the shadow throne. Before I could stop myself, the question flew from me:

“Why? ”

“Because I love him,” said the woman. “I would prefer any life with him than any life without him. Even the deities know love to the point that they will chase their counterpart through thousands of lifetimes. Surely you, oh Dharma Raja,
understand how extraor- dinary love can be?”

I knew very well what could come of love. I had seen it. Been cursed by it. Even now, I thought of her. The way she ran away and left a shadow in her place. Love was extraordinary.

Extraordinarily spiteful.

Extraordinarily blind.

Extraordinarily misleading.

“Bold words,” I said.

“They do not move you?”

I shrugged. “You may appeal and supplicate and wheedle as you wish, but I have heard every excuse and plea and sputter, and my heart has never been moved.”

The woman bowed her head. She gathered her husband to her chest. Her wedding bangles clanked together, breaking the silence. When I left, custom dictated that she must remove those wedding ornaments. Widows did not wear such bracelets. I had not consid- ered until now that the sound itself was a thing near death. And that chime—gold  against gold—struck me far louder than any keening. In the echoes, I heard something hollow. And lonely.

I dropped the noose. It slid through the man’s skin, noiseless as silk. Life had left him. All that was left was his soul.

You never forget what it’s like to withdraw a soul. It is an unclasping. Sometimes a soul is tough and hard, surrounded by sinews of memories gone brittle with age. Sometimes a soul is soft and bursting like wind-fallen fruit, all bruised tenderness and stale hope. And sometimes a soul is an ethereal shard of light. As if the force of its life is a scorching thing.

This soul belonged to light.

When the woman looked down, she knew that her husband was gone. The thing she cradled was nothing more than meat soon to spoil. Tears slid down her wrinkled cheeks.

“Come now,” I said, standing from the throne. “I have taken husbands when their wives still wore the henna from their wedding. I consider you lucky.”

“I beg of you,” she said. “Don’t let him move on without me. He would have asked the same.”

I swung the soul into a satchel and the light faded. I headed for the door, more out of formality than anything else. If I wanted, I could’ve disappeared right then and there.

“Please. What would you do for someone you loved?”

I stopped short. “I can’t say I’ve had the pleasure of that provocation.”

“You love no one?” she asked, her eyebrows rising
in disbelief.

“I love myself. Does that count?” And then I left.

StarTouchedStories_BlogTourBanner_presale

And there you have it. This book is released to the public on August 7th. Make sure to get out there and get yourself a copy!

About Roshani Chokshi

Roshani Chokshi CREDIT Aman SharmaRoshani Chokshi is the New York Times bestselling author of The Star-Touched Queen and A CROWN OF WISHES. Her middle grade debut, ARU SHAH AND THE END OF TIME, released April 3, 2018 from Disney/Rick Riordan Presents. Her next young adult novel, THE GILDED WOLVES, is slated for Winter 2019. Chokshi’s work has appeared in Strange Horizons, Shimmer, and Book Smugglers. She was a finalist in the 2016 Andre Norton Award and the Locus Top Ten for Best First Novel. Her short story, “The Star Maiden,” was longlisted for the British Fantasy Science Award.

Author Website |  Pre-order book

 

emily

Let’s talk about…Over Raging Tides by Jennifer Ellision

35900323The pirate crew of the Lady Luck lives by many rules, but chief among them is this: they do not allow men on board. 

That’s a rule that quartermaster Grace Porter is willing to break when a shipwrecked young nobleman offers her information of an omniscient map, stolen from his warship by an enemy vessel. Until now, the map was only the stuff of legend… but with its help, Grace may finally be able to hunt down the Mordgris, the sea monsters who stole her mother away from her.
Unfortunately, some members of her crew have other plans…
To find the map and face the Mordgris, Grace will have to confront her past, put the Luck between warring nations, and uncover treachery aboard the ship. And ultimately, her revenge and the destruction of the Mordgris will come at a hefty price: the betrayal of her crew.
Grace promised them they wouldn’t regret this.
She just isn’t sure that she won’t.

Add this book to GoodreadsAbout the Author  | Buy this book

Immediate reactions upon finishing:

This was such a fun read! I haven’t really read a lot of pirate books, so I was pretty excited to dive into this world of female pirates as they kick butt across the seas. I found this book super to be really quick to get in to and was filled with an adventure that I had definitely wanted to read.

Here are my top 3 reasons to read this book.

  1. AWESOME main character! I absolutely loved Grace. She was brave, strong, and just slightly imperfect. Sometimes she hesitated when I felt that I would also hesitate. She didn’t see everything that was going on in front of her, but she continued on anyway. She fought for what she believed in and was willing to do anything to get the people that she loved most back to her. I feel like she is a main character than any reader could look up to.
  2. Lady Pirates on an adventure! It’s pretty awesome to read a book about kick butt women taking on the seas. Nothing like laughing at the myth that women on a ship are bad luck and instead filling a ship with all women. There was adventure and surprises while on board the Luck as one would expect, and they kept me continuing on with the story. This book had some of the typical pirate story points, but I don’t think I could ever get sick of that. I love a good pirate story (even if I mostly watch movies and shows about pirates). This book made me need more pirate books!
  3. A nice break from reality! I have had a lot going on lately, and I found this story to be fun and exactly what I needed to take a temporary vacation from what was going on. I could definitely feel myself on the ship with the pirates and could see the story playing out. I felt that it helped me relax more, and I think that’s definitely a possibility for anyone that might pick up this book.

If you are look for a quick, fun, lady pirate adventure book then look no further! It could be a nice distraction, and I definitely think you need to meet Grace!

emily

Let’s Talk About….Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young

sky in the deepOND ELDR. BREATHE FIRE.

Raised to be a warrior, seventeen-year-old Eelyn fights alongside her Aska clansmen in an ancient rivalry against the Riki clan. Her life is brutal but simple: fight and survive. Until the day she sees the impossible on the battlefield — her brother, fighting with the enemy — the brother she watched die five years ago.

Faced with her brother’s betrayal, she must survive the winter in the mountains with the Riki, in a village where every neighbor is an enemy, every battle scar possibly one she delivered. But when the Riki village is raided by a ruthless clan thought to be a legend, Eelyn is even more desperate to get back to her beloved family.

She is given no choice but to trust Fiske, her brother’s friend, who sees her as a threat. They must do the impossible: unite the clans to fight together, or risk being slaughtered one by one. Driven by a love for her clan and her growing love for Fiske, Eelyn must confront her own definition of loyalty and family while daring to put her faith in the people she’s spent her life hating.

Add to your Goodreads | Buy on Amazon | About the Author

3.5 OUT OF 5 STARS

Definitely a good debut novel from Adrienne Young. I have to say I wasn’t shouting over the moon at the end of this novel but I did enjoy it for what it was, a good kick-ass viking female book. I don’t think I could really call this a fantasy novel as it really didn’t have much to do with fantasy in my opinion but as far as a historical fiction, it was really good.
The parts I liked about the book: It had a simplistic approach which I really liked. Nowadays a lot of authors, especially in young adult, want to try to make these complicated books where you can’t keep everything straight. Sky in the Deep was straight forward and the story was easy to follow, along with the characters. The characters were interesting and I really ended up loving certain characters at the end that I thought I would hate at the beginning. It also is a thought provoking book. If you grew up learning to hate a certain group of people, is it possible to change your outlook or thoughts about them.
The parts I didn’t like about the book: There really wasn’t much world building at the beginning of the book. I had a hard time understanding at first why the Aska and Riki were fighting. There wasn’t really a backdrop for the story, it pretty much went into the fighting and Eelyn being captured. I also wish there was more info on the histories of the tribes other than that one story about Sigr and Thora.

Again, overall, a great debut novel for Adrienne Young and I would definitely pick up another one of her books.

Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for an eARC of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

arika