Looking Back: All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

My reading life has slowed a bit lately. With the stress of moving and other life stresses I just haven’t always found the time. I am slowly getting back to it, but I have also found myself looking back. Looking back at the books I’ve read, especially those that have meant something to me. As I try to get back into blogging and reading I feel like I want to take the time to discuss some of those books, maybe even reread them, just to remember what they mean, share with whoever wants to read my words, and maybe even talk about any differences in feelings.

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Lately, I’ve been really thinking about All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven. The movie coming out this week on Netflix has definitely put it back on my radar, but so have people re-posting their reviews and talking about their thoughts. Unfortunately, I have not had the time to reread this book, but I have been going down the rabbit hole of research and even pulled up my past review from 2016 to kind of remind myself what hit me with this book.

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The truth is, I adored the book. I was gutted by the book. I do not think I can read that book again because I don’t think I can do that to my feelings again.

Before I go on, I should note that if you struggle with the topics of grief, suicide, or mental illness in any way…don’t read the book. Don’t watch the movie. Don’t read what I have to say or what anyone else has to say about it. You know yourself best. Only you know what you can and cannot handle. Another note, there will be spoilers. The book has been out for awhile, the movie is out soon, it is what it is. I don’t think I can talk about it at this point without spoilers.

If you don’t fully remember the book, the story follows Finch and Violet. Finch is struggling with what he calls black-outs and wants to die, to put it plainly. He is more than likely bipolar but is not officially diagnosed and is dealing with it on his own. Violet is deep in grief and depression as she lost her sister in a car accident not that long ago. The grief has consumed her life. Violet and Finch meet on the clock tower, and so begins their involvement in each other’s lives. They fall in love, they try to help one another, but…as you know…you can’t fix someone. You can only do so much. Life’s twists and turns have lead Finch back into his black outs and, eventually, to his death. My summary is a bit blunt, but it’s the basics of what I remember since typically my reviews are all about how a book makes me feel.

This book has been both highly praised and highly criticized, and I can see where everyone is coming from. But here is what I remember from reading it, and why I remember feeling it so hard…

  • This book dealt with a grief that is all consuming. Violet is coming to terms with everything, and dealing with how life goes on while everything has changed. I have read so much about grieving for those you have lost, but I think this was the first time that I had read something that showed the reality of everyone moving forward while you feel stuck. I finally felt like there was a new aspect of grief I could relate to, and I felt it hard with Violet. I have seen reviewers criticize this all consuming grief, and that makes me so sad…because it is how it can feel sometimes. I think this was my BIGGEST takeaway from the book and the reason that I fell for it so hard.
  • This book deal with mental illnesses, specifically someone who is undiagnosed with bi-polar disorder. At the time this hit me hard. Someone very close to me had been showing a lot of the same symptoms as Finch and it kind of freaked me out, but also glued me to the pages. This is one of the first times I had really read about someone who is working through this, and someone that isn’t getting help for it. It opened my eyes to a whole new world of mental illnesses and I think it helped me be more understanding with those in my life who were struggling. I know that not everyone agrees with how the mental illness aspect was handled, but I think that every single person is different and every illness, disorder, etc is different for every individual. It isn’t cut and dry. So you can think this portrayal is not accurate, but maybe to someone it is. I still think about Finch, and I still think about my feelings when I was reading it and try to use those feelings to be even more understanding to those that are struggling. I think this book was important in the way that it helped me see something I was overlooking.
  • This book also showed that not everyone understands and not everyone is helpful. I know that mental health awareness has come a long way since this book was published, but it still has a long way to go. There are always going to be people who aren’t accepting, who aren’t helpful, even though they are in the position to be some of the most helpful and influential people. While I feel like there had to have been someone in Finch’s life to help him out, I think that showing that it isn’t always the case was an interesting choice on the author’s part. I don’t think it’s right that people are so stand-offish when it comes to these situations, but I think it’s probably smart to know that it’s not always acceptance. It’s tough to see that, but it’s the reality for some people. Reality is harsh, but maybe this reality could help someone seek out help in different areas of their life.
  • This book showed that no matter what, you can’t fix someone. Again, this is tough to see especially given the relationship that Violent and Finch have. He shows her how great life can be, but in return she can’t seem to do the same for him. No matter what she does he constantly gets beaten down and back into his black-outs. One person doesn’t make that go away, one person can’t change everything. It’s such a harsh reality, but I think it’s important. I think that if Violet had saved Finch in any way then this book would have been received very differently and would have been a whole different kind of problematic. I think that maybe Violet could have fought harder to get him help, but who actually knows. I am a firm believer in showing tough realities. I think that while everyone should see that there is hope and good things ahead they also need to know that it’s work to get there. One person isn’t the magic solution. So while I wish in my heart this story had ended differently, I also know that this wasn’t that kind of story and we were meant to see the harsh realities and what happens when someone kills themselves even with someone in their life rooting for them.

So, after reading that you’re probably wondering why I still love this book and why I speak so highly of it. I like books that make me feel the deepest of emotions. If an author can make me sob from my gut, they’ve done their job. If they can make me laugh to point of tears and sore abs, they are amazing. This book had me gutted. This book opened my eyes to things right in front of my face in my own life and I honestly wish I had read it sooner.

I get why people say it’s problematic. I know we want those dealing with suicide to see hope, and I think there is still hope in this book. I think that we can see why Finch ended up going down the path that he did. I think we saw what people in his life did and didn’t do that pushed him towards that end. And I think that is INCREDIBLY important for everyone to be aware of and to think about.

I think that if you struggle with the topic of suicide, mental illness, any of those things…you shouldn’t read this book or any book that deals with these topics. And if you read this book then you should take everything with a grain of salt. This is just one interpretation, accurate or inaccurate. Use this book as an opportunity to look further into the topic, to dive deeper into what you can do to help those that are struggling. Use it as a learning opportunity and take what lessons you can from it.

I think this book is an excellent discussion starter. I think we can learn and grow from the wide variety of reactions to this book, and I think we can use it as way to inspire change in how mental health is handled in this world. I mean, while you can’t save someone you can still make a difference in their lives. And you can inspire others to do the same.

If you have read this book I gotta know, what did you think about it? What did you take from it? I want to use this as a positive way to start a discussion. I want a discussion to bring any awareness that can be brought, and I want to learn from others.

And please note, if you want to watch the movie please remember it’s not a romantic comedy. Netflix released a trailer that made it seem fun and cutesy, but it’s not. I don’t even want to link the trailer because it frustrates me a lot.

emily

If We Were Having Tea (7)

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.

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If we were having tea…

  • I would ask how the heck you are!? It’s been a CRAZY couple of months for me (and Arika too) and blogging has really sat on the back burner, meaning we haven’t had time to catch up with anyone. How’s your 2020 starting off? How did 2019 end for you? I just…I miss you guys and I hope all is well!
  • I would tell you that I’m FINALLY settling in at my new place. We had to move away from our old place due to work for my husband, which THANKFULLY had us moving closer to home and our family. We have been away for so long, so it’s weird to be back and wonderful to be back at the same time. Any big changes coming up for you?
  • I would tell you that I haven’t really hit my reading mojo yet this year. With the stress of moving I honestly didn’t finish a book ALL of January. But, since then I have finished 3 books (An Ember in the Ashes, Sorcery of Thorns, One of Us is Next) and am just starting Evvie Drake Starts Over on audio and Arika and I will be working through King of Scars. What have you been reading so far this year?
  • I would tell you that I’m working remotely! I am so excited that the company I was already working for is letting me working from home. I’m going a bit of what I was doing in the first place on top of a new position. It’s been hard, but a good hard. Work has been busy and I’ve been working on establishing routine because I know that’s what I’m going to need. Any of you work from home? What’s the best way to establish that routine?
  • I would tell you that routine is honestly just something I’m working on. Because of the stress of the move, as well as all other things in life from November until now, my routine has been thrown out the window. My work outs have been just about non-existent and I’ve gotten into the habit of eating out/eating garbage. It has been TOUGH. But, I’m trying to get back to it! This week is going to be tough, but I think it’s going to be good. Do you have any tips or tricks on getting back into routine?
  • I would tell you that I am late to the party, but I binged Cheer last week and am OBSESSED! I absolutely loved seeing the intensity of the sport, the backstory of so many of the characters (I want to hug them all), I just…I loved it. I laughed, I cried, I yelled at the TV. It was great to see that strength and athleticism shown in the series. Have you watched Cheer yet? 
  • I would tell you that while my week seems to be long (trip back to the office in the middle of the week…not that I’m not looking forward to it, just that it adds some drive time, etc to my week), I am getting pretty excited for next weekend. Husband and I have tickets to see Motion City Soundtrack! We would have LOVED to see them when we were in high school, but those were days of no money and not being trusted to drive to see them. High school Emily is FREAKING out. Do you have any fun plans for next weekend?
  • I would tell you that…I GOT MY CHEMICAL ROMANCE TICKETS. Words cannot describe how excited I was when all of that went through. I heard many people had issues with Ticketmaster (as per usual) and the prices weren’t great (general admission here was $200 (TO STAND), and I heard it was way more elsewhere)…but we got them! Again, High School Emily is FREAKING OUT. What band/group/singer that you loved in High School would you throw all your money at to see? 
  • I would tell you that winter has been weird. I mean, living in the upper midwest means that I am always at risk to spend days without sunshine (and I don’t know how anyone that lives even further north with full days of darkness does it), and lack of sunshine always means my moods are down. A trip to Vegas helped (all sunshine the whole time) but coming back to the cold and the snow…it’s just always tough. And this year we seem to be in such a weird pattern. One day it could be near 40 and then next day it could be near -40. It’s just constant extremes, which is giving me a whole different kind of season depression. I’ve been so busy lately that I haven’t really paid attention to it until now. Today was a tough one (with a lot of other things going on), but I’m doing my best to cope. Happy movies, taking time to relax, reading a book, blogging a little…all those things that have made me relax a bit and feel good. I’m hoping that it’s enough to really keep me in good spirits this winter, because February can be tough…and you never know what March will bring. What are your winter tips to try to help yourself stay in the best of spirits?

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Life has been nuts, and there are so many things I’m not going in to because it’s all so personal and some of it still hurts in a weird way. But in the end, I miss you all. I miss doing this. I know that not many people read this, and that’s ok. I love being able to put my thoughts down, whether about a book or whatever, and the fact that some people check in and we discuss things…I love it. So I’m going to keep trying to be on here the best I can. Some weeks I may have tons of posts, other weeks it may be silent. Who knows. The point of Midwestern Book Nerd has always been that it’s low key, and we are going to keep being low key.

Ideas are being worked on, and we’ll be back to write again soon 🙂

But until then, catch up with me. What exciting things are happening or will be happening in your life? I’d love to cheer you on!

emily

New to my Goodreads (4)

I know I’m not the only one who LOVES to know what other people are reading or excited about. I think there’s something about that fresh excitement of adding something to those TBR lists that’s almost contagious. I have seen bloggers around do something like this, and I thought I might want to join in. I did a post similar to this a few months back, and I want to keep it as a random feature on the blog.

Not going to lie, I have been dying to write since my last post and just couldn’t think of what to do. How silly is that when I love doing this feature!? But for real, I got so much amazing love and support after my last post and I think I was overwhelmed. I mean, my blog views were higher than they have EVER been! People were commenting on my post as well as on my social media with so much love, so many fun memories, and honestly…it helped me so much. This year has been pretty difficult as far as working through the feelings of grief has been concerned. I don’t know if at 30 I’m being reminded of things my dad is missing or something like that, but it’s been harder. So thank you…thank you for all the love and support. It meant the world.

And so of course, coming back is difficult because I’m trying to decide just what I want to be blogging about. Obviously books, but sometimes I feel like there is something else that I’m missing out on here. But for now, I’ll just keep doing what I’m doing and adding whatever tickles my fancy.

But today…oh many today I am sharing with you some books I have recently added to my TBR. I have added a lot…so honestly, this is just a small sample of what I have added. There are just so many books getting hyped up lately and I want to be in on it.

So, here are just a few of the many books I have recently added to my Goodreads TBR:

36524503._sy475_The Bone Houses by Emily Lloyd-Jones

This book sounds like it should have that spooky, creepy sort of setting that I would really enjoy. A book about zombies? A book about the family that takes care of the graveyard, aka makes sure the zombies stay dead? This book sounds incredibly interesting, and very fitting for this time of year (whoo Halloween!). I’m not one that reads spooky books in October just because I feel like I can read spooky books whenever I want. This one struck me as interesting though, and I’m excited to give it a shot.

39679076House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig

I am all about retellings, and this creepy retelling of the Twelve Dancing Princesses sounds right up my ally. Again, I don’t tend to read a lot of “spooky” books, but the praise for this book is so high that I feel like I can’t miss out. The setting sounds eerie, the death suffered sound incredibly terrifying and tragic…I’m interested in how this all plays out. Will someone hold my hand as I read it? Fun fact…this book is currently sitting in my TBR cart as the library hold just came in. I think this will be my next read and EEK! I am so nervous/excited.

42121526Rebel by Marie Lu

Yes, I just added this now. WHY DID I NOT KNOW ABOUT THIS!? WHY DID NO ONE TELL ME!? WHO AM I SUPPOSED TO DIRECT THIS ANGER AT BECAUSE OMG I NEED THIS BOOK SO BAD! I was in LOVE with the Legend series, and have been dying for just a little bit more. THIS IS THE LITTLE BIT MORE I WANT GUYS! I’m so ready to be back in this world, to see Eden, Day, June…I am so ready for this book! And yet, maybe I’m not. OH MY GOSH THIS IS THE FINAL BOOK!

46227940Of Curses and Kisses by Sandhya Menon

First of all, love this author. I haven’t read all of her books yet, but what I have read I have adored. Second, contemporary retelling of Beauty and the Beast!? Yes please! I haven’t read a book set in a boarding school in forever, so that makes me all the more intrigued. I am really excited for all that this book promises to bring. Also, that cover is so awesome. I wasn’t sure how I was feeling about covers that are drawn up like this (not sure what word is best used to describe it, cartoon feels wrong…help me out), but I’ve really started to like it!

40024139Serpent & Dove by Shelby Mahurin

I have heard so much hype about this book and I am so curious. I’m not 100% sure how I feel about the topic. I grew up in a household where we were very active in our church (and I am so thankful for it) and had actually talked about witchcraft and people who believe they are witches. I am so curious to see how the two things mix and the outcome of it. I really just am excited to get sucked into a new series. It’ been awhile since I’ve been really into one and I am hoping this one could bring me a new one. I’ve missed it.

43263520._sy475_The Grace Year by Kim Liggett

Ok, so I actually am starting this one right now since I just got it from the library and am super intrigued. I’m so nervous because while I love a good female empowerment book I do think it can get taken over the top (just a topic for another time) and I don’t want that. I want it to be believable. I want it to feel real and to actually make me feel empowered. This book has come highly praised by some people who I seem to get lots of book titles from. The females, in this book, are sent out to the woods for their “Grace Year” in which they release all their “Magic,” but no one really talks about what goes on during that year and typically the females come back having seen things. Like I said, intrigued. Full disclosure, I have started this book and am 100 pages in and SO HOOKED! At first, I was mildly interested, but man…by 100 pages I am fully invested and really ticked that my reading time has been so limited lately.

18966819Golden Son by Pierce Brown

Hi, my name is Emily and I slept on this series for far too long. I read the first one about a month ago and LOVED it. I don’t know if it’s something I want to binge, but oh man…I definitely need to read the next book soon. I really enjoyed the setting and the feel of the entire book. It read like the dystopian that I have been craving for a while, and set in space!? Yes please! I am both excited and terrified for what is about to come next!

44291755Gravemaidens by Kelly Coon

I can’t even say what it is about this book that intrigues me. I feel like this book will throw the reader into a brand new world with so much to discover. I just expect this environment that I would fall in love with. I am so intrigued by the plot and how the three maidens work within the story. Just so much interest in this book.

36373564._sy475_The Simple Wild by K.A. Tucker

I feel called to this book just based on the setting alone. I mean, the plot sounds like something I can get behind and all of that, so that’s great…but the setting! I absolutely have loved reading books set in Alaska. That state is almost foreign to me, and I just cannot believe the things that people who live up there may deal with (I mean, full days of darkness is just the start…). I have heard nothing but fantastic things about this book, and then the setting just kind of seals the deal for me. I definitely need to read this one.

43453524Thirteen Doorways, Wolves Behind Them All by Laura Ruby

A few things you should know about me if you don’t already…I am forever drawn to books on grief and I am also forever drawn to WWII books. I have not read many WWII books set in the US, so that is something new. This book sounds beautiful, heartbreaking, and eye-opening. It’s told from the perspective of a ghost, which kind of reminds me of The Book Thief as it was told by Death. I just feel like this book calls to me, and I am dying to get my hands on it. I know many children were orphaned during this time, and I don’t know a lot about that situation. I think this book will teach me a little bit more, while also breaking my heart (and who doesn’t enjoy getting their heart broken while reading?).

I could keep going, but I suppose I can save some of the other ones for another time. These were selected because they have excited me the most over the past week or two. I am so excited about reading lately, and that’s a feeling I have missed so much. So much to look forward to!

So tell me…is there anything new on your TBR that you are excited about?

Also, if there is anything on this list that you have read let me know! I want to know what I should prioritize!

emily

17

I debate this with myself every single year.

I don’t want to draw attention to myself or dig for any sort of sympathy, but it’s also just such a huge part of my life that I sure as heck can’t ignore.

It’s the anniversary of my dad’s passing this weekend (9/14), and try as I might I cannot shake the feelings this year. I don’t know if it’s because the days of the week line up to how they did 17 years ago or what, but it has been a very up and down week. Lot’s of flashbacks in my brain, pretty sure I’ve been dreaming about it, and basically my brain has just been making it difficult for me this year.

I’ve gotten to that point where I feel weird even talking about it. It’s been 17 years, and I feel like with that amount of time I should just kind of let it go. Life had to move on for everyone else, so it should for me too right? But honestly, I’ve realized just how traumatic that was for me as a 13-year-old, and then I think about how traumatic it was for my younger sister and brother. And then I think about how others have gone through so much worse and then I feel guilty for feeling bad about everything, it’s not a fun or healthy cycle.

So yea, I’ve been going back and forth about saying anything at all but then I thought about it…this is how I process the grief. This is how I handle those darker moments where I miss him a lot.

So…what’s left for me to say about my dad that hasn’t already been said.

He was a goofy guy, and I’m sure that at this point in my life I would be hip deep in dad jokes because I remember him being the king of those even the first 13 years of my life. He did the best Grover impression, Near and Far was his jam. Seriously. I can’t see anything Grover related without thinking of my dad. He used to start reading our Berenstain Bears books in funny voices, in which we would laugh and tell him to read it again in a “normal” voice, and of course he would read it again in a different funny voice. This would go on for about 2 more times before he decided to read like a human and not like a robot, etc.

He was super into music. He played in multiple bands as well as did music in the church. He (and my mom) are where our family gets our love for music from. And I would like to thank his (and her) genetics because not a single one of us is tone-deaf (go us!). He had many friends that he would have over for “jam sessions,” so we would then just have company and pizza and it was an all-around good time.

He forced me to watch Star Wars and Indiana Jones when I was sick, which may be why I don’t love these movies that much. Memories? Actually not liking them? I have no clue. He was a Pepsi drinker (sorry Dad, I drink Coke…), a Dots lover (ew), and a fan of plain Hershey’s chocolate (ok, but we used to try to trick the other into thinking the bar was unopened by perfectly wrapping it back up. You can do that with the new wrapping unfortunately).

He shared with me the love of baseball. He and my mom had me playing t-ball as soon as I was old enough and I continued on into traveling leagues in the summer and playing in school during 7th and 8th grade. I was a pretty solid hitter and I loved playing. He made it to every game, even when they were super far away. I would hear him cheering while I was up to bat and I think it helped me out a lot. Even when he was sick he tried his hardest to make it, and I so wish I could thank him for that. If there is anything in my life I would ever take back it was quitting softball after 8th grade. That was my first season of softball without him and it hurt. I cried in my room after almost every game, not really wanting anyone to know how hard it was. I quit after that year, even though I think it was a big season for me. I will forever feel guilty about that. Dad, I’m sorry. I know you and mom never wanted me to quit at anything…but this was too much for me. I try so hard to still carry on the love of the game, of the Twins (which oh hey guys can we get some wins so we can clinch the freaking division. kthnxbye!). I know it’s not the same, but I’m doing what I can.

He was so involved in all of our lives. He was home every day at the same time (my dog would wait for him at the door like clockwork), he was at every event he could be at, my first two years of public school he came to work with my class for Engineer day and I felt so cool because my dad was there and everyone loved him (obviously), he wanted to make sure he was there for us. And while that makes me so happy it also makes the moments he missed that much harder. I hate that my brother and sister didn’t experience him showing up to all their sporting events, I hate that they missed having him at Engineer day (because you better believe he would be there), I hate that they didn’t have the experience of being in plays with him. While I have missed out on so much, they have missed out on so much more…and I honestly feel really guilty about it.

I know he touched many lives. I remember so many old and new faces after he passed, paying their respects to him and telling us some of their memories of him. I love that he left an imprint somewhere in this world and that there are still so many people besides myself and my family that think about him, laugh at a memory, even miss him a little bit. I hope and pray he knew just how much people loved him.

I could honestly go on and on for a while, favorite memories and all of that. But instead, I’m going to share some pictures and other things that make me think of him. If you knew my dad feel free to share some memories. I know this is always a tough time of year for my family and I and those memories mean so much.

Dad, it’s crazy how long it’s been. I still can’t fully fathom it. I miss you a lot and I can’t wait to see you again someday. I hope that we’ve made you proud ❤

emily

 

Setting August Goals

tumblr_n9lxpr2yan1qgxmqno1_500HAPPY AUGUST ALL!

This summer is absolutely flying by. I honestly can’t believe we are approaching the last month of it, and I kind of feel like I have been doing a lot and not a lot at the same time. This summer I have been able to catch some live music, start up a new hobby (kinda), attend some festivals, and honestly just enjoy my time. I mean, I live in the Upper Midwest…you gotta live it up while the temps are above zero!

While I feel like the summer has been going well I do think I have slacked in some areas. I think I’ve been dealing with a lot of stuff mentally and it has kind of drug me down. Honestly, I’m really sick and tired of it and I know that if I want to change things I need to make a plan. So today I want to talk about my goals for the next month. I want to write them somewhere where I can see them, I want them to be seen by others, and I want to hold myself accountable. So basically, if you see me in person or around social media feel free to see how I’m doing with these. Politely shame me, please. I need to make some changes and to make those changes I gotta start today.

So…in August I will:

  1. Read more! Ok, kind of broad but hear me out…I’ve averaged MAYBE 1-2 books a month. THAT IS SO LOW FOR ME! I miss reading and am finally feeling like I’m getting back into it while I’m devouring Daisy Jones & The Six by Tayler Jenkins Reid. I am trying to knock out a few more books I own and plan to read these books in particular this month…
  2. Do the Blogilates Booty Challenge! I used to do workout challenges all the time. I found that they made me feel accomplished and that I was challenging an area of my body that I sometimes ignore. I tried her 100 abs challenge, but some days that took up more time than I had. Well, her booty challenge looks great and I am SO in! Starts on Sunday if you want to join!!
  3. Run 2-3x a week. I used to run 3 times a week. I ran a half marathon last year. After that race I just kind of lost my motivation and found lifting. Lately I have found the benefit of doing a short run (1.5-3 miles) after working just to kind of come down from the day. This addition means some days I’m getting two workouts a day, but that’s fine. I had an amazing run the other day. That runners high sure is nice and I am so excited to get back to it! Plan on running later today, which will make it 2 runs this week! giphy
  4. Research my next job step. Ok, anyone who reads this is going to be like “ok, she’s leaving her job she just got last year” AND THAT IS FALSE! I love where I work. Basically, I want to see what I see what else I can do, what more I can add to my job and what more I can do for the company. I can’t remember the last time I wanted to do more than just maintain a steady job and not move forward. This is weird and awesome.
  5. DO SOMETHING! Ok, another broad one. I just basically want to try. I want to try to go out, try a workout class, try a new hobby…I want to do something. Based on what’s written on my calendar I actually have some stuff planned which is great. Kinda leaning on finding that hobby now…hobby
  6. COOK. I cook, but not that often. I always find things I want to try but never do. Over the past month, while I’ve tried to be good about eating what makes my body feel good, I have also found myself eating some not so good things. Cooking from home makes everything better and saves money (seriously Emily make that stick in your noggin). I want to cook more, maybe try a new recipe a week or something like that. Still working on the details of this one.

I think these goals are very reasonable, and I hope that I can give you progress on them as I go (especially the books! I want to talk to you about the books!). This is seriously the best way for me to stay accountable, so please…hold me to these.

What are some of your goals for August?

emily

New to my Goodreads (3)

I know I’m not the only one who LOVES to know what other people are reading or excited about. I think there’s something about that fresh excitement of adding something to those TBR lists that’s almost contagious. I have seen bloggers around do something like this, and I thought I might want to join in. I did a post similar to this a few months back, and I want to keep it as a random feature on the blog.

Oh. My. Goodness. I have added SO much to my Goodreads and I honestly didn’t even know where to start with these books. I eventually just went to what was the most recent additions and went from there. I just have so many books I want to read, which is weird when you think of just how little I’ve been blogging. But let’s get to the real reason that you’re here.

Open up Goodreads or get that notebook out. Here are some of the most recent additions to my Goodreads TBR:

43575115._sy475_The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern

I was a HUGE fan of The Night Circus and have really been dying to know what she will do next. This one sounds just as fantastic and a little trippy. Those that have read it say it’s a love letter to stories and books, and that is definitely something I need. And that cover…THAT COVER IS BEAUTIFUL!

36408450._sy475_I Wanna Be Where You Are by Kristina Forest

A warm, fuzzy type romance about a ballet dancer!? Sign me up. I was told that this gave some Center Stage feels, and if you know me then you know I absolutely adore Center Stage. I just need a book that makes me feel happy, and this sounds like it will do the trick!

42972032The Map from Here to There by Emery Lord

NEW EMERY LORD!? THE SEQUEL TO THE START OF ME AND YOU!? I am 100% sold and I just really need this book. If you haven’t read anything by Emery Lord I highly recommend you do so! One of my favorite YA contemporary authors.

36249638How to Walk Away by Katherine Center

To be totally honest, I am not sure what it is that is drawing me to this book. I have seen a lot of high praise for this author and book. So many people saying they were swept away at the beginning and I am craving that feeling. A story about finding joy even in the darkest places…I could definitely use that. I have recently added this one and Things You Save in a Fire by her because something is just pulling me to her work.

41398025The Farm by Joanne Ramos

So I have seen this book pop up every so often, but then about a month ago I was on a weekend up north (yes, I live in a place where we just go up North for a weekend away) and my sister-in-law was reading this. She seemed pretty into it and handed it to me after finishing it so I could give it a whirl. Women are basically paid to be surrogates, but while they are pregnant they belong to The Farm. Very intrigued by this one.

38355098Dry by Nel Shusterman and Jarrod Shusterman

Ok, so I’m reading this one now and LOVING it. This book focuses on a drought in California and what happens when they no longer receive any relief from anyone for it. The character’s worlds are thrown into utter chaos because there is no more water coming. Super interesting. Makes you super thirsty while you’re reading it and really helps you remember to bring water along with you wherever you go. Also serves a great reminder to conserve water.

40864797._sy475_How the Light Gets In by Katy Upperman

Oh look, a book that centers around death and grief and has made Emily’s TBR. Shocker. But for real, this book sounds fantastic. This story follows Callie as she is in the thick of grieving for her sister. Grades are plummeting, she quits swimming, all things that can happen as you are dealing with something as tragic as loss. I am so curious what happens to Callie as she is at her aunt’s. From what I gather this not only becomes a book on grief, but it also becomes a bit of a mystery (as well as a romance). Very interested in this one.

36478784._sy475_The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary

I feel like so many people have been ranting and raving about this one and I WANT IN! This book follows two people who share a flat, but one works the days and the other works nights so they never see each other and have never met. They share a flat, A BED, and they have never met! I can’t even imagine not having ever met the person you live with. This sounds like a romantic comedy that I need in my life!

29236380._sy475_Girl in Pieces by Kathleen Glasgow

So I recently read How to Make Friends with the Dark by Kathleen Glasgow and I loved her realness. I loved that she wasn’t shy of the dirty details that no one ever wants to talk about. I had heard people talk about this book, but I wasn’t really sure if I was interested because it sounded intense and I wasn’t sure how someone would tell that story. Well, now I am really intrigued. I know that she will not hide from the facts of self-harm and what is going on in the main character’s life, and I honestly just feel like this could be a very important read.

38580144The Last Word by Samanta Hastings

I randomly stumbled upon this one because of a quiz that was going around on Twitter and I am sold. Set in the 1860’s, this story follows a young woman who is on a quest to find out just how her favorite serialized novel will end as the author was killed before it was finished. She enlists the help of her father’s young business partner and they set off trying to find out just how this story ended. I had NEVER heard of this one until today and now I am kind of excited to get my hands on it and give it a go.

If you want to see what else I’ve been adding, head on over to my Goodreads page and check it out! And then you can laugh at how much reading I gotta get done in order to even kind of catch up on that TBR.

What books have you recently added to your lists? 

emily

Let’s talk How to Make Friends with the Dark by Kathleen Glasgow

Before starting this post off I just want to let you know that this could get a bit heavy. If you struggle with grief in any sort of way and don’t think you can handle this post then please stop reading. We all grieve differently and I don’t want to hurt anyone as they are working through things.

I am the type of person that yearns for books on grief. I am always drawn to them in an instant even though I know they will break my heart. How to Make Friends with the Dark by Kathleen Glasgow was no different.

40755416Here is what happens when your mother dies.

It’s the brightest day of summer and it’s dark outside. It’s dark in your house, dark in your room, and dark in your heart. You feel like the darkness is going to split you apart.

That’s how it feels for Tiger. It’s always been Tiger and her mother against the world. Then, on a day like any other, Tiger’s mother dies. And now it’s Tiger, alone.

Here is how you learn to make friends with the dark.

Add to your Goodreads | About the Author

Initial reactions upon finishing:

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This book left me feeling all kinds of things. I felt that gut wrenching pain of loss, I felt the occasional smile, I felt the amount of love that is within the book…it was a bit of a roller coaster. And while I found myself sobbing quite a bit and my husband threatened to take it away because it was making me sad, I am so glad I read it.

The portrayal of grief was huge for me. The author showed the nitty gritty, the stuff that everyone is scared to talk about. Tiger went through the phases of grief without them needing to be labeled, because honestly the phases of grief don’t move that way. Throughout the book Tiger constantly described the initial stages of it all sinking in as feeling like wet cement, and I don’t think there is a more accurate description. You just feel heavy; heavy, but still moving slowly…one step at a time. I honestly don’t remember a time in my life that I have felt so heavy as I have when I have been hip deep in the darkest moments of grieving. Grief truly is the Big Suck, and it is always with you. This book really was a solid glimpse for those that maybe don’t understand it as well because they don’t have that personal experience. If you are ever wondering what a friend or family member may be feeling after the death of a loved one, this book will give you a good description of what they may be feeling.

While I related so well to the grief, I still found it to be a different journey. I lost a parent, just like Tiger, but I still had my other parent. I still had a place to live and a family to call my own. Once Tiger loses her mother that’s it. She’s alone. She’s put in foster care and into the system that so many people get bounced around in. To see her not only navigate her grief, but to also navigate through foster care and feeling like she had no one…that was tough. I found it incredibly eye opening as well. I know very little about the foster care system, minus what I might see on TV or in books. I really felt like the author took this to heart, knew that so many don’t really know what goes on in those homes, and put us through this journey with Tiger. It was a journey of heartbreak. It was a journey of pain. It was a journey that really had Tiger finding herself, just not always in the best of ways. It really had me thinking about my life and what I can do for others that don’t necessarily have a place to call home or people to call family.

This book, to me, is so important. It shows the darkness of grief, of the foster care system, of what may happen to a vulnerable young woman after everything is taken from her in just one evening. There aren’t enough books that paint the ugly in grief, but this one did. Grief is an ugly thing guys. And I really get tired of people glamorizing it, of characters that seem to just get over it throughout the book…because that’s not how it happens. Tiger’s journey with grief was real to me. So real that I had to take breaks, because occasionally the hurt was too much (which is really sucky when you think of all the people in real life that don’t have the option to take a break from that heavy feeling.).

Now, if you know me pretty well you must be asking yourself why I do this to myself. Why do I read books about grief, books that bring back all those ugly emotions?

Well first, there is nothing like the feeling when an author can get your feelings going just by something they wrote. There is something about that and I just can’t seem to walk away from books that are going to have me ugly crying.

But honestly…the biggest reason is because sometimes I need to remember that I’m not alone. My dad has been dead for 17 years. I’m not over it. I’ll never be over it. Some days it’s just a little easier to put one foot in front of the other, and then there are days that even getting out of bed is tough. Grief is here to stay, and sometimes, as silly as it sounds, I feel like I’m the only one that has dealt with it. I am so wrong, and I know that. But when I was 13, right after my dad passed, I couldn’t find books like this. I couldn’t find a way to relate, a way to make sense, and a way to fully deal with it. These books help me continue to process, even years later. And it helps me to know that there are books for those youths who are just starting their journey with grief.

Grief is the longest journey I never wanted to be on. I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy. But here I am, feeling all those feels, and just working through the days that I feel like I can’t breathe. As the years have gone on it has gotten better. I don’t miss my dad any less, but I’m not constantly being punched in the gut by missing him. The constant hole is there, but it doesn’t hurt in the same way that it used to (most days).

Reading about grief has been a HUGE thing for me. It has helped me process so much and I think it has helped me get to the point I am at today. If you are ever looking for other books, books that I found helped me in some way or another as far as tacking the feelings of grief, then you should definitely check these out:

And if you are grieving, having a hard time, no matter how long it’s been or how fresh the wounds are…do not be afraid to reach out. I know it may seem like you are alone in this journey, but you are not. I may not be able to relate 100% to how you are feeling, but I am on this grief journey too…different stages, but I’m here. And I am an excellent listener.

This post has really gotten away from me, so if you’re still with me AWESOME! If you aren’t, I totally understand.

Basically…if you want a fairly accurate representation of grief, read How to Make Friends with the Dark. Just be sure you have some tissues nearby and take some breaks when it feels too heavy. And if you have read it, let me know. I would love to hear your thoughts!

emily

It’s Summer Reading Time!

tumblr_inline_mnn9bpytqm1rlpk9cIt’s JUNE! And because it’s June and the sun is FINALLY shining and the temps are feeling good my brain is drifting…drifting off to those lazy days of summer where all I have to do is sit outside with a book in my hand. It is very difficult some days to work in an office during the summer. So today I’m sitting here thinking about sunshine, cool drinks, and ALL the summer reading.

What is it about reading in the summer? I seriously look forward to summer reading all the time even though I work a year-round job. It’s not THAT different than reading in the spring, but somehow it feels different. Is it because of all the summer reading programs I did as a kid? Is it because when I was in school the summers were the time that I could read all the things? I have no clue…but today, my brain is stuck on summer mode. And of course, that means I am thinking of my summer reading goal.

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My goal for reading this summer isn’t like most people’s. In fact, I don’t know if I have ever actually seen anyone pick this as their summer reading goal. But here it is…here is what I plan to do this summer:

This summer I will only read books I own!

Yea, pick your jaws up off of the floor now and listen to me. I love libraries. I do. I get distracted by libraries. I may own 19435887248015 unread but I always get distracted at the library. I was just at the library the other day to pick up a movie and I had to force myself to not even drift close to the books because I knew that I would pick one up.

So…I have all these books. Which ones am I planning to read this summer? Well…here’s what I’m hoping to tackle after I finish the Darker Shade of Magic trilogy which, guys, I am halfway through!!!!:

37703550Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

35604686The Astonishing Color of After by Emily X.R. Pan

32926258The Life She Was Given by Ellen Marie Wiseman

38355098Dry by Neal Shusterman

35297469Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett

23398763Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

40755416How to Make Friends With the Dark by Kathleen Glasgow

32033642The Rattled Bones by S.M. Parker

41398025The Farm by Joanne Ramos

reid_9781524798628_jkt_all_r1.inddDaisy Jones & the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

I also really want to try to get some more fantasy in, but these books are just so in my face right now (because I want to read them all) that I can’t pick. I am thinking I should finish the Throne of Glass series but I also want to reread the Grisha series. Oof, the fantasy part is tough guys. Not sure where to go with that one.

Will I get to all these books this summer? Probably not. Will I get distracted by other books I own? More than likely. But I definitely want to get these read this summer and to have this be the summer of reading books I own.

Have you read any of these books? What should I prioritize?

Clearly I need to blog more because I have so many more questions but…what are your summer reading plans? Please share them with me because I am always just so curious.

emily

The possible cause for the blogging slump

I think I have found the cause of my blogging slump.

Yes, it’s not a shock I’ve been in a slump for awhile. My posts have become more sporadic, and the ones that I have been posting aren’t always the discussion type that I really enjoy doing. I don’t do a ton of book chats or anything that really shows opinions, which isn’t bad…but it was something I once loved doing so much.

My biggest thing these days…I’m nervous to voice my opinions.

That sounds absolutely ridiculous when I type it out like that, but it’s true.

I feel like I’m a fairly considerate person. I am always trying to be aware of how others may read what I say and I do my best not to be hurtful to them. I don’t ever want to cause anyone anxiety, stress, or any sort of triggering moments. I want to have a safe space, and I want to give people a safe space. The fact that we can voice our opinions is great, but when it doesn’t promote honest discussion it just becomes harmful.

My problem is that while we all view things differently, so many people use those views to bring others down instead of having an actual conversation. I have seen it happen on Twitter so many times. Someone says something, innocently or not, and it becomes a HUGE thing that negatively impacts the person that said it. There are times where people are rude to be rude, ignorant, or just tearing others down for fun. My thoughts would never be used in those ways, but I fear that people will jump on the negative and go after me for it. Taking the time to discuss with me and inform me on where I might be coming up short in my thoughts in a more polite way is so much more beneficial than yelling at me and telling me I am wrong.

I guess my fear is that I will make one silly mistake and become just that person that everyone goes after. I’m not saying that I feel like what I say is on the front page of everything, but it’s the internet…things get out. One silly mistake, one time that I have an opinion that comes out wrong, one time I say something that shows I may not be as informed as I should be…that could be it. I don’t want that. I want to discuss. I want to see where my shortcomings may be and what I can do to improve my thoughts and opinions. I want to see that maybe I’m not alone in my thoughts and opinions.

Basically, to sum it all up…I fear that I am not able to have honest discussions. I want to have open and honest discussions, but there are too many people who tear you down for just ONE mistake, one mistype, one wording issue…I don’t want that.

I want to have honest discussions, and I want to be able to talk openly about things and have people help me see if I’m in the wrong. I just don’t know if I can do that here anymore.

I’m not quitting blogging. There are times that this is the one thing that helps me relax. I am, however, rethinking things and my approach to blogging.

So tell me…do you ever feel like this, and what advice would you give me here?

emily

New to my Goodreads (2)

I know I’m not the only one who LOVES to know what other people are reading or excited about. I think there’s something about that fresh excitement of adding something to those TBR lists that’s almost contagious. I have seen bloggers around do something like this, and I thought I might want to join in. I did a post similar to this a few months back, and I want to keep it as a random feature on the blog.

Get those Goodreads accounts open, and be ready to add a few books to your list. Here are the last 10 books that I have added to my Goodreads (with a little snippet as to why I added them):

41147279Again, But Better by Christine Riccio

This book is described as a book about second chances, bravery, and discovering yourself. Seems like a book that most people should read, right? I think this could make for a really good, cute, fun story that I could relate to in some ways. Also, I really like that cover (bad book nerd, I know). I don’t watch any Booktube but I’m really excited to see someone who is well known in that world get her book out there!

32926258The Life She Was Given by Ellen Marie Wiseman

It has been SO long since I have read a book set in the depression era, and the fact that this one follows a traveling circus, with all its highs and lows…I’m intrigued.  I hadn’t even heard of this book until the other day when I received it as a gift, but I have been wanting to read other books by this author. This book sounds like it has a strong female character working through some tough situations in life. I know that the circus is a tough thing for people to read about and I know they are known to be very dark and horrible places. I am so interested to see just how that is portrayed. This book sounds emotional, raw, and somehow like a book that is right up my alley. 

40899464The Thing We Cannot Say by Kelly Rimmer

I love a book that goes between the past and the present. I really love seeing how those in the present learn from the past, and how the past can influence people. This book follows the story of a young woman in 1942 as she comes to terms with just how severe the Nazi occupation will be along the Polish border. I am not totally sure about how it goes from past to present, but I am intrigued by the little bit of Alina’s story they shared in the synopsis and want to see how the author pulls it off.

40753481Lost Roses by Martha Hall Kelly

Lilac Girls was one of my favorite books of 2018, so I knew that the second Martha Hall Kelly released a new book I would be ALL for it. This book is almost a prequel and follows Caroline’s mother, Eliza, in WWI. I can’t wait to see meet Eliza and to get back into the world that Kelly has written. Seriously, if you haven’t read Lilac Girls…you need to!

30075662Aurora Rising by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman

I, like so many others, fell DEEP into the Illuminae series. I read each one in about a day and could not believe the emotional journey that the authors put me through. So naturally, I see that they are doing something new and I immediately have grabby hands. While I could flail about and tell you just how pumped I am for this one, I’ll leave you with this line that’s at the end of the synopsis: They’re not the heroes we deserve. They’re just the ones we could find. Nobody panic.

42245770The Rest of the Story by Sarah Dessen

Sarah Dessen has been a favorite author of mine for a very long time. I remember reading and rereading her books in high school and always hoping to find something new. This book hits a few notes for me as it involves a main character who has lost her mother at age 10, which is very close to the age that I lost my dad. I really cling to books about grief and grieving because I think it continues to normalize it for me, and I really think that Dessen will again make me feel all the feels.

43263680Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo

Ok if we are going to be perfectly honest here I definitely added this because I love Leigh Bardugo. I LOVED the Grisha series, LOVED Six of Crows, and I need more of her writing in my life. This book focuses on a high school dropout who is also somehow involved in Yale’s underground occult? I don’t know but I know that I am curious and her writing is so good that I just need it.

35398627Other Words for Home by Jasmine Warga

One of my goals is to read more diversely. I try my hardest to do so, but a lot of times I just don’t hear about certain books and then I’m missing out. This book sounds like one I need to read, like one we all need to read. My knowledge on leaving everything behind because of danger back home is so small. I moved from one state to another with my husband and a plan, nothing at all like what Jude goes through. I think I need to read this to help myself understand just a little bit more about the journey that so many lives take. Also, it’s written in verse? Heck yes!

warrior of the wild 3-6Warrior of the Wild by Tricia Levenseller

A Viking inspired book!? YES PLEASE! I will take ALL the Vikings inspired books and need more of them in my life. I know that my co-blogger, Arika, has read this one and after her review I am totally on board with this one. The main character’s trial is sabotaged and she is sent into the woods to fight her way back and kill the god that claims tributes from the village. Definitely sounds like an Emily book! I am hoping for a strong female kicking butt in this one.

39727081The Quiet You Carry by Nikki Barthelmess

As I said before, I am trying to read more about what I do not know, and I don’t know a whole lot about being placed in the foster care system. The synopsis for this book broke my heart a little bit, and after reading it I just want to know that the main character is going to grow from her experiences and be ok (or as ok as she can be). Victoria is placed into foster care at the age of 17 after all her father has done to her, and this book sounds like it follows her as she deals with what happened to her and what might currently be happening to her sister. It sounds incredibly dark and heartbreaking, but it sounds like something important to read.

My fear whenever writing this is that I don’t tell you just why I want to read these books. The main factor is that the synopsis sticks with me. If I read a synopsis for a book that promises adventure or breaks my heart I’m definitely going to want to add it to my ever-growing TBR.

So tell me…what have you recently added to your TBR?

emily