Harry-Potter-20

Hi friends!

It’s been a while! I promise I haven’t completely fallen off the map; I’ve been making videos and reading and such, but I have to admit, I haven’t had the itch to write in quite a while. Today, however, I’m inspired by the Twittersphere because it happens to be twenty years since J. K. Rowling first publishing the Philosopher’s Stone, the first book in the Harry Potter series. #HarryPotter20 has been trending all morning, and I have to say, I’ve been a bit weepy thinking about the world’s love for this particular Wizarding World.

Call it sentimental silliness (even though I just read the books for the first time as an adult), or call it inspiration, but I’ve decided to reread the books (again) with Pottermore’s new book club, the Wizarding World Book Club (@wwbookclub on Twitter). Weekly discussions exist on Twitter—which, correct me if I’m wrong, but I think they center on different themes and further CHAPTER chats—as well as published articles delving into the different topics and character studies. All this to say, I’m extremely excited to continue to learn from this lovely series, especially alongside true Potterheads.

Reading about the boy who lived for the first time—as an adult—was one of the most magical experiences of my life. J. K. Rowling taught me that my childhood could live also, and while I grieve the fact that my eleven-year-old self didn’t adventure with Hermione and the gang, I like to think I found her in these pages: a wildly hopeful kid with Hogwarts-sized dreams and a ravenpuff heart. Happy twentieth birthday. Here’s to you, Wizarding World, for shining a light in the dark. I like to think this good-over-evil story is just a taste of what’s to come. xx

24-hour-readathon

Where I’ll be reading today. 🙂 It’s very cozy with the light streaming in.

I’m joining in (last minute, of course) with thousands of readers today for Dewey’s Read-a-thon! I won’t be able to read all day, but I do have quite a few books I want to finish before May 1st (and the Do-a-thon!).

I’m treating today as a “wrap-up day” for all the books I’ve either (1) been reading forever and can’t seem to finish or (2) put down at the beginning of the month and neglected to pick back up. Strangely, I’ve been enjoying all of the books on this list; life has just been in the way a lot lately.

Other things I need to do today:

  • Edit several pages of a manuscript before deadline day.
  • Walk the pup.
  • Meal prep/buy groceries.
  • Clean the house, including mountains of laundry.
  • Scope out some children’s books at the library to read to the third-grade class next week.

The good news is that I can listen to my audiobook while I fold said mountain of laundry!

On my TBR today:

  • The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater
  • The Books of Magic by Neil Gaiman (graphic novel)
  • Monstress by Marjorie Liu (graphic novel)
  • How People Change by Paul David Tripp and Timothy S. Lane
  • American Gods by Neil Gaiman (audiobook)

Mini challenge (#1):

1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today? Raleigh, NC
2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to? The Dream Thieves
3) Which snack are you most looking forward to? Banana, berry, and spinach smoothie!
4) Tell us a little something about yourself! I’m a full-time book editor and have way too much to read/edit. 🙂
5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today? If this is your first read-a-thon, what are you most looking forward to? I didn’t participate last time, but I’m looking forward to finally finishing book #2 in the Raven Cycle. I love it, but it’s just taking me forever. 

Hi, friends!

I haven’t shared my thoughts on what I’ve been reading lately because, quite frankly, I haven’t been reading a lot. I’ve been reading a ton for my job, and I think that’s part of the problem. I edit stories all day (and sometimes night) long—and by the end of the day, my eyes are usually killing me and the last thing I want to do is read.

But lately, I haven’t exactly been in a reading slump. In fact, I desperately want to read so many of the books on my shelves; I just don’t have the time or eye muscle strength (that’s a thing, right?).

But I’m coming out of the fog. My schedule is getting back to normal a bit, which means I’m reaching for a book more often than not. The only problem is that I’ve been juggling so many incredible books, I don’t know which one I should pick up!

Here’s what I’m currently reading:

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

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Most YA lovers know that this book is all over the place right now, which makes my heart so happy. Angie Thomas is changing the world, y’all, and I’m so thrilled to be able to watch it happen from Twitter. The Hate U Give is about a sixteen-year-old girl named Starr who happens to be the only witness to the fatal shooting of her best friend, Khalil, at the hands of a police officer. This book is incredibly relevant right now and captures the heart of the Black Lives Matter movement. I am only about sixty to seventy pages in, and I can already tell it’s going to be a favorite of mine. It’s already a best seller and (!!!) has a movie deal in the works.

Moloka’i by Alan Brennert

moloka'i

Moloka’i is a heart-wrenching tale of a young girl named Rachel who is separated from her family and taken to a quarantined leprosy settlement on the island of Moloka’i. I started reading this with a few other bookish friends but couldn’t, unfortunately, keep up. I’m still really enjoying it, even though I’m only about 140 pages in. It shocked me how deeply emotional I am while reading this book. I knew it would be horrifying and painful to read about, but I didn’t anticipate how connected I would feel to the main character and her family. There’s something so unsettling about the whole thing, and I find myself having to skip over some gruesome scenes because the writing is so realistic. I’m excited to continue with this book, but I definitely have to be in the right mood to pick it up. I find myself wanting to read more about the history of Moloka’i and the history of leprosy.

The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater

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I read Raven Boys last month and was OBSESSED. It seriously had everything I could ever want in a YA book . . . a bit of fantasy/magical realism, a slow-burning love story, friendship, weird family secrets, adventure/mystery, murder, and so much more. I’ve been told that Dream Thieves is even better, and I just can’t wait. I’m not very far into it (maybe seventy pages?) but I know I’m going to breeze through it once I let myself GO for it. I love Gansey so much and I really, really can’t wait to see what happens. This book/series is about a girl named Blue who grows up with a family of women psychics. Her life “strangely” collides (that’s all i’m going to say to avoid spoilers) with a group of boys from a local all-boys private school, and they’re known as the Raven Boys. All you know going into the book is that Blue has been told her whole life that she will be the reason her true love dies . . . and she’s very close to falling in love. That’s all I needed to know to be hooked.

Monstress by Sana Takeda—and other graphic novels

monstress

My friend Paul recently let me borrow several of his favorite graphic novels to help me dip my toes in the world of comics and graphic novels. I have to say, I’m thankful for the nudge; it’s intimidating to get into graphic novels when you don’t know where to start! A lot of the ones he gave me are older—from the nineties—but a few are newer, such as Paper Girls, volume one, by Brian K. Vaughan, which I already finished and loved. I honestly don’t know anything about any of these graphic novels, especially Monstress, but I’m excited to get into them, and I trust my friend’s judgment. They were expertly curated based on my interests, so hopefully they’ll be fantastic. 😉 Neil Gaiman blurbed Monstress, writing that it was “remarkable: a beautifully told story of magic and fear,” so, I mean, I’m here for it.

Yes Please! by Amy Poehler

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I’m listening to this funny, touching, and empowering book on Audible. It’s the perfect audiobook—it grips you and keeps you entertained without getting too heavy or too caught up in descriptions, which can be hard to focus on when listening to an audiobook. This is a book of personal essays about Amy’s professional and personal life, and it’s full of her perfect humor throughout. I’m convinced the audiobook has to be better than physically reading the book, because not only does Amy narrate her own book, but some parts are narrated by other beloved characters, including her BFF Seth Meyers. She’s just so hilarious. I love all of her reflections on Parks & Rec, funny little anecdotes about her childhood, and her thoughts on women in the workplace, motherhood, childbirth, and getting started in comedy.

Rising Strong by Brené Brown

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I’m also listening to Rising Strong on Audible, which is also narrated by the author. I am LOVING this book so far. I read Daring Greatly and want to read all of her other books ASAP. My friends and I are reading this together, and it’s all about vulnerability, strength, and the reckoning, rumble, and rising moments of life. She’s taught me so much already about how I view vulnerability, empathy, and sharing the wounds before they become scars, which is something we’re taught by society to run from in life. Brené has the best anecdotes, like Amy Poehler, except Brené’s really stay with me for a long, long time. Pretty much everything about her research spills out into my every day life, and I have those explosive “a ha!” moments every single chapter. I’m almost done with this, book, but I strangely don’t want it to end.

There are a few others on my TBR that I’d like to get to sooner rather than later, but these are the books I’ve actually started/almost finished. What are you reading? Are you juggling a million books, too?

I said on my BookTube channel that I didn’t have any resolutions or goals for 2017, but I’ve changed my mind in, oh, a day? I’m just a sucker for resolutions, you guys. I wasn’t always this way, but I’m finally coming around to the truth that I am a goal-oriented person. My downfall, however, is always my all-or-nothing goals. I tell myself I’m going all in or there’s no point to it all, which is just silly. Thankfully, I don’t feel that way about readathons or monthly TBRs, and reading in general. Reading has always been something I enjoy when I’m relaxed, and so I can’t actually control it. I’m 100 percent a mood reader, so even though I strive to complete monthly TBRs, I don’t fret when it doesn’t happen. And more importantly, I don’t quit reading altogether (exercise experiences, anyone?).

So yes, these are more of goals than resolutions. Goals are more about achieving attainable milestones, whereas resolutions are more about instilling lifelong changes. When it comes to resolutions, I’m as vague as they come: be mindful, encourage creativity, move and breathe, read and write more, more yoga, eat healthy, etc. Sometimes the smaller resolutions are nice. I once knew someone whose resolution was simple: to only drink coffee with two hands, meaning she couldn’t be chugging coffee at her desk with an ever looking to-do list, and she couldn’t multitask while she enjoyed her morning cup. She had to have both hands on the mug and be present. I loved it. Sadly, I wasn’t able to commit to this simple resolution, and I won’t be able to this year either (for reasons I’ll explain in a bit…).

BOOKISH GOALS

  1. Read at least 50 books in 2017. This may not seem like a lot for most avid readers, but I’m a pretty slow reader. I’m also hoping to exceed 50 books, but I wanted to set the bar a little bit lower for my first Goodreads challenge. I hope tracking a Goodreads goal is more intentional and less of a burden, but we’ll see how it goes!
  2. Meet up with BookTube friends! A few of my BookTube friends and I are planning a trip to Chicago this year, and I can’t wait to meet them. I’d love to meet up with several BookTubers/book lovers because this community has been so special to me. I was planning to go to BEA this year, and honestly, I still might, but it’s definitely up in the air for now. Either way, I want to meet some Internet friends!
  3. Host a readathon. I think it would be so fun to host a readathon with some other bookish friends. I’ve talked to a few other BookTubers about it, but we haven’t decided when it will be or what the goals/theme would be. Running the Twitter sprints for the summer BookTubeAThon was such a blast, and I’d love to do something like that again.
  4. Post a book review, in blog or video form, at least once a month. This may not seem like a lofty goal to most readers, but I am notoriously bad at consistently posting separate book reviews. I love to do it, but it just takes extra time. This year, I’d love to aim to review every book I read, but I know that isn’t really realistic. Hopefully I can include as many book reviews as possible! I love the idea of blogging my book reviews, too, because I’m definitely able to get more of my critical thoughts down through writing rather than filming. But either way, I’m going to make this a goal!

PERSONAL/PROFESSIONAL GOALS

  1. Take at least four courses through the University of Chicago toward fulfilling my Editing certificate. This is something I’ve wanted to do professional for a long time, and I’m finally taking the plunge! My first class is in March, and I’m hoping to knock out the four core classes, if not the first three. It’s going to be challenging to participate in these four- to six-week courses on top of freelance work, a social life, hobbies, etc., but I know I’m going to learn so much, and I’m ready to advance my knowledge and skills in the publishing world. I’ve taken many other editing courses in the past, but I’ve always been most excited about this particular certificate.
  2. Give up coffee. Yep. You read that right. I know. But listen, take a deep breath, people. This is a decision I didn’t want to make, and it took me a loooong time to admit to myself that this was something I should try. I love coffee more than the average human, that’s for sure. My husband roasts coffee, and we’re total snobs about it. I have a regular coffee maker, chemex, french press, and aero press coffee machine. I. LOVE. COFFEE. I also don’t love anxiety. I’ve heard that being caffeine free can do wonders for people with anxiety, and there are many other perks, too. Apparently, being caffeine free helps you sleep better, have more energy (Lord knows not in the beginning), generally feel calm throughout the day, and it doesn’t hurt the wallet, either. I already don’t drink sodas or energy drinks, so coffee is the main way I consume caffeine, and I’m going to try and ease myself off of it. This may be in the middle of the year that I try this or at the end. I’m not sure, but I want to try it. I know I may not stick with it, and that’s okay. I just want to see what all the hype is about and hopefully do something to help my anxiety.
  3. Inspire more breath and movement. Okay, you caught me: I Know this is a resolution and not a goal. But going along with the whole anxiety issue, I’ve learned that yoga is absolutely essential to my life—not just a nice thing to make me feel better. If I go a week without yoga, I can feel it. I don’t take time to breathe, be mindful, stretch, and ultimately, relax my muscles. It’s so, so important to my mental health. I would say it’s much more important to my mental than physical health, but the physical benefits don’t hurt either. The past few months, I’ve gotten out of the habit of consistently practicing yoga because of illnesses, travel, and general complacency. Not this year! I’m going to be stronger physically and less anxious mentally. I’m going to push myself to remember to BREATHE correctly, whether that’s in a yoga class or sitting at my desk. I want to learn to not only recognize fear, anxiety, and stress, but disrupt it. Change the way I respond to it. A lot of people tell me they like to use a word or phrase to motivate them in the new year instead of resolutions. For me, that word is breath. 2017 is the year I breathe.
  4. No phone in the bed at night. Here’s my tendency to be an all-or-nothing person. I’ve already broken this one this year, but I’m trying to remember it’s about progress. I want to be off my phone less in general. I already don’t have Facebook, which is incredible, but I love the Internet so much. I’m constantly on Twitter, Instagram, and (duh) YouTube. It’s such a fun part of my everyday life. But, being on my phone so much, especially right before bed, is so distracting. I want to be able to read more without picking up my phone every five seconds; I want to walk my dog, have late-night conversations with the hubs, prepare for the day ahead, and so much more. I already don’t watch a ton of television—well, okay, I binge every now and then—but I want to cut down on screen time. Having my phone in another room at night will also help me when my alarm goes off to get out of bed and stop snoozing. Side note: why is snoozing the best feeling ever?

    So those are my goals. I’d love to know some of yours—bookish or personal! Cheers to another year of life, love, and reading!

quarterly-literary-book-box-subscription

My last Unboxing! Visit my YouTube channel for a full review.

quarterly-book-subscription-box

Hello, hi!

If you’ve been following any of my Unboxing videos, you know that I am a HUGE fan of Quarterly’s Literary Box Subscriptions! Quarterly sent me a box to review last month, and y’all . . . it was such a cool experience. I love how authors include annotations in their curated boxes—just as Rosianna points out, there’s something lovely and nostalgic about this reading experience.

Anyway, the fine people at Quarterly asked if I would help spread the word about their CYBER MONDAY BOOK BONANZA! And of course I said yes.

Here’s everything you need to know:

    • For Cyber Monday (November 28), be one of the first 200 people to purchase any Literary box gift subscription and receive a free, exclusive, annotated book with your purchase!
    • For Literary Fiction gift subscriptions, you will receive an annotated copy of Only Love Can Break Your Heart by Ed Tarkington
    • For Literary YA gift subscriptions, you will receive an annotated copy of Willful Machines by Tim Floreen.
    • Send the book to yourself or directly to the recipient in time for the holidays.
    • Just enter the code: BOOKGIFT at checkout and they will take care of the rest!
    • The first complete box will ship in January 2017. Stay tuned to find out who the author curator will be!

I hope you’re as excited about these annotated books as I am! Just wanted to share the bookish love. <3