Hello, and welcome back to The Inky Saga! I meant to share my summer plans back in May after my last life update post (Notes on the Last Few Weeks) in which I began to delve into my job search journey and my new blogging priorities. Fortunately I didn’t because a lot has since happened that I wouldn’t have not been able to anticipate at the end of May or even last week! Thankfully, summer has only just now properly begun, so this post is not that late.
While I will be working nearly 40 hours a week now and continuing to apply for full-time jobs, I do hope to make the most of my time off on weekends and in the evenings to pursue my other passion projects, this blog included. I also have one major goal for this year, which is to finally apply to PhD programs, so I will need to find the time to prepare my applications materials over the summer and into fall.
The main reason I wanted to write this post, however, is I want to share what you can expect from this blog for the next few months. I know that people have decided to follow The Inky Saga for a plethora of different reasons. While in the past I have considered myself a book blogger, I’ve not used that title for almost a year now. I will never stop talking books, but there may be periods of time where I don’t have much to share on reading.
Right now I’m more interested in blogging about other things that matter to me, including topics relating to lifestyle, side hustles, and creative projects.
With all that in mind, I will now be working around 40 hours per week at two part-time jobs, while still trying to keep up with my Red Cross volunteer work, at least through August. I expect to be short on time, especially if I want to prioritize my physical health as well as my mental. So what does that mean for reading, writing, blogging, bullet journaling goals? Well, that’s what I’ve been trying to figure out!
1. Redesign my blog graphics. I’ve been excited to do this for a long time! It’s an intimidating process, because I am by no stretch of the imagination a graphic designer. Also I can be impatient when I’m trying to create something I’ve never made before and it’s not happening fast enough! However, I think I have finally figured out how to conquer this task and am finally ready to get started. I’m just going to break it into smaller tasks and document it along the way.
Blog header. I was playing around with Canva last month when I made the placeholder graphic I’m currently using for the blog right now, the blue and pink ombre background with a constellation motif. I’m not super happy with it, but I felt I needed something right now that better illustrated what this blog has become over the past few months. I have clear idea of what I want to make and I will likely share my creative process next month as I start to dedicate more time to it.
Blog post assets. I use the word “assets” here because that’s the best word I can think to use to describe what I mean. I learned it in a user-experience design class that I took in grad school. For me, it essentially refers to imagery that can recur in your product (i.e. app, website, blog etc.) that is evocative of the “brand” you have. I’ve used some recurring graphics (e.g. my End Note cloud and my Top Ten Tuesday paint-splashed featured image) in the past, but they are not very unified in color or theme.
2. Prepare fall bullet journal content. I also plan on getting back into my bullet journal content this summer after the fail that was June, but I really want to be able to hit the ground running in September as far as bujo content goes. I’d love to be able to post more on Instagram and maybe ultimately YouTube channel, but overall I want the blog to a central place for all my details and tips about keeping a bujo.
If this post had gone up in June, like I originally planned, I might’ve had a writing goal. But considering my work schedule will be increasing, I did decide I needed to put that dream on the back burner. I tried writing a little in June, but I wasn’t able to get very far. Maybe once I’m better settled into a routine and after I’ve moved (either to Austin or somewhere local) I’ll be able to think more about writing.
For anyone following this blog for bookish content, rest assured that will not be stopping! I just don’t feel an urgency to read for the sake of blogging about it. I’m in a big contemporary/mystery mood still this year and would like to make a better use of my library, so expect less polished reviews and lists and maybe more casual reading updates.
My professional plans relate to the job search and potential future career paths. I am a strong proponent of having a back up plan. PhD programs have always been my back up, not because I don’t truly want to do it, but because I didn’t want to jump into a program as fast as I did my Master’s and not have an ultimate goal in sight. So while I work on my application, I’ll have time to research the programs in which I’m interested and also think long-term about what I want to accomplish after a PhD.
1. Prepare for GRE. I took the GRE in February 2017 and did just okay. I think with more preparation I could do a lot better. I don’t know that scores would be a big part of my application, but anything that might help me get into a competitive program is worth working on. So my goal is to retake the GRE in November or December.
2. Polish my Capstone project and writing samples. I am really proud of the papers I wrote the last year of grad school and always knew what I could do make them amazing after I received my feedback on them. There’s also a major chunk missing of my Capstone that I still need to complete, so hopefully I can figure that out this summer.
3. Revamp my resume/CV. I may need to do this first! I’ve used the same resume layout that I designed in 2015 while I was a senior at ISU. I still love the way it looks, but I’ve received more than a few hints that it may not be the best showcase of my experience and skills. I’ve tweaked it over the years, but I think it’s time to start completely fresh.
4. Write a teaching philosophy. I want to apply to instructor positions at colleges/universities, and the one thing that has held me back is my lack of this piece. I’ve always thought I might like to teach at the university level, so this document may be really be a helpful reflective exercise for me. It may be something that comes in handy for other tutoring jobs or even my graduate school applications.
If luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity, I want to make sure that I am prepared for future opportunities that come my way. I’m finally in a place where I’m excited to prepare for the future and feel like it might start to look brighter. Maybe it’s because I just discovered Netflix’ Queer Eye and feel so inspired about self-improvement!
I decided on Tuesday that it was time to work out my summer plans. I don’t what you may have gathered about me if you’ve been reading this blog for a while, but I like to make plans. I like knowing what to expect and what I should prioritize with my free time. This year has been trying, because I have felt like I’m driving slowly down an isolated forest road with a light fog. I haven’t had a clear idea of what summer would be like after working the 2018-2019 school year.
Thankfully the seeds I’ve been planting over winter and spring have finally begun to sprout in the form of job opportunities and work experience! Just last week I was contacted about an interview I had thought at the time would lead to nothing and a job I had forgotten was even a possibility. It’s so frustrating that it takes so long for good jobs to become available!
Before I talk creative plans on the blog, I felt like I needed to provide this insight into my life.
A lot of this post was written in a blog post tentatively titled My Summer Goals. I realized that I had a lengthy update and it might be better to break it up into two posts, starting with an update on my job situation at the moment. I mentioned last month that I had just started an office job at our county elections office, but there have been recent developments of note that I wanted to share while they’re still fresh!
Last week two things happened. First, I received an email from an office specialist at a place where I interviewed via Skype in May. It was for an office assistant position in Austin. I hadn’t been confident the interview went well as it was really formal with no extra chit chat. Anyway this woman emailed me inquiring if I was still interested in that position. I said “Yes!” thinking it meant I had the job. No, not quite yet. I was just being informed that my application would be moved to the next stage of the process if I consented to a background check, reference contacting, fingerprinting, etc. So that all happened over the last few days.
On Monday I visited Austin, which is about two-and-a-half hours away, for a day trip with my parents to fill out some paperwork in the office. It was a really pleasant drive and a nice day overall, even though it rained. I filled out some paperwork for an impending background check and signed some legal forms making sure I was aware the position was dependent on a grant and would be temporary (six months) and I’d work less than 29 hours per week. Yes, that was all clear. I was out in about 45 minutes and won’t know if I got it until August (really).
I have no idea if I would actually be happy at that job, but I do now know I would love to live in Austin! I’m going to start applying exclusively in Austin, unless I stumble upon something really that sounds really magical nearby. I’m not a fan of the climate in Houston, so I’m not eager to find any more reasons to stay. However, I do know now that it would be possible for me to stay on my own in Houston once my parents leave.
The second thing that happened last week is I was finally called by our local community college about a writing tutor position I had applied for back in January! My interview was Tuesday morning, and after a really casual chat with just a few questions about my resume, I was hired on the spot. I need to talk to one more person, but it sounds like it’s in the bag! The pay is really good because I have a Master’s degree! I’ll be making about as much money there with reduced hours (less than 20) than I would at the elections office (currently 24 hours). Plus it will look great for future writing/academia jobs!
My mom thinks I should stay here for a year because it’s cheap and would be good experience, but I honestly don’t know what I’ll do if I get the Austin job. I think I would be able to find another job in the city, maybe even a full-time one.
The Current Plan
Juggle my two Houston-area jobs for the summer and save up. I recently changed my student loan to income-based repayment plan so my new monthly payment is like nothing, but I do want to continue making regular payments while I can so that the interest doesn’t keep compounding.
I also want to be able to save money for future living expenses. Some apartments I’ve looked at require a monthly salary of three times the rent, which would be impossible for me until I’m a full-time employee most likely. All I can really do right now is save so that I have a few months rent set aside in case I am ever stuck in a lease without a job.
I’ve not had a lot of money in my accounts since February, so I’m hoping that if I do stay in this area for my two new jobs that I will not need to spend too much on living expenses. I’m very fortunate that I have my aunt somewhat close by who I could probably rely upon while I build up a nest egg.
Look for college/writing jobs in Austin. I have a lot more confidence that I may be able to find a job in writing after being a college writing tutor, so I want to really find out what is possible and honing my skills toward my interests. I feel like I’ve been so open anything that I’ve been too passive in waiting for the right things to come my way. Now I feel like I’ve gotten the kick I needed to take the idea of a career in writing more seriously.
I also want to start exclusively applying for jobs in Austin because I love the area and know that there would be a lot more for me to experience with less travel or personal effort required to partake. At heart I’m a lazy person, and I know that putting myself where things are happening is the best chance I have to live life to its fullest.
Because of my new job, I may be able to squeeze out more writing-related content like I originally anticipated when I started my blog while still in college. I always wanted to give research project tips and paper writing advice, but once I was out of school it felt too late. Maybe I’ll have study tips that intersect with my bujo content. I also want to continue to write about my job search journey, which will hopefully be helpful to any other English majors out there so they don’t have all the problems I’ve had post-grad.
Now I feel like I’m ready to talk definitively about my plans for the summer. I am determined to make the most of this time in my life.
Today is the first official day of summer! While it may feel like it’s been summer for a month already, I know it is likely to get a lot hotter where I currently live. Last year when I was just getting back into blogging, I wrote a few summary posts of all the books I read during the span of each season. Since I haven’t been writing monthly wrap ups lately, I decided to revisit that old format this year. While my life has been all over the place, my reading has been fun and I want to write down all my thoughts while they’re still fresh.
From March 20, 2019, to June 20, 2019, I read a grand total of seven books. That’s a whole lot more than I would’ve guessed considering how ambivalent I’ve been about being a book blogger. I did manage to stick to my spring TBR for the most part, and I’m really surprised at myself!
Long post made short, here’s the list of the books I read with my star ratings.
Akata Warrior by Nnedi Okorafor(★★★)
Illuminae by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff(★★★★)
Gemina by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff(★★★★★)
Obsidio by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff (★★★)
The Promise by Chaim Potok(★★★★)
King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo(★★★★★)
Again, but Better by Christine Riccio (★★★★)
I won’t go into detail of why I rated each book the way I did but instead contextualize my reading and give some talking points. Hopefully that will give you an idea of these books if you aren’t familiar with them already and whether you’d like to investigate them some more. I’ve included links to them on Goodreads and Amazon*.
*If you purchase any of the books I talk about in this post after following one of my affiliate links, I may receive a small commission at no extra expense to you.
Akata Warrior by Nnedi Okorafor
⟡ Find on Goodreads | Amazon
⟡ My rating: ★★★
It is a general rule of mine not to buy new books if I don’t intend to read them immediately, and Akata Warrior has been one of those books that is a reminder that I had not been abiding by this rule!
Akata Warrior continues the story of Sunny Nwazue, which started in Akata Witch. After defeating the villain of the first book, Sunny’s destiny is not yet complete as she continues to learn about her magical heritage and how to master her unique gifts.
I talk about this book a bit more in-depth in my full-length review, but I will say that I really love the world and magic system that Okorafor has created. I’ll happily read more by this author, but I think I am done buying these books, at least until I have more disposable income. I think these books are really great and important entries to the young adult fantasy genre.
What these books have taught me as a writer is that books as rich and imaginatively exciting and evocative as Harry Potter are not exclusive to any one culture. You might think that this is a no-brainer, but this book has definitely gotten me thinking more deeply about how culture influences the magic systems devised by authors and what it can mean to people of color moving forward.
Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
⟡ Find on Goodreads | Amazon
⟡ My rating: ★★★★
I’ve read Illuminae about three times now and I love it every time. I love Kady and Ezra and how the science fiction is so compelling and accessible to young adult audiences (myself included) who are not scientifically inclined. I like to think about all the young girls who may read these books and be inspired to go into STEM fields and kick butt.
I also love that these books deal with the ethical side of the equation. A lot of times in action-filled YA, death counts can be high and violence heavy. I like that the human cost of survival in these space expeditions and battles are highlighted and on the forefront of the characters’ minds, and not in an obnoxious or superficial way.
I would argue that is just about anything you could want in this series (i.e. action, romance, mystery, horror, etc.), so these books are endless fun. After you get into the rhythm of the storytelling (i.e. reading the files), these books are extremely immersive.
Gemina by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
⟡ Find on Goodreads | Amazon
⟡ My rating: ★★★★★
This book was another reread on my journey to reach Obsidio. It was as enjoyable as the first time around. I don’t really know where to start with this book. I love it so much. If you hate series that introduce a completely new cast in each book, you don’t need to worry about that with this book.
For one, the protagonists Hanna and Nik just as terrific as Kady and Ezra, maybe even more so. It’s like the authors mastered the romantic formula of the first book and utilized it to perfection in the second book’s lead characters. Hanna is not your stereotypical spoiled princess and Nik is not your stereotypical drug dealer. This book may be more hilarious than the first and more of an emotional rollercoaster.
The other reason you don’t need to worry is we see Kady and Ezra in this book! They’ve not become completely irrelevant to the story. They enter Gemina right when Hanna and Nik need them.
Gemina is definitely my favorite book in the series, which may or may not be remarkable. I know that most bridge books in a trilogy are just that, a bridge that doesn’t really stand well on its own or it’s a clone of the first book. In my opinion, Gemina can’t really be reduced to either.
Obsidio by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
⟡ Find on Goodreads | Amazon
⟡ My rating: ★★★
After a short reading break, I finally picked up Obsidio. Unlike Illuminae and Gemina, I have only read this book once, and I’m already a little foggy on the exact plot of this book. Going into this book, I had fairly low expectations despite the fun of the first two because of how big a let down the final book of the Starbound trilogy was for me.
I will say that I did not care for Asha or Rhys very much. I feel like their backstory was a little unbelievable, and I wasn’t satisfied with how it was revealed. I also don’t like the dynamic between oppressed and unwitting oppressor. I would have maybe liked it if Rhys was more ruthless and he underwent more significant character development, but he was kind of pathetic but also brilliant liar somehow. What.
I think the problem is that the authors didn’t have a whole book to focus on them; they had to share page-time with Kady, Ezra, Hanna, and Nik. By the way, I’m not complaining! I’m glad that we got to see how they dealt with the aftermath of the previous books and prepared for the return to Kerenza. I’m just saying Asha and Rhys’s romance was a probably a little lackluster as result.
I was able to enjoy Obsidio. Yes, I thought a few things happened that were a little too convenient and disneyfied to wrap the story up with a pretty bow, but I am aware of how challenging it might have been to conclude this series in just one book. I just wish that the villains of BeiTech, specifically Frobisher, could have been a bigger part of the climactic action.
Last year in a similar post describing What I Read (That) Winter, I talked about The Chosen by Chaim Potok. It was a book I enjoyed passionately. I felt similarly passionate reading this book, but for very different reasons.
The Promise catches with Reuven as he is studying to become a rabbi. He still lives with his father who has been working on this controversial book, which is radical to conservative Jews because of how it analyzes Jewish texts. While The Chosen follows Reuven and his unlikely friendship with Danny in the years leading up to the formation of Israel, which was a hot button issue amongst Jewish sects in the 1930s, The Promise is set in a New York into which the Jews who survived the holocaust have immigrated. So there’s a lot of, not just, culture clash but also clash of fundamental ideologies that The Chosen merely introduces.
I feel really hesitant talking in depth about these two books, given that everything I know about Jewish theology and scholarship has come from these books. I am not Jewish, nor have I ever really even casually met practicing Jews. Even using the word conservative to describe the opposing viewpoint to Reuven’s feels like it may be inaccurate considering Reuven himself would probably be considered conservative in his own right.
The summary of the book would have you believe that it is about Reuven, Danny, and this boy Michael, but that storyline is more of a marginal thread that ties the book together. What I found most compelling about this book was Reuven’s struggle against his rabbinical professor Rav Kalman, a world-famous rabbi who survived the holocaust and is steadfast in his mission to smear the name and work of Reuven’s father.
I appreciate The Promise coming into my life at this time, because I feel like not enough people are talking about how we should talk to people we don’t agree with. I agonized with Reuven over his frustration with his professor. I was also inspired to see how he persevered. Truthfully, I would have been likely to give up in his position and make my own way. I think there is something to say about seeing things through. (If this is vague, I’m sorry! I just can’t go into more detail in this space!)
King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo
⟡ Find on Goodreads | Amazon
⟡ My rating: ★★★★
Similar to Akata Warrior and Obsidio, King of Scars was beginning to cause me a little bit of book buying guilt. It’s a book I had pre-ordered as soon as I learned about it and then when it came…nothing. I didn’t feel like reading it. Truthfully, I’ve not really been in the mood for fantasy these days. I’m not sure why.
As I had begun to hear hints of conflicting opinions about King of Scars, I was really nervous when I finally picked it up. It didn’t help that the first 80 or so pages were really discouraging. I could tell that Nina and Zoya were going to be central characters in this book, and they were never favorites of mine. Also, I was getting hints about a potential romance between Zoya and Nikolai, and I wasn’t sure I liked that development. Without spoiling anything, I will say that I was able to trust and respect Bardugo’s character choices in the end!
I don’t want to get into spoilers since this book once came out in January and there may be others out there, like I was, who are still waiting to pick up this book. I will just say that the book does end up becoming really exciting and satisfying after about 100 pages. I loved Nina’s storyline and can’t wait to see what she does next. I’m also still in shock-awe about what is revealed at the end! Wow!
Again, but Better by Christine Riccio
⟡ Find on Goodreads | Amazon
⟡ My rating: ★★★★
Again, but Better ended up being one of my most anticipated reads of this year, because it has honestly been on my radar since Christine started writing it. I had begun to follow her YouTube channel PolandbananasBOOKS somewhere between 2014 and 2015, discovering her from her collaborations with Katytastic. She started writing this book in January 2016 and made periodic writing update videos about her progress.
It was so inspiring to watch her talk about writing it, and I’ve recently gone back to rewatch the first ten or so videos where she talks about writing the first draft specifically. It is such a cool experience now having read the book to know a lot of what she is talking about plot-wise!
As for the book itself, it kind of blew me away. I wasn’t expecting much, especially after the first few chapters or so. I started it feeling like it was a fan-fiction of someone’s idea of college and college romance. But as I got deeper into the story, it began to feel so real and authentic. I could really relate to Shane and her awkward struggles, and even as a proper adult now feel like I’ve learned from her mistakes alongside her.
I do wish this is a book I had when I was still in high school, so I adore Christine for writing this book! I did not have the highest expectations for this book, but it is so much fun but also so relevant, which I think is necessary for contemporary novels these days. I may end up doing a full-length review later on…
Next Tuesday (6/25) I’ll be sharing the books on my summer TBR for Top Ten Tuesday, which is why I wanted to get this post written and published ahead of it! It’ll a look a little different from past TBRs, because it will feature a lot of books I don’t already own. Before that I’m hoping to share something else this weekend, but I’m not sure what yet! There have been some exciting job hunt developments that I’m hoping I will be able to share next week!
Hello, again! Welcome back to The Inky Saga. I’ve started this blog post without much of a plan but a desire to share how my life has been going. I have wanted to talk in-depth about what’s going behind the scenes since the mid-April, but it was hard to talk about anything when everything was still up in the air. I prefer not to speculate too much on this blog; it’s often painful to look back on.
I had thought I might layout my summer plans and priorities for the blog in this blog post, tentatively titled “Summer Plans,” but I realized in hindsight, that I couldn’t just move forward on this blog without first explaining how I got to my current mental state. If you aren’t particularly interested in following my life journey, then here’s the TL;DR version: my dad was sick, I had a bunch of job interviews, and I’m all about that bullet journaling life now. Come back later this week for my summer plans!
For those of you still that are still here, curl up and get comfortable. I hope you enjoy this little slice-of-life blog post that covers life since about April 14 to the present that I’ve written and polished for your reading pleasure.
I Have Been Reading…
Reading was a constant and comfort during the chaos that was April. While I’m still not using Goodreads much, I do tweet when I start a new book. That’s how I know I started reading The Illuminae Files on April 14, 2019.
After I finished Akata Warrior by Nnedi Okorafor (see my review), I had a sudden urge to start reading again. I had yet to read the final installment Obsidio, another book I had listed on my spring TBR, and always knew I would want to reread Illuminae and Gemina again before I jumped into the final book. It was the perfect time for escapist reading. These books are massive, but oh so much fun. I reached for them mainly over the weekend and on nights where I didn’t have much else distracting me. I was able to read a lot over Easter weekend, especially after my dad got sick and needed to go to the hospital.
He had a colonoscopy the Wednesday before Easter, which went fine, but he had been having stomach trouble before then. By Saturday we knew he had not been digesting anything he eaten since the operation and could no longer keep his food down. He was at the hospital for about four nights, because he needed an IV for hydration and nutrition. After some time on a liquid, then a soft food, diet, he was back to normal. But he did get pink eye quickly soon after returning to work followed by a sinus infection. Yes, he was a mess last month!
Around this time, I had also started going on a bunch of job interviews. After months of applications, it was such a long-time coming! I could not believe how quickly I accumulated interviews, all within such a narrow time frame. It was about one every day for about eight days. I attribute it to the time of year and also my newly acquired Red Cross experience.
Before I jump into my interview experience, I will say that I’ve also finally read The Promise by Chaim Potok, another book that was on my spring TBR. It was amazing, although I do have some criticisms and a lot of questions actually. I’m not sure if I’m confident enough to dedicate an entire blog post to the book, as I’m sure a lot went over my head.
I Started a New Job…
Out of all the interviews I did, I only received one job offer and it was for the first interview(s) I did funnily enough. I had gone in for an interview for a voter registration clerk position, which was really just a seasonal position for which I would be put on a list and get called about my availability during election season. Fortuitously, the elections office had an opening in their department and the woman who interviewed me reached out to the department head across the hall while I filled out paperwork about interviewing me on the spot.
That second interview went really well and I was essentially offered that position as well, but I did let her know that I still had a few interviews lined up in the immediate future. She was extraordinarily accommodating, probably because there was no immediate urgency in filling that recent job opening. She just asked me to keep her updated.
None of my other interviews resulted in job offerings, which I admit was kind of surprising and disappointing. I put in my two weeks notice at my recreation job, because I had really hoped I might have gotten at least one other position to serve as my new main job, as I figured I’d still be able to work voter registration on the side. In the end, I have had to chalk it up to lack of office experience and just the sheer amount of competition in this area for city/county jobs.
Anyway last week after a family trip to where my parents are moving, I decided to call back the elections department head who interviewed me that first day and she was still interested in hiring me, so we arranged to have me start this week! I went in on Monday and got the lay of the land. I think working here will be a really good experience. I’ll have my own desk and just one office mate, there’s a really nice break room, and the job duties sound right up my alley. It sounds like I’ll just be updating polling station records, checking up on judges and workers leading up to elections via phone, and helping out in the warehouse with polling equipment and with training sessions.
Right now I will only be working about three days a week, so I’ll have five-day weekends! It also sounds really flexible right now, given that the next election isn’t until November, but there should be a lot of opportunities to work over-time. Cumulatively over the year, I will be working about 29 hours/week, which is the limit because they don’t want to have to provide me with full-time benefits (i.e. healthcare). It’s frustrating, but I’ll take whatever I can get.
I think I will request my work days be Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday for the time being, just so I can have long weekends during which I can visit my parents when they eventually move or go out of town just in general as I do want to travel more this year. It’ll also allow me to continue to work stretches of uninterrupted time with the Red Cross.
I do hope to dedicate a specific blog post to my work with the Red Cross, but I’m a little iffy on it, just because of proprietary regulations over ownership of words/works I create about or during my volunteer experience. I might need to ask my supervisor. I feel like she wouldn’t mind and would like me to do it for our region’s blog, which I wouldn’t mind doing, but it wouldn’t be the same as something I would write for The Inky Saga.
In summary, I have a new part-time job and will still volunteer my social media / communication skills to the Red Cross. I’ll also continue to apply to job openings that open up locally. I desperately need a full-time position but figure if I can juggle two part-time positions that pay relatively well, I may be able to survive comfortably for the time being while I accumulate work experience that could ultimately result in the dream job, or something close to it.
I Am Still Bullet Journaling…
It will come as no surprise that I am still bullet journaling, given that most of my most recent blog content has concerned this hobby. I still love it. I get such satisfaction from designing and executing my spreads. It reminds me of how excited I was when I first started blogging, so many moons ago. I still enjoy blogging and have a desire to create long-form blog content, but I’m also enjoying being more active with the international bullet journal community on Instagram.
Most of my productive free-time hours (especially around the end of each month) are spent browsing for new ideas on Instagram, planning my upcoming spreads, and finally bringing them to life in my dotted journal.
I like how this hobby is not just about the journal for its own sake, but also a means for executing other goals. It inspires me to meet my daily goals of eating right or job hunting and also pursue my other passions, of reading, writing, etc. And it’s as private or public as I decide to make it.
All that being said, bullet journaling is a priority at the moment, coming before the blog in many ways. I think that it is a good thing. I used to blog at the expense of the other areas of my life, thinking it would somehow result in the kind of life I want to have. Now I see the blog as a supplement to my bullet journal, a place to elaborate on the significant and best parts of my life and experiences but not the main project of my existence.
As I wrote at the beginning of this blog post, I’m itching to share my summer plans! Less is up in the air now that I’ve committed to my new job. I have made decisions that will impact how I spend my time off-line and on, and I think it is only right I lay it all out for you soon. Truthfully, writing these blog update posts are as much for me as they are for people who follow my blog! I always write the posts I would want to read, as I am the type of person who enjoys looking back at my past blog posts and remembering where I was at those points in time.
If you’ve read this blog post through in its entirety, know that I appreciate you and your interest in my current life as a paper bag / drifting through the wind / wanting to start again.
Before I get started, let me just say that I’m not one of those people who thinks that the book is always superior to the movie. Nor am I someone who has to read the book before I see the movie. Maybe when I was younger did I think that I needed to do that, but as I’ve gotten older I’ve realized that it doesn’t make sense to compare one art form to another. They constructed and consumed differently. It’s literally like comparing apples to oranges.
I think there are many cases throughout modern history that show an amazing movie or TV show can emerge from a mediocre book. It’s just as likely that an amazing movie or show can come out of an amazing book, while making significant changes to the source material.
Ready Player One was a book I loved and was able to binge-read overnight after starting it early one evening. While I was reading it, I felt I could see it play as an epic mini-series in my head. After all, the protagonist undergoes several major changes throughout the book. It would’ve been a dream part for a young actor to play. I could envision places where the story could end between episodes. When I found out it was going to be a movie, I was hopeful but my expectations were not high.
By managing my expectations, I was able to enjoy the movie. I was pleasantly surprised by the plot changes, which I recognized were necessary for the constraint of a movie’s conventional screen time. There were some amazing changes that helped the movie shine on its own; I’m thinking specifically of the ode to The Shining and how the one-who-got-away arc was portrayed!
Some of the books I’ve listed below I have not yet read, but I included them and their adaptations purely on my love of the screen versions! So while I cannot speak to the source material, I can say that I would be willing to check them out in book form should the right occasion ever present itself. So I guess the books are listed based on the virtues on their adaptations!
The Hunger Games
I read this book in college after watching the first movie. I wasn’t fond of the first-person present POV and felt the movie did an amazing job bringing Katniss and The Hunger Games alive in a way that made me care and feel for the oppressed people of this dystopian world in a way I’ve not felt since these movies. I was not compelled to keep reading the books, but I did keep watching the movies!
Last year was a great year for mini-series adaptations based on books for cable network television. Showtime brought us Patrick Melrose (2018), the semi-autobiographical story of an upper middle class British man who was abused as child and grew up to become a self-destructive man. Almost every episode was set in a different decade, checking in on Patrick as he came into adulthood and struggled with his past and, ultimately, his parents’ death. It was so moving, I almost wanted to read the books. Ultimately, however, these kinds of books are not what I’m ordinarily drawn to.
The other amazing mini-series that came out last summer was Sharp Objects (2018), based on the book by the author of Gone Girl. Amy Adams portrays a troubled journalist, similarly scarred by her childhood, who is summoned back to her hometown to cover the investigation into the disappearances of two young girls. It’s an amazing whodunnit mystery set in the South complicated by the small town’s secrecy and hidden prejudices. The soundtrack is also fantastic.
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl
The movie adaptation for this book came out a few years ago and was a great example of how to take a source material and make it your own. The director, or screenwriter (who was the author?!), made a lot of subtle changes to the story and characters, none of which took away from the characters but instead rounded them out a bit more. I found the book hysterical and the movie kept a lot of that humor intact, which was really satisfying as there is still a sad story at the core. I think the movie might have been a tad melodramatic towards the end. To me, the book and the movie are very different, but I love them equally.
I adored Keira Knightley and James McAvoy growing up, so I saw Atonement (2007) when it first came out, even though I might have been a tad too young for it. I followed the story and themes well enough, but I’ve really come to appreciate the true beauty of the film and its narrative devices as I’ve gotten older. All the actors in this film are brilliant. I’ve tried to read the book a few times over the years, and it hasn’t managed to hold my attention. I do think I may be ready to make another attempt soon!
Never Let Me Go
I can’t remember if I read the book before watching the movie, but I know that I knew about the movie before I knew of the book. It was one of my first forays into adult literary fiction and a book that defined my senior year of high school, strangely enough! I can’t remember how far the movie varied from the book, but the actors brought the Kathy, Ruth, and Tommy to life beautifully. And I think the movie stayed true to the ambivalence of the book regarding the dystopic vision of organ donation.
Interview with a Vampire
Okay, so this was an odd one to include on this list! I read the book when I went through an Anne Rice phase as a freshman/sophomore in high school. I had seen the movie in bits and pieces on TV growing up. I think we probably owned it on VHS. But having read the book, I think the movie is a great adaptation. The book is extremely mature, verging on erotica. Maybe it was supposed to be erotica. I don’t know! But I remember being really impressed by Rice’s writing style growing up. Anyway, the movie makes the story more palatable for a general audience and highlights the theme of eternal life’s loneliness from the book really well. The movie can stand alone on its own two feet!
I think I read an abridged version of Little Women when I was younger, and I think I found it relatively enjoyable as an adolescent. I think the source material is ripe for great adaptations, similar to Pride & Prejudice (which I did not include on this because it’s too obvious a choice!). Jo is a relatable protagonist for all the rebellious young girls no matter the time period! I loved the Little Women (1994) movie with Susan Sarandon, Winona Ryder, and Christian Bale.
I tried reading the book a summer or two ago and struggled mainly because of how long and laborious the first chapter was, but I could recognize it was also beautifully written. It’s a bucket list item to read something of Stephen King’s and I’d like to read this book ahead of the next movie that is to come out. I often don’t feel compelled to read a book before the movie anymore, but I do want to be able to analyze the movie from the lens of the book.
From what I’ve read and heard, Andrés Muschietti’s films are great adaptations. All I know is that the first movie was beautiful and the teaser trailer recently released shows the next film will be as thrilling, if not more so, than the first.
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
I think the first two page-to-screen adaptations of the Harry Potter series were wonderful, but I don’t feel like the director/screenwriters did much to heighten the experience of the world. The movies were magical because they captured it from the books, which is all you could really ask for. But I think Alfonso Cuarón did a beautiful job bringing the third book to life and adding his own personal flair and style to the experience. In case you didn’t know, he also directed The Little Princess (1995)!
Let me know what you think about any of my picks in the comments down below! I apologize for the lack of images or links in this post, but I almost didn’t post it. I came on a last minute trip to visit family and I didn’t find the time or will to finish this post beyond writing it. I think it’s time to try something new for the blog and for myself, but I’m still mulling things over. I want to be more regular, but I think it’s time call a spade a spade…
I did not set myself the most ambitious reading goals this year, and it has been a struggle to just read one book per month. However, I was really happy to get to read Akata Warrior, the sequel to Akata Witch, which I read and adored last year. The magical adventures of Sunny and her coven are so much fun and full of heart.
I also love the African representation in the book. These books comment on identity in Nigeria, which is as varied as complex as it is in America. I think is so important that children read a book set in different countries, especially countries that we don’t often see portrayed for a young adult audience. Africa is such a huge continent and in many places, it is surprisingly not that different from certain parts of the United States.
In this post I will talk about the plot and potential spoilers from this sequel. Like with my last review of a sequel, I’m not sure how many people will read this post. So I’m just going to assume it will be people who have already read it and want to talk about it! If you’ve not read Akata Witch, I highly recommend it. You can check out the review I wrote last year.
Released: October 16, 2018 by Speak Pages: Paperback, 512 pages Theme(s): Identity, inner strength, power of knowledge, friendship, balance Genre(s): YA / Fantasy / African-American Fiction Age Group: 10+ Goodreads | Amazon*
*Affiliate link disclaimer
A year ago, Sunny Nwazue, an American-born girl Nigerian girl, was inducted into the secret Leopard Society. As she began to develop her magical powers, Sunny learned that she had been chosen to lead a dangerous mission to avert an apocalypse, brought about by the terrifying masquerade, Ekwensu. Now, stronger, feistier, and a bit older, Sunny is studying with her mentor Sugar Cream and struggling to unlock the secrets in her strange Nsibidi book. Eventually, Sunny knows she must confront her destiny. With the support of her Leopard Society friends, Orlu, Chichi, and Sasha, and of her spirit face, Anyanwu, she will travel through worlds both visible and invisible to the mysterious town of Osisi, where she will fight a climactic battle to save humanity.
Akata Warrior picks up some time after Sunny and her oha coven have defeated Black Hat and are well into studying independently with guidance from their individual mentors. The book actually started with a really great recap in the form of a letter from the snarky Obi Library Collective of Leopard Knocks’ Department of Responsibility! I had been worried I wouldn’t be able to follow the story, but I ended up recalling most of the first book. I was actually only fuzzy on the ending, probably because I was so unsatisfied by the plot’s main conflict.
In this book Sunny is being haunted by the evil spirit Ekwenzu who wants to bring on the destruction of the natural world. She manages to separate Sunny from her spirit face Azue, which to everyone’s surprise does not kill her. Instead Sunny is forced to navigate the magical world without her spirit guide and find inner strength and confidence in herself.
In this second book, we see Sunny grow closer to her brothers. Each sibling is so different, they all have live such different lives despite all having lived under the same roof. It’s really nice to see them start to opening up and trusting each other with their vulnerabilities and trouble they get into. It is through her brothers that we see a real-life problem plaguing Nigerian higher education: confraternities.
I had never heard of this problem and was glad that Okorafor included this little side plot that was so relevant to the story because of the leopard world’s value of education and the story’s Nigerian setting. It is horrifying to see how people are press-ganged into these secret societies full of corruption that ultimately seem to have nothing to do with the honest pursuit of knowledge.
One more minor thing that I found highly unsettling was the development of a relationship between Sunny’s friend Chichi and her older brother Chuckwu. It’s super creepy to think of a 18-year-old guy who is obsessed with body building off at college being attracted to a literally underdeveloped child! Chichi is supposed to be this tiny little girl. The first book makes it seem like Chichi is older than she looks, but I don’t think that makes it okay!
I think drama of a love triangle was the main the point of throwing Chuckwu into Chichi and Sasha’s relationship. Maybe it can be chalked up to cultural differences, but I do feel it was highly inappropriate even if their relationship was more innocent.
Aside from the horrors of reality, this book was a lot of fun! My favorite parts of these books is always following Sunny as she discovers more about the leopard world and all of what’s possible. The flying wood cutter, Grashcoatah, was a particular delight. He was like a playful Loki in giant grasscutter disguise!
Like the first book, I feel the second suffers from a similar weakness in the plot. I was really in shock again about how many things happened that Sunny did not see fit to explain to the Leopard adults, particularly her mentor Sugar Cream! In the Harry Potter and A Series of Unfortunate Events books, the children are always trying to tell adults first and it’s only when they realize they are not being taken seriously do they realize they must act on their own. I’m not sure why it doesn’t even occur to Sunny and her friends to confide in more older people with more experience!
I also really didn’t like how disconnected the climax felt from the rest of the book. I actually did like the slow unraveling of the discovery that the house Sunny had been learning about in her grandmother’s letter was Ekwenzu’s home in the spirit land, but it was not a very smooth transition from the mystery the coven was chasing by visiting the mythical city of Osisi. To be honest, though, maybe I’m just used to stories where the protagonists know what they need to do. Sunny and the gang are plagued by problems not at all personal to them but derived from ancestral conflict.
If I had to rate this book by stars, I’d give it a 4 stars. It’s a very fun read and does what a great fantasy book should: ignite our imagination but also reflect problems we face in the real world. My biggest critique is just the same as it was for the first book; a lacking plot. Ultimately, however, that is easy to overlook since the rest of the book is so fun and I truly care about the characters.
If you read this post in its entirety, let me know if you’re read these books yet! I’m truly curious, as I never used to review sequels in the past. I didn’t see a point. If the first book grabs you, you’re going to want to read the sequel naturally. But I guess people can be curious about where the story goes without wanting to sit through a story and characters they feel so-so about. I, for one, am extremely interested in continuing to follow Sunny’s story and see where this series goes!
Hello, and welcome back to The Inky Saga! Wow, it’s been a minute since I posted. April was extremely busy between work events, Red Cross work, job applications, and even interviews! I’m very glad I did all my weekly spreads ahead of time, because it likely wouldn’t have happened during the month. My free-time was spent walking my dog, watching new series/movies, and READING! Yes, I’ve finally been reading again! I just finished my marathon of The Illuminae Files with Obsidio this weekend.
In April I had an interview almost every weekday for the last two weeks. After obtaining the first job for which I interviewed, a seasonal position, I decided to put in my two weeks’ notice at my current job. I was ecstatic to have a good reason to leave, because I was starting to get emotionally drained. Nevertheless, I’m still applying and interviewing at the moment, hoping to find something more steady that would be able to support me more fully.
Anyway, I managed to start working on my May bujo spread during my free-time last week. It was a major stress-reliever as I waited to hear back on my interviews and pass the time between my morning and afternoon shifts. Bear in mind, I haven’t completed all my weekly spreads yet! But today I will show you what I have mostly done.
For the longest time, I had a different theme in mind for May. Since I’ve been in the mood for murder mysteries all year, I was aiming to create something original based around that theme. However, my job search activities picked up this spring and I barely had time to do anything more ambitious for myself. So that theme has been tabled for the time being.
In April (or was it March?) I was asked to fill in at another school and I met a kid who liked to like draw anime characters for the counselors. I’ve come to realize we’re all dorky artists somehow! For me he did a really cute Hamtaro!
I discovered Hamtaro around the time I got my second gameboy, the advanced SP pictured on the left. My brother and I shared two Hamtaro games, Ham-Ham Heartbreak and Ham-Hams Unite! I have been playing these games about once every year for the past 3 or so years, generally around finals while I was in grad school for stress relief. So, essentially, this theme idea came to my mind at the perfect time.
I knew I wanted another simple theme for the month and something that would still be fun to draw. It was just a matter of looking up iconic imagery from the show (available on YouTube) and the games I already have then deciding on the practical layouts I knew from experience would work for me.
Sneak Peak into My BuJo
This is the first month where I’ve decided to play around with color! I worked my city’s annual kids festival in April in the art village and one of the crafts was this amazing map of the United States that the visitors could add as much or as little color as they wished. Most of my time was spent coloring with the Sharpies we provided that day, in between helping the kids with their crafts obviously. ^_^
It occurred to me that I actually owned a color set of Sharpies, which I purchased while I was still working on my undergraduate degree. After testing them on my Pen Test page to make sure the ink wouldn’t bleed through, I decided to use color to bring the ham hams to life! They worked better than I thought they would, the colors showing up beautifully on the page. They also dried so fast, so I didn’t have any problems with the color smearing (unlike the pens I use)!
All that being said, I only have my title page, my monthly log, a two-page habit & media consumption tracker (not pictured), before I jump into my weekly spreads. I only did the first three weeks, but I know what I’m doing for the last two weeks. For those spreads, you can watch my Instagram @theinkysaga. I’m aiming to become more active on there as I continue along my bujo journey.
It’s a little off topic, but I have been thinking more and more about how I could provide the layouts I design for anyone who wants to use my monthly spread alongside me. It’s definitely a long-term goal and one I hope to achieve in the next year or so. I see all my “original” monthly spreads as first drafts, so one day I would like return to these spreads and revise/recreate them digitally.
*I am an Amazon affiliate. If you make a qualifying purchase through any of the links above, I may make a small commission at no extra expense from you.
In other news, I have another blog post scheduled for later this week! I also would like to share a job search update once I’m more confident in my position and my short-term living plans, as I’m thinking I will need to move at some point in June. I’ll need to start looking at apartments in my area if I get a job I want here and if not, well, I may be relocating. Regardless of this uncertainty, I do plan to blog more consistently now that I won’t have to wake up before dawn for less than two measly hours of work.
I don’t know if I’m alone, but I felt like March was such a long and busy month. The blog kept me extremely busy. Even with spring break, I felt like there was not a lot of time for a breather. If I wasn’t working on blog posts, I was working on my bullet journal, doing Red Cross training, applying for jobs, or cleaning house if I wasn’t at my part-time job.
I like having a lot to do, but I do think I need to start making more time for myself so that I don’t feel so drained by time the weekend rolls around. I think April will be a lot less stressful, even if it’s not less busy. I have all my bullet journal’s weekly spreads set up for the month and I know what I’ll need to do for Red Cross work.
I feel like I was doing a lot of soul-searching in January and February, trying to figure out what I wanted out life and this blog. Now I feel like I know what I want to work towards. I feel less frantic and more focused.
Disrupt You! by Jay Samit | I read the bulk of this book on the road during spring break. I’m really shocked I was able to read it, because I’ve not been able to read in a moving car without getting a headache since I was a child. Anyway, this book was all over the place. The author jumps back and forth with examples from his life and other famous entrepreneurs to exemplify how different parts of value chains (e.g. production, distribution, etc.) were disrupted to the profit of the disruptor. I did not feel like I got what I was hoping out of this book (i.e. specific self-help advice), but it was a fascinating read at times.
Akata Warrior by Nnedi Okorafor | After completing my Spring TBR, I decided my next read would be Akata Warrior. I haven’t finished the book, but I am enjoying it thus far. It had a really useful recap of the past book, so I was able to jump right back into the story without missing a beat.
Last month I shared my blog stats for the month of February. I wasn’t sure if I would continue to do so in this specific format, but I decided it was a still a good fit. It makes sense right now while my stats are still not that impressive or complex. If I ever have a remarkable month, I will dedicate an entire post to blog stats.
March was a record-breaking month for The Inky Saga. The blog grew from 288 to 363 blog followers, a net gain of 75 followers. And for the first time since last September, my blog reached 1,000 blog views! There were also 604 visitors, 383 likes, and 130 comments. I think it was the first time I reached 100 blog views in just one day. For posting just fourteen blog posts, I don’t think that’s too shabby!
September 2018 was my last really good blog month, but I did not keep up with blogging after that. I’m really optimistic that the blog could see significant growth over the rest of the year if I keep blogging, blog hopping, and promoting my blog via Pinterest, Instagram, and Twitter. It’ll be really excited to see if my efforts pay off over time.
Moving into April, my blog strategy will be to publish least one evergreen post (e.g. how-to or advice) and one community post each week and then something extra, like a book review, job search update, or a compilation post. I will also try to stay on my schedule and get a lot done well in advance. I also want to start up my YouTube account for content I don’t want to write and post regularly on Instagram.
Sunday morning I sat down with my April bujo planner and started jotting down blog post ideas. I looked at the Top Ten Tuesday and Top 5 Tuesday prompts and picked out a few I was interested in, thought about the books I would like to read and review, and re-listed some of the blog posts ideas I’ve had in mind for a while. I’m actually thinking I may pick a few days I can spare this week and front load a lot of the work for the more time-demanding blog posts.
I’m not exactly sure yet what will be up on the blog this week. I know what I’d like to post, but realize I may not have time to finish anything I don’t manage to start this weekend. I don’t want to have anymore publishing mishaps in April, so I’m not scheduling anything that’s not complete!
How was your March?
What was your favorite blog post this month (mine or yours)? ^_^
For April I decided to make a Howl’s Moving Castle spread! It took me over a week to pull this one together, between narrowing down my idea and pre-planning my spread. I was fairly certain I wanted to do a Studio Ghibli movie theme this month, but I felt myself gravitating towards the movies with which I was already most familiar. Then Howl’s Moving Castle won out over Spirited Away.
There were a few spreads I was able to find that had done a similar theme (@jannplansthings and My Sister’s Journal (Apr 2018)), but I wasn’t able to find a complete month’s worth of spread ideas I liked, so I had to come up with a lot on my own. It was fun and I’m really pleased with my creative choices and the final result.
I decided to keep this month’s spread really simple. I didn’t set space for goals or a brain dump. I kept it down to the bare essentials: monthly log, stats, and blog post planner. I also decided to do all my weekly spreads in advance so I’ll be sharing them in today’s post!
Why Howl’s Moving Castle?
When I was thinking about spring bullet journal themes, Howl’s Moving Castle probably entered the running when I was looking up umbrellas. Turnip Head turns out to a really sweet and considerate character in the movie and when I think of him, I think of him with an umbrella in his hand.
The more I thought about Howl’s Moving Castle, the more I realized it really is a spring-time movie. We don’t really celebrate May Day in the U.S., to the best of my knowledge, but it’s a holiday that celebrates spring and an opening event in the book that brings Howl and Sophie together. Flowers are in bloom and present throughout the movie, whether they be in the hat shop or in nature.
I could have saved this theme for May, but I’ve had a different theme in mind for that month for a couple of months now. Plus, May in Texas definitely feels like more like summer than spring…
The April Spread
The title page of the moving castle came from two very similar designs I discovered in my planning stage, one a painting and the other line art. I loved the look of both, but I wasn’t sure if I wanted to commit to using color yet. So I decided I would lean into the inked version and add color later if I felt like it.
I tried out a new monthly log layout that I discovered from Boho Berry. I don’t know how much use I’ll make out of it, but I do think it might help me visualize my days a little better by breaking the Personal column of past spreads into AM & PM columns. I also like the last column where I can take notes that best help me picture the work I do in April. To tie in the theme, I decided to draw in Sophie and Sullivan’s dog from the movie scene where they are watching a young Howl swallow a shooting star that fell to Earth.
The last two-page spread before I get into weekly spreads I decided to dedicate to blog stats and open space for blog post planning. I separated the stats from the bigger space with Turnip Head’s scarecrow arms. Other than that detail, I wanted to have a lot of space for any notes I wanted to take during April. I had way more space than I needed for brain dumps last month, and I knew I’d have a lot less time this month for creative personal projects.
I don’t want to talk too much about each week’s specific layout, because I did all five for the month in advance! This is why this post ended up coming much later than I had hoped. (Sorry this post was published incomplete this week!)
I had the visual imagery in mind before I knew the specific layouts I would use, but I felt it very intuitive to apply everything I wanted and keep the weeks all unique in design and format. Below you can see the weekly spreads that incorporate Sophie’shat shop (Week 1), Calcifer with a frying pan over him (Week 2), the doors with Howl’s portals (Week 3), the field with shooting stars landing on Earth (Week 4), and Sullivan’s magic ball and dog (Week 5).
The spreads for Week 1 and Week 3 were finished on Saturday! I couldn’t find any pre-existing bujo spread ideas to go off, so I developed them entirely on my own by just referencing movie stills. I’m rather pleased with the final products for all the fretting I did over them!
I can’t wait to jump into this April spread! It’s my favorite of the year so far, and it’s especially special because it’s my first in my new Scribbles That Matter bullet journal!
Next on the blog will be my monthly wrap up, which I started last weekend. My March flip-through will likely be in a video format, shared on YouTube and/or Instagram. I do hope to launch my YouTube channel in April, but I do not expect to be very consistent with it. I’m far more interested in being consistent with the blog, which takes enough of my time as it is ^_^
This week I was tagged by Sara @ The Bibliophagist for The Wanderlust Tag! Since I’ve been working on new kinds of blog content this month, I was delighted to be tagged and have another reason for a more relaxed and casual blog post that allows new followers to learn a little more about me and my interest. While this blog tag is specific to books, but I think that book recommendations reveal a lot about a person who put the list together. So hopefully it’s a fun read for anyone who has decided to follow this blog!
I’m also using this post as an opportunity for an informal catch-up. I’ve been so busy this week with helping to get the house ready for the flyer pictures. Now I won’t know with much warning when I’ll be expected to pick up and leave for house viewings. I also met with my Red Cross supervisor this week to find out what is expected of me. I’m going to start preparing social media content for our region at the start of April, so I’ll be figuring out just how long it takes me to do that next week!
Thank you so much for your support this month with all my posts and blog changes! I’m so happy with everything and can’t wait to see what April brings. I plan to publish Monday, Wednesday, and Friday this week, so I’ll be working on these posts this weekend. Hopefully they don’t take too long, because this week I need to set up my April bujo spread!
What Is The Wanderlust Tag?
❝ If you have been following my little blog, you’ll also know that I’m all about the world building. I love how a good setting works to elevate the overall mood and tension. Nothing beats the draw of an eerie moorland, murky rivers, a wind-swept coastal town or even a ruthless, Tolkien-like fantasy world. [This blog tag is] a celebration of immersive settings that transport us to alternative realities ❞ – Alexandra @ Reading by Starlight
Mention the creator of the tag and link back to original post
Thank the blogger who tagged you
Answer the 10 questions below using any genre
Tag 5+ friends
If you find any of the books listed below fascinating I’ve included links to them on both Goodreads and Amazon. Just so you know, I am now an Amazon affiliate. If you do end up making a qualifying purchase through my one of my links I may make a small commission at no extra expense to you. ^_^
SECRETS AND LIES | A BOOK SET IN A SLEEPY SMALL TOWN
⟡Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro ⟡Pages: Paperback, 288 pages ⟡Published: August 31, 2010 by Vintage Books ⟡Genres: New Adult / Speculative ⟡Goodreads | Amazon
From the Booker Prize-winning author of The Remains of the Day and When We Were Orphans, comes an unforgettable edge-of-your-seat mystery that is at once heartbreakingly tender and morally courageous about what it means to be human.
Hailsham seems like a pleasant English boarding school, far from the influences of the city. Its students are well tended and supported, trained in art and literature, and become just the sort of people the world wants them to be. But, curiously, they are taught nothing of the outside world and are allowed little contact with it.
Within the grounds of Hailsham, Kathy grows from schoolgirl to young woman, but it’s only when she and her friends Ruth and Tommy leave the safe grounds of the school (as they always knew they would) that they realize the full truth of what Hailsham is.
Never Let Me Go breaks through the boundaries of the literary novel. It is a gripping mystery, a beautiful love story, and also a scathing critique of human arrogance and a moral examination of how we treat the vulnerable and different in our society. In exploring the themes of memory and the impact of the past, Ishiguro takes on the idea of a possible future to create his most moving and powerful book to date.
Never Let Me Go was one of my first forays into literary fiction as a high schooler. The movie came out around my junior year of high school, which is why this book was on my radar. It’s a beautifully sad tale about what it means to be human. I still remember by frustration and confusion about why they don’t make a run for it and why they aren’t more frustrated with their fates. They were so resigned to it.
SALT AND SAND | A BOOK WITH A BEACHSIDE COMMUNITY
⟡We Were Liars by E. Lockhart ⟡Pages: Paperback, 227 pages ⟡Published: May 13, 2014 by Hot Key Books ⟡Genres: Young Adult / Family Drama ⟡Goodreads | Amazon
We are the Liars.
We are beautiful, privileged and live a life of carefree luxury.
We are cracked and broken.
A story of love and romance.
A tale of tragedy.
Which are lies?
Which is truth?
This young adult novel is one of my inexplicable favorites. It gets me every time. I feel like it’s best to go into this book somewhat blind, so all I’ll say is it’s a great summertime read. The characters have summer vacations a dreamy private island and occasionally visit the nearby beachside town. In my head I picture where the cast of Gossip Girl go at the start of…Season 2 or 3?
HERE THERE BE DRAGONS | A BOOK WITH A VOYAGE ON THE HIGH SEAS
⟡Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo ⟡Pages: Hardcover, 462 pages ⟡Published: September 29, 2015 by Henry Holt and Company ⟡Genres: New Adult / Fantasy ⟡Goodreads | Amazon
Ketterdam: a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price—and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker. Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can’t pull it off alone. . . .
A convict with a thirst for revenge
A sharpshooter who can’t walk away from a wager
A runaway with a privileged past
A spy known as the Wraith
A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums
A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes
Kaz’s crew is the only thing that might stand between the world and destruction—if they don’t kill each other first.
This book is just…everything. I don’t have time to get into it! I’ll just say that a lot of important moments happen at sea and around docks. The gang travels by sea to get to their heist and then need to return the same way.
TREAD LIGHTLY | A BOOK SET DOWN A MURKY RIVER OR A JUNGLE
⟡City of the Beasts by Isabel Allende ⟡Pages: Paperback, 408 pages ⟡Published: April 27, 2004 by Rayo ⟡Genres: Young Adult / Contemporary ⟡Goodreads | Amazon
Fifteen-year-old Alexander Cold is about to join his fearless grandmother on the trip of a lifetime. An International Geographic expedition is headed to the dangerous, remote wilds of South America, on a mission to document the legendary Yeti of the Amazon known as the Beast.
But there are many secrets hidden in the unexplored wilderness, as Alex and his new friend Nadia soon discover. Drawing on the strength of their spirit guides, both young people are led on a thrilling and unforgettable journey to the ultimate discovery. . .
I reread this book for the first time since I was a teen last year (and reviewed it) and I did not remember how violent and dark this story was, considering its targeted towards young people. It’s very descriptive of the Amazon and the dangers it holds, so it’s a great read for anyone who enjoys high-stakes adventures.
FROZEN WASTES | A BOOK WITH A FROSTBITTEN ATMOSPHERE
⟡Troubling a Star by Madeleine L’Engle ⟡Pages: Paperback, 336 pages ⟡Published: September 2, 2008 by Square Fish ⟡Genres: Young Adult / Contemporary ⟡Goodreads | Amazon
The Austins have settled back into their beloved home in the country after more than a year away. Though they had all missed the predictability and security of life in Thornhill, Vicky Austin is discovering that slipping back into her old life isn’t easy. She’s been changed by life in New York City and her travels around the country while her old friends seem to have stayed the same. So Vicky finds herself spending time with a new friend, Serena Eddington—the great-aunt of a boy Vicky met over the summer.
Aunt Serena gives Vicky an incredible birthday gift—a month-long trip to Antarctica. It’s the opportunity of a lifetime. But Vicky is nervous. She’s never been away from her family before. Once she sets off though, she finds that’s the least of her worries. She receives threatening letters. She’s surrounded by suspicious characters. Vicky no longer knows who to trust. And she may not make it home alive.
This prompt was a little hard for me. I almost went with The Golden Compass, but then I remembered this childhood classic. It’s another that I reread last summer and it’s a highly underrated book from the author of A Wrinkle in Time and A Ring of Endless. It’s got a very strong message about environmental conservation woven into this tale of a girl who gets to go visit Antarctica on an educational trip and inadvertently gets mixed up in political intrigue and dangerous plots.
THE BOONIES | A BOOK WITH ROUGH OR ISOLATED TERRAIN
⟡TheHouse of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer ⟡Pages: Paperback, 380 pages ⟡Published: May 2004 by Atheneum Books for Young Readers ⟡Genres: Young Adult / Speculative ⟡Goodreads | Amazon
With undertones of vampires, Frankenstein, dragons’ hoards, and killing fields, Matt’s story turns out to be an inspiring tale of friendship, survival, hope, and transcendence. A must-read for teenage fantasy fans.
At his coming-of-age party, Matteo Alacrán asks El Patrón’s bodyguard, “How old am I?…I know I don’t have a birthday like humans, but I was born.”
“You were harvested,” Tam Lin reminds him. “You were grown in that poor cow for nine months and then you were cut out of her.”
To most people around him, Matt is not a boy, but a beast. A room full of chicken litter with roaches for friends and old chicken bones for toys is considered good enough for him. But for El Patrón, lord of a country called Opium—a strip of poppy fields lying between the U.S. and what was once called Mexico—Matt is a guarantee of eternal life. El Patrón loves Matt as he loves himself for Matt is himself. They share identical DNA.
Another really dark read for children, The House of the Scorpion becomes an thrilling adventure story about halfway through the book. The protagonist is treated horribly and unlike the characters of Never Let Me Go, does eventually make a run for it. There are dangerous characters to fend off and the terrain he must trek is not much friendlier.
HINTERLANDS AND COWBOYS | A BOOK WITH A WESTERN-ESQUE SETTING
⟡Holes by Louis Sachar ⟡Pages: Paperback, 233 pages ⟡Published: September 2, 2000 by Scholastic ⟡Genres: Young Adult / Folk Tales ⟡Goodreads | Amazon
Stanley tries to dig up the truth in this inventive and darkly humorous tale of crime and punishment—and redemption.
Stanley Yelnats is under a curse. A curse that began with his no-good-dirty-rotten- pig-stealing-great-great-grandfather and has since followed generations of Yelnats. Now Stanley has been unjustly sent to a boys’ detention center, Camp Green Lake, where the warden makes the boys “build character” by spending all day, every day, digging holes: five feet wide and five feet deep. It doesn’t take long for Stanley to realize there’s more than character improvement going on at Camp Green Lake. The boys are digging holes because the warden is looking for something. Stanley tries to dig up the truth in this inventive and darkly humorous tale of crime and punishment—and redemption.
I’ve not read any westerns beyond one that was a little overrated (highly promoted) a few years ago now. I forget what it was called. Anyway, Holes eventually came to mind. The movie came out the year before I started middle school, so I remember that more clearly than I do the book, but this book involves history of the west where the story’s setting is located. There are a collection of interwoven tales that link the protagonist, antagonists, and Camp Green Lake to the past during the time of trains and robbers.
LOOK LIVELY | A BOOK ACROSS SWEEPING DESERT SANDS
⟡Cress by Marissa Meyer ⟡Pages: Paperback, 550 pages ⟡Published: January 27, 2015 by Square Fish ⟡Genres: Young Adult / Science Fiction / Fantasy ⟡Goodreads | Amazon
In this third book in the Lunar Chronicles, Cinder and Captain Thorne are fugitives on the run, now with Scarlet and Wolf in tow. Together, they’re plotting to overthrow Queen Levana and her army.
Their best hope lies with Cress, a girl imprisoned on a satellite since childhood who’s only ever had her netscreens as company. All that screen time has made Cress an excellent hacker. Unfortunately, she’s just received orders from Levana to track down Cinder and her handsome accomplice.
When a daring rescue of Cress goes awry, the group is separated. Cress finally has her freedom, but it comes at a higher price. Meanwhile, Queen Levana will let nothing prevent her marriage to Emperor Kai. Cress, Scarlet, and Cinder may not have signed up to save the world, but they may be the only hope the world has.
Cress is the third book in the Lunar Chronicles and probably my favorite. I love Cress best of all and her story is the saddest and loneliest. To travel with her on her adventures once she escapes her prison is so much fun. A lot of this book is set in the desert where she and Captain Thorne crash land on Earth.
WILD AND UNTAMED | A BOOK SET IN THE HEART OF THE WOODS
⟡Uprooted by Naomi Novik ⟡Pages: Paperback, 438 pages ⟡Published: March 1, 2016 by Del Rey ⟡Genres: New Adult / Fantasy ⟡Goodreads | Amazon
“Our Dragon doesn’t eat the girls he takes, no matter what stories they tell outside our valley. We hear them sometimes, from travelers passing through. They talk as though we were doing human sacrifice, and he were a real dragon. Of course that’s not true: he may be a wizard and immortal, but he’s still a man, and our fathers would band together and kill him if he wanted to eat one of us every ten years. He protects us against the Wood, and we’re grateful, but not that grateful.”
Agnieszka loves her valley home, her quiet village, the forests and the bright shining river. But the corrupted Wood stands on the border, full of malevolent power, and its shadow lies over her life.
Her people rely on the cold, driven wizard known only as the Dragon to keep its powers at bay. But he demands a terrible price for his help: one young woman handed over to serve him for ten years, a fate almost as terrible as falling to the Wood.
But Agnieszka fears the wrong things. For when the Dragon comes, it is not Kasia he will choose.
This book feels like its a few different books all cut and pasted together to make one. It’s a really beautiful and pretty fun read that ends up in a place I really didn’t expect it to go. The corrupt Wood is one of the scariest settings/entities that I’ve ever read. I had some nightmares after reading this book, which I’ve never really had happen with a book before.
WILDEST DREAMS | A WHIMSICAL BOOK SHROUDED IN MAGIC
⟡Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor ⟡Pages: Paperback, 349 pages ⟡Published: July 11, 2017 by Speak ⟡Genres: Young Adult / Fantasy ⟡Goodreads | Amazon
Sunny Nwazue lives in Nigeria, but she was born in New York City. Her features are West African, but she’s albino. She’s a terrific athlete, but can’t go out into the sun to play soccer. There seems to be no place where she fits in. And then she discovers something amazing—she is a “free agent” with latent magical power. And she has a lot of catching up to do.
Soon she’s part of a quartet of magic students, studying the visible and invisible, learning to change reality. But just as she’s finding her footing, Sunny and her friends are asked by the magical authorities to help track down a career criminal who knows magic, too. Will their training be enough to help them against a threat whose powers greatly outnumber theirs?
I’ve never read another book that makes me feel the way I did when I first read Harry Potter. That desire to enter the world and experience its magic personally. I know a lot of authors have attempted it, but it’s never really been the same. I love the worldbuilding in Akata Witch so much because it feels so much more real than Harry Potter. It’s set in Africa, which read a lot to me like places from my actual childhood in the more rural hispanic parts of the US. It feels less like of an ivory tower than Hogwarts, more attainable.
I’ve seen this tag making the rounds, so I don’t remember who all has already done it! I’m just tagging the people I’ve most recently tagged who I think might enjoy it if they haven’t already. Of course, if this sounds like something you’d like to and you haven’t been tagged yet then consider yourself personally tagged by me ^_^
Well this post took the better part of my Saturday morning and afternoon, with breaks of course! I’m about to call it a day and go start Part 2 of The OA on Netflix! I’ve been anticipating it all month and then I go and forget about it this week as soon as it debuts. Typical.
The last week of March will be dedicated to bullet journal content as I move into my new bullet journal and set it up for April. On that note, some of you may have gotten a sneak preview this week of the post that will go up on Monday! Sorry about that! It was not quite finished, and I forgot to move it after failing to complete it last weekend. There’s a lot more I want to add to it, so that it is as amazing and helpful as possible for newbies to journaling.