Beyond Betwined Reads ⁂ ✧.: *: ・

In which Lori explains her absence and plans for the future of the blog.

Hey, everyone! It’s me, Lori. I’m back again. Hopefully for a good while. I’ve missed you, and I’ve missed blogging. The longer I was away these past couple of months, the harder it was to jump back into it. I think I know why.

For most of the year, I started each month by setting some goals and trying to figure out what kinds of things I wanted to do on the blog. It was fun, and it also gave me an idea of where to focus my energy and attention. There are always so many things I want to do, I always find myself needing to reign it all in.

For some reason in September my blog started to get a lot more views and follows than I’ve experienced all year. I wasn’t sure really why, but it was exciting, and I wanted to nurture it by posting more often. I decided to get more serious about blogging and set up a schedule so that new followers knew what they could expect and I also knew what I needed to be working on each week. It was very ambitious, and it was the beginning of the end.

As much as I tried to adjust and stay happy with what I produced, I couldn’t keep up with it. Not when I wasn’t reading or writing behind the scenes. Not blogging became stressful. It was a chore in which I found no joy.

So I didn’t blog much in October and haven’t blogged much in November. I’ve thought a lot about what I wanted to do, because despite all the turmoil I’ve been feeling I still want to blog. There have been so many times where I thought I might start back up again but felt stifled because I wasn’t sure how to address my absence, particularly since I felt I’d done nothing substantial with my time offline.

Last week I decided I wanted to blog, but something needed to change. I went back and forth over the idea of starting a new blog fresh and without a specific niche. But ultimately I realized that while the overall format is probably going to change, I still want to blog about the same sort of things, mainly reading and writing.

The biggest difference will be that I will be writing for myself. I want to be able to blog when I feel like it and not feel inadequate if I’m not doing x, y, or z. I want to be able to get more personal on my blog and in turn inspire others to feel happier in their lives no matter what they are doing. I don’t want to feel like my value comes from the quality of my writing or ingenuity of my posts. My blog is not proof or validation my worth but a record of my life.

From now on when I talk about books, I will not try to be too objective or overly insightful. I don’t see any reason I should be stressing myself out over book reviews or having more original and nuanced thoughts than the next person. I’m not a book seller/critic/marketer, nor do I want to be one unless I have a salary! I don’t want to be a arbiter of taste. When I think back about the books I’ve read, I want to remember my life context (i.e. where I read, why I picked up a book) and my immediate reactions.

Similarly with my writing posts, I don’t want to look back on old posts and just see what I wrote for my blog readers’ sake. Rather I want to be able to remember how the writing was going and have the details (i.e. illness, mood, sources of inspiration) why it was going well or poorly.

I don’t know how many people will find this post very necessary for me to have written to explain. I realize I could’ve just made these changes quietly and moved on, but I feel like I had to write this post for myself. Not to justify my choices but to organize my thoughts.

Regardless, I hope this post finds the eyes that need it most. I’m not sure how deeply my absence has been felt. If you’ve wondered what’s been up with me or where I’ve been, I deeply apologize! I always find it difficult to know when I need to take a hiatus. Just know that if I ever give up on the blog, I will most definitely announce it in a farewell post. Additionally, I’m constantly on Twitter or Instagram, even if I’m not posting, if you ever want to give me a shout!

I’ve got to go to bed now. I’ve been reading Heist Society by Ally Carter and it’s been a nice read so far. Nothing mind-blowing or earth-shattering but fast-paced and intriguing.

Thank you for reading!
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The Liebster Award | Blog Tag

Last week I was tagged by Gerry @ The Book Nook UK for The Liebster Award. This award makes me feel really nostalgic, because it was one of the first I ever got nominated for back on my first blog in 2015. I’m amazed that it continues to circulate online and I’m thrilled to be considered for it again after so many years.

These were some pretty interesting questions to think about! I hope my answers were satisfactory, Gerry!


If you opened up a bookshop – what would it be called?

Interlude in Feathers

You’re writing a novel – what are your two main characters names and what kind of novel is it?

I’m not going to share actual names I’ve been using my novels! But here’s two I really love and just thought of, Amelia and Bo. It would be a family drama.

You wake up from a night of heavy drinking to find that you have a tattoo of a fictional character’s name tattooed on your bum. Whose name is it?

I do not drink heavily, but one answer that comes to mind is Woodstock. ^_^

You’re a wizard Harry book blogger. What familiar do you choose?

One of those bear-sized raccoons that wanders around in packs at night

You’re hosting dinner, which four guests (friends, family, famous or fictional) do you invite?

Howell Jenkins, Ginny Weasley, Nikolai Lantsov, and Kaz Brekker

What are you cooking them? Is this your signature dish?

I would cook them beef stir fry with mixed veggies and pineapple served over white rice. It is not a signature dish of mine, but it is something I used to order at a restaurant that discontinued it as a menu item years ago. Not sure why it came to mind just now…

There’s an orchard at the end of the road, one night you hear sobbing from it. Do you go and investigate? If you investigate, who’s there?

I go investigate if it’s not night-time yet and I have my phone handy and someone on call. I assume it’s a woman. Maybe someone who just escaped a potential kidnapping. I call 911 and stay nearby in case anyone else shows up.

Magic has happened and now you’re in the last movie that you watched. What movie is it and how do you fare in this new universe?

I just watched The Shape of Water (2017)! It’s a beautiful movie and world. I think I’d be fine. I could start a new life fairly easily in Baltimore of the 1950s. I feel it was a lot easier back then to make up new identities. I also think American industry was stronger back then, so it’d be easy to find work.

Alien abduction, werewolf bite, vampire attack. One is going to happen to you but lucky for you, you get to pick which one! Go for it and tell me which.

Vampire attack. I think it would hurt the least and be the least lonely. I also think it would be a lot easier to control vampiric urges than those of a werewolf. Alien abduction would be the worst for me. Mars Attacks! (1996) is hands down one of the scariest movies I’ve ever seen. I don’t want to be an alien’s science experiment!

Tell me what your perfect Sunday looks like.

Waking up by natural light before anyone else. Having my favorite breakfast tacos from a Mexican restaurant called Jalisco. It’s raining but bright outside. I’d participate in #WritersPatch at 10 a.m. CST and then work on my novel for a few hours, taking breaks for snacks, but otherwise doing exactly as I please ^_^

What plot of a book resembles your life or is most closest to your life?

Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

End Note

Thanks for the tag, Gerry! As my mind has been so preoccupied lately, I didn’t feel that I could adequately come up with a list of questions to rival Gerry’s, so I’ve also opted not to tag anyone this weekend. If you would like to answer these fun questions yourself, feel free to do so and link back to Gerry and me so we can see your answers! ^_^

Let me know what you think in the comment section!

Thank you for reading!
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Job Applications & NaNoWriMo Prep! | Week in Review

Welcome back to my Week in Review, the weekly feature where I share links to everything that went up on the blog this week, mini life updates, and anything else I found noteworthy during the week. I was super busy and active this week but not so much on the blog.

The first part of the week I was busy doing some lengthy job applications and errands for my current job. I needed to go to the police station to get my picture taken for my I.D. badge that grants me free access to the community center, a perk of my part-time job. I also took a free clerical test downtown so that I could apply for some other city jobs. I’m hoping I might be able to work at my local library!

I’ve also been trying to more active each day. I started taking my little guy Ty on walks every morning during the school week and continued that this week. I also started doing about 20 minutes of Pilates every afternoon before work. I get cardio at work from running around with the kids, but I still want to tone up!

➴ This Week on Betwined Reads . . .

This week I only published three blog posts! I definitely knew there was no way I was going to repeat last week. While I loved having a post up practically every day, I knew I needed to give myself a break from the late night post polishing. I’m still working on finding my happy medium.

TTTpages
Books on My Fall TBR
Weekend Reads
A Quick Blog Update
TBRbooktag
TBR Book Tag

➴ The Job Search

Normally this space would be dedicated to noteworthy blog posts from the week, but I didn’t do too much blog hopping this week. Instead I thought I’d share some of the job positions I applied for, in case anyone is wondering what kinds of jobs a former English major can apply for.

  1. Human Resources Foreign Service Officer (Full-time)
  2. Tourism Coordinator (Full-time)
  3. Shelving Clerk (Part-time)
  4. Community Facility Worker (Part-time)

I’m still applying to part-time jobs because I’d like to work a few more hours right now outside of my current part-time job. I’m hoping to get some office experience that will help me get my foot in the door at those entry-level jobs that require a certain amount of office experience to begin with. Can we all roll our eyes together now?

➴ Novel Progress

I’m bummed I didn’t write a Novel Progress on Wednesday. I ended up coming up with a great idea for it too! I think I will use it this week. It’s about different kinds of writing goals. I’ve not talked about that on Betwined Reads yet, and I’ve been thinking a lot about goals that work best for me right now.

I will also go ahead and announce right here that I will be participating in NaNoWriMo this year, probably with the project I’m working on right now, but I’m not 100% sure yet. I’ve been itching to try my hand at writing a contemporary! Whatever I end up writing, October will be spent preparing for the November writing frenzy.

As Novel Progress will be dedicated to NaNoWriMo prep, each Wednesday I will share resources and advice for anyone thinking about joining in November.

Tentative Schedule

  • Oct. 3: Announcement + Plans
  • Oct. 10: Deciding What to Write
  • Oct. 17: A Writing Bullet Journal + Organization Tips
  • Oct. 24: NaNoWriMo Survival Kit
  • Oct. 31: Making Time to Write

☙ ❧ END NOTE ❧ ☙

I’m hoping to have a very productive Sunday! Saturday took it easy, taking care of household chores in between working on my novel. Today I want to finish up some blog posts ahead time and do some much needed reading. I have about five posts currently that I’d like to share this week, so I need to get a few of them drafted today so that I’m ready for anything else that might pop up during the week.

Thank you for reading!
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TBR Book Tag | Blog Tag

Last week I was tagged by Gerry @ The Book Nook UK to do the TBR Book Tag! Since I never really keep track of my TBR as listed on Goodreads, I thought this would be a really fun experience to share as I look through the books I’ve added to my “Want to Read” shelf.

Before I get started, I will say that I jump back and forth in between mentioning my physical TBR (books I already own and have access to) and my Goodreads TBR (which doesn’t exclusively list books I am passionate about reading), which are two very different things.

Keep reading to learn about the differences! ^_^

 TBR Book Tag 

How do you keep track of your TBR list?

I don’t keep track of my Goodreads TBR list very well. I don’t really consider my “Want to Read” shelf on Goodreads as an accurate representation of a my TBR. I consider my true TBR the list of books that I actually own, namely the books I’ve spent my money on.

So on my main bookcase, I have one shelf at eye level were I most of my physical TBR is located. If I have any of my unread books on another shelf (for organizational purposes), I actually put a pink page marker on them so I can see at a glance what books I’ve not yet read.

Is your TBR mostly print or e-book?

Print! I don’t love reading eBooks, but I do buy them on occasion if I don’t like the book cover of a specific book or want to take advantage of a good Amazon deal. If it’s a book I think I will love, I have to have it in print form. I have the entire Throne of Glass series in eBook form because the when I first started the series, the prices of first two books were marked down.

How do you determine which book from your TBR to read next?

I’m a mood reader. I don’t request or get sent any ARCs so my reading choices at any given time are completely up to me and how I feel. I aim to read the books I’ve owned for the longest time but for whatever reason haven’t yet gotten around to. I also try to read books these days as soon as I purchase them.

A book that has been on your TBR the longest

Omitting books I that I’ve bought for past classes and still would like to read, it would have to be The Way of the Pilgrim by Helen Bacovcin. I bought it second-hand in high school after reading Franny & Zooey by J.D. Salinger. It’s a book that affects Franny in a major way in the novella, so I was really interested in reading it for myself.

It’s just never been a top priority for me ever. I don’t consider myself a very spiritual person, so I don’t know what to expect. Now that I’m thinking about it, however, I feel like giving it a try!

A book that you recently added to your TBR

I’m going to look to my Goodreads TBR list for this one and pick the one that most catches my eye right now. Tash Hearts Tolstoy by Kathryn Ormsbee is one that stands out! I love contemporaries that are based on really unique premises. I also love when books are heavily influenced by or retellings of classics. I think it’s great when we can see how classics continue to be relevant today.

A book on your TBR list strictly because of its beautiful cover

This is hard! I don’t really add books to my TBR because I’m drawn to the cover. It’s usually the reverse; I’ll like the summary of a book but the book cover will put me off of purchasing it.

But if I must answer, I think The Surface Breaks by Louise O’Neill might be a more appealing cover to me than the actually story summary is. So it may be doomed to my Goodreads TBR! I don’t know yet!

the-surface-breaks

A book on your TBR that you never plan on actually reading

I try to keep my physical TBR devoid of books I don’t actually want to read. I have no problem unhauling a book if I can see no use to keeping it. If we’re talking specifically about my Goodreads TBR, though . . . maybe Art Matters by Neil Gaiman.

I’m not sure how much I would get from it personally, as I think I already value art pretty highly. It would most likely be one I need to find at a library or heavily discounted if I am to one day read it.

An unpublished book on your TBR that you’re excited for

I’m probably most excited for two books that come out next January! First, The Vanishing Stair by Maureen Johnson (January 22, 2019). The first book Truly, Devious ended on a major cliffhanger so I’ve been pining for this sequel practically all year. Second, King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo (January 29, 2019). It will follow my favorite character from the Grisha trilogy, Nikolai after his trauma.

unpublishedTBR.png

A book on your TBR that basically everyone has read but you

Oh, this one’s easy. Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor! I’ve been meaning to read it, I swear! I’ve just been sooo . . . scared I won’t like it! It’s been hyped so much. You might say I bought it as a paperback because I love the cover design far more than the American hardcover. I’m also worried I’ll love it and be forced to wait super long until Muse of Nightmares is out in paperback too!

A book on your TBR everyone recommends you

I don’t get a lot of recommendations out of the blue, but every time I mention Strange the Dreamer people tell me I need to read it!

A book on your TBR you’re very excited to read

So many . . . Because I haven’t mentioned it yet, Kingdom of Ash by Sarah J. Maas. The series finale has been a long time coming. Even if I don’t end up being blown away by the ending, it will feel so satisfying to know how Aelin’s story ends.

The number of books on your Goodreads TBR shelf

As of yesterday (9/21), there are 283 books on my “Want to Read” bookshelf.

tbr283

I tag:

tag, you're it!

 ☙ ❧ END NOTE ❧ ☙

I hope you liked getting a closer look at my TBR! Even though I’m not doing them on a monthly basis anymore, I still really love reading them and think they are a great thing to set. I think they can give you structure when you might need it, and they’re so much fun to think about.

Thank you for reading!
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Preparing for October | Week in Review

Welcome back to my Week in Review, the weekly feature where I share links to everything that went up on the blog this week,  mini life updates, and anything else I found noteworthy during the week. Since I’ve been blog hopping quite regularly each day, I decided I wanted to start sharing some of the great blog posts I come across each week!

I need to learn how to keep better track of blog posts over the week, though. I feel like I’ve most definitely forgotten about some posts I would’ve loved to share :,(

Usually Septembers are not all that memorable for me, but I think this one will go down in the books! I don’t know how I’ve managed to blog so much. I’m also already planning so much content for next month. October is the month I traditionally spend on NaNoWriMo preparation, but since I’m also participating in  Blogoween  next month there’s a lot I need to do before October 1st!

➴ This Week on Betwined Reads . . .

This week I published six blog posts! I’m still in awe of how I was able to accomplish it. I know if kept me busy practically every day, but now it somehow it feels like nothing. I look at these posts and wonder how I found the time to write them!

TTTpages
Hidden Gems
novelp
Developing a Writing Routine
howiresistfeat
How I Resist | Anthology Review
Weekend Reads
Strange the Dreamer & Understanding Comics
The Sunshine Blogger Award (Take 2 & 3)
Blogoween (Level 1) Announcement!

➴ Blog Hopping

  • Briana opened up her 2018 book blogger survey to help get a sense of what the community considers “normal.”
  • I’ve been looking into bullet journaling and discovered this really inspiring little blog post from Olivia earlier this year.
  • Last week Clo introduced a new book blogger event called Blogoween and this week shared some more details for participants!
  • This week there were two posts that made me think about our international book bloggers. Clo got a conversation started about the consequences of the pre-dominance of the English language in publishing. Marie shared some answers about common questions international book bloggers receive about why it is so difficult to get books overseas.

➴ Novel Progress

Not really a writing update, but I updated my static Novel Progress page to list all the writing updates I’ve ever written on this blog. The most recent ones are actually linked, so feel free to marathon them if you’re ever feeling bored and/or have too much time on your hands!

Writing-wise, I had some writing sprints with my writing buddy on Saturday. I decided to start writing in a Google doc, so she could access what I write whenever she wants. I figure it will keep me accountable. Plus, it’s a backup of my work!

My short-time goal is to write 10 single-spaced pages by next weekend. I started a new prologue this weekend and I’m liking it so far, even if it does not read too plausibly yet. It’s an alternative universe fantasy, but grounded in world I want to feel real. I may need to read up on anthropology in the 1930s!

☙ ❧ END NOTE ❧ ☙

I’m gearing up Sunday for another busy week, but also trying to take time for myself to read and write without distraction. I feel like I’ve been blogging 24/7, whether it means working on blog posts, responding to comments, and reading other people blogs. I love it, but I don’t want it to take over my life. I may need to take a little time off this week to set some time frames for when I’ll be on WordPress!

Thank you for reading!
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Blogoween (Level 1) Announcement!

A week ago while blog hopping, I came across an announcement for  Blogoween , a fun new month-long book blogger event that will take place over the month of October co-hosted by Clo Book Dragons and Sam @ Fictionally Sam along with some of their friends. There will be multiple hosts and prompts for each day of October that will guide you on your creation of Halloween– and autumnthemed blog content for your blog!

SEE: Blogoween: Content, Hosts & Prompts & BLOGOWEEN 2018 [Announcement, Hosts + Prompts]

There are three levels of participation. You just need to pick one:

⟡ Level 1: Post any 13 days during October

⟡ Level 2: Post consecutively from October 24–31st

 Level 3: Post every single day in October (!)

I personally decided to pick Level 1, just so that I had more freedom with what prompts I’d like to do and also so that I would have time to write and produce anything else to supplement my posts (e.g. graphics). Also, from a cursory look at the prompts, I wasn’t sure I would be able to come up with something good for each day.

If you are uncertain which level would be best for you, I suggest brushing up on the rules and prompts. Once you’ve decided the level at which you would like to participate, you just need to do two things before October.

  1. Publish your blog post announcement of your plans, &
  2. Sign up on the hosts’ >Google sign up form< (which will ask for your level selection and the URL link of your announcement post)

My Prompt Selection + Schedule

I decided to list the  Blogoween  prompts I intend to use this month for my own records and also so you all will know you can expect in October! For the full list of prompts, see Clo’s post (linked above) and visit the blogs of each day’s specific host if you have any questions about the prompts.

I personally may interpret these prompts liberally where necessary suit the kind of posts I feel like writing! ^_^

Monday 1st  ← My own idea!
Prompt Title: My October Routine
Explanation: Things I like to do in October + plans for enjoying the season

Thursday 4th
Prompt Title: Top 5 Books about Witches
Explanation: List your Top 5 favorite books about witches

Saturday 6th
Prompt Title: An Evening of Mystery & Murder
Explanation: You are hosting a Halloween-themed dinner party and seven of your favourite morally gray fictional characters and/or villains have accepted your invitation. Sometime during the party there is a murder, and there are only seven suspects – you and your guests. Who did you invite, who was murdered, what was the murder weapon, and where in the house did it occur?

Monday 8th
Prompt Title: Gory Magical Sweet
Explanation: Create one or more snacks (sweet or savory) and a drink (if you want), all must be Halloween-themed. Should be created with a mix of common food elements and parts of our beloved mythical and magical creatures. Just to be clear: things like rainbow unicorn sparkles aren’t gory. Get morbid.

Tuesday 9th
Prompt Title: Bookish Monster Bender
Explanation: You’re transported in various book but a bad surprise awaits you. Everything is horror and death, because a monster version has taken over the story.

Wednesday 10th
Prompt Title: Local Supernaturals Who Demand A Book
Explanation: Share your local stories of ghosts, supernaturals and what happens round your area. Either where you live, or nearby; can also share your own personal scary experience. These are the stories which you think, deserve their own novel – could add a blurb to the story. Can share as many stories as you wish as long they’re: horror/supernatural/scary/ghostly/etc.

Friday 12th
Prompt Title: Loving the Monsters Always Ends Badly for the Human
Explanation: Exploring and recommending my favorite creatures – vampires!

Tuesday 16th (TTT Replacement)
Prompt Title: Love Spells
Explanation: Favorite ships at least one must be a supernatural creature

Tuesday 23rd ➝ Thursday 25th, so I can do regularly scheduled TTT
Prompt Title: Bonded, Bewitched, Drowned
Explanation: Halloween version of Kiss Marry Kill with your favorite characters

Saturday 27th
Prompt Title: Toil and Trouble
Explanation: Villain Halloween Theme – would you want a villain as a roommate, a villain as a companion in a haunted house, etc.

Monday 29th
Prompt Title: Halloween In A Fictional World
Explanation: Pick any fictional world that you’d love to experience Halloween in

Tuesday 30th
Prompt Title: Trapped With You
Explanation: Characters I’d want with me if I were trapped in a haunted house

Wednesday 31st
Prompt Title: The Veil Is Thin
Explanation: The 31st Oct is supposed to be a day when the veil between our world and the otherworld, is at its thinnest. As such, it was originally a day to ward of evil spirits; what spirits are you hoping to ward off? (e.g. paranormal characters, evil characters, writer’s block, procrastination, etc.)

☙ ❧ END NOTE ❧ ☙

I’m really excited about this event and hope you are too! Just in case anyone is wondering, I will be keeping up with my own personal blog schedule. There’s just an additional 13 posts related to  Blogoween  that you can now also expect. ^_^

Be sure to check out Clo’s blog posts (linked at the beginning of the post) for more information, as I only attempted to condense what I thought was the most important information in this post. Let me know in the comments below if you plan on participating or if there are any other October blogging festivities I should know about!

Thank you for reading!
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The Sunshine Blogger Award (Take 2 & 3) | Blog Tag

Last Sunday I was tagged for The Sunshine Blogger Award by the lovely LaRonda @ Flying Paperbacks. It’s been a while since I was tagged for anything, so I decided to give it a go. I also remembered I was tagged by Lori @ Lori’s bookshelf reads a couple of months ago and meant to save her tag for a rainy day. That day has come!

I like doing these every now and then since these are a great way to share stuff that may not come up organically in any other way on a book blog. ^_^

Fun fact: I’ve was actually first tagged for this specific award earlier this year. If you would like, you can check it out my answers to an additional set of questions here:

The Sunshine Blogger Award (Take 1)

The Rules

  1. Thank the person/persons that nominated you and link back to their blog
  2. Answer the questions your nominator has provided
  3. Nominate 11 other people and give them 11 new questions to answer
  4. List the rules and display the award

LaRonda’s Questions

1) What’s the last book you gave 5-stars?

My last 5-star read was a reread, so I don’t know if it counts. It’s Vassa in the Night by Sarah Porter, which I reviewed on the blog this summer (and have mentioned a bunch of times since…). The last 5-star read that was a first-time read was Sophie’s World by Jostein Gaarder. I also reviewed that one in April.

2) What’s your current favorite TV show?

You know what? I’m glad you asked! Atypical is my favorite T.V. show at the moment. The second season just premiered last Friday. It’s a fantastic Netflix original that features stellar cast. The main character is played by Kier Gilchrist who I recognized from the teen drama movie It’s Kind of a Funny Story (2010), which I saw when I was in high school.

I love this show’s representation teens with autism and the struggles families with children on the spectrum can face. It’s a family comedy with a lot of heart and is surprisingly well written. The storylines and characters feel so much more real that any others you generally see on television about teenagers. It’s also just so great to see healthy relationships represented in a T.V. show. This show is seriously under-rated and I highly recommend.

Also, I need a third season so consider it a personal favor to me if you give it a chance!

3) How long have you been blogging?

I started blogging in January of 2015, but had to stop when my first MacBook Pro died on me that summer. Between about . . . November 2015 and January 2018, I’d say my blog was not a big priority. I was very on-and-off about it. I also jumped between a lot of different blogs, even trying self-hosting for more control over my blog design and layout. It ended up being kind of a waste.

It wasn’t until January 2018 that I really got back into blogging and have been doing it steadily, although I do waver in motivation and direction occasionally. I do think I’m here for the long haul now, though. ^_^

4) What’s the color of your room?

White. I’ve never been allowed to paint my walls or even put many holes into it. A lot of my wall space is now covered by shelves, mirrors, and wall art help up by thumb tacks and Command strips.

5) Do you have a best friend at work/school?

I’ve never really had any one person I would consider a “best friend.” I’ve always had friends I could rely on from different social circles. Right now, I’d say my best friend is the only friend I have managed to stay in contact with from my undergraduate college who is also my writing buddy!

She’s the only close friend I’ve ever had that was serious about writing, so I think that’s why we’ve managed to keep our friendship alive. Most of friends throughout my life have been so different in personalities and interests, which is a good thing. But you should also try to find more friends with common goals and interests, even if it’s harder!

6) What’s a song people would be surprised you know all the words to?

None come to mind. If I know any by heart, they’re probably not all that surprising . . . like Disney songs.

7) Do you like romantic comedies?

Not as a rule, but I appreciate them when they’re amazing. Some of my all-time favorites include: Clueless (1995), 10 Things I Hate About You (1999), Miss Congeniality (2000), Legally Blonde (2001), My Big Fat Greek Wedding (2002), She’s the Man (2006), Knocked Up (2007), 27 Dresses (2008), He’s Just Not That Into You (2009), Easy A (2010), Bridesmaids (2011).

Well, now I feel like a marathon is in order!

8) Do you journal?

I love the idea of it, but I’m just not that consistent. I have been playing around with a new notebook this week in fact. The thing is I LOVE buying new notebooks . . . Dragons hoard gold and treasure. I hoard notebooks and stationary.

9) Who is your favorite celebrity or fictional couple?

Umm . . . Cory and Topanga . . .

10) If you had an endless budget for a vacation, what would you do?

I would travel by train throughout Europe eating at the best restaurants irregardless of price and buying all the souvenirs I want without worrying about needing to carry them with me. I wouldn’t carry anything with me. I’d buy all my essentials wherever I go, clothes included.

11) N/A

(I think LaRonda forgot to add an 11th question!)

Lori’s Questions

1) What’s Your Favorite go-to show?

I was going to say The Office, but to be honest, I haven’t felt compelled to binge-watch it in a few months. I might actually say Ouran High School Host Club! I first discovered it my last month of grad school when the stress levels were high, so it’ll probably always be a show I can watch whenever I need something silly and fun to watch.

2) What’s Your least favorite book that you sadly own?

There’s a few, but the most expensive ones are my old textbooks I never read and that have depreciated in value since I bought them. Plus, I can’t find a good place to get rid of them and re-pocket most of the money lost on them despite their excellent condition.

3) How many people in your everyday life do you talk to about books?

Exactly one. I have a writing buddy who doesn’t really read as much as I do, but welcomes my glowing recommendations whenever I have them. I’m the reason Leigh Bardugo is one of her favorite authors. And I’m only a little sore that she’s been able to meet her while I still haven’t >.>

4) What’s a Hyped book you’re not interested in reading?

I haven’t see it around much lately, and I’ll probably get heat for it, but When Dimple Met Rishi. And I say that completely based on the fact that I’m adverse to mention of dimples (I have them and hate how old people like to point them out) and I hate the book cover.

It’s completely a pet peeve of mine, but I hated whenever I went to class and had to sit next to girls who brought a sweaty drink in plastic cup to class. I hate the slurping sound when they are trying to get the last sips. I hate how disgusting the cup looks empty. I hate it when people talk with straws partially in their mouths. Not cute . . . not cute at all.

And yes, I realize I have a problem.

5) What’s Your biggest disappointment book- or movie-wise?

One of my biggest disappointments this year was A Court of Frost and Starlight. It was a beautiful cover and a novella from one of my all-time favorite New Adult fantasies, but it should never have been published as a book. It’s really hurt my opinion of SJM and is the reason I most likely will not be picking up her first foray in adult fantasy. I may be done with her books after Kingdom of Ash.

6) What Book that you’re excited to see turned into a movie?

I’m excited for The Hate U Give. I haven’t read the book yet, but I feel like it’s a good time for a movie that relates to young activists and the #BlackLivesMatter movement.

7) What’s your Favorite genre of music?

I just listen to whatever is on the radio. I’ve really enjoyed hip-hop and rap for the past year. Don’t ask me about favorite artists or songs! I mostly like the beats and how the music makes me I feel like a badass cruising through the streets.

8) Do you usually have a sweet tooth?

Not really. I crave sour and savory snacks more often. I do love the occasional pecan pie and cake (any kind) but only if it’s with a glass of milk. I rarely had cake at kid parties growing up because the parents didn’t offer milk . . .

9) What’s the Most popular book you haven’t read yet?

I haven’t read anything by Cassandra Clare . . . I feel like the hype for those books are insane, but I’ve not heard good things from my brother, who isn’t a big reader but whose opinion I value. Also, from skimming the wikis on the book, the stories don’t sound the least bit interesting to me.

The most recent books sound good, but I don’t feel comfortable jumping into that world at this point. I’ve not been given a good reason to try, anyway.

10) Where do you blog?

I blog primarily from my bedroom. When I was in college, I’d blog around campus and in-between classes. If I had a more active life, I’d probably blog more outside of my house. As it is, I don’t really like to take my MacBook Pro out in the wild.

11) Do you like exercising?

I hate to be that annoying person, but yes, I do like to exercise. Once you get over your body’s initial shock to the exercise, it can be quite relaxing and satisfying to do. I like to do the elliptical at home with my iPad and earphones. I can watch Netflix and YouTube, so the time goes faster. It’s something I look forward to if I have a long queue of videos that I can’t justify watching in the middle of the day. I also like walking my dog when the weather’s nice.

My Questions

I recycled some juicy questions from past tags and added some that may inspire lots of discussion! (I understand if answering these questions seem like big commitment!)

  1. Which fictional character do you think best represents you?
  2. What book do you most regret ever having bought?
  3. If you watch BookTube, who are some of your favorite creators?
  4. Who gave you your love of reading?
  5. Do you prefer in-person or online book clubs?
  6. How do you organize your upcoming blog posts?
  7. What do you think of fans who write angry letters/direct messages to an author?
  8. How would you try to convert an non-reader into a reader?
  9. If you could frame one book cover and hang it up in your house, which cover would it be?
  10. Which fictional character do you love that you think would be horrible in real life?
  11. What’s one of your favorite blog posts that you would like to receive a little more love?

I tag:

Sara| Elle | Dani| Eline | Larissa | CzaiCharleigh | Daniel | Samantha | Caidyn/Chantel | Marie

☙ ❧ END NOTE ❧ ☙

So today was Learn-Weird-Things-About-Lori Day. Thanks again to LaRonda and (my name-twin) Lori for tagging me. It was a lot of fun to answer these questions as completely and honestly as possible. And hopefully any of my blog’s latest followers got to know me a little bit better, since it’s been a while since I’ve done one of these!

I did get tagged again this week, so there will be another fun one next Saturday! In case you missed it, yesterday I posted my Weekend Reads. This Sunday I have two posts to share with you about exciting things!

Thank you for reading!
Follow my blog via Bloglovin’. Also find me on GoodreadsTwitter, and Instagram.

Feels Like a Renaissance | Week in Review

Welcome back to my Week in Review, the weekly feature where I share went down on the blog this week and what’s been going on behind-the-scenes. It’s been a surprisingly great week where creativity has been soaring. I go through ups and downs when it comes to blogging and how much time and work I want to put into it. Right now, I’m loving it again!

I’ve also finally started blog hopping again, which has reminded me how good it can feel to get involved in bookish discussions and share in the celebrations of other bloggers’ personal and blogging accomplishments!

I’m also feeling more comfortable in my new job. I’ve made a really good friend in one of my co-workers. I also just feel more confident interacting with the kids. My job can be so much fun, because it’s literally playing games with kids. Yes, I’m often playing peace-keeper and disciplinarian, but I think of it as a benefit that I’m able to hone these leadership skills in such a safe and supportive environment.

➴ This Week on Betwined Reads . . .

This week I was extremely productive, and no one is more surprised than I am! I managed to prepare three blog posts this week. Thursday’s post “Happy National Read-a-Book Day” was actually developed completely on the fly, I had no idea the day was coming up. It’s great know I can whip up a blog post idea one morning and have it up in the afternoon. Not that I want to do it all the time!

novelp
How I Plotted Troubling a Star
TheGreatAmericanRead
Happy National Read-a-Book Day!
Weekend Reads
The Weekend Experiment

➴ Blog Housekeeping

This week I came up with some featured images I can use for Novel Progress and Weekend Reads. I don’t see myself using them long-term, but they work for now as I continue to work on my design skills. The thing about creating my own images is that it takes a lot of time to accomplish very little.

Ultimately, I’d like all my graphics to be completely original and have similar elements (e.g. color scheme, art style) across the board that connect them visually to me and my blog. Right now, I feel like I’m trying to figure out what I like.

I’d like to start sharing resources and tips on simple graphic design tools once I get better at this. I expect Mondays will eventually alternate as a day for Lifestyle and How To-style posts.

My aim is also to ultimately be able to knock out a few blog posts during the weekend before they’re scheduled to go up (or earlier), just so I have more free time for reading, writing, and spontaneity during the week before work. I think it will become easier once less time needs to be dedicated to creating graphics.

➴ Novel Progress

Last week I talked about how I plotted my current WIP (How I Plotted Troubling a Star | Novel Progress). This week I will be talking about how I’m developing a writing routine. So that’s been one of my priorities this weekend. The hardest thing about writing is sitting down and sticking with your story in face of so many distractions. I think it’s easier when you know you’re not alone, so my hope is this week’s post will inspire others to dedicate the time required to finish their WIPs.

☙ ❧ END NOTE ❧ ☙

I have four posts planned for this week (Tuesday–Friday) that I’ve been working on this weekend so that they may go up earlier than last week’s posts. I want to see if there’s a difference in views and engagement depending on when the posts go live, as I have blog readers who live all over the world (Hi!).

However, this might turn out to be a tough week. My mom will be having a major foot operation on Monday (funnily enough, my dad’s birthday), so I don’t know yet how that will affect my productivity. She’ll need to stay off her feet and, unfortunately, my mom tends to be one of those people who doesn’t like to be miserable alone. So I’m sure there will be some tension in the house this week. :S

Thank you for reading!
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A Quick Update | August 9th

aquickupdate

Hello! I kind of disappeared last week without saying anything or even finishing up blog posts I wanted to go live this weekend. I’d like to chalk it up to blog burn-out, but really it was just that I didn’t get a lot done last week. I was tired all the time (probably because I was working out about twice a day) and watching a lot of YouTube in between naps.

I’ve discovered a lot of new YouTube channels over the past couple of weeks. Shane Dawson has been a favorite of mine since the end of the last year when he started doing more personal, heart-felt videos. More recently through him, I’ve discovered James Charles and Jeffree Star. So there’s been a lot of binge-watching these creators old videos! And I don’t even really wear makeup so let’s just let that speak to their personalities, creativity, and work ethic, which are all reasons I’ve been enjoying and feeling inspired by their videos.

It’s kind of embarrassing how I let myself get derailed from the blog so quickly. That’s actually why I think I was getting a little burned out. I’m on a never-ending quest to strike the right balance between blogging about life and actually living my life. Consider it a theme of Betwined Reads!

So before I left for my trip to the Rio Grande Valley, I had three posts mostly written. The only reason I did not publish them is because I hadn’t created featured images for them. I just don’t like posts to go up without any visuals. I wanted to try something new for this month, but never gave myself the time to work on them.

I’m not sure if it’s worth posting them now. Does anyone want to see super late July Notes ➴ and August Goals + TBR ➹ posts? They’d require some revision at this point…

      Immediate Plans   ➵ 

I was going to go into this in my August Goals + TBR ➹, but since it’s not up yet I figure I’ll announce it here and now: I am seriously going to kick up the job search this month. I feel like this year has been me trying to feel like myself again, without the crutch of school to give me a stronger sense of self-worth or identity. It’s time for me to join the world of the living and working.

I’m not saying the blog is going to take a back seat, but I don’t want to stretch myself thin with everything I want/need to do. That being said, I’m not sure I want to be publishing a lot of blog posts each week. I’m not someone who can start a post and publish it all in the same day. Generally, I like to sit on a blog post for a day or two to make sure I’m happy sending it out into the world like a little fragile little sail boat going into the unknown.

I feel like sometimes I do a lot more work than I need to for things that should be straight forward and simple, so my goal for today (8/9) and this weekend is to make sure everything I do moving forward on this blog I can do with pleasure and pride. I have a lot more free time than the average person, but with so much that I want to do it can still feel like I don’t have enough!

❧ ☙ Final Note ☙ ❧

I don’t want to commit to a schedule in this post, because I’ve not given my posts a serious thought yet. I wanted to do a quick little update just so you know I haven’t fallen off the face of the earth! I think things will be back to normal (or a new normal) by the start of next week! I just need a few days to reflect and establish a new schedule/work flow.

Thank you for reading!
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Some of My Favorite (Book) Bloggers

Here it is! The long-awaited post I’ve been promising for over a month now. Today I’m sharing a short list of blogs that I am currently loving. These are the blogs inspire me to grow and be my best. Originally, I was just going to share the blogs that I discovered specifically in June and were relatively low in their follower count, but I realized early in June that the blogs that I’m most loving are for the most part ahead of me by leaps and bounds!

Making this post was a lot harder than I originally thought it would be. From the beginning I knew I didn’t want to just list blogs and provide no explanation. Also, the more time passed the more that I felt I should include. I even had to reassess the list of blogs I originally intended to showcase because I eventually found I was not as enamored with some of these blogs as I originally thought.

The blogs I share below all share a few factors. I think these blogs are incredibly well written, conversational, and for the most part visually captivating (even if they’re relatively simple). The bloggers post what feels like really authentic and original content (even if they do a lot of memes). I’m attracted to the friendly and thoughtful personalities I detect behind these blogs. And, finally, I feel like I can trust their opinions on the books they read and review.

~ Epitomes of the Bookish Lifestyle Aesthetic ~

I don’t remember how I stumbled upon the first two of these bloggers. It was around the time of BookCon in NYC and I was just finding so many wonderful posts that recapped the event on their blogs. After investigating their blogs, I found these two are good pals and do a lot of collaborative and creative posts that are fantastic. They talk books, but they also talk NYC restaurants and culture. Their blogs and lives are so dreamy.

• Hello, Chelly 

• Alexa Loves Books

~ Co-Blogging Virtuosos ~

Of Wonderland • I don’t know how they work, but I’m amazed when I discover blogs are run by more than one person. My old book blogging pal Ely has jumped from a couple of collaborative blogs in the time I’ve know her, most recently becoming a part of the terrific Of Wonderland team. I’ve since also become friendly with book blogger with Inge, another of Of Wonderland‘s super kind and friendly bloggers. I highly recommend checking out this gorgeous blog.

~ SuperHeroes of Book Blogging ~

I think I was following all of these blogs long before I made my return to blogging this year and I feel like I would be depriving anyone who is not already familiar with these blogs from the greatness that these blogs exude. I call them superheroes because not only do they produce so much blog content on a variety of thought-provoking, interesting topics that also are such lovely bloggers who regularly reach out and comment on others’ blogs, even complete newbies like me. They are literally pillars of this community.

The Orangutan Librarian  •

The Bibliophagist

Drizzle and Hurricane Books  •

~ Voices of Distinction ~

Rose Petal Pages • I love Cailin’s blog aesthetic. I like that the books she talks about are a mixture of new releases and also classics that I would personally be likely to read. I find her writing style so concise and clear in portraying her thoughts about the books she reveals and the way they made her feel. Her reviews are amongst my favorite. I look forward to seeing where she takes her blog (she just started in April)!

Novel Ink • I don’t always like blogs that review a lot of ARCs on their blogs, mostly because I find they sugarcoat books or overemphasis a book’s good or (more often) simply mediocre qualities often while ignoring the bad, but I actually find Madalyn’s reviews really helpful in getting a good sense of a book. Her critiques are really thoughtful and actually useful for me in determining if I might like the book. I really just vibe with her writing style and taste in books.

E, My Narrative • Emma’s blog is a real treat. It’s unlike your regular, standard book blog. She doesn’t rely on blog tags, she isn’t overly hyperbolic. She’s a voice I feel like I can trust. Like many of my favorite blogs, the books she talks about are a mixture of new releases and older/underhyped books (she gets major points for talking about Agatha Christie)! I feel like we have similar sensibilities in our writing (or maybe that’s all in my head), which is why I’m so drawn to her posts!

Flickering Lights • I think she’s been away on holiday, but Kristin’s blog is really elegant and her insights are really precise and thoughtful. Sometimes just reading her quick thoughts on books from her TBR convince me they are worth reading, even if I’d already written the book of as something I wasn’t interested in. I do so hope she comes back! I think she has a great future in book blogging ahead of her.

Reading Peaches • Anna is one of those bloggers who you can just tell is really well read. Her specialty, in my opinion, is her book recommendations based around a specific genre, theme, or miscellaneous element. Her recommendations go beyond your big name, new releases and the over-hyped books that you see pop up in post after post in your WordPress Reader or Bloglovin’ feeds. Chances are you can go her to her blog and find something that is just right for your specific interest or need!

Paper Blots • I adore her long-style blog posts. I like that I often come away with notes about her culture (e.g. food) and interests. She covers a lot of ground in her posts, which makes them super fun reads. And her books discussions don’t get bogged down with too many details; she great at sticking to highlights. I also really appreciate her honesty in calling out problematic books and/or tropes. I really appreciate bloggers who aren’t afraid to share if they don’t like a book (and the reasons why).

Sparkling Letters • Puput is the Indonesian blogger behind this lovely blog. It’s another one of those elegant, well-written blogs that provide just lovely descriptive reviews. It’s clear she puts a lot of work and love into her blog posts and it shows. She took a break from blogging for a little while, but she’s back and with a really healthy outlook towards blogging that I admire. I also hearing reading about her specific perspective as a book blogger who lives on the other side of the world.

~ Personality-Based, Non-Book BlogGERs ~

I feel like I would be remiss if I didn’t share the blogs I follow that I also love and read almost every time a new post of theirs pops up in my feeds. These are not book bloggers, nor are they even known specifically for blogging. They are blogs that I love because I admire the people behind them.

Anna Saccone I discovered Anna through the SacconeJolys’ vlog channel around Fall 2013, when they had just Emilia and Eduardo and were new to England. To be honest, I found her a little cold and mean at first, but then I grew to love her and she’s like the closest thing I have to a role model in my adult life. We don’t have much in common, we don’t even really have the same tastes in fashion or style, but I actually feel like we’re closer in personality than I originally thought and admire her vulnerable side. Also, she’s the first person who ever made me think maybe I’d like to be a mom one day.

Kristina Horner Kristina is an OG YouTuber that I remember from when I was just discovering the breadth of YouTube in college (~ 2012). I’ve love going through her backlog and seeing what awesome stuff she was doing from a young age . (Oh, how I wish I had her confidence and good humor growing up!) I discovered she had a blog a couple of years ago and decided to follow it because she talks a lot more about her writing there, and we share that interest. She doesn’t vlog or blog much these days, but I’m still holding out hope she’ll find a way to come back and have fun.

Marzia Bisognin • Marzia is a Brighton-based Italian YouTube content creator who started her vlog as an alternative place to share more personal things in greater detail than she is comfortable on YouTube where she has a massive following because of her boyfriend Felix (a.k.a. PewDiePie). I love her creative projects and vlogging style. I’ve found a lot of inspiration to write creepy, strange, beautiful stories from her and be creator in a larger sense as well. She’s living the dream!

❧ ☙ END NOTE ☙ ❧

In case you missed them, this post is kind of a conclusion to the blog hopping series I did in June (see “Blog Hopping in June” and “The Follow Up to Blog Hopping in June“). I discovered a good many of these book blogs during that time and some in July that I included since it took me so long to get this post together!

I was surprised by the interest in this post, and it intimidated me for a while there. I’m glad I’ve now done it! I even think it’d be nice to do one of these at least once a year, just because I like to think that there are even more great bloggers out there that I’m not yet aware of because they’re still growing and finding their legs.

What qualities do your favorite book blogs share? Do you think you could list some of your favorite bloggers off the top of your head? 

Thank you for reading!
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