A Howl’s Moving Castle Spread | April Bullet Journal

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.

THE WEEKLYS

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’s hat 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 ^_^

Thank you for reading!
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An Absolutely Remarkable Thing | Weekend Reads

Happy Friday! Every Friday on Weekend Reads I try to kick off the weekend off talking about what I read the week previous and what I hope to read over the weekend. I’ve not been doing much reading lately, but I do hope to turn that around this month.

I’ve been watching a lot of television once I get home from work in the evening and by that time I’m usually already very tired. I wake up early so I can be productive in the morning, but I’ve also had a lot of errands to run related to my job, my mom’s post-op appointments, and my upcoming nasal surgery (10/17). But I’ve also been hard at work on my novel!

Nevertheless, I really want to read some more. As I’m writing, I keep thinking about my writing style and which authors I would like to emulate. Reading similar works while writing my novel helps a lot, so I want to try to finish up my current read so I can pick up some fantasy again!

anabsolutelyI started An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green after I finished Howl’s Moving Castle the weekend after its debut. It took me a little while to get accustomed to the narrator’s voice, but I’m very much invested now in the mystery of the story. The only thing I’m struggling with is that the protagonist is clearly making dumb decisions but unwilling to stop it. It’s one of my pet peeves in books. I often just can’t relate.

But I do think there’s a lot of fascinating details about the nature and navigation of internet fame. The book goes into detail about how agents and other behind-the-scenes managers help entertainers cash in on their notoriety. It’s super icky but also understandable why people want to take advantage of opportunities that they may never see again.

 ☙ ❧ END NOTE ❧ ☙

This weekend I hope to post my next installment of NaNoWriMo Prep, the first of which went up this past Wednesday (OctoWriMo | NaNoWriMo Prep). I’m sorry I’ve not been too active in the blogosphere, but I hope to make up for it now that I have a better handle on all the stuff I’m up to.

I’ll have about a week off after my surgery next Wednesday, and it sounds like I won’t be able to do much else but read, write, and blog. So that should be fun!

What are you reading this weekend?

Thank you for reading!
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A Quick Blog Update | Weekend Reads

Happy Friday! Every Friday on Weekend Reads I like to kick off the weekend off talking about what I read the week previous and what I hope to read over the weekend. My reading has not been going swimmingly, however, so I just wanted to put up this post and be honest about what’s been going on this week.

I loved being so active in the blogosphere last week, and while I wouldn’t say that I got burnt out, I did feel like taking some time for myself this week to breathe. I’ve been getting settled in a new routine where writing, working out, and the job search are at the forefront.

On the reading front, I’ve yet to finish Howl’s Moving Castle. But I like to think it’s because I’ve been writing more than reading this week, which, honestly, is not a bad trade-off! But after I finish Howl’s, I intend to get on with the books I talked about last Friday (see: Heist Society Read-A-Thon).

 ☙ ❧ END NOTE ❧ ☙

This weekend I will be back to posting as normal! Saturday I will be sharing my TBR Book Tag and Sunday I will be sharing what I’ve been up to this week beyond the blog in my Week in Review. Other than that, I just want to prepare for next week so there’s more up on the blog. September has been a fantastic month and I want to end it on a high note. ^_^

What are you reading this weekend?

Thank you for reading!
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Books on My Fall TBR | Top Ten Tuesday

Welcome back to Betwined Reads! In an effort to become a little active in the bookish community, I decided to participate in the occasional Top Ten Tuesday. It’s a weekly meme that was created by The Broke and the Bookish but now is run by Jana @ That Artsy Reader Girl. Each week book bloggers share their top ten picks that relate to the theme for the week.

This week’s theme is Books on My Fall TBR. I was initially on the fence about participating this week, just because I’ve stopped making my monthly TBRs. I stopped not because I don’t like TBRs but because I just realized I wasn’t really following through with them anymore. Also, I’ve not been super goal-oriented when it comes to reading lately.

However, I realized there are a lot of books I am actually pretty sure I’ll be reading this fall, some of them upcoming releases! So here is my last big TBR for a while (probably until winter). I feel like it’s a safe list, as it also includes some rereads. ^_^

As usual book covers are linked to the corresponding Goodreads page for each book.

 An Absolutely Remarkable Thing

 An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green
 New Adult / Contemporary/ Mystery

The Carls just appeared. Coming home from work at three a.m., twenty-three-year-old April May stumbles across a giant sculpture. Delighted by its appearance and craftsmanship–like a ten-foot-tall Transformer wearing a suit of samurai armor–April and her friend Andy make a video with it, which Andy uploads to YouTube. The next day April wakes up to a viral video and a new life. News quickly spreads that there are Carls in dozens of cities around the world–everywhere from Beijing to Buenos Aires–and April, as their first documentarian, finds herself at the center of an intense international media spotlight.

Now April has to deal with the pressure on her relationships, her identity, and her safety that this new position brings, all while being on the front lines of the quest to find out not just what the Carls are, but what they want from us.

I’ve been watching the vlogbrothers since 2012 (oh my gosh, it’s hard to believe that’s 6 years ago now!). Their channel is actually how I became aware of John Green, the YA author now so well known. While I don’t really love John’s books (although, Turtles All the Way Down sounds much more up my alley), I was really intrigued by the premise of Hank’s debut novel.

I’ve been following his process of writing and journey to publication on his channel, so I’m just so excited to show him support and get my hands on what sounds like a really great book!

⟡ Kingdom of Ash

⟡ Kingdom of Ash by Sarah J. Maas
 New Adult / Fantasy 

Years in the making, Sarah J. Maas’s #1 New York Times bestselling Throne of Glass series draws to an epic, unforgettable conclusion. Aelin Galathynius’s journey from slave to king’s assassin to the queen of a once-great kingdom reaches its heart-rending finale as war erupts across her world. . .

Aelin has risked everything to save her people―but at a tremendous cost. Locked within an iron coffin by the Queen of the Fae, Aelin must draw upon her fiery will as she endures months of torture. Aware that yielding to Maeve will doom those she loves keeps her from breaking, though her resolve begins to unravel with each passing day…

With Aelin captured, Aedion and Lysandra remain the last line of defense to protect Terrasen from utter destruction. Yet they soon realize that the many allies they’ve gathered to battle Erawan’s hordes might not be enough to save them. Scattered across the continent and racing against time, Chaol, Manon, and Dorian are forced to forge their own paths to meet their fates. Hanging in the balance is any hope of salvation―and a better world.

And across the sea, his companions unwavering beside him, Rowan hunts to find his captured wife and queen―before she is lost to him forever.

As the threads of fate weave together at last, all must fight, if they are to have a chance at a future. Some bonds will grow even deeper, while others will be severed forever in the explosive final chapter of the Throne of Glass series.

I first read Throne of Glass in 2015 and I’m so ready to see how Sarah J. Maas wraps up this series this October! The series has gone through so many ups and downs. I feel like the first book, while comical in its attempt at brevity, ended on a really strong note and each subsequent book (excluding Tower of Dawn) has been better than the last. So I’m optimistic for this book!

 It 

⟡ It by Stephen King
⟡ Classic / Horror

Welcome to Derry, Maine. It’s a small city, a place as hauntingly familiar as your own hometown. Only in Derry the haunting is real.

They were seven teenagers when they first stumbled upon the horror. Now they are grown-up men and women who have gone out into the big world to gain success and happiness. But the promise they made twenty-eight years ago calls them reunite in the same place where, as teenagers, they battled an evil creature that preyed on the city’s children. Now, children are being murdered again and their repressed memories of that terrifying summer return as they prepare to once again battle the monster lurking in Derry’s sewers.

I bought this book last year after seeing the movie. I was intrigued to find the 2017 movie was just the first part of a planned series. I’m in awe of the cast they’ve assembled to play the kids’ grown up counterparts, so I really would like to go into the next movie knowing what to expect!

I tried starting this book last year, but I found it really slow. Sometimes I’m in the mood for slow, but I wasn’t then. I want to keep this book at easy access this fall, but I think there’s no better time to read some horror than leading up to Halloween!

⟡ The Young Unicorns – Reread!

⟡ The Young Unicorns by Madeleine L’Engle
YA / Contemporary (70/80s)

The Austins are trying to settle into their new life in New York City, but their once close-knit family is pulling away from each other. Their father spends long hours alone in his study working on the research project that brought the family to the city. John is away at college. Rob is making friends with people in the neighborhood: newspaper vendors, dog walkers, even the local rabbi. Suzy is blossoming into a vivacious young woman. And Vicky has become closer to Emily Gregory, a blind and brilliant young musician, than to her sister Suzy.
With the Austins going in different directions, they don’t notice that something sinister is going on in their neighborhood—and it’s centered around them. A mysterious genie appears before Rob and Emily. A stranger approaches Vicky in the park and calls her by name. Members of a local gang are following their father. The entire Austin family is in danger. If they don’t start telling each other what’s going on, someone just might get killed.

I tried reading this book earlier this year, but from the first page knew I’d rather save it for fall. So I’m excited to reread it finally and see how it holds up. I’ve only read it as an adult, so I don’t see my thoughts changing very much. But I feel like I may be able to glean something new from this book from a writer’s perspective.

 Breakfast at Tiffany’s

⟡ Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote
 Literary Fiction / Classic

It’s New York in the 1940s, where the martinis flow from cocktail hour till breakfast at Tiffany’s. And nice girls don’t, except, of course, Holly Golightly. Pursued by Mafia gangsters and playboy millionaires, Holly is a fragile eyeful of tawny hair and turned-up nose, a heart-breaker, a perplexer, a traveller, a tease. She is irrepressibly ‘top banana in the shock department’, and one of the shining flowers of American fiction.

This edition also contains three stories: ‘House of Flowers’, ‘A Diamond Guitar’ and ‘A Christmas Memory’.

I forget which month I initially share this book on my TBR, but I know I’d like to read it by the end of the this year! I’ve owned it for a few years now and it’s just one I feel I’m so ready for. I’m a proper adult, I’d like to see how the story compares to the movie I watched in high school. I’m also interested in the short story structure.

6  The Democratic Surround

 The Democratic Surround by Fred Turner
 Non-fiction / Academic

We commonly think of the psychedelic sixties as an explosion of creative energy and freedom that arose in direct revolt against the social restraint and authoritarian hierarchy of the early Cold War years. Yet, as Fred Turner reveals in The Democratic Surround, the decades that brought us the Korean War and communist witch hunts also witnessed an extraordinary turn toward explicitly democratic, open, and inclusive ideas of communication and with them new, flexible models of social order. Surprisingly, he shows that it was this turn that brought us the revolutionary multimedia and wild-eyed individualism of the 1960s counterculture.

In this prequel to his celebrated book From Counterculture to Cyberculture, Turner rewrites the history of postwar America, showing how in the 1940s and ’50s American liberalism offered a far more radical social vision than we now remember. Turner tracks the influential mid-century entwining of Bauhaus aesthetics with American social science and psychology. From the Museum of Modern Art in New York to the New Bauhaus in Chicago and Black Mountain College in North Carolina, Turner shows how some of the most well-known artists and intellectuals of the forties developed new models of media, new theories of interpersonal and international collaboration, and new visions of an open, tolerant, and democratic self in direct contrast to the repression and conformity associated with the fascist and communist movements. He then shows how their work shaped some of the most significant media events of the Cold War, including Edward Steichen’s Family of Man exhibition, the multimedia performances of John Cage, and, ultimately, the psychedelic Be-Ins of the sixties. Turner demonstrates that by the end of the 1950s this vision of the democratic self and the media built to promote it would actually become part of the mainstream, even shaping American propaganda efforts in Europe.

Overturning common misconceptions of these transformational years, The Democratic Surround shows just how much the artistic and social radicalism of the sixties owed to the liberal ideals of Cold War America, a democratic vision that still underlies our hopes for digital media today.

This one is a bit ambitious! I have a lot of books I bought for grad school that I still think would be terrific reads. I’m interested in this one right now because I’m really interested in art’s role in culture. Art is becoming a theme in my WIP and I want to see if this book informs anything in the story or maybe even in my own life as a creator.

 Akata Warrior

 Akata Warrior by Nnedi Okorafor
YA / Fantasy / Contemporary / Nigerian

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 mysteries town of Osisi, where she will fight a climactic battle to save humanity.

Much-honored Nnedi Okorafor, winner of the Hugo, Nebula, and World Fantasy awards, merges today’s Nigeria with a unique world she creates. Akata Warrior blends mythology, fantasy, history and magic into a compelling tale that will keep readers spellbound.

This one has also been on one of my most recent TBRs! I read the first book earlier this year and adored it. I bought the sequel one day on a whim, even knowing the book covers would not match. I’m very eager to continue this story. It’s very much going be a pleasure to read once I finally decide to prioritize it!

 The Promise

 The Promise by Chaim Potok
 Literary Fiction

Young Reuven Malter is unsure of himself and his place in life. An unconventional scholar, he struggles for recognition from his teachers. With his old friend Danny Saunders—who himself had abandoned the legacy as the chosen heir to his father’s rabbinical dynasty for the uncertain life of a healer—Reuvan battles to save a sensitive boy imprisoned by his genius and rage. Painfully, triumphantly, Reuven’s understanding of himself, though the boy change, as he starts to approach the peace he has long sought…

The Promise might have been on my last TBR…Don’t check me on that! It’s the follow up to The Chosen, a book I love so very much. I’m not sure what to expect from a grown up Danny and Rueven, but I feel like it will be a worth-while read. Maybe something that gives me a different perspective on life. Honestly, I feel like I’ve been saving this one for a special occasion, maybe a time of despair. I feel like I’m due a depressive streak, so I may ending up picking this one up pretty soon ^_^

 Six of Crows (Duology) – Rereads!

 Six of Crows & Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo
 YA / Fantasy

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.

Six dangerous outcasts. One impossible heist. Kaz’s crew is the only thing that might stand between the world and destruction—if they don’t kill each other first.

So I know Six of Crows in infinitely rereadable. But the thing is, I’ve only read the second book in the duology, Crooked Kingdom, once, and that was when it first came out. So I’m ready to revisit this world and series to tide myself over until the release of King of Scars next year! I may also need to pick up the Grisha trilogy by the end of the year . . .

10  The Curse Workers (Trilogy) – Rereads!

 White Cat, Red Glove, & Black Heart by Holly Black
⟡ YA / Contemporary / Urban Fantasy

Cassel comes from a family of curse workers: people who have the power to change your emotions, your memories, your luck, by the slightest touch of their hands. And since curse work is illegal, they’re all criminals. Many become mobsters and con artists. But not Cassel. He hasn’t got magic, so he’s an outsider; the straight kid in a crooked family. You just have to ignore one small detail – he killed his best friend, Lila, three years ago.

Cassel has carefully built up a facade of normalcy, blending into the crowd. But his facade starts to crumble when he finds himself sleepwalking, propelled into the night by terrifying dreams about a white cat that wants to tell him something. He’s noticing other disturbing things, too, including the strange behavior of his two brothers. They are keeping secrets from him. As Cassel begins to suspect he’s part of a huge con game, he must unravel his past and his memories. To find out the truth, Cassel will have to outcon the conmen.

I marathoned this series last October or November; I forget. But I never talked about them much on the blog, so they’ve been on my mind all year as books I’d like to reread and talk about now that my blog has been revitalized. I think these books are under-rated and I’d love to have fun following Cassel navigate his life and love in a criminal family.

☙ ❧ END NOTE ❧ ☙

So this is the list of books I plan to read this fall! I’m really excited in particular about An Absolutely Remarkable Thing and Kingdom of Ash, as I’ve been waiting for them to come out for what feels like a very long time. I’m also really excited to get to a few of my other picks that you might’ve seen on some of my past TBRs this year.

When I don’t complete a TBR, it’s not usually because I’ve lost interest in those books. It’s just that other books become more urgent reads in the moment, ya know?

What are some of your most anticipated fall reads?

Thank you for reading!
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Heist Society Read-A-Thon | Weekend Reads

Happy Friday! Every Friday on Weekend Reads I like to kick off the weekend off talking about what I read the week previous and what I hope to read over the weekend. Last week I mentioned I would be observing my reading habits closely over the weekend. I ended up carrying my “experiment” over the week.

As ambitious my reading plans, I’ve realized a few things about myself as a reader. First, I’d say I treat each book I’m reading like a little project. I find I focus a lot of my mental energy on it, so much so that I don’t really find it that easy to tear my attention away and direct it towards other things. So even if the two books are completely different, I prefer not to read them at the same time.

Also, reading is not always the most attractive option to me when I have only a couple of hours to spare. I find reading works best for me when I have a longer stretch of time. So first thing in the morning if I woke up early and night-time after I’ve gotten ready for bed seemed to work best during the week. But I don’t like to read lying down much anymore, so I do find myself trying to sit up against my wall or in my comfy chair.

So I’m not most voracious reader anymore, but I don’t mind. I still love buying new books on special occasions and spending time regularly each month on a new read, but I’m not numbers motivated anymore. I’m not even really motivated to write reviews anymore, except when I’m sharing a book I think is really special.

I will continue to consider myself first and foremost a book blogger, but I’ll take pleasure in representing the more chill side of the bookish community. ^_^

 ●  ● Books Read ●  ●  

Last weekend I only started one book, Howl’s Moving Castle, and I’ve been reading it slowly all week. This book is a reread, so there’s no inherent urgency to devour the story. I’m just reading it for pure pleasure, as it’s been a few years since I last picked it up. I am really enjoying it and think I will finish it today (Friday) after work.

 ●  ● Books To Read ●  ●  

Finally! The title gets explained! Yes, I’m planning on having myself a little Heist Society read-a-thon this weekend. It’s not a part of a specific event. It’s just something I thought might be fun to do. I’ve been wanting to read these books since I bought them earlier this year and it finally feels like a great time to pick them up.

I’m hoping it will be a similar experience to last year when I read The Curse Workers trilogy. I don’t think I ever ended up talking much about those books, but I adored them. I was able to breeze through that series and really enjoy the ride.

Right now, I really just want to read fun books. I’ve completed my Goodreads Reading Challenge and there’s nothing stopping me!

 ☙ ❧ END NOTE ❧ ☙

Next week I will participating in Top Ten Tuesday again! The theme is your fall TBR, and since I’m not really doing TBRs at the start of each month anymore, I figured it’s a great opportunity to share some books I could see myself reading this season. But before that I have three blog posts planned for this weekend, so you’ll be hearing a lot more from me very soon! ^_^

What are you reading this weekend?

Have you read the Heist Society books? If so, what did you think?!

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

Hidden Gems | Top Ten Tuesday

Welcome back to Betwined Reads! In an effort to become a little active in the community, I decided to participate in the occasional Top Ten Tuesday. It’s a weekly meme that was created by The Broke and the Bookish but now is run by Jana @ That Artsy Reader Girl. Each week participants share their top ten picks that relate to the set theme.

This week’s theme is Hidden Gems. In other words, books that you think deserve more recognition. One of my favorite things to do on this blog is share books I think deserve more recognition, so some of you may recognize some of the books I share today. But I’ve also tried to select range of books I think are slightly underrated!

Book covers are linked to the corresponding Goodreads page for each book.

 Vassa in the Night

 Vassa in the Night by Sarah Porter 
YA / Horror / Fairytale Retelling 
 If you are in the mood to read a book that is odd and at times seemingly absurd
 If you like fantasy stories in urban settings

In the enchanted kingdom of Brooklyn, the fashionable people put on cute shoes, go to parties in warehouses, drink on rooftops at sunset, and tell themselves they’ve arrived. A whole lot of Brooklyn is like that now—but not Vassa’s working-class neighborhood.

In Vassa’s neighborhood, where she lives with her stepmother and bickering stepsisters, one might stumble onto magic, but stumbling away again could become an issue. Babs Yagg, the owner of the local convenience store, has a policy of beheading shoplifters—and sometimes innocent shoppers as well. So when Vassa’s stepsister sends her out for light bulbs in the middle of night, she knows it could easily become a suicide mission.

But Vassa has a bit of luck hidden in her pocket, a gift from her dead mother. Erg is a tough-talking wooden doll with sticky fingers, a bottomless stomach, and a ferocious cunning. With Erg’s help, Vassa just might be able to break the witch’s curse and free her Brooklyn neighborhood. But Babs won’t be playing fair…

⟡ The Westing Game

⟡ The Westing Game by Ellen Ruskin
Middle Grade / Mystery / Classic
 If you want a quick read
⟡ If you like Agatha Christie-style murder mysteries

A bizarre chain of events begins when sixteen unlikely people gather for the reading of Samuel W. Westing’s will. And though no one knows why the eccentric, game-loving millionaire has chosen a virtual stranger – and a possible murderer – to inherit his vast fortune, one thing’s for sure: Sam Westing may be dead… but that won’t stop him from playing one last game!

 The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender

⟡ The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton
⟡ YA / Magical Realism / Contemporary
⟡ 
If you like family dramas that span generations
⟡ If you want to laugh and cry

Magical realism, lyrical prose, and the pain and passion of human love haunt this hypnotic generational saga.

Foolish love appears to be the Roux family birthright, an ominous forecast for its most recent progeny, Ava Lavender. Ava—in all other ways a normal girl—is born with the wings of a bird.

In a quest to understand her peculiar disposition and a growing desire to fit in with her peers, sixteen-year old Ava ventures into the wider world, ill-prepared for what she might discover and naïve to the twisted motives of others. Others like the pious Nathaniel Sorrows, who mistakes Ava for an angel and whose obsession with her grows until the night of the Summer Solstice celebration.

That night, the skies open up, rain and feathers fill the air, and Ava’s quest and her family’s saga build to a devastating crescendo.

First-time author Leslye Walton has constructed a layered and unforgettable mythology of what it means to be born with hearts that are tragically, exquisitely human.

⟡ Howl’s Moving Castle 

⟡ Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones
Middle Grade / Fantasy / Classic
⟡ 
If you like to escape to vivid magical worlds
⟡ 
If you like mistaken identities and romance

Sophie has the great misfortune of being the eldest of three daughters, destined to fail miserably should she ever leave home to seek her fate. But when she unwittingly attracts the ire of the Witch of the Waste, Sophie finds herself under a horrid spell that transforms her into an old lady. Her only chance at breaking it lies in the ever-moving castle in the hills: the Wizard Howl’s castle. To untangle the enchantment, Sophie must handle the heartless Howl, strike a bargain with a fire demon, and meet the Witch of the Waste head-on. Along the way, she discovers that there’s far more to Howl—and herself—than first meets the eye.

 The Winner’s Curse

⟡ The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski
 YA / Romance / AU
 If you like enemies-lovers romance tropes
⟡ 
If you want a well-crafted romance without magic

Winning what you want may cost you everything you love…

As a general’s daughter in a vast empire that revels in war and enslaves those it conquers, seventeen-year-old Kestrel has two choices: she can join the military or get married. But Kestrel has other intentions.

One day, she is startled to find a kindred spirit in a young slave up for auction. Arin’s eyes seem to defy everything and everyone. Following her instinct, Kestrel buys him—with unexpected consequences. It’s not long before she has to hide her growing love for Arin.

But he, too, has a secret, and Kestrel quickly learns that the price she paid for a fellow human is much higher than she ever could have imagined.

Set in a richly imagined new world, The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski is a story of deadly games where everything is at stake, and the gamble is whether you will keep your head or lose your heart.

6  Speak

 Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
 YA / Contemporary
 If you liked 13 Reasons Why
⟡ 
If you want to read from the POV protagonist who is struggling to express herself

“Speak up for yourself–we want to know what you have to say.” From the first moment of her freshman year at Merryweather High, Melinda knows this is a big fat lie, part of the nonsense of high school. She is friendless, outcast, because she busted an end-of-summer party by calling the cops, so now nobody will talk to her, let alone listen to her. As time passes, she becomes increasingly isolated and practically stops talking altogether. Only her art class offers any solace, and it is through her work on an art project that she is finally able to face what really happened at that terrible party: she was raped by an upperclassman, a guy who still attends Merryweather and is still a threat to her. Her healing process has just begun when she has another violent encounter with him. But this time Melinda fights back, refuses to be silent, and thereby achieves a measure of vindication.

In Laurie Halse Anderson’s powerful novel, an utterly believable heroine with a bitterly ironic voice delivers a blow to the hypocritical world of high school. She speaks for many a disenfranchised teenager while demonstrating the importance of speaking up for oneself.

 Truly, Devious

 Truly Devious by Morgan Rhodes
YA / Contemporary / Mystery
⟡ 
If you like strong female protagonists
⟡ 
If you like slowly unraveling mysteries

Ellingham Academy is a famous private school in Vermont for the brightest thinkers, inventors, and artists. It was founded by Albert Ellingham, an early twentieth century tycoon, who wanted to make a wonderful place full of riddles, twisting pathways, and gardens. “A place” he said, “where learning is a game.”

Shortly after the school opened, his wife and daughter were kidnapped. The only real clue was a mocking riddle listing methods of murder, signed with the frightening pseudonym, Truly Devious. It became one of the great unsolved crimes of American history.

True-crime aficionado Stevie Bell is set to begin her first year at Ellingham Academy, and she has an ambitious plan: She will solve this cold case. That is, she will solve the case when she gets a grip on her demanding new school life and her housemates: the inventor, the novelist, the actor, the artist, and the jokester. But something strange is happening. Truly Devious makes a surprise return, and death revisits Ellingham Academy. The past has crawled out of its grave. Someone has gotten away with murder.

⟡ The LAnguage of Thorns

 The Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo
 YA / Fantasy / Anthology
⟡ 
If you a fan of the Grishaverse and dark fairytales
⟡ 
If you want a anthology of short stories gloriously illustrated

Love speaks in flowers. Truth requires thorns.

Travel to a world of dark bargains struck by moonlight, of haunted towns and hungry woods, of talking beasts and gingerbread golems, where a young mermaid’s voice can summon deadly storms and where a river might do a lovestruck boy’s bidding but only for a terrible price.

Inspired by myth, fairy tale, and folklore, #1 New York Times–bestselling author Leigh Bardugo has crafted a deliciously atmospheric collection of short stories filled with betrayals, revenge, sacrifice, and love.

Perfect for new readers and dedicated fans, these tales will transport you to lands both familiar and strange—to a fully realized world of dangerous magic that millions have visited through the novels of the Grishaverse.

This collection of six stories includes three brand-new tales, all of them lavishly illustrated with art that changes with each turn of the page, culminating in six stunning full-spread illustrations as rich in detail as the stories themselves.

 Go Set a Watchman

 Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee
 Literary / Historical Fiction
⟡ 
If you loved To Kill a Mockingbird and want to see Scout all grown up
⟡ 
If you are willing to see beloved classic characters become exposed as flawed human beings
⟡ 
If you don’t mind typos

Twenty-six-year-old Jean Louise Finch–“Scout”–returns home from New York City to visit her aging father, Atticus. Set against the backdrop of the civil rights tensions and political turmoil that were transforming the South, Jean Louise’s homecoming turns bittersweet when she learns disturbing truths about her close-knit family, the town and the people dearest to her. Memories from her childhood flood back, and her values and assumptions are thrown into doubt. Featuring many of the iconic characters from To Kill a MockingbirdGo Set a Watchman perfectly captures a young woman, and a world, in a painful yet necessary transition out of the illusions of the past–a journey that can be guided only by one’s conscience. Written in the mid-1950s, Go Set a Watchman imparts a fuller, richer understanding and appreciation of Harper Lee. Here is an unforgettable novel of wisdom, humanity, passion, humor and effortless precision–a profoundly affecting work of art that is both wonderfully evocative of another era and relevant to our own times. It not only confirms the enduring brilliance of To Kill a Mockingbird, but also serves as its essential companion, adding depth, context and new meaning to an American classic.

10  At the Water’s Edge 

 At the Water’s Edge by Sara Gruen
⟡ Literary / Historical Fiction
 If you liked Water for Elephants
⟡ 
If you like female-led domestic dramas

After embarrassing themselves at the social event of the year in high society Philadelphia on New Year’s Eve of 1942, Maddie and Ellis Hyde are cut off financially by Ellis’s father, a former army Colonel who is already embarrassed by his son’s inability to serve in WWII due to his being colorblind.

To Maddie’s horror, Ellis decides that the only way to regain his father’s favor is to succeed in a venture his father attempted and very publicly failed at: he will hunt the famous Loch Ness monster and when he finds it he will restore his father’s name and return to his father’s good graces (and pocketbook). Joined by their friend Hank, a wealthy socialite, the three make their way to Scotland in the midst of war.

Each day the two men go off to hunt the monster, while another monster, Hitler, is devastating Europe. And Maddie, now alone in a foreign country, must begin to figure out who she is and what she wants.

The novel tells of Maddie’s social awakening: to the harsh realities of life, to the beauties of nature, to a connection with forces larger than herself, to female friendship, and finally, to love.

☙ ❧ END NOTE ❧ ☙

I hope you liked this post! I tried to pick a variety of different kinds of books that I’ve loved reading in the past that many people may not remember or have given a chance. I don’t think I’ll be doing TTT each week, as I don’t find many of the upcoming themes very enticing. But there will likely be at least one per month! I had a bit too much fun making holiday-themed versions of the featured image . . .

Thank you for reading!
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The Weekend Experiment | Weekend Reads

Happy Friday! And yes, I recycled last week’s Week in Review featured image, opting to turn it into the image for the new Weekend Reads weekly series. Every Friday I want to start the weekend by talking about what I read the week previous and what I hope to read over the weekend. I think it will ultimately take the place of my monthly reading wrap ups and take some of the pressure off of writing reviews.

This week did not look very different from past ones, but I’m hoping this weekend I’ll be able to turn things around on the reading front this September! I’ll be mood reading (i.e. not setting a TBR) for much of the month towards that goal.

 ●  ● Books Read ●  ●  

 Rebel Spring by Morgan Rhodes | Yes, I’m still stuck on this book. Despite how I said I was finally getting into this book last week, I’ve kind of lost that motivation after the few chapters I read Wednesday morning. It should be pretty easy to finish if I put in the time, that’s why I’ve been reluctant to DNF it.

However, as I write this post, I’m realizing there is no point to continuing with Rebel Spring if I’m not feeling it. I never intended to review it. I guess the main motivation has been the fact that I bought the book a few years ago and I hate the thought of wasting my money on books I never end up reading.

I guess I’m DNF-ing it . . .

 ●  ● Books To Read ●  ●  

 Disrupt You! by Jay Samit | I mentioned this book in one of my last TBRs, but never got to it because I’ve spent the past month and a half on the Falling Kingdoms series that I ultimately decided to DNF (like 5 minutes ago). So I’m excited to finally get to this book! I bought it this year in a birthday book haul, and I’m hoping it’ll give me some ideas for how to make positive changes in my creative life.

 Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones | This book will be my third or fourth reread of this much beloved classic. Last time I read it was either 2014 or 2015 and I’ve been eager to revisit it since it is so different from the movie, which is much more clear in my head. I’d also love the opportunity to review it on this blog!

 ☙ ❧ END NOTE ❧ ☙

I’m always in awe of bloggers who manage to read so many books each week. I feel like I’m pretty slow because I find it necessary to take so many breaks in between pages. I’d like to change up my reading routine and make my reading a bigger focus of my weekend routine, so this weekend will be a fun experiment. In next week’s Weekend Reads, I will be sure to share my results and anything else I may learn about myself and my reading habits.

Thank you for reading!
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October ’17 TBR + Goals

I was hesitant to make this post, especially considering how busy I’ve been and how I’d like to use as much as possible of my time working on writing this month. Nevertheless, October is my favorite month, and there are a bunch of books that I think would be perfect reads for this time of year!

For this month’s TBR I have a list of books from which I will most likely pull my reads, but I by no means hope to attempt to read all of them! That would be madness, and highly unadvisable if I want to get anything else done this month. I’m hoping to read at least three

 

[In no particular order]

  1. It by Stephen King
  2. The Language of Thorns: Midnight Tales & Dangerous Magic by Leigh Bardugo
  3. White Cat by Holly Black
  4. Uprooted by Naomi Novik
  5. The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro
  6. Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones

Goals

#1 Prioritize the blog each week. Last month I let the blog slide as I got busier with work and wanted to spend more time reading to finally catch up on my Goodreads Reading Challenge, which I did manage to finally do after months of being behind!

#2 Get my grad school application materials organized. Last month I decided I definitely still wanted to return to grad school for my doctorate. I want to be prepared well in advance of my deadlines so that I’m not in a panic when everything’s due (likely around December). This will entail asking for my letters of recommendation, tidying up writing samples, and likely writing some personal statements.

#3 Be ready to kick NaNoWriMo 2017’s butt. It’s been three years since I won, and I want this year to end my losing streak!

End Note

I’m hoping to have a writing-related post up this week on Wednesday. I Skyped with my writing buddy last night and her excitement for her story revived my own so I’d like to start dedicated more time to it after work. Fortunately my next full day off work is Wednesday so I’m hoping to get a lot done then, including some blog posts. So hopefully I will see you then with my next post!

Thank you for reading!
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