September ’17 Wrap Up

I’m in a bit of a hurry as I write this post, but I wanted to make sure I start it before I go to work for the day so it’s not hard to finish up tonight! I must say, I’m really proud of myself as I read a lot this month and have finally caught up with my Goodreads Reading Challenge! I’ve now read 26 of the 36 book challenge I set for myself at the beginning of the year. Now I just need to keep it up!

I’m also really excited to wrap up this past month because it’s one of the first times that I ever stuck entirely to the TBR list I set for the month! I read four of the five books I listed in my September ’17 TBR + Goals post.

  1. Maus II by Art Spiegelman (★★★)
  2. Wonder Woman: Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo (★★★) – Reviewed!
  3. The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer (★★★★★)
  4. Tower of Dawn by Sarah J. Maas (★★★)

My favorite read this month was without a doubt The House of the Scorpion. I first read this book in middle school, probably in 6th or 7th grade, which was a while ago for me. I remembered it being one of the most powerful books I ever read at the time and I was happy to find that it holds up; it’s fantastic. It was also great that I didn’t remember much beyond the premise, so I was at the edge of my seat (metaphorically speaking) for most of the book. I highly recommend this book to anyone no matter your age. It gives you a lot to think about.

My least favorite read was definitely Tower of Dawn. I didn’t enter this book expecting too much and moderately enjoyed it. I had never much liked Chaol, or Nesryn for that matter who always seemed like such a “filler” character. And despite all the reviews I’ve read saying this book ruined Chaol for readers who had loved him, it is pretty much still the same guy in opinion. I’ve already found him broody and stupidly loyal without anything driving him to make him interesting.

Despite my dislike of Chaol and Nesryn going into this book, it wasn’t a horrible read. Nesryn’s storyline was actually pretty cool and I would’ve loved a lot more of her adventure and less of Chaol’s healing drama. The book just went on too long and had very little pay off by the end for me. There are a few reveals that make this book worth reading if you plan to finish off the Throne of Glass series as I do, but I think it’d be sufficient to just spoil yourself if you don’t want to waste time reading this installment.

If I have the time and energy later this week, I might do a spoilers post for anyone who’s interested (and for myself so I remember everything by time the last book rolls out)!

End Note

Tomorrow I hope to have my TBR + Goals for the month of October, but we’ll see. I don’t want my emphasis to be on reading this month, so I’ll likely not push myself to read much more than the three books I need to stay on track with my 2017 goal. Other than that, I’m not sure what else you can expect. My next full day off is Wednesday so I’m looking forward to getting a lot more done then.

Thank you for reading!
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August ’17 Wrap Up

I cannot believe how much I accomplished this month, especially as August is typically such a blah month. This month I was able to almost catch up on my Goodreads Reading Challenge by reading a grand total of EIGHT books! I’m not sure the last time I’ve read so much, but I’m still two books behind schedule. I’m less stressed out about it and am confident I’ll be completely caught up by the end of September.

I think I have definitely gotten my reading mojo back. I did a lot of rereading this August, but I think it’s good to reread. You pick up more than you might’ve upon the first read a book, and I think each time I return to an old favorite I’m a slightly different person. So even if I know what’s going to happen in a book, I am thinking about how my thoughts have changed between readings. Fortunately, there hasn’t been any drastic ones this time around!

What I Read

  1. Sense & Sensibility by Jane Austen (★★★½)
  2. Mr. Fox by Helen Oyeyemi (★★★)
  3. Maus I by Art Spiegelman (★★★½)
  4. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle (reread) (★★★★)
  5. Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling (★★★★★)
  6. Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt (reread) (★★★★★)
  7. We Were Liars by E. Lockhart (reread)(★★★★★)
  8. Vassa in the Night by Sarah Porter (★★★★★)

It’s hard to choose a favorite book that I’ve read this month, as I read somewhat diversely and was more than pleasantly surprised at quite a few of my reads this month. I already knew I loved We Were Liars, and that did not change; I was as supremely moved as I was the first time I read it. I think I have to go with Vassa in the Night. I haven’t had a chance to put my thoughts into words, but it was so strange and so beautiful. I really loved the updating of a Russian fairytale to urban Brooklyn and all the diverse characters. I plan to write a book review of this book as soon as possible.

This month I also acquired a lot of books! You can see a full list on my post A Book Haul of eBooks and Fairytales, which went up earlier this week. Vassa in the Night was one of my new purchases, and some of my upcoming reads will no doubt be pulled from this list.

End Note

In the past, my monthly wrap ups included a bit more on my writing and the things I’ve watched, but I chose to keep it simple because I want to focus more on the gorgeous books I’ve read. I have a September TBR in the works that you will hopefully see tomorrow night. It will include a short list of goals I have for the month of September as well with regards to my writing habits and possibly creative projects.

Thank you for reading!
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What I’ve Been Up to During Hurricane Harvey…

Hi! 

I had two posts I wanted to go up at the end of last week, but then my job and general procrastination prevented me from finishing them. Then there was the anxiety of preparing for Hurricane Harvey. Where I live was not in Harvey’s direct path, but we’ve since been continuously pelted hard with heavy rain and it’s been hard to predict when it might stop. Meanwhile I’ve been getting constant tornado and flash flood alerts on my iPhone over the past couple of days.

One good thing that has come from this bout of horrible weather is that I didn’t have to go to work yesterday and, thus, I’ve had three days off essentially to relax after all the chaos of last week as people rushed to my workplace to stock up for hurricane essentials: water, bread, and batteries. Therefore, I’ve had time to catch up on my reading!

Last Thursday I picked off a four books from my shelves that I decided I wouldn’t mind reading this weekend and I’m happy to say I’ve made my way through three of them. The fourth, which technically would be considered a reread, I’ve decided I would like to take my time with and, therefore, I’m putting off until I’m more on track with my Goodreads Reading Challenge.

Recent Reads

Maus I by Art Spiegelman | I honestly can’t remember if I finished this one the first time I read it. I can see myself having faked it, as I picked it up for a group assignment in which we came up with a thematic unit plan. I’m happy I decided to give it another chance, even if it was only because it was a graphic novel I knew I could zoom through. It was a pleasant read, despite the horrors depicted. It shows the complexity of human nature during dangerous times. 3.5 stars.

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle | I don’t remember the last time I read this one, but I still remember reading it in 5th grade vividly as it was probably the first book that made a big impression on me. It was also one that I remember made me want to become a writer. Reading it as a adult, I find myself still very attached to the characters. The main thing that surprised me is the rather simple plot. 4.5 stars.

Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling | I bought this book two years ago when it came out and I’m happy I waited this long to finally read it. It’s one of those that seems to have come to me at the perfect time. I don’t entirely relate to Mindy in interests or personality, but I admire by her work and work ethic. This book’s final chapter blew me away and has made me excited to give everything I do my all. 4.5 stars.

My Immediate TBR

Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbit | I’ve read this book a few times over the past few years since I first read it when I was…maybe eleven or twelve years old. It’s a great one to revisit every now and then and it stands the test of time in my opinion. It also helps that this is one of those classic books that I think has inspired my own writing.

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart | This is a reread that I feel strangely apt to read right now as summer nears its end. It’s not one I would have thought to pick up except that I know it can be a quick read. It’s another that I can see being of value as I begin to write and I’m also interested in seeing how the experience is changed knowing as I do the ending, which caught me completely off guard before.

Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones | I want to end my journey through rereads with this one as Howl’s Moving Castle is a book that I consider a major source of writing inspiration. I think I’ve read this book a couple of times in the past as a young adult and I think it’s one that I will continue to reread throughout my life and leave with new insights.

Writing Update

I think I’m really close to nailing done my plot. Last week before I had to leave for a work shift,  I got about 3/4 through my plot by just summarizing. I realized that morning that I could waste no more time just hoping I’d work it out by thinking about it. I needed to write something down. Anything. Because I can’t make something of nothing. I’m so glad I did this because when I got home later that evening I was happy with most of what I got and could identify things that I did not like. Three such problem areas I found could be fixed by just moving plot points around!

The main thing I’m struggling with now is just the conclusion. I feel like I have a few ideas for things I know I want to happen with the protagonist but I need to figure out what would best and most satisfyingly challenge her to become who she needs to be.

I’m hoping to end the month of August with a conclusion I’m happy with. I’m also eager to share in more detail how I’ve been able to plot my story this month in case you might be able to benefit. In my last post, I said I wanted to be writing by September 22, the first day of fall. That’s still the goal, but I don’t think I’ll have a set word count for each day. I also have a feeling I may also be writing this book for NaNoWriMo, but more on this later…

End Note

I’m excited to finish my rereads so I can begin to read some of my new books! I may still do the book haul post I was planning, but if I don’t, you can probably expect to hear about my latest acquisitions in a September TBR. Not sure what my next post will be, but it will almost certainly come this week as there’s loads to share! I just need to make the time to write the posts in between my reading!

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By the first day of fall…

Hi!

I started this post shortly after writing my last post and discovered that the first official day of fall in the northern hemisphere is September 22, 2017. I don’t know how much the seasons mean to the average person, but throughout the year I like to observe when a new season officially begins because I like to think of each new season as an opportunity to turn a new page on life.

Because it is about a month away, I feel like there is sufficient time to get some stuff done by the start of fall and, therefore, have decided to list and share my three main goals that I would like to achieve by the first day of fall.

First, I want to be caught up with my Goodreads Reading Challenge. At the time of this writing, I’m seven books behind schedule. That means I need to read about 11-13 books by September 22, in order to be caught up. I’ll probably try to pick up short books or books that I’ve already read and, therefore, can speed read.

Second, I want to be writing my first draft of The Log. (See the post where I first introduced my current novel project.) My development of this story has become stalled while I began my job orientation, but I plan to pick it back up again this afternoon once I’m done with today’s shift. I still need to work on plot, character development, and world-building.

I expect to be working on this project for the rest of the year so I have no idea how NaNoWriMo will fit into it, but I do know I want to be writing before then so I may be participating to a less than official degree.

Third, I want to be happy with the direction I’ve taken this blog Betwined Reads. It’s not been easy getting back into blogging when I’ve been plagued with insecurity about the quality of my words or value of my thoughts, but I know I want to record this time in my life so I can look back when and hopefully see how far I’ve come. I feel like blogging helps me stay motivated to create and be productive.

End Note

I encourage you to think of what you might hope to achieve in the next couple of weeks if you’ve felt stuck the way I have, and feel free to share below in the comments if you like. I’ve got to head off to work soon so I best wrap this up right now. In my next post I will be sharing a book haul as I recently acquired a bunch of new books in celebration of my new job! I’m also hoping to have a book review up this week. See you then!

Thank you for reading!
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#MakeMeRead Wrap Up, Reading Update, & Blog Plans

Hey! 

About two days ago I finally finished reading Sense & Sensibility by Jane Austen, the only book I managed to pick up during the #MakeMeRead It Read-a-thon last week on account of completely forgetting what week it started on. I still completely plan to read Persuasion by Jane Austen, the second highest book on my poll, in the near future. I just didn’t feel a rush to jump into it right after Sense & Sensibility, as unlike that book or Pride & Prejudice, I have not seen a movie adaptation of this one and I worry if that’ll make it more challenging a read.

Currently Reading

I instead decided to reach for another book that has been on my TBR for over a year now, Mr. Fox by Helen Oyeyemi. I read Boy, Snow, Bird and The Icarus Girl by the same author in 2015 and was enthralled by them, particularly the former. So I’m leisurely trying to make my way through Oyeyemi’s colorful collection of works. Of Mr. Fox, I will say that it hasn’t been exactly what I was expecting, but I’m fully on board now, although it was intitially disorienting.

What I read next this month is still uncertain. I’m currently mood reading right now, with a mind still on catching up on my Goodreads Reading Challenge. I’m perpetually about 6–7 books behind.

I have secured a part-time job finally and while it’s nothing too exciting, I suspect it will mean I’m reading a bit more on my iPhone, whether on breaks or in bed when I’m too tired after shifts to hold up a book. Earlier this year I decided to purchase Amazon Prime for the first time with my student discount and I just learned that with the membership you can access certain eBooks for free! I’ve downloaded five and I’m eager to get to them.

Blog Plans

I want to start posting more on here, but I’ve also realized I’m no good at scheduling blog posts. I’ve found that it doesn’t allow me flexibility to do what I want to do when I want to do it, and all too often I’ve forgotten when I haven’t put finishing touches on a post before it goes up.

As I mentioned above, I just got a part-time job. At the moment I’m not sure what my schedule will look like other than I will be working around 30 hours a week. Also, it is my hope that I can find a full-time job by the end of the year that better suits me and my life goals.

With these realizations in mind, a blog schedule will most likely not suit me at this time. However, I do want to continue to work on this blog by recording my reading and writing journey as well as my other creative pursuits as they come and go.

In the next couple of weeks I know I want to work on my graphic design skills, update all my pages, and start doing more formal book reviews, so you can expect all that right now at the very least!

Writing Update

I don’t have much to share on the writing front, but in case you were wondering or find these updates useful (maybe for commiserating in failure?) I thought I’d share instead of just neglecting my problems. I’m still in the outlining phase of this book. I have no trouble envisioning any number of novel beginnings, but it’s the middles and ends I struggle with. I think right now, my problem is I don’t know what my character wants and I don’t know if that’s a problem of not fully knowing her or not knowing the world. Maybe it’s both.

I had hoped I’d be writing by this time this month, but I’m not sure when anymore. Part of me is like “I need to start this NOW” and the other is like “I should just shoot to be ready by NaNoWriMo.”

I could wax on about this a while longer, but better I get going so I can work on this problem tonight. I don’t know what life after tomorrow is going to look like.

End Note

Thanks for sticking with me and this blog! On my very first blog Books o’ the Wisp, I used to do this feature called Letter from the Blogger. I did it at the beginning of each season to talk about myself and my plans for the coming months. I may try to do one of these again soon, as in this weekend. Amongst the other things you might be able to expect soon, I’ve got a book haul to share and I want to do a book review of Mr. Fox because it’s a lesser known book and I think I want to dedicate do more to shine a light on the under-hyped books on my blog.

Thank you for reading!
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Writing YA: My Response to Slate

I’ve been thinking a lot about why people read and write YA. I’m re-blogging because I’ve been working on my own novel and wanted to share something that is still relevant six years later. WOW!

The most recent YA dustup revolves around author Katie Crouch’s take on “Writing YA Fiction” for Slate. It’s a cringe-inducing and infuriating read, not only because it is almost aggressively unprofessional (YA readers don’t care about good writing! Writing sex scenes makes us squirmy!), but also because it smacks of minstrelsy: “Hey, world. I don’t take myself seriously, so feel free not to take me seriously either.” Crouch doesn’t seem to have read widely in the genre. She’s a litfic author, and though she claims “there’s no shame in Y.A. these days” (was there ever?), she seems almost giddily desperate to let us know that, for her, writing YA is just a lark.

Poor Crouch has already been taken to task (most brilliantly by Courtney Summers), so I’m going to leave off beating her about the head and shoulders. But I’m often asked about the appeal of writing…

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I’m back! | 06.04.17

Hello, again!

It’s been about three weeks now since school ended and I moved back in with my parents. I had meant to try and come back with a bang on June 1st, but I didn’t know what I wanted to do quite yet. I still don’t, to be completely honest.

Just to get the ball rolling I wanted to update you on my life and some exciting things that have happened, as well as some things I still intend to do.

Life Updates

1. I started boxing.

Not gonna lie, I know boxing is kind of trendy at the moment and it’s the only reason I’ve felt like giving it a shot. And guess what? I don’t regret it, because I’m really enjoying it! My dad bought this dummy thing to box with a few years ago and it has been gathering dust in the garage. When I got here a few weeks ago I made some space to use it and it has honestly become my favorite form of exercise. I don’t even need music or distraction, I can do it and think about whatever’s on my mind and before I know it 30 minutes has gone by and I’m ready to conquer whatever else I need to do.

I’d love to start taking actual classes one day, but for my current fitness level I think I’m getting a good workout. Even if it’s just simple combinations. If it’s available to you and you’re able, I strongly recommend giving it a shot!

2. I cut my hair off!

Like, nearly all of it. My new hairdresser says it’s a pixie cut, but I think a pixie cut means its short all the way around. I have longer bits in front that feel like bangs. I’m not sure how good it looks on me, as I have very thick hair. But it doesn’t matter that much to me right now if it suits me. The good thing is it’s already growing, and, most importantly, IT FEELS SO GOOD. Texas summers are punishingly hot and I’m going to love not having to fuss over my hair much this summer. I get to have a completely fresh start, in more ways than one.

I’ll take a picture eventually to share my new look.

3. I started applying for jobs last Wednesday. 

I had a bunch to update on my resume after this past year, so it was actually kind of fun to update it and be reminded of what I’ve accomplished. Nevertheless, it’s not been entirely too fun to wait for calls or other responses to my applications, overthinking every last detail of everything out of my control at this point.

But on that note…

4. I have an interview!

This past Friday I was emailed to find that this upcoming Tuesday I have an interview for a technology-related job in the local public school district where I’m currently staying. I’m crossing my fingers I ace the interview and can conclude my job search with little time wasted! This job seems so ideal, and I’m fairly confident I’m more than qualified.

I’ve been very lucky to have been able to avoid applying for jobs until now, but I will also begin to apply for easier part-time jobs to help me start saving early as I will need to start paying off my student debt come August/September. I’m going to try my best to be responsible and on top of this.

Recently Watched

I don’t really want to get into the habit of talking about every show or movie I watch, but two are recent enough that they’re relevant to me and my life right now.

First, Girlboss from Netflix. I didn’t read the book (#GIRLBOSS by Sophia Amoruso) it was based on, but I remember seeing it years ago when it first came out and thinking it might be a good read. The main character in the show is incredibly insufferable but other characters are so much fun, but I like how the show portrays the rise of her online business from eBay to creating her own website after she is kicked off.

I’ve toyed with the idea starting a Etsy shop, but never really had the time or vision to invest in it, but this show made me want to figure out if the ideas I have are good enough. If only so I can become my own boss!

Second, and slightly less meaningful on a personal level: Twin Peaks: The Return!!!! I watched the two seasons from the original series on Netflix two years ago (right before starting grad school) when I learned that a reboot was in the works. It was a surprisingly intriguing show, which had me excited to see what the revival had in store. The first two new episodes were really wacky and nothing like I expected, but I think I like it. It’s hard to say. I have no idea where it’s going, but I think that’s part of the fun.

If you have thoughts on either of these shows, feel free to start a dialogue in the comments section! No one I know IRL is watching/has watched these shows!

Currently Reading 

I’m currently still rereading A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas. It’s been an enjoyable reread, but it’s been slow goings. I’m hoping to finish it pretty soon, though, so I can start A Court of Wings and Ruin! I’ve been avoiding everything that I worry might spoil me, and I hate living life that way.

After that book, I’m not sure what I’m going to read next. I just rearranged my bookshelves and there are so many books I haven’t read yet! Since I don’t know what kind of mood I’ll be in, I’m just going to wait and see what calls to me this month.

Blog Plans

Without the structure of school, I’m going to need to be self-disciplined in order to get things done. There’s so much I want to do, it’s hard to stick to just one thing and follow it through. Right now, I feel like looking for jobs is my #1 priority, but I think it’s also a good idea to choose something that I’m doing just for me and giving it my all.

For this reason, I think Betwined Reads will be a hodgepodge for the next couple of months. Some of the things I’m interested in doing (and subsequently blogging about) are:

  • The results from my YA book blogger survey. The paper is still a work in-progress and there was a little hiccup with the results, but I do look forward to sharing some of the more interesting findings this summer!
  • Books (obviously)! I want to get more into themed recommendations and reviews for the ones I do read.
  • Digital art. I have a Wacom tablet I want to start doing more with, possibly on my YouTube channel. I’d also like to teach myself some animation so I can do some more visual storytelling.
  • YouTube. I want to explore the audio-visual creation with my YouTube channel. I have a few ideas for what I’d like it to be, but I don’t really want to go into them quite yet until I actually have videos in the works.

I will keep my blog’s overall focus on books, but I also want to do some lifestyle and critical theory work on bookishness as a concept, which was actually one of my other final papers for my Social Technologies and Games class. That paper still needs some work, but I think I’d rather use my energy to turn it into a blog post or online article.

One thing you might be curious about is the absence of a writing goal. Last week I officially decided to take a break from novel writing. I am not loving any of my ideas at the moment and feel like there are so many other things I work on at the moment, so I’m content to wait until November, if that’s how long it’s going to take. I may still write a little here and there, particularly if I need something original for animation practice if that takes off. But I’m not going to set a goal that I don’t have my heart set on making right now.

End Note

Sorry this post is all over the place, but personally I love these kinds of posts best. It’s 9:43 p.m. on Sunday night as I finish up this post so I’m going to wrap this up as I’d like to snuggle up in bed and get closer to finishing up ACOMAF. I’ll be working on content for the blog this week. Most likely I’ll do some more casual posts this week related to my plans. Hopefully, they’ll be interesting and/or useful in you’re in a similar boat as me.

Hope you’ve been doing well! Let me know if there’s anything you want me to make sure to make time for if it doesn’t look like it’s currently on the agenda (e.g. writing).

Thank you for reading!
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