Spooky Book Recommendations (Pt. 2)

Hello! Last year around this time, I shared a list of thriller recommendations with you all. Over the last year, I feel like I’ve read quite a few new ones, so I want to share them with you (and the ones I didn’t mention in the last post).

Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

This is my most recent gothic/horror read, and it was phenomenal! This book was so atmospheric—it takes place in Mexico in a small, rural town in a mansion called High Place. It had such stunning prose, and the plot was unpredictable (exactly what I’m looking for in a book like this). I highly recommend checking it out!

When No One is Watching by Alyssa Cole

I read this book recently as well, and it completely took me by surprise. I had seen a lot of people talking about this novel, so I was really interested in reading it. I was able to get the audiobook from Libro.fm, and I listened to it in a matter of days. The beginning was a bit slower paced, as we learned about characters and the backstory. But the last 50-75 pages were a RIDE, and it went in directions I never would have guessed. It’s definitely not your typical mystery, but it is good!

The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware

This is a retelling of The Turn of the Screw (see next rec), but in a modern setting: a smart home. It was super creepy, and it actually gave me goosebumps at times. I think it is such a phenomenal read, and I’m looking forward to reading more by Ruth Ware because I know I’ll enjoy her books!

The Turn of the Screw by Henry James

So yes, I put a retelling of this story on this list as well as the original and that’s because I think they are both such good reads!! I read this book as part of a collection of other short stories by Henry James, but this one was one of the only ones I really enjoyed. It was so eerie and interesting. AND The Haunting of Bly Manor comes out on Netflix TOMORROW. If you don’t know, it is the second season of The Haunting of Hill House, but it’s basically a completely new story (sort of how each season of American Horror Story works). I am so so excited to watch!

The Good Daughter by Karin Slaughter

This was my first Karin Slaughter and it did not disappoint! I listened to the audiobook, and it was really well done. It was an intricate story that focused a lot on the characters, which I appreciated. I definitely want to read more of Karin Slaughter’s books—if you have any favorites, let me know!

What are some of your favorite spooky reads? I have so many on my TBR that I’m dying to get to—I’d love to read your favorite!

Finally Fall Book Tag 2020!

Hello everyone! I know that fall started a little while ago, but I definitely want to take part in this tag! Fall is my absolute favorite season, and this tag is a great way to welcome these next 3 months.

1. In fall, the air is crisp and clear: name a book with a vivid setting

Wilder Girls by Rory Power: This book was full of descriptions of the island where the boarding school is located that these girls attend. I could picture it so vividly in my mind, and it played like a movie while I was reading the book.

2. Nature is beautiful… but also dying: name a book that is beautifully written, but also deals with a heavy topic like loss or grief

How To Make Friends With the Dark by Kathleen Glasgow: This is the perfect book for this list. It was such a beautifully written story, but it is also very heavy and dark. Proceed with caution with this one. It is one that I loved very dearly.

3. Fall is back to school season: share a non-fiction book that taught you something new

The Sleep Revolution by Arianna Huffington: I read this book pretty recently, and it was so fascinating. I don’t think people understand the value of sleep. We live (at least in American) in a world that thrives on work and productivity—and I’ve been swept up in that, too. Many people praise pulling all-nighters and applaud others for working hard for weeks on end. But sleep is vital to our success, happiness, and health. Without it, you won’t be able to thrive! Highly recommend this one, it was so fascinating.

4. In order to keep warm, it’s good to spend some time with the people we love: name a fictional family/household/friend-group that you’d like to be a part of

The King of Crows by Libba Bray: I chose the last book in this series because I feel like here is where everyone is the closest and the friend group is really prominent. These characters all care about each other so much, and they are such a tight-knit group. I would love to be part of it!

5. The colorful leaves are piling up on the ground: show us a pile of fall-colored spines

Here is a very random stack of orange, yellow, and red books that I put together for this!

6. Fall is the perfect time for some storytelling by the fireside: share a book wherein somebody is telling a story

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid: This is the first book that popped into my mind. In case you don’t know, in this book, Evelyn Hugo is recounting her life to a journalist. This book is such a great fall read. It’s a slower paced book that is so beautifully written, and it is sure to put you in that cozy, autumnal mood.

7. The nights are getting darker: share a dark, creepy read

Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia: I just read this one a couple of days ago, and it was such a phenomenal read. It reminded me a lot of The Yellow Wallpaper and The Turn of the Screw, so if you like those creepy, haunted house vibes, you’ll enjoy this one a lot! It was really atmospheric, and I enjoyed it a lot.

8. The days are getting colder: name a short, heartwarming read that could warm up somebody’s cold and rainy day

The Way You Make Me Feel by Maurene Goo: This book isn’t necessarily really short, but it is definitely a fun, fast-paced contemporary! It gave me all the feels, and I really enjoyed it. I also really want to read more of Maurene Goo’s books because this one was so good!

9. Fall returns every year: name an old favorite that you’d like to return to soon

The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern: I am in dire need of a re-read of this one! You guys already know it’s one of my favorite books of all time, and I read it right before it came out last year. I desperately want to re-read it, and as soon as I find the time, that is what I hope to do! I think it’ll be one of my last reads of 2020!

10. Fall is the perfect time for cozy reading nights: share your favorite cozy reading “accessories”

Candles and fuzzy socks: I wear fuzzy socks all year round, but especially during the fall and winter, they are THE BEST. A true necessity to comfort during this season. I also love burning a vanilla, pumpkin, or cinnamon-y candle. It really sets the mood, especially if you dim the lights and lay under a warm blanket. Wow, that sounds so nice I might go do it right now!

That’s all for the tag! If you want to do it, feel free to consider yourself tagged by me :)

Let me know what you thought of my answers to these questions.

See you on Thursday!

September Wrap Up 2020

Happy October! We are officially in ~spooky~ season and I could not be more excited about it.

Today I am here to share all of my reads from the last month with you! There are 7 books on this list, which is lower than my average for the second month in a row…but it doesn’t bother me at all! I have not been focusing on reading, so the fact that I read SEVEN whole books? Still incredible.

Just another reminder that it doesn’t matter how many books you read in a week, month, or year!

Let’s jump into the books now!

5 Stars

The Switch by Beth O’Leary: I wrote a whole review for this book, so check that out if you’re interested in my full thoughts! This was such a fun and entertaining story, though, and it made me super happy. I’d highly recommend it.

When No One is Watching by Alyssa Cole: This book is a complete opposite from the last one, but it was equally as amazing. I had no idea what turn this story would take, and it completely took me by surprise. It was absolutely thrilling.

Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson: I watched the movie Just Mercy a few months back, and I had the book on hold on Libby since. I finally got the book in September, and it was as incredible as I expected it to be. It is a non-fiction story about a lawyer that discusses mass incarceration, wrongful accusations, the death penalty, racism, and more. I learned so much and I think everyone would benefit from reading it.

4 Stars

A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara: This might be a shocker to a lot of you, but I actually didn’t give this book 5 stars. I think part of it was the hype. I was anticipating what was going to happen, and it ended up not being as overwhelming as I expected. Also, (and I may be in the minority here) I think it could have been about 200 pages shorter. But it was still an emotional and touching read!

All the Woods She Watches Over by Emily McCosh: This was a super fascinating short story collection! Emily is an authortuber and I saw that she was sending out ARCs of her book, so I requested one. It was very different from what I normally read (it was heavily sci-fi based), but I found it to be really interesting.

3 Stars

A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson: This was a decent read. I think if you’re looking for a YA mystery, you’ll get that with this one! Personally, it just wasn’t as good as many other thrillers I’ve read (*cough* read Truly Devious *cough*), but I enjoyed it. I really liked the addition of some mixed media in it, and it was a fast read.

The Perfect Liar by Thomas Christopher Greene: My last read of the month, and not my favorite, unfortunately. This was just too predictable for me, which is not something I want in a thriller. I want it to shock me, and this didn’t do that. But the characters & their backstories were really interesting, so I kept reading. It was just okay for me.

What did you think of my reads this month? How many of them have you read?

What was your favorite book you read in September?

Quarterly Favorites #3 / July-Sept 2020

We are already entering the final quarter of 2020. It’s definitely not how any of us expected the year to go, but I’m taking things one day at a time and just focusing on taking care of myself.

Anyway, let’s talk about some of my favorites for the last 3 months! Some of these you may have seen if you follow me on social media, but I wanted to be sure to talk about them here, too!

Writing

  • Scrivener: At the start of July, I focused A LOT on writing, which you guys saw a little bit of. I have been using Scrivener for about 2 years now, but I recently started using it even more and I have been loving it! If you don’t know, it is a word processing system that allows you to create multiple folders, rearrange chapters, outline, take notes, etc. There are tons of videos online that go into more detail with how it works, but it truly is my favorite writing tool.
  • Writer group chats: July was Camp NaNo, which is why I was doing so much writing! Finding a few friends to make group chats with was so motivating. I joined a few Discord servers where people were constantly sharing their updates, planning long writing days, and giving advice. Having this support system is really what kept me going, and it’s how I managed to win Camp!
  • Writing vlogs & livestreams: I have been following a lot more writers/authors on Youtube and social media platforms recently, and it has been so inspiring. I love watching writing vlogs so so much, as I feel like I get to learn so much from other writers’ processes. And livestreams helped me get SO MUCH writing in! I highly recommend them if you are looking to get motivated.

TV Shows & Movies

  • Normal People: I read and watched Normal People during quarter 3, and let me tell you- I liked the tv show more than the book. Personally, I just didn’t connect with the book as much as I thought I would, but the tv show really brought everything to life for me in a way that was more fascinating. I think it was really well done, and Hulu adaptations just really have my heart at the moment!
  • Criminal Minds: I am currently in the process of watching this show from start to finish, which is something I’ve never actually done before. I basically grew up watching random episodes of it that were on TV with my dad, but now I’m actually following the storyline. I love this show and these characters with my whole heart.
  • Katherine Ryan Glitter Room: One thing that I want to start watching more of is comedians/stand up shows. I recently watched Katherine Ryan’s Glitter Room on Netflix, and it was so funny! It was also super empowering and discussed a lot of women’s issues. I highly recommend it! If you have any favorite stand up shows or comedians, please recommend them to me!

Podcasts

Podcasts have been a huge part of the last few months for me, as I didn’t have as much time to dedicate to reading. If you guys want a whole post of Podcast recs, that is definitely something I can do! Here are a few that I really loved, though!

  • Sakara Life: I have been really invested in my health recently, mainly after a few personal things had started happening to me. I am currently also dealing with some digestion issues (which I think is related to my recent soy allergy discovery), as well a knee injury that I am still recovering from. The hosts of this podcast bring in a lot of guests to speak about different aspects of health—from healing your gut, eating whole foods, sleep, and more—which have all been super fascinating. I am excited to keep learning more.
  • Millennial Minimalists: One thing that I have been working on over the last few months is adopting a more minimalistic lifestyle. These two best friends chat about their journey to minimalism, and they share lots of tips/advice for how to go about it. But they’re also just so fun to listen to! I have really been enjoying this podcast, and if you are looking to get started with minimalism, this might be for you!
  • The Michelle Obama Podcast: I miss the Obama’s so much, as I’m sure many of you do. This podcast feels like I’m chatting with a friend. It’s full of so much wisdom and insight, and I just trust Michelle Obama with everything. If you haven’t listened yet, I definitely think it is a must.

Food

  • Pineapple coconut water: During quarantine, I was running a lot. And it was hot for the majority of those months, so I would come back from my runs super sweat and dehydrated. Coconut water contains a lot of electrolytes and is supposed to replenish all that you lost after sweating! But, regular coconut water is not my favorite thing in the world. I was sort of forcing it down my throat. When I tried the pineapple flavor, though, I fell in love. I drink after any long workout and just when I’m feeling very dehydrated! It tastes amazing.
  • Watermelon: At one point during the summer, I was eating full watermelons by myself every single week. My parents even decided that next year they are going to plant watermelon seeds in our garden because I was spending so much money on buying them. Watermelon is definitely one of my favorite fruits, and it was the perfect snack on hot summer days!
  • Avocado: Confession—I never tried avocado until a few months ago. I have been a very picky eater my entire life (not by choice!!), so trying new foods is really hard for me. But recently, I’ve really been pushing myself to try new things, and avocado was one of them! I love it now and I eat avocado toast w/ eggs at least once a week! I’m finally on board that train.
  • HU Chocolate: I recently became an ambassador for the HU brand, and they sent me a few of their products to try out. I am completely in love with their products. They make crackers, chocolate covered nuts, baking chocolate, and chocolate bars. Their bars are my absolute favorite chocolate I’ve ever tried, and it’s so much healthier for you than most other brands! Their crackers are also phenomenal! If you want to try out any of their products, you can use the code “JessicaEats” for 15% off! I promise I’m not just trying to sell this to you (though I do get a commission if you use my code), I actually really do love it (and I ate my chocolate much faster than I’d like to admit).

Other

  • Passion planner: I recently received a passion planner as a giveaway, and it is truly my favorite thing ever. You guys know how much I love organization, so this is an item that I have been wanting for a really long time, but didn’t want to spend so much money on. Now that I have it, I know I won’t be going back to any other type of planner system for a while. I actually ditched my bullet journal for this because I was basically doing this same layout in my bujo anyway, so now it’s just pre-made for me!
  • Lap desk: I have shared pictures of my lap desk on quite a few spaces since I got it. It is truly one of my best purchases ever, especially now that I’m in school and don’t have a desk in my room. I linked one that is super similar to the one I bought, but it seems like mine is no longer being sold. I use this thing all the time. I love that it has a drink holder and it’s big enough to fit my laptop plus a book if I need. It has just helped me out a lot.
  • Sound machine: I recently bought a white noise/sound machine because I moved into a house with 6 other girls for the school year, and it can get pretty loud. I have already been having a lot of trouble sleeping as it is, so the addition of noise was not helping. I wanted to try out a sound machine, and this thing has been life changing. I’m finally falling asleep at a fairly fast rate, opposed to the 2-3 hours it was taking me to fall asleep before this. If you are struggling with your sleep, this may help!
  • Social media breaks & utilizing screen time settings: The last thing I want to talk about is screen time. My screen time was upwards of 7 hours during the summer, and I hated that. I didn’t want to be spending so much of my time behind a screen, as it was really damaging to my mental health. I talked about how I took a week long social media break a few months back, but since then, I have been incorporating more limits to my phone usage. I now have downtime set up on my phone so that between 9:30 pm and 8 am, the only apps I can use are ones for reading (kindle, libby, libro.fm). I also have an hour limit each day for Instagram and Twitter, though I haven’t even been crossing that limit much. My screen time has gone down to 4 hours or less each day! I would still love to get that down to 2 hours, but I’m really happy with all of my progress so far. It has helped me out immensely, and I feel so much better when I step away from the internet.

That is all for today’s post. I hope that you were able to find something new from it that maybe you’ll incorporate into your own life!

Let me know what some of your favorites from the past few months have been, I’d love to check them out :)

Thought Collective #3 – Being a Female College Student & Campus Safety.

Hello everyone and welcome back to another post in my Thought Collective series! A few weeks back I talked about my high school experience and how that affected my mental health. Today I want to talk about what it’s like being a woman in college.

First off, this post is sponsored by Bond*. This is a personal safety app that I think everyone should have, but it is especially vital for college students.

*But all opinions are my own.
**Trigger Warnings for rape/murder/kidnapping/assault

Before I tell you about the app, let me give you some background:

As a freshman in college, I was always the safe one, the cautious one, the ‘mom’ friend, if you will. My friends on the other hand? Not so much. They went out to parties with their phones at 20%, usually not planning ahead on how they’ll get home, etc.

This terrified me. They always relied on me to make sure they were taken care of and got home safe. Which I didn’t mind, of course, as I would have done it any way.

But the world is a pretty scary place, especially as a woman. There have been thousands of stories of women being harassed, attacked, kidnapped, etc. right on the street, with no one helping them. I often had to walk home alone after a late-night class, or even just to my car in a parking lot. Every person becomes a suspect when you’re a vulnerable person walking alone at night. It’s a sad reality that we’re unforunately faced with.

During my freshman year, a report also came out about a woman being kidnapped and murdered by a man who claimed to be her Uber driver. I have never forgotten about that.

There have been reports of break-ins in my area, recently, and just yesterday, a strange person had been knocking on our door, which was frightening. My friend’s TikTok feeds have even been flooded with safety tips for girls (many of them about walking alone at night). Girls are always thinking of the fastest exit in every situation, will carry their keys between their fingers, or have pepper spray at their side.

I can talk on and on about the various situations that girls specifically are faced with when going out of the house that never even cross the minds of men.

So let me now tell you about Bond. Like I mentioned, this is a personal security app that has so many amazing features.

I go on frequent long walks/runs around my neighborhood or on the beach (which you may have seen on my Instagram), and now whenever I do that, I turn on the “track me on the go” setting. This makes sure that my location is being tracked until I reach my destination. If I ever feel like I’m in a dangerous situation, I even put on the “ready an agent” feature, which will signal an agent if the situation escalates and I’m in need of assistance. These agents are ready 24/7, so you never have to worry about being alone.

I think my favorite part about it is that it’s not just made for you. You can connect all of your friends and family members, too. I personally created a group with my housemates so that we always know where each person is.

In the free version, you have access to the location services, dial 911, and siren features. You can get a free 3 day trial for the app, and after that it’s only $4.99 a month to unlock the rest of the features I talked about. That is such a low cost for all that it provides, in my opinion!

If you want to give it a try, click this link to read more and download it for yourself! Campus safety is of a huge importance to me, so I hope that this is something you look into.

I hope you all have a great week and I’ll talk to you soon!

#personalsafetyforall #collegesafety #campussafety #staysafe #ad

5 Year Blogiversary & Thank You!

I can’t believe that I’ve been blogging for all of 5 years now (as of September 20th). It’s absurd to me that I started this website back in my sophomore year of high school, and I am now a junior in college. So much has changed, and I have grown a lot over that time.

This site actually started out as a fashion and beauty blog, and after a few months, it slowly morphed into more lifestyle, self-help, and book blogging (which is where I sort of still am now).

From name changes, to new themes, and a couple of hiatuses, this blog has been through a lot, and I think each change reflects a different stage of my life. It’s fun to look back on all of my posts and the memories they bring me. I still remember my first few collaborations, and the friends I made way back when.

So, I wanted to say thank you to all of you who have brought me so much joy and made this place full of so much positivity for me! You are all the reason that I stuck around, even when I thought that I had fallen out of love for reading at times.

To give back to all of you, I want to give some shoutouts!

I want to highlight a few bloggers who are friends of mine, who I admire, or who are an overall huge part of this world for me! Check them out if you haven’t already :)

Huge thank you to…

Sofii, who puts so much effort into uplifting other bloggers, and who is always so kind and inspiring. Her posts brighten my day so much.

Noura, who always promotes diverse reads and shares such great insights on each book. Her blog just always stands out to me and I’m completely drawn to it!

Tiffany, who is such an amazing friend of mine, who I admire so much. She is one of the absolute sweetest people you will ever meet, and her blog is great.

Amanda, who I have been friends with for so many years now, and who updates her blog so frequently. She works really hard and has so many great review posts!

Ruby, who is such a kind soul, and who is constantly showing support to others. I really enjoy the content she puts out, and I think she is just incredible!

Kristin, who posts really unique content, and is someone who I am constantly inspired by. I always look forward to her posts.

Evelyn, who is always so so supportive of my blog posts! I appreciate her so much, and her blog posts are always great.

Caitlin, who is such a big presence in this community, and who always puts out amazing content! Her posts are thorough and done with so much effort.

Juli, who has such a pretty Instagram feed that I am constantly in awe of. She shares such great posts, and

Erin, who has one of the prettiest blog themes ever. I adore the aesthetic of her site, and she is such a friendly voice in this community.

Holly, who writes such unique reviews, and who I look up to a lot. I trust all of her book opinions, and each new post of hers is great!

May, who I’m sure you all know and love. Her place in this community is unmatched. She is such a huge advocate for diverse books, and her posts will not disappoint.

Chloe, who I’ve been following and adoring for years. I feel like we share so many of the same opinions, and her blog posts always resonate with me so much.

Marie, who is someone I deeply admire in this community. She works so tirelessly on her posts, and her blog is one of my absolute favorites.

THANK YOU 🥰🤍

The Switch by Beth O’Leary Review

I think I may have found a new favorite book of 2020…

I was approved for an ARC of The Switch by Beth O’Leary on Netgalley a few weeks ago, and I sort of requested it on a whim. Netgalley has just recently added audiobooks to its website, and I wanted to know how it would work. I saw that this one was available, so I got it.

I am so glad that I did.

Beth O’Leary is the author of The Flatshare, which you may have heard of. EVERYONE was gushing about it last year, though I still haven’t read it. Now, I definitely will.

Anyway, let’s talk about The Switch!

Goodreads Synopsis:

When overachiever Leena Cotton is ordered to take a two-month sabbatical after blowing a big presentation at work, she escapes to her grandmother Eileen’s house for some overdue rest. Eileen is newly single and about to turn eighty. She’d like a second chance at love, but her tiny Yorkshire village doesn’t offer many eligible gentlemen.

Once Leena learns of Eileen’s romantic predicament, she proposes a solution: a two-month swap. Eileen can live in London and look for love. Meanwhile Leena will look after everything in rural Yorkshire. But with gossiping neighbours and difficult family dynamics to navigate up north, and trendy London flatmates and online dating to contend with in the city, stepping into one another’s shoes proves more difficult than either of them expected.

Leena learns that a long-distance relationship isn’t as romantic as she hoped it would be, and then there is the annoyingly perfect – and distractingly handsome – school teacher, who keeps showing up to outdo her efforts to impress the local villagers. Back in London, Eileen is a huge hit with her new neighbours, but is her perfect match nearer home than she first thought?

My Review:

The first word that pops into my head when I think of this book is “fun.” It was just such an enjoyable experience. I loved the way this story was told: alternating points of view from our 20-something, work-obsessed main character Leena, and her newly divorced grandmother, Eileen, who is looking for some fun.

First off, Eileen was an amazing character. She was such a BADASS. After getting out of her long time marriage that she realized she was really unhappy in, she decides to give online dating a try with the help of her Leena and her friends. She was also super funny, and I was entertained by all of her chapters. It was interesting to read from the perspective of someone so much older than me, but definitely in a good way.

Leena, on the other hand, is someone who likes to occupy herself with work and doesn’t know how to slow down. Going away from the city and into the countryside allowed her a chance to reconnect with her mother and properly grieve the death of her sister. She had some ups and downs along the way (some of which made me a little frustrated), but I could understand where she was coming from. She felt really real to me, which is the most important aspect of characters to me in any novel.

The plot was also really joyous. There is a grumpy old neighbor, a funny neighborhood ‘watch’ group, a dog who I fell in love with, and more. The cast of characters were all really great, and the story was so light-hearted.

I know I keep saying that this book was really joyous, but there were certainly many heavier topics discussed in it as well (TW for death of a family member, grief, depression, and more). What I really liked about this book was that it had depth to it without being heavy. The story wasn’t about the sad parts, but more so about the characters getting passed these things.

This book definitely got me out of my slump, as it was a really fast-paced story. The audiobook narration was also so wonderful. I highly recommend picking this book up if you are looking for something happy and hopeful.

Have you read this book? Or have you read The Flatshare? Let me know in the comments!

How I Take Notes While Reading / My annotation Guide

Back in 2018, I wrote a post talking about how I annotate my books. I looked back on that post and realized that it definitely needs to be updated because I no longer follow pretty much any of the things I said in that post.

Over the year, my annotations went from being super colorful, with different colored pens/highlighters, sticky tabs, and more. Now, the only things I use are a black pen and yellow sticky notes.

Before I get into the specifics of how I annotate currently, I want to mention that there is nothing wrong with the colorful, intricate system of annotating. It just personally doesn’t work for me. If you like that, then maybe my older system will work better for you!

Anyway, let’s get into the post!

Symbols:

* First up is the asterisk—also known as my favorite symbol! I use this symbol probably the most when annotating. Basically, I use it to mark the quotes that I really relate to. When a character says something that I really connect with, I want to make sure I remember it, so when I flip through the book, I can find these marks easily.

! Exclamation points are used to highlight important parts in the story. This relates mainly to big plot points, foreshadowing, cliffhangers, etc. Anything big that happens, I keep track of it with this!

[ ] / __ If there are any specific quotes I like in a story, I usually mark them by underlining them. If I really like the quote, I underline it and put an asterisk next to it! When there is character description, world building, etc., I mark it by putting it in brackets!

? Whenever I’m confused by any part in a story, I put a question mark next to it. Sometimes this could be a word that I don’t know the definition to (so I’ll go back & look it up), or I just can’t understand an entire section (this is more common when I’m reading older classics). Other times, I am just confused by why a character did something, so I’ll put a ton of question marks next to the passage.

:) / :( The last symbol I use is smiley faces. If a character does something cute, or there is a happy moment in the story, I put a smiley face. On the other hand, if there is a sad moment, I put a sad face! This mark is pretty self-explanatory.

Writing I write down any quick thoughts I have about a book in the margins, directly onto the page. Usually, this consists of one or two words like “aw” or “I love him.” I’ve even written things like “LOL” or “OMG.” Sometimes I have a bit more to say, but usually I use this as a quick way to capture some of my thoughts.

Post It Notes:

I use yellow post it notes to write down any longer thoughts that I have, if I can’t fit them in the margin of the page. Usually, these are the specific things I want to mention about a book in a review post.

When I go back to writing my review, I refer back mainly to these post-its!

What if I’m not reading physically?

The majority of my reading this year has consisted of e-books and audiobooks, so obviously writing in the book is not possible. When this is the case, I literally open up a blank note on my phone, write down the title & author of the book, and then make a bulleted list of things I want to write down.

Sometimes I separate this into a pro/con list, but usually it is just my rambling thoughts as I read.

Here are some examples of that:

That is pretty much it for my note-taking while reading! I would love to hear how you annotate (if you do), so please share any of your methods or systems down in the comments.

I hope you all enjoyed the post & I’ll see you again on Thursday :)

Thought Collective #2: Let’s Chat About School.

I have always loved learning. As a child, I would look forward to the start of a new school year, more than any other kid. I couldn’t wait to be back in the classroom. I was also very independent, and I had so many different interests. In fact, I would become so enthralled by a topic that I would spend hours on my own researching everything about it. I would read books, watch Youtube videos, scroll through hundreds of websites.

My friends, family, friends of family, and teachers all saw my thirst for knowledge, and I was praised for it. I still am, to be quite honest. And I like that feeling. But at some point in my school career, my own, internal desire for more knowledge turned into expectations from others and a fear of failure or not being good enough. I felt so weighed down by the assumptions people had of me, by the presumptions that were place on me. So much so that eventually I cracked. I let my perfect exterior break, piece by piece, until I no longer knew who I was. I stopped caring about education.

In high school, I reached an all time low in terms of education. Learning became something that I was excited about to something I dreaded. I was not interested in anything I was being taught. I rarely studied, and when I did, I would have breakdowns at least weekly because I felt like it wasn’t getting through to me. Part of this was the environment of my school. I got accepted into a prestigious high school, and I was initially excited to go.

Unfortunately, my experience there was not good. The teachers expected a lot from us, and we were constantly made to feel like we had to be the best, and anything lower was not okay. The students all competed with each other and every conversation was centered around grades, studying, and anything related to school. I was looked down upon when I told people I was going to study communication in college rather than something traditional like medicine, business, or law.

To sum up, it was toxic.

Fast forward to the present. I just started my junior year of college this week. I told myself I would start fresh in college. I stopped trying to please others, and I was looking forward to studying communication. My love for learning returned.

Some of my negative habits and mindsets from high school are still with me (studying for way longer than necessary, getting upset when I get anything lower than an A+, etc.).

But my state of mind is so different now.

I just want you to know that if you feel like you aren’t doing well in school, or you’re currently hating what you’re learning, that can change! Don’t let the school system make you hate or fear learning. Because you should always want to learn!! Knowledge is such an incredible and powerful tool that can make you unstoppable!

And there are so many forms of knowledge- not everything is about being book smart! There are also so many ways to get an education that don’t require going to school. Reading, youtube videos, talking to your relatives and asking them questions, etc.

The moral of the story: learning is FUN!

I know this post is very ramble-y and doesn’t flow too well, but I hope some of you can relate to parts of this story! I want to hear about your experiences in school, and any thoughts you have about it!

Let’s keep the conversation going in the comments!

My Favorite Book Adaptations

It’s no secret that the book is *almost always* better than the movie. But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t some really good adaptations! Today I wanted to share a few of my favorites! We’re going to talk about both movies and tv shows, so buckle up and let’s get into it!

Disclaimer– these are not the only good adaptations I’ve seen, but I just wanted to pick a few today! Also, there are some that I have seen but haven’t read the book it’s based off of, so I can’t compare how well they stick to the books.

Movies

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before: First up is one of my favorite book to movie adaptations of all time! I remember watching this movie for the first time and just being in so much awe over how well it was done. It was pretty much exactly as I had pictured the book to be, and it blew my expectations away.

Unfortunately, the second movie just wasn’t at the same quality as this one, but I just pretend it doesn’t exist (oops).

Little Women: This is a pretty popular opinion, so I’m sure you’ve already heard how amazing this movie is. If you haven’t, though, I highly recommend watching it. I felt so fuzzy and warm inside as I was watching it, and it made my heart so happy. I actually read the book after watching the film, which is not common for me, but I have to say, it followed the book pretty well. While I was reading, I kept finding lines that I remember being in the movie, and as I was reading, I could picture the scenes in my mind. In this instance, watching the movie first actually added to my enjoyment, I think.

The Great Gatsby: This is a movie that critics always have negative opinions about, but as simply a CONSUMER of movies and not a critic, I believe that it is phenomenal. When I read the book for the first time in my junior year of high school, it wasn’t until I watched the movie that I thought the book was amazing. Before watching it, I just thought the story was okay.

But the movie brings it to life in a way that made me envision myself living in that time period. I loved the vibes, the aesthetic. I still stand by the belief that it is a great movie.

Bird Box: This was a PHENOMENAL movie adaptation, in my opinion. Although there were definitely some parts that differed from the book, I still really enjoyed it. While I was watching, I definitely felt chills down my spine, as it was so eerie. I actually think I need to rewatch this movie soon, as it was a favorite of mine in 2018, and I haven’t watched it since.

TV Shows/Mini Series

Normal People: This is one of those instances where the movie (or show, in this case) was better than the book, in my opinion. I gave the book 3 stars, but as I watched the show, I fell more and more in love with the story. I just feel like this book translated really well into a cinematic version, and that enhanced my enjoyment of the story. When a tv show can do that, that’s how you know it’s good!

Little Fires Everywhere: This book is a super popular one, and for good reason. And the show was just as incredible. First of all, Kerry Washington and Reese Witherspoon in one show? Amazing. The direction of this show? Also amazing. There were a few changes in this show that I wasn’t completely happy with, but overall I think it was also really well done. It’s probably my favorite tv show adaptation ever, and I will be re-watching it soon.

A Series of Unfortunate Events: I will admit that I never finished reading all of the books in this series. I think I only read the first five or six (out of 13, I think) and stopped. Not because they weren’t good books, but I simply forgot about them because that was back in elementary school when I was mainly getting my books from the library, and also my attention span was not that great and I was always becoming interested in new things.

When I watched the Netflix show, however, I instantly remembered everything I had read in the books. I felt like I was back in fourth grade, picking out these books. It was just so fun and entertaining. I think it was so well done. I have also seen the movie adaptation, and think it is also a really great one! I honestly can’t choose which I like more.

What are some of your favorite adaptations? And what are some that I absolutely need to watch?

I am always looking for new movie/show recs, so please share them with me in the comments!