Thought Collective #1 – Getting Out of a Slump

I have been thinking a lot about my content online recently and what value my posts serve. Not just on this blog, but on Instagram and Twitter as well. I want my platforms to provide value of some kind and be a space that I am proud of.

In full transparency, I had an entirely different post planned to go up today, but I felt like it was so meaningless and I didn’t feel confident in posting it. Which is sort of where this post idea came from.

I feel like I have been writing a lot of posts this year where my heart is not entirely in them, but I knew that other people would be interested in them or they followed some trend, so I wrote them anyway. And that put me in a big rut. I haven’t been feeling motivated or inspired at all. There were even a few days where I considered just deleting my blog entirely.

But then I spent some time thinking it over and reminding myself why I started this blog. It is a creative outlet. A place to express myself. A safe space to share my thoughts and find others with similar interests. And I don’t want to lose that.

Essay GIF - Find on GIFER

However, I do want to start sharing more of my thoughts on here—my ramblings, the things that I am passionate about.

This is how the thought collective was born. This is a new series I’m doing, probably about once a month (maybe more, maybe less), where I just write about whatever topic is on my mind that week.

I hope that at least some of you will find this interesting or useful! Don’t worry, though, my book content is not going anywhere! I just need a bit of a bigger space here. And if there’s any topic you want me to write about, please feel free to comment or message me on any of my social media accounts :)


Now, onto the topic of today’s post- pulling yourself out of a slump!

During quarantine, I put a lot of pressure on myself to do, do, do. I thought to myself that if I have all of this time at home, I have to use it to accomplish everything and anything I ever wanted to do but kept putting off.

At first, this was great. I worked on a new novel, I started research for my undergrad thesis, I read more than ever before. On top of this, I started running and working out daily, baking, and taking on other projects (an internship for one).

This was a really toxic mindset, though. I didn’t realize it until a few weeks ago, when I tried to have a relaxing Sunday, but all I could think about were the tasks I had on my to-do list. I wasn’t enjoying reading anymore because it felt like I was only doing it to be ‘productive’, I couldn’t sit still long enough to watch a movie or even tv show because my mind was on other things, and I was constantly exhausted.

I’ve finally burnt myself out. Since the first of August, I have had no desire to wake up in the mornings and work on any of the goals I had set for myself. I would wake up, try to be productive, and then end up scrolling through social media or watching Youtube videos for hours.

I am slowly working my way out of this creative (& life) slump, which I talked a bit about on Instagram. There, I also shared some of the ways that I get myself out of this sort of feeling, so I’m going to elaborate more on those now!

Take a Break

The first thing to do is to give yourself a break. It was so hard for myself to accept that this was what I needed, if I’m being honest. I’m awful at taking breaks, and I can’t do it for very long. But this time around, I took a week-long break. That is probably the longest I’ve gone without being productive in years.

Your body needs time to rest and recover, though. And it’s so important! Not only is it a good time to refresh your mind and maybe consume some content that inspires you, but it can also improve your physical well-being, too.

**By the way—don’t wait until you’ve burned yourself out to take a pause. It is good to do so often!!

Change Your Routines

Change can be scary. But it is oftentimes exactly what we need. I tried out a new morning routine in July which involved me waking up extremely early and getting work done from the minute I got up until about noon. I quickly realized that this did not work for me at all.

So, I’ve reinvented my routine, and I made it much more suitable to my needs. I now get to sleep in more, I get a bit of work done, but I also have a slow, peaceful morning. And it is so nice! I can definitely do an entire post about my morning routine, as well, because it is something that I find is essential to a productive day!

Create Freely

One thing that I love doing when I’m in a rut is allow myself to create… ANYTHING. This is something I do just for me. I want to talk more about this in a future thought collective post, but I’ve realized that with having any sort of social media platform, there is a pressure to post everything you do. I share a lot of my days online through my Instagram stories, and I like creating things to share with others. However, you don’t have to post everything you create. Some things can (and should) be just for you!

I like to do this by painting or art journaling. Most of the time, the things I create are imperfect. They are messy. But they make me happy! That is all that is important here. Allow yourself to do something without the fear of failure or the pressure of critique’s from others! It is such a therapeutic thing to do. Trust me!

Write Out Your Thoughts/Feelings

The next step for me is journaling. Now, I try to journal everyday, but I usually just do morning pages where I write out anything that comes to my mind or I talk about my previous day, just to get my creative juices flowing.

But, when I’m in a rut, I like to specifically write about why I’m feeling the way I am. This journaling is much more intentional, and it takes more time, but it can really help you figure out the root of your slump.

Here are some prompts/questions to get you started:

  • What am I feeling right now?
  • What is currently upsetting me?
  • What are three things I am grateful for?
  • What distractions are hindering my productivity and how can I eliminate them?
  • What does my dream life look like?

Revisit & Revise Your Goals

Finally, I think frequently reading over your goals can be super motivating! However, sometimes you may look at them and realize that they are no longer things you want to focus on right now. And that’s okay! Don’t be afraid to take off some of your goals or revise them to better fit your current needs.

I’m very competitive with myself, so I push myself to achieve goals even if I no longer care about them, which just isn’t productive. I’m learning to be okay with letting go of my goals, even if I don’t always achieve them! This is such a vital lesson to learn.

The most important point of reworking your goals is making sure you are making them realistic but challenging. And prioritize the things that are most important to you!

That is all I have for you guys today! I know this was a long and rambly post, but I hope you got something good out of it. If you have any other tips for getting out a rut, feel free to share them in the comments!

Also, remember that what works for me may not work for you! It’s all about trial and error because everyone has different experiences. If you do try any of these, let me know how they went :)

I’ll see you all on Thursday (with another post I am very excited about)!

Folklore Book Tag

I have not stopped listening to Folklore since it came out. And listen. I was never a huge TS fan. I’ve always enjoyed her music, but I wouldn’t consider myself part of the fandom or anything. Then, Lover came out, and so many people on my Twitter timeline were talking about it. Naturally, I listened to it, and I fell in love with so many of the songs.

But, folklore??? This is a whole new level of perfection, and I think it may be one of my favorite albums of all time (and definitely Taylor’s best). I’m in it now. I’m part of the fandom, okay? Y’all converted me.

I know this post is a little late, but I had other posts to get up first, so I apologize. But it’s never too late to gush about these songs, so it’s fine.

I was tagged by Ruby, who is such a light! Thank you so much for the tag 🥰 And thank you to Isla, who created it!! I am in love with it and all of the questions!

The Rules:

  • Link to the original creator: Ilsa A Whisper Of Ink
  • Tag at least 3 people. 
  • Declare the rules and list of prompts in your post
  • Thank whoever tagged you and link to their post.

The Questions:

*I tried picking books that I don’t talk about too often for this tag, too!

the 1 // a book with an ending that left you speechless

Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid: Wow, this book was phenomenal! I just talked about it in my July wrap-up, but it truly was amazing. The entire book left me speechless, to be quite honest. I had no idea where the story was going, and it really took me by surprise in the best way possible. I’m not going to go into details because you absolutely should pick it up for yourself! And you can read it along with the Unfriendly Black Hotties Book Club because it’s their August pick!

cardigan // a book that makes you feel happy and sad all at once

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid: This book is definitely a favorite of mine, and I will be re-visiting it soon. It tells lots of great stories and is filled with adventure.

But the entire book is really sad throughout, which is why this is the perfect answer to this question! I’m sure you’ve heard lots about this book before, but if you haven’t read it yet, you definitely should!

the last great american dynasty // a book with a fascinating and well-told story

Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson: I don’t talk about this series enough to be honest! But it was so interesting, and the whole thing left me wanting more. It is crafted really well, and I think it is one of the best YA mysteries out there.

The entire series was great, too, which is hard to find in books! I usually end up really disliking at least one book, but that was not the case at all here. Each one really added to the story and it wrapped up nicely.

exile // a book you wish you hadn’t read

Sociable by Rebecca Harrington: There are a lot of books I could have chosen for this one, so I’m just going with my latest 1 star read.

This was an ARC I received quite a while ago, but I just finally read it last month (oops). I could have saved some time by not reading it, I can say that for sure.

my tears ricochet // a book that made you cry uncontrollably 

Summer Bird Blue by Akemi Dawn Bowman: This is a book about a girl dealing with the grief of losing her sister, and if that isn’t enough to make you cry, I don’t know what will.

I was honestly in tears for the majority of the book. The writing was also so beautiful, and I really love this author.

mirrorball // a book that feels like it was written just for you

The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern: I know I said I was trying to pick books that I don’t talk about a lot for this tag, but I just couldn’t not mention this book! The entire time I was reading this book, I really felt like I was in a trance. I adored every single thing about it, and the whole book is really an ode to storytelling. It made me fall in love with writing even more.

seven // a childhood book that makes you feel nostalgic

Judy Moody Books by Megan McDonald: I thought about my answer to this one for a while because I have a lot of childhood favorites (The Magic Treehouse, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Junie B. Jones, A Series of Unfortunate Events, etc.).

But my official pick is the Judy Moody series! I loved so many of these books, and I can picture a few of them on my shelves so clearly. It just warms my heart when I think about these books (and yes, I’ve seen the movie). The two pictured above are definitely my favorites!

august // a book that reminds you of summer

The Last Summer of the Garrett Girls by Jessica Spotswood: I read this book a few years ago, and I adored it! It has ‘summer’ in the title, so obviously it is the perfect choice!

It was fun to follow the lives of four siblings because not many books do that. I need to pick up more by Jessica Spotswood because this book was a really great read!

this is me trying // a book that deals with loneliness & sadness 

How to Make Friends with the Dark by Kathleen Glasgow: This book was so heartbreaking but beautiful. I listened to the audiobook, and the whole time I was so immersed in this story.

It is definitely a book about loneliness and grief and friendship and pain. Also, the cover is really stunning.

Illicit affairs // a book that gave you a book hangover

On the Come Up by Angie Thomas: This book was just SO. GOOD. I think I might have even loved it more than THUG, which is hard to believe! I read it fairly soon after it came out I believe, and I still think about it to this day!

I don’t know how Angie will top either of her two books, but I know she will, which is incredible to me.

invisible string // a book that came into your life at the exact right time

Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone: I read this book when I was about 14 I think, and it really changed my world. It was the first time I saw myself represented in a book (OCD), and I related to the main character so much. I also think it’s what got me into poetry, and I will forever be thankful for that because poetry changed my life for the better. This book holds such a special place in my heart!

mad woman // a book with a female character you adore

You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson: I LOVE LIZ LIGHTY SO MUCH AND I ALWAYS WILL. Thank you for coming to my Ted Talk.

epiphany// a book that was haunting

The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware: This was a phenomenal read and it really had a haunting vibe to it! It takes place in a smart house, and the twists and turns make it a super chilling read- which is one of my favorite types of stories! It was a really well done retelling of a classic, too!

betty // a book couple that fills you with yearning

The Diviners by Libba Bray: There were many couples in this series that I adored, but I’m going to point out one specifically that made my heart soar!

Mini spoiler- Proceed at your own risk!I completely loved Memphis and Theta together!! They made me so happy, and it was just so wholesome. I was so glad that Theta had found someone who cared for her so much, especially after the toxic/abusive relationship she had left.

peace // a book character you’d die for because you love them so much

The Lady Rogue by Jenn Bennett: The main characters in this book, Theodora & Huck, completely stole my heart! They were both such amazing characters. I say this every time I talk about Jenn Bennett, but she really does write the best characters. They are so well fleshed out, and I feel like I really know them!

hoax // a book that you thought you were going to love but didn’t

The Bookish Life of Nina Hill by Abbi Waxman: This book was a huge disappointment for me because I was expecting to love it, but it fell so flat 😭 I was hoping for a relatable main character plus a fun romance, and this was just…not that at all. There was no character development, and the romance was lacking completely.

I tag anyone who loves Folklore and wants to do this tag! It was such a fun one :)

Let me know what you thought of my answers & tell me what your favorite song (or songs, I know it’s hard to choose) is from the album!

August TBR 2020

Welcome to another TBR post! This month, just like last month, my TBR is going to be quite short. That is for a couple of reasons. First, I plan on reading some of my longer books this month, which means that I won’t be able to read as many books. Second, I want to slow down my reading a bit to focus on some other things, especially since I’m going back to school in a month. I’ve already read around 80 books this year, which is really great, but there’s no need for me to read so fast, so I want to take it slow for now!

Anyway, let’s just get into the books!

Just Friends by Dyan Sheldon

This is my e-book pick from my TBR jar for the month! I honestly don’t know what to expect from it, and I have no idea what it’s about, but it’s been on my TBR for a long time now. I’m looking forward to finally knocking it off of my list.

If I’m being real truthful, though, I don’t really have too much interest in reading this one, and I have a feeling I won’t like it. I want to at least give it a try, though.

King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo

I got this book on libby finally- which means I absolutely must read it this month! It’ll probably be one of the first books I read, actually. I’m really excited about it, and I’ve heard some great things.

I’ve really missed reading about Nikolai, even though I didn’t really love him as much as everyone else seems to. Maybe this book will make me care for him a bit more?? I don’t know, we’ll see!

A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

Yes, I’ve decided to make this month the one that I conquer this book. I realized that I’m going back to school in September, and I don’t want to read this book there, surrounded by my housemates, because they’ll then witness me sobbing for hours straight (which I’m expecting to do from this book). So, to avoid that, I figured I should probably get to it now!

That way, I can cry from the comfort of my own home. I am worried about this book because of it’s size, too. It’s so long and intimidating, but apparently I’m forcing myself to get over that fear this month.

A Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab

Everyone has been yelling at me to read this book and finish the trilogy! I hear ya, and I’m going to do just that!! I was able to get the audiobook of this one, which means it should hopefully be a decently fast read. I honestly can’t remember how the last book ended, so I’m going to have to read an online recap before then, but I really have loved the first two books. Maybe this one will be my favorite!

What books are on your TBR for the month? Have you read any of the ones I’m planning to? Tell me all of your thoughts in the comments, I want to know!

A Surprisingly Good Reading Month? // July Wrap-Up 2020

Hello everyone! If you recall my July TBR, I created a super short list of books for myself to read because I didn’t think I was going to get a lot of reading done this month. Somehow, I ended up reading 10 books, though!

5 stars

  • The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison: This was my first read of the month, and I definitely started off on a good note! Toni Morrison just has such an incredible writing style. It’s unlike anything I’ve read before, and I definitely want to read more of her work.
  • Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid: I picked this up because I was seeing it all over bookstagram, and when I read the synopsis, it seemed so intriguing. The synopsis just doesn’t fully cover what this book is about. I was not prepared for the rollercoaster that it was, and it blew my expectations out of the water. It was such a great read. Also, I know there were some issues with the Reading Rush and them dismissing this book (which was their book club pick), so I want to really stress how great this book is, and please, pick it up if you haven’t already!
  • Little Women by Louisa May Alcott: I finally read this book! I also watched the movie this month, and let me tell you- both were so incredible. I understand all of the hype for the movie now, and I think I might watch it again soon!

4 stars

  • The King of Crows by Libba Bray: I’ve talked about the Diviners series quite a lot recently, as I finally read it this year. I’m so sad that I’m done with the whole series now. This final book was not my favorite of the four, but I think it was a good ending to this world. If you haven’t yet read The Diviners, and it’s been on your TBR as long as it had been on mine, I definitely say you should pick it up ASAP. It was such a magical and fun story, and I didn’t want it to end.

3 stars

  • The Great Gatsby Graphic Novel Adaptation illustrated by K. Woodman-Maynard: I received an ARC of this book from the publisher, so thank you! Unfortunately, I was expecting a little more from it, though. It’s hard for me to judge it because I don’t have a huge knowledge of graphic novels, but I think if you hadn’t ever read The Great Gatsby novel, this version of the story would be very confusing. It was just missing some plot points in between to make the story flow better. I did love the illustrations, though!
  • Where The Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens: I’ve talked about this book and my feelings a lot already, so all I’ll say is this did not live up to the hype for me. I was expecting to be blown away…and I just wasn’t. It wasn’t a bad book, but it just wasn’t really for me.
  • 1984 by George Orwell: I finally read this classic that has been on my TBR for AGES!! It was a good read. I definitely think it covers so many important topics, and it left me thinking about the current state of the world. It was good, just not a new favorite!
  • Normal People by Sally Rooney: This book has been talked about a LOT all over booktube, Instagram, and Twitter, especially with the show coming out. I have to say, I didn’t think it was that incredible. But, I’m watching the show right now, and I think I actually like it more than the book (which is hard to believe, ahahaha).

2 stars

  • The Impossibility of Us by Katy Upperman: This book has really high ratings on Goodreads, and I was really excited to pick this up. Unfortunately, I just had a lot of issues with the way it was handled. Overall, the racism was just never really resolved, and the main character was very selfish in terms of how things played out. I just didn’t feel great about it. But I really liked the love interest and wanted to hear more from his perspective, which I think would have improved this story for me.

1 star

Tell me about your reading month! How many books did you read? Did you find any favorites? I’d love to know!

And let me know if you’ve read any of the ones I did, and what your thoughts were on them!

Books That Intimidate Me

I have a bookish fear, and that is a fear of long books. I don’t know why, but just seeing them on my shelves stresses me out, and I tend to put them off for a really long time.

Today I thought I would share a list of some of the books on my TBR that are really intimidating to me. If you’ve read and enjoyed them, please let me know! I need all of th encouragement I can get to finally pick these up.

A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

A Little Life

I just purchased this book recently, and I knew it was going to be a long one. But now that it’s actually in my hands, I am terrified of it. I feel like it will take me a really long time to read, and that is stressing me out.

Luckily, this is one I know that almost everybody loves (despite it being a really sad read), so that is giving me some hope hahaha!

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

Anna Karenina

Just hearing the name of this book truly gives me nightmares. Not only is it nearly 1000 pages, but it’s also one of those classics that everyone loves. Do you know how intimidating that is?? I feel like the English minor in me HAS to read and love this one.

I mean, the Goodreads synopsis calls it “the world’s greatest novel.” That is a lot of pressure for me. But, in all seriousness, I do think I will enjoy this one!

House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski

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I’ve recently been seeing many people talk about this book, though it has been popular for quite some time now. I’m mostly just intimidated by this one because of its size, but also because of the fact that it is classified as a horror novel.

I’m not one to be spooked too easily by scary books or movies (in fact horror is one of my favorite movie genres), but I do know that quite a few people have said this one has kept them up at night!

Dig. by A.S. King

Dig AS King

A.S. King is one of those authors whose work I know I will love, I just haven’t picked up  yet. I think the reason this one intimidates me is because a lot of bookish people I look up to give this one super high praise.

To most people, this would sound like a good thing, but I am afraid that I won’t love it as much as they do. Which would make me question my entire existence (not to be dramatic or anything).

Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo

Ninth House

This book has been on my TBR since before it was released last year. I’ve owned it since pretty much the first month it came out, but I haven’t yet picked it up because of the mixed reviews it has received.

Some people love it, while others completely hate it. I obviously want to be one of the people who loves it, but that is never guaranteed. It sounds like a book I would really enjoy, but who knows?

A Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab

A Conjuring of Light

Finally, the last book on this list is here because not only is it the last book in a trilogy, but it is also the longest one. Reading the last book of a series you’re enjoying is always a little worrying because it can either make or break the entire series for you.

I thought the first two books were great, but what if I hate this one? Then this will be my last impression of the whole thing!! I’ll feel like I wasted my time if I am not satisfied by the ending. But, if I love it, it will make the entire read worth it!

let's chat

What are some books that intimidate you and why? Please let me know in the comments!

Jessica

Today Tonight Tomorrow by Rachel Lynn Solomon // ARC Review

Rachel Lynn Solomon’s book ‘Our Year of Maybe’ has popped up frequently on my Instagram, Twitter, Youtube, and Goodreads, and it’s been on my TBR for so long because of that. I had never actually read one of her books, though. Until last month.

And now I need to read the rest of her books immediately!

Today Tonight Tomorrow was a PHENOMENAL book. I ate up the story in a matter of two days because it was just so engaging and f u n.

Ok, before I gush about this book even more, let me tell you what it’s about…

Goodreads Synopsis:

Today, she hates him.

It’s the last day of senior year. Rowan Roth and Neil McNair have been bitter rivals for all of high school, clashing on test scores, student council elections, and even gym class pull-up contests. While Rowan, who secretly wants to write romance novels, is anxious about the future, she’d love to beat her infuriating nemesis one last time.

Tonight, she puts up with him.

When Neil is named valedictorian, Rowan has only one chance at victory: Howl, a senior class game that takes them all over Seattle, a farewell tour of the city she loves. But after learning a group of seniors is out to get them, she and Neil reluctantly decide to team up until they’re the last players left—and then they’ll destroy each other.

As Rowan spends more time with Neil, she realizes he’s much more than the awkward linguistics nerd she’s sparred with for the past four years. And, perhaps, this boy she claims to despise might actually be the boy of her dreams.

Tomorrow…maybe she’s already fallen for him.

Review:

First, let’s talk characters- Rowan Roth is smart, loves to read and write, and has a bit of a self-sabotaging personality trait. She was so relatable to me as someone with very similar interests and school habits to her. Sometimes her thoughts were so frustrating because you wanted to just shake her and tell her its okay to honest with yourself. But I definitely enjoyed her character arc. She made mistakes but she learned from them and actively worked to fix them in the end.

Neil McNair was equally as entertaining. He had his own unique quirks (like wearing suits to school everyday) which I really enjoyed reading about. More importantly, we learn so much about him and his personal life. Throughout the book, we get to uncover so many different layers of him, and it made me want to give him the biggest hug.

Overall, I think the characters were done really well.

As far as plot, I thought it was so much fun. Basically, the book takes place over the span of 24 hours, so it is very fast-paced. I was flying through it, as I mentioned earlier. Basically, we follow Rowan and Neil as they team up to win a game of senior scavenger hunt. I think the timeline aspect of this was really well-done. It didn’t feel like it was being dragged on just to fill up space. Each page had a purpose and it moved the story along. I will say, some parts of it were a little predictable, but that’s something I don’t mind (unless I’m reading a mystery/thriller).

The book tackles topics such as antisemitism, violence and a parent in jail, poverty, sex-positivity, and so much more. I am in awe at how much depth and rawness there is in this story. Rachel was able to convey so much in such a short period of time. In addition to those topics, the story also captures my feelings of leaving high school so well- it’s scary, it’s hard, it’s sad. But it also means you are moving onto something new.

I also really enjoyed the setting of Seattle, too. Though I have never been to Washington, it has always been a bucket list trip for me. This book shows us so many different parts of the city in great detail— it almost felt like I had been there myself.

There was also mixed media scattered throughout the story- a checklist, text messages, emails, flyers, etc. This added a little something to the story, and it made me love it even more.

If you couldn’t tell already, I gave this book a 5/5 stars!

I don’t think I’ll ever be able to stop gushing about this story. Please, please, please pick it up– it comes out one week from today!

If you have read it, please tell me what your thoughts were!

July TBR 2020 + Camp NaNo Plans

Hello everyone! If you missed my last post, I talked about how June was my best reading month ever in terms of quantity. I read 19 whole books!! So, for July, I decided to slow things down and take my time with reading!

I’m participating in Camp NaNoWriMo this month, and I really want to focus my time on writing. So, that means I will most likely be doing much less reading. But I’m okay with that! I also want to allow room for picking up whatever I want, instead of limiting myself to the TBR I pick. Also, I am planning on participating in The Reading Rush, though I’m going to make my TBR up as I go, so no official one this year!

So, I have chosen three books (though I’ll probably read more), which makes this probably my shortest TBR ever on this blog. One is a TBR jar pick, one is a libby loan, and the last one is an ARC.

So, without further ado, let’s get into it!

The Great Gatsby Graphic Novel illustrated by K. Woodman-Maynard

I got approved for this ARC very recently and I requested it on a whim- I have been wanting to dive into the world of graphic novels, but I didn’t know where to start. I figured going with a book that I already love would help ease me into them.

I definitely want to pick up more, though (Heartstopper is on my list for sure), so please recommend me some of your favorites- contemporary preferred.

Sociable by Rebecca Harrington

This was my TBR jar pick for the month, and in all honesty, I have no clue what it’s about. I’m assuming it’s about social media in some way, but aside from that, I do not know too much. I did take a quick glance at the reviews for this one, and they weren’t too great, so I am worried about reading it. Hopefully it will be something I at least somewhat enjoy, though!

The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison

Finally, we have a book that I am BEYOND EXCITED to read! I have the audiobook on Libby, and I have been waiting for July to start so I could read it! I read and loved Beloved by Toni Morrison last year, and it completely blew me away. I have heard even more amazing things about this one, so my expectations are very high. I love Morrison’s writing, so I am sure I will love it!

Camp NaNo Plans

As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, I am participating in Camp NaNoWriMo this month! Last month, I hosted a writing challenge where I set a goal to write for one hour every single day. I got to about the 50% mark of my novel, which is so incredible to me!! This is probably the most I’ve ever written for any novel I started.

For July’s camp, my goal is only set to 15k words, mainly because I know that I won’t write every single day the way I did in June. But, my more ‘lowkey goal’ is to finish the first draft of the book. That would be an amazing achievement on my part, though I do not know if I will be able to do it!

Anyway, if you want to add me on the NaNo website, my username is @jessicacwrites :)

My novel is a YA contemporary about an overachieving girl who wants to go to Columbia University. When she gets differed, she has to find a way to make her application stand out more- so she joins the track and field team!

That is a very basic summary, but it also involves some (mild) hate to love, a ballerina best friend, and MI representation!

Here’s an aesthetic board I created:

If you want to see more updates from me about it, I will be posting on Instagram and Twitter, so be sure to follow me there, too!

What are your plans for July? Are you going to do a lot of reading? Or maybe you’re participating in Camp NaNo, too? Let me know in the comments :)

My Biggest Wrap Up EVER! // June 2020

On average, I’d say I read between 8-10 books. During quarantine, this has gone up quite a bit, and I’ve been able to read around 12 books per month. I don’t know what happened in June, but I read NINETEEN books (and had one DNF). That is more than I have ever read in a single month before.

I’m not going to go into too much detail about all of these, but here they are!

Currently Reading

  • Where Dreams Descend by Janella Angeles: Okay, as you all know, most of my wrap-up’s include the book I’m currently reading when I have plans to finish it before the month ends (I still have one day left to finish it, and I think I will!!). I will update you all on my rating after I read it, but I will also have a review up for it in August :)

5 Stars

  • Save the Cat! Writes a Novel by Jessica Brody: I read the majority of this in May, so I don’t know if it reallyyyy counts, but I’m counting it anyway. This was really good for helping me with the structure of my novel, and I highly recommend it for all writers!!
  • Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson: Jacqueline Woodson is one of those authors you absolutely need to read. This was a short book, but it contained so much inside of it. We get to see the lives of different family members through short vignettes, and I really enjoyed it.
  • Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo: Elizabeth Acevedo is forever going to be a favorite author of mine, so there should be no surprise that I gave this one 5 stars!
  • Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane: I have been loving adult contemporary novels recently, and this one was no exception. If you like books that focus on families and characters (rather than plot), you will most likely enjoy this!
  • Beach Read by Emily Henry: I know that this has been getting a lot of hype (and some mixed reviews), but I personally loved it. I thought it was so fun and light-hearted. Plus, I could relate to the characters in terms of having an interest in writing!
  • Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo: I knew I would give this one five stars after really enjoying Six of Crows! I personally loved this one even more because I was much more familiar with the characters and the story.
  • All Boys Aren’t Blue by George M. Johnson: I picked this one up on a whim after seeing so much hype for it. It was a beautiful memoir, and I can not wait to buy a copy for myself.
  • You Should See Me in A Crown by Leah Johnson: This is quite possibly one of my new favorite books of all time. It was such a great book, and I don’t even know how to describe it in words. Please check it out!
  • Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng: I really adored this story. I love Celeste Ng and she is now a new favorite author of mine! I probably liked Little Fires Everywhere a little bit more, but both were equally incredible!
  • Today Tonight Tomorrow by Rachel Lynn Solomon: This book was SO MUCH FUN. I loved everything about it, and I will talk even more about it in a blog post next week, so stay tuned for that 👀

4 Stars

  • The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta: This was another very beautiful book. It is the story of a boy figuring out his identity and sexuality- I listened to the audiobook and highly recommend it. The cover is also one of the most gorgeous ones I’ve seen.
  • Stamped From the Beginning by Ibram X. Kendi: This is a non-fiction book about the history of racism in America. There was so much that it taught me, which I never would have learned otherwise. It is such an important read, and I think everyone should pick up.
  • King and the Dragonflies by Kacen Callender: I don’t read a lot of middle grade, but whenever I do, it always blows me away by how good it is! This one was no exception. It explores grief, racism, and sexuality.
  • Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams: This was such an incredible read. It’s very different from other books I’ve read, in that the voice of the main character is so unique and fresh. She’s not afraid to say what’s on her mind, but she’s also self-destructive and hits some low points. I will be thinking about this one for a long time.

3 Stars

  • Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson: This was a solid story, but not my favorite of the three Jacqueline Woodson books I’ve read. It was a good read, and I enjoyed it!
  • Letters to the Lost by McKayla Debonis: McKayla is coming out with a new poetry collection, and you all need to read it! Her collections are always so personal and raw, but I love them all because of this! You can really relate to her words.

2 Stars

  • You Are Not Your Thoughts by Frances Trussell: This was a nonfiction guide to mindfulness and meditation, but it just felt way too basic for me. The first few pages were really good, but then the rest kept repeating itself and it felt more like the author was spouting cliche philosophy. I wanted more from it.
  • The Bookish Life of Nina Hill by Abi Waxman: I was SO excited about this book. It’s about a girl who works in a bookstore, loves to-do lists and routines, and loves to read. Hello- that’s basically me. Unfortunately, there were just too many flaws with the structure of this book. It’s pitched as a romance, but the romance was so cringeworthy- there was absolutely no chemistry between the characters. I would have preferred to learn more about the newly discovered family of Nina, but that fell short, too. Just not for me, unfortunately.

DNF

  • Cursed by Thomas Wheeler: I started the audiobook for this and I was so lost the entire time. I got up to 30%, but I honestly couldn’t get into it at all.

How was your reading in June? Did you read any new favorites? Let me know in the comments :)

Quarterly Favorites #2 April-June 2020

Hello everyone! Today I am back with the second installment of my Quarterly Favorites series! If you haven’t seen the first one, feel free to do so before reading this one.

If I’m being honest, it was a bit hard to come up with some favorites this time around. I feel like I haven’t really been doing or trying anything new because of Covid-19. But, I did still want to share this post, despite it being a bit shorter than the last one!

Movies & TV Shows:

  • All American: This show is about a Black teen football player at Crenshaw High, Spencer, who gets asked to join the team at Beverly Hills. His whole life gets turned around and now he has to navigate a new world with new friends. I am currently on the second season but I ADORED the first season, and I am so excited to finish it.
  • The Morning Show: This is an Apple TV original show produced by Reese Witherspoon and Steve Carell (and staring Jennifer Aniston). I recently got a new laptop, and it came with a subscription to Apple TV. I have heard a lot about this show, and now I finally had the chance to watch it. It was PHENOMENAL and I can’t wait for the next season! It is a must watch- so gripping, so intense. I finished it in a matter of days.
  • Just Mercy: I haven’t been watching a lot of movies recently, but I saw that this one had become available for free online (and it still is for the rest of June, I believe!!), so I watched it. It was such a good movie.
  • 13th: I’m sure you’ve seen many people talking about this documentary lately, with all of the discussion of the BLM movement. It is so important, and it really does help to educate on modern racism.

Blog Posts I Loved:

  • Emme talked about her bad reading habits, all of which I am guilty of, too. It is good to know that I’m not the only one who does these, but I also liked reading this to see what things I should work on changing.
  • Caitlin tried guessing the synopses of different 2020 releases, and this was such a fun post. I had so much fun reading it and trying to guess along with her!
  • Kristin tier-ranked all of the YA novels she’s read, and I love watching tier-ranking videos on Booktube, so it was cool to see it translated to blogging. She’s also done a post ranking her favorite books, which I definitely want to do for myself, too!
  • Holly has written a few reviews in the form of letters recently, but my favorite is her review of The Starless Sea! She summed up my feelings so well. These are such unique reviews, and I really love reading them.
  • Tiffany hosts a book club with Alexandra, and I highly recommend checking it out! I am going to continue to join them during the months that I can, but the discussion in the Facebook group afterwards was so interesting!
  • Sofii shared a list of 30 LGBTQ+ book releases of 2020 in honor of pride month! I definitely found some new books to add to my TBR, so please check out this list!
  • Chloe talked about going without her phone during isolation, and it was so eye-opening! While you guys are reading this, I’m actually taking a week off of social media (any of my posts or Tweets have been pre-scheduled!). It is so important to unplug and spend time offline sometimes.
  • Marie wrote about a topic that was being discussed on Twitter recently, which is the way book bloggers are treated in relation to other ‘book influencers.’ It’s no secret that bloggers are often overlooked and undervalued, despite being basically the foundation of book promotion. This was a really interesting read, and I agreed with everything written!

My Posts I Loved:

  • I shared a list of books by Black authors that I want to read, and I want to re-share this post, in case you missed it. Do not stop supporting the BLM movement, and continue to read diversely every single month!
  • My testing book recipes post was so much fun to make, and I definitely want to do it again in the future! Let me know if you guys would be interested in that.

Other:

  • Cork-boards: I recently bought some cork-boards to hang up in my room, and I absolutely love the way they look. Mostly, I love that I can change out the pictures I hang on them anytime I want, so I can constantly create new vision boards for myself. I like to use them for inspiration!
  • Save the Cat! Writes a Novel: This book helped me out SO MUCH when I started outlining a new WIP this month. I am definitely going to be using it for a long time. If you are a writer, I highly recommend giving this method a try if you struggle with plot and structure.
  • Elta MD Sunscreen: I wear sunscreen everyday on my face. But now, especially that it is getting super sunny and hot, it is even more important. This is my favorite facial sunscreen ever, and it has been a life changer, honestly. It’s a bit on the pricier side, but it was recommended by my dermatologist, and I really do love it.
  • Watermelon Wonder Kombucha: I’ve always loved kombucha, and I’ve had this one a few times before. But recently, I have been drinking it so often. It is incredible and I never want to drink any other flavor.
  • Apple Watch: I got an Apple watch during this quarter of the year as well, and it was such a great purchase. I think it’s only worth buying if you are into fitness. Personally, I only use it to track my runs and workouts. It does have some other good features, but I don’t really use them much. As far as fitness tracking, I do think it works really well, and I love it!

What are some of your favorites from the past three months? Leave a comment letting me know :)

Mid Year Book Freak Out Tag 2020

It’s June, and that means we are halfway through the year!!! 2020 has been one interesting year, to say the least, but there is still a whole half left. I have no idea what the rest of this year will bring, but I am excited to talk about the books I’ve read so far with you all. As of when I am writing this post, I have read 61 books, which means I have completed my Goodreads challenge (of 52 books)! I was not planning on reading so many books this quickly, but with coronavirus, I have had a lot more time on my plate.

Despite this being a pretty bleak year in terms of current events, it has been a really great reading year for me! I have read some really great books so far, and I can’t wait to see what others I’ll read!

1. Best book you’ve read so far in 2020.

This was SO hard to answer because, like I said, this has been a really great reading year for me! It’s hard to choose just one because I’ve read some really incredible books, so here are my top 3:

  • Burn Our Bodies Down by Rory Power
  • Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo
  • You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson

I have no idea how I am going to make a top 10 list at the end of the year considering I already have so many great options!

2. Best sequel you’ve read so far in 2020

Oops, I have multiple answers for this one, too (🙈). My number one choice has to be Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo- I just read this one a couple of weeks ago, too, and it instantly became a favorite! I loved it much more than Six of Crows because I was more invested in the character’s lives (though SoC was amazing, too).

I also finally read the Diviners series this year (excluding King of Crows, still waiting on it from the library), and Lair of Dreams was definitely my favorite of all of them so far!

3. New release you haven’t read yet but want to

Again, I have so many answers for this question! How do people just pick one??? I’ve been fortunate to have been able to read many of my most anticipated releases already, but one book I am very excited about is Writers and Lovers by Lily King. It is one that I haven’t seen super hyped up by the book community, but I have definitely seen some really good reviews for it!

I also really want to get my hands on Harley in the Sky by Akemi Dawn Bowman! She is one of my favorite authors, so of course I want to read her latest release!

4. Most anticipated release for the second half of the year

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab: I haven’t read all of Schwab’s books- in fact, I’ve only read the first two books in the Shades of Magic series. But, the early buzz for this book makes me SO THRILLED about it. The synopsis was so intriguing to me, and it sort of gives me The Starless Sea vibes, and if it gives me even a hint of the feeling I got while reading that one, I’m sure I’ll love it.

5. Biggest disappointment

I thought this was going to be a hard question, but then I remembered Nutshell by Ian McEwan. I had such high expectations for it (and it was even on my 5-star predictions post), but I ended up giving the book a solid 2 stars. It just didn’t appeal to me, and I’m not sure if it was just the odd way of storytelling that I didn’t like or maybe this author’s works just aren’t for me. Either way, it was disappointing because I have seen such high praise for it.

6. Biggest surprise

I wrote a whole review for this book, but it was definitely one of the biggest surprises for me. That book is The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin. In all honesty, I wasn’t expecting to really enjoy it, much less LOVE it.

Check out the review because my thoughts are much better explained there!

7. Favorite new author (Debut or new to you)

This has to go to Celeste Ng. I have now read both Little Fires Everywhere and Everything I Never Told You and they were SO. GOOD. I will definitely be reading more by her in the future!

8. Newest fictional crush

I don’t really ever have fictional crushes if I’m being honest, but if I had to choose one, then it would probably be Kaz Brekker from SoC/CK. I just love a good broody, morally grey character. Would I actually want to date someone like him? No. But I just loved reading about him.

9. Newest favorite character

Stevie Bell from the Truly Devious trilogy! I read the first book last year, but I enjoyed getting to know her even more throughout the rest of the series. I think she is super cool and I would totally be friends with her.

10. A book that made you cry

Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo had me bursting into tears at almost every chapter. This book was gut-wrenching.

Also, All Boys Aren’t Blue by George M. Johnson had me sobbing, and How to Make Friends with the Dark by Kathleen Glasgow definitely made me cry.

11. A book that made you happy

The Way You Make Me Feel by Maurene Goo was such a cute read and it was filled with so many funny scenes. I thoroughly enjoyed it!!

12. The most beautiful book you’ve bought so far this year (or received)

Hands down, Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo. I mean, come ON! It is probably the most beautiful book I own if I’m being honest. The book without it’s dust jacket is absolutely stunning. I can’t get enough of it.

I also recently purchased Summer Bird Blue by Akemi Dawn Bowman, and that cover is so dreamy.

13. What books do you need to read by the end of the year

Ah this question makes me feel SO GUILTY. I started off the year with about 100 unread books on my shelves, and I’ve gotten it down to 75ish. Which I think is alright, but definitely not as far along as I wanted to be by this point. I am hoping to get this down to 50 by the end of the year. Some books I am hoping to read are…

  • Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo
  • Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
  • Wild Beauty by Anna-Marie McLemore
  • Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee
  • I Was Born for This by Alice Oseman
  • The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett
  • A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara
  • Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid

How has your reading been in 2020 so far? Have you found any new favorite books? Please leave a comment letting me know!

See you all soon!