6 Books I Want to Read This Summer

6 books on my summer reading list and 4 tips to help get out of a reading slump

Happy Friday!

***Before I get into today’s post, I wanted to shoutout my Patreon that I recently launched. You can check out all the goodies I am offering HERE, or scroll down and click on the Patreon icon at the very bottom of the page. Thanks 🙂

This summer has been a looong one for all of us. I mean, I was supposed to finish school at the end of April and have a 4 month summer (which is very long in itself) but because of COVID-19, summer will be almost 6 months! You think with all that time, I would have read dozens of books by now. It has been 3 1/2 months at this point, yet, how many books have I read? 9!

I have not finished a book since the beginning of May, but I am over halfway through Kingdom of Souls by Rena Barron. I am happy to report that I will definitely finish this YA fantasy and I am hoping it will encourage me to get back into the swing of reading since the annual Reading Rush is coming up and I want to participate in that (I will be sharing my TBR on Instagram so follow me @zoeiswriting).

And since I have been doing so many writing and creative entrepreneur-related blog posts, I realized it is time to talk about books! Even if I am not reading a lot right now.

Here are 6 books I want to read this summer.

1. The Demon King by Cinda Williams Chima

The Demon King, by Cinda Williams Chima | Fantasy books, Fantasy ...

I am in the mood for some good ol’ fantasy, so when I was at the bookstore, I decided to pick up The Demon King. I know this is a spinoff (?) series in the world that another one of her series takes place in but you can read this series without reading those other books. However, I realized I own The Warrior King (the first book in that other series)! Maybe I will give that a read after The Demon King because for whatever reason, The Demon King is calling out to me. Do I know what it is about? Nope! But nonetheless, I am excited to dive into it sometime this summer. Let me know if you have read this book, or any of her others books in this world, and what you thought about them.

2. Vengeful by V.E. Schwab

Vengeful: Schwab, V. E.: 9780765387523: Books - Amazon.ca

One of my goals this summer is to find Vicious, the first book in this series, and buy it because that is one GOOD book. I also want to pick up the long awaited sequel, Vengeful because I know it will be just as good, if not better. When I think about Vicious, I get chills. It is one of those books that even none readers will love so if you haven’t read it, I highly recommend it.

In the first book, we follow Victor and Eli who are college roommates and both intelligent and ambitious characters. In their final year, they become fascinated with near-death experiences and supernatural events after experiencing some odd things in their own lives, and realize they have the power to give each other extraordinary abilities. But no one human should wield this type of power, and it is no surprise when things go extremely wrong. The book then jumps 10 years into the future and we follow the fight between Eli, who wants to be the only superhuman in the world, and Victor. Who will survive and whose ability will become their undoing?

3. Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson

Mistborn: The Final Empire: Sanderson, Brandon: 8601419297900 ...

To be honest, I cannot even tell you how long this book has been on my shelf. I know it is time to finally read it, not only because I have heard nothing but good things about it, and also because I need to get around to reading a Brandon Sanderson book. One reason I have put off reading this book is because I own the mass market paperback edition (it was super cheap, okay!). However, I have glasses for a reason! It is time to buckle up and dive into this long book. Once again, I have no idea what it is about, but I am very excited for some classic high fantasy.

4. Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid: 9781524798642 ...

I know, I know. I’ve read this book two times already THIS year, but it is just so good. Also, I had no idea it was becoming a TV show! It already has a cast too and I am in love with it. Ever since I found out this exciting news, I have been itching to re-read it. I would have done it sooner, but I leant it to be boyfriend a few months ago and couldn’t get it back until I went and visited him 3 weeks ago. But now I have it back and it has been very tempting to re-read.

Daisy Jones and the Six is written in interview format and follows the rise and fall of a fictional band from the 70s (it is based off of Fleetwood Mac). If you are a music fan, especially a fan of rock from the 70s/80s, I highly recommend this book.

5. A Touch of Death by Rebecca Crunden

A Touch of Death (The Outlands Pentalogy #1) by Rebecca Crunden

This is a book I’ve spoken about in the past because I was given it for review about a month ago. Since I’ve been in a reading slump, I haven’t gotten around to it yet unfortunately, but I want to get to it sometime this summer. This is a dystopian YA novel and takes place a thousand years in the future where humanity lives behind the walls of a totalitarian Kingdom. This is a genre I haven’t read in a while. I hope I love this book and it gets me back into re-reading some of my dystopian favourites since there hasn’t been too much dystopian releasing lately!

6. The Devil’s Thief by Lisa Maxwell

The Devil's Thief (The Last Magician, #2) by Lisa Maxwell

Back in April I read the first book, The Last Magician and I loved it, so I am looking forward to finally reading the sequel, The Devil’s Thief. This series takes place in New York during the 1920s, which means the atmosphere is amazing. There is magic and morally grey characters and deception…some of my favourite things to read about. My local library is opening back up in August which is very exciting and I hope that they have this book for me to borrow!


Before I can dive into this books, however, I have to break out of my horrible reading slump. It is like I am rising out of it slowly, because I feel that desire to read deep down…but I am getting distracted by other things too easily.

Here are some things I am doing to get myself out of this reading slump:

  • Make time to read a little every day (15-30 pages)
  • Abandon books I don’t want to read and only reading what I want to
  • Not pressure myself to read
  • Do other things I enjoy like writing, working out, and listening to music

Those are all the books I want to read during these last 2 months of summer and before the school year begins in full swing. Let me know in the comments below what books you want to get read in July and August, because I would love to know!

Don’t forget to check out my last blog post as well as my social media accounts and Patreon below. Thanks for reading 🙂

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6 Books By Black Authors I NEED to Read

It is important to always support black creators – start by checking out this list of 6 novels written about black characters by black authors.

Happy Wednesday!

With everything going on in our world, it felt wrong to not use my platform to spread awareness regarding the Black Lives Matter movement and the injustices committed by police against black people. It is important to shout out black creators during this time, which is why I am using my platform where I discuss reading and writing to highlight the amazing black writers in our community.

I recognize that this is not enough and that there is more to be done. That is why I am including some resources at the end of this blog post for you, especially other allies like myself, to explore. There are petitions that need signatures and donations and information on this movement to educate yourself on.

This week, I took a look at my bookshelf and was embarrassed by how many books on it were written by black authors. It is nowhere near enough and I want to make it a priority to support black authors not only right now when social media is blasting this movement, but always. When reading a book, I always expect a diverse cast but rarely do I consider the person writing the cast. I need to change that and this is the beginning of that change. Please let me know if there are any others I should read because I am always looking for more recommendations.

Let’s get into this!

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

The Hate U Give: Amazon.ca: Thomas, Angie: Books

There is no excuse for me not having read this book yet. From what I know about this popular novel is that it is extremely relevant to what is going on now. Apart from being an educating read on racism in the police force against black people, I have heard from numerous reviews that Angie Thomas is an incredible writer and storyteller. I am expecting a powerful and emotional read, and I plan on getting my hands on this story ASAP.

Kingdom of Souls by Rena Barron

Amazon.com: Kingdom of Souls (9780062870957): Barron, Rena: Books

When I was researching young adult novels by black authors to read, so many came up that I have never heard about. I am always on BookTube or book blogs or on Instagram where I yes, follow book accounts, but still have never seen books like Kingdom of Souls talked about. I have been in the mood for fantasy lately so the synopsis of this book immediately caught my eye having to do with witches and our main character awaking her ancestral powers to stop a demon king. I am hoping my library has the ebook copy but if not, I will just purchase it from my local bookstore because I am craving more magical stories. Especially ones focused on black main characters because we don’t see that as much as we should.

Dear Martin by Nic Stone

Dear Martin : Nic Stone (author) : 9781471175565 : Blackwell's

When this book came out, there was so much buzz but I never picked it up. I remember seeing it on every BookTube channel, Instagram account, and even on the podcasts I listen to. Yet, I NEVER read it. This is another book extremely relevant to what is happening now, just as all these books are extremely relevant to today. Dear Martin follows our main character, Justyce who is a victim of police brutality. He is an excellent student with Ivy League in his future, and one day, he decides to explore the writings of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and dives into how they hold up today. Once again, I know this will be a powerful story, and I am hoping to get to it soon because not only do I want to read it, but I need to.

Tyler Johnson Was Here by Jay Coles

Tyler Johnson Was Here by Jay Coles

Another important read due to today’s challenges and injustices forced on the black community. Tyler Johnson Was Here deals with the wrongful shooting and killing of Tyler Johnson by a police officer that forces our main character, Marvin, to grieve his twin brother’s death and learn what justice and freedom mean in our corrupt world today. This book tells a story that is reality for many black people which is why it is crucial for me and other allies to read. I cannot even imagine how real this book is for some people, and I hope through reading this, I will learn more about the injustices others face that I do not.

Pride by Ibi Zoboi

Pride: Amazon.ca: Zoboi, Ibi: Books

I love the idea of a rejuvenated re-telling of Pride and Prejudice and that is exactly what this book is. Zuri is Afro-Latino and lives in Brooklyn, and while she has a lot of pride for her community, it is not enough to preserve her neighborhood that is rapidly becoming one she doesn’t recognize. One day, the Darcy family moves in across the street and due to her sister falling for one of the Darcy’s children, Zuri must find a common ground with one of their son’s, Darius. This book is filled with cultural identity, discussions on class, and first love. I am looking forward to reading this one soon! I have never read a Pride and Prejudice re-telling and I am glad this is going to be the first.

Opposite of Always by Justin A. Reynolds

Opposite of Always by Justin A. Reynolds

Even though this book came out last March, I have heard a lot about it recently and I am glad it is getting more hype. Here is me re-introducing it, or introducing it into your life! This sounds like such an adorable and charming book, but also a little sad. It follows the story of Jack and Kate; how they met and their time together as they grew closer…but then Kate dies. Her death forces Jack to look back on their entire relationship and when an opportunity to save her arises, he jumps at the chance to take it. However, something like that will have consequences and it may be on someone else that he loves. Ugh, this sounds so good and I am intrigued to see where the author takes the story!


RESOURCES:

#DefundThePolice

Justice for George Floyd

National Bail Out

Black Visions Collective

Those are 6 books by black authors that I NEED to read. If you have any other recommendations please let me know in the comments. I hope you enjoyed and will consider adding a few of these to your own TBR!

Don’t forget to check out my last blog post as well as my social media accounts which are linked down below.

Thanks for reading 🙂

Last Blog Post: June Reading + Writing Goals

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June Reading + Writing Goals

Happy Friday!

Both April and May have flown by, and now we are right on June’s doorstep which is crazy, but also why I am here with my reading and writing goals for June. I am keeping the load light however because once I finish my current projects (which I should in early June), my mind and body need a break from my computer.

Besides, May was very productive work-wise for me! However, I did not stick to any of my original May goals because a bunch of unexpected opportunities arose that I could not pass up. In order to take them, I had to set some of my own projects to the back burner because of it, but that’s okay. I know I will pick them up sometime this summer. Nonetheless, May was busy and productive and I am hoping to carry that into June.

Anyways, onto my June goals!

Finish Re-Typing

Deadline Goal: June 12

This is a 344-page project I have been working on for a client since May 7th, and it has definitely taken me a lot longer than I expected. However, I am trying to re-type 15 pages a day which will let me finish when I hope to…as long as I don’t stray too far from that daily page goal. Sometimes I can’t hit that goal though. Last night, I had a lot of troubling focusing so I only typed 10. I am not too worried because in the past, I’ve been able to catch up and I know I can do it again. Regardless, I am excited to get this done.

Finish Outlining Act III of “The Obsidian Butterfly”

Deadline Goal: June 14

I am horrible at finishing outlines, which is why I want to sit down and just finish this novel idea. I already have Act I and II done, so why didn’t I just finish Act III? No idea. To be honest, I do not know where Act III will take me which is probably why I haven’t planned it out yet. I want to end this story differently in the novel than I did in the novella version since I will have more room to expand the ending and I want to explore all the possibilities.

Write 10,000 Words Towards “The Obsidian Butterfly”

Deadline Goal: June 30

My goal was to write 50,000 words of this back in May and yeah, that did not happen! I think I made it to around 7,000 though, so at least that is something. In June, I would really like to make some more progress in this story. If I could get just 10,000 words down during June, that’s 2,000 words per week which in my mind, is a reasonable amount. However, if I don’t get that much, I just hope I finish outlining it!

Write 2 Articles for Flanelle Magazine

Deadline Goal #1: June 14

Deadline Goal #2: June 30

Last month, I only contributed one article to Flanelle Magazine which is a magazine I write for if you didn’t know (check it out HERE). They do not take me that long to do so I want to aim to get two out this coming month. Really, I just spend one day planning it out and then pitch the idea to my editor-in-chief. When she emails me back the following day with the okay, I write the first draft and go over it several times before sending it back to her. Overall, the process is two to three days. I love writing for this magazine and want to make sure it doesn’t fall to the side of all my other projects!

Read 3 Books

If you read my May Wrap-Up + June TBR (click HERE to read it), you will know I had a horrible reading month! In June, I really want to get back into the swing of reading and knock some books off my TBR, but I also don’t want to overwhelm myself. I am thinking that three books is a good goal. It is not too many books, but also not too little. Fingers crossed this is an easy goal to check off the goal list!


Those are all my goals for June and I hope you enjoyed reading through them! Hopefully, they inspired you to map out some goals you have for June. If you already have some goals outlined, drop them in the comments below because I’d love to know what they are.

Don’t forget to check out my last blog post as well as my social media accounts which are all linked own below.

Thanks for reading 🙂

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May Wrap-Up + June TBR

Everything I read in May and all the books I plan to read in June!

Happy Wednesday!

I cannot believe it is already that time of the month; the time where I share everything I managed to read (which…was not a lot this time around) and want to read in the next month.

I read only ONE book in May and have been halfway through another for at least three weeks now. I got so caught up with hustling and if you saw the writing update that I posted last Friday (click HERE to read it), you will know I had a very productive May project-wise. Just not reading-wise, which happens! April was such an amazing reading month that a slump was kind of expected. My goal for June is to get back into reading because whenever I don’t read every day, I always feel off and not going to lie, a little guilty!

Anyways, let’s get onto what I read this month and what I want to read in June!

May Wrap-Up

House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig

39679076

This is the one and the only book I finished during May and it wasn’t the best read, but it was a fast one. I have a whole non-spoiler review on it which you can read if you click HERE, so I won’t say too much about it. However, I will say that I was very excited to read it but it didn’t really meet my expectations. 3.5/5 stars

Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare

Clockwork Princess: Clare, Cassandra: 9781481456036: Books - Amazon.ca

I haven’t finished this book, but I decided to include it because I am 330 pages in but for whatever reason, even though I was liking it, I just stopped putting in the time to sit down with it. I tried to pick it up multiple times, but I just have not been in the reading mood! There will be no DNFing though because I know that if I don’t finish it, I will feel guilty because it is the last book in the Infernal Devices trilogy.

June TBR

Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare

Clockwork Princess: Clare, Cassandra: 9781481456036: Books - Amazon.ca

Hopefully, I will finish the last 200 pages or so of this book!

A Touch of Death by Rebecca Crunden

A Touch of Death (The Outlands Pentalogy #1) by Rebecca Crunden

This is a book I received for review purposes, but I am very excited to dive into it because I need some fresh, new reads to propel me back into reading. This is the first book in a dystopian series that takes place a thousand years in the future where humanity lives behind the walls of a totalitarian Kingdom. Stay tuned for my synopsis and review that will come later this month!

The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger by Stephen King

The Dark Tower I: The Gunslinger eBook: King, Stephen: Amazon.ca ...

Lately, I am in the mood to read the books I have never picked up on my shelf, and this is one of those books! I have never read a Stephen King book STILL, except for his book on writing, and I want to finally pick one up. I watched the movie years ago and liked it, so fingers crossed that I enjoy the book too. I know Stephen King has an amazing writing style and I am curious to see if I like it or not.

Legacy of Kings by Eleanor Herman

Legacy of Kings (Blood of Gods and Royals, #1) by Eleanor Herman

I read this book years ago and remember nothing except that it takes place in Greece and follows multiple POVs, including a young Alexander the Great. I do remember one important plot point, but other than that, my memory of this story is very faint. I own the sequel and have never picked it up so that is the prime motivator for me to re-read Legacy and continue on with the series. I am not sure if there is a third book, but hopefully, if there is, I like the first two enough to continue on!


Those are all the books I read in May and want to read in June, and I hope you enjoyed it! Let me know how productive May was for you and what your upcoming reading plans are because I’d love to know.

Don’t forget to check out my last blog post as well as my social media accounts linked down below.

Thanks for reading 🙂

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Writing Update!

An insight into my busy, writing-filled month!

FullSizeRender (1)

Happy Friday!

May has been a busy month in all aspects and because of that, I thought a writing update was in order. I will be sharing how I’m keeping busy and explaining how I kind of overwhelmed myself with work…as any creative workaholic does.

AZTEC INSPIRED NOVEL

I began this month with the goal to write 1,000 words a day for my Aztec novel but surprise, surprise, that didn’t happen. Overall, I did write 7,000 words or so which means this month hasn’t been a total loss creative writing-wise. There were a few factors that contributed to me abandoning this project:

  1. May has been an anxiety-filled month and I’ve found it difficult to write.
  2. I took on a paid re-typing project that has taken a lot of time.

At first, I definitely did beat myself up about not working on my Aztec project. Since we are quarantined, I figured I would finally have time to work on fiction projects that I neglected for most of the school year, however, here I am, taking on more random projects and having NO time. Although, I have finally accepted the fact that once I am done re-typing my client’s novel, I know I’ll have time to return to my own creative writing. There are still three months before I return to school (ONLINE school too) so I have time. We always have time even if we don’t realize it.

FLANELLE MAGAZINE

Due to having more time to enjoy movies and TV shows, I’ve found interest in learning about the entertainment industry during these trying times. If you didn’t know, I write articles for a fashion, art, and lifestyle magazine called Flanelle Magazine, and have been since March. This month, I did some research and wrote an article on the entertainment industry during COVID-19, which you can read if you click HERE. It would mean a lot if you checked it out because I spent a lot of time working on it!

I really enjoy writing for Flanelle Magazine because it offers me another platform to share my writing and reach a completely different audience than the one I have on here. It also allows me to build my portfolio and work with an editor-in-chief to improve my writing which I don’t have for my blog or creative writing. While I only contribute to it once or twice a month, it is nice to always have another project to turn to if I run out of them (which is usually not the case but still!).

RE-TYPING

I had never heard of people hiring others to re-type their novel before, but I discovered this paid position on my university’s job board and snatched it up. I won’t lie, it is a lot harder and much more time consuming than I anticipated but it has been a great learning experience. I would consider myself a fast typer, but as I mentioned above, this project is taking a lot longer than I would like. However, while I can’t talk about the subject matter of this novel, it has been super interesting to read through and learn about so that really does help.

BLOGGING!

If you haven’t noticed, I post three times a week now (except I didn’t post this past Wednesday but besides that) which has been super fun. I love posting a lot of content onto my blog because it is something I am so passionate about. Like Flanelle, it is a nice break from fiction writing and I find blogging a lot easier to do. I love sharing tips, recommendations, and advice, as well as whatever I am reading and loving at that moment. I love the community here and all the other amazing bloggers on this platform, and it motivates me to keep on blogging.

My schedule for posting on here always changes regarding school and whatnot, but since my fall semester is online, I am hoping I can at least keep up with posting twice a week. My ideal goal would be posting three times a week but since I plan on taking a full course load, that might not happen. I’ll try my best though because like I just said, I love to blog.

MARKETING AND SOCIAL MEDIA INTERNSHIP

Being a marketing and social media intern is a new addition to my never-ending list of tasks, and I am so thrilled to have gotten this opportunity to enhance my skills on social media. I am interning at Gypsy Journals and am starting that new internship on June 1st.

My passion for writing led me to my interest in marketing and social media only this past year, and ever since, I have been doing everything I can to explore the business side of social media and of writing too. When I received this internship, it felt like a step forward towards the career I want which will involve writing and marketing on social media like a social media manager, coordinator, etc. I cannot wait to start it in the next week or so, and I will keep you all updated along the way.


Those are all my writing-related updates for the month of May, and I hope you enjoyed it! Yes, it looks like a lot and I won’t lie, it IS a lot, but it has taught me so much about balancing my time and still staying healthy mentally and physically along the way. I am nowhere near mastering these two things, but it is all a learning process.

Don’t forget to check out my last blog post as well as my social media accounts which are all linked down below. I highly recommend checking out my last Instagram post because I started a new Insta segment called “So you wanna be a writer” where I talk about my writing journey, the opportunities I have found, and how to achieve your idea of success in your life. Give it a read and let me know what you think!

Thanks for reading 🙂

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5 Tips for Writing Short Stories

typing

Happy Friday!

Today, I wanted to share some of my tips and tricks for writing short stories. I recently finished writing a novella about a month or so ago, and it reminded me how careful and particular short story writing is. It is hard to know what to cut and how deep to dive into your world and characters.

Hopefully, this blog post can give you some insight into that!

#1: Don’t Fit 100,000 Words Into 2,000

This tip is especially important if you are writing fantasy. I always attempt to write fantasy short stories, which are the hardest to write, and I have to remind myself that I am only focusing on one or two specific incidents/events. Unlike a novel, you do not have to have a huge cast of characters or an in-depth explanation of the world, magic system, and history. Yes, you need to touch on those things in your short story, but they are not the main focus. The main focuses are the plot point of the short story (which can consist of one or two major events) and your main character. Maybe a second character as well.

The point is, you and your reader know and understand that this is a short story. It is not meant to explain everything, nor should it!

#2: You Should Know Everything

Going along with the first tip, just because your reader doesn’t know everything doesn’t mean you don’t. You are the storyteller, the writer, you MUST know every little aspect of your story, its world, the characters, etc for your story to work. Even if you don’t mention it in the story ever, your readers will notice something is off or missing.

Another reason I like to plan out everything, even if it doesn’t make it into the draft, is because if I decide the story could become a longer piece one day, I have most of the info already. Yes, some tweaking and adding to the outline will occur, but this way, you already have a strong foundation for a novel.

#3: Is Your Story Character-Based or Plot-Based?

While it is important to showcase both the plot and characters in every story, most tend to lean to one side more than the other. This is very helpful to determine in short story writing before you jump into drafting because it helps you know what to focus on. That way, in your short amount of time, you use your limited word count to make the characters or the plot shine.

Now, that does not mean you completely push off the one you aren’t as focused on. No, no, no. Both are still crucial elements to the story, but you are just figuring out where your strength and focus should be. You still need to thoughtfully plan on both aspects and showcase them in your story.

#4: Over-Write

I highly recommend over-writing when it comes to short story writing because this will ensure you aren’t leaving any important details out, which can happen in short stories. Personally, I usually write thousands of words over my target word limit (which I don’t always recommend), but it means I have gotten everything I needed to say for that story out onto the page. That way, when it comes to editing, I will read through the story and figure out what are the important and necessary pieces that need to stay.

Over-writing also means that I don’t need to add many more words (if any at all) because I got all the words on the page already.

#5: Editing Will Teach You How to Write Your Next Short Story

While every story is different both writing and editing wise, whenever I edit a short story, it helps me understand what to include and what not to include in my next one. It will show me that I focus on too much meaningless description because oh yes, I am cutting a whole paragraph describing the green hills out of a page…again.

Pay attention when you’re editing. Take note of what you are cutting out and what you find yourself cutting out over and over again. Most likely, these writing habits will transfer into your next short story or novel too. It can help save time and wrist strength!


These are my five short story writing tips and I hope you found them helpful! Let me know what your short story tips are below, or just any writing tips in general so we can help each other out 🙂

Don’t forget to check out my last blog post as well as my social media accounts which are all linked down below.

Thanks for reading!

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House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig – Non-Spoiler Book Review

My non-spoiler thoughts and opinions on House of Salt and Sorrow: a dark fantasy inspired by the Brothers Grimm’s story, “The Twelve Dancing Princesses”

Happy Wednesday!

After reading House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig and not hearing too much buzz about it online, I decided to write a non-spoiler review in case it sounds like something you would be interested in picking up.

This is a young adult book inspired by the story of “The Twelve Dancing Princesses” and it released in August of 2019. I loved this story when I was younger so I was very intrigued and interested in picking up this book. Here is a quick synopsis of the book in case you have never heard of it:

39679076

House of Salt and Sorrows follows Annaleigh who is one of eleven other sisters, the princesses of the Salann Islands. Once again, she finds herself at a funeral for another one of her sisters and now, only eight remain after the supposed curse that affects her family takes another. 

When Annaleigh becomes swarmed by gruesome, ghostly visions and her sisters begin disappearing to balls in the middle of the night in places unheard of, she begins to wonder if it really is a curse that killed her sisters, or if something dark is at play. She must discover the truth before death takes another one of her sisters, or finally takes her. 

I will not lie, my expectations were fairly high going into this book and while I liked it, it did not live up to my hype. However, I did enjoy my time reading it and had a lot of fun! There were strong aspects of the story and some weak ones as there always are, and I was happy to have a story featuring one of my favourite fairytales.

The first thing I want to comment on is the cover because I think it is GORGEOUS. I love covers with the ocean on them and this is covered in pretty shells and various shades of blue. Definitely worth the purchase to showcase on my shelves! I also love how it has octopi tentacles to allude to the darker elements of the story…very nice touch.

When I skimmed Goodreads reviews of this book, I noted that a few talked about how creepy the story was. Now, I do not get creeped out or spooked often, but they were right, towards the end of the book, the story took a dark twist that I enjoyed. Some parts made my skin crawl and I was pleasantly surprised that a book could still do that to me. This was mostly towards the end, but the whole book does have dark elements that I personally enjoy most. Towards the end of the book was also when the story had me the most interested.

The story was its strongest aspect. While it did fall flat at times, overall, I was curious to see how it ended. This kept me flipping the page and each time, wondering who would be the curse’s next victim and also who was the mastermind behind this all. Once the balls came into place too, I wanted to know more about them. The mystery aspect was what allowed me to hold on during all 400 pages and get through them in only a few days.

Honestly, I did like the world because of the role their gods played in it. I thought it was unique compared to other books and I enjoyed learning about the religion. We didn’t dive too deep into it, however, so I would have liked to see more of that. I also would have enjoyed more description of the world, but the bit that we did get intrigued me.

Sadly, the scenes at the balls failed my expectations. This was what I was most excited for but I felt like the explanation for it at the end of the story was rushed. It was an interesting take though, but if it had more development and thought put into it, it would have greatly benefited. Ugh, it is hard describing this without giving away spoilers!

The characters did suffer I think, because of the large cast of them that we followed. Some authors can pull this off, obviously, like Rick Riordan or Cassandra Clare, but in House of Salt and Sorrow, no character really stuck out to me. Annaleigh is our main character and the point of view we follow, and sometimes, I could feel her growing stronger but then some cliche plot point or stereotypical aspect would crush any growth or interest I was developing towards her. The sisters were the same. They were a very large part of the book yet I felt they all blurred together with only a few shining moments here and there. But, most of all, the side characters suffered. I do not even think I can mention any of there names. Even if they appeared multiple times, I honestly felt like most of them could have been cut without any loss to the story.

There was a romance in this book but…honestly, I am not even going to say much about it. All I will say is that I thought the author was going to take it one way, which would have been very refreshing to see, but then she didn’t and I was disappointed because of that.

My biggest complaint about this book was the lack of diversity. I mean, it is 2020! Maybe there was a person of colour in here, but they were not prominent enough for me to notice. The lack of diversity made me feel distant towards the book and since I realized it very early on, I had a hard time looking past that for the whole novel. It really impacted my time with it and I just wish that books published now would include something as realistic and necessary as diversity.

Overall, I would give this book 3/5 stars. It was satisfying enough but there was so much more potential for this story and world that I would have loved to see. I did like the dark mystery and fantasy vibe it had going, but I wanted more!


There is my NON-SPOILER review on House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig. I hope you enjoyed! If you have read it, let me know what your thoughts were in the comments below.

Don’t forget to check out my last blog post as well as my social media accounts which are all linked down below.

Thanks for reading 🙂

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Day-in-my-life: Quarantine Edition

An insight into my day-to-day and how I stay sane during the chaos.

Happy Monday!

Personally, I am a huge fan of day-in-the-life posts and vlogs, which is why I am bringing to you my very own day-in-the-life: quarantine edition post. This will take you through a usual day-in-my-life and what I do to keep busy and stay sane.

Let’s get into it!

7:30 am – Wake Up

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When I do not have a lot of projects I am working on, I will let myself stay in bed or sleep in until 8:30, however, for the past week, that has not been the case. I am crazy busy and find that I need to have an early start to the day because that is when I am most productive.

I go on my phone (bad habit, I know) for about 30 minutes and then get up to make some coffee. After I brewed a nice BIG cup, I will head back to my bedroom (aka my office), open my windows and sit down with my current read for about an hour. Lately, I have been a little distracted in the mornings, but regardless, I sit down with a book until 9 am.

9:00 am – Planning My Day

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Sometimes I plan my day the night before, but lately, I have switched it up and plan in the morning instead. I write my to-do list in my bullet journal and respond to some emails. I also set up my work area, get some water and just ready myself for a productive next two and a half to three hours.

It is nice to take advantage of my newfound free time during quarantine because before, I did not have the luxury of working on my own projects in the mornings because I would be at school. Now, I have 9 am – 12 pm to dedicate to my writing which is great.

9:30 am – Time to Work

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I did try starting my workday at 9 am, but I realized I wanted some more time in the morning for myself so I start at 9:30 am instead. If it is a day I have a blog post going up (Monday, Wednesday, and Friday), I will begin with that. I write my posts the day they go up, edit them, and then get images, hashtags, and other behind-the-scenes things in place. Once that is done (usually around 10:30 am, depending on the post), I will schedule it to go up at 12 pm PST. Once I finish, I usually make some breakfast.

If I do not have a blog post scheduled for that day, I will begin my day with whatever writing-related projects I have on the go. Or, I will get to work on them after finishing up all my blog-related tasks. Usually, that is writing my own writing projects like right now I am working on turning my Aztec novella into a novel. I try to write 1,000 words a day but currently, I am a bit behind schedule. I am not beating myself up too much though because I have a lot of projects on the go and as long as I am contributing to it every week, I consider that a win. Another writing project I do often is write my articles for Flanelle Magazine because I am a writer there. You can check out my latest post on their website, “COVID-19: How is the entertainment industry adapting?” by clicking RIGHT HERE.

Lately, I have had a lot of paid projects on the go too. In March, I was editing a client’s biography and now I am re-typing someone’s novel which I can’t say too much more about. It is fun integrating these into my morning writing-related routine. It helps to keep things fresh and motivates me to get more done in the mornings.

12:00 pm – Workout

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I am always working until the very last minute, sometimes even writing close to 12:30 pm but I try really hard not to do that and cut myself off at 12:10 pm so I can get my body moving for the first time that day. Luckily, I have gotten into a pretty good workout routine. I workout 5-6 times a week and alternate my routine every day so I don’t get bored of it.

On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, I do a harder and longer workout. I typically spin for 20-30 minutes, spend 15-20 minutes on my arms or legs (depending what week it is), and then do two or so ab workouts by following a video online (usually one on Chloe Ting’s YouTube channel).

On Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, I cut this routine in half and only spend around 25-30 minutes on my workout.

I know this is weird, but I love watching YouTube videos when I spin or use my rowing machine. Usually, day-in-the-life’s. It just motivates me to be productive during and after my workout, and it allows me to catch up on YouTube videos without taking time out of my workday.

Multitasking at it’s finest, I say.

1:30 pm – Lunch, Shower & Finally Get Ready for the Day

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I like to give myself a generous break in the early afternoon and will take until 3:00 pm to eat, get ready, and relax before jumping into more work. It varies what I will do but some common things are taking a walk, reading, watching Netflix, or yes, watching more YouTube videos.

It is important to take a break!

Although, if I have any calls or video chats I need to do, I will try and schedule them between 2 pm and 3 pm so my break gets cut a little short.

3:00 pm – Course Work

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If you didn’t know, I paid for a full-year membership on Coursera to explore courses that my university does not offer like digital marketing, graphic design, social media marketing, etc, etc. So far, I have been really enjoying it.

Right now, I am taking The Strategy of Content Marketing, Personal Branding, Digital Media & Marketing Strategies, and Marketing in a Digital World. I alternate which days I work on them because again, it helps things not to feel stale. Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays are for Digital Media and Marketing in a Digital World because those are my most heavy courses. And then Tuesdays and Thursdays are for the other courses which tend to be a little less intensive.

Rarely do I have to do a little extra after 6 pm or on Saturday because I try really hard to give myself the evenings and Saturday off! However, sometimes I save a small assignment or quiz that I save for t hen.

6:00 pm – Dinner, Socialize & Relax

Finally, we have reached the end of my workday!  Here is a list of what I spend my time doing from 6 pm to when I go to bed at 11:00 pm:

  • Eat dinner with my family
  • FaceTime my boyfriend and friends
  • Take a bath and read
  • Watch Netflix
  • Organize my room
  • Play video games
  • Bullet journaling

The weather has been so nice the last few days and we recently hung up our porch lights so I have been spending some evenings out there, reading or just listening to music too.

 

On Sundays, it is a bit different because I work from 11am – 5pm and then work on Coursera tasks for a few hours in the evening. Not too many writing-related tasks get done though.


There you have it! That is a day-in-my-life: quarantine edition and I hope you enjoyed it. Let me know in the comments what a typical day in your life looks like because I’d love to know.

Don’t forget to check out my last blog post as well as my social media accounts which are all linked down below.

Thanks for reading 🙂

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April Favourites: Books, Movies, Music + More

A guide to everything I loved during April 2020.

Happy Wednesday!

Today, I am here to bring you a list of all my April favourites: everything from books to TV shows to music. Just the things that I have been loving.

These favourites are all new discoveries for me (except for one, but I think you can figure out which one it is), and are things I just want to praise and discuss with you all. Let me know if you have read, watched, or listened to any of these so we can discuss them in the comments below!

Books

The Last Magician by Lisa Maxwell

The Last Magician (The Last Magician, #1) by Lisa Maxwell

I have raved a lot about this book but I am going to rave about it again right now. The Last Magician takes place in New York during the 1920s. We follow Esta, a girl from the present who travels back in time to find a lost book that could set magicians free from New York by breaking the curse that keeps them trapped there. The story itself is entertaining enough, but what comes alive for me is the characters and their relationships. I love books with morally gray characters and this book is filled with them. I have mentioned before that this book took me about one hundred pages to really get into, but once you get past the intro, the story just flies.

I highly recommend this book if you enjoy books like Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo because of the similar heist plotline, and The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater because of the great cast of characters.

The Toll by Neal Shusterman

The Toll | Book by Neal Shusterman | Official Publisher Page ...

As the final novel in the Arc of a Scythe trilogy by Neal Shusterman, I was not surprised that this became a favourite for the month. Would I say it is my favourite novel of the three in the series? No, I honestly think the first one remains my personal favourite of the three. However, I did really, really enjoy The Toll and just flew through it despite its 600+ page count. I think the reason I liked this book so much is because of the twists and turns the plot took, especially the ending. It caught me so off-guard and I love when stories do that because it is not often they achieve that for me anymore.

If you didn’t know, the first book in this series, Scythe, takes place in a dystopian world where humans have conquered everything from disease to death. To keep the population in balance, there are people called scythes who kill a certain quota of people at random each year. Our main characters, Citra and Rowan are chosen as scythe apprentices to a well-known scythe called Scythe Farady, but they realize that a life of killing may not be one they want to live.

TV Shows/Movies

Elite

Netflix's 'Elite' Review: 7 Moments You Didn't Appreciate at the ...

Oh my god. This TV show is SO addicting and if you like high school dramas intertwined with a murder-mystery, I highly recommend this show. It is in Spanish, but the English dubbed version is so well-done that it doesn’t take you out of the story at all. However, I am hoping that once I get better at my Spanish, I will be able to watch the original version and have some sense of what is going on.

In the first season, we follow a pretty big cast of characters who attend this preppy private school. Three of these characters are new to the school and are “scholarship” kids who are invited to attend after a terrible accident occurred at their last school. Soon after they arrive, a murder takes place at the school. Everyone turns to the scholarship students but the truth is a messy and winding road. Season one is all about finding out who died, what happened, and who did it. When I tell you that you will get sucked in, I MEAN it!

Stuck in Love

Amazon.com: Stuck in Love by Millennium by Josh Boone: Movies & TV

I know this is from 2013 but I didn’t watch this movie fully until this past month, which is crazy because Lily Collins AND Logan Lerman both star in this movie. To be honest, I am a sucker for romcoms or really any romantic movie. Especially the ones that follow multiple characters and storylines that eventually connect. How I randomly came to watching this movie is because I wanted some feel-good movies and stumbled across Crazy Stupid Love. I liked that movie but then I got recommended Stuck in Love and I was like, “Oh, I’ve heard of this. Let’s watch it now.” And I just ended up liking it even more. It is charming and entertaining enough. By no means does it come in contest with Love, Rosie which might be my favourite romantic movie of all time, but it was what I wanted at the moment. Hence, it makes the list.

I think it is better to go into this movie without a clear idea of what it is about so I am just going to leave it at that!

Music

Hamilton

Hamilton (musical) - Wikipedia

Obviously, I listened to the Hamilton soundtrack back in 2016, but I started listening to it again last month and was reminded of how much I love it. And also how excited I am for the film version to be released next year! Listening to these songs puts me in the best mood and just talking about it now makes me want to listen to it…so I think I am going to go put that on right now.

Radio by Lana Del Rey

Lana Del Rey – Radio Lyrics | Genius Lyrics

To be honest, this is the first Lana Del Rey song I have listened to in full which yes, it is crazy, I know. I was making a playlist on Spotify called “Like a Movie” and this song popped up. This is the sort of song that you play driving down the street at night. It is haunting and slow but so, so good. It was definitely a perfect match for the playlist I added it to.

Forever by CHVRCHES

CHVRCHES – Forever Lyrics | Genius Lyrics

I found this song because of the TV show, Elite. It plays in quite a few episodes but I was really sold on it while watching the final episode of the third season. It plays while they are at their graduation party and it is just a fun, upbeat song. It reminds me of something that would come out in the early 2010s and that I would be obsessed with. It just gives me that nostalgic feeling that I love.


Those are my April favourites and I hope you enjoyed! I haven’t done a favourites post for a while, but I think I will do them every so often because I really enjoy looking back on a month and remembering everything that made me happy. Let me know what some of your April favourites were!

Don’t forget to check out my last blog post as well as my social media accounts which are linked down below.

Thanks for reading 🙂

Last Blog Post: 5 Ways to stay productive during quarantine

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5 Ways to stay productive during quarantine

5 easy ways to ensure productivity and motivation while stuck at home.

Happy Monday!

Today, I am bringing you my top 5 ways to stay productive (and sane) during quarantine. These are simple things you can do to infuse in your everyday routine and are activities that I have found very helpful.

I know the online world is exploding with content like this, but I do think it is really helpful. Seeing YouTubers and bloggers posting their “Quarantine Day-in-the-life” and “how to stay motivated” videos and posts remind us all that we are in this together. Also, sometimes we need a reminder of how to stay productive and upbeat during these trying times. Which is what I am hoping to do today!

1. Be Creative Every Day

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If you didn’t know, I am a writer at Flanelle Magazine (which you can check out if you click HERE) and a month or so ago, I wrote a blog post called “COVID-19: The importance of keeping art alive in quarantine” and it highlights WHY we need to stay creative and artistic during this time. If you want to read it (which I recommend you do!), you can find the link to it right HERE. It will help you understand why you should be creative every day, and then the rest of this post will show you HOW you exactly you can do that.

Anyways, enough of the shameless self-promo!

First off, when I think of creativity and “being creative,” I think of the act of creating things. So, that is what I mean when I say be creative every day…create things daily. This will boost your mood and keep you busy. Whether it is writing for 30 minutes in the morning or unwinding at night by following a Bob Ross painting tutorial, include something creative into your everyday routine (which means it is important to HAVE a daily routine, but I am sure you’ve heard that from enough people…but make one!).

Some other creative things you can do are:

  • Write in a journal
  • Re-decorate your room
  • Collage
  • Sew and re-vamp your wardrobe
  • Learn how to draw
  • Create a bullet journal
  • Start a YouTube channel, blog, Instagram account, etc
  • Garden or grow things on your window sill

2. Become Friends with Time Blocking

I found it hard to utilize time blocking while in school and living my normal, not quarantined life, but while being stuck at home, I have found this tactic so helpful.

What is time blocking?

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Time blocking is when you dedicate chunks of time throughout the day to a specific task. For example, I have been dedicated 10 am – 12 pm to work on writing-related tasks. This includes my creative writing and writing blog posts. That way, it is done for the rest of the day and I can focus on the other things I need to get done. 12 pm – 1 pm is dedicated to working out, and then 3 pm – 6 pm is for my Coursera or school-related work.

Using this productivity method makes sure you are staying busy. You can go into the day knowing what you are doing which I find crucial with everything so up in the air nowadays.

Don’t forget to time block breaks too! Time blocking is important to ensure productivity, but every productive block requires a break too. For example, I take from 1 pm (or whenever I finish my workout) until 3 pm to do whatever. Sometimes, I will read, watch Netflix or play Fallout 4. But that time is my afternoon break time and it is incredibly important because it refuels my energy and allows me to stay motivated for the rest of the day.

3. Do Something New and Different Every Day

This is a tip you can combine with being creative every day because that new activity you want to try could be learning how to draw or starting a window sill garden. Or whatever other creative tasks you want to tackle.

While I enjoy having a strict routine right now, I have found that the days just blend together. Including something new and different every day keeps them as exciting and refreshing as they can be. It seems small, but it really does make a difference.

Some new and different things you can try:

  • Start a New Course (I have been loving Coursera for this, and guess what! You can audit most of their courses for FREE)
  • Learn a language
  • Pick up a new hobby like gardening, knitting, or baking
  • If you can go outside, find a new hiking trail (but don’t forget to social distance!)
  • Switch up your morning or night routine
    • Let yourself sleep in later or start reading in the mornings
    • Or at night, start taking take a bath before bed or watching an episode of a TV show

4. Develop a Reward System

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Sometimes, we are too hard on ourselves for not being “productive enough.” I know I am. Even if it is a Saturday, a day I should and want to spend relaxing, I cannot help but feel anxious about not working on my Coursera work or writing. It ends up ruining my whole day and I have been working on finding out how to combat this. I realized developing a rewards system is a method that has positive results for me. It also gives me more energy for that week and the weeks to come. A rewards system increases my productivity if anything. 

I am very good at keeping myself busy, and I would keep myself on a go-go-go schedule for the entire week (including the weekends) but I know that is not healthy. We all need a break and guess what? We are allowed a break too! What I found works best for me is still being a little bit productive on my days off. This just means I have to take breaks and reward myself more during the week so I do not feel like I am overworking myself.

An example I can give is how I reward myself after a writing session. To avoid creative burnout, I have begun giving myself a 30-minute break to do whatever I want after every successful writing session (which means I write 1,000 words). This is on top of my 1:30ish pm – 3 pm break. However, the one guideline I gave myself for it is that I cannot take my break after 6 pm because I am usually relaxing during that time anyway.

Now, I am doing this rewards system for every task on my to-do list that I complete (unless it is something simple like doing the laundry, but I think you understand that). If I finish my 2 hours of writing-related tasks in the morning, I can take a walk or work on taking some Instagram photos. When I finish an hour of Coursera work, I can watch a TV episode. Sometimes, my days do stretch past 6 pm because of this system, but that is okay because I am taking a lot of breaks during the day which has been helping me to not feel anxious when I do less on Saturdays.

Figure out what works best for you as a rewards system and do that. Maybe you work really hard during the workweek and feel good taking two full days off. Or maybe you like to work every second day, taking breaks on the days in between. Just make sure you are rewarding yourself and taking breaks!

5. Exercise Daily

My motivation to workout always ebbs and flows, and thankfully, it is flowing during quarantine. Maybe it is because we are stuck inside all day, but for the last month, my workouts have been the thing I look forward to every day. So much so, I started working out six days a week instead of five.

When I say workout, that does not mean you have to pull a hardcore one-hour cardio and ab workout every day. Your daily dose of exercise can be a walk around the block (if you can), doing a 10-minute at-home workout, or following a yoga video. Getting your body moving is so important and making sure you do that every day will impact your productivity and motivation for the better. 

Last week, I found the amazing Chloe Ting’s YouTube channel and have been LOVING her videos. They are such a great workout, even better than what I could do myself if the gyms were open. I feel so rejuvenated and awake after doing just one of her 10-minute ab workouts, and yes, very sore, but it is so worth it. I have infused her into my own workout routine, which I had a lot of fun creating when quarantine first started, and it was a fun way to spice it up.

Even if it is not a long workout, it will boost your motivation and energy to continue having a productive day.

 

REMEMBER: It is okay not to be productive every day! Sometimes we have days where our energy is at an all-time low and that is when you know it is time for a break. Don’t feel bad about taking it, even though that can be hard to do. Instead, try to enjoy it!


There they are! My 5 ways to stay productive during quarantine. I really hope this was a helpful post for you guys, and that it inspired you to keep productive and motivated. If it did, let me know what you took away from it!

Don’t forget to check out my last blog post as well as my social media accounts which are all linked down below.

Thanks for reading and stay healthy 🙂

Last Blog Post: April Wrap-Up + May TBR

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