February TBR

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February 2019 TBR

February 2019 TBR

This is a monthly feature on my blog where I will state my intentions to read certain books, then cross my fingers and hope it actually works out.

January Wrap-up

First, let’s look at what I read in January.  I will link to my reviews of the books.  Some of these books were on my January TBR; some were not 🙂

  1.  Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas
  2.  Imperfect Courage by Jessica Honegger
  3.  Tower of Dawn by Sarah J. Maas
  4.  The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
  5.  Circling the Sun by Paula McClain

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The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

“I refuse to watch the movie of this book until after I have read it!  And I really want to watch the movie, so I’m finally going to read it.  This is another of my choices for the Book Challenge by Erin  I’m pretty sure that my whole family already read this book back when it came out and was really popular.  I am expecting lots of plot twists since it came out around the time that Gone Girl did and I had the feeling that there were similarities between the two.  It’s about a woman who rides the same train every day, casually spying on a perfect couple as she passes by until one day something shocking happens that changes everything!  Should be a good one.” -quoted from my January TBR post.  I didn’t get to this one last month.

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My Lady’s Choosing by Kitty Curran and Larissa Zageris

This book is “an interactive romance novel.”  I found this book because of the Popsugar prompt to read a choose your own adventure book.  I am so excited to see where my choices will take me!  According to the description, there seem to be three different men that I can end up with, and I can travel to Egypt, Paris, and London.  Of course I could also end up destitute and on the streets.  Wish me luck!

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Where the Forest Meets the Stars by Glendy Vanderah

This book is one of the Kindle First Read choices this month.  If you are a Prime member, you get one free new release each month and you should make sure you are taking advantage of this opportunity.  I have found some excellent books this way!  This book will officially be released in March, but Prime members can have early access.  Bird research, a mysterious child, Shakespeare!  Who could resist trying this book?!?

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Meanwhile by Jason Shiga

This is another book that I discovered because of the Popsugar prompt to read a choose your own adventure book.  Meanwhile is unique as it is written as a choose your own adventure style comic book.  I am excited to read it and see where my choice of ice cream flavor will lead me.  I think there’s a time machine, too, and I love time travel!

 

 

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The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware

I read Ware’s The Woman in Cabin 10 last year and really enjoyed it.  It felt like an Agatha Christie book.  I used to read Agatha Christie all the time when I was in high school, so I am really looking forward to reading this one.  This book follows Hal, who receives an inheritance and then grows suspicious and begins to investigate.
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Kingdom of Ash by Sarah J. Maas

If I have time this month, I am definitely going to squeeze this book in: the last book in the Throne of Glass series.  OMG!  OMG!  I can’t wait.  Will Rowan save Aelin?  Will they win the war against Erawan?  Will all the friends and frenemies reunite and save the world together?  What’s going to happen?  The suspense is too much!  I might have to start reading it tonight 🙂

 

What are you reading?  Have any good book recommendations?

Have you read any of the books on my TBR?  What did you think?

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Imperfect Courage by Jessica Honegger – A Review

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What It’s About:

This book is the author’s story of going scared and starting a successful business.

What I Thought:

I had high expectations for this book.  My word of the year is ‘leap,’ and part of my leaping is starting a small business.  I really thought that this book would give me the courage to take that leap.  This book did not live up to those expectations, unfortunately.

I struggled to get into this book.

I did not connect with the author.  I feel like it’s important to connect with the author when reading a memoir-style book.  It is the equivalent of finding the protagonist of a fiction book to be believable.  Without that connection, the story will fall flat.  The description on the back of the book claimed that Honegger included the inspirational stories of other women in the book also; however, all of the women seemed to be part of her business which made all the stories feel like the same story.

The author had a good overall message.

She encourages us women to build community, take risks, and help each other through this world.  Unfortunately, by the end of the book, I felt like I had read a huge advertisement for her business, encouraging me to save the world by joining her and holding jewelry trunk shows in all my friends’ houses.  Also, at times the story felt like a white savior narrative (probably my own issues and current racial work showing through).  Definitely, not what I was expecting.

Have you read this book?  What did you think?

 

Plan With Me: February 2019

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Hello February 2019!

Plan With Me February 2019

Plan With Me February 2019: Title Page and Calendar

This month, I chose Chinese new Year as my theme, filling my title page with lanterns and focusing on the colors red and black.  I was inspired by both @amandarachlee and @enbinguyens, who have both used this lantern theme in previous bullet journal spreads.

Plan With Me February 2019

Plan With Me February 2019: Goals Page

Monthly Goals

Every month I have a goals page in my bullet journal with minimum decoration since I want lots of room for keeping track of goals.  When I make my goals for the month, I look back to my yearly goals and set some mini goals in each area to keep me on track to meet my annual goal.  I will usually have a reading goal, business goals, blogging goals, a WIP tracker, birthday reminders, and some new things to try this month.

 

Plan With Me February 2019

Plan With Me February 2019: InCoWriMo Tracker

 

InCoWriMo

During February, I will again attempt International Correspondence Writing Month (InCoWriMo).  I love to write letters, although I lack the dependability to be a really great penpal.  Every February I try to write a letter every day and usually fail.  The only year that I succeeded was the year that I wrote notes to every student who was doing well in my classes, but it felt like I was cheating.  This year I am also participating in #atc4inco which should help me knock some of those letters out!

Plan With Me February 2019

Plan With Me February 2019: Weekly and Daily Setup

Weekly and Daily Spreads

For my weekly spreads, I tend to always use the same vertical format.  It works so well for me that it is hard to change it.  I cut dutch doors, so I only have to draw the little monthly calendar at the top of the page once.  This month I decorated the top of the pages with a pig and a general horoscope for the year of the pig.  Each day on my weekly spreads has a space for my events and a lot of space for my daily to dos.  This section of my bullet journal is to help me remember all of my tasks and be more productive, so I don’t decorate my weekly spreads with art beyond the heading.

What about you?  Do you bullet journal?  What is your theme this month?

How Press-on Nails Saved My Life

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Hello, my name is Lisa… and I am a nailbiter.

Yes, that’s right, I bite my nails.

My bitten nails

How my nails typically look after some nailbiting.

I know it is gross. I know that it’s not healthy. And I still cannot stop myself sometimes. However, I never considered that my nailbiting could be dangerous, until I ended up in emergency surgery.

It all started in 2010. My index finger on my left hand started to swell up and turn red. I have a history of Juvenile Arthritis, so I thought nothing of it, but my finger continued to swell. When it felt like my fingernail was going to pop off my finger, I went to the emergency room.

The doctor who examined my finger prescribed me some antibiotics and, in a forceful voice, suggested I call an orthopedic doctor as soon as possible. I did exactly as instructed and a couple of days after that ER visit, I was whisked into emergency surgery where a surgeon scraped the infection off my tendons and knuckle joint. I awoke from surgery screaming in pain.

When the infectious disease surgeon grew a culture from the material scraped from my finger, he found MRSA.

MRSA.

When I heard him say MRSA, I started to cry. This was serious.

The big question at the time was: how? How did MRSA enter my finger? There was no obvious wound or cut. No recent insect bites. No incisions.

The doctor’s only conjecture was that my short, ragged, bitten nail had opened my nail bed to infection. Because of my bad habit, I had allowed a fatally dangerous bacteria to enter my body. I was devastated. I immediately vowed to never bite or pick at my nails again.

Bad habits, however, are not that easy to break.

I tried everything. This was no longer about vanity; this was my life. I instructed my husband to say something everytime he saw me biting or picking at my nails. He agreed, and I quickly realized that I was picking at my nails a lot more often than I thought I was, usually without any conscious thought involved.

I tried going to the salon and getting a full set of acrylic nails. It was a painful experience. My fingers were already raw and damaged when I arrived, but after being poked and prodded by the nail technician, I was really hurting. It made it hard to want to go back and do it all again, but when my nails were covered by acrylic, they grew and healed. It was something close to a miracle.

My nails grew and I maintained them… for a while.

But every so often, something happens, and I systematically destroy every nail on my hands. I cannot figure out what triggers it. Stress, maybe? I really don’t know. I hated going to the salon but it was the only solution I knew, until I saw an ad for Impress press-on nails.

Press-on nails saved my life!

The last time that I destroyed my nails, I went to the store and bought some Impress press-on nails. The nails lasted for three weeks and gave my damaged nails an opportunity to start healing. I bought another set and then another, and suddenly my nails were healthy and strong. There was no pain in the application stage and no damage afterwards, both of which are side effects of acrylic nails.

My first set of Impress press on nails

My first set of Impress press on nails

One week later when I randomly decided to bite and destroy one nail on my right hand, I could cover that one nail with a press-on immediately and take away the temptation to continue biting and picking. I can coordinate my press-on with my current nail polish or I can even paint right over the press-on with my nail polish.

Press-on nails are my answer to nail-biting.

I finally have a weapon that I can use to fight my bad habit. I finally have a weapon I can use to prevent further infection of my nail beds and fingers. I finally have a weapon that allows me to grow strong, healthy nails.

How about you? Have you ever used press-on nails? Are you a nailbiter? What do you do to keep your nails healthy and strong?

I’ll see you later.  I’m off to buy more Impress nails!

Tower of Dawn by Sarah J. Maas – A Review

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Tower of Dawn by Sarah J. Maas - a Review

Little sloth hanging out with Tower of Dawn by Sarah J. Maas

What it’s About:

This book is part of the Throne of Glass series.  The action in Tower of Dawn takes place at the same time as Empire of Storms, but follows Chaol and Nesryn as they travel to the Southern Continent.

What I Thought:

Well, as I may have mentioned before, I am obsessed with this series.  If you want to read some of what I love about this series, you should read my review of Empire of Storms.  In fact, I was so excited to continue the series that I read this book even though it was not on my January TBR.  Oops!

The Cast of Characters Keeps Growing

I mentioned in my last post how much I love the characters in this series.  The bad guy is the ultimate kind of bad; as the reader, I cannot wait for the good guys to slice and dice him!  But the good guys are flawed, a mixture of good and bad choices.  I still love that aspect of the series.

In this installment, new characters are introduced.  We meet the royal family of the Southern Continent and the healers of the Torre.  Each new character is interesting and has a distinct personality.   I loved learning how they are all connected to the overall story and to the characters introduced in previous books.  We also get to meet some new creatures, specifically the ruks, and we learn new and shocking information about some of the characters we met in previous installments.  I don’t want to give any spoilers but… Maeve, oh I dislike her even more after this book!  Ugh!

The World is Getting Bigger

As a person who has a really difficult time with world-building when I write, I am in awe of Sarah J. Maas.  By bringing her characters to the Southern Continent, she has introduced over 30 new gods, a ruling family based on Genghis Khan, and a tower full of learned healers.  Will she ever run out of ideas?  Where does it all come from?  I am so impressed by her ability to build new worlds, culture and rituals.  Although we had hints of the Southern Continent in the previous books, actually getting to travel there and experience this rich, new world is amazing.

I am now at that difficult place in a series where I can’t wait to read the next book but I don’t want the series to end, and the next book is the last book.  Sad face.

Have you read this series?  What did you think?

Also, tell me what you are reading!  Any recommendations?

Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas – A Review

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What it’s About:

This book is part of the Throne of Glass series and continues the story of Aelin Galathynius and her group of friends (and frenemies) as they attempt to save the world from evil.

What I Thought:

I am so obsessed with this series! And this installment did not disappoint. So, what is it that I like so much about this book?

Characters

Well, first we need to talk about the characters. I love when the bad guy in a book is pure evil, no possibility of redemption. It makes the desire to destroy them so much easier. This book has a perfectly evil bad guy. Oh, the awful things he does! It will make your skin crawl.

I also love when the good guys are not perfect, and this book delivers on that front also. There heroes are no goody two shoes. They all have their flaws and their past mistakes. They still might save the world!

World-Building

Sarah J. Maas has created an amazing world for this series and she describes it so expertly. She is skilled at describing the world and characters without taking away from the story. Instead her descriptions immerse the reader in the story and carry the action forward. I have great respect for authors who can add description as a natural part of the story, especially since I feel like it is a weakness in my own writing.

Protagonist

Our female lead is frustratingly awesome!  If she doesn’t already play chess, she should start now and immediately become a world champion.  She is always ten moves ahead of everyone else, even her closest friends or allies.  When I read this book, I was pretty sure that I knew everything that was going on, but I forgot that the narrator does not let us fully into Aelin’s head.  She is plotting and planning without us through the whole book until, wham!  We finally see what she has been up to.  Wow!  She is a superwoman!

And the Feels

All the feels!  I almost cried at the end of this book.  The tears, they were real.  I was so angry and sad and amazed at how far Aelin would go to protect the people she loves!  I am so excited to continue reading this series!

Have you read the Throne of Glass series?  What did you think?

How to Choose a Word of the Year to Guide you Through 2019

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Have you ever chosen a word of the year?

Many folks nowadays are choosing a word of the year instead of making New Year’s resolutions. A word of the year can guide your choices throughout the following months, helping you eventually reach your ultimate goal. Last year was the first year that I chose a word to guide me, and I found that it did not help me at all! This year I am trying again and I have come up with a plan to be more successful in my attempt.

Keep your word for the year somewhere you will see it

Last year, I made a page in my sketchbook with my word for the year. It was a pretty page but it got lost in my sketchbook as I continued through the year and a second sketchbook. I was not carrying my sketchbook around with me every day and I never looked back at the first one once I started the second sketchbook. This year I have put my word for the year in my Bullet Journal. I carry my BuJo with me everywhere, and since the page with my word is right next to my habit tracker and future log, I see it constantly. This will help me stay more focused on my guiding word.

This year I want to take some risks, so I chose the word: leap. On this page in my BuJo, I handlettered the word and wrote different definitions in the background. I then set aside a page for brainstorming all my ideas of how I can leap into 2019.

Set goals based on your word for the year

Last year I made my annual goals separately from choosing my guiding word. This year each of my goals connects to my word in some way. Business goals, reading goals, personal goals, health goals: they all involve some leaping on my part. Maintaining a strong connection between my word for the year and my goals for the year should make it easier to stay focused.

Choose a word that resonates with you

Last year I chose the word ‘yes’ after reading Shonda Rhimes’ book, The Year of Yes.

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This word obviously worked well for Ms. Rhimes; however, it did not work so well for me. Don’t choose a word just because it worked for someone else. Your word should be personal. It’s important to consider your own goals and find a word that fits your individual needs.

Do you plan to choose a guiding word for 2019? Have you already chosen one? Leave a comment below. I’d love to know your word for the New Year!

January TBR

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This is a monthly feature on my blog where I will state my intentions to read certain books, then cross my fingers and hope it actually works out.

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Empire of Storms by Sarah J Maas

This is the fifth book in the Throne of Glass series and continues the story of Aelin Galathynius and her friends in their quest to save the world.  I don’t want to give too many details in case there are others like me out there who have not completed this series yet.

I have already started this book and assume that it will be the first book I finish this year.  I am obsessed with this series and hope to read all of the books this year.

 

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Imperfect Courage by Jessica Honegger

This book caught my eye in the new books section of my local library.  I love the new book section and rarely leave the library without borrowing at least one new book.  This one really seems to fit my goal this year of taking risks and leaping.  It is about leaving your comfort zone and taking risks to improve your life.  I am hoping that this book is the push that I need right now to put myself out there and pursue some goals that I have been thinking about for a long time.

 

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas AdamsIMG_20190102_124348943.jpg

I am reading this book as part of the Book Challenge by Erin, which you can find on both Facebook and Goodreads.  I have wanted to read this book for a long time now and I am finally going to do it.  I have to admit, I expected the physical book to be much larger than it actually is.  This is a story about a researcher for the official Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and his Earthling friend.  I’ve heard it’s very funny and I think I watched the movie once, although I can’t remember it.  I’m looking forward to reading this book.

 

The Girl on the Train by Paula HawkinsIMG_20190102_124324596.jpg

I refuse to watch the movie of this book until after I have read it!  And I really want to watch the movie, so I’m finally going to read it.  This is another of my choices for the Book Challenge by Erin  I’m pretty sure that my whole family already read this book back when it came out and was really popular.  I am expecting lots of plot twists since it came out around the time that Gone Girl did and I had the feeling that there were similarities between the two.  It’s about a woman who rides the same train every day, casually spying on a perfect couple as she passes by until one day something shocking happens that changes everything!  Should be a good one.

 

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Circe by Madeline Miller

This is another book that I saw in the new books section and couldn’t resist.  I read about it a while ago in Entertainment Weekly and it sounds interesting.  It is a retelling of the story of Circe from Greek myth.  I have always been fascinated by Greek myths (I don’t remember exactly who Circe was but I’m sure the book will help with that) and I love a good retelling, so I am ready for this one!

What are you reading this month?  Have you read any of my choices?  What did you think?

New Year, New Blog

¡Hola! My name is Lisa and I have been blogging on the Blogger platform since April 2008. On that platform, I created and attempted to maintain 5 separate blogs, each with its own focus. After years of trying (and failing) to properly maintain all of my blogs, I have decided to bring all of my interests together in one new blog, here on WordPress.

Welcome to my world!

So, what can you expect to find here? Well, I will be sharing my love of knitting, crochet, reading, writing, beading, art journals and bullet journals. It’s possible that some cooking, sewing and macrame might sneak in along the way. I have a lot of interests!

So, let’s get to know each other better. Here are 10 random facts about me!

  1. I teach high school Spanish.
  2. I’ve been married for eight years. No kids, by choice.
  3. I just spent more than I ever thought I would on a set of size 9 dpns because apparently not many companies make size 9 dpns.
  4. I always have too many wips. It’s almost like I have a fear of completing projects.
  5. I am a vegetarian and do not eat cheese. I have never liked cheese and have been a vegetarian since 1997 (and before you ask, no I don’t even like cheesecake).
  6. I drink more tea than I probably should and only really like Barry’s tea (if you’re Irish, I think you will understand).
  7. BTW, I am Irish. I was born in Ireland and lived there until I was 13. Now I live in Oregon, USA.
  8. I live in a house that was built in 1904, so there’s always something that needs to be fixed or remodeled.
  9. I love art and craft supplies, but have amazing self-restraint and hardly ever buy myself something unless I need it.
  10. My word of the year for 2019 is LEAP, and I am hoping to try some new and scary things this year.

I hope you’ll visit to learn about my latest ready and creations. Do you have a word of the year for 2019?