June was a long month full of interesting things, some bittersweet and others were wonderful!
During the first week, we had birthdays to celebrate, and you saw the last of the DIY projects I had done in late March; the dotted sea turtle! It was such a fun and somewhat abstract kind of experiment for me, and I do hope to share more artsy stuff soon! The other birthday was my papaw’s. As some of you know, my papaw on my mom’s side died in 2016 and it’s still as fresh as it was then to all of us, and I don’t tend to share a lot of my personal life on my social media, much less on here, but I had shared a photo I had found a few months ago and wrote something special about him for the special day.
Two weeks later, we had another birthday, which was my nephew’s and he turned FOUR years old already! It doesn’t seem like he should be that old yet, you know?! I mean, he definitely seems older because of the way he talks, figures out things, and the fact he’s so excited to go to preschool in the fall! He’s become a little human now and its crazy how time files with him. I hope his sister grows somewhat slower for us, or we need to take more photos/videos…
Besides these celebrations, I’ve had a really good early summer, despite the scorching weather; it’s been in the upper 80’s and 90’s since the second week and my mom and I keep saying, “we’re only in June! It’s going to be even worse by the time we get into July and August!” Apparently, we’re not alone in that assumption as I saw somewhere, cattle have died in Wisconsin and Kansas, which sounds more like they were neglected, because isn’t the farmers responsibility to provide shelter and water to their animals? I mean, that sounds really shady but I’m not animal farmer.
Speaking of farming, my family have really upgraded our landscaping as I’ve talked about in last month’s post, but my parents have wanted to grow our own food on our property and this year seemed like we could do it, so I have decided on doing a garden tour for July or August, depending on what I have time for next month. I am pumped to get it out to you because I know a lot of people have been curious about it and even though I don’t have any role in the creation of the garden, I thought this could be my way of contributing to the whole thing.
All right now let’s turn our focus to music as that is what this post was supposed to be about, but you know, I kind of enjoy summarizing the last 20 or so days for you, so I hope you like this new feature because it might stay as part of this post.
Here are my Top 20 songs I loved in June 2022. If you want to check out the entire Spotify playlist, click here.
Before I Ever Met You by BANKS Dark Star by Tarja SOLO by Jennie Since U Been Gone by Kelly Clarkson I Don’t Want To Be by Gavin DeGraw God Is A Woman by Danielle Bradbury Everybody’s Fool by Evanescence Die4u by Rain Paris 7 Rings by Ariana Grande Boyfriend by Dove Cameron All In by 2WEi featuring Marvin Brooks My Heart’s Grave by Faouzia I Want My Tears Back by Nightwish Anything But Ordinary by Avril Lavigne Boston by Augustana Let’s Go by Trick Daddy featuring Big D & Twista Heels by Hysterica Shake It Off by Taylor Swift Angel by Sarah Brightman Simmer by Hayley Williams
I have been looking forward to doing this tag again for the third year in a row, since the end of March, and what makes this one different from my previous posts, I will also be giving you an update look into reading journal! I said in the beginning that I would like to discuss my progress was going sometime this summer and since we’re right at the middle of 2022, I figured it would be awesome to do it all together so I wouldn’t have to do more scheduling this month!
Firstly, we will go on with the tag itself and then I’ll show you my journal afterwards. I do have a couple of things to mention though, I am only talking about the books I’ve read from January to mid-June and I’ve kept the same questions, so if you’d like to do this challenge on your blog or YouTube channel (or just for fun!) I would really love to see your answers, so please tag me in your posts!
Honestly, I’ve read a lot of really good books. I’m trying to break out of my normal genres like romance and rediscover old favorites like historical fiction. It took me a bit, but I’ve finally started to push through the historical aspect with diving into stories about the Vikings, and I am forever grateful for taking a chance on K.M. Butler’s debut “The Raven and The Dove” which is based on the Vikings living in Normandy. Before reading this book, I wasn’t interested with these types of books, but I have a soft spot for women’s stories and despite the fact the author wrote this in two POVs, I actually loved it! It was fun to look into the main character’s lives and how they viewed one another personally and the customs of the times.
After I finished it, I tried my foot into similar books, but I wasn’t able to mesh with any others until I came across Melanie Karsak’s own Viking stories called “The Road to Valhalla”. I had tried to read one back in December, but it wasn’t what I wanted to read at the time and then a few months later I discovered the actual series and I adore the fact that Melanie can create such interesting characters and settlings that you can clearly picture in your mind at all hours of the day (or in my case at night!) and attempt to figure out how it will all end for them. Once I completed “Under the Howling Moon” back in March, it didn’t take me long to whiz right through them! I will probably be finished with all five books by the end of the season.
Best Sequel You’ve Read So Far This Year?
I’m surprised with myself, but I haven’t really read any sequels or at least any proper sequels than besides The Road to Valhalla. However, when I was done with “Little Women” by Louisa May Alcott back in March, I decided to test out “Little Men” which is about Jo’s school for boys and discusses her life with her nephews and other young gentlemen that live amongst Jo and her husband Friedrich. The stories are very dated, but I have enjoyed love discovering the way people wrote their stories. Louisa wrote her books in the style that reflected her life in some way, so in a way she gave her accent and voice to her characters.
The other sequel is Harry Potter and the “Order of the Phoenix” by J.K. Rowling. Some of you might know about this, but I tend to only read my Harry Potter books whenever the weather warms up a little, so from spring to early summer to the end of autumn, I am sitting outside with our cats on the back deck continuing my Harry Potter journey. When I came back to it in late April, I was halfway done with it and usurpingly remembered everything I had previously read several months before and so I was thoroughly excited to finish it but now I feel weird that after I am done with ‘Half Blood Prince”–and I could finish it by the start of fall–that I will have one more book in the series and I would cross it off my reading bucket list!
New release you haven’t read, but would like to
I’ve tried my hardest to not think of the recently released books, but I do take advantage of the Amazon’s First Reads for prime readers, as you can get one book a month and they are usually free to any user, and I’ve collected three books I thought looked interesting and they were: “The Last Rose of Shanghai” by Weina Dal Randel, “The Taste of Ginger” by Mansi Shah and “The Lobotomist’s Wife” by Samantha Greene Woodruff. As you might be able to tell, all three were from the Historical Fiction box. I am excited to get to these books, but I have no idea when that will be exactly!
Most anticipated release for the second half of the year
There are a couple of books I’d like to get my feet on soon, like I said above, I haven’t paid that much attention to the lists. However, that doesn’t mean I don’t see anything on social media from my family and friends… One was inspired by my friend Ella, as she had checked it on Goodreads as “want to read” last month. She has a large array of books and this one really seemed odd and right up my alley, It is called, “The Drowned Woods” by Emily Lloyd-Jones.
The second book was listed as part of Hot Summer Reads blog post on Goodreads, and I thought the title was both hilarious and morbid, but once I saw what it was about, my curiosity was piqued, it is former actress Jeannete McCurdy’s “I’m Glad My Mom Died”. Besides historical fiction, I also have a huge weakness for memoirs, and I think this would be a great read as we enter the colder months. I only say it like that because I tend to want sporty and coming of age books around the time school starts back up!
This year I’ve been trying to listen to more audiobooks and back in February, I decided I wanted to check out some childhood classics, and I found “Matilda” by Roald Dahl and I have always been curious about it, and the fact I have only watched the film once in my whole life, I thought I would be fine with it but I was so upset with it by the end of the experience! I still don’t believe it deserves to be in a “children” category, especially with the amount of traumatic themes in it. I literally rated it as a three out of five stars, because I thought it seemed fair. I mean I didn’t absolutely hate it, as there were good spots here and there, but overall I’m glad I got it off my list for good.
There was another children’s classic that I didn’t finish but thought it was worthy a mention here. Upon recommendation, I decided to check out “Anne of Green Gables” by Lucy Maud Montgomery and before going into this, I had just finished “Little Women” so I thought I would mesh fairly well with it. I didn’t. My first thought was I didn’t like how the author used the word “ejaculated” in the beginning of the story as to being a substitute for “gasping” or Louisa May Alcott’s favorite “raptures” but after the first chapter, it kind of disappeared and I thoroughly happy about it!
I can be a big talker when I want to be, and I’m constantly daydreaming just like Anne, but even I thought she was too much for me to handle, so by the time I had passed Chapter 10, I thought it was going by so slowly but slightly amusing to hear this little girl yap about anything and everything. Unfortunately, when I was about to hit Chapter 19, I couldn’t take any more of it. so, I eventually had to find something because this wasn’t working out very well.
Last year, I did something I thought I’d ever do, I watched The Notebook. I still don’t remember what caused me to go for it, other than it must have been on our movie channels constantly and I might’ve been in a huge rom-com mood, and this was what my brain chose first, but I did enjoy myself. It wasn’t too awful, but I still don’t want to watch A Walk to Remember though…
Although I might consider listening to the audiobook instead, since I did give “Safe Haven” a chance back in February. I have watched the film when it came out in 2009, but I have only watched it once so I thought this insight would play in my favor, but it didn’t. I still remembered everything of the movie, but I was shocked when I found myself crying in the middle of the night for certain chapters and the ending really got me good, but now I can’t stand to rewatch the film and that part sucked but I am open to listen to more Nicholas Sparks books in the future!
Favorite new author (Debut or new for you)
For the most part, I have discovered a lot of “new” authors, but my favorites so far have been K.M. Butler, and it was his first historical fiction novel and my first of the new year. I owe him for creating such interesting characters like Halla and Taurin. They came from two separate religions and worlds, but he found a way to make it work and tell the story of how people can accept and change their views for the greater good of others.
Another historical fiction book I found at the end of May, is about Lady Katherine Swymford, simply titled “Katherine”. She was the mistress and later wife and Queen Consort to John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster. It was written by Anya Seton in, get this, 1964! Honestly, I thought the author’s not in the beginning was odd, because she explained how her family would travel back to England in the ’50’s and she studied as much as she could that was available at the time, in order to write the story of Katherine de Roet. It just never occurred to me of how old the book itself would be until I did some digging of my own! It is 500 pages long, so I am probably still reading it as this post publishes, but it’s been very interesting so far!
Newest fictional crush
Well, when I started reading Melanie’s “The Road to Valhalla” series, Hervor wasn’t the only one to fall head over heels in love with Prince Hofund. The moment when he and her cousin Leif and their warriors arrive out of the sea and into battle in the second book was amazing because for once everything came so vividly to me at that moment. It wasn’t supposed to be a sexy scene but leave to me to make it that way!
Unfortunately, I have had some difficulty picturing these Viking men lately, sometimes, descriptions can be blurred together for me and since I haven’t watched many films or TV shows set in the Viking world, I don’t know certain hairstyles and/or the ordinary look of these characters, however, I have better luck with the women because it’s easier to picture them for some odd reason.
Book that made you cry
Well, considering I just told you this back in the “Biggest Surprise” question. I have cried to a few others, such as, “Other Words for Home” by Jasmine Warga, “Little Women” by Louisa May Alcott, “Under the Hunter’s Moon” and “Under the Blood Moon” by Melanie Karsak. I am trying like crazy to stay away from those that could turn me into a blubbering mess, but sometimes it just happens without any warning!
Book that made you happy
One of my secondary goals for this year was to read books that have become a film and/or TV series in the last couple of decades; and I had one book where I was curious but worried about because I have watched the film before and hope to show it to my niece and nephew someday. James and the Giant Peach. This was my second Roald Dahl classic and as I was listening to the audiobook for it, I was so happy to know that there wasn’t a lot of things changed for the film, and despite it also discuss childhood abuse and trauma, it is generally a cozy little story.
The second thing that also made me happy was when the book itself was originally released on November 1st, 1964. It actually came out on my birthday, and it was a wonderful surprise after I had finished reading it and the fact that my views on the film adaption didn’t change either made things work so well!
Most beautiful book you’ve bought this year
The most beautiful book I’ve read this year was definitely “Other Words for Home” by Jasmine Warga. It was exactly what I needed at the time of Ramadan and the start of Eid. I don’t really celebrate the holidays of the Muslim communities and friends, but mainly it was my way of supporting them unknowingly. It was such an adorable, but kind of sad modern children’s book set on a little girl named Jude, who is a Syrian refugee in the Midwest of the United States, and you learn about how she is learning how to adjust to life in America with her mother, as they stay with her uncle’s family.
What books do you still need to read by the end of the year?
By this time, I’d hope to be around 24 books into my initial goal for the year, which is 40-45. I am currently reading six different series, and I’m almost finished with “Harry Potter” and “The Road to Valhalla” series, I doubt I will be able to finish “Deathly Hollows” because I know it’s a giant book and chuck full of information, so I would like to take my time on it, plus I tend to only read my HP books while I am outside with the cats, and really it all of it depends on the weather too, but I am looking forward to completing TWO of them this summer! As for the others, it will be interesting on what actually happens with them.
And then, there’s my notion of finishing the “Me Before You” by JoJo Moyes and “Sinners on Tour” by Olivia Cunning series I had mention last year or back in 2020, because those are fairly shorter on their percentages, especially “Wicked Beat” but I don’t know, it’ll just depend on my mood and what I generally want to read for the next half of the year.
Now let’s move on with our next subject. My reading journals.
Before 2022 started, I had a lot of plans and thoughts that I thought would be fun to create in this new venture, but in the last three months I’ve noticed that I am not grabbing neither one of my journals on a daily basis.
The most important spread I use in journals are the monthly trackers. It has been kind of fun shading in a box or circle for every day I’ve read, but recently I’ve had to make a faint line after seven days because for the last five months I’ve been counting each dot in the Blue journal and it can get very frustrating if you’re not careful! In my Green journal, I was smart enough to create an easer tracker system that includes the numbers on the left side of the graph, and I tend to go for that one most of the time; if it wasn’t so heavy I may actually use it everyday!
The second most popular habit tracker is my “amateur” bookshelves I created in the Green journal–I am still very impressed they worked out so well, especially after going over it with my pen! Next time I will just forgo the pen because that was such a disaster! Anyways, I completed one shelf, I did that back in late March or early April I think. It was a quick discovery I will say! I definitely have a lot more Kindle reads but I’ve added one print, two novellas, and seven audiobooks so far! Also, I need o make a not for year to pick prettier colors than gray, pink turquoise and green because they are ugly together!
As for my actually Reading Log, I’ve had to do some editing here and there. Since my overall theme is Harry Potter, I had wanted to use the House colors for each section, but I didn’t have all of the colors so I had to improvise and although I use the heck out of it, my hopes for it didn’t work out well for me but I would like to work on them to do this layout again in 2023.
And my final layout is the end-of-the-month stats and again, I didn’t have big plans for it but I am happy on what I was able to do for it. I have done some updating this past month and I am going to need to create two more blocks for November and December and the end results for the year.
For those who don’t know, I have four things I keep a record of each month and they are: how many books I finish, the number of pages I read, days of the month and finally the selection of words. If you’ve read about the post where I talked about how I wanted a space reserved for all of the words I collect as I read each of these books, mainly because I love to collect but I also wanted an everlasting reminder of the stories.
I apologize for the bad lighting, I decided to take them just after the sun went down and had to deal with my regular light and the shadows of my feet! I bet you never thought you’d see those words in the same sentence! Anyways, for the most part the photos actually came out really good!
Are you the type of person who needs to create a book journal like me? How would you design yours or what has been your favorite layouts/themes? If you don’t have a reading journal or blog, how do you keep track of everything?
Hello and welcome to my newest music series: Artist Highlight!
I generally wanted a space to talk about a single musician or band a month, but back in early April, when I went up north to visit with my family, my cousin’s daughter brought her violin and played us some songs she’s been learning in her class. She did a really great job and after the performance I asked her how she was able to play it and she explained to us in great detail. I hope she continues to play the violin or maybe switch/take on another instrument later on, if she ever does this, I hope it’s the cello! I love the cello just as much as I love the violin.
A little later I asked her if she’d ever heard of Lindsey Stirling before, and she told me no, which really puzzled me but then again, it didn’t, because in school, she’s probably forced to know classic works and nursery rhymes at this stage, so in a way to help introduce her and everybody else who happens to read this, to other violinists!
Let’s start with the lovely Lindsey Stirling.
I didn’t find out about her through America’s Got Talent in 2010, I actually found her on YouTube like most people–but I think I would have enjoyed seeing her on the show a lot! Anyways, the first song I heard was “Crystalize” of course and remember seeing the music video, thinking these two really work together. Although her music was considered hip hop on the show, for this song she had kicked up the dubstep hype that was going around at that time. I was hooked to her channel my whole senior year and honestly believe she cemented my drive for modern symphonic music.
Before Lindsey came into my life, the first violinist I was ever “introduced’ to was back in 2004, this year at its core was a changing time for me. I had just started on my hip hop phase and so I was listening to a lot of unique beats on my own without being heavily influenced by my mother. The song in question was Twista’s “Overnight Celebrity” as it features an actual violist on the track, Miri Ben-Air. I remember watching the music video for the song and was stuck by the fact there was a woman violinist. It seems kind of scary that this was the second time I was listening to two very different genres of music together and absolutely loving and wanting more of it. I had begun this a year before when Evanescence’s debut album came out in 2003.
After the song disappeared, I didn’t find anything like it again until around late 2007 or early 2008. I had found these two girl groups from England, bond and eScala. They were not your average girl groups of that time, they never actually sang, they were a string quartet. This was my first show that if you’re a part of a group, you don’t a singer. Unfortunately, by the time I had found both of them, they were on hiatus and honestly haven’t released anything new for a couple of decades.
Later on in my life, this would sort of happen again as I had discovered Apocalyptica, which was originally a tribute band for Metallica out of Finland! They have three celloists and one drummer and they make symphonic metal music. I’ve talked a bit about them over the years. They have a lot of cool songs like “Broken Pieces” with Lacey Sturm and “White Room” with Papa Roach’s Jacoby Shaddix.
There is another group I found back in 2015 I think, it was when the symphonic metal band Kamelot came out with “Silverthorn” as it was the band’s first album with a new singer. They had a song called “My Confession” and they featured the German group Eklipse and even though they were all woman, I wouldn’t consider them a pop-y, although they have done some covers of David Guetta’s “Titanium” with Sia, and ‘Cry Me a River” by Justin Timberlake, they do like to take risks and create renditions of popular rock songs, and my favorite is still “Weak Fantasy by Nightwish.
Back in 2017, when I was on Netflix, I had found the Han Zimmer: Live in Prague and was just stunned by the fact that this huge music producer was getting together with his longtime friends and putting on shows for everyone. I mean, he performed at Lollapalooza a couple of years ago! How in the heck does that happen?! Anyways, the show itself was absolutely amazing and I will not lie, I totally cried when Lebo M came out to perform some of “The Lion King” songs on stage! There were a lot of elements I enjoyed but I really fell in love with the violinist Rusanda Panfill and celloist Tina Guo. You may already know Tina’s work without even know it as she is the one who did the Wonder Woman main theme. These ladies really play beautifully and definitely recommend that concert to anyone.
I was never truly able to learn to read music nor do I feel the need to play any instrument, but it doesn’t mean I don’t love seeing other artists become so passionate with their work though, it’s so interesting to see these musicians put everything into their work. Whenever I watch concerts on YouTube, I love to see them basically one eye on the maestro and the other on the sheets on the podium in front of them. They tend to have some intense facial expressions and they always seems to change with whatever tempo they are playing at that moment.
If you would like to check out the artists I’ve mentioned and/or any others (because I had an even bigger list to start, but we’d be here forever!) that fit in this post, click here to the Spotify playlist!
May was actually a pretty good month; my parents have started growing the garden in the back yard. They have selected a number of flowers and vegetables–we’ve actually been eating our way through the early blooms of lettuce since the middle of April! They started out fixing the landscape around the front end of Rumer’s gate and now that they have “finished” that area, they’ve turned their attention to the back. If you would like a garden tour or something like that soon, let me know!
A few days later, we were able to have my nephew over for a sleepover! It had been a long time since we’d done this, but it was actually really good! He slept in my room on the floor, well, technically he was on his rug I got him before he was ever born, and he seemed excited about being on it and we watched a couple of movies. We started off with Sonic the Hedgehog because that was his newest obsession (now he’s into Pokémon and we are having fun poking–no pun intended I swear!–fun at his mommy because she once had an even bigger thing for Ash and Pikachu!) and after that was over, I put on Zootopia and it didn’t take him long into hearing Shakira singing “Try Everything” that I found him asleep with his hand in the snack bowl!
The other weird thing that happened was that I decided to start watching Star Wars. I’m still not exactly sure what I was thinking but I will say, it’s been fun! I published a post about the prequels: The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith on the 20th, so if you’re curious about what I initially thought about the characters and story, you can check that out here. I have finished all 9 films and currently making my way through The Mandalorian, The Book of Boba Fett and eventually Obi-Wan Kenobi. I am still going to do another post about the original trilogy sometime next month.
Unfortunately, I developed a small cold around two weeks ago. I hope I really learn my lesson this time around because I felt stupid these last few days. I was so excited to go all out for May and introduce the brand-new music series too, and everything just went to shit after completing Revenge of the Sith. I always kick myself later because it usually comes about when I’m not ready, blog wise, and since my monthly playlists are one of the easiest posts to put together, I wasn’t able to come back to it until last Tuesday. Thankfully, I have become a habit of creating my banners early in the month so I can set up my color scheme before officially writing this part of the post.
Lastly, this blog turned 11 years old a couple of weeks ago. I always forget the actual day I created it, because WordPress says I signed up on the 12th whereas I published my first post on the 13th. It’s no wonder I am confused for the two weeks leading up to it, right?
I didn’t intend to make this more than music, but I thought you guys needed a little life update. So, finally, here are my Top 25 songs for May. Click here to check out the full playlist on Spotify!
First Class by Jack Harlow Broken Pieces Shine by Evanescence Walking With Strangers by The Birthday Massacre Casuality by Mothica Mad At God by Sarah Saint James My Gun by Tove Lo My Garden by Kat Dahlia 24 by Jem Symphony of the Night by Leaves’ Eyes Fuck U Love U by Alison Wonderland Wicked Ways by Halestorm Family by Badflower If Tomorrow Never Comes by Bad Wolves featuring Ice Nine Kills Foxglove by Boston Manor Despactio by Luis Fonsi featuring Daddy Yankee Miss Me More by Kelsea Ballerini Work Song by Hozier The Foundations of Decay by My Chemical Romance Cleopatra by Train featuring Sofia Reyes How You Like That by BLACKPINK Where Did It Go? by Asking Alexandria American Woman by Muddy Magnolias I Can’t Get You Off My Mind by Miss Li Allfather by Foresaga Eye of the Storm by Pop Evil
Now it’s time to share what you were listening to in May!
Besides the trip, I had another great event happen. One of my favorite alternative R&B artist BANKS released her fourth album “Serpentina” and I have been trying to help spread the word about it but keep forgetting to do it, so I have decided to start on a brand-new series on here for the summer. I really miss doing my Tune Tuesday posts, and I thought it would be great idea to bring it back in some way with an artist highlight. It will be a single blog post about the artist or band in question, it will include some information about how I came across them, an individual playlist of my favorite tracks and where they will be headed next on tour. If I can get through three months, I’ll consider extended it into the fall. I don’t want to get in too over my head, so we’ll see how it goes.
How about I share my Top 25 songs of this month now. Check out the full playlist on Spotify here.
I Stand Alone by Godsmack Fergalicious by Fergie and will.i.am Like My Father by Jax Ex I Never Had by LANY Complete Mess by 5 Seconds Of Summer Before I Ever Met You by BANKS Numb Little Bug by Em Beihold She Will Be Loved by Maroon 5 Meteorite by BANKS In The Air Tonight by In This Moment Money by The Warning Planet Zero by Shinedown Plastic Heart by Fame on Fire Family by Badflower Always Watching by Papa Roach My Way by Limp Bizkit Change on the Rise by Avi Kaplan SOLD OUT by HARDY So Called Life by Three Days Grace Zombified by Falling In Reverse Rest In Peace by Dorothy Halcyon by Ellie Goulding I Still Burn by Fozzy Never Gonna Learn by Asking Alexandria A Little Bit Off by Five Finger Death Punch