Mid-Year Freak Out Book Tag (+ Book Journal Update!)

Hello!

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!

Here are my previous answers from 2020 and 2021.


Best Book You’ve Read so Far

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!

Biggest Disappointment

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.

Biggest Surprise

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?

snowflake

April Playlist

Hello my friends!

In my last post, I talked about how I went to visit family at the beginning of the month for my nana’s birthday, and usually I am very good at keeping track of the tunes we listen to while we’re in the car, but this time I was in the backseat with my mom and nephew, so I couldn’t hear and I may have taken a nap both times, and I was only able to remember five songs altogether.

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

What were you listening to in April?

snowflake

March Playlist

Hello!

The music I was listening to this month was all over the place. Well, it’s like that all of the time, but I didn’t want a single artist/genre, I was switching it up every day. The reason for this was because I found my main Blog Playlist, I had on the right side of the site in 2015-16, when our internet wouldn’t allow me to have my Spotify for a longer period of time. I can’t tell you how grateful to have three separate ways to listen to my playlists now! Anyways, the playlist has some good jams, but it is super long, so I’ll probably listening to it as we make our way into April.

I’ve also made it my mission every week to pay attention to my ‘Discover Weekly’ too. I like how on the beginning and end of the weeks are controlled by the wide range of music. My DW playlist changes on Monday and every Friday we get brand new music, so they are really handy if you want something new or want to stay with a certain genre/mood. For example, if I’m in a mood for BANKS and proceed to listen to her stuff for like half a week, it’ll give you artists and songs that might be similar to her.

For March, I thought we should bring back the Top 25 because why not? If you’d like to listen to the full playlist, click here.

Transform by Julianne Hough
Trophy Hunter by Within Temptation
Bitch by Emily Vaughn
iPad by The Chainsmokers
Holding Back by BANKS
Chicken Teriyaki by Rosalia
Chaos by Hollywood Undead
Bad Girlfriend by Theory of a Deadman
Every Man Is A Warrior by Lena Fayre
Go by Meg Myers
Day Before We Went To War by Dido
God Gave Me You by Dave Barnes
Impermanence (Abbey Road Version) by Architects
Invisible by Ashlee Simpson
Now I’m In It by HAIM

My Universe by Kurt Hugo Schneider featuring Alex Goot & First To Eleven
Crystaleyes by AVIVA
Decay by Sevendust
Bad Habits by The Animal In Me
Love Me Harder by Lauren Babic featuring Radvansky
War (Epic Trailer Version) by J2 featuring Maddi Lasker
American Idiot by Halocene
Pinky Ring by Ne-Yo featuring O.T. Genasis
Butterflies by Abe Parker
Circle The Drain by Wage War

Whenever there is a situation somewhere in the world, I tend to really lean on my cinematic music, especially the superhero/uplifting type of music, but ever since the start of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, I’ve really pushed them away because it just seemed weird to be listening much less sing along to lyrics that these people are actually experiencing right now. Honestly, I didn’t want to talk about my thoughts of what’s going on, but there is one song that I found at the beginning of the fighting, and it was J2’s version of Edwin Starr’s “War (What Is It Good For?)” featuring the singer Maddi Lasker. I’ve only listened to it twice earlier in the month, but I can’t hear it anymore or else it’ll make me sadder of what’s going on.

What were you listening to in March?

snowflake

Album Review: “Epochal” by Matias Bacoñsky

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As promised I am back with another album review, but this is a tiny bit different.

You see, I was asked to check this release out and I am still wondering why I agreed because I had been asked over and over in the past two months to listen to this person or that and I always said “no” to them. Despite wanting to come back to doing more music reviews, I just don’t want another pop or indie artist. I want someone that creates music that I am truly interested in and right now, the genre is cinematic or epic music. So, that’s why I ended up agreeing to listen to Matias’s work with “Epochal” and I hope you all will enjoy what comes forth in this post.

Who is Matias Bacoñsky? Well he is an Argentinian pianist and composer for one. He has three other albums under his belt, so if you’re not exactly into this style of music, you should check out: “When The World Ends,” “Straight From The Heart,” and “Life and Death.” For this album, Epochal he is doing something unique, he was inspired to create a full on symphonic metal type of work with the addition of using a choir and has some electronical elements here and there too. Matias was lucky enough to work with two top singers in the symphonic metal world and they are: Marina La Torroaca of Exit Eden and Zuberoa Azarnez from Diabulus In Musica. So, now that I have grabbed your attention, let’s get into the songs, shall we?

We start with a great title, “New Dawn” and I like it when you begin an album on the right foot–no disability pun intended there!–and this was certainly a soft introduction as far as temple and overall sound. It had a mild earthily tone to it and I really enjoyed the pictures it allowed me to create in my mind. Next up is, “The Immortal” and as much as I wanted something very explosive, I liked the gentle build to that space I was originally hoping for, and it was somewhat subtle but again I enjoyed it. I loved the little breakthrough in the middle as I imagined myself bursting through something and flying around in the sky like a fairy. For a person who hasn’t paid that much attention to The Hobbit films, that’s all I kept seeing in my brain were images of elves and greenery!

Third in line is “A Second Chance” and no, that is not a typo! On this track, I thoroughly loved it because I thought you could hear the piano a lot easier without any other elements going on, but it was somewhat short lived because more and more things started to happen and the entire song built into a happier note. I thought the choir in the background was a tad bit much as it brought the vibe down into this mysterious atmosphere,, but it wasn’t too bad though! We move on to, “Reason To Believe” and even though we hadn’t made it too far in the album, I stopped trying to guess what each song would sound like because I was already one out of four. Anyways, I definitely sensed a shift with this track that we’d move on to the more serious take and I didn’t know if it was intentional but it was a simple turn of events.

“Breakdown” was next and it was the track featuring one of the guest artists. Zuberoa Aznarez of Diabulus In Música. I have dabbled through DIM’s music in the past but I was curious as to what Zuberoa would bring to the table. Her vocals are absolutely beautiful and soothing. She has a deeper sound to her voice and it is really powerful and yet quiet up against the piano and various bells in the background. She’s not really singing anything, I mean there are no words but you can certainly feel her presence on this song and it was very lovely! After completing that one, we have “Light On The Horizon” and it didn’t take me very long to make my overall judgements because I knew everything was perfect from the moment it begun. It was hauntingly mystic and I just couldn’t get enough of it honestly! There’s not much else I can say about it so we’re going to continue on with the list.

Our next track is called “Ambivalence” and this was another one that I noticed had a different take to it, although for me, it didn’t happen until the middle of the song but it started out with this slow almost icy way about it and then with the addition of the choir, everything became heightened and darkened at the same time. It was interesting because I wasn’t really feeling it as it began but once that door opened, my thoughts changed and so it was an odd one for me. We are nearing the end of the line and with the eighth spot, “Tree Of Life” was so pretty! I love trees in general, their way of ever growing below in the roots or up towards the sky. They are older than anyone of us, so I thought this was just gorgeous! I kept seeing the evolution of trees throughout the different seasons plus many, many shades of green too.

Next we have, “All In Vain” and despite telling myself to not judge on what it could sound like, the first words after looking at the title were “uh oh” so I was mentally prepared in case this one brought out my emotions a little bit. It did, but not in the way I expected it so that was good! The bells are notable and I have grown to appreciate them just as much as Matias’s piano skills! And finally, there’s “You” with Marina La Torraca of Exit Eden. From the moment it started, it was slightly dark and Marina’s voice is definitely higher and has a petite appeal to them so it lightens up everything and it was a fantastic finish to the whole thing. Normally, I would like to go off with a bang and thought it was different but strong at the same time.

As much as I adore music like this, unfortunately, I don’t listen to it like my heavy metal and pop records. I really thought it was enjoyable! I can definitely say without a doubt, “Light On The Horizon” is my ultimate favorite track. All of the songs were beautiful in their own ways but this really captured my heart and clearly hasn’t let it go yet and I am perfectly fine with it!

Have you listened to “Epochal” by Matias Bacoñsky yet? If you have, what were your thoughts on it? Do you have any favorites from the track list?

Book Review: “A Touch Of Ruin” by Scarlett St. Clair

Hello!

Well, I am back with my third review of a Scarlett St. Clair book.

If you didn’t know I have already read A Touch Of Darkness written with Persephone, as the main focus, and A Game Of Fate told in Hades’ point of view of the same plot. This one continues Persephone’s story following the events at the end of both books. Scarlett is releasing A Touch Of Malice in May 2021 and A Game Of Retribution sometime next winter. I know it seems very confusing but that’s just how I read both series and will as the rest of the books are released.

I really tired during the last week of January to change up what was next on my list but I couldn’t leave it alone and honestly, I think it was the best thing I could have done because now I can officially move on from the story of Hades and Persephone and read other genres, like nonfiction, and be fully committed to it.


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Persephone’s relationship with Hades has gone public and the resulting media storm disrupts her normal life and threatens to expose her as the Goddess of Spring.

Hades, God of the Dead, is burdened by a hellish past that everyone’s eager to expose in an effort to warn Persephone away.

Things only get worse when a horrible tragedy leaves Persephone’s heart in ruin and Hades refusing to help. Desperate, she takes matters into her own hands, striking bargains with severe consequences.

Faced with a side of Hades she never knew and crushing loss, Persephone wonders if she can truly become Hades’ queen.

taken from Goodreads.

I think the best way to describe this story is, it was a roller coaster of different emotions. I was proud, envious, in love, sad, and God help me, aroused throughout much of the book. Sorry to any family members out there who are reading this post and wishing I hadn’t shared that little tebibit.

“I just need a mental health day,” Persephone said.

Anyways…

There are a lot of things in this story. We talk about the ultimatum that Demitri gave her in the beginning, the ins and outs of Apollo and Sybil’s relationship, how the Goddess of Spring is dealing with her new found powers, and eventually we get on to Lexa. On top of all of this, we have the new relationship with Hades and the prospect of becoming his wife and eventually Queen of the Underworld.

As much as I saw Persephone as a strong woman in the first book, I didn’t really see her like that here. There are a few parts where she comes out like a total badass, but I find with this one, she is more whiny than anything else. Whenever she was posed with going back and forth between the Underworld and Upperworld, you as the reader could clearly see her juggle more than she could really handle and even though I admired her for wanting to being present in both worlds with her friends she never really found a way to find a steady solution until the end of it. Of course, now that I mention it on here, that was probably the point of the whole story in the first place.

Despite the fact that the story is stretched out in three parts, every single chapter had a lot of information that I am still trying to digest because I know the next book is going to be even more difficult. I am looking forward to checking it out but I am also in need to meditate with Hecate as well or hang out with Hermes, either one would be a blessing in disguise!

Have you read this series yet? What were your thoughts on this installment of the saga of Hades x Persephone? Were your emotions all over the place like mine?