Blogmas | How Do I Read? w/ TILISMA

Hello!

I had meant for this post to go out a lot sooner than this, but I never felt it was right to publish until Christmas was around the corner, so, this is a two-in-one kind of blog post as I answer a question you’ve probably had on your mind since the start of the year, how do I read? The other is going to be about a brilliant company that makes these cute and smart gift ideas for readers and students!


Back in August, I published a new installment of “Photo Diary” based around on how life was going and of course, I included lots of pictures of our nine cats. I mentioned that I was loving to read outside with them, but most importantly it gave you an insight of how I actually read where the book is propped on top of something, for me to use comfortably. The interesting part is, this is just one way, I actually have a total of four different positions to read in my spare time. Besides the use of the bench I take outside, I find myself using any flat surface to help me do things mainly because its easier to control when everything is at an even ground.

I’ve been known to surprise many people when they come around while I am enjoying a book, because of the distance between the pages and my eyes, it has never been an issue for me because honestly I’ve learned to make it work; like with everything else, I adapt to my surroundings! However, the thing that is harder to master is keeping the pages open easily. It wasn’t until July that I might’ve found a solution to this insecurity.

I follow and love a great deal of BookTubers (people on YouTube who mostly discuss bookish things.) and I was on Chelsea Palmer’s channel, watching yet another haul but she started off the video with introducing her audience to these neat products, by the name of TILISMA and the only description worth explaining on how they look is imagine Batman’s bat knifes he throws at crooks on the run and the sharp edges would pin the person up against the wall. If you have no idea of what I am talking about, this is what they generally look like.

Chelsea was gifted with all of their products, and in the video she showed everyone how to use them. The objective was simple: the holders would be placed in one hand and one hand only. They were designed this way, so that the reader inserts their thumb inside a hole that is measured to the average size and while your thumb is there, you could hold down the pages with as much pressure as you want to keep them separate while the rest of your hand on the other side basically holds the book to your desired advantage point.

I thought these were super cool! I do struggle with holding a book open on my own, and apparently it doesn’t matter what kind of idea I attempt to help conquer this, I haven’t been able to find the perfect way to enjoy a book without worrying I am going to lose my spot or worse tear a page because I can’t move fast enough! The thing that stood out in my mind was that I didn’t just think an average person could benefit from this kind of product, but I thought people with disabilities could enjoy them as well!

I ended up spending a greater part of my summer trying to get in touch with the company to explain how much this would help others with physical disabilities, who have limited movement in their hands (or in my case, feet), but we continue to depend on somebody else or find heavy but small objects to keep the pages open. So, after explaining my thoughts about their revolutionary products (or “hooks” as I like to call them) to the TILISMA team, I was asked to have a member of my family measure out the size of my toe to see if they could figure something out for me.

Unfortunately, it took forever to them to come in, thanks to the drama about the mailing system! It wasn’t until early September that I received three medium sized packages; I had array of holders in their individual packages at my disposal and they were even cuter up close and personal as they did in Chelsea’s video three months earlier!


So, I was gifted with the standard Hazelnut holder that has little curves that make a slight “S” shape and it is gorgeous! Every item is unique in their own ways, but mine has both a darker brown color but it also has this thick stripe of beige like when you cut into a piece of wood and you see the white flesh of the inside, the difference here is that the product is completely smooth. You can’t tell that it was homemade or real for that matter either!

Recently, my cousin gave me all seven books of the Harry Potter series and at the time I wrote this post, I was using this hook to help me keep the pages open. The one thing I had an issue was not necessarily the hook because I had grown to enjoy the width of the actual hook-like wings on the sides, for they made the opening more stable for me. I didn’t feel like I was giving it too much pressure, but since the books had belonged to someone else, the spine’s collapsing on itself and you really have to be careful with how you handle each one, so I’m glad I had something like this to keep reading easy on me. 

The next one is again a standard holder, but could be work easier with heavy, thick books as the design itself is without dips unlike the one above. For me, I think of it like an eye, the circular shape of a cat’s eye is actually the perfect way to describe it because where the hole is would be where the iris sits. I like the fact that it is this deep and rich brown, almost like a brownie hue, and it is pretty sturdy as well. I don’t feel like it could snap whenever I apply a strong act of pressure in the spine of the book.

One of their cuter items is this heard shaped holder. This was my mom’s favorite because it was a nice surprise to the whole thing! By the way, my mom was the only one I had shown what their products looked like, in order to gain advice on my idea several months ago, but I left this one out of the talk, because I wasn’t sure if I would receive one or not.

It is basically an outline of a heart in the wood with a hole in the middle to insert your finger through to keep your place. As much as I loved the design of this, I cannot use it myself because for me it’s too bulky, which I found to be odd, but so far I haven’t found a book where I can sit it comfortably so that part sucks; for now though, it is part of my decoration on my bookshelf.

Do you remember when I said in the beginning about how I had to have someone measure my toe? Well, there was a smaller version of the first standard hook stuffed inside a little box – but the big difference to the others is that it fits over my toe!!

I must have a really small toe considering how big the hole they carved out takes up a lot space of the design. I am still shocked on two things: the first is being the material being strong enough to withstand the large gap in the middle, and next, is it was as soft as the others and slides off so nicely! I love it so much that I tend to forget to put it away after I’ve stopped reading, and I literally just wear it around my family. Don’t worry, I try to hide it from my nephew because we don’t want him damaging it nor getting his fingers stuck either!


I wanted to say something special for the team of TILISMA before I go. Thank you so much for creating these little things. They are clever and so easy to use! I know you probably never thought someone such as myself would message you out of the blue like I did, but thank you for not only being patient but also working with me to (hopefully) reach a even bigger audience for you in the future!

If you would like to purchase any of the products featured above, click here to be redirected to their Amazon page. The reason why I did not link each one with the holder is because you might need a different size so I figured it would be much easier for you, to search through the various hooks and find the size you need on your own.

I hope you have enjoyed this post and I think if you are buying these for someone else, they will feel very appreciated that you thought of them. Here are some of my other photos I (and my dad too!) took of them so you can have a better idea of what they look like in real life.

If you decide to try out any of their products, please let me know because I would love to hear your thoughts about them as well. And if you have used any of the products, what were some of your first impression of them? Do you believe others that stuffer with limitations in their hands/fingers, could use them with ease? Why or why not?

snowflake

November Playlist

Hello!

I bet you didn’t expect me to be back so soon.

Today is the last day of November, for anyone participating in both NaNoWriMo and Nonfiction November, you should be proud of what you were able to accomplish in the last 30 days! I didn’t join NaNo this year because I’m not in that headspace to write anything for that long, and I doubt I have made any changes in reading the two books I got for this month. It happens… and I’m okay with it!

We are itching closer to Christmas and finally, to the new year: 2021. It seems so crazy how fast this year has went, despite the COVID mess that has taken over 2020! I bring this up because I have always felt November is a weird time for music. We are obsessed with Halloween-y songs and then we are quick to switch to Christmas carols at midnight.

I have to say, I have been doing very well at ignoring the festive commercials on TV and online, and I will be very happy when I can finally watch Christmas movies without being judged by my parents! I have a total of eight films in our DVR at the moment, so I can get my fill and enjoy everything that comes with this time of the year! As far as music goes though, I allow myself to listen to my favorite Christmas songs early, mainly because they tend to remind me of my papaw and so, it is just better for me to cave in now instead of feeling bad about it later.

This year, I am working on my “Ultimate Christmas” playlist on Spotify and will hopefully be speaking about it soon. I will hold off on that for a week or two, until I feel it is ready.

For my November playlist though, I have collected a lot of music that is selected in my “Discover Weekly” every Monday. I am always excited to see what type of music will be unleashed from the moment I hit play, and sometimes they create their own aesthetic but sometimes they reflect whatever genre I’ve focused on that past week and it is always a fun surprise at the start of another week.

Here are my Top 25 for the month!

Talk To Me by Apocalyptica featuring Lzzy Hale
Gravity by Sara Bareilles
Share That Love by Lukas Graham featuring G-Eazy
My Spring Your Fall by Falconsheild
Scars To Your Beautiful by Oceans featuring Anna Murphy
Goddess by Xana
Royals by Lorde
Remember by Leah

You’re Not From Here by Lara Fabian
Eugene by Arlo Parks
Cielo a un Diablo by Maluma
Teeth by Dirty D’Shire
Drew Barrymore by
Bryce Vine
Que Color by Major Lazer featuring J Balvin & El Alfa
Ordinary Day by The Animal In Me
The Purge by Within Temptation
Dream On Me (Stripped) by Ella Henderson

Peer Pressure by James Bay
Lullabies by Yuna
Grip by Seeb
If I Could Turn Back Time by Cher
Betty by Chase Holfelder
Numb by Carlie Hanson
Cold by Crossfade

What I truly love about this list, is its diversity! You have hard rock, pop, and reggaetón like it is supposed to fit together. I continue to surprise myself on the amount of music I am willing to listen to everyday. The sad part about it is, there’s sadly not a lot of people like me, who are brave enough to be interested in shuffling their music out in the open and enjoy sharing in hopes we create even more fans for these artists and bands, new and old, and honestly the longer I go about this, I tend to enjoy it even more and I think that’s why I still want to do these playlists too.

Before I go, I wanted to let you know that I was able to post a new album review this month. Well, technically, it was an update to an older post I did in 2018, and I was recently told by the artist, that she really loved it, so that makes me really happy! Anyways, here it is, in case you haven’t seen it yet. Oh, and speaking of links, here is the Spotify playlist for November too! 🙂

SIGN from Above by RAIGN

What were you listening to this month? Name one track that you think I should check out below!

snowflake

Photo Diary | Cats & Leaves

Hello!

If you are from the States, I hope you were able to enjoy Thanksgiving yesterday! I know a lot of people were debating whether or not to travel to be with their families for the holidays, so whatever you came to conclusion I still want to wish you a great time anyways!

For this post, I am discussing pretty much everything that happened this fall, including everyone’s favorite: our cats!

The year was somewhat weird, as the transition from summer to fall, was actually smooth compared to the previous years. Here in the Midwest, we tend to go through seasons very quickly! For us, the switch to autumn was fairly nice. I was able to go outside on our deck a lot in August through October, but once the cold finally arrived, it came like a roaring train and I wasn’t prepared for the aches and pain in my body.

While I was in high school, I would go to football games covered with two layers of pants and socks, plus a blanket tucked around the seat of my wheelchair to keep me warm but also lessen the chilling temperature going into my joints and making me feel horrible for the rest of the night. As of gotten older, the pain has been getting worse of course, but at least I’m not sitting outside for two-three hours at a time in the freezing cold and depending on my muscle relaxers earlier than we usually take them.

This fall has been an interesting one, the temperature would go back and forth between in the low 50 degrees to 65-70 degrees in a matter of days! Everytime we would think I would have to stop going out, it would change and the cats and I would enjoy the love and apparently, my comfortable bench to take a little nap on.

I was able to finish five books in the last two months, and in the beginning, the cats didn’t really mess with me or books, but towards the middle of November, they became a little bold and Bear-Bear would just plop down on the pages I was reading, and recently he did it again but this time of just wanting to find a place to sleep, he let me pet him on his side, and considering all of his fur, he is really soft! He and Oscar are the softest cats in our pride – I call them this, because they’re not really “domestic” instead they are more wild as they still eat, birds, mice, frogs, and the occasional bug too.

I love it when the trees change into various colors, but the one person who absolutely hates this season is my dad, he does not care for the leaves in his yard and my mom would reflect this whenever she would sweep away the leaves that would land on our deck. A couple of weeks ago, we had a big collection of leaves in the right corner of the porch and we were just going to leave them there for Nolan, but as we found out this autumn, was our cats loved sleeping on top of them! We have caught Stormy in the leaves the most, but on a day I was out reading and taking photos of everybody for this post, Tavis, who is quickly becoming my sister and brother-in-law’s cat, decided to clean himself and take a little snooze on the pile and well, I just couldn’t help myself…

I’m not really sure what Nolan thinks about the trees shedding their leaves, but I know he is having the same joint problems as his papaw and Aunt Meg though. In the beginning of the new season, he would come over bearing the newly acorns that have dropped from the tree by their house. We have a mug full of like seven acorns and I doubt we’ll ever get rid of them because it was such a sweet thing he did one evening and continued for like two weeks until he started bringing toys over instead.

Since with the COVID-19 mess, he didn’t dress up and go trick-or-treating for Halloween this year. Honestly, he’s still too young to have a lot of candy, especially with his gag reflex still causing him issues here and there. He has been getting better about it though, but we are still very cautious with him on candy in general. Here’s a fun fact for you, he actually doesn’t like chocolate! I think the main reason why he enjoys M&M’s is because they have a color coat around them and he can’t figure it out. Trust me, the day he refused chocolate swirled ice cream freaked me out! My sister was obsessed with anything milk chocolate when we were growing up but her son isn’t a fan out of it! It’s so crazy!

Okay, I think it’s time for the rest of the pictures. Hope you enjoyed our pretty babies!

Okay, we are finally at the end of this post. Unfortunately, it will also be the last until spring comes back around in mid-April. I will try to persuade my mom into bringing one cat into the house while dad is in his mancave this winter, but I might just pay attention to the cat(s) and be less concerned about taking their picture for my blog. I hope to continue these types of posts in the new year!

What did you do this fall? How do you deal with various aches and pains in your body with the changing of the seasons? If you are a cat owner, do your cat(s) respect your space? What is the one thing that they hate the most if you’re not paying enough attention to them?

snowflake

Book Review: “Harry Potter and the Prisoner Of Azkaban” by J.K. Rowling

Hello!

When I published my review of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children last month, I mentioned that there had only been one other book I have had issues with in the past and taken multiple tries to complete, and it was Prisoner of Azkaban. Well, I can officially cross it off my TBR as I gave it one more chance this fall and I am so unbelievably proud of myself to have read both of these books in the same year!

I originally started reading this book in 2016, and only got to the fourth chapter because my mind was so busy comparing the scenes I was reading with the film. If you didn’t know, Prisoner of Azkaban is actually my favorite film out of the entire collection, so I knew I would be very hard on myself there, so I stopped completely. I remember I had even asked my cousin Taylor, how much would I miss, if I just skipped it? His reaction told me a lot, so I waited and waited, until that’s all I really wanted to read in October.

We were already going up north to visit with family anyways, and so I asked Taylor, if I could borrow this book again. What I didn’t expect was that he decided to donate the whole series to me. So, I came home after three days with a whole stack of books! I am thrilled to have these books on my bookshelf but even more excited to get back into the wizardry world of Harry Potter too!

WARNING: If you have not read and/or watch the films, but would like to in the near future, be cautious as there are a lot of spoilers below. You may want to skip this post today!


Harry Potter’s third year at Hogwarts is full of new dangers. A convicted murderer, Sirius Black, has broken out of Azkaban prison, and it seems he’s after Harry. Now Hogwarts is being patrolled by the dementors, the Azkaban guards who are hunting Sirius. But Harry can’t imagine that Sirius or, for that matter, the evil Lord Voldemort could be more frightening than the dementors themselves, who have the terrible power to fill anyone they come across with aching loneliness and despair. Meanwhile, life continues as usual at Hogwarts. A top-of-the-line broom takes Harry’s success at Quidditch, the sport of the Wizarding world, to new heights. A cute fourth-year student catches his eye. And he becomes close with the new Defense of the Dark Arts teacher, who was a childhood friend of his father. Yet despite the relative safety of life at Hogwarts and the best efforts of the dementors, the threat of Sirius Black grows ever closer. But if Harry has learned anything from his education in wizardry, it is that things are often not what they seem. Tragic revelations, heartwarming surprises, and high-stakes magical adventures await the boy wizard in this funny and poignant third installment of the beloved series.

taken from Goodreads.

Now that I have finished reading, I am glad I didn’t skip it because it answered a lot of questions for me that I thought the film never answered for me, like the origin story of Professor Lupin and The Marauder’s Map, I feel like those explanations were heavily missed in the film, and as someone who only knew the series from the movies, I felt very puzzled by each section, but I think it was the driving force to want to read the books after all of these years too!

It also helped solve several other mysteries for me as well, like how and why Snape knew where Harry, Ron, and Hermione in the Forbidden Forest. The other one that has always bugged me was Harry’s Patronus, why was it a stag? And now that I think about it, I feel like it was answered in the movie but I never managed to understand everything about it, so it makes so much sense now.

Another thing that I thought was interesting, is how much Quidditch was featured and I have to say, I loved it!

Everytime I read about the various matches against the other houses, they sound exciting! Quidditch is like my basketball I guess, it seems very intense and despite the fact that it’s not just about one thing going on, you have the beaters, quaffle, chasers, and the snitch all happening at once whereas in basketball you are basically going after the ball, but you’re busy guarding the rival team members away from your basketball too. Honestly, Quidditch sounds more interesting, and as I found out through Jeopardy! a couple of months ago, it does exist but unfortunately there are no flying on broomsticks but I still think it sounds cool!

I think that’s all I have to talk about, I talked about everything that was driving me crazy before and after reading so that’s a plus!

So, now it is up to you, what were your favorite parts of the book and/or film? Are there certain areas where you thought were left out of the film and should have made aware of in the movies?

snowflake

Book Review: “The Five: The Untold Lives Of The Women Killed By Jack The Ripper” by Hallie Rubenhold

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Hello!

Last month I was able to four books at one time, and as you might’ve seen in my review for Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs, I mentioned that I really wanted to get into that spooky vibe that October always seems to bring and so this was a great addition to the lineup, although I did feel sad as I was finishing it but I will explain in detail later on the post.

For now, let’s move on to the blurb of the story.


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Five devastating human stories and a dark and moving portrait of Victorian London – the untold lives of the women killed by Jack the Ripper

Polly, Annie, Elizabeth, Catherine and Mary-Jane are famous for the same thing, though they never met. They came from Fleet Street, Knightsbridge, Wolverhampton, Sweden and Wales. They wrote ballads, ran coffee houses, lived on country estates, they breathed ink-dust from printing presses and escaped people-traffickers. What they had in common was the year of their murders: 1888. The person responsible was never identified, but the character created by the press to fill that gap has become far more famous than any of these five women.

For more than a century, newspapers have been keen to tell us that ‘the Ripper’ preyed on prostitutes. Not only is this untrue, as historian Hallie Rubenhold has discovered, it has prevented the real stories of these fascinating women from being told. Now, in this devastating narrative of five lives, Rubenhold finally sets the record straight, revealing a world not just of Dickens and Queen Victoria, but of poverty, homelessness and rampant misogyny. They died because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time – but their greatest misfortune was to be born a woman.

taken from Goodreads.

There were a number of things I actually liked about this book. The first has to be the introduction: the author gave you an idea of how the time of the Jack The Ripper killings, a year after the Queen Victoria’s Jubilee celebrations in 1887. You have a great reference of showcasing the glamor and luxuries of the royals but the darkside of her people, the lives of the victims are less infamous as they were all assumed to be prostitutes, but here they are up front and you really get to see how much a person, whether they are male or female, had to live in that era.

My second is the question that I seemed to have while reading the beginning of each of the women’s lives, which was, “how did it go wrong?” and for most, they were addicted to alcohol. Apparently it was very easy to get a drink, whereas having the resources to find birth control was not, and at this point the two were mixed and unfortunately had sad consequences, like experiencing the heartbreak of multiple stillbirths and children born with disabilities. The main reason why many lives were consumed to the alcohol were because of the many tragedies that came into their homes, whether it was their parents, siblings, or their own children; a way of coping with the guilt or pain was to drink it all away.

However, the drawback of a person, especially a woman with a family of her own, depending on the drink to cope with life’s struggles made her into a “fallen woman” if she would rather rely on the thirst or be at the heart of her family, good wife to her husband. Unfortunately, if the husband and father was also using the same coping mechanism, he wouldn’t be judged the same way as his wife. He could be open to his vices, if he could still hold down a job and pay his rent to the landlords. However, if the drink became too much, it was most likely the wives would be cast out of the home rather than the husband. The double standards of the Victorian era reigned heavily over the lives in London.

I want to say, I have looked up the women before, but have never once focused my attention on who they were; the notion that all five were considered “whores” really set me off about them and when I decided to give this a go, I was more focused on the nature of ‘The Ripper’ even as I talked it over with my mom, but once I finished I quickly realized everything that happened was real. Since there are five victims, I ended up having favorites, which I felt horrible at the time (and honestly still do!) because I saw the same things happening over and over again but with a different name and social class. My three favorites were: Annie, Elisabeth and Catherine or Katie as she was called in the book.

If you haven’t read this book, you should definitely put it on your list, and despite the fact that Halloween is now over with, it doesn’t mean you need to wait because autumn in general puts me in the mood for these kinds of books anyway. Oh, and you can also read it for the rest of ‘Nonfiction November’ theme too!

Have you read this book before? If you have, what were your thoughts about it?

snowflake