Blogmas | Our Advent Calendars

Hello!

Even though I am an American, I thoroughly enjoy advent calendars! I like the fact that every day you get a little something to do or eat, depending on your preferred calendar!

What is an Advent Calendar?

An advent calendar is a special way to countdown to Christmas. It is originally celebrated and made with candles and wreaths in Germany, but as with everything in the modern world, it exploded into the mainstream, and we’ve added candy to the mix.

I think I was introduced to them around 2014. It would have been the first time I’d watch Zoe Sugg’s vlogmas on YouTube. Honestly, by that time I had been introduced to the bulk of the blogging community, so they could have helped me along the way as well. Anyways, I thought it was an interesting way to get ready for the holiday festivities.

Afterwards, my nana received a simple advent calendar from one of the charities she supports, and they sent a naked tree, and your job was to decorate the scene from the first of December to Christmas day. She would put it up on the refrigerator and anytime I came over to visit, it would be the first thing I’d do, but on the days when I didn’t, my nana would say papaw did it for me and that sounds like something he’d do. I think the longer we did it, he started to enjoy it just as much too!

The day I wrote this post, this picture popped up on my Facebook Memories and I’ve never been happier!

Fast forward to 2021, I wanted to get my own advent calendar. It had been some time since I did one and I thought it was time to bring it back. I had also hoped I could persuade my parents to do it with me, and within four days they became as excited as I was on what would be inside the little envelopes. I managed to find a very affordable Harry Potter calendar that opens up like a giant book and considering neither one of my parents know anything about Harry Potter, I think they enjoyed learning more about it through the various memorabilia. and they definitely understand my love for everything Harry Potter now.

Our 2022 Advent Calendar!

I can’t deny to you, I’ve been searching for this year’s advent calendar since May, and I feel absolutely no shame for it either.

Originally, I wanted to get either a calendar dedicated to puzzles or socks. I watched Alexandra Roselyn on YouTube last year and she had two different calendars, one for tea and the other was for jigsaw puzzles. I was kind of curious about whether I’d have enough patience to do a puzzle with my parents, and honestly, I doubt they’d last long with it. Now, about the socks, my mom has a lot of various socks and I point them out to her all of the time because they rarely go with her outfits or seasons, so I figured this would be a winner for us but the prices for these kinds of calendars can be expensive. When I looked through Amazon back in August, the prices stayed around $40 and as much as I knew we’d have fun and get use out of them, I just didn’t believe at the time it was worth it.

I actually told my mom about the sock advent calendar, and she was very stunned, and told me next year we need to get one together… I told you, she likes her socks!

Anyways, my mom ended up finding this year’s advent calendars. The first is a red box with little holiday scene and you have to look for whatever day(s) you are on and your job is to break the cardboard door to find a little treasure. A mini ornament. When my mom took these pictures below, we had missed the first two days, so we have a set of golden bells with a red bow in the middle of them, and a little snowman decorated with mittens, a scarf and Santa hat on top. We really love this calendar the most, it is absolutely adorable and since my Christmas tree is on a medium size, it is better to decorate it with mini ornaments so these prizes will be very well-loved with me once we are finished with it.

In each photo of the calendars, I’ve included the link, so if you’d like to purchase or put them in a folder for next year’s Christmas season you can.

For the second calendar, my mom thought this would be an interesting because we both enjoy watching crime dramas–she’s currently on a Scandal kick whereas I am watching FBI. The crimes you get to try and solve are based on Sir Arthur Cohen Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes, it is all with a British theme, which isn’t quite ideal, I’ve had to help mom as she didn’t understand some of the names and phrases. The “crimes” themselves are mostly rated PG. This calendar is set up like one of those calendars you flip over to the next and it just sits on your desk. As you’ve might’ve guessed, this isn’t our favorite, but it’s still technically early so we’ll really see if we change our tune after Christmas.

Maybe next year I can do a little list of advent calendars that seem like they could be fun to do with your family. It would also be nice to give you something around a reasonable budget too! If this is something you would like to see in next year’s Blogmas content, please let me know down in the comments.

Are you and your family doing an advent calendar this year? If so, what is the theme behind it? If you’ve done an advent calendar since you were young, what do you look for when you go to purchase them?

snowflake

Blogmas | A Little Wrap Up

Hello!

Welcome back to Blogmas everyone!

I wasn’t sure I would actually participate this year, especially what happened those two weeks at the beginning of November… If you’re wondering about that, you can read my little update in the monthly playlist I released on Monday. Anyways, we are here now and for some odd reason I have developed a trend during Blogmas and I tend to do a simple recap of the previous year’s holiday posts. I’m still unsure why I started doing this, but it’s become part of my ritual for the first week of December; kind of like publishing a playlist at the end of each month, I guess.


Why I Decided on 8 Days

For anyone who doesn’t know or understand what Blogmas/Vlogmas is, it is a theme in which a person releases a post or vlog (video log) of everyday up until Christmas or sometimes the day after, it just depends on the person. I have blogged every day once and I will never do it again, because I felt so stressed out, so when I wrote this post, I was explaining my need to shrink the timetable just a bit with only eight days. This year, I am doing seven posts, but it could also change depending on my end-of-the-year posts too.

The Christmas Song Tag

This is another annual thing for me to do for Blogmas, and that is at least one Christmas-y tag. I actually love doing them every year, mainly because I am curious about if my answers will change as much as the year before, and since we’ve added a new member into our family, I’m sure that’ll change it up a bit.

I’ve done this tag multiple times over the years, but I think the oldest is from 2014, and again, I enjoy reading about what I had said in that post and compare it to the others. As much as I like this tag in general, I would love to see if anyone’s created any more Christmas tags; I have been tempted to combine all of the tags I’ve done in the post and come up with an ultimate Christmas tag, but I haven’t made my mind up yet, so we’ll have to see what happens next year.

Festive and Winter-y Baby Names

Last December, I decided to do something different and share some of my favorite holiday theme baby names.

Back in 2020, I spent the entire month creating new and festive name combinations on my second Instagram page, and it was really fun, but extremely chaotic as I was posting six name pairings each day. I will say, my page looked gorgeous, and I did feel proud for committing to both Blogmas and the names. I definitely don’t recommend it, and I will not be doing that again but kudos to anyone who is multitasking like that in 2022.

So, when I go to 2021, I knew I couldn’t do that again, so I thought of a different route and honestly, this was so much better! I was able to add more names and discuss which names represent this time of the year the best.

Holidays Reads & TV

I spend a lot of my time on Instagram and scroll through a lot of bookstagrammers and I always see various holiday-ish books that actually sound interesting, but I am very difficult to please when it comes to stories based around Christmas, I mean, there’s a reason why I have never been a fan of the Hallmark Channel. I actually pick that channel and Lifetime out of my guide once November comes around because they drive me nuts!

However, I finally talked myself into listening to A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickins, and I think I may end up making it part of my tradition, kind of like what I do with Halloween; I like to watch the music video for Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” on the final day of October. I’ve done it every year since 2009. This year, I wasn’t able to watch the film but I listened to the actual song before I left for the nursing home, and I’m saying that counts for something!

Anyways, I also shared my favorite short Christmas cartoons. They were not produced by Walt Disney, but they are as old as Snow White and the Seven Dwarves (1939) and I’m happy to know I can actually watch them without having to use YouTube because that’s what I’ve been using since 2015, but now they’re on Prime Video as a collection, and I’m really enjoying having them so easily again.

Wooden + Dot Ornaments

I love giving and making gifts for people. I’ve done a lot of seasonal crafts over the years but being able to do them for Christmas is different for me as a person. I like being able to make someone else special for a day, and Christmas is the perfect holiday to do that. As I continue to do these wooden ornaments, the list of people increases and unfortunately can knock off others, and honestly, I hate leaving certain people off the list, but I can always add them to my 2023 list. I was literally rereading these paragraphs and realized I sound an awful lot like Santa Claus…

Best Songs of 2021

One of the main reasons why I keep track of all of the songs I’ve enjoyed over the past year, and it actually makes things so much easier in the end. I like to be almost done writing the December post before I bring everything into one playlist. It is also helpful to wait until Spotify’s unleashed their end-of-the-year collections as well. It gives you a better idea of which artists, bands, genres, etc. you were loving the entire year.

The list for 2021 is actually one of my favorites. Despite my best efforts, not all of my yearly playlists end up being favorites in itself, but I’ve had a couple of them before, the first was 2016, the second best is from 2019 and this one. I am excited to see what I can do with the best songs for 2022 later this month.

If you would like to check out my 2021 wrap up playlist, you can click here.

Top 7 Books of 2021

For the final post of Blogmas content, it is usually my top favorite books of the year. In 2021, I decided to write about the Top 7 books, and I find it odd that I completed my original goal of 30 books and managed to shrink my favorites list to only seven. I probably wanted to make things easier for myself, especially doing this post in general, and I can understand my need to do it that way, especially if I wasn’t in the mood to do any more Blogmas stuff after Christmas.


Next Monday, I will officially start my Blogmas content, and my schedule will continue as normally, a new post will publish around 7:30am on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. I am hoping to finish before Christmas arrives and relish in those final two weeks of December before putting my sights on what I want to do in January. So, I truly hope you find something that you enjoy and if you’re a new blogger, looking for advice or ideas to do for Blogmas, I hope you are inspired to spread your own Christmas spirit onto your platform.

How do you feel about Blogmas and/or Vlogmas? Whose content are you most looking forward to this year?

snowflake

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

Artist Highlight | For Mallory

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!

snowflake

The Goodreads Challenge | Hopes for 2022

Hello!

This year I am doing something completely different on my Goodreads Challenge. If you don’t know what this is, Goodreads is an app that allows you to find books. You can make up lists or shelves as they call them to categorize all of the books, like fiction and nonfiction. At the start of a new year, they give you a spot to choose a number of books you want to read in the 12 months. I’ve tried to make one in the last five years I’ve had it. Since 2019, I’ve been trying to up the number of the previous year, and even though I did get to 40 books in December, I decided to go for it in 2022.

I like the Goodreads Challenge a lot. I’m not one to make any big goals for the year anyways, so being able to set a somewhat large number of books for one year can be thrilling as a whole. I am always so pumped to start on a new one, but this time I decided to change it up a bit. I had the though back in September of splitting it up to focus on books that have been turned into movies. I love movies, and last year I learned how much I missed making time for them so I thought I could connect the two and hope I could make room for both loves. At the moment, I’ve only done one but I have been very distracted lately so I hope I can up my game a bit as the year goes on.

There is one drawback about this. I am not sharing my thoughts about these books and their film adaptions on my blog. I actually have a separate idea for that, but don’t worry I have two books that I am getting ready to publish–one might be coming out this Friday! I couldn’t just stop creating my book reviews though. I like being able to talk about thoughts on certain books and it just seemed silly to quit on all fronts, so I will continue doing those posts every month.


Now you’re probably wondering I am doing with the books on my other list. I do have something really cool to share with you today.

Around the same time, I came up with first idea, I was watching a lot of videos on YouTube about these reading journals. I was puzzled by them at first, but then I started watching like 10 a week and I knew I was hooked on the idea of creating a different space away from my blog to talk about my books. I was a bit hesitant at first, but I am always looking for something to be more creative and I thought this would be pretty cool to try out.

I ended up talking about it a lot with my mom and she agreed that it would be a good idea to try something new. Once I found out about monthly trackers, I was pretty much sealed on the deal and basically asked for a brand-new journal, calligraphy markers and pens, and more books that were being turned into movies this year on my Christmas list. I did receive the dotted notebook I asked for and it’s been a learning curve for me so far! I have the markers and pens as well, but I haven’t really used them that much. And out of all the books on my Christmas list, I got one book and it was Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers.

In the videos I’ve seen of these reading journals, everyone comes up with a different theme and I decided on Harry Potter, and I hoped to capture a bit of the Wizarding World and place it throughout the different spreads, but I’ve had a rough time just making simple banners, so it is a bit plain in some areas, but I am getting better at it. I also have the standard bookshelves but I totally forgot to include the House colors for the various types of reading, because I want to explore them as well, so, gray is for Kindle while pink is for Audiobook and Print is in the color turquoise. I don’t include the titles on the spines because I write too large to do that and I just want to see which way wins.

One thing I have learned in the past two years is that I am obsessed with words. Every time I found one that seemed unique, or it was used in another way than we normally say it, I wanted to collect it for later, so when I got my journal, I decided I would make a section just for my words and it’s been a fun thing to keep track of, and even my parents have enjoyed them too!

Here were the words I was obsessed with in January, and I have to apologize if any of the words are misspelled as well.

Words included are: synapes. candytuff, cur, filgree, ells, hewed, crux, tedium, signews, skein, bishopric, morose, trounced, brocade, whetstones, alight, coffer, chignon, commencement, gythia, truncated, primsigned, saccade, demesne, vehemence, daub, architaves, granary, manses, crux, hinterland, and picaresque

The last spread I made in my green journal was my end-of-the-month-stats. I want to keep track of everything like how many books, days, pages, and words I would make it to every month. I have these long rectangles going vertically on two pages (I actually have three because I made the boxes too big to include November and December!) and I assign different colors for each one and it’s easily my second favorite thing in the journal.

After hearing me complain about it in the beginning, my mom found a little book called “My Reading Life” by Anne Bogel on one of the people she follows on Instagram and we looked at it because despite my best efforts, I knew I needed some help, so I got it around the second week of January, and the main thing I use in it is the monthly tracker. I really love those pages, because it is so easy, but you have to be really careful because you only get little diamond shapes in each block, and you can feel lost once you get into the thick of a month.

I only have one book written in there already, and it was Still Alice by Lisa Genova. I like to start a new year with disability themes. I just like to get them out of the way honestly! I found this book featured on Kindle Unlimited and it was a great read but I’m so thankful I’ve only watched the film once since it came out in like 2016. There were some changes made throughout, I really like Julienne Moore and Kristen Stewart for both Alice and her daughter Lydia. My second book will be 12 Years A Slave for Black History Month and I have always wanted to watch the film and luckily HBOMAX played it all month long, so I have that to look forward once I’m finished. And yes, I have decided on my March read but I’m keeping it a secret for now.

I am reading rather slowly, and I don’t know why I’m doing this because I’ve always read multiple books with opposite genres at once, but I think it has something to do with the fact I hadn’t published this post out for January and I wasn’t able to relax in between the two areas, so let’s hope I zip right through the incoming books and their respectful movies too!

How many books do you hope to read in 2022? Do you have an app to help you keep track of your books like Goodreads or are you one to use a reading (bullet) journal instead?

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