End of year (and decade) Wrap-Up

Closing the year with lots of foxes, Vixy, my family, art and books.

2019 is coming to an end and to be fair, it doesn’t feel like anything so far. Today is just another day, the last one in the calendar and apparently the last one of the decade (we’re approaching the twenties, what fun crazy parties are there to come?!) but so far, the hype, the excitement is not there for me.

This year and decade have been dissonant and odd. And as much as I used to plan ahead like crazy and overplan and have everything “perfect”, that is one of the lessons learned this decade. Even the best laid plans can go awry and not turn out to be the best. You can plan and plan and plan, I had plan A to Z and still, somehow that wasn’t enough for some of the things that happened this decade.

And you know what? That is actually fine. I still plan and I am known to be that person who you approach when you need something. You need sewing supplies in the office, or different types of glue, or food, or whatever, I’ve got it. I am still very much a planner. But I am also aware I can’t cover everything and plans don’t always go the way you planned.

If the plans I had at the beginning of the decade had worked out I’d be married to a first husband, with kids, a successful research career and potentially a high level job as manager or close to CEO of something. And so far I have none of those things. (Yes, to those gracefully pointing out, I did get married this year, but this was not my first rodeo).

Instead, I on my second marriage, no kids (just Vixy and some chickens), on a job that was as far away from my dream job as I could consider that is turning out to be even better than my dream job, and in a country where I am a stranger, an immigrant and unwanted and at the same time, I am not.

Heck, during this decade, I got married twice, had a divorce (something I never expected to have to do, one of the few things I never planned for), became homeless, had all my money stolen away, fought a massive legal battle to be able to have a life and be my own person, survived mental illness, moved countries and moved so many times in a new country. Went from speaking my native language the most, to barely using it.

And relationships. I broke away from my biological family (and then we agreed to come back). Found a new family (where I fit a little better). Tested old friendships (in a few days I will be seeing a friend I have known since we were 13-14 years old, one of my oldest friendships), made new ones. Some of them broke, some never stuck, some have become a massive blessing and grown my network.

In this decade, I have been scared as I had never been before, but I have also exprienced joy and gratitude like never before. I have grown so much.

Even my looks have changed, and my confidence.

I have no big plans for 2020 or the full decade. I do have little (and big) things I’d like to accomplish, but we shall see how they come to fruition:

  • Complete writing a novel.
  • Publish it
  • Write the WBT comic and illustrate it.
  • Draw more
  • Read more

Things I plan to do this coming year is to draw almost everyday. I used to and then got out of the practice for many reasons, and now want to get back into it.

And I am going to be better at choosing books I spend my money on. I had been on a rampage to support as many authors as possible and I end up not reading them all (for example, Contemporary Romance is something I rarely read and yet I had preordered so many). So my intention is to think better what I purchase. In the end, all my efforts to support authors feel like they’ve been mostly wasted (I know in a way they haven’t) and I would rather do this with more care.

I also went on a rampage of bookboxes, but I am slowly culling that down as some are loosing the shine and spark. It is a tough world and there’s only so many *insert overused item in bookboxes here* you need. I just wish there were ways to customise or tailor it a bit better. And I would love a UK version of what PageHabit did (annotated books by the author, with post it notes).

A thing I won’t stop is the generosity and kindness I have. This has been used against me (I have been considered a threat or “evil” for being nice, or that I have an ulterior motive, or that my kindness is a way to mistreat people) but I still won’t stop. I like helping and being nice to others.

What are you musing on today? (If you are musing at all)

I am now off to finish working for the day, then have some pizza with my husband and watch a film and some documentaries.

2018 Wrap Up, 2019 is Here!

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Happy New Year you book dragons, fire bugs, whatever you are! 🙂

Cliche but wow, it is 2019 already, can you believe it? Which to me means I will keep wiritng 2018 instead of 2019 for the next few weeks while I adjust, I have a piñata party to finish preparing for, and big things coming for this year.

But before plunging headlong into this New Year, all shiny, I wanted to recap on my 2018 and do a super speedy summary.

I launched my 101 for subscription boxes and it was a good hit (mostof it still works, however I do not subscribe to the same boxes anymore). Also, yes I know that wasn’t in 2018 but wait, there’s a reason.

Someone tagged me in a “how many subscription boxes did you buy this year?” kind of Tweet, and lo and behold, I counted. Want to guess how many I bought this year? (It is a rough number because I may have missed a few special edition boxes).

I bought over 65 subscriptions boxes. 12 Book Box Club, 12 LitJoy Crate, 5 Illumicrate (this includes the Shades of Magic/Vicious special box), about 6-9 Fairyloot boxes, around 6-8 Yume Twins, 12 Stickii Club (plus one advent calendar), 3 or 4 Owlcrates, one Holiday special crate from Spearcraft, one or two Junior boxes from those that do Junior version, 3 or 4 Wildest Dreams boxes… And seriously I have lost count.

On my last post I hinted of reducing the number, and this is why! I have bought so many boxes, have not caught up with reading all the book in them and decided I want to catch up and also bulk less. So I am sticking with LitJoy, Illumicrate and Book Box Club, with a top up of Owlcrate and some Fairyloot boxes, and maybe a few special ones, but definitely going to try to be more picky about it.

What else did I do in 2018?

Preorders! Loads and loads of preorders! I preordered over 150 books during 2018 (some where 2019 books, but I only decided to start counting properly per year in the last week, so yeah some overlap there). Which meant I bought 4 new bookcases and I have now run out of places where I can put bookshelves (oh dear!)

And the blog has kept mostly to a post every other day (with some contributions from Bea, just to make it more interesting).

And finally, my goodreads goal was 100 and I read 145.

So, let’s jump to 2019!

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My goals are relatively simple:

  • Keep blogging, reviewing books.
  • Goodreads challenge of 120 books for the year.
  • Keep preordering and supporting authors, but be selective.*
  • Try to love my body more, as I tackle body dysmorphia (which didn’t affect me as a teenager but has it’s claws on me as an adult)
  • Do a monthly giveaway on Twitter (which I have done for at least half of 2018)
  • Loose 1-2 stones to help my joints deal better with HMS (Hyper Mobile Syndrome)
  • Write the stories I start then stop then start again and never properly finish because I am tryng to adapt them to please everybody. I am going to write for one reader only, or at least just one in mind.

*I am compiling a spreadsheet of all my 2019 preorders, which you can view here if you’d like to check it out. I made it for my own record keeping but people were interested so I decided to share because sharing is caring!

That’s all from me today. Hope you had a good 2018 (or as good as it could be) and here’s to a 2019 that’s a little bit better than 2018 (hopefully).

YALC 2018 Wrap up

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YALC (Young Adult Literature Convention) was a treat. I am still (a week later) very happy and full of books!

I’ll do a quick wrap up (or attempt to) as the pictures will speak for themselves (so many books).

  • I brought back 108 books. Some I had taken with me to get signed (about 30 of them which still means I managed to acquire 78 books during 3 days).
  • Several authors remember me, I also seem to be quite good at being found.
  • I shocked publishers with my Waterstones receipt (it had to be unfolded for a few times, and had SO many books!)
  • There were a lot of goodies, and I was very happy with all the posts. (Someone suggested an artists alley and I have to say I’d love that!)
  • Our book squad is the very best and I love them all to pieces. There were a lot of times when they managed to get books signed for me, or reminded me of something or simple saved me in some way. I can’t thank you all lovely ladies enough.
  • I said “Oh, sorry, I am dead” while laying spread out on my back on the floor to Jason Momoa (it was Sunday and I was exhausted, hypermobility was NOT happy with me).
  • I also managed to walk in between Jason and his bodyguard and be completely oblivious to that (everyone later went like “but like didn’t you notice?! you did it!”).
  • Managed to meet so many lovely people, thanks to all you lovelies that stopped me and introduced yourselves!
  • Queue strangers to friends is the best of the best. Specially after you keep meeting the same people on different queues.
  • Talking of queueing, I still don’t get the British and their love for queues. Several times I asked “what are you queueing for” and the reply was “I don’t know”.
  • Suitcases and totebags for the win!
  • The moon dress (which is actually Knit Anele’s dress) got a lot of compliments, but also, it was SO comfortable (same with the boots, custom made and I loved them, like walking on clouds).

Have a look at all the books (bought, ARCs/proofs won, free books, signed books)

Last but not least, a big shout out to the Book Box Club girls. It is through their idea of having a Clubhouse to chat about the book, that I met my best friend. But not only that, from it our book squad was born.

I had always dreamed of having a group of friends that understood me, that were there in the thick and the thin, that had my back (and for whom I could be there when they needed me), and it was just a dream.

Kate and Libby, through Book Box Club, made that dream become reality and I have no words to say how grateful I am for this, for the box, for the books, for the friendships, for our squad. Each lady in the picture below is worth infinity times their weight in gold.

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Moon’s 1st third of 2018 Round-up

Let’s do a fun sum up of this quarter of the year (can anyone believe it is already May?!). It has been an interesting start of the year for sure.

  • Our Whatsapp Book Box Club group got more hype and we’re doing a lot of fun things. You can check out more of the shenanigans on this post. But trust me, that we have enjoyed meeting other bookish people. First rule about our club is you need to have purchased at least one Book Box Club and attended a Clubhouse meeting.

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  • I have had successful buddy reads of several books thanks to this. And thanks to the buddy reads that sparked me out of reading funks, so I have been reading more.
  • I have preordered several books, trying to support authors and publishers alike (54 preorders placed by 29th of April).

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  • Blog and twitter have grown a lot and I am glad, I even have one surprise coming up my sleeve about the blog, which I am sure some of you will be quite excited to hear about!
  • I moved jobs, changing from one industry to another quite drastically but full of opportunities. Coworkers at my previous job were very kind and gifted me a few things including a Porg (squishie!) and some books.

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  • I had a small holiday and visited a water-mill (and bought a lot of flour because I love baking and fresh flour is amazing). It was a moment of being in the middle of nowhere and enjoying just being without actually having to be doing anything. This is hard for me, but it was very relaxing. And we fell in love with a wood burning stove.

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  • I have had the very first fitting for my “Knit” dress. If you’re unsure what I am talking about, you can check my Meet The Character post about her. When I designed Knit’s dress, I had always envisioned making the dress become a reality, and yes it may not be exactly as I first drew it, but it is already looking amazing and I am all excited about fabrics and looks (it may be hard to imagine but trust me, it will be grand).

  • On the not as great news, my bookmark shop has been on “holiday” for a while due to all the changes and stress happening this quarter. Hopefully it will be reopened soon once I have a few more designs up and ready.
  • And I have been diagnosed with several little things that add up to the fact that I am “disabled”. It has been hard, working with this but I may post more on this at some point.
  • It was also a good time because I met Loish who is one of the artists I admire, and that was wonderful too! (Please excuse the over tired face, it was late and I was extremely tired but really happy, it was also too hot in the room so we were all just melting away).

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All in all, it has been a wonderful first quarter of the year, with a lot of things coming up, a lot of fresh changes. The new job is promising and we shall see what this next 4 months bring in.

How has your 2018 been so far?

 

Here We Are Now Review

This lovely book was provided to me through bookbridgr. So here is my honest review.

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Here We Are Now by Jasmine Warga

Despite sending him letters ever since she was thirteen, Taliah Abdallat never thought she’d ever really meet Julian Oliver. But one day, while her mother is out of the country, the famed rock star from Staring Into the Abyss shows up on her doorstep. This makes sense – kinda – because Julian Oliver is Taliah’s father, even though her mother would never admit it to her.

Julian asks if Taliah if she will drop everything and go with him to his hometown of Oak Falls, Indiana, to meet his father – her grandfather – who is nearing the end of his life. Taliah, torn between betraying her mother’s trust and meeting the family she has never known, goes.

With her best friend Harlow by her side, Taliah embarks on a three-day journey to find out everything about her ‘father’ and her family. But Julian isn’t the father Taliah always hoped for, and revelations about her mother’s past are seriously shaking her foundation. Through all these new experiences, Taliah will have to find new ways to be true to herself, honoring her past and her future.

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The premise of this book is relationships. And in that aspect it excels. It touches on friendships (between Taliah and Harlow), f/f (Harlow and Quinn), what happens when your best and only friend has a girlfriend, mother/daughter (both for Taliah and for Lena, Taliah’s mother), father/son (Julian and Tom, and in a smaller way Toby), father/daughter (Julian/Taliah). It is all in all packed full of the complexity of family and friends, and it is fun to read but also emotional.

However, it starts full of questions, and ends full of questions (different ones to the ones at the beginning) which was not great. The reveals made the ending feel rushed and too open. It left you with more questions than you started with and it isn’t exactly like this is planned as a series.

It was a quick read and I loved the music aspect of it and the whole “dreams and who you are” exploration too.

Moon recommends

I am not a big reader of contemporary mostly because I’d rather escape to another world, but in a way this reminded me a tiny bit of Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell, so I’d suggest you read that one and if you have, why not read Here We Are Now?

PS. The props used are not sponsored, they just are the ones I had nearest to me when I took this picture.

 

 

 

Moon’s September Round-up

This is my first round-up but it is not the kind to summarise what I posted, but rather what didn’t make it into a post of their own but is still worth mentioning.

Thank you gift

Someone posted on Facebook about her mug being broken (a mug that had a Sarah J. Maas quote, exclusive to FairyLoot) and I said she could have mine. Thankfully for all her fans I am not a fan. I asked if she could pay shipping but gave the mug away for free. I am a weirdo that likes sending care packages to people so I ended up adding another exclusive Feyre mug and a book and I can’t remember what else. The box took a detour to Canada and finally arrived.

I did this without expecting anything in return so it was a lovely surprise to get this lovely gift. (Also, those Chocolade Kanjers are awesome).

Ninja Book Box giveaway

I don’t usually win things, but somehow I managed to win a set of bookmarks from Ninja Book Box. They are gorgeous.

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Booklepuff giveaway

Since I became so lucky I also won a small instagram giveaway done by Booklepuff.

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Twitter giveaways

I ended opening a Twitter account to join #BooksBindUs (it’s Maja’s fault, entirely) and ended up winning a copy of Warcross from one of the giveaways. The funny bit is I also got that in a book box and then Marie Lu asked to donate to Puerto Rico and she was sending signed books to donators so I also got one of those. I wonder if the universe is trying to tell me something about Warcross… (it helps I am a gamer and a programmer/engineer).

I also started my own giveaway for a copy of After The Fire by Will Hill (what else would I giveaway, right?). I loved doing this so will probably do more giveaways soon enough.

Book Buddle

Book sleeves are awesome, but I had been quite unlucky in snagging the prints from the shops I wanted and always missed out. So I decided to find all possible ones, see prices and shipping and choose one. Book Buddle had a fox print I wanted so I asked if she (Jules) could make me one in the right size, and ended up being unable to choose between two fabrics and ordering 3 book sleeves.

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Of course, they are so gorgeous and perfect (those moons glow in the dark) that I checked if she could make a ‘book’ sleeve for Petunia. [Caveat: Petunia is my Wacom Bamboo Fun tablet I use for digital artwork, she is a bit petulant so the name came from that and she gives me heart attacks by deciding not to work, or the drivers aren’t right even if they actually are.] The sleeve for Petunia is also delightful and it has a little button to stop her from trying to escape. I cannot recommend Book Buddle enough.

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Other things to note

Merake Candles resupply, because Heather makes some of the best candles I know about.

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I managed to find a fox mug that was a cuteness overload and I had to buy it.

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I also got my hair dyed by Nikki and a different day she helped me learn how to make Yorkshire puddings and a good gravy. Being non British I am slowly mastering the art of a Sunday Roast. I can carve a chicken easily and my veggies are to die for, same as good roast potatoes, but I still forget to make gravy and had never made Yorkies. This was a huge success.

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Clipboard have been a part of my drawing life for quite long. I used to have a very battered very decorated one that had been with me since 2004-2005 but it got lost in one of my many moves. Finally I decided to find a replacement and decorate it. It has been loads of fun, experimenting around and I found out temporary tattoos work well on wood… who knew?

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Last but not least, if you have been following me before this blog was born, you will know who Knit Anele is (if you haven’t, just keep an eye out for the next edition of Meet the Character).

Anyway, when I created her, I always intended to make her superhero dress something in real life to be worn by myself. This had been put in the back burner for ages until this month when I got in contact with a dressmaker (I tried several but only one worked out). It was a lot of fun and we have chosen fabrics so I am very excited about this.

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Subscription Box Tally

So this month I got:

  • Book Box Club
  • FairyLoot
  • LeaferBox x2 in one box
  • Page Habit YA
  • Page Habit Fantasy
  • Spearcraft
  • LitCube
  • YumeTwins

I think this is all for the month of September. I am looking forward to October starting and the lovely things to come.

How was your month?