August Wrap Up! // Featuring: Lakes, Cakes, AND DOC BROWN!

Posted August 28, 2017 by Amber in Blogging, Checking In, Real World / 23 Comments


Welcome Ladies & Gents, to the August Wrap Up!

August has been a busy month!  For me, there’s been vacations and birthdays and a trip to the dentist (BLECH), and a solar eclipse!  I am so so proud of myself because I have posted every day this month!  I know a lot of people are heading back to school within a week, if they haven’t already.  Can you believe summer’s almost over?  SHEESH.  I think that we all have had a crazy month, so let’s get down to it!  EXCITING THINGS ARE AFOOT, MY PHOENIX FRIENDS.

No, not that kind of foot!  Silly people.

The August Haul

My August book haul was intense.  This is for a couple reasons:

  1. I discovered #booksfortrade* on Twitter and it is MAGICAL.
  2. I decided to splurge my cash rewards on books because I earned it, gosh darn it.
  3. OwlCrate gave double books this month and it was a wondrous thing.

*Unfortunately, I don’t have a lot of ARCs people want, so trading hasn’t REALLY been happening, but I HAVE bought books inexpensively and added to my library in that way, but I think it’s AWESOME that the community is out there and I’ve connected with some really lovely ladies. Without further ado, here are the lovelies now gracing my shelves!  All covers link to the Goodreads page so you can check these beauties out for yourself.

1 book found

August Reads

I’m pretty pleased with all the reading I’ve managed this month DESPITE all the running around.  I thought I’d get more hardcopy books read on vacation, but I don’t think I read anything at all while we were away.  OH WELL.  There were too many things to do and see. 🙂 All book covers will link to my review pages, as usual.

13 books found


A book cover with a smoky lilac-colored background. There are circus tentsatthe gotten in shade of darker purple with the hazy feel of fire to them. In Bold, smoldering black text are the words "Daughter of the Burning City". At the top in white all-caps reads "Amanda Foody"












Writing Life


I have this thing with books. Once I get started, I can write forever. 2000 words/day is EASY for me.  I have the ability to be prolific.  But the first sentence kills me.  It’s that sentence that gets everything going, the knowing where to begin.  I thought of a sentence while I was in a meeting the day before vacation, and it was OKAY.  Not good, but the best I’ve come up with in a month.  I used it.  I got about 700 words in, and I faltered.  It doesn’t feel right to me.

Then, of course, I came across a post talking about all the worst first sentences in a manuscript and I was all like, “YUP.  THOSE ARE ALL OF MINE EVER!”  I’m kicking myself so hard because I was so busy being traumatized that I didn’t save the blog post ANYWHERE and I can’t share it with you.  It was really good, and also really “you’ll never be a writer I’m sorry try again forever.”  Soooo, back to the drawing board on that one?  I guess I like starting with people waking up and mostly this article said “if you write about the scenery, I’ll think you don’t know how to be subtle about it and I don’t care about your characters so don’t write about them either.” … I’m lost!

What types of subjects do you lovelies use in a first sentence? I’m the type of person who can’t write a story out of order.  It doesn’t work for me – I’m a linear thinker.  So until I know how to begin – including that pesky, horrible first sentence – The Land of Dark and Broken Things will remain in limbo.

Bloggish Stuff

So, erm, you may have noticed some changes? I took the leap to self-hosting this weekend and I AM SO EXCITED!  I’m working with Ashley at Book Host and she has been wonderful and I’m just tickled pink to have everything on my own shiny .COM

Type it in your browsers!  Write it in the sky with planes!  It works, it’s beautiful, and it’s mine, thanks to Ashley and all my lovely followers who gave me the confidence by visiting every day to make the jump.

Some things that may be changing

  • Layout.  I’m trying to keep the layout pretty similar to the hosted site, but now I have Scripts!  Tools!  Plugins!  Excitement!  Chocolate Pie!  This means there’s some new stuff in the sidebar.  I’d like to point enthusiastically at the QUOTES FROM BOOKS widget?  Am I the only one who loves quote randomizers!  Aaagh, so excited about that.
  • Reviews.  I’m going to be using the really cool Ultimate Book Blogger plugin to format my reviews.  You’re going to find they’re much simplified, less image heavy, and consistent.  THIS ALSO MEANS going back and editing the old ones, so bear with me as I do that.  You can get an idea of how reviews will look going forward from my Tiger Lily review and my Anne of Green Gables review.  Things that will change within reviews:
    • Format.  I won’t be splitting them up by Characters/World/Story/Writing/Personal. Instead you’ll get a nice, concise review.  Won’t that be swell?
    • Featured Content.  The featured content in each review will vary – at the moment I’m leaning toward embedding book trailers and relevant media.  What do you want to see?
    • Reorganization.  Things may be in a different order than you’re used to BUT everything ought to be easy to find.
  • Indexing.  THERE ARE OPTIONS NOW HUZZAH!  Thanks to the UBB plugin, all the book reviews get automatically indexed.  If you click the “Reviews” link in the header, you can see the various indexes.  More books will be populated as I update old reviews.
  • Images.  While I play around with this new template, I may need to forgo some of my pretty images until I can create new ones.  This may take an eternity as I just got a new computer and am Photoshopless at the moment.  I WILL KEEP THINGS PRETTY THOUGH I PROMISE!
  • Super slacking on reading blogs.  GUYS I’M SORRY.  I will probably get behind on your blogs because I have 300+ old posts to go back on and fix the SEO.  If you have a post you’re SUPER proud of and you think I’ve missed it, comment it to me OR send it on Twitter!

Don’t worry!  You’ll still get my GIF-filled silliness on all other blog posts, as usual.  I CANNOT ABANDON THE GIFS I LOVE THEM SO.


In August, The Literary Phoenix:

  • Tripled views from the month before.
  • Doubled followers!
  • Had viewers from all around the world (my usual demographic is USA and Canada, with a smudge of UK/Australia).
  • Posted every day for a month.
  • Had a record number of Likes AND Comments.

And GOSH DARN IT ALL I couldn’t do it without beautiful people like you rallying behind me and my passion for books. I’m  so lucky in the community I’ve found in this Book Blogger niche and it’s been wonderful fun talking to you all and discussing our passions.  LETS DO IT AGAIN IN SEPTEMBER!

*passes out foam fingers and chocolate ice cream for everyone*

Top Posts

The crowds have spoken and these are the posts from the blog, Twitter, and Instagram that people loved in August!


Loads of people had opinions on this topic, and I think it’s really awesome we were all able to connect over the awkward moment when you walk into a Potential New Friend’s house only to discover there are no books!  The consensus seemed to be that we’re a little awkward and judgy at first, NOT BECAUSE WE HATE YOU but because it’s harder to start a conversation.

This one tweet had over 11,000 impressions.  My Twitter, guys?  It’s not usually exciting.  BUT IT IS EXCITING WHEN PATRICK ROTHFUSS RTs YOU!  Which is what happened here.  It was a good thing I was working from home that day, because I SQUEALED and told my husband. We’re both big fans of The Kingkiller Chronicle.  And, in all seriousness, check out that review.  It’s marvelous.

Apparently people like stacks of books?  This Instagram image after I unpacked all my packages from book trades and Amazon purchases took the cake, even though it’s not particularly pretty or well laid out.  Huzzah to the celebrating of people loving piles of books!

In the Writing World

  • Patrick Rothfuss launched a crowdfunding campaign for an ULTRA GORGEOUS deck of The Name of the Wind playing cards.  If you haven’t already seen the Kickstarter, you can check it out here.
  • YA Twitter dethroned a book that spammed its way to the top of the NYT Bestseller list.  The debunking of its validity is a fantastic read and further proof this community is awesome.  I’m also really pleased the the NYT took the research of this community seriously, rescinded and corrected their list, and issued apologies.  If you missed this event, check out EW’s coverage of it.

In the Blogosphere

In Other News

August is always a quick month because my husband’s birthday is this month, plus several of our friends!  We got out to dinner a lot, buy a lot of presents, and celebrate the lives of the people we love.  We’re busy every weekend, and that’s great, because August is really icky and humid where we are and without something to do, it can get a little miserable.

This year, we skipped the BBQ/Birthday party for our friends’ daughters because:

  1. We’re the only childless adults there and it’s weird.
  2. Since the miscarriage, large groups of children are not my favorite.
  3. It usually falls on the weekend of my husband’s birthday.
  4. We went on vacation!

It actually worked out that we could have gone this year if we wanted, BUT… see 1 & 2. We did go away for a long weekend and with the exception of humidity and a headache, it was lovely!

The view from the outside deck. Can I live here please?
Lakeside on the train tour.
I like water, okay? It’s just all pretty and peaceful and stuff.

We went up to the Lakes Region and stayed in a condo with an amazing lakeside view.  The first day, we went to a place with the “largest arcade in the world” and I managed to get a high score on the rad old school Asteroids Deluxe machine.  Then the day after, we went to the drive in and saw The Hitman’s Bodyguard but had to leave before The Dark Tower (I think I’m destined not to see that film?).  One morning, we spent hours watching reruns of That 70s Show which was also fun.

I know it doesn’t sound like much, but if you’re not swimming or hiking, there’s not a whole lot to do but relax, and we had a rainy day as well, so RELAX WE DID! Other than that, we did a lot of not-fun adulting stuff this month that will pay off in the end and be perfectly wonderful.

  • I got two fillings, blech.
  • Matt got measured for his groomsman’s tux.
  • I brought my bridesmaid’s dress for alterations.
  • … Grocery shopping happened?
  • Matt went to a Zomboy concert and I DID NOT because EDM is the worst (sorry!).
  • Work, mostly.


Which is a big deal, because it’s been about a century since one was visible in New England!  …  But I’m super lame and didn’t watch it or get cool pictures because I forgot about getting a solar filter for my camera and also for my eyes, which is super necessary.


What’s Coming Next?

Well tonight (as I type this, Saturday) I’m going to a throwback night at our local drive-in theatre to see Back to the Future and Jaws so I’m pretty pumped about that.  I’M SUCH a big Back to the Future fan, it’s a little sad.

We have another long weekend this month thanks to Labor Day and Matt and my two-year anniversary.  <3. After that I’m going to be fairly busy with work, since my co-team lead is going to Guatemala for two weeks!  Finally, my little brother’s birthday is at the end of the month.  September is fun! In regards to the blog, you can look forward to things like:

  • Ranting about bits of blogs I find bothersome.
  • OwlCrate unboxing!
  • A make-your-own book box.
  • A discussion on Albus Dumbledore.
  • I’m thinking about doing a post abut LUMOS.
  • …and more Reviews!

Plus other stuff I haven’t thought of yet.  I’m not that organized, guys.  There’s ALWAYS other stuff.

If you’ve made it this far, thank you!

I can’t wait to hear all about what you’ve got going on.  What are your highlights this month?  Favorite book you’ve read recently?  Did you go on vacation and if so WHERE?  Share your secrets, my sweets. <3

Linking up to Mailbox Monday, It’s Monday, What Are You Reading?, Stacking the Shelves, and The Sunday Post.


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23 responses to “August Wrap Up! // Featuring: Lakes, Cakes, AND DOC BROWN!

  1. OMG it looks like you had a really awesome August! THAT HAUL THO GIRRRRL I am slightly jealous! I have heard of the twitter exchange thingy but I haven’t tried it out. I feel like it will be a lot harder since I live in Eruope but I may check it out in the future!!
    And yay for new blog achievements!! Also: HOW DO YOU EVEN MANAGE TO POST EVERY DAY FOR A MONTH THAT’S INSANE O.O

    Esther @ Queen of Fantasy recently posted: Beautiful People #27.5 All About That Sass
    • Amber

      TBH, a lot of the posting was memes, and with the exception of TTT, those are really quick! I’m going to try to start steering off those and filling with better content, haha. Mostly.

      You have #booksfortradeuk in Europe! Also some people will ship anywhere internationally, but obvs the shipping is higher. Check the UK one, though, I bet you’d have better luck there. 🙂

  2. Your August looks awesome!!! Congrats on moving over to being self-hosted! That is so awesome! (also I should probably do that at some point….. hehe)
    I love booksfortrade!! I’ve been doing it for a little over a year and I’ve gotten some amazing books through that! Also I somehow missed your Anna Dressed in Blood review (which I am going to look at right after I finish writing this comment!!).
    And I Spy the Ruby Red books!! Love those!

    • Amber

      Oh boy, you’re probably NOT going to like the Anna Dressed in Blood Review, haha. But I LOVED Ruby Red, which is why I bought the series. 🙂

      I’m SO EXCITED to be self-hosted. I love futzing around with customization and whatnot, which I can do better now! 🙂 Also, have you heard of the Ultimate Book Blogger plugin? It is AMAZING for reviews.

    • Amber

      Thank you! You’ll have to swing back by for the book box next Saturday – I had a lot of fun making that post. 🙂 I love featuring small business from Etsy and whatnot. 🙂

      Have a lovely day!

  3. Wow! Your month of August was exciting, from new books to your own domain name and all the fun changes you are planning. I think these are the things that make blogging fun and creative. Hope your month of September will be just as exciting!

    • Amber

      Aw, thank you Laura! August was definitely a big month and I’m looking forward to what the future will bring. <3

  4. I really enjoyed The Martian – which surprised me because its not a genre I read much at all. Have a good week and enjoy playing with the blog!

    • Amber

      I’m really looking forward to reading The Martian! It’s next on my TBR after The Handmaid’s Tale. … I loved the movie enormously and I’m hoping the book is just as good.

  5. Kathy Martin

    Wow! You got and read a great bunch of books. Your vacation looks like it was lovely too. There is just something soothing about being by water. Unless of course you live in Texas right now. Come see my week here. Happy reading!

  6. Whew- That is one great haul of books … and a great full post too! So many very good books /series you got.
    The new blog is looking good and I’m impressed (and interested) in some of the plug ins you mentioned.
    Your vacation looks lovely. I hope your hubby had a wonderful BD.
    Lots of Happy Reading!

    • Amber

      Thank you so much Martha! I was really pleased with my haul this month, though I’m definitely running out of room! Going to have to start getting creative….

      The UBB plugin is available for blogs only, unfortunately, but it is just WONDERFUL.

    • Amber

      I have LOVED having a drive-in so close. The almost never do throwback movies, and it was a lot of fun to go this weekend! I really hope they do more in the future. I really recommend checking out a drive-in if you happen to be near one some summer! They’re a lot of fun.

  7. I really loved the Dorothy Must Die series and the Shiver trilogy. So good. I wish a drive-in would be closer to us…we’d have to go an hour from home at least to get to one. Happy reading

    • Amber

      Our drive-in is about 45 minutes away, but we live in a pretty rural area where most things are about 30 minutes away, so it’s relative to that and not so bad!

      I haven’t read either of those, but they look wonderful. I’m looking forward to reading them and really happy I traded for them.

      • Well, I should clarify. an hour here is more like 2 hours with traffic. The Washington, D.C., metro area is a bear to drive anywhere. Even something 10 minutes away can take half an hour. But the two trilogies are wonderful. Shiver trilogy was one of the best.

        • Amber

          Oh wow, yes, city driving is much longer than country driving – traffic is the pits. I remember when we lived in the Boston suburbs it would take 45 minutes to get across town… a 5 mile drive! No fun to drive, but rewarding in other ways. 🙂

  8. What a month you’ve had! O_O

    I’m pretty sure I’ve read the very article you’re talking about on Writer’s Digest, if it can help you find it again. My own advice as a writer: don’t worry too much about your first sentence; it should be the last you write (figuratively). What I mean is, what’s important is to get the story straight, and by story I mean the entire first draft. Even a very detailed outline like K.M. Weiland’s might not be enough. Then you decide exactly where the story should start: for my first novel, my scene card technique helped me figure out that my entire first scene was fairly useless and that I should start at the second; it’s fine. Like they say, the first draft is you telling the story to yourself and the second is you telling the story to readers. So the only thing that your first draft’s first line really needs to do is inspire you to write. There are instances of writers who first craft a perfect first sentence and then write the book to support it, but everyone’s creative process is different. Good luck, and thank you for the shout out! ^_^