A New WIP, A Finished Constellation, & Studying Begins! – The February Wrap Up

Posted March 2, 2020 by Amber in Checking In / 6 Comments



Winter is almost over.

Here in Massachusetts, we probably still have a solid month of snow and cold and misery but THEN spring will be here!  And while, yes, I realize that really just adds mud into the mix, I’m still pleased.  I like the visual aesthetics of winter, but it really makes me hate leaving the house.  Particularly in the morning to go to work.  Also driving home in the dark is a major bummer.  I’m over it!

Still, there was a lot of good to February, so lets get down to it!

The Monthly Haul

I should not be allowed to go to book stores.

This is the second month in a row with a Barnes and Noble haul.  I really do pluck up books in a book store faster than I can read them.  I actually sucked it up this time and got a Barnes and Noble rewards card, because I’ve already spent half the amount to make the savings worthwhile, and it’s only February so the odds of spending that much again before next February are pretty good.  It feels dangerous.  I really can’t go again this month, though.  Can.  Not.

2 books found

Still, I’m pretty happy with my picks.  The Night Country was one I’d been meaning to pick up anyway, and I’ve been dancing around In Other Lands for a few months.  I think I’ve picked up Welcome to Night Vale every time I’ve been in a book store for the last three years, so it seemed like the right time to pick it up.  Fragile Things was a lovely find, because I’d actually picked the audiobook up for this one last month, but decided I do short stories better in hardcopy and shelved it… looking forward to reading that in a format that will work better for me!

I’m on my last couple months of a reduced Audible membership, so I’ll be cancelling soon (until next year – Audible!) but I’m super excited because I’d been bouncing back and forth between Red Rising and Walk on Earth a Stranger for this month’s credit… then Audible dropped a sale and Red Rising was only $5.95/book so I got the whole trilogy and am happy as a clam about it – I really want my husband to read it but he only does audiobooks.  I think he’ll really like it.

Also picked up The Poppy War in that sale, and I’m excited to listen to that one again as well. 🙂

All the things I’ve been reading

I definitely haven’t read as much this month as I did in January, but I still feel I’ve done a decent job of it!  After I finished book #4 this month, I set aside my fiction reading and began diving into the exhilarating SIE Prep Guide for the exam I have to take later this spring. Full disclosure: I’m bored and I hate it.  I’m not a good studier and this is very much not my topic.

Seriously, I just added a bunch of books about the SOE and general espionage during WWII to my TBR for WIP research and give me that over numbers and regulations and stock market fluctuations any day.

14 books found
















Walk on Earth a Stranger / ★★★★★ As I said in my review, it’s highly possible that Walk on Earth a Stranger may end up being one of my favorite reads of the year.  Almost definitely.  I just love the depths of the world building in this one, and the characters, and just…. everything?  It was a well-rounded wonderful read for me.

The Gentleman’s Guide to Getting Lucky / ★★★★★ Even though this was just a quick read – a bonus novella – I need to shine a light on The Gentleman’s Guide to Getting Lucky because it was so much fun.  I really appreciated all the awkwardness, and there’s something about WE HATE RICHARD PEELE! that brings me joy.

Paper Towns / ★★★★ – A controversial opinion, and yet, Paper Towns remains my favorite John Green novel.  It’s been a while since I’d read it and I had a rough time with Looking for Alaska a couple years ago, so I was worried about how it would hold it.  It’s still fantastic.

Readathons & Reading Challenges

The progress on #StartonYourShelfathon continues!

I finished my first constellation earlier this month and am moving on to my second!  I wanted a constellation with a few more stars, and I’m not sure why, but Scorpio popped into my head, so that’s where I’m heading next.  I don’t expect to finish this constellation up until April, but hopefully I can add a few more stars to it this month.

Honestly, I really love these star charts?  They speak to the bookish child in me.  I remember having something similar-is when I was a kid and the library was running a summer reading program.  It’s not quite as satisfying as peeling a sticker and putting it on a chart, but it’s dang close.

I read five books this month, meeting my monthly goal of four hardcopy books.  I actually hadn’t intended to read the fifth, but I started Next and I was quickly frustrated with it, so one Saturday night I just decided to power through so I was DONE.  Another book on my donation pile, but it wasn’t quite bad enough to DNF.

5 books found






I feel like I got off a bit easy this month, considering how short many of these books are.  James and the Giant Peach is a very quick read, and The Gentleman’s Guide to Getting Lucky may be even shorter?  I don’t anticipate meeting my goals as easily in March, and I sincerely doubt I’ll meet them in April.  Part of that is the fact I’m splitting my free time with other activities (some fun, some not).  I’ll do my best regardless.

Similar progress on the Great Bookcase Crusade as last month!  I was able to read another five hardcopy books.  As I just mentioned, they were all pretty small.  I’m still happy for the running motivation I have to pick up these hardcopy books where in previous years, I was really dragging my feet.  It feels nice to have a book – a real book in my hands again.

As I mentioned above, I read another five books, which gives me a total of twelve for the year.  Generally, that’s pretty good, and I’m happy with it.  If I were to keep up this pace (which I doubt), then we’d be looking at about 72 books by the end of the year in just hardcopy.  That’s crazy to me.  In a good way!

3 books found




So this month I’m keeping SkinnedThe Big Over Easy, and The Gentleman’s Guide to Getting Lucky.  I’s actually interesting because looking back over the month’s reading, I feel really “meh” about everything?  Maybe it’s just the gloom ofmy last week or the grey skies, but I’m not overly enthused about the books I’m keeping. They’re fine, but I feel like I want a masterpiece.

As always, there are some for the donation bin.

2 books found



I’ve got 5 books in my donation pile, so it’s off to the library soon to give these away!  I haven’t been to the library in my new town since moving in December, but it’s this quaint brick building on the square, and I have high expectations for its perfection. 🙂

Also, can I just say that Michael Crichton is not doing it for me lately?!  Two DNFs in the current pile.

The challenges continue to patter on quite nicely.  Like I said above,I expect my reading to plateau a bit?  I’m focusing a lot of my free time on my friend’s WIP and of course studying.  Ugh.  But I still want to try and finish a hardcopy book each week, and if I sit down on the weekend and focus, I can read a book in a couple hours.

I also just need to give myself permission to take 20min. before bed to just read.  It’s my wind down time and I haven’t been consistent about it the last couple months.

Magic and Mischief on the Blog

Nothing new on the blog front, unfortunately!  All the fun stuff I do on my blog, I do in the mornings, so with the SIE studying before work each day, I haven’t had much time.  Still, if you haven’t visited in a while, here are some non-reviews you my have missed!




What Have I been Scribbling?

So I was at work, and one of my coworkers and I started up a conversation about our roles in a dystopian world.  You know.  As one does in when one works at a financial broker dealer.  Anyway, it grew and evolved and we are building a dystopia world and are shooting for a group writing project to launch in November.  Each of the three of us will be taking on a different POV.

It’s very exciting!  Also very challenging.  My world building, like anything else, is usually improvised as I go, but when you’re working with other people, you can’t really do it that way.  We need all the same information at the same time, so we can all function in the rules of the world.  It’s the most intense world building I’ve ever done, and a different experience for me.

So, you know, that’s pretty cool?  I’m enjoying the experience.  I’m also trying really hard not to be bossy and overrule everyone, or make all the rules.  I did write a brief “inciting incident” scene to drive the beginning of the dystopian creation, and I’m really happy with the way it turned out, even though it’s only 650 words.

While I may not have a lot of word count this month, I’m really happy with the background and prep work we’ve been doing.

Adventures in the real world!

Ugh guys I’m exhausted.


I was talking to my husband the other night about how I’ve felt, for the past month, that I haven’t had any time for fun.  Or when I have taken advantage of it, I’ve felt guilty.  And for me, fun is stuff like this – blogging, writing, reading.  I’m not an exciting person.  But if I get to work early and don’t start early, I feel guilty.  If I’m home watching TV instead of studying, I feel guilty.  Guys, I’m so behind on my shows. XD  The only things I’ve been watching have been the ones Matt and I watch together during dinner.

So I’ve peppered in some real life stuff throughout the post, but basically, it’s just the SIE exam.  I’m now implementing some study techniques I used in college.  It took a while to get into a groove since I’m a dinosaur and it’s been nine years since I graduated college.

Also, I studied history.  Which, you know, is basically the same as finance.  I’m killing it.

Actually it’s not going that badly.  It was for a while, but I’m feeling more confident now.  I do want to get it over with, and I’m really hoping to take and pass this dang test in April.  We’ll see.  Then I’ve got the top-off to take, which I plan to study for over the summer.

Then, hopefully, I can just bloody well enjoy the rest of my life?

What’s Coming Next?

So, to much coming in the way of blogging things, since I’ll be focused on the SIE first and foremost.  I do have all my posts for March pre-scheduled, so there’s some lists and discussions and whatnot coming your way.

I’m also steadily working on that WIP I mentioned earlier, and hopefully I’ll have some time to dig into that soon and share more! 🙂

Upcoming on my TBR are these books:

I’m actually working through The Cruelty right now, so it’s not on the list, but I have some mixed feelings.  It’ll be an interesting review to write.  And I’m reading Girls Made of Snow and Glass which I know was a blogger favorite a few years ago, so I’ll be talking about that in the nest week or so as well!


What did everyone do this month?  Did you get a lot of reading done?  Did you start on a new WIP?  Did you go on any grand (or small!) adventures?  I want to hear all about your experiences – let me know in the comments!

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6 responses to “A New WIP, A Finished Constellation, & Studying Begins! – The February Wrap Up

  1. i’m very hyped to read the sound of stars because i just!! absolutely!! adore!! that plot!! i mean, a girl and an alien bonding over the common interest in literature, media, all things pop culture?? that sounds like a cute cute fanfic AU if i’ve ever read one and i am so very here for it. i love that. also, truly truly have to get to in other lands soonish. i’ve been meaning to read that book for agES it seems like and i don’t understand myself enough to figure out why i haven’t picked it up yet. your gushing review of walk on earth a stranger rEALLY makes me wanna read it!! it has been on my TBR forever and ever and ever and maybe this year it’s finally time to answer the call? lol. hope you have a great march! 🙂

    • Amber

      I SO agree with you on The Sounds of Stars. I hadn’t even HEARD of it before it showed up as an option for my YA Book of the Month and it was very much a … “ooo, this sounds *really* good and original” experience. 🙂 🙂 🙂 I hadn’t put together the fanfic angle before, but you’re totally, right it does!

      Thanks Janina! I hope you have a great March as well!!

  2. Good luck with your tests!! And omg cowriting sounds like it could be so fun, but I would definitely struggle with the whole not being in charge thing too haha

    Also oooh I think The Sound of Stars is something you’ll love! I read it recently and it’s easily a favourite for the year, and very possibly an all time favourite. It’s just so subtly gorgeous and character driven and soft!

    • Amber

      <3 Your opinions on books means a lot to me – you have such excellent taste! 🙂 🙂 🙂 I'm so glad you loved The Sound of Stars and I hope I love it as much as you.

      Thanks for the luck! I'll take all I can get!

    • Amber

      So glad to hear it! I love her style in The Gilded Wolves, so I’m really looking forward to reading it!

      Have a happy March yourself!