Staying at Home and (Not?) Reading – The March Wrap Up!

Posted April 6, 2020 by Amber in Checking In / 6 Comments

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What a month it has been, my loves.

All over the world people are affected and their lives turned upside down by coronavirus.  I know this is a huge source of anxiety for many people, so I wish to respect that and I’ll I’m going to say is whoever you are, wherever you live, I hope you are healthy and hanging in there.  Please take care of yourself as best you can.

We’ll dig right into the month wrap up this month without too much chatter.

The Monthly Haul

This month and into next month, you’re going to see decent hauls because one of my big pushes this month has been to support indie bookstores.  As I mentioned in my post about COVID-19 and small businesses, indies are getting hit hard.  Any small business is.  I don’t have a local indie, but I’ve been doing my best to support other small bookstores, and I would encourage you all at this time to do what you can to support the small businesses in your community, and reach out to support small businesses in lieu of corporate giants whenever you can.

Right, so promotional spiel aside, here are the books I hauled in March!

Off the top of my head, I have… quite a lot more books coming in April, so the mail deliveries are never boring these days!

All the things I’ve been reading

Less than reading, I’ve been listening to a decent amount of audiobooks the last couple weeks.  I used to listen to a decent amount of audiobooks at work – the storylines help me zone in and seep focused on the audiobook and work and not the half dozen other conversations – but whenever we have people training, I’m not able to do that, so my listening had slowed down.

Then came quarantine!  Without having to listen for questions (I love instant messaging), I can listen to audiobooks and it’s been great!  I’m getting though a few a week and I feel like it’s really making up for the very limited ability I’m having to focus on reading itself – physical books have been a drag lately, but it’s not the fault of the books.

14 books found

★★½

★★★★★

★★★

★★½

★★★

★★★★★

★★★½

★★★★

★★★★★

★★★★★

★★★★★

★★★★★

★★½

Highlights:

The Star-Touched Queen / ★★★★★ I am constantly in awe of Roshani Chokshi’s writing style, and while The Star-Touched Queen didn’t quite have the glamor of some of her later books, I really, really enjoyed it.  There’s a beauty to the writing and there so much unfamiliar mythology in the world building… I gobbled it up, honestly.

Changeling / ★★★★★ Okay, so this one is tropey, tropey, tropey.  But.  You know those times where a bunch of your favorite things just come together and you don’t even care if it’s another boarding school magic story, chosen one, rags to riches, etc. etc.?  That is precisely how I felt about Changling, which hit a bunch of my favorite tropes, particularly ones I haven’t read in a while and I was dying for.  I really liked it.

Madame Fourcade’s Secret War / ★★★★★ – I’ve got a few WWII-era espionage biographies on my TBR at the moment as I’m trying to buckle down and research better for the group project my friends and I are working on.  I found so much inspiration in Madame Fourcade’s Secret War, but for the average reader, this is still fantastic.  It’s a very accessible biography with a variety of characters at play and a the appropriate mix of adventure and gravity.  I certainly wouldn’t have stumbled upon it if not for my research, but I’m really glad I did.

Readathons & Reading Challenges

As you can see in the start charts below, I’m getting very close to completing my Scorpius constellation for #StartonYourShelfathon!  Two more books to go, which should be The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Historian, and then I’m going to have to pick another constellation to draw!  I’m not sure which one I want to use yet, but if you have any suggestions, please holler at me in the comments!

So far, my sky is looking pretty bright!

I still feel like I’m chugging along on this reading challenge!  I don’t expect to make a lot of progress in April, as The Historian has finally reared it’s ugly head (it’s just such a long book, guys… I’m not in the mood) and at the pace of 20min./night and the occasional sprint on weekends… it’s going to take me a couple weeks to slog through this behemoth.

No new favorites this month, which is why you don’t see any new red stars (I’m following the suggested rules from the readathon, but I’ve seen a lot of other creative star charts with other color stars for other achievements and benchmarks!).  I did hit my “four books in a month” goal, so we got another blue star for that!

6 books found

★★★★★

★★★★★

★★★★★

★★★

★★½

★★★★★

Now, as you guys know by now, #StartOnYourShelfathon aligns really well with The Great Bookcase Crusade, so the books above also apply to my own personal ongoing challenge.

This was another month I expected to read fewer books, in general, and I exceeded my own expectations.  Of course, sneaking in Strange Planet and having the very short The Invasion pop up on my TBR did their part in making sure that I got a few books under my belt.  I was also delayed a bit in my general TBR by the unexpected appearance of The Sisters Grimm, for which I was grateful, honestly.  I had forgotten that I had won the book from LibraryThing, and I really ended up enjoying it.  I had little to no expectations, and it was a really beautiful novel.

5 books found

★★★★★

★★★★★

★★★★★

★★★

★★★★★

Quite a lot of books ended up on my “Keeping” list this month… more than the percentage I would like. I have really mixed feelings about wanting to get rid of books, but there’s also something satisfying about being able to say goodbye to all of them.  This month, I only said goodbye to The Cruelty, which was not a surprising goodbye.

That adieu came early in March, but every book after than was a keeper.

1 book found

★★½

So my small pile of books to donate grew a little, but not a lot.  In some ways, I guess that’s good.  I was actually getting ready to pack up my donation books and head up to my new library to see if they would take them (I believe they do… but you know… you never know until you offer them), and then the pandemic sprung up and I guess the tidy pike of 6 will have to wait until the world is able to find its new normal and the libraries open again.

I had one challenge and one surprise this month.  I’ll start with the surprise, since that’s more fun.  I really thought The Invasion was going to end up a donation book and I was flabbergasted by how much I enjoyed it, despite how dated I was sure it would be.  It’s still creative and interesting and I see why I loved the series as a kid and am game to reread it.

My biggest challenge was simply my mood.  Unpopular opinion here, but I hate spring.  For me, spring is all mud and gloominess.  I like that I don’t have to worry about driving in poor weather, but rainy spring days hit my seasonal affective disorder hard.  I can listen to audiobooks lying in bed, staring at the ceiling, and wishing I had a fast-forward button… but hardcopy books are a challenge.  Even the good ones.

Magic and Mischief on the Blog

We’re still plugging away here on the blog, but I do want to warn that while all April’s “specialty posts” have been written, May’s have not and which my Current Project it may be little more difficult for me to find the time as well as the motivation to do more writing than I’m already doing.  Book reviews should be fewer, for starters.

In the meanwhile, I encourage everyone to enjoy this month’s specialty posts.  I’m particularly partial to the one about COVID-19 and supporting indie bookstores, if you’re looking for something extra special.

Yes, I will keep linking that until this mess is resolved. 😉

 

 

What Have I been Scribbling?

The girls and I have been working very slowly on The Project which I have begun calling Poison Girls.  It’s very much a misleading, working title, but it needed a name and now it had one… for conversational purposes.

A lot of my writing time has been focused on a very in-depth character sheet for my character Eva, which has actually been helping a lot.  The template asks a lot of questions that I hadn’t thought about (and often don’t care about), but in figuring out answers to them, I’m rounding out her character a lot better.  In the last couple weeks, I’ve learned that she takes an interest in extracting poisons from plants, that she’s demisexual, and that Eva doesn’t understand friendship and is suspicious/confused about that kind of intimacy.  So I’m working on her, and I really like her character.

I actually tried to participate in Day 1 of #StayAtHomeWriMo and write a situation where a character feels trapped, because it worked really well for Eva.  Unfortunately, I didn’t get much further than the intro of the scene because I was feeling so drained and miserable that day, but the point it I wrote something and something is better than nothing.  I’ve also been spending a lot of time thinking about how Eva would react to being locked in or imprisoned in various circumstances.  I feel like we’re building a camaraderie in that way….

But then I did A Thing, guys.  I always do this.

In an attempt to further procrastinate on editing my existing projects or work on this new project with my friends, I joined April’s Camp NaNoWriMo session at 5:00am April 1st. So I may be doing a mid-month NaNo check-in depending on how things are going, but for right now, here are the basics:

Title: Rhapsody in Blue
Genre: YA Horror
Quick Pitch:  Supernatural x COVID-10 + cutesy romance.

I’m really enjoying Emma, my main character.  Her voice comes easily, and so do those of her friends.  I’ve mostly been writing contemporary bits right now, and I’m itching to get to the horror stuff because I have IDEAS.

Adventures in the real world!

Hah.

Well.

As you all know, not much is going on in the way of excitement right now!  I would tell you guys about seeing Onward in theaters before all this started, but it’s available streaming now, so that’s not very exciting.  Don’t get me wrong, I liked it.  I was there for all the MMORPG/tabletop gaming references. Definitely stream it!

I would tell you about my epic girls weekend down in Myrtle Beach, except, well, that got cancelled, too.  Despite early shade from the media, millennials are not all out there doing whatever they want and ignoring the danger.  Hi!  I’ve been at home for three weeks.

Except that one time we went to pick up Chinese food. ONE TIME.  And grocery shopping last Thursday.  Strictly the essentials, I promise.

Hopefully we’ll have some new adventures soon, but for the meanwhile I am here and my family is healthy enough and I’ve been playing so much Animal Crossing.  I get the hype, guys.

What’s Coming Next?

I can’t promise a whole lot of excitement in the coming weeks, but I do have blog posts all scheduled for you guys for the whole next month!  We’ll be watching The Jungle Book together and talking about bad authors who write decent novels (that was a difficult post for me to write) and other such things.  I hope you guys swing back and say hello!

The TBR hasn’t changed too much since last month, but here’s what on deck:

In closing, I just want to say… I hope everyone is taking good care of themselves.  To repeat a tired mantra, please watch your hands, wear a mask in public, and use the technology you have to connect with the people you care about and make sure they’re okay, but also?  Just make sure you are getting human interaction.  Even the most introverted of us need human interaction every once in a while.

I love you all and I hope you are all doing as well as possible in the current circumstances.

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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 (inside your home!)?  I want to hear all about your experiences – let me know in the comments!

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6 responses to “Staying at Home and (Not?) Reading – The March Wrap Up!

    • Amber

      Hah! So glad you got those references, I felt like my husband and I were the only ones giggling in the theatre, hah.

  1. I am glad to hear you are safe and healthy during these uncertain times! It seems to me that you’re getting quite a bit of reading and blogging done still- and also, it’s quite the time to read Masque of the Read Death lol. I read it several years ago and found it to be very atmospheric!

    • Amber

      I have heard absolutely NOTHING about Masque of the Red Death, so it’s good to hear that it’s atmospheric! I hope you and yours are keeping safe and healthy as well.