Finding My “New Normal” – The May 2020 Wrap Up

Posted June 8, 2020 by Amber in Checking In / 4 Comments


Good morning everyone and happy… June 8th!

I thought about dropping this wrap up last Monday, but I wanted to give myself a little extra time to get my thoughts together as I usually write these posts the weekend before dropping them and who knows!  I may have finished an amazing book on May 31st!

I’ve been personally doing a *little* better these days, and I think that comes with a better level of certainty and of course, more sunshine.  Like, literal sunshine.  I don’t do well in the spring.  While the world is still struggling, at least the outline of daily life has taken on a more consistent beat and I know what to expect from my day to day life.  That helps humongously.

With that said, I even did a little blog hopping in May, which I am bad at in the worst of times.  If you’re interested at all in Shakespeare, Amy @ Curiouser and Curiouser runs a Shakespeare Saturdays feature which I LOVE and one Saturday this month, she discussed some of his apocrypha, which I found absolutely fascinating and 10/10 recommend.

Alrighty, lets get into the haul. 🙂

The Monthly Haul

A lot fewer books this month.  I am slowing down in my purchasing, mostly because I can’t out-read the amount of books I am buying right now, and I don’t really need to add that much to my bookshelves?  But I am still supporting a couple of my favorite bookshops, because even though this is a tired conversation, coronavirus is still happening!  Bookshops are still hurting!

Even though I bought The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes on pre-order, I have not read it yet.  I put it in my TBR stack in the back – I sorta figure… I’ve waited this long, I can wait a couple months while I read the books I got first, lol.  Plus, motivation to push through my TBR!  So, please, no spoilers.  I’ve been lucky enough to be able to avoid details so far and have only heard one of three things:

  1. It’s awful, a travesty, what an f*ing money grab.
  2. It’s surprisingly really good, and it’s so exciting to be back in Panem.
  3. Hated everything about the story BUT it’s really well written and was sucked in immediately but rEaLlY ReAlLy REALLY hate Snow.

So if you fall into any of those groups, come tell me, lol.  Or if there’s a fourth sector.  But I want ZERO details and we can talk about this at the end of the summer. 🙂

All the things I’ve been reading

My reading was significantly better this month, and I’m really happy about that.  I’m finally settling into a new schedule and balance.  I still don’t have as much free time as I want, but lets just say, I’m playing less Animal Crossing, balancing my study time better, and the extended daylight hours mean I go to bed two hours later.  Sure, I get less sleep, but I get more reading!

I also re-reading (read: listened to the audiobooks of) Shadow and Bone and How To Build a Girl this month, but they don’t show here before no review has dropped on the blog.  I’ll be putting together another “mini reviews” post once I’ve got a third re-read. 🙂

9 books found






The Girls by Emma Cline






Cinder / ★★★★★ This will come as a surprise to NOBODY.  Cinder and the Lunar Chronicles in general are well-loved books.  This is the first time I’ve read this book and yes, I know, I took forever to get there.  But I never doubted I would enjoy this book.  Let me just add my voice to those who have already spoken – this book was an enjoyable ride and a great read.

These Witches Don’t Burn / ★★★★★ While perhaps not the most memorable of all books, I really enjoyed my experience while reading These Witches Don’t Burn.  It’s a fun book with excellent rules of magic, good diversity, likable characters, and of course Salem, MA is one of my favorite settings (and real life places, lets be honest).  It may not make your ALL TIME FAVORITES list, but it’s a good read.

The Diviners / ★★★★★ – The Diviners is another well-loved book that I’m quite late in reading, but also one that I knew I would like.  There’s a lot of elements here I enjoyed, including the 1920s setting (yes please!), the variety of character voices, and the ghost story.  Looking forward to reading more in this series, and definitely worth checking out if you haven’t already!

Readathons & Reading Challenges

Whelp, this month’s reading, as I said, was a lot better than April!  I even got to start a new constellation… and I chose Pegasus!

Actually, I wanted to do Draco, but I was having a difficult time fitting it on the template and I wanted to be consistent, so I switched constellations.  I think I’m going to stick with these animal and mythical beast constellations?  Considering one of the Ursas for my next constellation, but I shouldn’t need that for another month or two.

Also… I not only met my book goal this month (4 hardcopy books), but I also exceeded it by one.  I’m really happy about this, because I had been faltering for a while and I don’t want to.  So many books to read!

This month saw a few books pop out of my TBR that I’ve been wanting to read or re-read for a while.  Three in a row, actually!  I was so excited to see These Witches Don’t BurnThe Girls, and Cinder pop out of my TBR 1-2-3 in a row, and they did not disappoint.  Also, this was the first month where my new TBR rule – “If I pre-ordered it, it doesn’t have to go in the jar” comes into play, and that’s why I read Harley in the Sky.  Again, just very pleased about the month’s selection.

5 books found





The Girls by Emma Cline


I’m so happy to feel like I actually chipped a little away on this endless project this month.  This is such an overwhelming task sometimes, and I try not to think about the sheer number of books I own, but I can’t deny that #StartonMyShelfathon is helping keep me on task – there’s something satisfying about those star charts.

3 books found


The Girls by Emma Cline



I am keeping three books this month that I think/know I will revisit.  The Girls came pretty close to being donated and the item that saved it was the signature.  Will it survive a second read?  Honestly?  I don’t know.  I hope so.  I was surprised it held up as well as it did, to be perfectly honest.  Those beginning chapters are brutal, though.

My little pile of donation books is getting higher.  You know what I’ve been thinking about lately?  So, I typically donate unhauled books to a local library or, worst case scenario, a non-profit thrift shop.  We moved to this town just before Christmas and didn’t have an opportunity to go to the library before coronavirus hit.  All indications seem to be that in pre-COVID times, the library accepted donations for, at least, the annual funraising library sale (the library in the town where I grew up did the same)… I hope that’s still true, because I’m going to have a box!

If the library doesn’t work out, I’m going to be putting together a big box for Accio Books later this year!

2 books found



So, two donation books this month.  Neither one of them left me completely gutted in disappointment the way Next and Disclosure did.  In the case of both Harley in the Sky and The Story of Doctor Dolittle, I guess I’m mostly… indifferent.  Harley was good enough but I feel absolutely no urge to re-read it and… Doctor Dolittle?  I guess it’s just a bit… overhyped as a children’s story, I guess.  A lot of the writing and the knowledge of edited content rubbed me the wrong was as well.

Magic and Mischief on the Blog

You guys have probably noticed that my blogging quantities have decreased over the last couple months… and May is no exception.  This post schedule is actually something that I’ve been wanting to get down to for a while, but I always felt guilty about not posting daily and I was afraid my numbers would plummet.

Because of coronavirus, I have a lot less content because I’m reading less (still a decent amount.. but less) and it turned out, those fears were unfounded.  Still, I hope you guys are still enjoying my content and here are some posts you my have missed earlier in May!




What Have I been Scribbling?

Not much scribbling happening this month.  I really burnt myself out in April working on Rhapsody in Blue for Camp NaNoWriMo.  I don’t think I’ve ever had such a difficult experience doing NaNoWriMo.  I didn’t speak much about this in my April Wrap Up because I stripped that wrap up to bare bones… but… novelling while studying for an exam way out of my element while working during a pandemic where I didn’t have the luxury of quarantining was… stressful?  But I did it.  Sort of.

This was a really hard-won Camp NaNoWriMo win.  I was back to pulling myself out of bed by 3am to make sure I could write before work because I didn’t have the energy to write after work.  In April, I barely read.  I stopped studying.  I stopped pre-writing my blog posts.  But I wrote 50k?

Rhapsody in Blue is not finished, but I do have a complete outline for the rest of the story.  At about the end of the month, I knew where my weak points in earlier writing were, where I needed to adjust relationships, and where I was going.  On April 30, I left off in a good place where things were shifting, and I believe it will be a good place to jump back in.

But I had to stop.  I had to stop working on Rhapsody in Blue, and I had to stop plotting Poison Girls with my friends.  I was stretching myself too thin.  I’m looking forward to getting back into this book, but it’s not going to happen until I’ve passed both my SIE and 99, and I have more time.

Adventures in the real world!

As I mentioned at the beginning of the post, I’m really happy to have found a place of a “new normal” in the world.  I feel constantly grateful I still have a job, and while it would be nice to be at home all the time to work, I’m also a bit grateful I’m not because I feel like it makes re-integration into society much easier.

May, though, guys.

May has been a terrible month for our society.

My heart is constantly broken by the hatred, cruelty, and disregard for human life shown by my countrymen.  I know that these are desperate times and people are afraid of the unknown, but this is not an excuse for murder.  I have been watching closely on Twitter… and I just… I am so privileged and it feels fake and irresponsible to talk about books when the president is congratulating oppressive violence on the streets and Black people are being incarcerated and killed.

Please don’t take my continuation of book talk as a lack of caring and lack of action.  I am angry to my bones.  I am educating myself and trying to be better, but I have so much work to do.

What’s Coming Next?

Going into June, I have no major plans for anything as far as blog formatting and catch up goes.  I am constantly aware of how much of a mess some of my pages are.  My About page hasn’t been updated in two years.  Frankly, I haven’t the time for aesthetics and what time I do have, I want to make sure I’m focusing on getting content out.  The aesthetics will happen eventually.

My TBR has been injected with a few newer releases to the point where I hadn’t pulled anything from my TBR Jar in a couple months, so I just pulled one for fun and… I pulled The Absolutely True Story of a Part Time Indian.  I’ve never read this and I know it’s hugely controversial, so I am… actually… debating reading it.  I think the only reason I haven’t tossed it aside is because I know it’s #OwnVoices.  I don’t know, guys.  I checked Holly and Amy’s blogs to see if either had reviewed it, as both tend to lean towards classics, but no such luck.

We’ll see, I guess.  I don’t expect to get that deep into the TBR for a couple months, anyway.  I have time to research more.


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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4 responses to “Finding My “New Normal” – The May 2020 Wrap Up

  1. Ooooh great wrap-up! I’m glad you’re starting to find a little bit of normality. That’s so important but it’s so hard to come by right now. I hope June is better for you. ♥ And can I just say how much I adore your wrap-up formatting? It’s so clean and lovely! I aspire for my post formatting to ever look this good lol!

    • Amber

      I hope June is better for everyone, to be honest. What a year? Hopefully, though, things will start to change. In so, so, SO many ways.

      Also thank you!? I always feel like my wrap ups are these monstrous things!! One of the banes of doing a monthly (rather than weekly) wrap up, I think.

      Happy Pride Month!! <3

  2. I am glad to hear you have fallen into a groove with your “new normal.” I agree, I do so much better in the summer with the long, long days of sunshine and warm weather, although summer is DEFINITELY looking different this year! I’m excited you finally got to Cinder, I feel like it’s such a modern YA classic now and it’s always fun to see bloggers approach older series for the first time 🙂

    Cristina (Girl in the Pages) recently posted: Head Over Heels by Hannah Orenstein | ARC Review
    • Amber

      Honestly, this is my FAVORITE way to come at some of these very popular YA books from a few years back. I often add them when they’re still very hype-y, but don’t necessarily rush to read them. There’s a lot of pressure when they’re new and everyone’s screaming about them?! Like, what if I don’t like it, will there be a lot of hate? *hides* But yeah, Cinder was great and super enjoyable. Which is lovely, I love it when it turns out that way! 😀