Monday, March 5, 2018

February 2018 Wrap-Up

February just disappeared, so I've been meaning to do this, but finally have some time! So, let's just dive in. 

Books Acquired

Barnes and Noble/Strand/Books of Wonder/Book Boxes

American Panda by Gloria Chao
You'll Miss Me When I'm Gone by Rachel Lynn Solomon
Last Star Burning by Caitlin Sangster
Like Water by Rebecca Podos
Shadowsong by S. Jae Jones
The Heart of Betrayal by Mary E. Pearson
Beneath the Haunting Sea by Joanna Ruth Meyer
Heart of Iron by Ashley Poston
The Bloodprint by Ausma Zehanat Khan
Markswoman by Rati Mehrotra
Bygone Badass Broads by Mackenzi Lee
The Queen's Rising by Rebecca Ross

For Work/From Publishers

Final Draft by Riley Redgate
Emma by Jane Austen, Stacy King, and Po Tse
Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen, Stacy King, and Po Tse
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, Stacy King, and Po Tse improvement over January? Honestly, the Barnes and Noble 3 for $30 YA deal really got me. But my goal in March isn't to buy any books except for two I had been planning to order when some payments came in, but those payments haven't come in yet (they both came out at the end of February, so it's not like I've been waiting ages) (I might grab a third book to get free shipping but we'll see) and what comes in book boxes this month since...I ordered two. But both of the books in boxes are ones I've read and loved. That should count for something.

Books I Read

American Panda by Gloria Chao - I LOVED this book. It was super cute and funny, while still having a lot of serious moments about family expectations and being a daughter of immigrants and I just. Loved every moment. Hence why I bought a copy.

Herding Cats by Sarah Andersen - I had no plans to read this, but I finally got me Adobe Reader to work again and this was like 100 pages, so I flew through it. It was...okay. I love Sarah's comics, but there wasn't a lot of cohesion in the collection, which was disappointing.

The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton - This is beautifully written and full of complicated relationships, which are always my jam. I also really appreciate the lack of romance, but there were a few things that kept me from LOVING this book. I'm still excited to pick up the sequel in 2019 (I hope 2019, anyway).

What Girls Are Made Of by Elana K. Arnold - This wasn't what I thought it was going to be? The voice was fantastic and the writing style was really unique for YA. I really enjoyed the idea of the book, but the actual plot was lacking for me. 

The Traitor Prince by C.J. Redwine - I always enjoy C.J.'s books. They're fun and fast paced and have well done romances and this one was just as fun as the others I've read. Still not my favorite, but really enjoyable.

Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones - You may have noticed above that I bought Shadowsong. I made that purchase within hours of finishing Wintersong because I LOVED it. So beautifully written, a really amazing main character, a soft love interest. I know it's a Labyrinth retelling, but it reminded me a lot of Persephone retellings and I just. Loved it a lot. I'm hoping to dig into the sequel this month.

Blood Water Paint by Joy McCullough - This historical novel in verse was something that intrigued me - I love historical fiction, but I'm iffy on verse. But this one really worked for me since it wasn't too abstract. It was dark and gritty and honest about the way women have always been treated. I also loved that it was based on the real story of an artist, Artemisia. Definitely pick this one up since it comes out March 6.

Lady Be Bad by Megan Frampton - After a lot of really heavy reads, I needed to take my time reading a historical romance. This was so fun and delightful and Megan Frampton deserves so much love.

To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo - So, in January The Queen's Rising was my surprise favorite and new obsession. In February, it's To Kill a Kingdom. I absolutely LOVED this really dark, brutal fantasy. It's a stand a lone and our main character is evil and hard to love. And the writing was stunning and this is one of the books joining my shelves in March.

Bygone Badass Broads by Mackenzi Lee - This is a really fun, quick read that introduced me to a lot of amazing ladies, but also reminded me of some amazing ladies I've learned about in the past. The artwork by Petra Eriksson is also absolutely gorgeous and such a perfect fit for the book. I had a couple of hold ups about this one too, but it's a really great starting place for learning more about incredible women of history.

Can we appreciate how well I did at sticking to my February TBR? I'm proud of me.

March TBR

Marked by Jenny Martin
Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo
Lost Crow Conspiracy by Rosalyn Eves
Along the Indigo by Elsie Chapman
Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda
Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi
Rosemarked by Livia Blackburne

I'm almost half way through Children of Blood and Bone now, so that's obviously first. I also just started Rosemarked since I had the ebook on Hoopla.

So, that's where we're starting! March will be another wrap-up and it'll also be a quarterly wrap-up to check in on how my goals are going.


Thursday, February 1, 2018

January 2018 Wrap-Up

I said I was going to do this quarterly, but I realized I also wanted to talk about the books I took IN, not just what I read. Plus, the biggest deterrent from blogging for me is formatting - I hate it so much and already do so much of it for work - but...this is my blog and I don't have to do loads of formatting!

Without further ado, let's talk about books.

Books I Acquired

The Viscount Who Loved Me by Julia Quinn
The Bride Wore Pearls by Liz Carlyle
Maid of Deception by Jennifer McGowan
Maid of Wonder by Jennifer McGowan
Girl Up by Laura Bates
These Ruthless Deeds by Tarun Shaker and Kelly Zekas
Vampire Academy 10th Anniversary Edition by Richelle Mead
In the Country We Love by Diane Guerrero
The Season by Sarah MacLean
What Goes Up by Katie Kennedy
Amid Stars and Darkness by Chani Lynn Feener
Sasquatch, Love, and Other Imaginary Things by Betsy Aldredge and Carrie DuBois-Shaw
Why Do Dukes Fall in Love? by Meg Frampton
The Earl Takes All by Lorraine Heath
If I Only Had a Duke by Lenora Bell
The Duke of Dark Desires by Miranda Neville

Book Depository/Amazon/Book Boxes
Uprooted by Naomi Novik
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell
Let's Talk About Love by Claire Kann
A Land of Permanent Goodbyes by Atia Abawi
Reign of the Fallen by Sarah Glenn Marsh

Books of Wonder/Strand
Unearthed by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner
Rebel Angels by Libba Bray

Dare Mighty Things by Heather Kacyznski
Before I Let Go by Marieke Nijkamp
Chainbreaker by Tara Sim
Puddin' by Julie Murphy
Royals by Rachel Hawkins

For Work/Projects
Bookish Boyfriends by Tiffany Schmidt
MunMun by Jesse Andrews
Along the Indigo by Elsie Chapman
The Accidental Bad Girl by Maxine Kaplan
Let's Talk About Love by Claire Kann (ARC) resolution to get rid of more books than I acquire is...not going great so far. BUT I'm doing a huge clean out this week. Maybe it'll start to balance more when I'm done? I think February is going to be a MUCH slower book month for me. Maybe.

Books I Read

I had a really good reading month, honestly. I was kinda surprised by it!

Reign of the Fallen by Sarah Glenn Marsh - This was SO good and such a fantastic dark fantasy. I wanted to read it because I knew it was going to be in Shelf Love Crate (and it was coming out this month) and I wanted to be sure I wanted the box. It took me a while to get into it because I was in a reading slump, but it's unlike any YA book I've read before and I'm so glad to add it to my shelf.

Unearthed by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner - This was another one that had a slow start for me, but I had to power through because I was going to their NYC signing with a friend and I had to know if I was into it...and I really was. Some aspects of it were predictable, but there are also things that totally threw me. There was also a fantastic relationship arc that I really loved.

Turn It Up by Jen Calonita - After struggling with books, I just wanted something quick and fun, so I picked up this book. It's really cute, but it's also a little young for me and VERY predictable. The girl friendships were cute and the a cappella bits were fun, but this is pretty forgettable for me. I think it's better for younger YA.

The Lady of Royale Street by Thea de Salle - I finally caved and gave up on YA to read a romance novel. This is the third in a series and it was just as fun and silly and sexy as the other two. I loved the main plot - best man and maid of honor step in to help a couple when their wedding planner suddenly dies a week before the wedding - and the characters involved. I loved this book loads.

Her Right Foot by Dave Eggers and Shawn Harris - We got to the Unearthed signing early, so my friend and I camped out at a table and read picture books. This was the first one and it was educational and moving and such a good read for elementary school kids.

Love by Matt de la Pena and Loren Long - I had to see what the hype was about and it is a really cute, sweet, touching picture book that'll work for younger audiences than Her Right Foot.

Murder, Magic, and What We Wore by Kelly Jones - This was SO fun. It's mostly historical with a touch of magic and all about a girl who wants to be a spy so she can find out what happened to her father. There's really minimal romance and I think this is perfect for fans of The Season.

Let's Talk About Love by Claire Kann - I'm doing a fuller review for this one on another website, but this is a fantastic, voice-y book featuring a biromantic asexual main character figuring out her sexuality and what to do with her life in the summer before her third year of college. It straddles the line between YA and NA since Alice is still figuring out what she wants in love and growing up, but she's also making serious plans for her future. There's friendship and family dynamics and a sweet romance.

Nice Try, Jane Sinner by Lianne Oekle - This was a DNF for me. It's an incredible voice and Jane Sinner is so snarky, it's fantastic. But I just wasn't inspired to pick it back up and I'm trying to be more honest with myself in 2018 about what books I really care about finishing.

The Duchess Deal by Tessa Dare - I picked this up when I still wanted to give Nice Try, Jane Sinner a chance, but thought I just needed a break from it. And I DEVOURED this book in two sittings. It was just a really delightful historical romance with some nods to the resistance and the next one is a governess/rake match up and YES PLEASE GET IT IN MY FACE.

Academy 7 by Anne Osterlund - This is a sci-fi that's been on my shelf for AGES because I loved Anne's debut (which I also...never got to the sequel of). I picked it up on a whim and again, just wasn't excited to pick it up, so I DNFed it. I think it's a book a lot of people would love - there's two POV, a guy and a girl going to an elite school and space and such. Just wasn't digging it.

The Queen's Rising by Rebecca Ross - This fantasy YA comes out on February 6 and I kind of thought it'd be a generic fantasy YA and I'd DNF it, but I ended up totally falling in love. It was a slower paced fantasy, but it had a fantastic, really unique plot and I loved all of the main characters, the romance was more subtle and other relationships were more at the forefront - parent relationships, sibling relationships, friendships. I just...ended up loving this a lot. 

I also officially DNFed, All I Know Now, which I started reading in fall 2015 and...I just gotta accept that's not happening. I also read a manuscript for work, so my technical number of books read in January is 14. 

February TBR

I don't like keeping a strict TBR because I'm a mood reader, but some books I'm hoping to get to/finish are:

Among the Red Stars by Gwen Katz
What Girls Are Made Of by Elana Arnold
American Panda by Gloria Chao
The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton
The Traitor Prince by C.J. Redwine
The Serpent's Secret by Sayantani DasGupta
Honor Among Thieves by Ann Aguirre and Rachel Caine
Blood Water Paint by Joy McCullough
Lost Crow Conspiracy by Rosalyn Eves

Monday, January 29, 2018

Best Books of 2017

It's...way past time! This has been sitting in my drafts for a month just has been. But I wanted to do a January wrap-up (after I said...I wouldn't do monthly wrap-ups? Whatever) and realized I hadn't posted this. So...ta-da!

These are the books that I keep thinking about, the books that challenged me, the books I want to collect merchandise for. I'm going to make a couple of categories, just for total transparency, and I'm listing in alphabetical order using the author's last name, so don't read in to the order I'm listing them.

2017 Books Read in 2016

The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli
Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust
Blood Rose Rebellion by Rosalyn Eves
Shadow Run by Michael Miller and AdriAnne Strickland
Tash Hearts Tolstoy by Kathryn Ormsbee
Aftercare Instructions by Bonnie Pipkin
The Wish Granter by C.J. Redwine

2018 Books Read in 2017

Love, Hate, and Other Filters by Samira Ahmed
Let's Talk About Love by Claire Kann
Heart of Iron by Ashley Poston
Ash Princess by Laura Sebastian
The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang


The Morning They Came for Us by Janine di Giovanni
Irena's Children by Tilar Mazzeo
The Radium Girls by Kate Moore
Code Girls by Liza Mundy
Shrill by Lindy West

Adult Fiction

The City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty
The King of Bourbon Street by Thea de Salle
The Queen of Dauphine Street by Thea de Salle
Wicked Sexy Liar by Christina Lauren
The Accidental Empress by Allison Pataki
A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

Backlist YA Books

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
Maid of Secrets by Jennifer McGowan
The Summer of Chasing Mermaids by Sarah Ockler

Picture Books, Graphic Novels, and Comics

Beauty and the Beast by Agnese Baruzzi
Pashmina by Nidhi Chanani
Julia's House for Lost Creatures by Ben Hatke
Faith, Volume 2 by Jody House
Dear Yeti by James Kwan
Not Quite Narwhal by Jessie Sima

2017 YA Books

A Crown of Wishes by Roshani Chokshi
The Last Namsara by Kristen Ciccarelli
Forest of a Thousand Lanterns by Julie C. Dao
Under Rose-Tainted Skies by Louise Gornall
The Library of Fates by Aditi Khorana
Autoboyography by Christina Lauren
The Girl with the Red Balloon by Katherine Locke
The Names They Gave Us by Emery Lord
Warcross by Marie Lu
Before She Ignites by Jodi Meadows
When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon
Mask of Shadows by Linsey Miller
Geekerella by Ashley Poston
An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson
Dear Martin by Nic Stone

Monday, January 1, 2018

A Reading Review of 2017 and 2018 Reading Goals

I thought it'd be good to not just review my favorite books of 2017, but also to look at some statistics to really dig into my 2017 reading now that the year's officially over and review some of my goals! All of these numbers could be a little bit off - I don't have complete information (I didn't even try to count queer authors) or I just miscounted - but I did my best.

One of my goals was to read 150 books, but I topped out at 138.
  • 10 of my reads were books I was working on
  • 2 of my reads were sensitivity reads
  • 16 of my reads were non-fiction
  • 35 of my reads were by PoC, Jewish, or Muslim authors
  • 18 of my reads I did not finish
  • 5 books I put down, but plan to come back to
  • 14 were picture books
  • 11 were graphic novels/comics
  • 12 were romance novels
  • 12 were adult fiction 
  • 14 books were about queer people
  • 31 books were about PoC, Jewish, or Muslim characters (not including non-fiction)
I have all kinds of other statistics that I've been working through - I started crunching numbers before the year was over and read several books after that, but I don't remember how many. But I am pleased with how I branched out to non-fiction, my ability to get better at recognizing a book isn't for me, and the number of books I read that were a little different from my norm.

On the other hand, I'm disappointed with my diverse reading, though. I felt like I had been doing really well in reading diverse books from diverse authors, but numbers don't lie. It's definitely an improvement over last year, when I only read 11, but it's still not where I want it to be. Same for books about characters of color.  My goal last year was 50% of my books read to be by or about marginalized people and I didn't hit that - around 50 of the books I read fit this bill, so around 37%. But I made some really big strides in that direction. I'm really glad I already have quite a few books on my shelves to get me even closer to reaching 50%.

I also had a goal to get rid of more books than I acquired and I came close! The final count I have is that I acquired 323 books and got rid of 313 books. I didn't meet my goal, but I came really close and I think knowing how close I came will be a good motivator for hitting that goal in 2018.

2018 Goals

My 2018 goals are a bit of a challenge without being overwhelming. I want to read 130 books this year - preferably books I can count towards my Goodreads goal since that was definitely an issue this year. Goodreads thinks I only read 121 books. 

My more challenging goals include reading more backlist. Of the 130 books I read in 2018, I want 1/3 of them to be backlist. Too many books have been sitting on my shelf for too long and I want to at least try to read a lot of them. I even have a list of books that I HAVE to read in 2018 or they need to go because I never will.

As I mentioned, I once again want to try to get rid of more books than I acquire. I also again want to try to read at least 50% diversely. I just wanted to repeat that in the 2018 section of this post.

On top of that, I want to finish at least one series per month. I have SO MANY unfinished series on my shelf and that's just an extra stress on me, knowing I haven't finished them. If I finish - or catch up on - at least one series a month, that can get me really far through my TBR. Similarly, I'm debating either not taking on any new series or trying to read first-in-a-series books per month so I can decide if I actually want to be invested in that series or just move on. We'll see how I feel as I start finishing series.

Again I want to try to increase the non-fiction I read. I want to read two a month. There are SO MANY books I want to check out that are non-fiction, but there are also SO MANY sitting unread on my shelf that I don't want to keep acquiring more until I've made a bigger dent. 

These are kind of lofty, genuinely challenging goals, which is why I'm also challenging myself to read for at least an hour a day and 3 hours on Sundays (which will hopefully be my designated "off" day). I read at a rate of about 100 pages an hour - slower if I'm reading non-fiction or adult fiction - so theoretically if I read an hour a day, I finish a book every 3-4 days and likely an entire book on Sundays, so I'll read 3 books a week, which would take me to 156 books in the year, and that doesn't even factor in comics and graphic novels and picture books. And I want that hour a day to be separate from any work-related reading too. This particular goal has an added bonus of taking me off the internet and social media and maybe even getting me to bed earlier.

So, those are my rather lofty reading goals. Some may need to be adjusted as the year goes on and my life changes, but I'm hoping not to sacrifice too much. Last year I promised monthly updates and UTTERLY failed at that, so we're going to try quarterly updates this year. More doable and gives me a better chance to look at how I'm doing with some of my goals.


Sunday, December 17, 2017

My Most Anticipated 2018 Reads

I might not be a real book blogger, but I can still yell about all of the books I'm dying to get my hands on!

Sequels and Companions

Shadow Call by AdriAnne Strickland and Michael Miller
My Plain Jane by Brodi Ashton, Cynthia Hand, and Jodi Meadows
Puddin' by Julie Murphy
The Lady's Guide to Petticoats and Piracy by Mackenzi Lee
The Kingdom of Copper by S.A. Chakraborty
Warcross #2 by Marie Lu
The Spy with the Red Balloon by Katherine Locke
The Caged Queen by Kristen Ciccarelli
Ruin of Stars by Linsey Miller
Chainbreaker by Tara Sim
Forest of a Thousand Lanterns #2 by Julie C. Dao

Other Books

Undead Girl Gang by Lily Anderson 
Sea Witch by Sarah Henning
Mirage by Somaiya Daud
Heart of Thorns by Bree Barton
What the Night Sings by Vesper Stamper 
Royals by Rachel Hawkins
Isle of Blood and Stone by Makiia Lucier
The Nameless Queen by Rebecca McLaughlin
Game of Secrets by Kim Foster
The Summer of Jordi Perez by Amy Spalding
Fat Girl on a Plane by Kelly deVos
The Half King by Melissa Landers
From Twinkle, with Love by Sandhya Menon 
The Unbinding of Mary Reade by Miriam McNamara
The Bird and the Blade by Megan Bannen
Dark of the West by Joanna Hathaway
A Land of Permanent Goodbyes by Atia Abawi
Hullmetal Girls by Emily Skrutskie
Tyler Johnson Was Here by Jay Coles
Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan
Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young
The Queen Underneath by Stacey Filak
Belly by Eva Darrows
A Spark of White Fire by Sangu Mandanna
A Thousand Beginnings and Endings edited by Ellen Oh and Elsie Chapman
You'll Miss Me When I'm Gone by Rachel Lynn Solomon
A Princess in Theory by Alyssa Cole
Bygone Badass Broads by Mackenzi Lee
Summer Bird Blue by Akemi Dawn Bowman
To Be Honest by Maggie Ann Martin
The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein by Kiersten White
Beneath the Citadel by Destiny Soria
Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli

So, that's everything that I'm DYING for. But it's definitely not the only books I'm watching in 2018. And I'll be talking about some of the 2018 books I've already loved in my year-end round up. At the actual end of December because I still have reading to do.


Monday, October 23, 2017

True Life: I'm Obsessed with Bookish Candles

My name is Julie and I have a problem.

I reorganized my candle collection and I currently own 100 candles. One. Hundred. I owned less than 10 before July. And I'm currently waiting on...13 if I counted right. With another 96 on my wish list that I'm hoping to make a dent in with the holiday sales. Majority of them are themed around a specific book or piece of media that I love and honestly, I'm just lucky I'm not a fan of Sarah J. Maas because things could be so much worse because there are so many Maas candles.

But with all of that candle shopping, I've gathered Thoughts on quite a few candle shops and policies and scents and I thought it'd be fun for me to share them with you.

My Top 3

Looking at my candle collection, I absolutely have favorites and all of these favorites have a few things in common: they ship quickly, they have a wide variety of scents and inspirations for those scents, they have fantastic customer service, and they have great packaging.

Icey Designs was my first candle love. Hafsah works with her whole family and makes some fantastic candles. They're a bit on the pricier side, but it's so easy to tell why. The candles have some physical heft to them and aren't like the types of jars you see in other stores. The labels are always stunning and well thought out. A lot of the candles have some gorgeous glitter on top. Hafsah is always open to suggestions for scents and for book inspirations and she works fast to come up with them. I've proposed candle ideas and she's had a scent ready in a week or two. She also has amazing customer service; whenever I've had issues, she's been quick to offer to replace the candle or refund me (I always opt for the replacement because they still smell fantastic). And if you want your candles fast, Icey Designs is where you go; the candles aren't listed unless they're in stock and they usually ship out the day after your order, arriving 2-3 days later because of priority mailing.

Owned: The Fallen Isles (8 oz and 2 oz), Over the Wall (8 oz), Warcross (8 oz), Dumplin' (8 oz), An Autumn in Whimsy (8 oz), Touched by the Stars (8 oz and 2 oz), Dimple and Rishi (8 oz), Wonder Woman (8 oz and 2 oz), It's Only a Game (8 oz), As Travars (2 oz)

Wish List: Empress of Feng Lug (8 oz), Reading by the Fire (8 oz), Fangirl (2 oz), The Fallen Isles (2 oz), It's Only a Game (2 oz)

Novelly Yours is another candle shop I've loved for a long time. I wasn't totally sold at first, but they've quickly become a favorite. Brittany has such a wide variety of candles and there are definitely candles I missed out on before I fell down the rabbit hole that have already been retired. She also always ships within two weeks most of the time and comes up with such creative ideas! She even has a new Scent Obsession jar so you can get your favorites in a 22 oz size and yeah...that's gonna happen when some of my stock runs low.

Owned: Stories & Sunsets, Anna's Favorite Cookie, Shipping It, Autumn Ambiance, Summer Love set

Wish List: Autumn Ambiance (yes another), Cress, The Wraith, Shipping It (22 oz because it's so good, some retired scents only available in 22 oz sizes (Anna's Favorite Cookie, Magical Golden Flower)

Flickering Tales won me over with a Pemberley candle that was being discontinued. It was Pemberley and had a lilac smell, so I thought it'd be fun to try! Since then, I've burned through 2 8 oz tins and I have two more in my candle cabinet that I stocked up on. She also has a candle that smells just like chocolate covered cherries that I need a full size of and most recently she impressed me with a limited edition Bardugo box, featuring 5 locations from different Leigh Bardugo books. I had been on the fence with it since I wasn't big on Shadow & Bone and never finished the series and I haven't read Crooked Kingdom yet, but I'm kind of obsessed with these candles and I'm already really sad they're not available in full sizes. I might actually order a custom of one of them in a full size. She's also really great at highlighting lesser known books that are harder to find swag for. In fact, there's a Song of the Current candle that was a limited edition and not in my budget when I ordered the Bardugo box, but if it's still in stock when holiday sales start up....

Owned: Pemberley (8 oz), Belle (4 oz), Romance (4 oz), New Adult (tealight), Bardugo box

Wish List: Romance (8 oz), Current Carry You

Other Shops I've Tried

Canterbury Road Co really focuses on covering lesser known titles - lesser known swag wise, anyway. Shannon is so lovely and while I'm not totally sure her scent combinations work for me, I'm still waiting it out.

Owned: Camp Daybreak, Whimsy's Enchantment, Raven in Peril Raven in Love

Wish List: Over the Sea to Skye

Wanderlights Candle Co is a Canadian company that ships out pretty quickly and is based on locations, including fictional ones. She also has great customer service - I placed an order about a week ago and she messaged me yesterday to let me know there was a delay in some supplies, but she would have it out by next week.

Owned: Tokyo, Paradise Island, Halloweentown (soon), PSL (soon)

Cornerfolds Candles is owned by two women who are in a fan group I'm in. They're located in Florida and when the hurricane was about to hit, they made sure orders were out the door several days in advance or they just held on to them. Mine made it out the door, but USPS decided to hold my candle in limbo anyway. But it was totally worth it because the candle is GORGEOUS and smells incredible.

Owned: The Sanctuary (4 oz)

Wish List: Toil & Trouble, The Sanctuary (8 oz), Wit Beyond Measure

Nerdy Alchemy is a newer, smaller Canadian shop that does candles and some body products for bookish goods and video games (Legend of Zelda fans, you'll be quite pleased) and movies, so it's a really great variety. She's super quick at communicating - the candles I ordered weren't going to look exactly as pictured and she made sure that was okay before sending out.

Owned: Emojis and Cookie Dough

Wish List: Current Carry You

Stub Tail Candle Co is another shop that covers a lot of books that don't see much swag. If there's a book you feel needs more candles, this is a really good place to check (she has a lot of Roar candles, for example). She also donates a portion of all sales to animal rescue organizations.

Owned: Reading Past Bedtime, Daughter of the Dragon

Wish List: Memory World, Glass Snow, King of Crows

Muggle Library Candle Co is a really wonderful little shop with a fantastic line up. Unfortunately, she recently launched a Sorting Hat Candle that changes colors as you burn to "reveal" your house and a bunch of big websites found it, so she's overwhelmed with orders. The only listing in her shop right now is for pre-orders of the Sorting Hat Candle in May. When she can handle making more of her candles, I'll be eagerly waiting.

Owned: Deadly Sunrise, Jewel of Bharata, Ravenclaw

Wish List: Book Boutique, Free Elf, Pumpkin Juice

Geek and Wonder AKA Flickering Fandoms is a shop that was too pronged, but recently merged to sell all sorts of nerdy things - skin care, bath and body products, and obviously candles. A lot of shops tend to use amber and sandalwood and some heavier smells, but both of the candles I have from this shop are really light and clean, which is what I prefer.

Owned: Trident, Amazon Princess

The Melting Library is one of the most well known candle shops. Because of that, it will take at least a month to get any of your candles. Once they ship, they ship quickly and they're a really nice quality. I like the packaging a lot and shipping isn't too expensive - though I do live in the same state as her - and there's just a nice selection. The holiday themed candles are already up for pre-order because she has such a long processing time, so I pre-ordered an Anastasia-themed candle and threw in an Outlander one as well. She restocks some number of candles every Sunday at 12 EST!

Owned: Goddess of Truth, The Autumn Prince, Once Upon a December (soon), Breath of Claire (soon)

Wish List: His Calipha, The Night Bazaar

Wick and Fable is another one of the more popular ones with a large variety. She'll also do multiple candles for the same media so if you don't like a particular scent, you'll likely have other options.

Owned: Isla de los Suenos, Ravenclaw, Most Ardently, Warrior Princess, Honeydukes (soon), October Winds (soon), The Autumn Prince (soon), Autumn Rainstorm (soon), Autumnlands (soon), Whimsy (soon)

Wish List: Inej, Nina, Virtual City, The Spring Prince, Thousand Lanterns, Xifeng, Imperial Palace

Novel Heartbeat Creations is the first shop that created the hashtag candles and has some really great ones. There's also a pretty good variety of book inspirations and a really fun layout.

Owned: #diversebooks, Slay Your Own Dragons, Nightspire, Bookstagram

Wish List: #diversebooks (8 oz)

Wick Worms is one of the companies that makes chunk candles - creating extra chunks of wax in different colors and letting them settle within the main candle. She does a lot of fun bundles that are limited edition, so definitely keep an eye out.

Owned: Book Hangover, Wonder Woman Set

Wish List: Autumn in Whimsy

Belle and Co Candlemakers focuses on ladies. All of their candles are based on literary ladies, mostly classics, but also some more modern and pop culture and literary references. Most recently, she released a limited run of candles inspired by Margaret in North and South and I...had to jump on it.

Owned: Women of Winterfell set, Margaret (soon), Lizzie (soon)

Wish List: Lila, Diana

The Leaky Candle has a lot of fun candles and sets. When I ordered from them, it took over 6 weeks to get my candles and there was little communication about what was happening and why it wasn't just the week or two their website said. I was finally able to get an answer through their Etsy and they explained there were some emergencies and they included an extra candle. So, a little frustrating, but it was (hopefully) a one time thing. And I do like the candles I ordered. She has a bunch of Halloween-y candles in the shop now you can check out.

Owned: Summer Storm, Mo Dunn, Pemberley Woods, Hogwarts Express

Moss & Moon isn't really a bookish candle company, but they are still a lot of fun. The concepts are fun, the smells are wonderful and strong, and I love the labels. The only downside for me is that they're in Australia and the shipping is a bit much for me to order more candles from.

Owned: Citrus Punch, Crazy Cat Lady

A Court of Candles is a shop I don't have a ton of experience with - I only have one small candle from a book box - but I've liked what I've tried so far, so I'm excited to check out some of the other candles. I am not a fan of their website, but they do have an Etsy as an alternative.

Owned: Thymiscera

Wish List: Viktor, Kaz, Inej, Hapee Birthdae

Meraki Candles is a Scottish candle company that I'm...truthfully not a fan of. Again, I only got to try one candle from a book box. The candle didn't smell bad, but it didn't smell great. It managed to have some tunneling, even though it was in a tin (which usually prevents tunneling since the metal gets hot and melts the wax on the edges) and then after about three burns, the wick just...fell into the wax. I can't use the candle unless I cut out more wax or melt...around the wick? Somehow? I just wasn't impressed and I won't be placing more orders.

Owned: Phoenix Riders

Flick the Wick has some of the most stunning labels in all of candledom - which is why Angeline also has a bookmark shop! Her candle scents are really close to the description and the colors are just so stunning.

Owned: Emergency Dance Party, Dimple and Rishi

Wish List: Dimple and Rishi (8 oz), Goddess of War, Bookstagram, Bibliophile, Ketterdam

Liber de Stella has a huge variety of candles and all of the ones I ordered smell amazing...but they also tunneled. It's an easy thing to fix and not a big deal, but it is kind of frustrating. I might give her shop another try - maybe go for the smaller sizes - but I'm not in a rush to do so.

Owned: Mountain of Adamant, Gauri's Garden, The Night Bazaar, Her Yellow Dress

Library Lights is another Canadian based company that makes candles (and a lot more). It did take a very long time for my order to ship out, but they're so simple and pretty and the smells are incredible.

Owned: The Promise of Tomorrow, Caliph of Khorasan

From the Page is a really fun shop with some cool options. They do a lot of cool, unique sets and some fun inspirations for their candles. Right now, they're having a sale where they're selling 8 oz jars of some of the scents they made for sets in 2 oz and I snatched one up from the Disney set.

Owned: Disney set

In the Wick of Time is another one of the really popular candle shops. The one candle I have is a very strong rose scent, which usually gives me headaches, so I can't really burn it, but that's a me problem, not a shop problem.

Owned: Pemberley

Wish List: Once Upon a Time, Jane Austen's Writing Desk, Amazon Warrior

Other Eras Candles isn't really a bookish shop, but whatever. She does a lot of really great packaging and she does some charity candles and she also has a couple of art prints. And her scents, at least in the candle I have, are really strong too, which I tend to appreciate.

Owned: French Lavender

Wish List: Autumn, Stand with Women

This isn't even close to all of the shops out there - there are many, many more on my wish list I want to try out - but these are some shops I have feelings about. If you'd like, I can make this a monthly-ish or quarterly thing, where I go through and just talk about the different candle shops I've tried. Or, if you'd like more details about any specific shop, let me know that too.


Sunday, May 28, 2017

Bullet Journaling 101

About 6 months ago, I began bullet journaling. Maybe the logical thing to do would've been to wait until January 1 like a normal person, but I started in the middle of December because I just had so many ideas.

It started with a twitter conversation. People tried to explain it to me and it made sense when they laid it out - a bullet journal is a planner, a to-do list, and a place for notes all in one place. So, then I started googling. I looked at Pinterest, which is a wealth of pictures and blog posts about layouts and ideas. I also looked on YouTube to watch videos of the things people were doing. Then I decided to go for it.

Bullet Journaling uses an index. You write down everything important in your index and the page numbers so you can find it easily. This requires pages for indexing and numbered pages. After falling down my research rabbit hole and realizing these were things I would need, I decided to stick with the Leuchtturm 1917 - which comes with numbered pages, indexes, and bookmarks. It makes things easier for me to have all of that ready to go. (These are available on Amazon a little bit cheaper and I try to check regularly - sometimes certain colors will randomly be cheaper.)

Additionally, the Leuchtturm is available in a dot grid. The benefit of a dot grid is that it it gives guidance for drawing lines and writing neatly, unlike blank pages, but it doesn't feel as constraining as lined or graph paper because it's not as defined. Not everybody is bothered by the definition of lined or graph paper and not everybody wants guidance, so it really depends on your preferences. These notebooks are pretty pricey, so if you're not sure what you prefer or if bullet journaling is even for you, then start with any notebook you have around the house. 

Now, what do you put in a bullet journal? As I said, it's a planner, to-do list, and place for notes. Most people start with a Future Log - which basically means some sort of calendar for future months. Personally, I used two pages and wrote down all the months of the year with some space between, 6 months per page. Underneath, I write down anything relevant - birthdays, events, holidays. 

I also put any trackers that I'll use over and over again for months. For me, that included a purchase tracker, so I can track my spending habits, and some reading trackers - one to track the books I read, counters of what format I'm reading and how diversely I'm reading, etc, which I'll turn into graphs later. There's also wish lists, long term to-do lists, a list of movies to watch, a period tracker, a list of essay ideas I have, a social media tracker, phone numbers for my representatives, a list of passwords for various websites, and lists to track the books I get rid of and the books I bring in this year.

Then comes monthly spreads. There's a lot of ways to do this that depend on your needs. For me, I keep it simple - a page where I put down every day of the month and make any notes of events/holidays/etc that are listed on my Future Log. On the next page, I make notes for the month - Blogbound work, freelance projects I have for the month, Interrobang list I want to get done, and any other notes or goals I have for the month. Super, super simple, but there's all kinds of things people do with their monthly spreads.

Next, I have monthly trackers. I have a habit tracker, both to keep track of when I do things like cleaning the litterbox and watering my plant and to build better habits, like taking vitamins every day, working out, moisturizing. Then I do a Money In/Money Out page, which is literally just a page split in half where I write down my income and my spending. Then I do another reading page, so I can track EVERYTHING I pick up and sketch out my TBR for the month. Finally, I do a Gratitude Log, which has a lot of layout options.

After that, things vary. Some people do weekly and daily spreads, while others just do a weekly - again, it depends on what you need and how much space you need. I don't need a ton of space, so I just write down the date, 4 days on one page and 3 days on the other, and write down any events, appointments, and to-do list items. with the remaining space, I make a notes section for the week - things I don't have to get done on a specific day and things I just want to keep in mind - and a Waiting On section, to keep track of things I'm expecting in the mail.

Beyond that, I make a lot of lists - to-do lists, ideas for Interrobang, time logs for Pique, notes for my manuscripts, places I want to travel, Broadway shows I want to see. I practice my handwriting because I still have a long way to go on that front. Your pages can be whatever you want them to be.

How do you decide what you want your layouts to look like? That, again, comes down to you. I did a ton of research into ways people did layouts to decide what to work on and I still change things up - my June spreads are a total departure from the spreads I've been doing so I can see if I like something else better. As I said before, Pinterest is a really great resource. I have a Pinterest board for bullet journal spreads and for handwriting practice - there's not a ton there, but it prevents getting overwhelmed and helps give you a basic starting point. I also, as mentioned, fell down a YouTube hole. One of the most helpful channels was Boho Berry. She has a ton of videos, but probably the most helpful series is her Bullet Journal 101 series. But she also has Plan with Me videos, tutorials on different layouts, comparisons, and other tips. Additionally, she has a blog, an Etsy shop, and she has a newsletter that includes some freebies and discounts. 

As a bonus, once you start looking at these kinds of things, Pinterest and YouTube will both start recommending you MORE channels and boards like it. And you'll also fall down the research hole.

So, I think that's a good place to start! I'll be happy to do another post on more tips should anyone want them or have other questions relating to bullet journaling. 

Happy planning!