December 2016 Wrap Up

Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!

It’s the end of the year! Can you believe it? This year has been a whirlwind for many, many reasons, and I’m kind of glad to just see it come to an end. But there are things I’m excited for and things I’m looking forward to in the new year, so let’s bring on the good times, yeah?


Books I’ve Read

Click on the cover to be taken to its respective review!

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  • Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling – I forgot just how fun and magical this first book is, though I did have a few things about it that I didn’t like. 4.5/5 stars
  • Water’s Wrath by Elise Kova – So. Much. Happened. Lots of heartbreak, lots of growth, lots of secrets and betrayal. 4/5 stars

Books I’ve Gotten

Click on the cover to be taken to each respective Goodreads page!

“But Rayna, don’t you already own ToG and CoM?” Yes, but I got them in hardcover to finally match the rest of the series!

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Thank you to my awesome TBTB Secret Santa, Jordin @ A Bottomless Book Bag, for Shadowshaper and I’ll Give You the Sun! I can’t wait to read them!

2016 Reading Challenge

For my Goodreads reading challenge I had set my goal to 30 books, and well, I surpassed the number pretty easily:

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I’m so proud of the progress I made this year because I really didn’t think I would read as many as I did considering my reading rate dropped significantly around June/July. Still, I’m very happy with it and am excited for next year. My 2017 reading challenge will also be set to 30 books because I feel that’s a very attainable goal for me and it’s enough to push me to read as much as I can.

Other Blog Posts

Writing Related

Fun Things

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33/30. Yup, I read over 30 fantasy books this year! I’m really not surprised because it’s my favorite genre, but I had a great time participating in this challenge again and I can’t wait to do it next year. Speaking of which…

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I’m joining in the 2017 Flights of Fantasy reading challenge next year! The challenge is once again running from January 1st to December 31st, so it’s the whole year to read fantasy! I’m once again going to set my fantasy reading goal to 30 books, which is a very attainable goal for someone who loves fantasy as much as I do. Sign ups are open, so join in the fun of reading fantasy over the course of the year!

Instagram

So over on my Instagram I did the things! I had a lot of fun participating in this month’s challenges, but I wasn’t as faithful to it as I was in November. I can’t wait to do more in January and maybe do more photos that stray away from the challenges? Not sure yet.

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 Around the Internet

This is a feature I’ve seen in several other blogger’s wrap ups and I think it’s a fun way to show what else I’ve been reading/seeing around the internets!

  • Cait @ Paper Fury talked about the eight types of book reviewers, and I think I’m a mix of numbers 1 and 2.
  • Hazel @ Stay Bookish talked about 2016 being the year of problematic, and frankly, I agree with her.
  • The Red Queen trilogy by Victoria Aveyard and the Selection series by Keira Cass each have coloring books now? What? When did that happen? I just got the email about it, so if you’re totally into these series, check out the books! Red Queen // Selection

Life Updates

  • All the Christmas parties! All the goodies! Other than work parties and parties with friends, I participated in The Broke and the Bookish’s Secret Santa this year and I had so much fun with it! I now have a pen pal and I also loved my gifts. c: It was so fun and I’m definitely going to join in next year.
    • The gift included I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson and Shadowshaper by Daniel Jose Older, as well as a Bookworm candle from FrostBeard Studios, an elephant holding a book magnet, Mermaid Kiss chapstick from From the Page, Pop! Funko of Ariel from The Little Mermaid (my favorite Disney princess!), and a cute little stocking with an R on it and some candy.
  • For Christmas my hubby and I got a PS4 (first version model from a friend so it was cheap lol), which was a gift to both of us. So for myself I got a bunch of present from me to me, and they were: Lihit Lab pencil case, Micron pens, white Gelly Roll pens, Pentel brush marker, Sailor Moon bookmarks from LumosCoffeeRead, The Night Lord candle from Muggle Library Candles, and the illustrated editions of the first two Harry Potter books. I also got Final Fantasy XV and The Last Guardian for the PS4 (which I loved and am loving both).
  • THEN for Christmas I got four PS4 games: Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, Sword Art Online: Last Song, Tales of Zestiria, and Final Fantasy Class 0. I also got a musical floor mat that does the Jingle Bells song when you step on it (muahahahah), some candles with LED lights, ping pong paddle, candy (so much candy….), and a Bluetooth speaker! Honestly, it was a great Christmas and I’m thankful to my hubby and parents for getting me fun things. c:

Let’s Chat! ≧◡≦

How were your holidays? What were some of your favorite books you read this month? Did you get any bookish goodies for the holidays? Tell me all the things!

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Uppercase Box December Unboxing

Hey peeps, I’m here with another Uppercase Box unboxing for you! If you don’t know what Uppercase is, as it says on the website, it’s “a young adult book-of-the-month subscription box. Simply put: You sign up and receive a recently published YA book and awesome book-related items every month! Plus you’ll access exclusive book content and a one-of-a-kind reading experience to dive deeper into each story.”

This has got to be my favorite box that I’ve received from Uppercase EVER. From the book to the goodies I am seriously head over heels in love with the contents and I am so happy to have them in my life right now! Let’s just jump right into the picture, shall we?

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Okay, so, let’s talk about the glorious items in this box, shall we?

I can’t get over the GORGEOUS items in this month’s box, guys! Seriously, everything in this box had me gasping with the sheer beauty of each item. Even the bag that it came in was decorated with a lovely design! I love every single piece and I can’t wait to use the planner.

The book cover in person is seriously the most gorgeous cover I’ve seen all year. I’m in love with the design and the colors. And then in the planner by Simini Blocker there are drawings with diverse people for each month with a quote from different authors on the pages. Love it!


Also, Merry Christmas to all who celebrate! And happy holidays to all! You’re all so awesome and I thank you all for the time, comments, love, and support you all share with me every single day. Have a wonderful rest of 2016! I’m planning on doing a week of posts, so hopefully I’m able to get them all up on time!

Let’s Chat! ≧◡≦

Are you a planner? As in, do you like using them? Do you use digital planners (like a calendar app) or do you prefer traditional pen and paper? I personally love getting planners but I always fail to use them every year! Hopefully now that I have two (personal and bookish) I’ll be on top of it and use them!

Hobby Corner: Keeping a Sketchbook

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Welcome to another edition of Hobby Corner, a monthly edition I introduced to talk about my hobbies and interests other than reading. It’s always important to not forget these things, so here I am to talk about some of mine.

This month’s topic: art!

Today specifically, though, I wanted to talk about keeping a sketchbook and why doing so can be beneficial not only to those who are visually creative, but also for those that might need a way to escape for a little while.

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I’ve always had sketchbooks of various kinds, but my favorite is the Canson XL mixed media sketchbook in size 5.5 in x 8.5 in. It’s perfect for pencil drawings but can also be used for water color, acrylic, pen, or whatever else you want to use really. (Obviously depending on your medium will depend on the quality of the paper.) The sketchbook I have now is one that I had gotten many months ago but had barely used until very recently because I had gotten into a drawing funk.

Much like a reading slump, a drawing funk/slump happens to me quite frequently now that I’m not taking art classes or anything like that. I’ve always loved to draw and to be creative, but my drawing time fell to the wayside as I became much more of a reader than I’ve ever been. Every time I’ve painted or drawn something detailed or whatever over the last year I’ve had that feeling of “I need more, more, more,” and I’d do it more often around those times, but then it would dwindle and die very quickly.

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So I’ve been following some artists on YouTube and listening to them talk about how much they enjoy art, which made me miss doing art, and then I read an article that really inspired me about keeping a sketchbook. She talked about how not only does keeping a sketchbook keep your creativity flowing, but it can also help with emotional distress and a needed release in the times that I really need it.

And, frankly, she’s right. For someone like me who loves to do creative things regardless of what it is or what medium (making art, listening to music, writing, etc), I think doing something like this will really help to keep my interests and my momentum and desire for drawing going. I won’t feel that dreaded slump or that high and need when I finally do draw or paint or whatever after months of not doing so.

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So I’m taking on one of the challenges she suggested in her post: draw at least one thing in my sketchbook every day for a year. Even if I don’t do it every day, as long as I draw multiple times a week that will be good enough for me.

Art has been such an integral part of my life that I can’t imagine ever not having it be in my life somehow. I may not become a professional artist, but I’ll be able to see my progression, to see what I can create, to do studies and take notes and more.

So why should you keep a sketchbook?

  • It’s an emotional release. If you’re feeling happy, draw something that represents happiness to you. If you’re feeling angry, use dark, bold strokes to represent it. If you’re feeling sad, draw something that represents sadness to you. It’s a healthy way of dealing with emotions, and even if you don’t know what to draw, that’s okay because it leads to my next point:
  • You can make it your own. A sketchbook isn’t going to be graded (unless you’re in school and you need one for a grade), you don’t even have to show it to anyone if you don’t want to. You can write in it, put magazine clippings in it, cut up pages, do whatever you want. No one’s going to judge you for it.
  • It’s a place where you can dream big or small. And by that I mean you can create as much or as little as you want. Getting your ideas and thoughts out can be extremely rewarding and all you have to do is draw what you think needs to be drawn.

Let Nela said in the article: keep the sketchbook with you at all times (sketchbooks come in a variety of sizes, page textures, etc, so find the one that fits you), because if you don’t keep it with you then you’re never going to draw. But if you have a scrap piece of paper or a receipt or napkin, draw on it then stick it in your sketchbook later.

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Art is one of those things that I’m very passionate about, and I know that, for me at least, keeping a sketchbook will help to keep that passion alive.

Let’s Chat! ≧◡≦

Do you have a sketchbook? How do you use it? Do you use it like a diary? Or are your works more open to the public? Tell me all the things!

December 2015 Wrap-Up

Guys. This year is coming to a close. I seriously can’t believe it. But this year has been a great one for me reading wise, and otherwise, and I can’t wait to see what the new year brings.

So without further ado, December was a spectacular reading month for me! What a way to close out the year after months of being in a reading slump. I’m really happy with how this year ended, and so here are the books, discussion topics, and other things I talked about in December.

What I Read

  • Days of Blood & Starlight by Laini Taylor – This is the second book in the Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy and it was so amazing. It really took the story to another level and it made me dying to know what happens next. Laini Taylor’s writing is beautiful and I can’t wait to see the conclusion brings. Check out my review!
  • Magic Strikes by Ilona Andrews – This is the third book in the Kate Daniels series and the books just keep getting better with each installment. This one had a lot of tense moments and a lot more badassery. Check out my review!
  • Their Fractured Light by Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner – The third and final installment in the Starbound trilogy, this book was amazing. It had me wanting to keep flipping the pages right from the get go and though I am sad that it’s over, I am happy to have finished this trilogy. Check out my review!
  • The Selection Novellas by Kiera Cass – These four novellas followed different perspectives from the Selection trilogy, and I enjoyed each of them to varying degrees. I do think that they added their own charm and it was nice to see from other perspectives. Check out my review!
  • Destroy Me & Fracture Me by Tahereh Mafi – These two novellas follow the story from the perspectives of Warner and Adam, respectively, and I highly enjoyed them. I thought they really added a bit more to who the characters are and I really enjoyed that. Check out my review!
  • The Future Collection Short Stories by Beth Revis – This group of five short stories were all from different perspectives and told all different stories, each playing with my heart and emotions in ways I wasn’t expecting. I highly enjoyed them and highly recommend them. Check out my review!
  • The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson – This first book in the Mistborn trilogy was epic and intense, with a unique magic system and empowering characters, this book is one I highly recommend to anyone. Check out my review!
  • Magic Bleeds by Ilona Andrews – This is the fourth book in the Kate Daniels series and like I said before, the books get better with each installment. I was really engrossed in the plot of this one and I really enjoyed the romance. Check out my review!
  • Darkfever by Karen Marie Moning – This is the first book in the MacKayla Lane series and it was okay, not awesome, but it held a lot of potential and so I’m going to continue with the series. Check out my review!

Discussions

Other

And that’s it! I did a lot this month and I’m really happy and proud of myself for doing so. I think that this was a very fruitful month and I hope you all had a great month to end the year on, too.

Have a safe and happy new year everyone!

What books did you read this month that were some of your favorites? What discussions did you talk about on your blog? Let me know!

December Wrap-Up & Book Haul

December was a very productive month in terms of reading and other things going on in my life. I managed to read six books this month! It’s the most I’ve read in one month in a long time. I’m very proud of myself for it.

So, let me first go through the books I read this month, then I’ll talk about my book haul, then I’ll list any tags I did I at the end of the post, including any discussions I did.

So the six books I read as month are as follows:

  1. Exquisite Captive” by Heather Demetrios. I did a full review of it, so you can check out what I thought about it there. I rated it 4/5 stars.
  2. Fangirl” by Rainbow Rowell. I also did a full review of this book, so you can check out my thoughts there! I rated it 5/5 stars.
  3. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban” by J.K. Rowling. This book was much better than I was expecting, as it included much more details than I was expecting. It was much different from the movie (as this was my first read through) and I was very glad to have read it. Great character and plot development happened in the novel and I can’t wait to read the next. I rated this 5/5 stars.
  4. To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” by Jenny Han. You can read my review and see what I thought. I rated it 4/5 stars.
  5. Stardust” by Neil Gaiman. What beautiful writing. You can read my review here. I rated it 5/5 stars.
  6. This Night So Dark” by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner. I seem to be onto a patter here. I did a review! I rated it 4/5 stars.

All of the books I read this past month left me wanting more. Sure, some of them had their faults while others blew me away, but that’s to be expected, right?

Now my book haul! I bought seven books this past month, and they are:

  1. The Complete Tales of Winnie-the-Pooh” by A.A. Milne. I got this book while on my honeymoon in Walt Disney World and I was so happy to get it! It’s fully illustrated and in color, so I’m sure it’ll transport me back to me childhood.
  2. The Hobbit” by J.R.R. Tolkien. I got the pocket edition and it is very adorable in its small size! I’m behind the times in not having read any of Tolkien quite yet, but I hope to in the upcoming year.
  3. Siege and Storm” by Leigh Bardugo. This is the second book in the Grisha trilogy. It’s very hard to find this book at my local Barnes & Noble, but I managed to find this one at another one!
  4. The Daughter of Smoke and Bone” and “Days of Blood and Starlight” by Laini Taylor. This is the first and second books in the Daughter of Smoke and Bones trilogy. I’ve heard a lot of good things about this trilogy and how the writing in it is beautiful. I hope to enjoy it when I read it!
  5. The Darkest Minds” by Alexandra Bracken. This is the first book in The Darkest Minds trilogy and I hear a lot of good things about it. Mind control, super powers? Cool stuff!
  6. This Shattered World” by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner. This is the second book in the Starbound trilogy. I’ve started reading it already and so far I’m really enjoying it.

Those are all the books I’ve gotten in the past month. All bought with gift cards, so I’m not really going against the project five books or anything like that. I’m very excited about this upcoming year! Read about some of my resolutions I hope to stick by in 2015.

Tags! I only did one that I didn’t already have in this post, so here it is:

Reading Habits Tag
1. Do you have a certain place at home for reading? Either at my desk or on the couch in the living room.
2. Bookmark or random piece of paper? Bookmarks are cuter, but I’m not opposed to pieces of paper.
3. Can you just stop reading or do you have to stop after a chapter/ a certain amount of pages? I prefer stopping at the end of a chapter or section.
4. Do you eat or drink while reading? Sometimes.
5. Multitasking: Music or TV while reading? Occasionally music, but I prefer silence.
6. One book at a time or several at once? Several at once, but I try to focus only on one at a time.
7. Reading at home or everywhere? Everywhere!
8. Reading out lout or silently in your head? Silently.
9. Do you read ahead or even skip pages? Yes. >> Sometimes. I have a bad habit of reading the last page of a book before starting the beginning.
10. Breaking the spine or keeping it like new? Break the spine.
11. Do you write in your books? SACRILEGE. No.

Links to various discussions I talked about this past month:

Accompanying video: December 2014 Wrap-Up & Book Haul

So that is it for my December Wrap-Up and the many things that has happened this month. Wow. Anyway, what did you read this month? Did you enjoy your choices? Let me know in the comments below!