Uncertainty, the Future, & More

Well, hi guys. How’s it going? I’m sorry I haven’t posted in months since the Biannual Bibliothon, but I just wanted to stop by because I think I owe it to my readers to let you guys know what’s going on in my life.

I had decided to stop blogging altogether.

Yup. I had barely any time to blog at all last year and I just wasn’t really in the mood to continue on. I wasn’t keeping up with my pace, the majority of what I read was comics online which are hard to track for reading and reviewing purposes, and I was just dealing with a lot of mental and emotional stress, which I still am.

Let me break it down for you:

  • My mom has early onset dementia. She was diagnosed almost two years ago with it and my husband and I have been living with my parents since. We are… not happy here. Our mental, physical, and emotional well-beings have had such a strain put on them that we find it very hard to enjoy anything that we used to anymore. For me, one of those things is reading physical books. I had no problem reading comics because they’re images and short dialogues, so it was easy to handle for my brain. But actual books? Unless I was hooked it was near impossible.
    • In case you are wondering: some days are better than others for my mom. My dad is handling it in his own way. I am handling it my own way. My husband is, too. Just one day at a time because that’s literally all we can do.
    • The next point will explain this one more as to why we haven’t done this but, my husband and I need to move out. We need a space of our own to be able to make a living for ourselves. It’s very hard to do that here, and now we live almost an hour away from where we work where before we were 10-15 min away. It makes a huge difference.
    • The result of this has made me very tired and unable to bring myself to do anything these days.
  • I’ve been taking an online course to become TEFL certified. This means I’m becoming certified to teach English as a second language. My goal is to teach in South Korea by the end of this year, 2018. I’ve got my six hours of teaching time left of my practicum before I can turn in my paperwork and become officially certified.
    • Now, with this, there’s a whole new level of stress. I would love to teach in the EPIK program in South Korea, which is public school teaching. There’s a ton of great benefits for teachers and all of that, which is great. But, there’s a snag: I can get an E-2 visa for teaching, but my husband, who I would bring with me, would have to get a spousal visa and under said visa he would legally be not allowed to work. That’s fine, whatever. Contracts are usually for a year anyway unless I like it there and want to stay longer and maybe he can get a different visa, I don’t know.
    • Anyway, this is its own headache. The fact that I’d have a dependent lessens my chances of being hired. It doesn’t mean I won’t be – there’s still a potential that I will be – but it still makes it harder, and then I don’t know that I’d qualify for all of the benefits. So. Yeah.
    • I am trying my best to be optimistic, but the closer I get to completing my certificate and actually applying to the recruiter, the more nervous and worried I get.
  • I tried to focus on art last year, which was great! I was creating a lot, but it kind of… faded away the last few months. I’m finding that I get frustrated in the sketch stage, even when I know it’ll be better later on. Oh well. I’ll work on that.
  • I still would love to be a published author and share my stories with the world, but… *sigh* the book and publishing world have been on FIRE lately and now everything is just very intimidating. If I don’t include enough of this I’m a bad person, if I include too much of that I’m a bad author, like… it’s so intimidating nowadays. I think it’s great, 10000000% amazing, that people are fighting to be seen and heard in their stories. But if I am comfortable writing my characters the way they appear in my head, and that offends someone, then I end up the bad guy? I don’t know, guys, it’s just so scary now. I know I shouldn’t look at it that way, but that’s just how my mind perceives it.

So yeah, those have been some of the big stressors in my life and it’s just been one shit year, let me tell you… Of course there were good times and good things that happened and stuff, but I need to share these things with you.

This brings me to my next point:

I do miss blogging.

Part of me does miss blogging and reading like crazy and diving into these worlds and having these open discussions with people and seeing book hauls and tags and discussions and just the joy that reading once brought, including blogging.

But after last year I had decided that I wasn’t going to do this anymore. I was just going to stop posting and let the views and conversations fade away, because what else could I do? Like I said before: I don’t have the time or energy to be as active as I once was, and I miss doing it.

I miss talking to you guys and sharing thoughts on books and doing reviews, tags, side posts, etc. It was all fun and it was such a big part of my life for the last few years.

I don’t know that I’m going to keep blogging, though.

Like I said: I do and I don’t. I want to share my reviews on books and have discussions and do all of these things again, but with so much uncertainty for my future (and my husband’s), I just don’t know if I can.

I know I can just post whenever I can, even if it’s months from now, but I don’t want you guys to think I’ve fallen off of the grid. When that time comes, I will do a proper goodbye, but for now?

For now, I think I want to keep going.

I haven’t come to a definite conclusion yet, but I do still want to share with you all. I want to read actual novels, not just comics, and dive back into the worlds I loved before. I still have books I need to finish that came out last year that I was anticipating, and books I started the year before that that I need to finish. It’s crazy, really.

So for now… I’m going to stay.

For now, I’ll keep going. Maybe this will spark what I needed back into my life. Maybe this will really help me to see what it is that I was missing. I don’t know, but I hope this helps.

I want to keep a kind of schedule? Maybe that will help me, I’m not sure. So, here’s what I’m thinking:

  • I’ll post once a week on Thursday to start. I have Wednesdays off and it’ll give me a good amount of time to get in some reading and other things to be able to prepare a post for Thursday morning (like what I’m doing now).
  • If I am able to get a flow back into my groove, then I will start to also post on Mondays so it’ll be twice a week. I think that will definitely be doable. If I want to post more in a week, I will. It’s my blog after all, so I can do what I want lol

I’m going to try that for now and see how it works for me.

Thank you all for being so supportive over the years, for reading my content, talking to me, and just being a great community. You’re all amazing and I wish you the best in all that you do.

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Mid-Series Cover Changes

Let’s talk about this topic that every bookworm ever either hates or doesn’t mind.

I mainly want to talk about this because of the recent blow up over Renee Ahdieh‘s duology of Flame in the Mist because it’s getting a mid-series cover change to have covers with people on it. Of course a huge part of the discussion was because it was a POC that was added to it, but… I honestly don’t know how to respond to that other than the book is literally a retelling of Mulan. A Chinese woman. A person of color. What else is she supposed to look like, a fish? (Also, yes I’m aware that this is based in Japanese culture, but I’m just saying.)

Anyway.

Okay, first of all let’s discuss these covers aesthetically speaking.

In my 100% honest opinion? I really like these covers. Not only do they feature a female POC who (I believe) is the main character of the story (I haven’t read it yet), but the colors and details around the cover are very aesthetically pleasing to the eye. The cherry blossoms around the edges are representative of east Asian culture, which this story is inspired by. And then the twin dragons on the second cover in the shape of a heart? Dragons are also a large part of east Asian cultures.

But again, I want to state that I have NOT YET read the first book in this duology. I do not know the significance of the dragons, but I am assuming it has to do with a love interest in the story.

I also want to state that I don’t know the whole story as to the backlash that these particular covers are getting because I haven’t been very up to date with book Twitter lately (which is largely where I get my bookish news), so I apologize in advance for that.

My one caveat with the cover is her expression that she uses. I get she’s supposed to be all serious and stuff, but I kind of wish there was a different expression on each cover, which could bring more life to it. Other than that, I’m fine with it.

I would also like to point out that I am very glad that they’re changing BOTH covers of the duology SO THEY MATCH. That doesn’t happen often with mid-series changes. It could also be for the release of the paperback, I’m sure.

Now let’s discuss cover changes.

I think a large part of the backlash for these covers above is because of the face added and a lot of people – including myself – generally don’t like people on the covers of our books unless it’s significant to the book itself. I mostly say this because I personally find that when people are on the cover they look cheesy as hell and it just kind of makes me cringe. But I can look past that if 1) the synopsis captures my attention, and 2) if I enjoy the book when I read it.

That being said, cover changes mid-series is a very frustrating thing for many readers. The main reason is because, with a cover change, the new cover won’t match the aesthetic of the original cover and therefore can make it look less aesthetically pleasing to the eye when looking at it on a shelf or for pictures or what have you. There have been many examples of this exact thing happening over time and now with social media being such a huge thing in the everyday lives of many people, it’s very easy to understand why people are so vocal about it.

One example I can think about is the Across the Universe trilogy by Beth Revis. The last book in this series had a cover change when it was being released in hardcover and thus didn’t match the same aesthetic as the other two books in the trilogy. And I have to say: I am not a fan of the change. It’s clunky. It’s very ridged, with many defined edges and just a look that isn’t very… nice.

As you can see, the first two covers are highly aesthetically pleasing. At least to me they are. The first two covers tell me a bit about what the story is about (and no, I haven’t read them yet but they’re definitely on my TBR as my husband has read them and loved them). They tell me that they’re about two teens, a boy and a girl, who are most likely facing dangerous circumstances and manage to find love among it all. It probably has some type of harrowing journey along with it, too. But the Shade of Earth cover? Yes, while it is aesthetically pleasing in its own right, it is just very… different from the original two. This one tells me that it’s like the Earth is trying to break through what mankind made. (Who knows? Maybe I’m right?)

Eventually the first two covers were remade to match the third cover. (And yes, the first book did have a cover change BEFORE matching it with the third cover, and that cover was… okay.)

But that is just one of the frustrating things about mid-series cover changes. My main question, especially with the example above, is: Why do you have to change to flow of the covers like that, especially when its the last book in the series?

Now I’ve seen many authors over the last couple of years talk about this very issue. They don’t have control over their covers. 99% of them don’t have control, especially in traditional publishing. So when mid-series cover changes happen it’s because the company or marketing department of that company thinks that it will be appealing to more readers to change the covers now to boost book sales.

Sometimes the books are selling very well, though, even without the cover change. Sometimes book sales drop after the cover change. It really all depends and no one can really determine what may or may not happen when this change does happen.

With that said, though, I’m not talking about when standalones get cover changes or when an entire series gets multiple cover changes over time because that’s an entirely different subject matter. (For example, the Grisha trilogy by Leigh Bardugo just got new covers and btw they’re gorgeousssss~)

Like this? This is fine. The original trilogy with the original covers were all released and have the same very aesthetically pleasing style, which is great! And to now have the trilogy repackaged in equally stunning covers is just simply breathtaking. As the books were already released and received a lot of love, this kind of change only fuels readers to want to buy these versions of the books for collectability purposes if they already own the books with the original covers.

But when covers are suddenly changed mid-series, it can be very disheartening for readers who love to decorate or show off their shelves. Some readers don’t care either way because they want the book to have the book and continue reading the series – which is totally fine!

And then you also get books that are different sizes when as they continue along in a series. Like, why? What purpose does that serve? Why are you keeping the cover aesthetic but now changing the size? When they’re on a shelf they’re no longer even and THAT can drive readers mad.

I think that mid-series cover changes can help some book sales, though. Sometimes a cover change can make a difference and a new cover design can be a good thing. Honestly, it really depends on personal preference.

Let’s Chat! ^w^

Tell me what you guys think of cover changes mid-series. Do you mind? Do you hate them? What’s one example of a GOOD mid-series cover change? What’s your least favorite mid-series cover change? Let’s talk about it!

How Books Can Bring Happiness

I think it’s safe to say that a lot of us deal with some form of mental illness and we all have different ways of coping with said mental illnesses. One of those ways for me is by shopping. Now, I know this isn’t always the best option in dealing with my illnesses, but if it’s something that brings me temporary joy when I’m feeling otherwise deep darkness, I’m going to do so. Of course, I often regret those decisions right away, but I usually end up with something cute or useful or a book or something… It all evens out, right?

I was just thinking about this and wanted to talk about how reading helps with depression and anxiety, at least for me, and how art is a huge stress reliever.

I know we all joke about how we love books because they destroy us, but is that really a joke? What is it about our emotions being pulled this way and that that make us feel happy? I love to read fluffy stories because they’re super feel-good and cute and they just make me want to swim in a rainbow of daisies, but I also love to read dark books that deal with a very different side of humanity because it’s always interesting to see how they affect me and how I think afterward.

I think that no matter what kinds of books we read, unless we actually hate or dislike the book for whatever reason, it brings us some form of happiness. It lets us feel like there’s more inside of us than what we had before and that’s a feeling that’s very euphoric and hard to let go of.

I haven’t really read any novels this year, but I’ve been reading a lot of manga that’s been making me feel good or giddy or happy. Of course I’ve read some darker things with a lot of action and blood and death, but I find that those stories, too, are just as valuable to me as those that are full of cute romances. When I read novels, it’s the same thing, and I get that feeling of excitement and anticipation when I’m reading. It’s like a light at the end of that dark tunnel that’s trying to keep me trapped inside. I reach for that light and I find hold onto that small glimmer that makes me happy again.

Books are powerful. They have the power to change our emotions and instill in us something other than what we were expecting. And that’s amazing.

And even though I have probably over 200 books that are on my shelves waiting to be read, I know that they’ll still be there, waiting for me no matter my mental state that day, and that’s such a wonderful comfort (even though I’m running out of space ahhhh).

The same goes for art. Art is a super stress reliever for me. I find that when I’m drawing, I can be doing it for hours and not feel hungry or depressed or anything other than focused on what’s in front of me. I’m creating something that I’m happy with (hopefully; the end result is always negotiable in that regard) and something that brings me joy, and that’s something that I wouldn’t trade for the world.

I just want you to know that if you’re dealing with your mental illnesses to remember you’re not alone and to not give up. Find the healthy things that make you happy and latch onto them in those moments. Who knows, maybe they’ll be just what you need in that moment to turn it around for the better.

Let’s Chat! ^w^

What books bring you happiness when you’re feeling down? I’d love to hear any recommendations!

Finding Joy in Art

I’ve always loved to draw. From the time I was young to now, I’ve always had a creative spark in me. I find it to be extremely fun and relaxing (even if I’m annoyed with how the product is turning out to look like).

I’ve been drawing almost every day for about a week now and I’ve found myself to be so happy and lost in a world that I haven’t visited in a long time that I crave more.

I haven’t had this feeling in so long and I need more.

But then I wondered to myself, “What is this feeling?” Don’t get me wrong, I’m really glad to have it, but what is this actual feeling? I thought about it and then I came to the conclusion: joy.

Now, if you knew me personally and some of the things going on in my life, you’d know that I haven’t experienced joy like this in quite some time. Yes, I find pockets and moments and those are of course just as precious and important, but this feeling of doing something I’ve always loved and had stopped for one reason or another to only pick up again and see myself improving and having fun doing so?

Yeah, that’s joy.

And I kind of just wanted to talk about that today because I don’t know about you, but I feel a lot of my generation is having a lot of trouble finding joy in life. Like, actual, pure joy. Something that makes our hearts sing and makes us feel so happy and content in the moment that we want to continually go back to those moments over and over and over again.

Finding what you love to do and actually finding the time to do so can be two wildly difficult things to accomplish. I’ve been searching for a purpose for quite some time now, trying to pinpoint something that can bring me happiness in my stressful world, and I found it once again in art. It’s great having people appreciate my art, complimenting me and telling me I’m improving, giving me tips if they’re artists themselves on how to improve a bit more, and then just people who like my art for the art itself. I find joy in that feeling of bringing other people happiness, for sure, and I want to continue to grab it.

And then there are the nay-sayers. The ones who will say, “Oh it’s great that you have that and everything, but what about real life?” I know of one very significant person in my life who is like that, and I let their words affect me all the time. I don’t think that you should put the things that you love so far on the back burner that they become a distant memory. In fact, I hate that with every fiber of my being. I know I’ve stated in a post before about how I put off art for some time and that each time I did draw I would feel this incessant urge to continue to draw and create more and more and more, but I never really hooked myself on that. I never took that step to really sit down and do it.

And now that I have been, I don’t want to let it go.

See, now, I’m the kind of person that puts everyone before myself. I’m still a selfish brat, but I still put others before me in almost all things. So when I say that I’ve been thinking about wanting to do art full-time, or at least start part-time, I get scared. Not only will it affect me, but it will also affect my husband. I’m afraid that if I were to pursue this kind of thing that it would be just too much all at once. He says I should just Shia Labeouf it and JUST DO IT, but it’s extremely difficult for me to do that without taking SO many things into consideration.

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And then there’s the part of me that looks back at that joy and that feeling I get when I’m drawing and I think, “Yeah, I want to do this. I really, really want to do this.” I want to improve my art skills, become better at multiple mediums, really showcase my style and show that I’m better than mediocre. I want to be able to have fun and do something I love in life that isn’t just a hobby, that isn’t something I just come home to from a job I couldn’t really care about.

I don’t know about you, but finding that joy and latching onto it, is such a beautiful thing. I know that I have obstacles to overcome (like the biggest one that every artist ever faces: comparing my art to others, ughhhhh), a lot of research to do, and a lot of saving up to do, but this is something that I’ve been becoming more and more serious about as time passes. And frankly, my happiness should really start to be coming first.

Anyway, that’s what I wanted to talk about today. My thoughts are probably all over the place, but I needed to express it somewhere and what better place than here, right? Also, if you want to check out my art, you should check out my art instagram!

Let’s Chat! ^w^

Do you ever face these kinds of problems of finding joy in your life in something you love to do, but not really doing anything about it? Do you consider it just a hobby or do you wish you could make it something you do day in and day out? What are some of the things that really bring you joy in life? Tell me all the things!

Attack on Titan Season 2 & Boruto: Naruto Next Generations – All the Questions!

There will most likely be spoilers in this post, so please go forward with caution!

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YES. Attack on Titan season 2 FINALLY aired (over a week ago) and I am SO PUMPED about it! When I first watched Attack on Titan a few years ago (because, you know, it’s been FOUR YEARS since the first season was released), I didn’t know if I was going to like it. I mean, I’m all for action, blood, saving humanity, all of that fun stuff, but I wasn’t expecting AoT to be so… intense? I think that’s the word I’m looking for. I mean, it’s an anime about humans who have been cast off from the world because of Titans – huge beings that look like very disproportionate humans that feed on humans. And then one day, the first wall that this particular group of humans puts up is beaten in by a Colossal Titan? Scary. Lots of death, lots of blood, lots of crying and screaming.

But I was so hooked and I needed to watch more.

And then once I finished watching it with my husband, we immediately went online to look at when the next season was going to be released. And guess what? THERE WAS NO RELEASE DATE.

I mean, why? WHY!? So many fans’ cries could be heard across the world. It’s fine.

But then, I saw the news about it literally a week before it was released: Attack on Titan season two was premiering on April 1st. And we watched the first episode.

AND I HAVE SO MANY QUESTIONS.

Did it live up to the hype that we’ve been waiting for? Hell yes. It picked up right where the last season left off. We see Eren, Mikasa, the rest of the Survey Corps, and then… Titans. And more specifically: the Beast Titan.

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Like, WHAT IS THIS THING? Why can it talk? Who is it? Why does it want to know more about how they use their arsenal to get around the Titans to kill them? WHY IS IT COMMANDING THE OTHER TITANS!?

And then the art is just up to the same quality as it was back with the previous season. It was smooth, had harsh lines when needed, beautiful coloring, and everything looked like a lot of time was put into it.

Of course, this season is only going to have 12 episodes and follow one specific story arc because many people theorized that the anime company was just waiting for more material to come out before making more quality content, which I personally appreciate and think was the right choice because, let’s be real, there’s a lot of hype and fandom around this series and it needed no less than the best. [For more explanation I found akidearest’s video to be really good as to why we waited so long.]

I’ve got to admit: I don’t remember much from season one because it’s been a while since I watched it, but after watching the first episode of the second season, some of those memories have come back (I just can’t remember character names to save my life, haha). I have so many questions, and I haven’t watched the second episode yet so maybe a few of my questions will be answered there, but for now? SO MANY QUESTIONS.

And then we also got: Boruto: Naruto Next Generations!

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My husband and I have been watching Naruto Shippuden and slowly making progress (of course I had to watch the last five or so episodes because I’m NaruHina trash hahaha…ha…) and then I heard about Boruto and thought, “Well, that’s one way to make cash.” I honestly didn’t think it was going to be any good, but then I thought, “You know, give it a chance, maybe it’ll surprise you.” Because I’ve been seeing a lot of people talk about how Boruto is just a copy of Naruto and doesn’t have his own personality or anything because they were judging from Boruto: the Movie.

Well, guess what? I watched the first episode and FREAKING LOVED IT.

Oh my God, I wasn’t expecting to love it as much as I did. It felt fresh in a way I didn’t think that they’d be able to pull it off because not only does it include new technology for the world (trains and other electronic equipment) but it also focused on the kids of the Hidden Leaf Village and it not only showed those who were going to be part of the Ninja Academy, but also those who wouldn’t be able to join, which I thought was interesting because we never really got to see that in previous seasons.

And Boruto? Yeah, he’s not a copy of his dad. Yes, he does some of the same stupid things that Naruto did or even crazier things (like, you know, crashing a train cart into the side of the Hokage’s stone face…), but I thought that he felt different from Naruto, even at that same age. I found it interesting that he’s so mad at Naruto for never being around because, well, Naruto’s the Hokage and is in charge of the whole village, but that he also loves his mom, Hinata, more than anyone – and also Himawari, his little sister.

The animation style, too, felt a lot more clean and sleek, as if the animation is trying to follow the times of the Village and advance along with it. I thought that it was very beautifully animated, personally.

And then the plot of the first episode and how it was focused around Boruto going into the Ninja Academy, but it also focused around Boruto sticking up for a kid, Denki, who ends up getting possessed by some mysterious snake… thing, which Boruto sees when his eye changes, kind of like Hinata’s byakugan.

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I love the way that this anime series seems to be going, and we’re only one episode in. Also, THAT INTRO!? I HAVE SO MANY QUESTIONS! Because it happened years later, when Boruto’s a teen and it hints that Naruto’s dead (which I really hope not) and there’s a mark on their arms and Ninjustsu is gone? I DON’T KNOW, I HAVE SO MANY QUESTIONS, THOUGH.

Also, another important question: WHO MARRIED ROCK LEE BECAUSE THEIR CHILD IS ADORABLE. Shh, no one ruin it for me, I want to figure it out myself.

Let’s Chat! ^w^

Has anyone else watched these episodes yet? What are your thoughts and theories with the series? Also, if you’ve read the manga and have gotten ahead of the plots, please don’t ruin them! Thanks!