My Summer TBR Pile – ft. a tower of books which will probably kill me

good morning, cyberspace!

I woke up the other morning to sunshine gleaming through my window, birdsong sparkling through the air, and the sound and smell (yes, smell) of the air conditioner filtering through the house.

In other words, summer is nigh upon us, and I figured it’s time to start plotting out which books I want to read this season!

I don’t know the logistics behind it, but I find that my excitement for reading strengthens tenfold during the summer. It’s like even though my life gets busier, I’m STILL able to find more time to read than I do during the winter/spring. It literally makes no sense, and yet…? I’m oddly okay with this. XD I love reading. I love summer. And sitting out on my front porch with a good book in my lap and a cat clawing at my feet is literally one of the best ways to spend my free time. #selfcare

So! Over the past few days I’ve been scribbling down which books I’d like to read during the summer, and today, I thought I’d share that (rather extensive) list with you all! Obviously it will be a miracle if I even end up reading HALF of the books on this list, but as of right now, I’m confident I can read at least three of them.

I’m a relatively slow reader, okay, don’t judge me. XD

>>> <<<

MY SUMMER TBR PILE

THE NEWBIES

28187

THE LIGHTNING THIEF by Rick Riordan

Believe it or not, I have yet to finish a Percy Jackson novel. …or anything written by Rick Riordan, for that matter. And I KNOW this is basically an atrocity to all reader-kind, of course, but allow me to explain the why’s behind it:

In a similar vein to the way Harry Potter was frowned upon in many Christian communities when it first came forth (unless you, like my family, realized it’s actually super cool and became lowkey obsessed with it), I always kind of looked at Percy Jackson–which is filled with Greek Mythology–and thought, “huh. blasphemous.” And I’m really not sure why I ever thought this, because it’s just mythology. The concept of such things is actually highly intriguing to most individuals. But there was something about it that made me feel funny, and therefore I stuck to Hogwarts and wizardry and stayed far, FAAAAAAR away from Camp Half-Blood. (because reading about witchcraft is so much more normal than reading about a kid who’s the son of Poseidon [or whoever Percy is related to. I think it’s the fish-dude {anyway. moving on.}])

But now that I’m a little bit older and a little bit wiser, I’ve since realized that I seriously missed out when it comes to the Percy Jackson stories. It’s essentially a classic Middle Grade series, and I–being the odd child that I was–completely passed it by. So now that I’m in my 20’s and clearly much more mature than I was all those years ago, I’m gonna read the book with the fish boy and the fawn kid with the funny boots. (I feel like I’m totally butchering this storyline, but HUZZAH. we shall see just how much of this I got right once I start reading. XD)

34268

PETER PAN by JM Barrie

Believe it or not, despite my severe and unquenchable love for Peter Pan, I’ve never actually read Peter Pan. And this is CLEARLY an abomination which must be fixed immediately. I can’t go around touting a love for something I’ve technically never read, now can I?

(I mean, obviously I can because I’ve been doing it for years now but SHUSH. No one needs to think about this that hard. It’s fine. Everything is totally fine.)

Ahem. Moving on.

13518388

KING’S WARRIOR by Jenelle Schmidt (audiobook)

Okay, so this is one that I’m SO SO excited about. Jenelle’s fantasy series, Minstrel’s Song, JUST finished releasing in audiobook format, and it is my desire to read ALL of the audiobooks this year. But specifically this summer. XD

I have 20 minute long commutes to work (both ways), so that’s a total of 40 minutes of drive time every single time I’m scheduled to work. Despite the fact that I normally listen to music on my way to and from the coffee shop, it has since come to my attention that my time may be better spent jamming out to some super cool audiobooks–specifically ones about dragons and fantastical lands and SWORDS AND FIGHTING AND–

….to be honest, I’m a little nervous that I’ll get so emotionally invested in the story that I’ll crash, but eh. It’s fine. At least I’ll be slaying a dragon at the same time. XD

Okay okay, but in all seriousness, I really want to try listening to audiobooks during my drives! If I can listen to my ’tis but a bop playlist with my windows down while screaming Crocodile Rock at the top of my lungs, I’m pretty sure I can listen to an audiobook without anything truly awful happening.

…right? Right.

29236299. sy475

GEMINA by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kauffman

I read the first book in this series during the very beginnings of the *cough* plague *cough*. And for anyone who has read ILLUMINAE, I’m sure you can understand why reading such a book during a time in which a global pandemic was raging around the universe was scarring to say the least. I am therefore prone to believe that anything which happens in this series will inexplicably come to life and affect my real world whenever I read it. It’s a very terrifying situation I’ve found myself within, my friends.

But alas. We are going to continue along with the series, nevertheless. XD I sincerely apologize to anyone who has read GEMINA and knows the horrors which I’m about to release upon the real world. I simply cannot resist reading this novel any longer, I’m afraid.

THE REREADS

6

HARRY POTTER YEARS 4-7

Technically these are all rereads, and I SUPPOSE if I wanted to challenge myself less, I could just….delete these from my TBR. But, guys, I’m SO excited to be rereading this series, and I can’t possibly put it down now! My lovely friend, Christine, has been buddy reading these books with me, and it is just such a breath of fresh air for me right now. Getting to re-experience the world of Harry Potter with such a dear friend has been an experience of a lifetime.

I also just finished reading Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban, and getting to see Remus and Sirius again made my heart oh so happy! While I love all of the Harry Potter’s dearly, Year 3 is definitely my favorite. There’s something about that book that just fills me with all of the warm fuzzies. XD

>>> <<<

talk to me, peasants!

And there you have it–my summer 2021 TBR pile! I’m absolutely positive I won’t be able to read ALL of these before the sun sets on the last day of summer, but like … a girl can dream, right? XD

So! What kinds of books are YOU planning on reading over the next few months? Pop down into the comments and tell me all about your wildest reading adventures! And until next time, as always…

*flings cookies in the air and disappears*

GOOD MORNING, 2021!: goals, aspirations, and just a pinch of pixie dust

good morning, cyberspace!

Well, folks, we made it. 2020 is finally over, and we’re standing bright-eyed and bushy-tailed in the sparkling sunshine of a brand new year!

….lol, okay, so maybe that’s an over-exaggeration. To be quite honest with you, I stayed up a ridiculous amount of time on New Year’s Eve in order to A) finish this blog post, and B) finish my goodreads reading challenge for 2020. Which, since I still had 4 books to read before midnight, obviously means that I downloaded a bunch of children’s picture books off Libby to binge whilst eating jalapeño popper dip and watching my family work on a 3,000 piece Beatles puzzle. So to say that I was bright-eyed and bushy-tailed on the first? Eh, no thanks. Red-eyed and cowlicked would probably have been a better descriptor. XD

But despite the fact that I’m more than a little sleep-deprived, I’m still extremely excited for this new year we’re in! I know it’s a little cliché and perhaps a bit annoying to some, but I LOVE the new year. To me, it really does feel like a fresh start. Or…as close to a fresh start as we can possibly get. *side-eyes skeletons in my closet warily*

And what better moment to start completely overriding how you perceive and challenge your goals than on the day when the rest of the world does the exact same thing! New Year, New Me, after all, amiright?

lolololololololol *distant sobbing*

Season 2 Phil GIF by CBS All Access

>>> <<<

GOALS AND ASPIRATIONS

Okay, okay, in all seriousness, while I don’t believe that your entire being can change with the simple twitch of a clock at midnight, I do believe that setting goals and aspirations for yourself at the start of a new year is a somewhat fun practice, and therefore that is precisely what we’re gonna do today!

Of course, if there’s one thing that 2020 taught me, it’s that Life has a way of completely switching everything up on you without a moment’s notice, so while I’m making these goals with the intent of accomplishing them, I’m definitely giving myself grace in the odds that I fail them, and will NOT be critical of myself if I don’t manage to complete them all.

A least, I’ll try very hard not to be critical of myself. That’s probably something I should set as a goal, to be honest. *nervous laughter*

WRITING

a.k.a my favorite goals to set!!! I have … quite a lot of writing projects I want to work on this year. Which means that either A) I will complete them all and be a very happy bean in one year’s time, or B) I will complete absolutely none of them and be a ball of absolute stress in about a month or so.

It’s naught but a coin toss as to which one we’ll end up with, but this is a risk I am willing to take, peasants.

live dangerously austin powers GIF

i. complete the first draft of PROJECT GOBLIN

You will most likely remember that the past two months have been spent in the epic failure of me trying to write the first draft of Project Goblin. First NaNoWriMo, in which I wrote a solid and respectable 10,000 words, and then my own personal project called NaNoWhyTho, in which I wrote … 2,000 words.

Yeah. That’s December, for you.

However, now that the holidays are behind us, I figure now’s as good a time as any to really start cranking out the words for Project Goblin! I’m currently a wee bit stuck plot-wise, but I’m sure it’s nothing a good brainstorming session can kick loose!

Of course, as any good task-completer will tell you, it’s always wise to create a deadline for yourself as to when you should complete your project or goal. But since I find that blurting all the gory details of my plans to the world then results in me not lifting a finger to COMPLETE said goal, I will be keeping my makeshift deadline a secret for the time being.

Y’all will know when I finish the book. When you hear the pterodactyl screeching in the distance, you shall know.

ii. read and revise the second draft of PROJECT SUNSET

Not gonna lie, Project Sunset was a super fun book to write.

It is also a massive garbage fire and I must burn it down completely before rebuilding it into something glorious. Thus the reason that I would REAAAAAALLY like to read through the first draft and then revise a second draft of Project Sunset this year! Of course, this might not actually happen, since it IS a rather large undertaking, AND it’s been quite a while since I’ve tackled a second draft. But I’m confident that I can at least start it, and that’s half the battle right there, is it not?

iii. outline and draft PUMPKALAGOO

…..okay, so literally no one has heard about this story yet, but LOOK, MA! I HAVE A NEW STORY SPROUT!

I’m not going to say TOO awful much about this project quite yet, but I CAN tell you that it’s A) a middle grade novel about a witch, and B) was greatly inspired about the weird poem about a king eating a raven in a pie.

…or something along that line, anyway. XD

iv. thorough readthrough and revision of EVERLOST

This one is going last because, in all honesty, this isn’t a SUPER big priority for me…..which obviously means this is a massive priority, and if I don’t get this done this year, I might cry.

Or throw a pitchfork and a tantrum, but I digress.

COMMUNITY

OOOH, LOOK! A new one! Usually I do Writing, Reading, and Life, but this year I wanted to switch it up a bit and make some writing community goals, as well! Especially since we all know I need some accountability when it comes to being present in the community… *nervous sweating*

i. post to blog 1 time a week (excepting any hiatuses I might feel convicted to take)

This is a big one for me. If all else fails, I’d really, REALLY like to start blogging again. This community has helped me grow so much as a person and as a writer, and it’s through blogging that I’ve found some of my closest, most deepest of friendships.

So to say that I’d like to keep up with blogging this year is a massive understatement. I need to do this. This is my community, and when I’m away from it, I don’t really feel very much like myself at all. So 2021…please let this be the year that I dig my roots in deep and thrive.

ii. post to instagram 3x weekly

As I’ve continued to dip my toes into the depths of Instagram, I’ve realized that this is another platform I’d really like to get involved with! For the longest time I used Twitter as my means of outside communication with the writing community, but–if I’m being perfectly honest–the negativity on there is rather astounding. So I’m switching gears (for now) and focusing more of my intent onto Instagram, where I can share aesthetically pleasing photos and write captions that are longer than 150 characters. XD

While posting three times a week is definitely a goal that I have, I’m not going to kill myself over it. Blog posts and my personal writings are going to be my main focus this year, and social media is just going to be a side project for the time being.

(however, if you’d LIKE to follow my instagram, it’s @thesmudgedthoughts *hint-hint*)

iii. become more involved with the writing/blogging community as a whole

THIS. This right here is something that I’ve been wanting to do for FOREVER. But somehow I just keep…failing? There are so many wonderful blogs that I’m following and want to support, and yet???? For some reason I keep getting in this rut where if I haven’t read ALL of the posts on someone’s blog, I …. shouldn’t read the new ones? And honestly this is a very toxic way of thinking, and I’m KICKING THAT OUT in 2021. So if you’ve seen me poking around your blogs more … this is probably why. I sincerely apologize for not being as supportive and involved as I should have been the past year or so, but I hope that this year I’m finally able to become a part of this beautiful community in the way that I’ve always wanted to–which is by supporting everyone else’s blogs in the way y’all have continued to support mine. <33

READING

As per tradition, I’m going to keep up with my goal of reading as many books as the new year suggests, which is–in the year of our Lord, 2021–21 books!

Last year (lol) I barely finished my goal by reading 4 picture books before the clock struck midnight on the 31st, so like….that was fun. But this year, I’m planning on doing some things a little bit differently. (lol, lies)

i. read 21 books

This is relatively self-explanatory. Moving on.

ii. read mostly from the books that are currently on my shelves

Ahem. I have a lot of books. This is good, of course–I’m very blessed to have the books I have! But like….I tend to collect them rather than read them, and, my friends, this should not be so! So this year, I’d love to start reading from my personal collection … which has started seeping into every room of our house. (it’s fine. i’m not worried, or anything. [someone please send help, the books are taking over my life])

iii. READ. MORE. INDIE.

Notice how this goal is in caps, whereas the rest of my goals have been lowercase? THIS IS TO MARK HOW IMPORTANT THIS GOAL IS TO ME.

Guys. Seriously. I need to start reading more Indie. There are SO. MANY. Indie Authors who I want to support, and like??? Why am I not doing this???? (i mean obviously it’s because i have very limited funds to spend towards books, but PSSSH WHAT IS MONEY IF NOT TO BE USED FOR BOOKS, AMIRIGHT [*weeps softly*]) I definitely have some ideas as to how I can start to fix this, but I think my first step is to read and review the indie books I already have on my shelves! (hello, goal #2!) Authors always talk about how much a simple review will do for the visibility of their books, and guys … I still don’t think I review enough books, especially indie ones. Trad authors have a lot of visibility, I feel like, but sometimes I think Indies get overlooked in the excitement for larger, more well-known titles. AND, MY FRIENDS *slams fist on table* THIS. SHOULD. NOT. BE.

So! I’m going to try and read and review more books this year, but mostly books by indie authors. Because they deserve credit for the amazing things they’re doing, and–not gonna lie here–some indie books are LEVELS above traditionally published fiction.

Y’all know it’s true.

WORDS & QUOTES OF THE YEAR

Every year, I like to choose a word for myself–a word which helps symbolize what I want to truly focus on in the year to come. Last year, I chose “whimsy” and “enchanting” (I may or may not have stolen that second one from my mom. the debate is still out, however, and I’ve hired a very good lawyer. XD) Suffice to say, I can’t say as though last year was either enchanting or whimsical. At least, not so much in the way I had imagined. But even so, I still found whimsy and enchantment in the little things, and I think maybe that’s more worthwhile than anything I could have dreamt up.

This year, however, it took me a few days to land on the word I wanted to focus on this year–or rather, the quote I want to focus on. Because apparently 2021 is so immense and unpredictable that I can’t choose a single word for it:

“It’s no use going back to yesterday, because I was a different person then.”

– Alice

I love this quote. The minute I saw it for the first time–or rather, truly noticed it for the first time–I knew that it was one to tuck away inside my pocket. And now, months later, I’m finally able to pull it out again.

I am no longer the person I was a year ago. I’m no longer the person I was yesterday. Yesterday Kenzie made mistakes and wrong turns and had more than a few mishaps, but it’s no use going back to then, because who I am today is a little older and wiser than who I was before. It’s fun to look at where we’ve been and see how much we’ve grown, but we can’t continue to live there, wishing for things to be the way they were or fretting over the situations we could have handled differently. We have to accept the fact that yesterday is gone, and today is only here for a moment.

I have to learn to live more in the present, and let the past go.

And this is something that I’d like to intentionally focus on this year. Whether or not it actually happens remains to be seen, but I have every hope that this year will be one filled with making memories in all the many today’s to come.

>>> <<<

And those, my friends, are my (current) goals for the year! Obviously I’m anticipating on failing in a lot of these, but as far as Januaries go, this year has been off to a rather decent start! I’m excited to see where it leads me, and I’m eager to keep moving forward and writing ALL OF THE THINGS. 2021 is going to be one wild year, but with a little faith, trust, and pixie dust, I anticipate it’s going to be one of my favorite years yet. <333

talk to me, peasants!

what sorts of things are YOU planning on doing in this new year? do you typically make goals for the new year, or do you just go with the flow and knock things out as you feel like it? (knowing my track record with goals, I should really do this. XD) do you have multiple projects you’re hoping to complete this year? and if so, what sorts of methods do you use to track and accomplish them all? i’m still relatively new to the world of project juggling, and i could use all the help i can find. XD

And most importantly…

do you have any indie book recommendations?

I’d love any and all recs you guys are able to throw my way!!

As always, let’s talk about ALL OF THE THINGS in the comments down below, and until next time….

* flings cookies in the air and disappears *

King’s Warrior Audiobook Release!

good morning, cyberspace!

If you follow me on any of my social media platforms, you PROBABLY already know what this here post is about. Recently, I was contacted by my lovely friend, Jenelle, to help spread the news about her first ever audiobook release, and today, my dearest of peasants, I’m finally able to do so!

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, children and the proverbial monsters beneath their beds……

KING’S WARRIOR IS NOW AN AUDIOBOOK!!

Excitement GIF

Y’all, I am so ridiculously excited for this. I’ve been wanting to dip my toes into the audiobook world for a LOOOOONG time now (hello, multitasking!), but I just … haven’t done it yet? But Jenelle recently released the first book in her Minstrel’s Song series as an audiobook, and GUYS. I AM SO SO EXCITED TO READ IT.

Or … listen to it? Eh, we don’t care about proper terminology ’round here. XD

Larry David No GIF by Curb Your Enthusiasm

Not gonna lie, there’s something about audiobooks that lowkey freaks me out. Not being able to read the story at my own pace, not being able to feel the pages beneath my fingers, not hearing the voices as I would have imagined them in my head … it’s all so strange to me, and I’ve only ever truly completed one audiobook in my life because of it. (it was The Giver and I am still emotionally scarred from that novel, folks.)

However, with that being said, Jenelle has said that she specifically wrote King’s Warrior–and the entire Minstrel’s Song series, I do believe–with the intent for it to be read aloud. And even just listening to the audible sample (link below!), I can honestly say I see what she means. The narration of this book literally whisks you away within seconds of hitting play. I’ve never experienced that with an audiobook before–it always felt more stilted than anything–so I’m extremely excited to continue listening to this book and–once I’m done–write a review for it! And I definitely cannot wait for the rest of the series to become audiobooks, as well. (the rest of the series is currently in the works to become audiobooks, and GUYS. THIS PLEASES ME GREATLY.)

But anyway! I think that’s quite enough rambling from me. Let’s take a peek at the actual story, shall we? XD

ABOUT THE BOOK

photo credit: Jenelle Schmidt <3

The hope of their world rests on the steel at his side….
Threat of invasion looms. Oraeyn dreams of glory on the battlefield.
Instead, he must engage in a battle of wills with a headstrong princess while ushering her to safety (and boredom) in a small village. But they must put aside their differences to save their homeland and complete the second part of their mission: seek out the legendary King’s Warrior to persuade him to take up arms once more.

When their journey leads them to the lost realm of the dragons they get
more adventure than either of them bargained for!

LISTEN TO A SAMPLE OF THE AUDIOBOOK!

Amazon
Audible

ABOUT THE NARRATOR

Benjamin Fife has always had a passion for learning. With a mind that
remembers all sorts of numbers and useless trivia, he regularly wins local
radio shows and enjoys confusing people with sci-fi quotes. Fife grew up in
Southeast Idaho. He attended college at Idaho State University, where he
met his future wife in their music theory class. They have been married nearly 20 years and now have six children and a whole menagerie of
animals.
 
When his oldest daughter was three or four years old they started reading
aloud from novels every night at bedtime, and have continued the tradition
ever since. The family loves exploring various worlds and topics through
Fife’s wonderful reading skills, which get better every year. They all have
his Christmas Carol voices memorized (and the older kids are known to
quote along with portions), since he has read it to them every December. 
 
Benny enjoys all kinds of sci-fi and fantasy – both books and shows, is an
extreme eclectic music lover, and prefers his chocolate to be of the 90%
cocoa variety. Above all, he loves to be with his family. He loves recording
audio books, and is delighted to tell people, “I’ve finally found what I want to be when I grow up!”

WEBSITE
LISTEN TO A SAMPLE OF KING’S WARRIOR

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jenelle first fell in love with stories through her father’s voice reading books
aloud each night. A relentless opener-of-doors in hopes of someday finding
a passage to Narnia, it was only natural that she soon began making up
fantastical realms of her own. Jenelle currently resides in the wintry tundra of Wisconsin —which she maintains is almost as good as Narnia — with
her knight-in-shining armor and their four hobbits. When she is not writing, she homeschools said hobbits and helps them along on their daily
adventures… which she says makes her a wizard.

WEBSITE
FACEBOOK
INSTAGRAM

>>> <<<

Well, I do believe that’s all I’ve got for today, but before I officially sign off, I just want to say a HUGE congratulations to Jenelle for the release of her first ever audiobook! I’ve said this before, and I’ll probably say it a million times more, but you are literally my fairy godmother when it comes to all things publishing, and I am so impossibly blessed to have you and your stories in my life! Thank you for sharing your beautiful imagination with the world. <333

>>> <<<

talk to me, peasants!

All right, folks! Let’s talk all things audiobooks! Do you listen to audiobooks often, or do you prefer to read physical copies of stories? If you’re an avid audiobook listener, what are some of your favorite audiobooks to read? And for all my Nano-ing friends out there, how is NaNoWriMo going for you? I am currently very behind on my goal, but my heart is happy and I’m actually managing to stay sort of on top of the many things Life has decided to throw my way, so I’m not too upset about it. XD

As always, let’s talk about ALL of the things down in the comments below, and until next time…

JANUARY WRAP UP — smol writing updates, Harry Potter, and other random life-ishness

good morning, cyberspace!

The first month of 2020 is over, and if I’m being completely honest, part of me feels like I was slightly jipped in the “New Year” department. On January 1st, I woke up with a cold. Then, just when I began to recover from that, I caught the flu.

Queue me sitting on the couch doing nothing for the next three days whilst feeling like death was about to come knocking on my door with his spindly, bony-white knuckles.

However, despite these minor setbacks in my health–which decidedly proved fatal to my productivity–the month of January was still, in it’s own strange, sick little way, a good month! So let’s talk about January!

Read More »

100 DAYS OF SUNLIGHT: A Smol and Soft and Summery Read

good morning, cyberspace!

Today I’m gonna tell you all about a book.

It’s a good book. A soft book. A book of sadness and happiness and a million other emotions all jumbled and stuffed between two adorable yellow covers. It’s a book that tugged at my heartstrings, a book that made me laugh, and–coincidentally–a book that was written by none other than the marvelous Abbie Emmons. (who, if you don’t know [though I’m gonna take a wild stab in the dark here and say that you PROOOOOBABLY know who she is by now] is a blogger and YouTuber–AND can apparently write absolutely fantastic novels, as well. Kind of unfair how much talent this girl has, but I digress.)

I think I should probably mention this now–since I don’t want to go to jail for forgetting to mention it or something–but I was able to receive an e-arc of Abbie’s book, 100 Days Of Sunlight, through Netgalley. (a service which I have coincidentally never before used, and therefore will probably never use again because #terrifying) This means that while I might have been able to read the ARC* of this book for free, my thoughts and opinions and feelings towards this book are COMPLETELY my own, and are in no way, shape, or form altered by the fact that A) I love Abbie’s blog and YouTube channel, and B) I got to read the book for free. Yes, there will probably be a lot of gushing and squealing and references to “MY HEART!!!!” but I mean??? How is that different from any other of my posts, am I right?

Right. So now that we’ve got all that weird legally binding stuff out of the way, let’s jump right into the actual review!Read More »

The Most Noteworthy Books of 2018!

good morning, cyberspace!

2018 truly was a lovely year. Not only did I get a ton of writing done (or rather, tried to get a lot of writing done??) but I also rejuvenated my love of reading! I mean, it happened more towards the end of the year, rather than the beginning, but I mean AT LEAST IT HAPPENED, AMIRIGHT?Read More »