all about samhain

So this week is a really exciting week for many reasons, and one of them is that it is one of the best witch sabbats, Samhain! This holiday is more commonly known as Halloween in mainstream culture, but witches and pagans celebrate it as Samhain. It is celebrated on October 31.

Here is some info on the holiday of Samhain:

🧡 Basic info: Takes place October 31. It is the time when the veil between the worlds of the living and the dead is the thinnest. Pagans and Wiccans also refer to these worlds as the “physical world” and the “spirit world.” It signifies the death of the lighter part of the year and the transition to the darker time of the year.

🍁 Things to contemplate: The thinning of the veil between the worlds is the perfect time to think of your ancestors and those who have come before you. It is a perfect time to honor those who have passed and their spirits. Because this holiday signifies the end of the light part of the year, this makes Samhain a good time to reflect on the parts of your life that are ending and how you would like to proceed moving forward.

🎃 Corresponding herbs: Rosemary is a perfect herb for Samhain spells because it serves as a memory aid, and Samhain is about remembering those who have come before you. Sage is also good because it purifies and cleanses. Pumpkins are also significant to Samhain because their presence can help ward off against evil spirits.

🍂 What to do: Because of the thinning of the veil between worlds, Samhain is a perfect time for divination activities, so it’s great for using tarot cards. Therefore, it’s also a good time for any activities that involve scrying or runes, depending on which divination tool you prefer. It’s also a good time to honor ancestors. You can do this by lighting candles, leaving small offerings, going to a graveyard and cleaning unattended graves, etc.

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the artist’s way: week 4 check in

For those who don’t know, the Artist’s Way is a course developed by creative Julia Cameron to restore your creativity. My goal with this course is to feel more comfortable being creative.

This week, I’m going to go straight into the check-in questions:

  1. How many days this week did you do your morning pages? How was the experience for you?

I did the morning pages every day but one, I think. I think one day I overslept and went straight to an appointment instead of doing them. The morning pages are becoming a very soothing activity even though I’m realizing a lot of things about myself through them that is making me uncomfortable.

2. Did you do your artist date this week? What did you do? How did it feel?

I did do my artist date this week, and I actually went out for it. I went to Target to get some hangers for my closet, but ended up buying two books and also a stuffed animal called a squishmallow that is indeed very squishy. It was really nice to let myself buy something silly that was just for my own pleasure and joy and comfort. Money can’t buy happiness, but it can buy a squishmallow!

3. Did you experience any synchronicity this week? What was it?

I did not.

4. Were there any other issues significant to your recovery that appeared this week? Describe them.

Honestly, I’m starting to realize that maybe for now, writing isn’t what I want to do to be creative. I went into The Artist’s Way expecting that it would make me want to write again, but in reality, I’m realizing I want a break from forcing myself to try to write when I’m not ready, and do something else that’s creative. This week, I started exploring the idea of starting a booktube and learning ukulele and songwriting again, because both of those things sound more fun than writing to me right now. I feel a little guilty and as though I’m giving up on writing, but if it’s not what I want to do to be creative right now and this is a course about finding your own creativity, then there’s no point in continuing to force myself to try to do it just to make myself feel bad when I can’t make myself write. I still want to do something creative in my free time, but maybe I can open myself up to the possibility of doing things other than writing that will make me just as happy or happier.

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the fall bucket list tag

I was tagged by the ever lovely Caro to do the Fall Bucket List Tag, which I’m super excited about because I love fall and I love doing tags! Woohoo!

Here are the tag rules:

  • Link back to the original creator in your post.
  • Feel free to use any of the creator’s graphics in your post, or create your own!
  • Tag 7 other people at the end of your post, and let them know you’ve tagged them.

 

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I was going to pick TO ALL THE BOYS I’VE LOVED BEFORE for this one, but it fits another prompt on this list, so I decided to go with WHEN DIMPLE MET RISHI instead. This book is about a Desi girl and boy whose parents set them up when they go to a tech summer camp. The funny part is that the boy knows they set them up but the girl does not, which results in one of the most hilarious meet cutes in all of YA. I loved DIMPLE so freaking much, and also really enjoyed its companion, THERE’S SOMETHING ABOUT SWEETIE, and can’t wait for another companion, 10 THINGS I HATE ABOUT PINKY. If you haven’t read Sandhya Menon’s books, you are SERIOUSLY missing out and need to get thee to a bookstore (or your local library!!)

 

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For this one I’m picking ILLUMINAE. ILLUMINAE is still so hyped, even years after its original publication, which is pretty impressive. This space YA in a quirky format seems to have a lot of staying power, and I’m super embarrassed I have yet to actually finish it. I’ve started it quite a few times, but always get bogged down by something in it. Oh well, maybe someday I’ll finish it.

 

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The first book that came to my mind for this tag is Jen Wilde’s book, THE BRIGHTSIDERS. There’s definitely romance in this book also, but for most of the book, the focus is on the deep friendships that Emmy has with her fellow bandmates and others and how they help and support her through hard times.

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Weirdly, the book that popped into my mind for this one was CARAVAL by Stephanie Garber. It’s not a warm and fuzzy book, necessarily, and it’s about a mysterious game that involves a lot of deception. I read it when I got snowed in with some new friends, and that memory makes it a warm and fuzzy book for me.

 

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Obviously for this book I had to pick the most talented baker in YA, Lara Jean from TATBILB. Throughout the series, Lara Jean bakes a ridiculous amount of things, and in the last book, ALWAYS AND FOREVER, LARA JEAN, she spends at least half the book trying to perfect her chocolate chip cookie recipe. I would love to have Lara Jean bake for me, or bake with Lara Jean.

 

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I think I literally screamed for joy when THE HEIR, the first book in the duology after THE SELECTION was announced. Usually, I’m not a fan of when a series ends or there’s only a single book and then more of the series or another book is announced after the fact, sometimes many years later. But I loved THE SELECTION so much that I was thrilled to hear the story would be continuing, even if it was about different characters.

 

I tag…whoever wants to do this tag!

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the sunday post // 10-27-19

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Caffeinated Book Reviewer. It’s a chance to share news about the past week, reading recaps, hauls, and more.

 

weekly happenings

  • I went out a few times and it wasn’t horrible. I’ve been having a really hard time leaving the house for the past couple of months because of my anxiety, but I’ve found a couple of places that I feel comfortable going to and even enjoy going to.
  • I posted my first Booktube video! It’s my TBR for witchathon in booktube form. Who knows if I’ll stick with booktube, but making the video was surprisingly fun and I actually really enjoyed doing it. See the video here.
  • I tweeted about being excited for the albums from King Princess and Tessa Violet and…Tessa Violet liked my tweet! I feel kinda weird when this happens (i. e. tweeting about a person and then they like the tweet) but also she’s very nonthreatening and adorable and I was kinda flattered, lol.

 

last week on the blog

 

next week on the blog

  • artist’s way week 4
  • all about Samhain
  • how I’m celebrating Samhain

 

currently reading

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I’m currently reading Rena Rossner’s Jewish fantasy, THE SISTERS OF THE WINTER WOOD, and OMG, friends, I freaking LOVE this book. It’s written in such a unique style, the story is unique and mysterious and atmospheric, and I super relate to Liba. If you haven’t read this book, you MUST pick it up (especially because I need people to gush to about it!!) Please get thee to a bookstore and buy this amazing book!

 

book haul

  • light spells for dark times
  • ninth house
  • calm the f*** down
  • now entering addamsville
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positivity check-in || 10-26-19

This is a new feature I’m experimenting with. I don’t know if I’ll keep posting them or if I’ll just keep them for myself in my journal, but I wanted to share it as a feature because I’ve been writing a whole lot about my struggles with depression on here and wanted to share some of the coping strategies I’ve been learning and using in the hopes that it might help someone else.

The positivity check-in is a semi-daily think I’m trying to do where I basically write some positive things that happened that made me smile. It’s kind of like a gratitude log, but more general. Some people really like gratitude logs, but I’ve always had trouble with that, so I decided to make my own spin on it and create the Positivity Check-In.

Here is a collection of positive things that happened this past week:

 

Kesha announced a new album

It’s coming out in January 2020 and is called High Road. In her trailer for it, she talks about how with RAINBOW, which was the first album of hers I ever listened to, she had more serious things to deal with in the music, and now she’s back to making joyful party music, basically. Honestly though, after RAINBOW, I am here for anything Kesha puts out. I find her so relatable and inspirational and I just want her to be happy and supported and to put out killer happy music.

I got to the disastrous restaurant wars episode in my rewatch of season 10 of Top Chef.

This is one of my favorite Top Chef seasons, and this season’s Restaurant Wars episode goes extra terribly for all the chefs. FYI, in the restaurant wars episodes, the top 8 contestants split into 2 teams to build a restaurant concept from the ground up and go to service in 24 hours. It is the most stressful episode for the competitors and the most exciting episode for viewers, lol, we’re all sadists.

My mom bought me a ukulele.

As I wrote in my recent Things I Want to Do post, I really want to catch up to my mom and learn ukulele. She offered to buy me one so we can play together over FaceTime and when she comes to see me. It was such a sweet gesture and I just appreciate it so much, and I’m psyched to finally try playing ukulele, which I’ve actually been wanting to learn for a super long time.

King Princess & Tessa Violet both released full-length albums.

Both these artists have released singles and EPs that I’ve really liked, and I discovered they both came out with new albums last Friday. I’ve been listening to both nonstop and they’re excellent.

I discovered I like annotating while I read.

I have been meaning to try annotating while reading for a while because I’ve been curious about the idea of doing it for fun and not just for school, and when I started reading THE SISTERS OF THE WINTER WOOD recently, I found I had a lot to make note of and have just been having so much fun reading this way. I’m more engaged with the text and it’s fun to work out my thoughts about the story this way.

Witchathon is this week!

Technically, it started October 24. It also coincides with Dewey’s 24-Hour Readathon, which I always attempt to do and fail to do. But I was super psyched for Witchathon and have a lot of great reads planned. Check out my TBR for the readathon here.

The cover of 10 Things I Hate About Pinky was revealed!!!!!

And it is GORGEOUS. I think other than the DIMPLE cover, this might be my favorite Sandhya Menon cover. I love Pinky’s multicolored hair and her gorgeous smile; looking at these book covers makes me feel so joyful and I’m so happy that they exist. I’m so psyched for this book because I loved Pinky and Samir in SWEETIE and I just…I need this book ASAP, please!!

 

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witchathon tbr

Hi friends! Today I’ll be sharing my slightly belated TBR for Witchathon! Witchathon takes place from October 24-31, and is hosted by Rhiannon of Crescent Moon Reads on booktube. They do witchathon four times a year for different witch sabbats, or celebrations, on the Wheel of the Year (maybe I should do a post on this??) and this one is for Samhain, which I can’t pronounce, and is more commonly known as Halloween.

Here are the prompts and books I hope to read for this readathon. I have books planned for the first three of six prompts, plus possibly the group read, but I’ll still share the other two prompts that I’m not planning on reading for. I’d like to read at least two books, plus I know I’m going to be reading another book during the challenge that isn’t for the challenge. Anyway, here’s what I’m planning on reading during witchathon:

 

a book that celebrates your heritage

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I found this one hard to come up with because I didn’t know of a lot of books dealing with Judaism. I chose to focus on my Jewish heritage because it was probably the easiest to find a book about, plus I’ve had THE SISTERS OF THE WINTER WOOD on my TBR for forever. This book is about two sisters living in a remote village who rely on each other, and discover their father can transform into a bear before their parents leave. While they’re gone, a mysterious group of men appears and one of the sisters falls under their spell, and darkness from the surrounding woods and world start to close in.

 

a book about communing with the dead

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I decided to go with ALL THE STARS AND TEETH for this one because it’s about a girl who is the master of souls, which sounds pretty communing-with-the-dead-y to me. Apparently this book also has to do with oceans and pirates and I am very very here for that because of how much I loved books like SEA WITCH and TO KILL A KINGDOM.

 

a book that is dark and twisted

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YASS YAAAASSSSSSS YASSSSSSSSSSSSSS I get to use NINTH HOUSE for this readathon!!! I’ve been meaning to read NINTH HOUSE since I got my eARC of it but keep waiting for perfect reading conditions because I want my reading experience to be perfect, and what better plan than reading it during witchathon? I also realized I could use it for the communing with the dead prompt because Alex, the MC, can see ghosts.

 

other prompts

The other prompts for the witchathon are as follows:

  • a book that involves gods/goddesses (this should have been very easy to come up with for YA books, but I don’t think I actually have any on my TBR and I just didn’t feel like forcing myself to read something I wasn’t really interested in at this time)
  • a book with fire on the cover
  • group read: gideon the ninth

 

are you participating in witchathon? have you read any of the books on my readathon tbr?

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tarot reading: house of salt and sorrows

Today’s tarot reading is for a book I read a couple months ago, HOUSE OF SALT AND SORROWS by Erin A. Craig. I did a short reading on my Instagram a while ago and promised to expand upon it on the blog and never did, so I guess it’s time I remedy that! Usually when I do a tarot reading for a book, I post it before I read or finish it, but this time, I’m going to include the original reading and also whether it was accurate! Without further ado, here’s the tarot reading for HOUSE OF SALT AND SORROWS:

 

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the lovers

The question I asked the cards was whether I’d end up liking the book. At the time I asked, I was debating DNFing the book because the writing was very slow and the MC was a bit lackluster. When I drew the lovers, I decided to keep reading, because while the lovers can be a card about relationships, it can also indicate that you are making a choice for something you know is meant for you. The lovers can represent a person or a passion, so it is a positive card to get. This led me to believe I should keep reading the book.

 

was it accurate?

Unfortunately, it was not. There were times when I liked the book. For instance, I loved the setting and the manor and Verity, one of the MC’s little sisters, but unfortunately, the story really fell flat for me. Annaleigh, the main character, had next to no personality, and honestly I kept forgetting it was narrated in first person because she was so dull and weirdly not part of the story? She just didn’t seem to have a pivotal role that really changed the story in any way. Also BARF to the romance. Annaleigh fell for the first man outside her family/family friends that she met, and they had ZERO chemistry. I did not feel the romance at all. Also, the big reveal to who was behind the curse didn’t have enough build up, but I still guessed who it was very early on. Also, the story was painfully slow at times and got extremely dull in too many places.

If you’re still interested in reading the book, here’s the synopsis from Goodreads:

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In a manor by the sea, twelve sisters are cursed.

Annaleigh lives a sheltered life at Highmoor, a manor by the sea, with her sisters, their father, and stepmother. Once they were twelve, but loneliness fills the grand halls now that four of the girls’ lives have been cut short. Each death was more tragic than the last—the plague, a plummeting fall, a drowning, a slippery plunge—and there are whispers throughout the surrounding villages that the family is cursed by the gods.

Disturbed by a series of ghostly visions, Annaleigh becomes increasingly suspicious that the deaths were no accidents. Her sisters have been sneaking out every night to attend glittering balls, dancing until dawn in silk gowns and shimmering slippers, and Annaleigh isn’t sure whether to try to stop them or to join their forbidden trysts. Because who—or what—are they really dancing with?

When Annaleigh’s involvement with a mysterious stranger who has secrets of his own intensifies, it’s a race to unravel the darkness that has fallen over her family—before it claims her next.

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2020 books to be psyched for

2020 is coming! And that means more good books. Is it too soon to hype 2020 releases? Methinks…no. So, here are some 2020 books you should all add to your TBR lists IMMEDIATELY!

  • You Should See Me in a Crown | Leah Johnson – Okay, so this book is QUEER and about a small-town black girl trying to win prom queen to get the scholarship that goes along with it, only she falls for her competition who is also running for prom queen. Does this book sound PERFECT? Yes. Do I NEED it? YES!!
  • House of Earth and Blood | Sarah J. Maas – Can we…just mention how CRESCENT CITY is written bigger than the actual title of the book and how confusing that is?? Okay, glad we got that out of the way. Even though the mating crap is ridiculous, I still love the ACOTAR books and have been dying for more SJM that’s not THRONE OF GLASS, because I’m not sure if I’d like that one or not. But this is about a half-fae, half human who sells illegal magical artifacts, and I’m HERE for it.
  • 10 Things I Hate About Pinky | Sandhya Menon – I just requested this on Edelweiss and I’m crossing everything I can in the hopes of getting approved. I LOVED the characters of Pinky and Samir in THERE’S SOMETHING ABOUT SWEETIE and shipped them so fervently and am dying to see a book about them.
  • The Kingdom of Back | Marie Lu – I’ve been dying to read this one since the deal was announced. It’s about Nannerl Mozart, and how she makes a deal with a demon in the hopes of being remembered forever for her own musical talent.

 

  • What I Like About You | Marisa Kanter – This is another one I’ve been excited for since the deal was announced. It’s about a famous book blogger who meets her online crush IRL, only she uses a pen name so he doesn’t know it’s her.
  • All the Stars and Teeth | Adalyn Grace – This book has islands and magic and an MC who is training to be the Master of Souls and pirates…it gives me dark ocean vibes, and we all know I love a good dark ocean book.
  • Yes No Maybe So | Becky Albertalli & Aisha Saeed – I would read this book no matter what it’s about because I still hold out hope for Becky Albertalli even though I didn’t like UPSIDE or LEAH. But this book is about politics and two teens who fall in love while doing some political canvassing and activism and seems so timely and I want it to be good so badly.

 

  • Felix Ever After | Kacen Calender – Kacen Calender’s 2020 release is about a trans teen who falls for his nemesis online while trying to get revenge??? I NEED IT????
  • The Night Country | Melissa Albert – This is the sequel to the amazing book THE HAZEL WOOD, and I cannot WAIT for it. I’m a bit freaked out because Flatiron said they were sending me a copy but it hasn’t gotten here yet and I don’t know if it’s lost and I’m flipping out a bit.
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things i want to do

I wrote a draft of this post about a year ago when I was feeling super down and depressed, and then ended up not posting it and keeping it for myself because I worried it was too personal. I’ve definitely been feeling down again, which is largely why I took a hiatus again, but writing my morning pages for The Artist’s Way and coming up with a more concrete treatment plan have been helping me feel a little hopeful, and I wanted to share this list of things I want to do in the hopes that maybe it will help someone who’s in a similar dark emotional place think of things they want to do that will make them want to keep on going. So, here’s a list of things I want to do:

  • Get a job I’m passionate about. I am liking the new librarian job better than the old one, and think I might like it even better if I was feeling better, but I’m still not sure if being a librarian is what I want to do for the rest of my life, and when I talked to an old coworker about it, she said I owe it to myself to find out, which I think is true.
  • Marry my bae. He is great. I feel like I should have more to say than that but honestly, “he is great” just about sums it up because…he is?? Like…idk I just really love him a lot?
  • Move to a bigger place. I’ve talked a lot on here about hating my apartment, one of the reasons being that it’s very small and it’s impossible to feel like I ever get alone time. Plus, the cats get the cat crazies a lot and don’t have enough room to run around so they tear everything up with their little clawpaws instead.
  • Work on my grimoire more. I definitely want to do more witchy stuff in general. I feel very connected to witchcraft for a lot of reasons. Carrying my crystals around has been more helpful to my mental health lately than almost anything else, and I love connecting with the witchy community online because everyone is so supportive.
  • Get a new car. My car is very old and beat up because it has seen a couple accidents on my watch, and I just hate looking at it and feeling guilty about them and also want a hybrid.
  • Learn ukulele. This one is actually kind of inspired by my mom, who retired this past year and decided she wanted to learn an instrument and is taking ukulele classes. I’ve always wanted to learn an instrument like ukulele or guitar to accompany myself while singing, and I feel like if my mom can do it, I can too! Plus, it would be fun to play together because music is something I’ve never been able to share in that way with her even though my family was always extremely supportive of my music, so it would be a fun way to connect.
  • Write a book. Eventually. I have so many ideas for books that I’m passionate and excited about, but am scared to write them for some reason.
  • Write poetry. Something I’m not scared to write is poetry, because with Instagram poetry there’s such a variety out there that people like. I know I can write like some of the poets I follow, and I enjoy writing it. I always feel inspired to write poetry when I read it, and I want to take my poetry somewhere someday.
  • Rescue all the cats. I just?? Love?? Cats so much? I already have two but I just want to save all the kitties and have kitties everywhere being happy and safe and loved and cared for.
  • Reach 1,000 blog followers. I’m almost at 500 followers, so almost halfway there! I never thought I’d even make that many followers and am excited to meet that. I milestone, and it seems possible now that I can reach even more people eventually. I know I shouldn’t attach social media stats to my self-worth and for the most part I don’t, but it would just be such a satisfying milestone to reach.
  • Change my name and pronouns. I really want to go by Mel in real life because it feels more me for a lot of reasons, including that it’s kind of gender neutral, and I want to use they/them pronouns. I feel very strongly that I am nonbinary, and I want to express it more in real life even though it’s kind of scary because I know I’ll have to be assertive and correct people a lot because I don’t present as masculine as I want to and look very feminine. *I wrote this post before I did this but I have started doing it YAY*
  • Experiment with YouTube. I’ve been staunchly avoiding Booktube for a long time, but lately I’ve been watching some booktubers I actually really like and find super inspiring, and kind of want to try my hand at it as well and see if it’s something I could be good at.
  • Feel more okay than not. Obviously, recovery is the ultimate goal for me. I just want to know what it feels like to have “okay” be my baseline emotion instead of “lowkey depressed.” I want to be able to let myself be happy and not feel like it’s all going to come crashing down. I want to have more okay days than bad days, and even be able to have a good day once in a while. I want more nuance in my emotions, and not just be below okay all the time.

On a semi-related note, I just want to thank everyone who’s reached out on this blog and on Twitter when I’ve written about my mental health struggles. Knowing that people see me and care about me even though they’ve never met me in real life (minus Kayli, we know each other in real life, lol) is just so comforting, and honestly even virtual hugs and encouragement are just so helpful. So thank you, and I hope to share some better news sometime soon.

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the sunday post // 10-20-19

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Caffeinated Book Reviewer. It’s a chance to share news about the past week, reading recaps, hauls, and more.

 

weekly happenings

  • I got a haircut. In totally random news. I decided to go Emma Watson with a Pixie Cut short, which also ended up getting rid of all the color in my hair so it is back to being my natural, super dark color. See my Twitter for pics. I really love it, even though I was worried it would make me feel boring. Cutting off all my hair (not that there was much of it to begin with but whatever) was weirdly freeing.
  • I started asking people to use my preferred name. Which is Mel, which I go by online already anyway. I feel like I’m in a weird limbo state because some people know I want to go by Mel but at work I’m still “Miss” and my given name. I feel kind of guilty about asking people to change my name, like I’m being selfish and a burden, even though I would never think that of someone else doing it. It’s just weird to get used to even though being called Mel does make me feel better than being called my old name

 

last week on the blog

 

next week on the blog

  • weekly goals?
  • artist’s way stuff
  • house of salt & sorrows tarot??
  • 2020 books to be psyched for
  • books I’m planning to read on leave

currently reading

I’m currently rereading AN EMBER IN THE ASHES, because I want to read up to A REAPER AT THE GATES while I’m on leave. I also can’t seem to concentrate on reading, so rereading seemed like a good compromise. I forgot how violent it is though??? Also, I’m reading Brenna Twohy’s poetry collection called SWALLOWTAIL and it’s super making me want to write poetry.

 

book haul

  • Mad, Bad, & Dangerous to Know – Samira Ahmed
  • Most Likely – Sarah Watson
  • Love is for Losers – Wibke Brueggeman
  • Camp – L. C. Rosen
  • No Judgements – Meg Cabot
  • Aphrodite Made Me Do It – Trista Mateer
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