Books · Life · Television

The latest in nerdy COVID fashion

In my last couple of posts I mentioned some of the things I’ve been doing to help pass the time during quarantine. Since then I have found another new hobby: making masks. It’s practically impossible to find disposable masks anywhere unless you’re a healthcare or food service worker so I made a couple of my own for those times where I am forced to be in public. Luckily I already had lots of fun fabrics on hand for this project!

Check out my Avengers and Explodng TARDIS masks!

In addition to creating masks, I’ve been working my way through a couple of books. I just finished Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows last week. (Yes, I read it again. Stop judging me!) This week I’m reading Empire of Sand, which has been fantastic so far.

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I also finished binge-watching Marvel’s Runaways. Even though the last season wasn’t quite as good as the first two, I still really enjoyed this show. I wish it hadn’t been cancelled already. I guess I’ll have to go re-read some of the comics to hold me over.

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Did you watch Runaways yet (It’s available on Disney +)? Let me know what you thought!

 

Life · mental health

Life in the Time of COVID: A Timeline

7:30 a.m: Wakes up and makes oatmeal and tea for breakfast.

8:00 a.m: Makes a half-assed attempt to feel like a person. Puts on clean-ish clothing. Sorta does hair and makeup, in case I have any Zoom meetings.

8:30 a.m: Signs on to computer to check in with work. Notes that it’s going to be a long fucking day.

9:30 a.m: Has a cupcake for second breakfast. Is this a good or bad start to the day? Does it even matter?

10:00 a.m: Joins conference call. Pretends life is going swimmingly and that I am not ready to tear my hair out. Already thinking about what to have for lunch.

11:00 a.m: Prepares/heats up lunch. Does a mini photo shoot of lunch for Instagram. Spends 10 minutes editing photos to post on Instagram while eating.

11:30 a.m: Tries to get more work done. Cries in frustration because it’s only 11:30.

12:00 p.m: Takes a short walk outside to stretch legs. Contemplates running away but there is nowhere to fucking go.

12:30 p.m: Watches the cat stare out the window for 5 minutes. Cat eventually realizes I’m creeping on him and leaves.

12:35 p.m: Makes work phone calls. Explains for the umpteenth time how remote access works and how to download the Zoom app to multiple people.

1:15 p.m: Pounds head on wall.

1:30 p.m: Makes tea and a snack even though I’m not hungry.

3:30 p.m: Cat farts on the forms I brought home, signaling that it is time to give up on working for the day.

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4:00 p.m: Does a yoga video because it’s one of the few things keeping me sane.

5:00 p.m: Makes dinner.

6:00 p.m: Takes walk with Boyfriend around the neighborhood. Laments over the fact that there are a lot of dogs outside, but I can’t pet them because I need to stay away from their owners. Life is not fair. 😦

6:30 p.m: Tries to coax the rabbit in the yard to play with me. Rabbit runs away, so I give up and go inside to play Zelda.

8:00 p.m: Reminds Boyfriend for the 300th time that I’m bored. Eats more food.

8:30 p.m: Showers and gets ready for bed.

8:45 p.m: Reads and/or stares at phone in bed, wishing that sleep would just come already because I’m fucking bored and don’t want to be awake anymore.

*Tosses and turns all night*

 

That’s it in a nutshell. There’s been a lot of cooking/baking, video games, and frustration at our house. I imagine things aren’t terribly different for the rest of you. It’s a rough time for everyone in general, especially people who struggle with mental health issues, like depression and anxiety. I came across an article earlier that I found pretty helpful, so I’m going to link it here for anyone who might want to check it out.

What have you guys been doing to keep yourselves busy? Whatever it is, I hope you’re all safe and healthy. ❤

 

Life

Isolation Update

Yesterday I sprained my toe and today I accidentally dyed my hands purple. How’s your self-isolation going?

I’ve been thinking of something to post for days, but with all that’s going on in the world right now it’s hard to even know what to say. So I’m not going to. You’re all aware of COVID-19 already and are being affected by it without another reminder from me.

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I hope you’ve all been finding ways to stay sane and healthy during this crazy time. I’m hanging in there, although I confess that I’m getting a tad cranky about being stuck in the house so much. I’m a really weird introvert. I don’t necessarily like interacting with people and being social, but I can’t stand being cooped up either. (Hence the reason most of my out-of-the-house activities involve going to bookstores or drinking coffee somewhere. By myself.)

When I’m not working I’m trying to keep myself occupied with books, yoga, taking walks outside, and cooking up a storm. I also touched up the purple in my hair since I won’t be able to get it done for like another month. I wish I could say that I’ve been doing more writing and work on my book, but things have been at a standstill for a while now. *sigh* More on that later.

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For now, I’m just checking in. I just finished re-reading a couple of favorites to give me some comfort. Now that I’m done with those I’ll be starting on something new and will hopefully have some book reviews to share.

What are you guys reading at the moment? What other things are you doing while you’re stuck at home? 

Book Reviews · Books · Fantasy · Favorites

Book Review: Come Tumbling Down by Seanan McGuire

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My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

When Jack left Eleanor West’s School for Wayward Children she was carrying the body of her deliciously deranged sister–whom she had recently murdered in a fit of righteous justice–back to their home on the Moors.

But death in their adopted world isn’t always as permanent as it is here, and when Jack is herself carried back into the school, it becomes clear that something has happened to her. Something terrible. Something of which only the maddest of scientists could conceive. Something only her friends are equipped to help her overcome.

Eleanor West’s “No Quests” rule is about to be broken. Again.

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I was pretty excited when I heard this book was coming out and that we would be returning to the Moors – the setting we had been first introduced to in Down Among Sticks and BonesWhile I have immensely enjoyed all of the books in the Wayward Children series, I felt like the Moors was the one world that was still shrouded in the most mystery. Getting to go back and discover a little more of it was an absolute treat.

The tables have turned and Jack is no longer trying to save her sister, Jill. The complicated and strained relationship they already share is further explored in this book in a way that will make you question who you’re supposed to be rooting for. In addition to Jack, some familiar faces from Miss West’s school make a reappearance. Christopher, Sumi, Cora, and Kade once again jump into the role of playing the fearless heroes, even though it’s not their own worlds they are trying to save.

As always, McGuire does a spectacular job at immersing the reader in a world that is both beautiful and terrible. The concept of death is fleeting. Love knows no boundaries. And there is nothing that a little bit of lightening can’t fix. By the end, you’ll wonder if everything you thought you knew about “monsters” has been wrong.

 

 

Life · travel

Wizarding World of Harry Potter weekend!

I did it. I finally got my letter to Hogwarts. And by “got my letter” I mean I paid a bunch of money for tickets to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando. I’ve been a fan of the series for 20 years now and have been dying to visit the theme park ever since it opened. Let me just tell you, after years and years of waiting, it was everything I hoped it would be.

For my first day I got park-to-park passes, which allowed me to ride the Hogwarts express between the two theme parks. Walking thorough the brick wall and stumbling onto Diagon Alley was exactly like I always imagined it was in the books. It felt just like Harry’s first visit where he was simply in awe of everything and didn’t know where to look next. Standing there, looking at all the shops around me, with the sounds of the workers inside the Daily Prophet spilling out of the door next to me, children wearing their house robes and waving their wands, and seeing the dragon perched atop Gringotts in the distance, my eyes honestly got a little teary. The only thing missing was Hagrid.

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I spent my morning walking around Diagon Alley, checking out all the shops and amazing window displays. I heard the bird chirping from inside the vanishing cabinet at Borgin & Burkes, where I went to look at dark and dangerous artifacts. I chuckled at the U-No-Poo and Puking Pastilles display at Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes and watched a toy version of Delores Umbridge wheel overhead on a unicycle, shouting “I will have order.” I watched the wand ceremony at Ollivanders, spotted a Crumble-Horned Snorkack in the Magical Menagerie, and had an enchanted mirror tell me how lovely I was in Madame Malkin’s. I had my very first butterbeer (and butterbeer mustache) and ate lunch at The Leaky Cauldron. I also rode the Escape from Gringotts ride inside the bank, which was super cool! Every detail in the park was so spot on and true to the books that I was simply blown away.

Outside Diagon Alley were some other familiar sights. I caught a glimpse of Kreacher in the window at number 12 Grimmauld Place and took a look inside the Knight Bus before making my way over to Platform 9 3/4 in King’s Cross Station. The short train ride was a fun, mini ride (although the voice they used for Hermione sounded nothing like her), which brought us right into Hogsmeade station.

To be honest, I was slightly less impressed with Hogsmeade overall. It was cool to check out, but there was less to do there and less stuff to look at. I did pay a visit to Honeydukes while I was there though to buy some fun sweet treats to bring back to my hotel room. (I tried the exploding bon bons and peppermint toads.) Of course, the piece de resistance was a visit to Hogwarts castle. *squeeee* The ride inside Hogwarts was awesome (despite the fact that I got slightly motion sick, lol). I wish I could have gotten a video or some photos of the Quidditch pitch, the whomping willow, or the dementors for you guys. Just trust me that it was a fantastic ride. You’ll need to ride it yourselves some day if you can stomach it.

I went back to Diagon Alley my second day and revisited some of my favorite spots. I also decided to give butterbeer softserve a try…at 9 in the morning…because I can do whatever I want on vacation. 🙂 Honestly, I liked the butterbeer ice cream even more than the liquid version, which was a little too sweet for me.

I checked out a little bit of the rest of the Universal parks while I was there, but none of it was as special to me as the Wizarding World parts of the parks. I was exhausted and a little tired of people and lines by the time I went home Monday morning, but I loved every minute of my visit and can’t wait to go back someday.

Books · Fantasy · Favorites · Fiction

Favorite Books of 2019

Hello, friends! I hope you’re all surviving this holiday season. I know I’ve been on the quiet side lately, in terms of blogging, but I hope to get back in the swing of it next year. I guess I just haven’t had much to talk about lately. This time of year usually stresses me out quite a bit, so I tend to be a little more reserved. I don’t even have any new book reviews to share at the moment, as I’ve been rereading a few of the Harry Potter books in preparation for my upcoming trip to Wizarding World. (Omg, I can’t wait!)

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Since we’re about to start a new year, how about a little recap of my favorite books from 2019? As of right now, I’ve read 53 books out of my Goodreads  goal of 47 books. I’m hoping to finish up Half Blood Prince over the next couple of days and bring that number up to 54.

I read some fun books this year, but not too many of them blew me away. (Was I just being picky or did I just miss out on some good ones? I’m not sure.) In no particular order, here were a few at the top of the list:

 

What were your top books in 2019? Anything great that I missed out on and need to check out next year?

 

Books · Fantasy · Fiction · Young Adult

Book Review: The Queen of Nothing by Holly Black

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My Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

He will be destruction of the crown and the ruination of the throne.

Power is much easier to acquire than it is to hold onto. Jude learned this lesson when she released her control over the wicked king, Cardan, in exchange for immeasurable power.

Now as the exiled mortal Queen of Faerie, Jude is powerless and left reeling from Cardan’s betrayal. She bides her time determined to reclaim everything he took from her. Opportunity arrives in the form of her deceptive twin sister, Taryn, whose mortal life is in peril.

Jude must risk venturing back into the treacherous Faerie Court, and confront her lingering feelings for Cardan, if she wishes to save her sister. But Elfhame is not as she left it. War is brewing. As Jude slips deep within enemy lines she becomes ensnared in the conflict’s bloody politics.

More of a clash of Faerie and the mortal world in this book

After devouring the first two Folk of the Air books last year, I was dying to get my hands on the third and final installment. While I enjoyed reading this one, I have to admit that it did not suck me in the way the first two did.

The plot of The Queen of Nothing started off solid, but everything moved along too quickly and the pacing felt off. I suppose that this was due to the shorter length of this book. I did like the fact that the story intertwined the faerie world with the mortal world more than the first two books. I also liked that Jude’s sister, Vivian, became a more prominent character this time around. Sadly, despite being Jude’s twin, I always find Taryn a bit lackluster. Vivian is far more interesting and engaging than Taryn. (Sorry, Taryn.)

It was fun to experience Jude’s character development from book one to book three. I was surprised at how much less dark her personality was this time around, especially considering the events that happened at the end of book two. I felt like the author did a great job at weaving both Jude and Cardan’s personalities together into a very convincing, albeit bizarre, relationship.

The familiar plot twists and character betrayals that we’ve all come to know and love from Black’s books were present in The Queen of Nothing. I just wished there had been a little more meat the the story and a little more time to devote to some of the other characters.

Writing

Readers Wanted

I can’t believe it’s December already. While I am not normally a big fan of the holidays, this year I’m trying hard to get in the mood. Today was ugly sweater day at work, which is one of the few holiday traditions that I always appreciate.

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Now that NaNoWriMo is over I suppose I should start focusing on whatever comes next in terms of getting my book published. That means I need your help, lovely readers. I know that some of you regularly act as beta readers for other bloggers and authors. Well, now I guess it’s my turn to ask for your assistance. To be honest, I am terrified to let others read my work due to my own heavy self-criticism (I’m sure plenty of you can relate), but I know it’s an important step in the writing process, so I’m trying to push past it. Up to this point, I’ve only had a couple of people read my manuscript from start to finish. There have been others who offered to beta read for me but ended up not having enough time to finish the job. That’s why I am asking for a few beta readers who are committed to actually finishing my novel and are willing to provide constructive criticism and feedback.

Here’s what I’m looking for:

– Someone (preferably someone familiar with the fantasy and/or YA genres) willing to read my manuscript within a relatively short period (3-4 weeks). I know the holidays are coming up and that people get busy, so if you don’t think you will be able to finish reading the book within a month, please don’t volunteer.

-Feedback on various aspects of the book:

  • Does the story flow well?
  • Did you get bored while reading this?
  • Were there any major plot gaps?
  • Can you relate to the characters?
  • What did you like/dislike?

Please keep in mind, I am asking for your help because I value your opinions, so any other feedback you wish to provide will be welcome.

If you’d like to volunteer to be a beta reader for me, please leave me a comment (or send me a DM on Twitter).

Books · Writing

NaNoWriMo: We Did It!

As we’ve reached the final day of November, it’s time to say goodbye to another year of NaNoWriMo. How did everyone do this year? Did you meet your goals? Fall in love with your new project? I’d love to hear more about what some of you have achieved this month, whether it was what you initially intended or not.

I mentioned a few weeks ago that I was doing NaNoWriMo this year, but not in the most traditional sense. While lots of other people use NaNo as a motivator to rack up their word count, I used it as an excuse to push myself harder and to get more work done than I normally would. I didn’t count words or start a whole new project, but I did make further progress on my second book, started/finished some short stories, and read/edited book one in its entirety for the third time. Considering how long it took me to do the last two rounds of rereading, the fact that I did it again in about two weeks feels like a major victory for me.

So what’s next?

Obviously, I will continue to work on book two and my short stories. (Thank you to those of you who left comments on the teaser story I posted last week. Don’t worry, more will be coming soon. 😉 ) Now that I am done editing book one again, I feel like it’s time to get some more eyes on it – maybe some beta readers and, hopefully, a developmental editor. Then it’s time to potentially start pitching the book to some smaller publishing companies and see if anyone is interested. It still feels like I have a ton of work to do before this series is ever ready to be seen by the public, but I’m still pushing along.

Cheers to everyone who participated in NaNo this month. Whether you wrote 5,000 or 50,000 words, you should be proud of yourself for participating.

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Fantasy · Fiction · Short Stories · Writing

Parade of Lies

“The faeries are coming, the faeries are coming! Mommy, look! The faeries are coming.”

“I know, sweetheart.” Clarice Mayberry smiled sweetly at her daughter before taking a hearty swig from the flask hidden within the depths of her coat. Of course she knew about the faeries. It wasn’t like it had been Jenny’s idea to get up at the ass crack of dawn and take a train all the way to midtown just to see a couple of rubes wearing polyester wings. It had been her idea; she had only planted it in Jenny’s mind and used the poor girl as her excuse for getting up so early.

They’d only been waiting a quarter of an hour, but their fingers and noses had already turned red from the cold. Whoever thought it a good plan to host a parade in the middle of February was clearly a sadist or someone who just hated children. Or, rather, the parents of those children who’d been forced to escort them out to the streets of New York at eight a.m. on a Saturday.

“Mommy, can the faeries see us?” Jenny’s big blue eyes were rounder than usual, threatening to pop from her tiny porcelain face. She could hardly contain her excitement during the train ride. Her six year old mind could barely wrap itself around the fact that the characters from her favorite show were about to collide with her own reality. Clarice didn’t have the heart to tell her that the faeries about to parade down 43rd street weren’t even real.

“Of course they can see us, dear. Why shouldn’t they be able to?” she asked, but by the time the words came out, the girl had fixated her attention elsewhere. After another sip of “mommy juice” and a glance at her watch, Clarice finally relinquished her dignity and plopped down on the curb among the other chattering children.

People were beginning to pack in tightly on the sidewalks. Police and security guards paced back and forth along the street, keeping a close eye on the growing crowd, although none seemed particularly concerned that the group before them was the dangerous type. Clarice sniggered at the thought. Teens wearing brightly colored tutus and matching wigs tossed handfuls of free candy towards the spectators. Finally, at a quarter after nine, a man dressed in head-to-toe in blue came prancing up and down the street with a megaphone, announcing that the show was about to begin.

Clarice stood and took a tight hold of her daughter’s hand. Jenny bounced up and down on the heels of her feet with that crazed look in her eye that only a child intoxicated with copious amounts of sugar could possess. The ground beneath them pulsed with life as music blared from every direction. The children shrieked at the sudden appearance of hundreds of performers in leotards and cheaply made wings. They bounded down the street, waving impossibly long streamers, throwing confetti, and doing back flips over one another. Clarice’s stomach roiled at the sight of it all – at the “faeries” and the obnoxious theatrics. She still couldn’t fathom why the Cirque du Fae was so popular. Even as a television show, it was ghastly. She wished she could find the moron who created it and wrap her pretty little fingers around their neck. Yet, despite her disdain for the popular program, she showed up year after year to observe the annual parade celebrating all things faerie.

A woman with wings painted to look like a monarch butterfly’s came right up to Jenny and handed her a plastic flower from the basket slung over her arm. “Look, Mommy! I got a flower,” she waved the cheap decoration wildly in front of her mother’s face.

But Clarice was hardly paying her any mind. “That’s great, honey,” she muttered, keeping her eyes fixed on the throng around them. She craned her neck to scan the faces behind her, her brow knit in deep concentration. It was impossible to see properly, however, with candy and confetti constantly pelting her in the head. She squeezed herself closer to the barrier blocking the crowd and stared into the faces of every performer that passed, but they were all far too young.

“They have to be here,” she muttered. Forty-five minutes had passed already, meaning she was nearly out of time. “Come on, come on.” Her foot tapped nervously without her realizing. To anyone else, she simply looked like she was moving in time with the music.

“Ladies and gentleman. Children and faeries of all ages.” The echoing voice boomed from the loudspeaker from every direction. Clarice could hardly imagine just how much the tenants of the surrounding buildings must be enjoying the festivities at such an early hour. “Prepare yourselves for the grand finale!”

Within seconds a pink haze was creeping its way towards them, temporarily blocking view of the street and causing everyone’s eyes to water. “Oooh, it’s like the cotton candy clouds on the show!” Jenny declared. Clarice gripped the girl’s hand tighter to prevent her from wandering off and trying to taste the smoke to determine if it did, in fact, taste like cotton candy. Fortunately, the fog faded almost as quickly as it appeared, revealing the parade’s main attraction.

Jenny was rendered speechless as a giant castle rolled towards them, towering several stories high. The bottom portion of the float was designed to look like fluffy white clouds to give the illusion that the castle was flying among them. From each of the windows a faerie or other mythical creature popped its head out and waved. A clear platform jutted out over the crowd from halfway up the castle where a dozen dancers and acrobats performed tricks at once. Even Clarice, who had been doing her best to avoid the entire spectacle paused in her search to gaze up at the nerve wracking display. A female performer, the star of the show, came out and sent the children into a wild frenzy. With a graceful bow she opened her arms wide and revealed the papery wings that attached from her shoulders to her wrist. She looked more like a bat than a faerie, Clarice thought, just as the young woman dove head first from the platform and did a flip in the air.

Suddenly, an ear-piercing scream cut through the air, drowning out the music and laughter surrounding them. Clarice’s head whipped up towards one of the balconies overlooking the parade, where a man and a woman were engaged in a performance of their own. No, not a woman, Clarice observed. A faerie. Not a faerie like the imposters in the parade, but a real faerie. At first glance, she hardly recognized the female up on the balcony. Her appearance had changed a great deal since they’d last seen each other – her hair, once long and lush, had been cut to her chin and had thinned considerably. Everything about her was haggard and covered in filth. Even the large flesh-colored wings that protruded from her back looked like they had seen better days. Clarice’s hand covered her mouth as she watched the dark haired man struggle to restrain the faerie and pull her back through the window from which she came. Even from street level, she could see the fierce blue of the pendant around the man’s neck, bright and mocking her.

The next scream came from Clarice’s own mouth as she let go of Jenny’s hand and pushed her way through the thick crowd, through the candy, glitter, and bullshit. “NOOOOO!” she screeched as the female on the balcony finally freed herself of the man and took a flying leap off the balcony and towards the shocked crowd and the sidewalk below.

“Not again,” Clarice cried. Once again, she was too late.