Sunday, April 30, 2017

On Grad School, Life, and Anxiety.










As I write this my friend is editing (read: overhauling) my final thesis for grad school, and I have to do something to keep from staring at this Word document any longer. When I entered graduate school for my MA in Mass Communication a year and a half ago, I never would have believed you if you told me I'd end up where I am now. Which is a mess.

First, I've never wanted this blog to be my personal diary, as an anon account (for work reasons), I've always wanted it to just be about the books. That changed a few months after I started with my mom's sudden death, and then with each Top Ten Tuesday that went outside the realm of books, but I've kept it pretty level (at least I think I have). Second, I've always had anxiety, it ranges in severity, but has never been so intense that a long bath or talking it out hasn't been enough to help me step away from it (or so I thought, more on that later). And third, I hope this doesn't just go out into the void. I never know how many people are reading my blog posts (more of you interact with me on Twitter or Instagram), but I genuinely hope if you take the time to read this, you'll let me know.

We don't know how my mom died. I think that's a big part of it. We never found out. The official cause of death was a heart attack, but, we never looked into it because my dad didn't want to.

My anxiety has always been about death and dying, or loved ones dying, or me not being in control of something, and that resulting in their death (especially driving).

I have never felt like more of a failure than since I've been in graduate school. Impostor syndrome is very real, and it's happening. Coupling it with my extremely stressful job, this has been one of the most anxiety-inducing, soul-crushing experiences of my life.

My husband and I had been trying to conceive for almost four years. I'm on a whole host of medications to make this easier, and I've suffered more than one miscarriage. So, my hormones and body aren't without pressures of their own. (This is also why anxiety medication was off the table for so long.)

This has manifested itself into some Obsessive Compulsive Disorder tendencies, namely contamination OCD. This was compounded by a plumber spilling Drano on our kitchen counters, dishes, and floor about eight months ago. Ever since then, I've been a wreck about it. I wash my hands to the point that they crack and bleed, I throw away food, dishes, anything I think is contaminated or spoiled, and I cry and have panic attacks daily.

My husband witnessed approximately 80% of this behavior (my friends dealt with it a lot, usually by phone, especially the amazing friend that is currently editing my thesis). And he was over it. I mean, really, really over it. He would yell at me and get frustrated, a lot of what I needed was reassurance that something wasn't contaminated, and he wouldn't give me that. I love my husband, and I probably always will (again, more on this later), but he was not supportive of me coping with these issues.

In January I called to make an appointment with a counselor and a psychiatrist. The earliest I could get into either one was May. In March my husband came home to me in panic mode over some fruit I had purchased, and he told me he was done. Very calmly, actually. And I said that it would be better in May, once grad school was over, once my work calmed down, once I had time to really clean things, once I could get on meds, once I could talk to someone, once I could breathe.

And he said that was too far away. He said that it didn't matter. He told me he couldn't deal with the anxiety, and fear, and panic anymore. That he was done.

In the next few weeks I found out how done he was. He was done enough to have love notes in his truck. He was done enough that I saw him cuddling a girl in the parking lot of his work. He was done enough that he blocked me on social media, and doesn't respond to my texts.

So I moved out. More specifically, I moved my things to a friend's house. And all the while, I didn't cope with my anxiety, and I didn't work on homework. I didn't care. (Read: I still struggle to care.) I also starting working on divorce paperwork, because my husband asked me to.

So now I'm here, done with all my assignments except the thesis I have received three extensions on, and can't bear to write because my brain turns to mush because it's like a different person did that research and drew these connections.

On top of it all, my dad and brother have started having health problems. So everything seems trivial.

When all of this started I said to my friends, "I've been through worse. No one is dead. No one is dying. I have a job. I'm almost done with school. I have you guys." And I still feel that way a lot, but I also know that just because I've been through worse, and there are people out there with "bigger problems," it doesn't mean this isn't worth crying over.

In case you're wondering how the counseling went, the answer is not great. My counselor was kind of unprofessional and told me that I never should have married my husband anyway. That he's immature. I'm working on finding a new counselor.

Additionally, I've barely read more than ten pages in a fiction book since February. In the past few months I've stepped down from some volunteer gigs, and relinquished some responsibilities, and I've thrown around the idea of stepping away from blogging and deleting my accounts. But for now I just can't do that, I care too much about my ships and my #BookVerse, and you guys.

I'll let you know how the thesis turns out (if it turns out), and the psychiatrist. I'm asking you all to bear with me, to send me good vibes, and advice, and to understand that it goes beyond the books sometimes.

Thanks for listening. Back to editing, and homework, and trying to get better. And hopefully back to reading. <3







Wednesday, March 22, 2017

*COVER REVEAL* -- THAT INEVITABLE VICTORIAN THING BY E.K. JOHNSTON



First of all, my love for E.K. Johnston knows no bounds. I adore her cinematic and powerful writing, and I pre-ordered That Inevitable Victorian Thing as soon as it was available. You can read my spoiler-free review of her YA contemporary book Exit, Pursued by Bear HERE

Her books are also basically works of art. There is so much thought put into the cover design and incorporating gorgeous elements form the story. Anyway, the cover for That Inevitable Victorian Thing was released today, and it is even more stunning that I expected. 

First, here's a synopsis of the book from Goodreads: 

Set in a near-future world where the British Empire never fell and the United States never rose, That Inevitable Victorian Thing is a surprising, delightful, and thought-provoking novel of love, duty, and the small moments that can change people and the world.
Victoria-Margaret is the crown princess of the empire, a direct descendent of Victoria I, the queen who changed the course of history two centuries earlier. The imperial practice of genetically arranged matchmaking will soon guide Margaret into a politically advantageous marriage like her mother before her, but before she does her duty, she'll have one summer incognito in a far corner of empire. In Toronto, she meets Helena Marcus, daughter of one of the empire's greatest placement geneticists, and August Callaghan, the heir apparent to a powerful shipping firm currently besieged by American pirates. In a summer of high-society debutante balls, politically charged tea parties, and romantic country dances, Margaret, Helena, and August discover they share an unusual bond and maybe a one in a million chance to have what they want and to change the world in the process —just like the first Queen Victoria. 

I mean, WHAT?!?!! What more could you possibly need in a book? Nothing. That's the answer. Except a cover so beautiful you'll want to get it tattooed on your arm. It has that too!!

See: 





Read an excerpt: http://bit.ly/2nJGSdY
Add it on Goodreads: http://bit.ly/2nK0vT1

I can't want to read this. It's set to be released October 3rd. <3



Tuesday, January 17, 2017

MISCHIEF AND MAGNOLIAS COVER REVEAL + GIVEAWAY ANNOUNCEMENT!











It's no secret that MAGNOLIA by Kristi Cook is probably one of my favorite books I've ever read. It was exactly what I needed at the time I read it, and it means a lot to me on a sentimental level. So imagine my delight when I found out that there will be a follow-up novella! You guys, this is one of the highlights of my year, and I'm here with you to share the glorious novella cover. (The cover is at the very end, right before the Rafflecopter, if you want to scroll down and come back. But here's the Magnolia cover.)

I loved this book so much, and I like Kristi, so I went a little off-script with this cover reveal, but I'm just too pumped!!!

MISCHIEF AND MAGNOLIAS is set to be released two days after my birthday, which means that I know exactly what I'm doing two days after my birthday--reading this as soon as I can get my hands on it--that date is FEBRUARY 7 of this year.



Want to know more? I know you do, here's the blurb:

When Ryder Marsden and Jemma Cafferty return to Magnolia Branch for Christmas break following their first semester at their respective universities in New York City (Columbia and NYU), their secret relationship is revealed—they’re literally caught under the mistletoe, kissing. Unexpectedly, their parents—who’ve spent their entire lives pushing them together—are somehow less than thrilled, especially when they realize the depth of their deception.

Tensions mount as the Marsden and Cafferty families struggle to come to terms with Jemma’s and Ryder’s feelings for each other, especially as they prepare to send them back to New York City together. At the same time, Jemma and Ryder must face their own problems that have arisen as a result of attending different schools—there are jealousies to be sorted out and hurt feelings to mend if their relationship is going to stand the test of time.

Will their love last, or are they star-crossed lovers, after all? 

Oh. My. Goodness. I can't, I need to know everything! Who is jealous!? Is Jemma liking her classes? Is Ryder being possessive? Why are their parents suddenly terrible? How is Jemma's family doing after the events in MAGNOLIA!?! AHHHHH!! So many things!!

Is that enough? Just the blurb? Nope, I have a teaser for you! It's green, to represent my jealousy of anyone who has read this already.

---
Laura Grace nods and turns toward Ryder and me. “You two kids try and play nice for a little bit. Dinner’s in fifteen minutes—get yourselves cleaned up and to the dining room by then, okay?”
“Got it,” Ryder murmurs.
And off they go, leaving us totally and blissfully alone. 
Ryder sidles up beside me. “So, last night was nice,” he says, his breath warm against my ear.
Shivers race down my spine. “Yes, it was.”
“Think you can sneak out again tonight?”
“Probably. You know my parents—always in bed by ten.”
He runs a hand through his dark hair, leaving it sticking up in all directions. “How am I going to last until then? Sitting at the dinner table across from the prettiest girl in the world and not allowed to touch her?”
“Well, would you look at that…” I tip my head toward the doorway, where a sprig of mistletoe is conveniently hanging. “Should we risk it? Maybe if we’re really quick?”
His dark eyes spark with mischief, and I grab his hand and dash toward the door, dragging him with me as I position myself directly under the waxy green leaves.
“You sure like to live dangerously, Jemma Cafferty,” he says, wrapping his arms around me.
I rise up on tiptoe, my head tipped back as I gaze up at him adoringly. “Shut up and kiss me, Ryder Marsden.”
His kiss is gentle at first—almost tentative. But then…it’s like the room falls away and there’s nothing left, nothing but me and Ryder and this kiss that literally steals away my breath and turns my knees to Jell-O and my brain to mush.
And that’s pretty much when all hell breaks loose.
---
Oh. My. Goodness. (AGAIN!) I need it. I need this novella now. Can it be a full book that I just live in for the rest of my life?

I want to say one last thing before I get to the actual cover and giveaway, I love Kristi Cook. She is so sweet and kind, I interact with her a lot on social media, and while I'm participating in this as part of a promotional thing, I would have written an entire post about it anyway. Kristi is great, MAGNOLIA is great, and if I don't read HAVEN soon (which has been on my TBR pile for almost a year) I might scream. I need to get my act together. Here's what their covers look like (also, they're mostly on BookOutlet, so go, go, go!)




Here's a bit more about Kristi:

New York Times bestselling YA author Kristi Cook is a transplanted southern gal who lives in New York City with her husband and two kids. Her YA debut, HAVEN, was released in Feb. 2011 by Simon Pulse. The last two volumes in the Winterhaven series, MIRAGE and ETERNAL, followed in 2012 and 2013. Her first contemporary, southern-set YA, MAGNOLIA, was released in 2014. She's currently working on a contemporary YA with paranormal elements set in Savannah, GA. 

Kristi also writes adult romantic fiction as Kristina Cook and Kristi Astor.
Find Kristi on...




---

OK! IT'S TIME!!! Here is the cover of 
MISCHIEF AND MAGNOLIAS!!!!! 

I need it poster size immediately, but not as badly as I need the story! 

---



  • This giveaway is open international
  • Winner will be chosen via rafflecopter
  • An email will be sent to the winner. 
  • Winner has 24 hours to claim book or a new winner will be chosen






Sunday, January 1, 2017

2017 Resolutions








10. Eat healthier, be healthier.

My husband and I did the Whole30 challenge in 2016, and I enjoyed it. I was also diagnosed with a pretty severe gluten allergy. I’d like to make better choices. I did give up soda (haven’t had one in four months) and have only been getting one pump lattes at Starbucks (grandes normally have four pumps of syrup). I want to continue these good choices.

9. Read at least one Great Stack book a month.

If you follow me on Instagram or Twitter, you know that I recently sat down (for a few weeks time) and compiled a database of all the books on The Great Stack (my name for my TBR pile, that used to be two bookshelves double stacked, and has now started overflowing to the floor in front of it.) I’ll insert a picture of it. Anyway, the total number of books (AFTER I unhauled about 100) was 757 – this does not account for the books I need to add/am waiting on from post-Christmas gift cards, gifts, and sales.

I want to make a dent in this, regardless of pressure to focus on new releases.

8. Read at least three classic books.

I wanted to read more classics in 2016, and I read one. So, I’m setting a real goal. I want to read three classics. I’ve been buying gorgeous versions of them, and I need to read them.

7. Practice self-care/learn to manage stress.

I need to learn to pause, relax, and know when I’m under stress. Work and grad school and family stuff, and other things have made for an insanely stressful year. I want to recognize that I need fifteen minutes alone to think, or to take a hot shower, or just stand outside with a cup of tea for a few minutes.

6. I cannot buy a new book unless I have read at least 5 books since my last purchase.

I’m stealing this from Laniey at GingerReadsLainey because I think it’s a good system, especially with my desire to make a dent in my TBR.

5. Read at least 50 books.

50 books was my goal for 2016, and I read 72. I’ll only be in school (*knock on wood*) for half of the year, so it shouldn’t be difficult. I want to focus more on reading good books, and savoring them, rather than the total number. So slowing down from the 136 books I read in 2015 will be good.

4. Graduate from graduate school.

This month should be the start of my last semester, and I honestly can’t wait for it to be over. This has been one of the most stressful experiences I’ve gone through, and I’m hoping it’s worth it.

3. Post a blog post at least once a week.

I’ve been really, really slacking on blogging, which sucks because August of this year will be my 3rd year blog-iversary, so I’d like to do it right.

2. Read at least 15 minutes a day.

No matter what, whether that be a physical book for hours, or reading a few pages on my Kindle app while cooking dinner, I want to read every day.

1.     Be the best me (wife, sister, daughter, aunt) I can be.


Pretty self-explanatory—I want to strengthen myself and my relationships.





Friday, December 30, 2016

2017 Broke & Bookish End of the Year Book Survey!



Number Of Books You Read: 72, my goal was 50, so, go me!


Number of Re-Reads: 1! I actually re-read a book! The Bell Jar, because the anniversary edition came out and the audiobook was narrated by Maggie Gyllenhaal. 


Genre You Read The Most From: YA Supernatural


best-YA-books-2014

1. Best Book You Read In 2016? 

SALT TO THE SEA BY RUTA SEPETYS

2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?

 THE GLITTERING COURT BY RICHELLE MEAD

 3. Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read?  

 TELL ME THREE THINGS BY JULIE BUXBAUM

 4. Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did)?

 FALLING KINGDOMS, ET AL BY MORGAN RHODES. I convinced at least 5 people to devour this series this year, and at least one of them has convinced two more people. 

 5. Best series you started in 2016? Best Sequel of 2016? Best Series Ender of 2016?

 STARTED: LADY MIDNIGHT BY CASSANDRA CLARE
SEQUEL: WALK THE EDGE BY KATIE MCGARRY
ENDER: MOSAIC BY SARAH FINE

 6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2016?

 RUTA SEPETYS

7. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?

 MARKED/SERVANTS OF FATE SERIES BY SARAH FINE

 8. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?

 CRYSTAL STORM BY MORGAN RHODES

 9. Book You Read In 2016 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?

 ASKING FOR IT BY LOUISE O'NEILL

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2016?

 FIRST LIFE BY GENA SHOWALTER
11. Most memorable character of 2016?
 Asa Ward from THE RELIQUARY SERIES BY SARAH FINE

12. Most beautifully written book read in 2016?

   BETWEEN SHADES OF GREY BY RUTA SEPETYS

13. Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2016?

 ASKING FOR IT BY LOUISE O'NEILL

 14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2016 to finally read? 

PERCY JACKSON AND THE LIGHTNING THIEF BY RICK RIORDEN 

 15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2016? 



16.Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2016?

 Not including graphic novels/novellas, Shortest: GONE WILD BY JODI LUNDGREN
Longest: EMPIRE OF STORMS BY SARAH J. MAAS

 17. Book That Shocked You The Most

BURNING BY DANIELLE ROLLINS

18. OTP OF THE YEAR (you will go down with this ship!)

CLEO AND MAGNUS FROM FALLING KINGDOMS BY MORGAN RHODES

19. Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year



20. Favorite Book You Read in 2016 From An Author You’ve Read Previously

 STARFLIGHT BY MELISSA LANDERS 

21. Best Book You Read In 2016 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure:

BETWEEN SHADES OF GREY BY RUTA SEPETYS 

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2016?

 ASA WARD FROM THE RELIQUARY SERIES BY SARAH FINE

23. Best 2016 debut you read?

No answer. 

24. Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year?

 CROOKED KINGDOM BY LEIGH BARDUGO

25. Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read?

SCRAPPY LITTLE NOBODY BY ANNA KENDRICK 

26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2016?

TELL ME THREE THINGS BY JULIE BUXBAUM


27. Hidden Gem Of The Year?

 ASKING FOR IT BY LOUISE O'NEILL 

28. Book That Crushed Your Soul?

CRYSTAL STORM BY MORGAN RHODES

29. Most Unique Book You Read In 2016?

RELIQUARY BY SARAH FINE 

30. Book That Made You The Most Mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)?

EMPIRE OF STORMS BY SARAH J. MAAS (because of a lack of continuity) 

book-blogging

1. New favorite book blog you discovered in 2016?

 Editing to BookTuber, and I'm saying ChelseaDolling Reads 

2. Favorite review that you wrote in 2016?


3. Best discussion/non-review post you had on your blog?

I didn't really do any discussion posts, this will have to be a 2017 goal. 

4. Best event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events, memes, etc.)?

Grad school ate all my time this year. 

5. Best moment of bookish/blogging life in 2016?

Hitting 1000 followers on Twitter. 

6. Most challenging thing about blogging or your reading life this year?

I feel like I struggle to get people to comment on my posts, but it's ok, I know you're reading. :)

7. Most Popular Post This Year On Your Blog (whether it be by comments or views)?

8. Post You Wished Got A Little More Love?

9. Best bookish discover (book related sites, book stores, etc.)?


10.  Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year?

Nope. I'm the worst.

looking-ahead-books-2015

1. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2016 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2017?

Gemina by Aime Kaufman and Jay Kristof

2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2017 (non-debut)?

The final book in the Falling Kingdoms series by Morgan Rhodes

3. 2017 Debut You Are Most Anticipating?

Frostblood by Elly Blake

 4. Series Ending/A Sequel You Are Most Anticipating in 2017?

FALLING KINGDOMS

5. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging Life In 2017?

At least 4 reviews a month