Liebster Award

Hanne tagged me in this back in December, and I’m finally getting around to doing it–yay!

What is your favorite winter tradition?

I guess my favorite winter tradition is anything to do with Christmas–getting a tree, watching The Christmas Story on Christmas Eve, wrapping presents, etc. (It’s only mid-January but Christmas already feels like a dream, or a dream of a dream.) (Points to anyone who got that reference.)

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What is your favorite quote?

I have a ton of favorite quotes. Here are the ones that have made it to Post-It notes above my desk, which means they really mean a lot to me in this stage of life for one reason or another:

It’s time to take the world and make it your own.

I might be a dreamer, but it’s gotten me this far, and that is far enough for me.

You figure out what matters. And you do something about it.

Life is short, the world is wide, let’s make some memories.

You can do anything you want. You are bound by nothing.

One of these is from a TV show I love, one is from a musical I love, one is from a book series I love, and two are from movies I love. Again, bonus points if you recognize any of them!

What is the book you read most recently, and what did you think of it?

Currently I’m in the middle of I Am Malala (not sure why I haven’t read it before? It’s good). I’m also going to reread Anna and the French Kiss later today in one sitting, and do the same with Isla and the Happily Ever After tomorrow, and I’m so excited because I love both of those books so much.

What is your favorite board game?

This isn’t necessarily a board game–it’s a dice game–but I like Qwixx. I also played a fun game the other night called Hail Hydra, and I like Payday and any Harry Potter-themed board games.

What’s a name that you love but won’t ever use for your kids?

I love the name Linnea, but if I have biological kids (not planning on it) I’d want to give them names that are easy to pronounce and spell, just to make their lives easier. I might use it for a middle name, though. Something classic for a first name and something a little different for a middle name. I really like Caroline Linnea, Elisabeth Bethany, Elise Vivian, something like that.

If you could learn one physical activity and do extremely well at it, what would it be?

There are so many things I’d love to do, but my health problems hold me back from most of them. I would LOVE to compete on American Ninja Warrior, for instance.

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What is your favorite brand? (i.e., Forever 21, Nike, etc; not restricted only to clothing)

OrangeTheory Fitness has really good branding. Also, UPS has a weirdly impressive social media strategy, especially on LinkedIn.

Outside the work world, though (I’m trying to have a weekend, I promise), I love UnderArmour clothing.

What is your favorite trait in a friend?

Someone who’s loyal, funny, including, understanding, etc.

What is your secret talent?

Umm I don’t think I really have one? A lot of people who are in my life right now don’t know that I’m a classically trained pianist. I try not to bring it up. 😉

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If you could meet one person that’s currently alive, who would you meet?

There are SO MANY people I want to meet. A short list: Laura Osnes because she’s the loveliest, kindest, most amazing, most talented lady ever. (I keep waiting for the Broadway Princess Party to come to Atlanta.) Shawn Mendes because look at him. Miss Val, the UCLA gymnastics coach, because she’s just the best. Katie Davis, founder of Amazima. Cole Sprouse because I learn half a dozen new vocabulary words every time I listen to him talk. Danielle Fishel because who wouldn’t want to meet Topanga Matthews? Brigid Kemmerer, one of my new favorite authors (out of all these people, she’s probably the one I have the best chance of actually meeting someday). Also, I’d love to meet some of my blog friends in person, like Hanne or Sara. Hopefully that will happen someday too! (I totally did not answer this question haha)

What was your favorite moment of 2018?

The fifteen minutes I spent in the middle of the Alaskan mountains, running up and down hills covered with pink fireweed. In my opinion, it was the most beautiful place we visited in Alaska (probably the most beautiful place I’ve ever been), and I felt so joyful and free.

Image may contain: sky, plant, mountain, grass, tree, outdoor and nature

I was about to publish this and then I reread Hanne’s post and realized I’m also supposed to share 11 facts about myself. My mind is blanking but here goes…

  1. I listen to literally all music genres except country and 80s
  2. I work full time, 40+ hours a week, as a freelance content marketer
  3. I used to hate contemporary books but now I LOVE them
  4. I don’t like to wear makeup. The feel of it bothers me + it takes too much time
  5. My bedroom has a bay window (which is where my desk is) and vaulted ceilings and I love it very much
  6. Instagram used to be my favorite social media platform but now I think Twitter is taking over
  7. I love big dog breeds–one day I want a Golden Retriever and a Great Pyrenees and a Bernese mountain dog
  8. I danced for seven years growing up and I currently take tap dance
  9. I love the mountains and being outside, although I can’t really hike anymore
  10. I absolutely LOVE history
  11. I’m a Ravenclaw!!!

I was tagged in this a really long time ago and I’m not sure who’s already been tagged, so just do it with these same questions if you want to because they’re good ones! 

16 Book Releases I’m Excited For in 2019

2019 is going to be a fantastic year reading-wise. There are so many good books coming out (and so many 2018 releases I still haven’t read, oops). Here are the 16 books we’re getting in 2019 that I’m most excited for!

Romanov, Nadine Brandes (release date: May 7, 2019)

Romanov

Nadine is the best in every way possible and I love the story of Anastasia Romanov. It’s captured my imagination ever since I was little, so I can’t wait to see what Nadine does with it in this historical fantasy retelling. I was gifted a preorder of Romanov for Christmas!

To Best the Boys, Mary Weber (March 18, 2019)

To Best the Boys

I’ve never actually read any of Mary Weber’s books, but I really want to. I thought this one looked interesting, so I preordered it! From what I understand, it’s a fantasy story of a town that invites its boys to navigate a labyrinth and compete for a scholarship once year… except this year, the girls have decided to compete in the maze, too.

The Boy who Steals Houses, C.G. Drews (release date: April 4, 2019)

Honestly, this is probably the release I’m MOST excited about in 2019. Big families, autistic rep, probably (hopefully) lots of cake… I don’t have anything to say here except I COULD NOT BE MORE EXCITED TO READ CAIT’S NEXT BOOK. (It is undoubtedly going to make me sob. But I’m okay with that.)

The Deceivers, Kristen Simmons (release date: February 5, 2019)

The Deceivers (Vale Hall, #1)

This is a book about a girl who goes to a school for con artists, and it’s written by one of my newfound favorite authors. I DEFINITELY preordered this one! Also, it looks like this is the first in a series, which makes me even more excited.

Call it What You Want, Brigid Kemmerer (release date: June 25, 2019)

Call It What You Want

Brigid Kemmerer is also a newfound favorite author of mine. Her contemporaries Letters to the Lost and More Than We Can Tell ripped my heart out, and she’s super friendly on social media. I’m counting down the days until Call It What You Want, which is a YA contemporary/romance. Kemmerer also has her first fantasy book, A Curse So Dark and Lonely (it’s a Beauty and the Beast retelling!!), coming out January 29. I’m looking forward to that too.

King of Scars, Leigh Bardugo (release date: January 29, 2019)

King of Scars (Nikolai Duology, #1)

I’ve been looking forward to King of Scars for so long. (How beautiful is the cover?!) I love Nikolai Lantsov (who doesn’t?) and can’t wait to read his book! I’m also excited about Ninth House, coming out in October–I have to admit, I know literally nothing about this book, but I’m Leigh Bardugo trash. I would read that woman’s grocery list. Anything and everything she writes is top-notch.

Chain of Gold, Cassandra Clare (release date: November 19, 2019)

Chain of Gold (The Last Hours, #1)

Cassandra Clare literally has SO many books coming out this year?! I don’t read much of her stuff anymore because I decided years ago that the whole paranormal romance thing wasn’t what I wanted to be filling my brain with, but I’ll probably read this one anyway because EDWARDIAN LONDON. Also because I’m desperate to learn how Cassandra Clare keeps all of her characters straight and how she’s managed to flesh out this entire huge history for her world–seriously, it’s some JK Rowling-level stuff.

Children of Virtue and Vengeance, Tomi Adeyemi (release date: March 5, 2019)

I just found out about this tonight, and YAY! I recently reread Children of Blood and Bone and remembered how good it was. I’m so ready to spend more time in Orïsha.

The Toll, Neal Shusterman (I’m pretty sure this comes out in 2019 but now I can’t actually find a release date anywhere??)

Honestly, I wasn’t a huge fan of Scythe when I first read it. But Neal Shusterman stepped it up big-time with Thunderhead. I’m so freaking excited to catch up with Rowan and Citra. (Also a little scared about what’s going to happen to them…)

The Queen’s Resistance, Becca Ross (March 5, 2019)

The Queen's Resistance (The Queen’s Rising, #2)

I debated whether or not to put this on my list. I met Becca last April and she’s so sweet and wonderful! But The Queen’s Rising just didn’t do it for me. I have hope that I’ll enjoy The Queen’s Resistance more, though, so here it is. (One thing I did love about the first book was its cover, and this one is equally as gorgeous.)

The Downstairs Girl, Stacey Lee (release date: August 13, 2019)

The Downstairs Girl

All of Stacey Lee’s historical fiction is just so solid, and this one is set in my hometown of Atlanta, so extra points! It’s about a girl who’s a journalist and gets caught up with criminals, and it’s set in 1890. Sounds intriguing.

Imprison the Sky, A.C. Gaughen (release date: January 22, 2019)

Imprison the Sky (The Elementae, #2)

Again, I debated putting this one on the list of books I’m “excited” about. I enjoyed Reign the Earth; it was done very well and carried important themes, but I didn’t fall in love with the book. It will still be nice to read the second one, though!

Symptoms of a Heartbreak, Sona Charaipotra (release date: May 21, 2019)

Symptoms of a Heartbreak

I haven’t read any of Sona’s previous books yet–I have one of them in my room right now from the library, I just haven’t gotten around to it. But I see her name pop up on Twitter all the time, and this looks really cute.

Serious Moonlight, Jenn Bennett (release date: April 2019)

Serious Moonlight

I recently fell in LOVE with Jenn Bennett through Alex, Approximately. The blurb for this one mentions that one of the main characters was homeschooled and “raised in isolation,” but hopefully the story won’t reinforce homeschool stereotypes, and I can just enjoy it!

This post only scrapes the surface of all the good books coming out this year, but these are a few I’m really pumped for!

What 2019 releases are you excited to read?

December 2018 Monthly Wrap-Up

Everything I did for the first 25 days of December was documented in Blogmas; start here if you missed it. The final week of the month was filled with organizing my room, reading, watching Netflix, procrastinating working on a query letter/synopsis/finding agents for World on a String, sleeping, playing the piano, and playing Catchphrase. I also went to lunch with Brooke, and Joshua and I spent a day with the Coxes. It was such a great break.

 

Reading: Dancing Through Life, Cameron Candace Bure. Metaltown (WOW WOW WOW), Kristen Simmons. Among the Barons, Among the Brave, Among the Enemy, and Among the Free, Margaret Peterson Haddix (reread). Life in Motion, Misty Copeland (reread). Article 5, Breaking Point, and Three, Kristen Simmons. American Panda, Gloria Chao. A Very Large Expanse of Sea (so good), Tahereh Mafi. Wild Blue Wonder (YES), Carlie Sorosiak. Downriver, Will Hobbs. When Chronic Pain and Illness Take Everything Away: How to Mourn Our Losses, Esther Smith. Outrun the Moon, Stacey Lee. Louisiana’s Way Home, Kate DiCamillo. Bunheads, Sophie Flack. Always Never Yours, Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka. Reign the Earth, A.C. Gaughen. 20 total.

Watching: Boy Meets World season 2. Good Will Hunting. The Good Witch season 1. Mary Poppins Returns. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part II.

Listening to: Shawn Mendes’ full Illuminate album and most of the songs from his latest self-titled album. Sabrina Carpenter’s album Singular Act 1. Various Christmas music. Probably every video of Shawn Mendes and Cole Sprouse on the Internet.

Loving: Shawn Mendes’ Rolling Stone feature. Stop Apologizing for God, Desiring God. How the Teachings of Emotional Purity and Courtship Damage Healthy Relationships, Recovering Grace.

Grateful for: Sitting on a family friend’s couch and laughing hysterically for the first time in a long time (to both). Sharing a hymnal in church with my favorite ten year old. Lying on a trampoline with my brother on a rare sunny day, laughing and talking.

What did you do in December?

2018: My Reading Stats

I read a lot of books this year. 153 books, to be exact, which comes out to about 3 per week and an average of 13 per month. I wasn’t trying to beat 2017’s number of 135, but I did. My lowest month this year was February with five books, because I watched the Olympics each night instead of reading, and my highest month was December with 20 books completed because I took eleven days off work (hallelujah). I read most of my 2018 books in Georgia. But I also read some in Tennessee, some in Mississippi, some in Alabama, some in South Carolina, some in North Carolina, some in Alaska, some in Vancouver, and some in Seattle. The first book I read this year was Under the Lilacs by Louisa May Alcott (a reread), and the last book I read this year was Reign the Earth by A. C. Gaughen.

I didn’t do a Goodreads challenge. I’m terrible at having hobbies because I’m super competitive and ambitious. So I want reading to be the one thing in my life where I don’t put pressure on myself and can just truly enjoy it. And I do enjoy it… as is evidenced by the fact that I read 153 books in 2018 without even trying! But the downside of not doing a Goodreads challenge is that I have to compile my reading data myself at the end of the year. So, here are a few rudimentary pie charts showing some of my 2018 reading statistics.

Let’s start out with how many fiction books I read versus how many nonfiction books I read. My prediction: I wasn’t sure of exact numbers, but I knew I read much more fiction than nonfiction this year, and I was right.

fiction vs nonfiction.jpeg

As far as rereads versus books that I read for the first time, I read a ton of new books this year, and I didn’t think there would be that many rereads. And I was right again! When I was younger, I used to think (and I’m sure my mom used to think) that I would run out of books to read one day, but now I know the truth… I’ll never have enough time to read all the books in the world.

rereads

Out of the fiction books I read this year, I also wanted to analyze how many YA, MG or children’s, and adult books I read. I accurately predicted that I read the most YA books by far. These stats are as close as I can figure…

ya

Finally, genre-wise, my initial guess was that I read the most contemporary this year. I used to not think I liked contemporary, but I absolutely fell in love with it this year and read a heck ton of contemporary. I was interested to see how the other genres panned out!

I did have a little trouble sorting some books into genres for this chart. A lot of them overlapped–for instance, many of the autobiographies I read were by missionaries or pastors and could just as easily have gone into faith-based. And since several MG/children’s books I read don’t exactly slot into a category, I just made a general children’s lit section. So the lines blur a little, but this is pretty accurate. I was right that I read the most contemporary this year, but fantasy and dystopian/sci-fi came pretty close! Things were pretty even across the board with genres, which makes for a very pretty pie chart.

genres

Overall, 2018 was a really, really good reading year. I’m not going to divide books up into favorites/non-favorites or give any specific reviews because that’s a lot of work haha (hit up my Goodreads for somewhat coherent reviews), but I loved the large majority of the 153 books I read. I love the idea that all of these stories are part of me now, shaping the way I write and the way I look at the world. So excited to devour more books in 2019!

How many books did you read in 2018? What genre did you read the most? What were some of your favorite reads?