5 Bookish Things I’m Thankful For

It’s been awhile since I’ve blogged. Like most of America, I feel like I fell down a rabbit hole and came back up to find the world not as I left it and I’m still trying to recover post-election. Unfortunately, that spilled into all aspects of my personal life and reading, blogging and writing fell by the wayside.

I didn’t read very much this month. I’m suffering from a strange book slump where I can buy books like a crazy person but I can’t bring myself to pick any of them up and read it.

I dropped out of NaNoWriMo, and I’m okay with it. Instead I’m putting my finishing touches on last year’s WriMo now, and I’m hoping to have friends beta read by January.

I haven’t posted in the past few weeks so I wanted to take the time in an effort to turn everything around to name the top five bookish things I’m thankful for.

  1. I’m thankful that books broaden our horizons and teach us empathy. 15438-George-R-R-Martin-Quote-A-reader-lives-a-thousand-lives-before-he.jpg There is this quote that I really love it says: “A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only one.” George R.R. Martin. I’m grateful that I have an inkling into a vast and diverse amount of perspectives because I read. I have been the hero/heroine that saves the day. I have been the ordinary girl who gets the guy. I’ve been the villain that takes down an empire. I have been a creature of the night and the boy who lived. I have known love and loss, adventure and fear, bravery and courage all through a multitude of 26-letter combinations. I know what it is to be other because I have lived that life even for a short amount of time. Because of this, I have more compassion for those that are different from me and it’s my life goal to continue to grow that compassion to a bottomless well.
  2. I’m thankful for reading buddies.
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    My cat Mia keeping my writing chair warm.

    Whether it’s my cat Mia in her constant struggle to lay on top of my books or a piping hot cup of tea or coffee. There is no better feeling than sitting all cozy, with a hot drink, a fuzzy creature and a book full of vibrant characters.

  3. I’m thankful for the Amazon Gods.                                                                                                58d2fded7a80dfd831c78ab4225b7120I know, I know. Amazon is killing brick and mortar bookstores and I’m a horrible person for supporting it, but I’m super grateful that Amazon understands my book obsession and delivers great reads to my doorstep within 48 hours. Each day I come home to a package on my doorstep, it’s like Christmas. (Not to mention I get to sing the “Here’s the mail, it never fails” Blue’s Clues song. #nevergrowup)
  4. I’m thankful for brave writers.                                                                                                     42f91aabf763ce6ac136a42a64272806As someone who aspires to write my own novel, it blows my mind how all these authors pour their heart and soul into a story and then release it out into the world. If it wasn’t for their bravery, ambition and self-confidence, I wouldn’t get to read the amazing stories that have had such an impact in my life. There’s another quote that keeps me writing when I want to give up. It says: You’re going to be someone’s favorite author. Just imagine if your favorite author never wrote a single word. Your life would be less vibrant because of it.
  5. I’m thankful for YOU – bloggers, readers and friends.                                                      epic-hugs-toy-story.gifI’m eternally grateful to anyone who reads my blog. I’m also grateful for all the bloggers out there recommending good reads. What would I do without you? I can’t tell you how many authors and books I’ve been exposed to (or got a really good deal on) because my fellow bloggers have kept me in the know. It’s always great to fangirl with fellow readers and geek out about books.

Happy Thanksgiving!

5 Book Quotes That Help Me with Anxiety

giphy-1Reading isn’t so much a hobby for me as it is a lifestyle. It isn’t that I want to read. It’s that I have to read. If I go more than a few days without sticking my nose in a book, I’m going to be a mess — a cranky, stressed-out mess. (Just ask my poor husband.)

There are scientific studies that show the benefits of reading. It can increase intelligence, make you more empathetic, help you relax, and even prevent Alzheimers. There is even a new wave of book therapy called bibliotherapy, where books are subscribed to patients based on their needs to promote healing. If I’m ever going to be diagnosed with a disease, I hope it includes reading as a treatment.

I prefer to read because it’s fun and relaxing, but it’s also stimulating and broadens my horizons. Books — no matter the genre — can have an impact in a reader’s life. That’s why I wanted to share five quotes from novels that have helped me with my anxiety. And (*gasp*) most of them are from romance novels.

1. “Just breathe,” my mom would say, “Ten tiny breaths… Seize them. Feel them. Love them.”  – Ten Tiny Breaths by K.A. Tucker

Ten Tiny Breaths was the first New Adult novel I ever read. It was raw and moving and you can read my review HERE. The idea of taking deep breaths while facing a stressful situation isn’t new. However, when I face real-life difficult situations, I remember Kacey and what she faced and this quote. It reminds me to breathe, truly breathe to get through the moment and move on. If Kacey can survive what she did, I can make it through a tough Monday.

2. “I hate losing, but I don’t allow myself more than ten minutes to dwell on it…”You have ten minutes,” he told me. “Ten minutes to think about what you did wrong and how bad you feel right now. Are you ready?”…”There. It’s over now,” he said. “Now you look forward and figure out how you’re going to get better.” I fucking loved my dad.”The Score by Elle Kennedy

I recently finished The Score, and it’s what inspired this blog post because I thought it was really good advice. Anyone who knows me knows that I have very high standards. And no one is held to a higher standard than myself. It doesn’t matter if it’s in my personal life or professional one. I want to be the best, and sometimes that drive, that ambition, tears me apart. I’m working to be a less stressed, less uptight version of myself and that includes limiting the time I spend beating myself up after a failure. Ten minutes seems to be the perfect amount of time to dwell, brood, sulk and wallow, and when it’s over, it’s time to get on with my life.

3. “I squeeze my eyes shut and try to blink away the pressure behind them. Five things, my father’s voice echoes inside my head. Find five things you can smell, hear, see, and touch. Ground yourself, Sasha.”Reaper by A. Zavarelli

Reaper was an okay story, but I loved this idea of finding five things to ground yourself when fear, anxiety or panic overwhelm you. When the smallest things feel like big things and the ant hills turn into Everests, I remember to find five things to ground myself and it helps me to put things back into perspective. It puts me back in the present, away from my fears of the future or pain of the past. It puts me back in the moment instead of stuck in my own head.

4. “Let go and you will see.”The Dandelion Seed by Joesph Anthony

The Dandelion Seed is my favorite children’s book. I still read it to this day when life gets overwhelming. It’s the story of a Dandelion seed that is afraid to let go and go out into the world…into the unknown of the future. Every time uncertainty clamps down tight on my heart, I remember this book or read through it to remind myself to let go. God is in control and I will see at the end of everything that it will all work out for the best.

5. “Don’t feel bad for one moment about doing what brings you joy.”
A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

For me, anxiety creeps up when I don’t have time for all the things I need to do because I spend time doing things that I love, that I enjoy. This quote from my all-time favorite author and book series (Read my reviews HERE and HERE) helps remind me to never feel bad about that because it does bring me joy. And if SJM said it, it must be true. 🙂

What about you? Any book quotes that help you in life? 

DNF and Lonely Stars: Why Negative Reviews Can Be Positive*

I’ve recently read a round of books I did not finish (DNF). I hate not finishing a book. No matter how poorly written or boring the book is, it’s always more physically painful to leave it unfinished. I’m not sure why, but maybe it’s because deep down I don’t want to be a quitter. However, as I’ve gotten older and have had to choose daily between life, work, grad school and fun, my time is more and more precious. Making it not easier but definitely necessary to put a book down when I’m just not feeling it.

Recently, I’ve had to DNF multiple books in a row, which is almost unheard of for me. I was in the worst book funk, but I made myself give critical reasons for why I was putting the book down to justify my actions, giving me the reprieve I needed to move on. Unfortunately, this meant writing (*gasp*) bad reviews.

Let’s be honest, negative reviews are the worst (to write for the reader and to read for the author), but they are necessary and can be good for the reading community, which is why I’m highlighting three reasons negative reviews can be positive.

Reason #1: I don’t trust a five-star review until I’ve read a one-star review.

We’ve all been there. The latest novel is the best book every written and we MUST read it, and the five-star ratings are piling up at the author’s feet like celebratory flowers. Typically, I’m quick to jump into the fray to see what the hype is all about, but I do so with caution. I start with the reviews themselves. Why did they like it? If I agree, then I go search for negative reviews, yes, those pesky one- to two-star monstrosities filled with disappointment. Why? Because the negative review can sometimes convince me to read a book more than a five-star review. If a reviewer can articulate why they didn’t like it, I may love it for the same reason they don’t. For example, there are a lot of haters out there for love triangles. Me? I love ‘em. Send them my way. Did you hate the excessive violence? I’m down for bloodletting any day of the week. However, the main reason I look for one-star reviews is to get a balanced view of the book. At times, a not very well-known book may have five-star reviews from friends of the author that doesn’t accurately represent the quality of the piece.

Reason #2: Negative Reviews Help Other Readers

One of my biggest blogging pet peeves is reviewers not rating a book or leaving a review because they never finished the book. As a reader, I want to know that you couldn’t finish the book, and more importantly, why. This helps other readers make educated decisions on what to read next so they don’t waste precious time, or worse, precious money on something they won’t like. I know it’s never fun to rate something with one lonely star, but if you use a Goodreads ranking, one star means “did not like it,” meaning it’s completely okay to broadcast to the world that you didn’t like it. It doesn’t mean you hate the author or want bad things to happen to those who loved the book. It means you’re being an honest reviewer, which is important.

Reason #3: There is no such thing as bad publicity.

This is a common, often overused phrase, but one that works perfectly here. At the end of the day, readers are readers despite the ratings. Think of how many people gave scathing reviews and low ratings to bestselling books like Fifty Shades of Grey and Twilight. I’ll stand and shout from the mountain tops in defense of these books. Hell yes, I read them and loved them and would do it again. Haters are gonna hate. The people who griped about love triangles and werewolves and sexual explicitness were convincing me to read the book while they were putting them down. I mean, who doesn’t love a sparkly vampire? Times have changed but circa 2005, I was ALL OVER IT. People freaking out about Fifty Shades helped propel this book into selling millions upon millions of copies to consumers that didn’t even read for fun anymore but decided to pick it up because it was all over the news. Opinions from every side are important and even negative attention can bring readers in who’ll love the book.

The Asterisk (*): But Please Don’t Be Mean

Now, I am a firm believer in negative reviews but I don’t think they should be mean. Don’t attack or insult the author. Don’t write negative reviews about genres you know you don’t like. Listen to your own preferences and respect the tastes of others. Make sure to criticize with legitimate reasons. Don’t cut down entire novels with vague explanations. If it doesn’t suit your mood, explain that in the review. I think every reader can identify with that. I know I’ve had to do the whole it’s-not-you-it’s-me book break up. As readers, reviewers and bloggers, it’s our right to have an opinion but it’s important to do so with class.