Valentine’s day update

If someone were to check on my stress hormone levels right now, I’m pretty sure they’d be through the roof. While I had initially expected February to be more quiet and restful than January, what is actually happening… isn’t it.

The university admissions process is much more complicated and stressful than expected, and I’m battling terrible anxiety about my future every single day – winning, so far, but still. It’s taking a lot of effort to stay positive and optimistic for the future, and my hobbies are suffering from it.

Still, I’m back today for a weekly update, because blogging and reading are things that bring me a lot of joy, and I want to keep that well in mind for the rest of the month.

Personal update

Life is hard. I feel like I’ve been coping pretty well with lockdown for the past year, with everything being closed and only seeing, like, 4 people in one year. But I went to see my siblings in the park yesterday, for the first real time in almost a whole year even though we literally live in the same city, and… it’s been hard.

I feel like I’ve missed out on a lot of their lives and they’ve grown so much in my absence that they’re almost wholly different people now – and I don’t know them that well anymore. I know it’s for a good reason, I know I’m doing the right thing by respecting all lockdown rules and not seeing anyone, even my family members, but… it doesn’t make it any easier in the long term.

Fortunately, everything isn’t as bad as that – so here are three things I’ve been doing that made me feel good this week :

Playing video games

I’ve been doing a brand new playthrough of Kingdoms of Amalur, the re-reckoning, and going on my third year in my Stardew Valley 1.5 playthrough – I’m hoping to complete the collection challenges before the Grandpa’s ghost comes in and judges my farm! I’m really happy with my progress in both these games, and I’m planning on going back to Don’t Starve and The Witcher 3 once I’ve manages to finish these first two.

Working out

I’ve started a Chloe Ting challenge and I’m really happy about it. I’ve been thinking of talking about my relationship with food and exercise in a separate blog post, so if I do end up writing it, I’ll link it here so you guys can go check it out! The bare bones of it, though, goes like this : I haven’t had the healthiest relationship with food and exercise, ever, but I’ve been making a lot of progress since the beginning of the year, and I’m finally at the point where I actually enjoy doing a morning workout, and eating good food no matter how much calories I’ve burned in the day how how much I’ve “worked for it”. It’s been… good. Relaxing. Freeing.

One of the things that’s helped me a lot with this has been Linda Sun’s YouTube channel, which you can find here. She’s a fitness youtuber who’s not dieting, not counting her calories, and not pushing a pro-diet agenda on her viewers, and her content is really wholesome and refreshing (and yes, the titles are clickbait, don’t worry!).

And on the topic of repairing my relationship with food and my body : speaking with a Registered Dietician has helped me a lot with this, and I highly recommend doing so if you think it can help you too. 10/10, absolutely worth it.

Meeting a friend outside

I’ve seen around, like, 4 people since the beginning of this pandemic, and one of them is an amazing friend who lives a couple of blocks away from our apartment, so I’ve met up with her this week outside to hang out and take a walk in the snow. With a hot chocolate in hand, of course, and at a safe distance, with masks on.

It’s done wonders for my mental health – both the social interaction and the walk outside – and I’m hoping we can do that again sometime next week!

Reading update

I’m back here with the short reviews! I’ve been mostly trying to get through all my remaining ARCs this month, with the goal of not requesting any more until at least June if I can stay away from the NetGalley request buttons, but I’ve still managed to grab some copies of books on my TBR from my local library!

The Andromeda Strain

Rating: 4 out of 5.

I had added this book to my TBR a while ago, following a recommendation from one of Emily Fox’s booktube videos (which are amazing, by the way, if you don’t watch them you should check out her channel!), and I really loved it!

The suspense and the science worked well for me, and as I’m already a big Sci-fi fan, it wasn’t hard to like this. The writing is quite dry, but as it’s supposed to be some form of military/scientific report, it didn’t bother me or dampen my enjoyment of the story.

The poppy war

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

I finally read The Poppy War! I can’t believe it took me this long to start this series – every reviewer I’ve seen talking about it only had nice things to say, so I knew I was going to like it, but I also knew I would suffer all the way through it… and I was right.

Illuminae

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Another one I’ve waited a long time to read, and ended up appreciating a lot. However, contrary to The Poppy War, this book surprisingly didn’t leave me wanting to read the next one in the series.

I say surprisingly because I absolutely loved the ending, and was at the edge of my seat the whole time I was reading this – so why not want to pick up the next one immediately ? I think it has more to do with the very last pages of the book : even if they wrapped up the story nicely and revealed some nice plot twists, they didn’t bring about enough mystery and excitement about book 2 for me to want to pick it up immediately.

However, while that’s clearly not a good sign, it doesn’t mean I’ll never continue this series – I enjoyed this book a lot, and would be vaguely interested in further adventures in the Illuminae universe, so I might still come back to it later in the year!

My progress so far in 2021 : 18 books read out of 104

That’s it for me today! I’ll be back in the beginning of the week with – hopefully – a discussion post, and a book review sometime later next week, so, see you around!

January 2021 wrap-up

You know, I really thought January 2021 would be easier than 2020 – and oh boy, was I wrong. Wow.

Personal things

I’ve been beyond busy this month, and things have taken all my free time, leaving me with little to no energy for blogging after university started again. I was completely swamped with administrative work, files to send, forms to fill out, papers to get certified in the middle of a pandemic when all offices are closed and working remotely…

But we’re now back in business : my doctorate applications have been sent, and there’s not much more I can do to improve them in any way, so it’s just a matter of waiting until I get an answer – whichever it might be.

Photo by @craftedbygc on Unsplash

I’ve applied to three doctorate programs and one masters, and am really hoping to get accepted into at least one of those, but I’m not basing all of my plans on that and I’m confident that no matter what happens I’ll figure out where to go and what to do after I graduate from my current program, and I’ll be okay.

The actual application process was hell, though – asking for recommendations from teachers was one of the scariest things I’ve ever had to do, one of those recommendations still hasn’t gone through (really hoping it gets done before the deadline…), and an administrative error on the university’s part broke my application file in one of the unis I applied to. It took a week and a half to get it fixed, and it’s still a work in progress! It’s been one of the most stressful months of my life in Canada so far, and 2020 was already a pretty stressful year, so I’m really hoping February will be more relaxing!

Online things

Blogging has taken a great hit this month, as I’ve barely had the time to blog-hop, let alone write and publish posts myself. On days when I did have the time, I couldn’t find the energy – not for a lack of enjoyment or motivation, but just from sheer exhaustion. So, to occupy my time with things that took a little less effort than blogging, here’s what I did in January :

  • Started a new farm on Stardew Valley with the arrival of update 1.5 – and I must admit that this is my best run so far. My farm is splendid, my crops are thriving, and I’ve got a ton of happy chicken, ducks and cows. I love this game so much.
  • Watched The Expanse‘s 5th season (and cried comme une madeleine1 during half of the episodes. It was so good. If you’re looking for your next favorite show, give this one a try!)
  • Watched Wandavision and laughed way too much at the sitcom episodes
  • Found a lot of new youtubers to watch in-between my breaks from studying – I’ve been taking all my classes at the university’s library, in a small isolated room so there’s no contact with other people, since my partner is now working from home most of the week : we only have one desk, and no dining table, so if one of us is using the desk, the other one has to work from the sofa. Which is a very comfortable sofa, if you’re watching TV or eating dinner, but not so much for studying and having zoom meetings for nine hours straight.

All in all, I’ve been keeping busy!

1 For anyone interested : Comme une madeleine is a french expression, meaning “crying your eyes out”. It’s very expressive in french, and carries a lot of emotional meaning.

Reading things

One of the things I’m really happy about this month, though, is that even with all the stress and the work I barely managed to stay on top of, I still found some time to keep up to date with my Goodreads reading goal !

I won’t list them here, as I’m planning to talk about these more on a semi-weekly basis instead of in wrap-up posts, but I did get through some ARCs and a bunch of holds from my local library, as well as one more of the Expanse series. I’m finally up to date with the TV show!

My progress so far in 2021 : 10 books read out of 104.

February intentions

Seriously, that cover is so beautiful it’s intimidating.

I have a LOT of books from the library that I want to get through in February. Hopefully, since almost all my stressful administrative work is now done and all wrapped up, I’ll have enough time to do so! This list includes, but isn’t limited to, The poppy war, The camelot betrayal, In a holidaze, Barack Obama’s memoir A promised land, Anti-Diet, and The midnight library.

I also want to keep up my habit of exercising at least three times a week, while improving my relationship with exercise and my body in general. It’s been something I’ve known I needed to work on for a long time, and I’ve finally realized that the only good moment to start on something like this is right here, right now.

Another wish is to keep doing my best in university ! Just because the applications for next year have been sent doesn’t mean I need to stop giving my current program everything I’ve got. I’m really proud of where I am now – and I’ll only write it once here so I don’t brag too much, but I don’t have a lot of people to share it with so I still want to talk about it… I managed to get my GPA up to a 4.11 out of 4.3! I’m super proud of myself and all the work I’ve put into this, and I’m hoping I can keep this up and graduate as a straight-A student for the first time in my life!

Finally, I’d like to work a little on my bookstagram – which, by the way, is linked in the sidebar of my blog if you want to go check it out!

How did your January go ? Did you manage to accomplish most of what you set out to do at the beginning of the year ? Let me know in the comments, and feel free to link up to your January wrap-up posts if you’ve made one!

Weekly update : first week of 2021

It’s been an… interesting week.

Personal update

I’ve been super busy this week, going from one appointment to another, doing all the urgent administrative work that needs to be done before the end of January – they days go by so quickly that I worry I won’t be able to finish it all up in time.

The deadline to apply to the program I’d like to be accepted into next year is February 1st, and I haven’t heard back from one of the people I asked a recommendation from – I need three letters of recommendation, and only have 2 so far, but hopefully, I’ll be able to secure a third one before January 15th. If I don’t get an answer from the teacher I emailed on Tuesday, I’ll urgently contact someone else, and hope for the best.

On top of that, our province’s covid-related rules have just been tightened, and Montreal is now under curfew from 8 pm to 5 am every night, with every “non-essential” shop closed, and the essential ones closed at 7:30 pm to give people enough time to go home before the curfew comes into effect.

This complicates things quite a bit for us, as my partner is currently working in an essential workplace and I’m a full-time student : on the days where he’s working from home, since he’s using the only desk we have, I’ll have to find somewhere else to go study, as most of his work is confidential and we don’t have the space for me to go study in another room. Which, since everything is closed down… will be tricky. Hopefully, though, the university will keep the library open for students who really need the space to study, as we can’t really go anywhere else anymore!

I’ve also had my first appointment with a dietician this week – I’ve been trying to eat healthier and make progress on my own, but lately, I’ve come to realize that even with my best efforts, I still need to ask for some help with this. And that’s okay! There’s no shame in asking for help if you’re in a situation where you need to, whether it’s about physical or mental health. I’m incredibly lucky that my university has a partnership with a dietician / nutritionists group, which gives students a medium discount that compensates a little for the absence of insurance coverage for these services. (Which – don’t get me started on that, I could rant about it for hours. Who thought it was a good idea to exclude nutritionists from health insurance benefits??)

Blogging update

On the blog lately, I’ve written two posts : a late Bookending winter post, about 2021 reads I can’t wait for, and a reading challenges announcement!

Reading update

Progress on my Goodreads goal : 3/104

I’m trying a new format here! I’ve been doing reviews in their own separate posts, but by doing them this way, I didn’t review most of the books I read, as I just couldn’t find the time to write an entire post about them. So here are short, 1 paragraph reviews of what I read this week!

Kingsbane, by Claire Legrand

Rating: 4 out of 5.

My first book of 2021 – I ended 2020 by reading the first book in this series, and I had gotten a copy of the next novel through my local library, so I followed up immediately with it.

Where the first book was setting up the scene a lot, and teasing some dark mysteries without revealing much to the reader, this one unveils secret after secret in a captivating story filled with unexpected plot twists and heartbreaking moments. I didn’t expect the cliffhanger at the end, and I liked that more than I expected – it’s been a while since I’ve given a real chance to a fantasy series, and an even longer time since I’ve read a book ending with a cliffhanger that I was actually interested in enough to make it to the next one and find out what was happening. I’m definitely reading book 3 as soon as possible.

Find it on Goodreads here.

A sky beyond the storm, by Sabaa Tahir

Rating: 3 out of 5.

I read the first three books in this series in 2020, and enjoyed them a lot, so I have no idea why I didn’t pick up the last installment in this series as soon as it came out, in December 2020. I liked this conclusion to the story, and thought it wrapped up all the different character arcs pretty well, even if I didn’t connect with it as much as I had with the previous books. I had some issues with the ending – especially the treatment of one of the main characters. (To put it without too many spoilers : one of the characters has a power that could save their loved one… yet doesn’t use it at the end when it could be the most useful. For no apparent logical reason. Yeah, didn’t like that.)

Find it on Goodreads here.

The ever cruel kingdom, by Rin Chupeco

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Another follow-up on a book I read last year, The never tilting world. I found the first one okay, but enjoyed the second one much more!

I think it had to do with the pacing of the story, and the advancement of the plot that felt like it was moving forward much better than the first book. I loved the character development in this, and the much more detailed backstories we got than the ones alluded to in book 1, which made it easier to get attached to the characters (and made it worse when they died… but I digress). The love and the romance between the main characters was also lovely (and after bingeing Bridgerton, I was in the right mood for romance!).

Find it on Goodreads here.

It’s the final countdown!

Good morning! (or afternoon, whichever one it is on your side of the world). Today’s bookending winter prompt is hosted by the amazing Sam @ Fictionally Sam – check out her post for today!

Bookending Winter is a book blogging event run by Clo and Sam, in which different bloggers host a couple of prompts each during the month of December. Anyone who wants to participate can register on the announcement post, make 3 (or more) posts during the event, and link them up on the challenge spreadsheet so others can find them easily!

Prompt Explanation : Are you behind on your Goodreads goal and/or your resolutions this year? What are some plans you have to catch up and meet your goals before 2020 ends?

I talked about this a little in previous posts, but my Goodreads goal this year was set at 52 books – one a week. For a while there, I thought I wouldn’t manage to meet that goal on time – this year has been so hectic that finding spare time to read books became a much more difficult challenge every month.

But over the last week, surprisingly, as final papers were sent to my university teachers and there was nothing more to do than just study for exams, I finally found the right combination of time and motivation to read! A motivation which resulted in 6 books read in 10 days, and a Goodreads goal attained this morning – and I’m super happy about that!

Image by @markuswinkler on Unsplash

Looking at the list of books read in 2020 on my Goodreads shelves, 35% of them seem to be ARCs, 48% are books borrowed from my local library, and only 17% are books that I physically own. That makes sense, since I don’t really own a lot of books – probably less than 40, at this point, maybe even less than 35.

I’m always super envious when I see pictures of people’s shelves on Bookstagram, completely full of books, but then I remember : the reason why I don’t have that many physical copies of books is because for the past 7 years, I haven’t stayed in the same apartment more than 8 months in a row, and sometimes only two. Moving that much tends to make you live with very few possessions, and as little heavy items as possible. I’ve only started actually buying books that I want to keep this past year, and that’s because for the first time since I went to high school I think I might stay in one place for a while – maybe up to 5 years or so.

As my semester of university comes to an end, I’ll be (finally!) on holiday on December 17th. I have a huge TBR pile of books borrowed from the library that I’d like to go through before the year is over, but I don’t think I’ll edit my Goodreads goal to match my ambitions – it might just make me more stressed about finishing books as soon as possible, and I don’t think I’d enjoy them as much as I usually would if I did that.

At the beginning of the year, I set some personal and book-related goals, so I thought it might be fun to go back on these and see what happened!

Related post : check out my 2020 bookish goals !

Personal goals

  • Exercise 5 days a week – done! My fitbit helped me a lot this year in gaining motivation to move more, exercise and overall become more active.
  • Save money to go back home for the holidays – well, that didn’t happen. But hey, I used that money to get myself a new laptop when mine died at the beginning of the semester, so that wasn’t too bad!
  • Get a job – I got two! Well, one after the other, not two at a time. Hopefully I can get back to work when lockdown is over!

Bookish goals

  • Succeed at my Goodreads challenge – done!
  • Post more on my bookstagram – I tried, I swear! The conditions in my apartment aren’t really ideal to take photos, though, so I’ll have to work on that a little more in 2021.
  • Blog hop more – Feedly helped a lot with that!
  • Request less ARCs – …. maybe? I did read a lot of ARCs, but I didn’t request so many that I’d get overwhelmed by them, so I’ll count this one as a win.

Related posts : on the topic of Feedly, check out these two excellent posts from Kal @ Reader Voracious – Why I switched to Feedly for Bloghopping – and Lauren @ Northern Plunder – Be efficient with bloghopping | How (not) to use Feedly.

Did you manage to attain your Goodreads goal for this year? And would you edit your goal to read a little more, or keep it stable and just go past it? Tell me all about it in the comments!

Fireside favorites : 10 of my favorite 2020 reads

Welcome back to another Bookending Winter post! Today’s prompt is hosted by Lauren and Becky @ Northern Plunder.

Bookending Winter is a book blogging event run by Clo and Sam, in which different bloggers host a couple of prompts each during the month of December. Anyone who wants to participate can register on the announcement post, make 3 (or more) posts during the event, and link them up on the challenge spreadsheet so others can find them easily!

Prompt Explanation : Take a look back at your favorite reads of 2020. Hopefully these will make it to someone else’s TBR for them to pass the time whilst snuggled in with a hot coco next to the fire.

At the beginning of 2020, I set my Goodreads challenge to 52 books – one a week, I thought, was perfectly attainable, seeing as I used to read a lot more than that, and my current classes at the time weren’t that time-consuming. 52 books, I reasoned, was a perfectly adequate challenge, and one I’d surely be done with in September, at the latest.

That didn’t age well. I’ve been trying my best to get through my ARCs and finish the books I currently own, to maybe get to the 52 books goal, but it might very well not happen this year. Still, I’m trying to not be too bummed about this, and this prompt serves as a good reminder that, even if I didn’t read a ton of books this year, I still read a couple of really good ones!

So here’s – in random order – my 10 favorite books I’ve read so far in 2020.

Note : ⏳ are ARCs gotten through NetGalley or the publisher, 📚 are books I own or borrowed from my local library.

5 stars books

⏳ Better sleep, better you

I enjoyed reading this book a lot! It’s full of useful information on the science of sleep – why we do it, and what we’re doing wrong – and has a ton of advice adaptable for almost every situation so that its readers can improve their sleep habits. I learned a lot by reading this – definitely would recommend as a gift for a friend interested in science or how things work, or for your friend running every day on 5 hours of sleep and not understanding why they’re feeling like crap all the time!

Find it on Goodreads here.

⏳ Happily Ever After & Everything In Between

This is the cutest and most relatable thing I have read in a very long time, and every single one of the pages seemed like a situation taken out of my own life. I laughed so much out loud reading this that my partner came over my side of the living room to check if I was okay (and if I needed snacks).

It was my first book from this author, but I’m planning on checking out her other works too!

Find it on Goodreads here.

⏳ Surrender your sons

This was… wow. Just wow. You can check out my review here on Goodreads – I wrote it right after reading and I honestly couldn’t say it better right now. Excellent novel and amazing author, 10/10 would recommend.

⏳ Perfect on paper

I was really excited to see what Sophie Gonzales was going to give us next, and she did not disappoint! You can read my full review on the blog – I wrote an entire post about it, it’s just so good – but if you’re just looking for the short version : this is an excellent queer YA contemporary, and you should definitely read it as soon as it comes out.

Find it on Goodreads here.

Related post : check out my review of Perfect on Paper, by Sophie Gonzales

📚 The starless sea

I’ve been trying to write a review of this book for months now, but nothing I can write renders it justice. While this author’s previous novel didn’t work for me at all, this one was so poetic and beautiful that it went into my favorites in January and stayed there the whole year long. I’m planning on re-reading it in the second half of December, if I get stuck on my current TBR and need a break in the form of the most beautiful prose I’ve read so far in 2020!

Find it on Goodreads here.

📚 Leviathan wakes

I read the first three books of the The Expanse series, and rated them all 5 stars, so I’m only citing the first one here or they would take way too much space in this list. I love the narration, the different points of view, the intrigue and the space battles – everything fits neatly into place and it’s extremely entertaining!

If you like politics and spaceship, this is the book you need to pick up for the holidays. I’m waiting for next weekend to get into book 4, and I’m really excited to see what happens next!

Find it on Goodreads here.

📚 The way of kings

One of my first Sanderson books, and I must admit – this one put him immediately on the list of authors I’ll automatically give a chance to, whatever the subject of his next book may be. It had been a while since I’d read such a long and good novel, and even longer since I’d started a really challenging series – I’m planning on reading more from him next year, maybe make it a small reading challenge?

Find it on Goodreads here.

4 stars books

📚 Skyward

Another Sanderson book! I rated this one 4 stars instead of 5, mostly because I do agree with some other reviewers in the sense that, even though this book was really good, it felt more like a prelude to a bigger novel than an actual first installment in a series. Still, I can’t fault the quality of the writing, and the characters were easy to love and well developed.

Find it on Goodreads here.

📚 Maybe you should talk to someone

A non-fiction book! I love anything and everything psychology-related, so this book by a therapist about her job and her experiences with therapy sounded right up my alley. I really enjoyed reading this, even if it felt a bit longer than it should be in the end. It’s not as informative as I thought it’d be from reading reviews about it, but the experiences described in this book are very touching and complex.

Find it on Goodreads here.

📚 Aurora Rising

2020 was a pretty good year for my sci-fi loving heart! Aurora rising was a fun and easy book to read, filled with humor and nice plot twists. I liked the ending a lot, and my preorder of Aurora burning couldn’t come to my local bookseller soon enough!

Find it on Goodreads here.

What are your favorite 2020 reads ? Did you read and review any of these ones? Let me know in the comments! (And link your reviews if you did, so I can go read them!)

November wrap-up

Welcome back ! It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these posts – in fact, my last wrap-up was in May this year. There’s been a lot of changes in my life since then, but I’ve found my way back into a semi-comfortable posting schedule, which means we’re back for a November wrap-up!

Personal update

The second lockdown in our city made me lose my salary, as the restaurant I had found a new job in had to close in-doors dining spaces. But, very luckily for us, my boyfriend found a new job in an essential sector, which will be of a great help paying the bills and keeping us afloat until I can get back to work – with a little more luck, maybe in late January?

In the meantime, I’m focusing all my energy on university and all the administrative tasks that we’ve kinda forgotten over the course of this hellish year. There’s so much to do, I’m never bored!

Related posts : May 2020 wrap-up : let’s see if I hit those goals!

Keeping up with university work

This semester is hard, but so far, I’m still on course! There’s only one class out of five in which I’m not getting the grade I was aiming for – it’s going to be difficult, but there’s still one exam left, which means I’ll have one more chance to rectify the situation and get an acceptable grade that will help me get accepted into the program I’m applying for. Fingers crossed.

I’ve also gotten into an internship I wanted a lot, and it was as interesting as I expected it to be, so I’m really happy about that! Hopefully, I can finish all the tasks pertaining to that internship on time, and get a good grade for the class that goes with it.

Image by @nickmorrison on Unsplash

Playing video games

My boyfriend made me discover The Witcher : Wild Hunt, and I played it a lot in the beginning of the month. I had to slow down on that a little, though, because some changes in our lives meant an added paperwork charge : for the past two weeks or so, my evenings have been filled with administrative tasks, professional emails, talking about more administrative tasks (and stressing out about them) and some reading. Hopefully, I can get back to it as soon as my semester of university is over – this game is amazing!

Reading update

I didn’t really make a TBR for November, as I wanted to relax a little more and just read whatever I felt like reading at the time.

The new e-reader I ordered to replace my old one

Finding my old (as in, bought in 2012…) e-Reader helped me a lot! I hadn’t realized how tiring it was to read all my eBooks on my phone until I tried the paper-like screen again, and it changed everything. It’s so much more comfortable, and I can upload all my eARCs on it perfectly!

I loved using it again so much that, for Christmas, I ordered the newest version of the model I currently own – as mine is discontinued, and has been slowing down a lot and losing battery life over the years.

With the help of my old e-reader, I ended up finishing 6 books for this month :

  • Caliban’s war, by James S. A. Corey – 5 stars (this one was a re-read, and I loved it just as much as the first time!)
  • Abbadon’s gate, by James S. A. Corey – 5 stars
  • Just eat, by Bary Estabrook – 4 stars
  • Empower yourself, by Xenia Tchoumi – 2 stars
  • Bookishness, by Jessica Pressman – 3 stars
  • How to be parisian wherever you are, by Anne Berest – 1 star (yeah, this was… a miss. And a mess. You can check out my short review on Goodreads if you want the details)

On the blog, I published 8 posts this month (including this one). Check out my favorite ones!

Overall, November was a very stressful month, but I have high hopes for December (especially since my semester ends on December 16th, and I can finally have the well-deserved holiday I’ve been waiting for this entire year).

On this topic : December is the month of #BEWinter2020 ! I’m a host for three days this year, and will try to participate in the other prompts as much as I can, so keep an eye out for the hashtag on twitter and come check out all the awesome posts book bloggers will write this month!

Back to blogging!

It’s been a long time since I wrote something here – my last post dates back to June 3rd, and so much has passed since then ! I got a new job, quit my old one, got back into Zoom university for a brand new semester, picked up old hobbies I’d stopped doing months ago, got really into cycling and biked every day to work… it’s been a long few months.

I’d love to make a series of posts on what I’ve been up to recently, but I honestly don’t have enough time right now (more on that later, by the way – it’s good news!), so I’ll just give you a relatively short overview here!

1 . I quit my job, and got a new one

If you’ve been following me for a while, you’ll know that up until my last post, I was working in a supermarket as a cashier / customer service agent. I really enjoyed this job, and the colleagues were all super nice, but during the month of July, my hours were cut – by a lot. Long story short, the salary I ended up making over July wasn’t enough for what I needed it for anymore (namely : food, phone bill, a new laptop and my university tuition fees due in September).

Fortunately, a local restaurant near my house was recruiting at that time, so I sent them a resume and a short email just in case my profile interested them – and it did! I got an interview a week or so later, and ended up quitting my supermarket job at the beginning of August to work at the restaurant full-time for the remainder of the summer.

As of now, I’ve been changed into a part-time worker at the restaurant, and I’m hoping my city stays safe enough that we don’t have to close, so I can keep working as much as possible during the school year. Even with parental support (and I’m lucky and privileged enough to have some, so if the worst happens and I lose my job, I can still pay my rent and eat), living in a big city is expensive, and being a university student comes with a lot of extra costs, which means I really want to hold on to this job as long as I can!

2 . University started again

Photo by Fallon Michael on Pexels.com

I took two summer classes during the lockdown, and those were really useful to familiarize myself with Zoom. For the current semester, I have five classes, all online, one of which is actually an internship in a psychology lab at the university.

I’m super excited for the lab! I got into my first choice of internship, and the project we’re going to be working on is on the very topic I’d like to do my doctorate thesis on – there’s honestly no better option I could have had.

It is, however, going to ask a lot of time and effort from me. I’ve got classes on 3 days a week, and one full day for the internship, with the remaining three days for work shifts at the restaurant – with the way things are working out now, I won’t really have a full day of rest anytime soon, so I’ll take it wherever I can.

3 . Reading

I spent a lot of my reading time getting through personal finance books, university mandatory readings, etc. and ended up reading mostly non-fiction for the past 3 months.

As a good part of it was in French, I probably won’t be reviewing these on the blog, but I might add them to my Goodreads account just to keep track of them. The library in my city has reopened, and I’ve been making the most of my library card since we can’t go there to sit, browse books a long tine, read with a snack or study quietly anymore.

4 . New hobbies

Last week, I took out my camera to take some pictures outside, when – to my utmost horror – it didn’t turn on. Cue one full day of me panicking over it, thinking I’ll need to mail it back to the manufacturer to get it repaired and pay hundreds of dollars since the warranty has expired… and then my cool-headed better half came and said “Maude, have you tried bringing it to the closest photography shop? They might know what’s going on, and be able to repair it for less than that!”.

Well. Turns out the better half was right – the battery was dead, and even if batteries aren’t cheap, it still cost me way less than what I has scared myself into believing it would.

Photography is a hobby I used to love a few years ago, and I gradually stopped doing it when this whole pandemic business happened. But my university has started a new psychology project, the Resilience project, to help students find good ways to cope during the months to come, and this week’s task was to re-discover old hobbies or things we used to love, and try them out again. So, with my now-functional camera in hand, I got back into photography!

5 . New laptop

A lot of my saved money from this summer has gone to my student tuition, but I also needed to save some of it for a new laptop : my old one had broken down at the hinges to the point that the screen was falling off one side, and whenever it slightly moved, it would go completely dark until I found an angle that made the bad connection work again for a short while. Long story short – it wasn’t going to work for and entire semester of Zoom university™. No way.

So since I had to get a new laptop, I tried and saved enough money for one that would let me study, blog, edit photos and play good videogames, and got myself an Acer Nitro 5 on sale! I got it for waaay cheaper than the current retail price is, because it was a) on sale and b) a box that someone else had bought and returned to the store, so it had an even bigger discount while still having a 1-year warranty. This model is light, fast, has a backlit keyboard and a full HD display with a 120Hz screen, and my comfort while working with it is incredible.

… and I’ve fallen into the No Man’s Sky hole and have been spending hours of my “rest” time for the past week playing this game and having lots of fun with it. 10/10, worth it, would definitely recommend.

I’ve also been watching a lot of studytube videos, and recently tried my hand at Notion (I might make a post about this later, or link to some interesting resources posts on it that I’ve read this week!) to plan my days and keep track of all my current projects.

I’m slowly easing back into blogging, and will try to post a little more before the end of the month and the beginning of October – we’ll see how that goes!

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May 2020 wrap-up : let’s see if I hit those goals!

In the beginning of May, I set myself some pretty ambitious goals (at least they are for me, of course – what’s ambitious to me might be everyday life to you, in which case : you’re awesome, congratulations on being amazing and doing so much!).

So let’s go over these again and see how I did over the month !

Blogging goals

Maintain a regular posting schedule

This one was… only partly done. I’m tempted to say that it wasn’t fully my fault : me and my boyfriend moved out of our apartment on may 1st, and the technician who installed out internet connection didn’t come until a week after, so we were without a connection until may 6th or 7th, if I remember correctly.

I struggled to write blog posts in the first half of the month, the stress of the current situation catching up with me and amplifying my fears and anxiety. Luckily, things got better, and I managed to get back to my posting schedule as much as possible, so overall, I’d say I did okay!

Personal goals

Keeping up with university work

So far, so good ! My first exam of the semester was two days ago, and I think I did well – I’m hoping for good things in my two summer classes, I really like the content of the classes and the teachers are trying their best to make it fun to learn via zoom.

Playing video games

Sadly, I didn’t do as well as I wanted on this one : I’ve been extremely busy these past weeks, and just couldn’t find the time to play as much as last month. But I did work a lot of hours, so there’s a solid reason for that.

Watching TV shows

I’ve finally started watching She-Ra and the princesses of power, since I’ve already seen all of Avatar : the last airbender and of The dragon prince, and I can’t believe it took me this long to check out this show! I’m only a few episodes in and I’m already loving the story, the artworks, and the wholesome characters.

The last season of The 100 also started, so I’m watching that as soon as each episode comes out – I’ve got high expectations for this season !

Related posts : Why I love The 100, yet haven’t read the books

Writing something

I’m super proud of myself for this one, because I actually did it! Granted, it’s only a 500 words Star Trek : alternate original series fanfiction, but still : it took me a lot of courage to write and post it, and the views, kudos and comments it got on AO3 have given me a lot of encouragement to keep trying, and maybe write some more in the future!

TBR

  • Men explain things to me, by Rebecca Solnit ✔️
  • Crown of feathers, by Nicki Pau Preto – sadly didn’t have the time to read it before my library hold expired
  • Furyborn, by Claire Legrand – also deleted from my phone before I could read it
  • The 30-day money cleanse, by Ashley Feinstein Gerstley ✔️
  • Better than before, by Gretchen Rubin ✔️
  • Buy yourself the f*cking lilies, by Tara Schuster ✔️
  • Followers, by Megan Angelo ✔️
  • Surrender your sons, by Adam Sass – this was a NetGalley ARC that comes out in September 2020, you can see my review here on Goodreads! ✔️
  • The rise and fall of the dinosaurs, by Steve Brusatte ✔️
  • Caliban’s war, by James S. A. Corey ✔️

I also read some books that weren’t on my TBR at the beginning of the month, including :

  • Planetfall, by Emma Newman
  • This book betrays my brother, by Kagiso Lesego Molope
  • The sparrow, by Mary Doria Russell
  • Happily ever after & everything in between, by Debbie Tung – this was a NetGalley ARC and it comes out in June, you can see my review here on Goodreads!

And I’m now a little more than 30% into The way of kings, by Brandon Sanderson – and this book is HUGE, oh my god.

Overall, I was surprised to see that I managed to achieve most of what I’d set out to do at the end of April. I’m feeling pretty good about this, and I’m hoping I can continue that way in the future !

2020 bookish goals

Happy New Year everyone ! I’ve been away from home for the new year, spending a few days with friends, and I had a lot of fun ! 

I love new year resolutions, or goal-setting of any kind, really, so here’s mine for 2020 – I wanted to keep them simple and measurable, so it’ll be easier for me to keep going and not give up halfway through the year.

Personal life goals

1. Get a job – this one is quite straightforward : I need money to pay rent, food, and my telephone bill. I was hoping to get some student loans this year, but since my parents didn’t fill out the paperwork correctly and refused to send the necessary papers for my application, I never even got approved for the loans. Which means I need to pay everything by myself, and find money somewhere.

2. Save 900$CAD for a plane ticket to France – I didn’t get the chance to go home and see friends and family this year, so I’m doing that in 2020. My boyfriend and I are planning to go skiing for Christmas, near where his parents live in France, and see my family after the festivities. But for that, I need to be able to afford a plane ticket and a train ride !

3. Exercise 5 times a week – I got a fitbit this year, and it’s changed my last months of 2019 for the better. I’ve been way more active, walked a lot, ate and slept better… being more active helped with my mental health too, and with getting good grades at my university. In 2020, we’re exercising 5 days a week !

Reading and blogging goals

1. Goodreads challenge – I’m keeping it low pressure, and going for a reading goal of 52 books this year. I know it’s a manageable goal for me and for the rhythm at which I read, and I don’t want to aim for something higher as there’s a good chance that’ll just discourage me and get me into a reading slump.

2. Post more on bookstagram – I’d like to aim for a short goal of two instagram posts a month : since I mostly read ebooks, I have less opportunities to take nice bookstagram pictures, but I’d still like to try to get my bookstagram the way I want it to look like.

3. Request less ARCs – This year, I’ve struggled quite a bit to keep up with my ARCs. I did what new bloggers do when they discover what ARCs are : requested a bunch of them, struggled to read them all, let some get past due date for the review and felt terribly bad about it. So this year, the limit is set to 10 ARCs for the entire year. I want to focus more on what I actually want to read for fun, and what I truly appreciate reading.

4. Blog hopping – I haven’t blog hopped enough in 2019, and I definitely need to change that in the future, so the goal is to spend some time on it once every week. Nothing too time-consuming, but I really need to get better at that.

What are your 2020 resolutions ? Did you make any ? 

November wrap-up

November was a pretty productive month, after all !

Let’s see what I managed to get done in those 30 days of running around everywhere and checking things off my to-do list :

Books read

  • Only Mostly Devastated – you can find my review here
  • Bird brain – reviewed here
  • Eff this ! Meditation
  • Everything isn’t terrible – reviewed here
  • Out with the ex, in with the new – reviewed here
  • Girl, wash your face
  • Girl, stop apologizing – these two actually pleasantly surprised me – it didn’t start really good,but I appreciated the second one much better than the first.
  • The 5 am club – Gave it an honest chance, but I definitely didn’t like it.
  • Red, white and royal blue – review coming up in December, when I find the time for it!
  • Hyperbole and a half – I DNF’ed this one, it just wasn’t for me at all

I’m also halfway through the rise and fall of the dinosaurs, but life is pretty hectic right now so I’m not sure I’ll manage to finish it before I have to give it back to the library. We’ll see!

November goals

So, how did I do on my November goals ? Well, it’s not a win on each and every one of them, but it’s not bad at all !

✅ Read 4 books off my TBR

❌ Post 10 times on my blog – I only posted 7 times, but that’s still way better than I did at the beginning of the year, so. Still a win.

✅ Keep exercising – I did kick-boxing, and even some jogging !

✅ Sleep 7 to 8 hours a night – More or less

✅ Keep studying even without exams

❌ Get a job – Not yet. I’m not giving up, though.

✅ Form new relationships

✅ Post more on bookstagram – IG stories totally count, right ?

✅ Buy less takeout coffee – I still bought some, but definitely not as much as last month ! (Saved a lot of money, too)

❌ Write something – I procrastinated doing this one for the whole month.

Life in general

This month was pretty busy, and in doing so, was also pretty stressful. I had a lot of trouble staying on top of things, even though all my exam results were amazingly good and nothing terribly bad happened – I kept having this vague fear that something bad was about to get here, and that I only had moments to prepare. Not a good feeling.
However, good things still happened : those exam results, for example!

I also went to the Montreal book festival. I got a weekly pass so I could go to all the conferences I wanted to go to, and I had a lot of fun!

I also updated my reading goals on Goodreads! I had planned to read 40 books this year, but I checked that goal in November, so I moved it up to 50 for a challenge – we’ll wee if I can get to that before the end of the year!