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!

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.