END OF 2018 POPSUGAR & GOODREADS CHALLENGES {WRAP-UP!}

The ubiquitous question in all bookish communities, Instagram posts, blogs, or booktuber’s (that is a word) videos: did you have a good reading year? I don’t think I did. According to Goodreads I surpassed my challenge (which I set at 71 books) and read 92 books this year. Well, um, kind of? What I consider to be actual books are novels, short story collections, cookbooks (which I became obsessed with in the last year and read cover to cover, every recipe completely read), collected volumes of comic books, and of course non-fiction books as well. Going by those guidelines I read 57 books; this is because of the fact that I do not consider single issue comics to be books. I read 35 single issue comics, partly because I subscribed to Comixology unlimited this year and became obsessed with it (and a very specific comic series which you’ll see when I break my year in books down more in depth later in this post). So, I feel like I had an okay reading year.  I set my Goodreads goal for 2019 at 71 again this year because I want to hit that goal of reading 71 books, single-issue comics not contained in that.

As far as the POPSUGAR reading challenge…yikes. I completed 38% of the challenge: 19 of 50 prompts (that is if you include the advanced challenge in that, if not it’s 19 out of 40 or 47%). I began the year wanting to only read books that would check off a prompt until I completed the challenge. What ended up happening is that the first few books I read just for the challenge I really was not into at all and it slowed my reading down a great deal. I would love to complete the 2019 challenge, but if I run into a book that I’m really not enjoying it just isn’t worth my time to force myself to finish it. I can put it down, shelve it in my DNF (did not finish), and pick up a different book. The challenge is fun and takes you out of your normal reading habits (I read some amazing books that were just for checking off a prompt, as well) but if it is torturous to get through a book just stop reading it, life is too short to read awful books.

Now for the more complete break down of my year in reading:

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2019 READING GOALS

Along with my Goodreads Reading Challenge goal this year (71 books), I am also participating in the PopSugar 2019 Reading Challenge! Come back here often to see when I have checked a prompt off the list- the title and author of the book will be added underneath the corresponding prompt. The page with the full list of prompts will be in the menu (for a tiny bit of clarification, check there- not back to THIS post).

If you would like to know more about this challenge, go here. The Goodreads group for the challenge is a safe, fun, and very active community. I encourage you to join in! You can also visit and follow/friend my Goodreads account to track my progress on both challenges.

Leave a comment below if you’re interested or are going to participate in this challenge- or if you have any reading goals for this year, as well!

IT NEVER HAPPENED

In an effort to be more forgiving of myself as a writer, I will be putting up more of my writing. With many calming breaths I will hit publish on this. At some point I would love to feel comfortable enough to share my experience as a domestic abuse survivor. Posting this very raw prose piece I hope will help me feel more comfortable with digging deeper and really opening up through writing.

TRIGGER WARNING: this piece deals with domestic abuse.

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2018 READING GOALS

Along with my Goodreads Reading Challenge goal this year (71 books), I am also participating in the PopSugar 2018 Reading Challenge! Come back here often to see when I have checked a prompt off the list- the title and author of the book will be added underneath the corresponding prompt. The page with the full list of prompts will be in the menu (for a tiny bit of clarification, check there- not back to THIS post).

If you would like to know more about this challenge, go here. The Goodreads group for the challenge is a safe, fun, and very active community. I encourage you to join in! You can also visit and follow/friend my Goodreads account to track my progress on both challenges.

Leave a comment below if you’re interested or are going to participate in this challenge- or if you have any reading goals for this year, as well!

SHM RADIO, EP.2: under the ash branches

   SHM Radio- a series I originally planned to be (at the very least) monthly…and here we are 5 months later since my last post. Life happens, and the bad likes to come crashing down all at once. The universe is an asshole like that.

I compiled some of these songs back in October, thinking it wold be a good Halloween-esque playlist (because it’s a bit dark). I decided to finish it now and put the songs in an order that’s meant to be listened to from beginning to end. This playlist is much more indicative of my general taste in music than the last- and I feel it’s perfect music for the frigid cold and aura of depression that surrounds the season where (at least in Oregon) you never really see the sun.

I am aware that if you are viewing this on a mobile device and do not have a Spotify subscription, it will only play the tracks shuffled. If you listen to it on your desktop that problem is solved.

If there is an official music video for the song I will be embedding that in the description. Now, on to the descriptions- let’s get moody as fuck together.
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SHM RADIO, EP.1: life that we know is ending

A large amount of those of you who follow SHM’s page on facebook responded well to the idea of a new series delving further into my love (obsession) with music. After doing some thinking, i’ve decided to be quite cheesy with it and dub this (at least)monthly series “SHM RADIO”. Each playlist will have less of a theme and more of an atmosphere- a playlist that sounds best listened to from beginning to end (does anybody, who is also old af like me, remember telling your friends that they had to listen to your mix tape or cd you were gifting them all the way through and not skip a song or else “they just wouldnt get it”? No? Probably just me). I am aware that if you are viewing this on a mobile device and do not have a Spotify subscription it will only play the tracks shuffled. If you listen to it on your desktop that problem is solved.

When I was a kid (8-13) I used to make little mix tapes- the only difference from your regular mix format was that I would record myself introducing the songs like I was a DJ (a profession I thought would be amazing at the time). Making this gave me a little rush of nostalgia.

Unfortunately, the track that I wanted to be the first song on this playlist is unavailable on Spotify. I chose a different song that I like almost as much by the same artist. The song that couldn’t make it on here was CHVRCHES mind-blowing cover of Bauhaus’ “Bela Lugosi’s Dead”. The original is one of my favorite songs by one of my favorite bands; CHVRCHES turns it into a completely different song and makes it their own. This isn’t a half-assed cover by any means (*COUGH*MARILYN MANSON DOING “PERSONAL JESUS”*COUGH*). Do yourself a favor and check it out at your leisure:

FINALLY, on to the actual descriptions. Think of me as your DJ. Your 3am broke-into-a-radio-station-and-took-over-for a-litte-over-an-hour DJ. If there is an official music video for the song I will be embedding that in the description.

 

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TRASH=REVIEW GOLD (ROUND 2!)

I have a ridiculous amount of empties. It’s become an issue. Can I really justify throwing my used up beauty/household products in a container until it is overflowing because “I’m going to write reviews on them soon!”? So, instead of reviewing every single empty I currently have in this post I picked 6, which I will continue to do with each beauty trash review post. If I have a product I really have no opinion on, if it was honestly just “meh”, it’s going straight in the recycling/trash.

I have something to say about each of these, in no particular order:

 

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March Book Wrap-up

My reading challenge on Goodreads is starting to look like an actual challenge. I only read 4 books in March. A bad reading month two months in a row, to me, equals an official reading slump. I had made a little pact with myself to only read books that I had actual excitement for- not books that others had recommended or books I felt like I had to read because “everyone else” is talking about them. For some reason, I can’t hold myself to that seemingly easy goal. In March, I forced myself to continue with a series that I gave up on years ago and read a novel that has been frequently recommended to me even though it wasn’t even appealing to me. I never really had the feeling this month of being excited to get back to my book during daily life, which is really quite sad. Reading is my hobby, not a chore or a job, and hobbies should be fun- right?

Some good news- as I type this it is the 14th of April and I am more than halfway finished with my 4th book of the month. I broke myself out of the reading slump by actually sticking to reading books that I am excited to read.

All of this being said, there was one book I read in the month of March that was beyond amazing- in fact, it is the best YA Contemporary novel I have ever read. Let’s start with that one (as always, my reviews are as spoiler-free as I can possibly make them):

 

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February Book Wrap-up

I read 3 novels and 1 graphic novel this month- incredibly low numbers for me. It was not a good reading month, obviously. Out of the 4 books I read, there was one that took most of the month for me to finish. I’ll delve more into why that happened in the “review” for that novel. At this moment I have completed 20% of my reading challenge goal for 2017 on Goodreads (75 books). I feel a little weird posting such a small wrap-up, but (I assume) most avid readers have experienced being stuck on a book. Once I start reading a novel there is something in me that refuses to let me just give up on it. My DNF (did not finish) shelf on Goodreads only has 2 books on it (“Haunted” by Chuck Palahniuk and “The Mercy of Thin Air” by Renlyn Domingue); which goes to show that no matter how bad a book is I will almost always trudge through to the end before I pick up another book, even if that means it takes me weeks to finish it.

As usual, if I posted a photo of my current read on social media I will include that- otherwise the photos are from Amazon.

On with the as-spoiler-free-as-I-can-make-them reviews:

 

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My Worst Enemy

I wrote this piece, “My Worst Enemy” for an assignment in my first college writing class. The assignment was to write a highly descriptive essay or story. When our papers were being handed out, mine was set on my desk with a deliberate smack. I immediately noticed that the paper was missing a grade. I looked up at my instructor who then said, “I need to see you after class”. I panicked, thinking that the subject of my “story” was so personal that she was going to demand that I see the counselor.

Here’s the thing: I was 19 at the time and living with bulimia and anorexia. I still deal with ENDOS, which is Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified- basically a fancy way of saying I have a fucked up relationship with food.

I approached her desk after class with my heart feeling as if it was going to pound straight out of my chest. “What’s wrong with my paper? I understand the subject material is kind of intense. . .”, I trailed off, nervous and shaky. Well, more shaky and nervous than my normal 19-year-old baseline of constant anxiety.

“Lori, you didn’t write this. It is above college level, and while I have yet to find any evidence that you plagiarized this piece, I do not believe you have it within you to write something like this”, she scrawled a large B- on my paper and handed it to me without another word. I received a B because this woman thought my writing was too good. I was enraged and yet flattered at the same time. Enraged that an instructor would squash what she saw as talent for no reason other than she herself was a failed writer. An instructor who started every class with a recitation of one of her cringe-worthy poems. An instructor who later on in the term gave me a C on a narrative assignment when the only red mark was her correction of “Uncle” to “Oncle” (I suppose this was because she was from New Orleans. I suspect it was because she hated me). Part of me, though, was flattered that she thought my writing was “above college level”, whatever that even means. I ended up receiving a B in this class solely because of those two assignments.

The following is that “infamous” (in my world) essay, unedited, from 2004:

MY WORST ENEMY

 

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