Monday, October 24, 2016

Self-Doubt and Reading

Sometimes I doubt my love for books. Or, certain genres, I should say. My love of books never leaves, but there are times when I think that maybe . . . my interests SHOULD be different. And even though my thoughts around this topic feel so irrational, self-doubt is still a seed that grows and grows until you can barely control it. Then you have to figure out how to clear the weeds and--okay, wow. I'm getting carried away with this metaphor.

Let's just get to the post.

Self-doubt SUCKS. And when it's book and reading related? It's even worse because that's supposed to be my sanctuary away from my insecurities. Writing and talking about books, buying and borrowing them, sharing and receiving recommendations are all supposed to be a part of that sanctuary. Reading is one of my biggest passions in life, and having negative feelings associated with it . . . well, it doesn't make me happy.

Where does this self-doubt even start? If I go a long time without reading a fantastic book (or any books!) in certain genres, I start questioning myself. I start listening to other people's issues with them and I start thinking that my reactions should be more similar to theirs. (Another struggle of mine is the urge to conform and have the same thoughts as my peers because they must be "right" or something--which really doesn't make sense outside of my head.) Then the irrational thoughts start trickling in and growing:
  • Am I looked down on because I love reading this genre?
  • Should I read this genre less?
  • Should I stop reviewing this genre?
  • Should I pull back from reviewing most books?
  • Should I be as quiet as possible about the books I read and just signal boost others' reviews and book recs?
Annnddd sometimes those questions turn into actions, and they have recently. I'm getting a little closer to posting my thoughts on books again, though. (Litsy hasn't been as affected as other places.)

The genre I've been doubting lately is romance. New Adult and Adult contemporary romance, mostly. I haven't read many YA contemporary romances this year, so I don't have much to say about that right now. Romance is at the root of my interest in MANY books. It's always been! I'm starting to think I'm a hopeless romantic because there's nothing that gets me lost in a book quicker than a little bit of romantic chemistry between two characters. So, doubting my love for romance is . . .  strange. It weighs on me more if I doubted my love for fantasy or for YA entirely (which I have also done this year).

There are two points that I keep coming back to when I'm doubting myself:
  • Romance is oftentimes problematic in some way (New Adult especially). There's really no way of downplaying that. I've met my fair share of romances that just . . . no.
  • Romance is frequently . . . looked down upon? Dismissed? Not seen as worthwhile or being capable of being quality reading? Being similar to other stories?
I think of these things and forget all the things I love about the genre and instead start thinking about how . . . maybe I shouldn't love it. Maybe I shouldn't read it. Maybe it's not a good thing that I love this genre.

But.

(Here comes my favorite part of this post.)

There comes a book that reminds me just. How. Stupid. I'm. Being.

I started Punk 57 by Penelope Douglas shortly after midnight and read it almost nonstop for the next four hours, decided to get some sleep, and woke up in one of the best moods I've been in all month. My love for great romances was reignited. I felt talkative. I felt excited to start my day and get back to reading. And . . . I wrote this post, feeling more exciting about blogging than I've been in three weeks.

And it's all because my self-doubt was kicked to the side as I was reminded why I read romance.

I love romance books!!. I can get lost in contemporary romance for hours and not feel tired or hungry or so damn self-conscious. The world fades away. I get lost in speculative fiction with a great romance, too, though it's a little tougher to stay in as long as I do with a contemporary. New Adult is relateable to me right now. I'm a 21 year old who feels completely lost in life and many of the characters I meet in NA (be it a YA/NA or NA/adult crossover) feel THE SAME WAY. And though I don't relate to them because of the romance, romance is frequently the thing that makes it easier to get into the book, which then helps me connect to the characters.

Sooo,
  • Quite a few romances are problematic. A lot of them aren't. There are also a ton of them that have their problematic parts, but are still great as a whole. Same goes for all the other genres!
  • Other people may dismiss romance, but I can't do the same. Sure, not all romances will be great. Of course not. But this genre frequently brings something valuable to my life.
Also, reading-related self-doubt sucks, but it pales in comparison to that satisfying feeling of falling in love with a book.

Have you ever been in a similar situation where you doubted how much you love a certain book genre/type/category?

Happy Reading! ~ Kaitlin ☺

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

September Series Update (Includes Spreadsheets!)

I really liked posting my previous series update, so I'm going to continue posting about the series I'm reading! It's making me feel very organized. Though that may be because of the spreadsheet I created...

(I'm a big fan of spreadsheets, in case you don't know yet.☺)

I'm using it to keep track of the series I'm making progress in this year and prioritizing the ones I want to continue. I have a scale from 5 to 1 (1 being Wait if I have to wait for the next book to release). At the bottom are series I finished and then series I've decided to quit. Then I have color coded cells and notes for novellas and some release dates and oh, this is really fun to work with. *insert heart eyes*
The dark blue cell is supposed to be green since I'm not reading Morrigan's Cross anymore.

Anyway, let's get to the actual update. . . . Like last time, the first section is sorted by priority.

Series Progress
Circle Trilogy by Nora Roberts
Current Length: 3
Read: 1
Series status: Finished!
Notes: This series is one of Holly's absolute FAVORITES, so of course I'm trying it out. The first book is pretty good! I have the rest of the series and will be working on them this month and November.


Fullmetal Alchemist by Hiromu Arakawa (translated by Akira Watanabe)
Current Length: 27
Read: 11
Series status: Finished!
Notes: I'm really enjoying this series! It departed from the FMA plot pretty early on, which doesn't bother me at all. I like the differences. I should be finishing this series before the end of the year, but that depends on availability of the library copies.


Addicted/Calloway Sisters by Krista & Becca Ritchie
Current Length: 10
Read: 3
Series status: Finished!
Notes: I meant to read Kiss the Sky, too, but apparently I'm stretching this series out. A lot of people like to binge-read these books, but it takes a lot of my energy to prepare for each book. THEY'RE EMOTIONAL. And mind-blowingly great, so I'm going to take my time with these books. ☺

Dreamland by E.J. Mellow
Current Length: 2
Read: 1
Series status: Book 3 is releasing this month. There's also a novella that I want to read.
Notes: I discovered The Dreamer in September (thanks to Sarah's review) and quickly got my hands on a copy and read it! It approaches the dreamworld concept really well. I'm hoping to finish this series before the end of the year as well.






Current Length: 6
Read: 1
Series status: The author is working on the 7th!
Notes: THERE'S SO MUCH MORE TO READ. I don't think I can fit the sequel in this month, but maybe November? I want to make sure I continue this soon so I don't get in the habit to keep pushing it back.

Greatcoats by Sebastien De Castell
Current Length: 3
Read: 1
Series status: The 4th books releases in 2017.
Notes: Traitor's Blade is GREAT. I don't know when I'll get a hold of the sequel, though, so I'm not sure when I'll be picking the series back up.

Farseer Trilogy by Robin Hobb
Current Length: 3
Read: 1
Series status: This one is finished, though there's a lot of follow-up series in the same world.
Notes: I liked the first book, though it wasn't the easiest read for me. The sequel was on my October TBR, but I've pushed it back a little because I know it'll take awhile to read.


Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynn Jones
Current Length: 3
Read: 1
Series status: Finished!
Notes: I didn't like Howl's Moving Castle as much as the film, so I'm not that eager to continue the series. It's one of my best friend's favorite series, though, so I have a feeling she'll eventually get me to finish it.

Series I Finished
Castles Ever After by Tessa Dare

These historical romances were really fun! They had a great romantic comedy movie vibe to them. I adored the characters, humor, and romances. My favorite is Say Yes to the Marquess followed by a tie between When a Scot Ties the Knot and Romancing the Duke.

Frigid by Jennifer L. Armentrout

I think this is the first Jennifer L. Armentrout series I've finished . . . huh. They're my least favorite books by her so far, though. I liked them, but they weren't anything special.

Unfinished Series I Caught Up On
The Others by Anne Bishop

I absolutely LOVE the first book! The second book is great, as is the third one. I struggled with the fourth. My main complaints are that 1) things get repetitive with meeting after meeting after meeting, 2) with each book, the cast of characters gets bigger and harder to keep track of, and 3) with the addition of SO MANY OTHER CHARACTERS, it seems like Meg gets fewer and fewer scenes. I miss her!

The Miscellaneous Category
Read First Book, But Won't Be Continuing Series

Air Awakens by Elise Kova

This should be in the won't be continuing list, but I still might give the sequel a try. Before anyone says that I should definitely continue the series, I should say that I have something negative to say about every single aspect of the book and that I had a very bad experience reading it.

2016 Releases That Kick Off Series I Intend to Continue


Fresh Romance (comic anthology)


This was a fun read! I liked the artwork and the various stories. "School Spirit" and "The Ruby Equation" were my favorites.


What I'm Hoping to Read This Month
I have a second spreadsheet for my Series TBR. :D It currently has most of the series I'm hoping to start/continue this month. Caraval is on my October TBR. As you can tell from the screenshot, I'm borrowing a LOT of books right now, so they are a higher priority than FMA, the Addicted/Calloway Sisters series, The Circle Trilogy, and the Dreamland series. I also plan to catch up on the Saga graphic novels. ☺

Whoops. I forgot to remove Dreamland since it made it onto the other sheet...

What series have you been working on lately?

Happy Reading! ~ Kaitlin ☺

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

11 Random Songs I've Been Listening To

Heyy, long time no see! I haven't posted here in awhile (I simply didn't have any content ready to post or a desire to make any), but I've been wanting to share some music that I've been loving lately. Plus, I missed the music themed Top Ten Tuesday . . . and I really wanted to post for that. There's SO MANY SONGS I WANT TO INCLUDE, but since I want to keep this brief-ish, I'm turning my Spotify* on shuffle to help choose artists/songs/albums that way instead of trying to settle on a theme.

*I broke up with Rhapsody (now Napster) after having it for, what, eight or nine years? I discovered that the Korean music selection was WAY better on Spotify and now that's my preferred way of streaming music when I'm not on YouTube. The Spotify playlists are better, too.

Let's get started!

BTS
"Run"
I just got into Korean music (mainly Kpop so far) a couple months ago and it's still making up the majority of what I'm listening to right now. THERE'S A LOT TO EXPLORE. For some reason, it took me a long time to give BTS's music a try. Then I chanced upon the video for "War of Hormone," which I LOVE. Then I listened to more of their music! "Run" is one of my favorites to listen to. (I'm including a live version because the MV is a lot longer.)

Melanie Martinez
"Teddy Bear"

I looovvvee Melanie Martinez' sound and lyrics. Her videos kinda scare me, but they're some of the most creative ones I've seen. Plus, they definitely go with the whole story of the Dollhouse album and her Cry Baby alter ego. I don't love "Teddy Bear" as much as my favorites "Dollhouse," "Tag, You're It," "Play Date," or many of her other songs, but it's still pretty good.

The How to Get Away With Music Soundtrack
"I Come With Knives"
I didn't even THINK to look for a HTGAWM soundtrack until I came across it on Spotify. I've been listening to it while reading this week, even though what I've been reading don't really match the vibe the songs give. Even though I don't remember exactly when the songs played, they still remind me of the show so much. I love them!

Hailee Steinfeld, Grey ft. Zedd
"Starving"

I'm adoring Hailee Steinfeld's music! "Starving" is the one that pushed me to listen to her Haiz album. "You're Such A" and "Love Myself" are my favorites, though "Starving" follows closely behind.

EXID
"Ah Yeah"

EXID is one of my favorite Kpop groups!! I have to admit that I don't think their music is as great as other groups I've been listening to, but after I discovered them through the "Every Night" MV, I practically had their songs on repeat. "Ah Yeah" is my favorite! It's my favorite video, too, because of the little bit of humor at the end.

Ailee
"Don't Touch Me"

Like with BTS, it took me awhile to pay attention to Ailee. I don't know why I wasn't that interested before, but then I listened to this song and realized that she is really good. I'm still in the beginning stages with her music (AKA listening to "Don't Touch Me" and "I Will Show You" over and over), so I haven't heard many of her songs yet.

G-Dragon
"Crooked"

I don't like this MV, but I like the song! Big Bang was the first Korean group that I got really into (thanks to "Fantastic Baby") and G-Dragon was the first male solo artist that I started listening to. I don't listen to a lot of his songs, but I really like "Crooked," "Heartbreaker," and "Crayon." And ooh! "Without You" (feat. Rosé of Blackpink) and "Baby Good Night" (with TOP) are two of my other favorites.

Andy Grammar
"Fresh Eyes"

I'm not really a fan of Andy Grammer, but this song has snuck up on me!! I think I was a little bored the first time I heard it, but then I started listening to it more and now I absolutely adore it. It feels like a song I could easily pair with a good contemporary romance book.

Red Velvet
"Russian Roulette"

Getting into Red Velvet's songs has been a rocky process for me (and I'm realizing there's at least 20 that I haven't heard yet), but some of them seem to be favorites of mine! I love "Dumb Dumb," but it took me three or four times to get into it. Same goes for "Russian Roulette." I love it now, but it felt so meh the first time I watched the MV. 

Block B
"Jackpot"

When I discovered Block B, I think my ears felt like they were doing a happy dance. Something about their sound and vocals work so well for me. I also LOVE how silly get in some of their MVs. They're a fun group. ☺

Mamamoo
"Mr. Ambiguous"

I was going to stick to 10 songs, but Mamamoo is my newest favorite group and I HAVE to mention them. I still have a lot to explore, but I'm loving this group's retro/jazz sound. Some of their songs have more of it than others ("Mr. Ambiguous" and "Piano Man" > "Taller Than You"), but I'm loving that variety. I like their vocals more than a lot of other groups I listen to.

Honorable Mentions
This is my first time talking about Korean music in a blog post, so I'm taking advantage of this moment to mention other artists/groups I'm into.

AOA's songs are ridiculously catchy, so I've been listening to those a lot. "Good Luck" and "Like a Cat" are my favorites. I discovered TaeYang's "Wedding Dress" and am now thinking that he's my favorite Big Bang member. I love "1, 2, 3, 4" by Lee Hi, but haven't explored much more by her. Wheesung's "Hold Over" (ft. LE from EXID) is one of my favorite songs right now. I really like a lot of songs by iKon, but haven't been listening to them as much as other groups lately. Same goes for AKMU and 2ne1. I'm into one song by f(x) ("Hot Summer"), Super Junior ("Sorry, Sorry"), IU ("Twenty-three"), Twice ("Like Ooh-Ahh"), and Oh My Girl ("Liar Liar"), but nothing else by them has stuck with me just yet. I really like Blackpink and am excited for them to release more music.

What have you been listening to lately? Do you love any of these songs or artists/bands? Do you have any recommendations for who to start listening to next??

Happy reading! ~ Kaitlin ☺