First Quarter Wrap-Up

Reading has been a strange experience for me recently. I either don’t read for a few days or blast through ten volumes of a manga in a couple of hours. I feel like I’ve been swinging between extremes since the beginning of the year, its been frustrating. I thought I would do a quarterly wrap-up of some of my favorite books and some I plan to read this year.

Caraval by Stephanie Garber – This was my first read of the year, it kicked it off to a good start. While it was nothing like I expected, having seen it compared to Night Circus; I still enjoyed the story and world it created. I even got a chance to review this in a regional magazine (Panama City Living) which was a fantastic experience. I have been recommending this to a lot of coworkers, none of them could work out the twist either which made me feel loads better.

A Game of Thrones: The Illustrated Edition by George R.R. Martin – I had read this a few years back but received the anniversary edition for Christmas so I decided to start at the beginning of the series. This was a new way of experiencing the book, the illustrations added so much more than I anticipated. I found myself wrapped up in the world and falling in love with the series all over again. I read the next two books in the series but have yet to pick up the fourth. I quickly got burned out on 1000 page (or more) books so I had to move onto other things. Still have no interest in watching the show though.

Fairy Tail by Hiro Mashima – This is where my reading got a little messed up. I had read the first few volumes and decided to give myself a break from The Song of Fire and Ice series with these. Then I read the remaining volumes out of the 59 currently out in the United States. I became obsessed. Still am to be honest. It also started me on reading many other mangas this year. Its not a bad thing, I just tend to balance my manga with longer books usually. But I have gone down that rabbit hole and don’t see myself crawling out anytime soon.

Fairy Tail Zero by Hiro Mashima – On that note, this part of the series in particular got to me. Its only a single volume. While you could read it without reading the rest of the series, I wouldn’t suggest it. This shows the foundation of the main guild in the series and the backstories of a few key characters. It was absolutely heart-breaking and made me feel for a character that I never thought I could care about. Definitely one of my favorite parts of the entire series.

Anne Boleyn: A King’s Obsession by Allison Weir – I just read this book recently but I absolutely adored it. Finally, a portrayal of Anne that I can get behind. She was manipulative but also vulnerable, it was nice to see all the sides of her through her seduction of Henry and her downfall. It got me back into the Tudor frenzy – so I started rewatching the series for the millionth time. I also plan to pick up more of her books, and other Tudor-based books soon. I think that might get me out of the slump.

There are so many good books coming out this year that I want to read but I will contain my list of things I want to read in 2017 to books that are already currently out. Maybe I’ll go on a reading spree in the next couple of weeks.

A Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab – How I haven’t already picked this up, I don’t really know. Part of me is so scared to read the end of the trilogy though.

Silence Fallen by Patricia Briggs – My favorite fantasy series has a new book and I haven’t read it yet. I read the last book the day it came out. Why am I procrastinating? Also, the art for the cover is even more beautiful than usual.

Nevernight by Jay Kristoff – I read the first few pages and then had to put it down – though I can’t remember why – but they were enthralling. Definitely need to pick this one up soon. They just revealed the cover for the sequel and damn.

A Man Called Ove by Fredrick Backman – I am so far behind everyone else. I know the book is going to be amazing, I even own it already. I just need to read it and all of his other amazing books.

How do you book? I am having a hard time doing the book thing right now. I have so many books staring me down from my shelves, waiting to be read. Sometimes it can be intimidating to just pick one to read. This year, I want to reduce the number of unread books that I own. That will probably entail more purging than reading but we shall see, here’s to  hoping I go on a reading binge in the next quarter.

What’s your favorite book so far this year? Any anticipated releases coming up?

Anne Boleyn: A King’s Obsession

There comes a time in everyone’s life when they must decide, themselves, whether they are the hero or the villain.

Anne Boleyn most likely thought of herself as the hero of a story, a martyr even. Manipulated by her family and forced into a situation she never desired, she chased the King of England, Henry VIII. First her sister, Mary, was offered up to him. Their family gained favor and money through her dalliance with the King, the fact that she bore him a child was just considered shameful. When he became interested in Anne, her family wanted to play for the longer game. The one that would bring their family to the top and gain them the positions they felt they had deserved from the beginning. Their plan worked, for a time.

The story of the six wives of Henry VIII is nothing new to me. One of my favorite historical fiction subjects, I have read as many of the books as I can get my hands on. In the past, I had read one of Alison Weir’s books and did not find I liked it as much as other authors. However, I have always found Anne Boleyn the most interesting of all of his wives and could not resist giving this title a chance. How happy I am that I have.

The book opens with Anne as a young girl and takes you through her life, one year (or group of years in the beginning) to give you an idea of how she was raised. Bounced from court to court, as it pleased her family and gained them a better reputation; Anne was exposed to a number of revolutionary ideas. Mostly about the status of women and religion. These early influences shaped her into the tenacious woman she became later in life, they also aided her downfall. You start the book in love with Anne, all of her youthful exuberance and love for knowledge. She was someone any girl could see themselves in. Someone who wanted to marry for love, not for political alliance. All she wanted was to learn more and be respected as a person, not just a lowly woman who meant nothing without her father or a husband. Constantly, she is reminded of her age and that she is getting past the point of marrying.

Even when Anne meets Henry, she wants nothing to do with him. Especially after his affair with her sister. She hates him. But he is interested in her. Henry sends her gifts and raises her family up. This her father cannot ignore. He implores Anne to play the game with Henry, to act interested without compromising herself. They seek more money and a higher position at court. This game goes on for years as Anne slowly coaxes him away from his lawful wife, Katherine. All this time, you remain on Anne’s side because she is doing what she has been told to do. In truth, she has little other choice. She can play the game with Henry or she can sleep with him for a short time, either way she ends up in ruin if he ever tires of her. Then Henry begins speaking of divorcing Katherine and marrying Anne, this is where everything changes.

In the beginning of the King’s Great Matter, Anne remains much the same person we have loved from the start. She still does not really want this marriage, she’s had her eye on someone else all along. However, she knows this is what is best for her, her family, and her future children. She seeks a better life for all involved. But she has grown bitter against Katherine which changes her. I cannot pinpoint the moment I started to hate Anne, to think she was a wicked person for the things she was doing. But it happened so seamlessly along the way.

That has been one of my favorite things about this book. It takes you along the same journey her family and Anne most likely walked. Starting (mostly) innocent and turning into people who wished – and plotted – for the deaths of their enemies. They became like the people they hated, all to gain more power. And what did it bring them in the end? When the King was finally done with them all, he had them killed. Do not get me wrong, King Henry VIII is just as much to blame in this, he is the man with six wives who could never have enough power. He destroyed so many people – women especially – in his quest for power and a son.

My favorite quote from the book was: “There was a certain irony in the fact that it had taken minutes to dissolve the marriage that Henry had striven and schemed for six years to make.”

Anne Boleyn: A King’s Obsession by Alison Weir comes out May 18th, I urge you to pick this one up if you have an interest in history or scandalous tales.

After reading this book, I just want to binge watch the Tudors and pick up some more historical fiction. Any suggestions to fill this Tudor void?

101 Things in 1001 Days

This is my third time attempting this challenge and probably not my last. In case you haven’t heard of it, 101 things in 1001 days is exactly how it sounds. You set yourself 101 goals or tasks to complete in the next 1001 days. Sometimes people get too ambitious or make the tasks too easy. I prefer a mix of both. Some of my tasks I quickly complete and others take me a while, sometimes they don’t even get checked off by the end of the challenge. Most of the time, I forget about the list after a couple of months unfortunately.

This time I’m taking a slightly different approach. I have not finished my list but I will add more as they come to me. In the past, I have scoured the site Day Zero Project, where I first came across the idea, to find things to fill up my list during the first days of making it. This leaves me with a complex list, usually half-full of things I don’t even care about. So this time around, I’m only adding things I definitely want to accomplish in the next 1001 days. That means that it might take me close to that amount of time to even come up with a full list of 101 things to even do. Hopefully this method will have more success than my lists have in the past.

Currently, the list stands with:

1. Read 100 books
2. Complete a coloring book
3. Not log into Facebook for a whole week!
4. Clean out my closet
5. Graduate College
6. Kiss someone at midnight on New Year’s
7. Get rid of 100 things
8. Learn to count to 10 in 10 languages
9. Complete a ‘Walk To Mordor’ challenge
10. Reach my goal weight
11. Read a book with more than 500 pages
12. Read a nonfiction book
13. Learn Hangul (Korean alphabet)
14. Learn the alphabet in sign language
15. Learn basic Japanese
16. Catalog all my books
17. Reduce my owned TBR to 25 books
18. Complete the Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up program
19. Buy a Wreck This Journal and finish it
20. Read all the books currently on my shelf
21. Learn origami
22. Write a short story
23. Read a book with more than 1000 pages
24. Read a poetry book
25. Buy someone my favorite book
26. Purge iPhoto
27. Read the entire bible
I started this particular list on Christmas of 2016 and it will end on September 22, 2019. I have plenty of time to come up with more tasks and complete them all. For the first time, all of these feel like something I could reasonably accomplish. Though it will still take some work. I will update this list periodically and cross off the tasks as I complete them. It seems odd to post this with tasks already crossed off but I have been busy for the last two months.
Have you ever kept a 101 things in 1001 days? What are some of your favorite goals you have set or accomplished? Anything you suggest I add to my list?