My 1st DNF and 1 Star Book of The Year

Well, it finally happened. I read a book I could not finish, as well as another that received a 1 star rating. A quick perusal of my Goodreads page will lead anyone towards the correct conclusion that I generally rate books between 4-5 stars, because I rarely subject myself to a book I think I might never enjoy. However, I went in blind, reading both of the aforementioned books without researching, and this was the result.

One of the books, The Art of Being Normal, has been on my TBR for ages, so it’s a miracle I never did seek out any non-spoiler reviews where I might have gleaned even a hint of whether I’d enjoy it or not. If I had though, I would have realized it wasn’t a book for me, because it was a non- OwnVoices hot mess, to put it frankly. However, I was fooled by the beautiful rainbow cover, and so here we are. As for the other, The Keeper of The Mist, I picked it up at random from the library, and the synopsis immediately grabbed my attention, so my hopes were high. However, xenophobia was rife in it, and therefore no longer something I wished to consume.

This is not to say, however, that I am not pleased with the outcome. Despite the terrible ratings I gave, I am thankful to have read these books, because one – they were both published roughly 3-4 years ago, and after knowing the majority of their contents, it is easy to see that publishing in YA is transitioning to something somewhat better, even if it’s at a snail’s pace in certain aspects, and two – I will now advocate even more strongly for OwnVoice novels of all sorts, including my own future ones. There are moments in life that shape us, and I believe reading these books was another one for me.

Some Rather Than None

In a surprising turn of events, I wrote words.

No, really, I did. My spreadsheet even says so. I promise.

By the time this posts, I’ll be working towards my overall monthly goal of finishing with at least 40K under my belt, which will be relatively easy considering I’m closer to 36K at this point than not. This is a non NaNo month, in which I spread myself out over a variety of projects, so I am quite pleased with my work, even if my drive fizzled out towards the end due to life and its inconsistencies, coupled with my inability to focus after these unexpected events transpired. Still, I wrote words that mattered and which helped me grow. That is progress I can get behind.

Now that May is all but over, as I look forward to next month, believe it or not, I am aiming for the whole 50K, if not more. With a new spreadsheet in tow, I will be tracking my progress once again, because it seemed that method helped me to best stay on track, even if I did deviate for a bit. In preparation for the July NaNo, and each one after, I want to keep the work load steady, so that writing that much becomes as easy as breathing. Otherwise, finishing all that I want to may never happen.

On a semi related note, I actually read 5 books this month, as well as one graphic novel. April was the worst reading month I’ve had in years, so to read that much after the previous month, was a breath of relief. In terms of overall enjoyment – I loved each book that I chose. Two thirds of them were new releases, with the other two being books I’ve had on my TBR pile for a while. Not a single one disappointed, thankfully.

While I do not plan to set a definitive TBR for next month, I will say that I’d like to read at least 5 queer books, if not more. Massive monthly TBR piles, like I tried to set for each month at the beginning of the year, will not do it for me. At least, not while I’m juggling all that I am. Even so, I’m sure I will enjoy the next month, and whatever reads it brings.

So that’s my May in a nutshell, with writing and reading – two actions which are intrinsically linked. If you do either, do you have any goals for next month? Are you setting a definitive TBR for Pride Month, or winging it?

Either way, I hope that if you’re reading this, that you’re having a great day!

T.J.

On My Unintended Hiatus, Health Status, & More

Contrary to what I said last week, I did not have as many posts queued up as I initially thought. I have many drafts that I need to finish, but given the status of where I’ve been mentally and physically, it was not possible to do so for this past week. Normally, I don’t speak up much about my personal life on this blog much outside of what fits the LGBTQIA+ themed posts, but I figure now might be a good time to explain at least part of the reason this past month and this past first quarter of the year exhausted me so thoroughly.

Health-wise, over the past few weeks, I came down with the flu. I’m not often sick, so when I am, the illnesses I do contract have me down and out for longer than most, it seems. This is merely an observation of my own, not an absolute fact. Secondly, I have seizures. It’s something I’ve dealt with for years now, but over the course of the past year, particularly since the beginning of this year, they have become more frequent than ever.

The seizures I have come in varying degrees and they leave me exhausted to the point my body overcompensates for sleep afterwards. Even with the “normal” amount of sleep an adult should have, sometimes that isn’t enough. There are periods after where I have to exceed that by a great deal to recover. Then there’s the other aftermath symptoms that come along with recovering, such as the inability to concentrate, amongst others. That one is particularly frustrating and overwhelming, especially when all I want to do is write or work on my school work.

That being said, I am working with health professionals to be diagnosed, get on medication, and I’m taking all of the proper precautions, etc. I even bought a bracelet which has SEIZURES emblazoned across the bright red band. Even so, it’s hard some days, to say the least.

Even though all of this has been going on, I’ve still managed to do more school work after copious amounts of sleep and mental rest. I’ve also finished a book. Just one from my 15 count long TBR for April. At this point, I don’t see that being finished, given all that I’ve got going on. As for Camp NaNoWriMo, I’m not where I want to be, but I’ve written a decent amount. Depending on how these last two weeks of April go, I may be able to finish my 30,000 word goal. All in all, I’m just winging it and hoping for the best.

As for this blog, if I don’t post on the days I normally do, it’s not for lack of trying. I am doing all that I can to be on a normal schedule. I’d like to say there won’t be any more gaps, but I’m not a seer. All I can do is do the best with what I’ve been given, and hope it’s enough.

I hope everyone’s April is going well!

Until next time,

T.J.


April Showers Me With To Do Lists and Goals

Hi guys!

It’s a bit of a personal post today, rather than a certain topic. I need a good written ramble though, so please bear with me.

This month is going to be a chaotic one in my life for a number of reasons:

  1. I’m back in school, working to become certified for a specific job in the medical field. Anything related to that area means studying, sleeping if possible, more studying, a bit of crying, and then studying again, as I have learned the last few weeks. I loved what I’ve learned so far though, and I am glad I chose a career change.
  2. I’m trying to complete a whole manuscript with Camp NaNoWriMo. It is only a first draft, but the pressure is on, because I chose this MS over one I’ve been working on for ten years and now I feel like this is a monumental decision, because I shelved my dream project(s) for one I hadn’t planned on writing for another ten years. However, I wanted to do an OwnVoices novel, so that is what led me to this one instead. More news on that later, as time progresses.
  3. I’ve assigned myself a massive TBR to complete, because my hope is that I can read enough books to populate posts for every single day of Pride Month in June. Will it happen? Who knows. However, I am still going to try. I’m an ambitious sort, what can I say?
  4. Outside of this, I am a parent, and a person who has to do other things related to being a human. I also have other goals I won’t list here, but ones that could potentially be difficult given that every single free moment from here on out must be scripted or scheduled.

Reading over this you might wonder, why on earth would you take on all of that at once? The answer is short – I’m tired of wasting time where I don’t want to be, career wise. Also, I have stories that need to be told, and ones I want to boost because representation matters, and those seeking it should find it. I’m working towards a better future for myself and my family, as well as my little corner of the world. Sometimes that means making sacrifices, but in the end, it’ll be worth it.

As for the blog, the schedule will retain its normal routine. I’ve got scheduled posts that will drop while I’m busy. In a month I’ll let you all know how this craziness goes, and whether I’ve gained a few gray hairs or not.

So, readers, what about you? Are you participating in Camp NaNoWriMo? What are you entering? Have you got a big TBR, or no? Let’s talk in the comments!

I hope each person who reads this has a swell day!

Until next time,

T.J.

February/Blackathon TBR

For the month of February, I will be participating in the Blackathon reading challenge, which is being hosted by Francina Simone, Bowties & Books, and The Novel Lush. They are all awesome Booktubers, and if you have any interest in books or bookish discussions at all, I suggest taking a look at their channels! Jesse from Bowties & Books also created a comprehensive Google Doc list, for anyone needing help locating books that would meet the requirement(s) for each challenge.

It has been stated that one book can check off multiple challenges, or all of them if it meets the requirements for more than just one. So when choosing books, that is something to bear in mind. I, however, have chosen to read at least one book per challenge. Depending on how my reading goes this next month, I may add more. That remains to be seen though.

Challenge #1 is FEEL THE LOVE: Read a book (any genre) featuring romance between two black people (or one black person + a person of color).

To fulfill this challenge, I have chosen to read Becoming by Michelle Obama.

Summary –

“In a life filled with meaning and accomplishment, Michelle Obama has emerged as one of the most iconic and compelling women of our era. As First Lady of the United States of America—the first African American to serve in that role—she helped create the most welcoming and inclusive White House in history, while also establishing herself as a powerful advocate for women and girls in the U.S. and around the world, dramatically changing the ways that families pursue healthier and more active lives, and standing with her husband as he led America through some of its most harrowing moments. Along the way, she showed us a few dance moves, crushed Carpool Karaoke, and raised two down-to-earth daughters under an unforgiving media glare. 

In her memoir, a work of deep reflection and mesmerizing storytelling, Michelle Obama invites readers into her world, chronicling the experiences that have shaped her—from her childhood on the South Side of Chicago to her years as an executive balancing the demands of motherhood and work, to her time spent at the world’s most famous address. With unerring honesty and lively wit, she describes her triumphs and her disappointments, both public and private, telling her full story as she has lived it—in her own words and on her own terms. Warm, wise, and revelatory, Becoming is the deeply personal reckoning of a woman of soul and substance who has steadily defied expectations—and whose story inspires us to do the same.”

Challenge #2 is WAKANDA FOREVER: Read a graphic novel or comic series with a black or African MC.

For this challenge, I have purchased the first installment of Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur.

Summary –

“Lunella Lafayette is a preteen super genius who wants to change the world- but learned the hard way that it takes more than just big brains. Fearful of the monstrous Inhuman genes inside her, life is turned upside down when a savage, red-scaled tyrant is teleported from prehistoric past to a far-flung future we call today. The pair is many things, and together the most amazing Marvel Team-Up. Marvel presents…Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur!

Challenge #3 is HEAR US: ANY work by a Black or African author.

For this one, I have selected The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin.

Summary – 

“At the end of the world, a woman must hide her secret power and find her kidnapped daughter in this “intricate and extraordinary” Hugo Award winning novel of power, oppression, and revolution (The New York Times).
This is the way the world ends…for the last time. A season of endings has begun. 

It starts with the great red rift across the heart of the world’s sole continent, spewing ash that blots out the sun. 

It starts with death, with a murdered son and a missing daughter. 

It starts with betrayal, and long dormant wounds rising up to fester. 

This is the Stillness, a land long familiar with catastrophe, where the power of the earth is wielded as a weapon. And where there is no mercy.”

Challenge #4 is FEEL THE BEAT: Spoken word – listen to these 4 poems and share your favorite on social media or with a friend. Discuss what this poem means to you and why it matters.

Challenge #5 is MORE THAN A COLOR: We house complexity within us. Read a book starring an intersectional black character (black & LGBT, black & neurodivergent, black & disabled, etc)

For this challenge, I will be reading An Unkindness of Ghosts by Rivers Solomon.

Summary – 

“Aster has little to offer folks in the way of rebuttal when they call her ogre and freak. She’s used to the names; she only wishes there was more truth to them. If she were truly a monster, she’d be powerful enough to tear down the walls around her until nothing remains of her world.

Aster lives in the lowdeck slums of the HSS Matilda, a space vessel organized much like the antebellum South. For generations, Matilda has ferried the last of humanity to a mythical Promised Land. On its way, the ship’s leaders have imposed harsh moral restrictions and deep indignities on dark-skinned sharecroppers like Aster. Embroiled in a grudge with a brutal overseer, Aster learns there may be a way to improve her lot–if she’s willing to sow the seeds of civil war.”

Challenge #6 is IN THIS TOGETHER: Read the group book with us! Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo

Summary – 

“Xiomara Batista feels unheard and unable to hide in her Harlem neighborhood. Ever since her body grew into curves, she has learned to let her fists and her fierceness do the talking.

But Xiomara has plenty she wants to say, and she pours all her frustration and passion onto the pages of a leather notebook, reciting the words to herself like prayers—especially after she catches feelings for a boy in her bio class named Aman, who her family can never know about.

With Mami’s determination to force her daughter to obey the laws of the church, Xiomara understands that her thoughts are best kept to herself. So when she is invited to join her school’s slam poetry club, she doesn’t know how she could ever attend without her mami finding out. But she still can’t stop thinking about performing her poems.

Because in the face of a world that may not want to hear her, Xiomara refuses to be silent.”

Well, there you have it! If you frequent BookTube or Book Twitter, have you heard of this challenge? If so, are you planning on participating? If you are, what do your Blackathon TBR lists look like? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

For more info, be sure to check out the Blackathon Twitter page!