Lifestyle

I Read 11 Books in October | Monthly Wrap Up

Anyone else feel like October just flew by?! I can’t believe it. To those who participated in Blogtober, I hope it was a successful & fun month! I’m so happy I decided not to post daily this time around. Life has became too hectic for daily posting. On the other hand, I did manage to read 11 books this month! Like – how?! 10 physical books & one audiobook! And I also surpassed my yearly reading goal of 50 books! Before I begin this wrap up, I wanted to answer a frequently asked book related question – “how do I find the time to read so many books? I’m lucky to say I’m a relatively fast reader [ and the more i read – the faster i become ]. Also, I have revamped my routines to make reading more of a priority. My husband & I both have been reading pretty much every evening for the past 6 months. We find it relaxing & our way to unwind. Lately, we’ve been adding a bit of ambience by playing rain sounds with fall scenery on the TV. Highly recommend if you are trying to romanticize the autumn season. Regardless how many books you read a month, just picking up a book & finding something that helps you escape reality / expand your thoughts is something to be proud of. And I hope these wrap ups have sparked your interest in reading & inspired you to add a few to your TBR [ to be read ] lists. Let’s get into the wrap up…

Dark Age by Pierce Brown

I actually started this book at the end of September but completed it the first week of October. My husband actually recommended this series to me a few months back & I was pretty hesitant about it. Sci-fi / dystopian novels aren’t usually my thing. But he bated me by saying the series was like a combination of Hunger Games, Game of Thrones, Star Wars & Lord of the Flies all wrapped up in one – & so I read the first book back in May. And next thing you know, in the span of a few months I read the entire trilogy as well as the two books of his latest installment [ which takes place 10 years after the first 3 books ]. Dark Age in particular is the darkest & most gruesome of Pierce Brown’s books [ hence the title] . But don’t let that deter you away. These books are filled with so much action, a little bit of slow burn romance & very fast paced. Another thing I appreciate with this entire series is the shock value. I usually see twists from a mile away. But PB writes in such a way that made me so surprised! Be sure to check out my bookstagram reel on this series! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Reminders of Him by Colleen Hoover

I told myself I wanted to read more Colleen Hoover books before I make a final cohesive rating of her as an author. And Reminders of Him has been on my bookshelf for months. And a lot of people considered this one their favorites. For me, I was very enticed by the plot – a mother released from prison who dreams of rekindling her relationship with her 5 year old daughter. It’s a small town “second chance romance” if the second chance is your deceased boyfriend’s best friend. There was a lot of potential with this one but the “twist” fell flat & the entire book although it had beautiful quotes, felt like a lifetime movie [ which isn’t my favorite ] . When it got to the ending, I was kind of expecting more of a dramatic & life altering conclusion. And for me, it was very predicable. ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Home Before Dark by Riley Sager

Of course, I had to read a spooky novel this month for Halloween. This was my first Riley Sager book [ & it certainly won’t be my last ]. This was the perfect haunted house / ghost story trope. And the premise was so interesting with the past & present POV’s. I was very much entertained the entire time & a little spooked out at parts [ not going to lie]. This tells the story of Maggie – who’s father [ who recently passed ] wrote a book about their experience in this victorian home. 25 years later, Maggie has returned to the home to find out the truth & whether her father’s book was all fiction or perhaps a bit more. This screams very much Amittyville Horror vibes if you’ve seen that movie. I can’t wait to read more of his books in the future. Be sure to check out my bookstagram for an even deeper inside look of this novel. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️✨

Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas

So, last month I finally started the first book of the Throne of Glass series – & I of course had to continue this month with the second installment. Once I finished the ACOTAR [ A Court of Thorns & Roses] series over the summer, I was craving another one of SLM’s books. Once again, I was thoroughly entertained & was immersed back into the world of fantasy with this read. I think I got a better understanding of the main character, Celeana. And we are introduced to a few new characters while also adding a hint of romance. Check out my bookstagram for more details about this read. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Stranger in the House by Shari Lapena

This is where things went a little downhill. But you can’t always read an amazing book, right? I bought this book because a few booktubers recommended it & I thought it would be the perfect short [ under 300 pages] thriller I needed in between those thick fantasies. I almost DNFed [ did not finish ] this book because it was just simply- boring. I saw the twists from a mile away & I find the amnesia tropes to be so overdone within the thriller/ mystery genres. Be sure to check out my full unhinged review on my bookstagram. ⭐️⭐️

Love in The Time of Serial Killers by Alicia Thompson

This is a perfect example of “don’t trust a book by a pretty cover.” What I thought was going to be a lighthearted spooky / true crime rom com ended up being a fairly deep story about a girl who returns to sell her deceased father’s home. She is a PhD student writing her dissertation on true crime / serial killers & quickly becomes convinced her neighbor is a serial killer himself. I found this story to be all over the place. Although it touched on many tough topics of grief, divorce, family dynamics, suicide, broken friendships & mental health – it also felt like a cringe spicy fan fiction. Phoebe & Sam’s romance was spicy but also very cringe. Some of the dialogue made me go 😬. And like most cheesy rom coms, the story was very predictable. Overall, I feel like some people would enjoy this for the lighthearted smut & see it as a good filler read – which is why I give it a solid 3 stars. Check out my bookstagram review.⭐️⭐️⭐️

Confess by Colleen Hoover

I warned you this was going to be a CoHo month – & so I decided to listen to the audiobook for this one. And once again, like Reminders of Him – this one felt the same. I will say, I find the premise of painting a person’s confessions so interesting. And the fact CoHo shared true confessions from fellow readers bumped up the rating for me. In general, I felt the romance between Auburn & Owen was good [ a mysterious artist with a bit of spice ]. I just felt like the twists weren’t that surprising & I’m personally not the hugest fan of the insta love trope. I want a romance that is a little more believable than that, you know? I also watched the tv series which made it slightly better but also kind of cringe. Have you read this one? ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Circe by Madeline Miller

I was excited to read Circe because I absolutely adored her other greek mythology novel, The Song of Achilles that I read back in May. I felt this book was perfect for spooky season because of her magical witchy tendencies. While some aspects of the story was rather dry, I think Madeline Miller writes these retellings so beautifully where you can feel all the emotions. For a literary fiction, I think her’s are worth reading because you learn something but also get the taste of a meaningful story. From her relationship with her sister, to finding love – I thought this was another well done read & I give it a solid four stars. If I were to compare the two though, I still think Song of Achilles is her best novel. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas

This was probably my favorite book of the Throne of Glass series so far! This is the 3rd installment of the series. The story is finally growing more & more. And I absolutely loved the multiple POV’s & getting a glimpse of more characters. This was such a wild ride – especially towards the last few chapters. Rowan, ( one of the newest characters) is chef’s kiss. I knew this character was going to be in the books [ thanks to booktok spoilers] but people are so right to be obsessed with this character. And introducing more of the witch clans made it the perfect read for spooky season. It felt very much like Game of Thrones in some parts with witches riding on wyverns [ dragons] & I became enthralled with the world – per usual. SJM seriously knows how to write a fantasy story. Here’s my bookstragram take on the book. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️👏🏻

Assassins Blade by Sarah J. Maas

I finally finished this novella since I DNFed it last month. The thing about this book was determining when was the right time to read this & fully appreciate the story since it’s a prequel / novella. You can read it before Throne of Glass , after Crown of Midnight or after Heir of Fire. So many decisions! I decided to choose the romantic reading order [ after Heir of Fire] , I pretty much knew what was going to happen. But I’m happy that I can move onto the rest of the series knowing Caleana’s backstory. Overall, this story – especially the ending, was heartbreaking. IYKYK. I may re – read this once I’m finished with the entire series just to see if I appreciate it even more. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

It Starts With Us by Colleen Hoover

Let me just say, this was a highly anticipated read this month [ for a lot of us it seems ] . And although CoHo sheds light on domestic violence & the struggles of leaving a situation / relationship such as this one – this book made me so angry & frustrated. Yes, I love Atlas & Lily. A childhood friends to lovers / second chance romance is my cup of tea. But so many aspects of the story just pissed me off. And you would think if a book made me this emotionally charged, I would give it a higher rating. No. Lily deserves all the happiness in the world & to live the life she wishes. She should be with whoever she wants. No man ( especially a man who is violent towards her) should have a say. Period. Along with this, I just felt like the book was choppy & the ending seemed rushed. A lot of people pin this as a drawn out epilogue – & I fully agree. CoHo never really intended to make a second installment after It Ends With Us & so this was merely for the fans [ as she states in the thank you in the beginning of the book ]. I was discussing this book with a few bookstagrammers & I totally agree the twist with Atlas was very profound – especially the part where they state the title “it starts with us” IYKYK. Check out this bookstagram reel of me receiving the book on release day! Also, I did a mini review on there here. ⭐️⭐️⭐️

It’s hard to say if I’ll read this many books or more in the future – but we shall see! Reading has became my favorite activity & I just love immersing myself into the community. I’ve created a Good Reads account where you can keep up with my reading challenge & what I’m reading in real time. And again, if you aren’t already – be sure to follow me on my Bookstagram. I’ve been loving connecting with other book lovers on there, making fun reels & sharing reviews. I hope you’ve been enjoying my book content on the blog. I still plan to share tons of decluttering posts & intentional living discussions especially with the holiday season approaching. In the comments, let me know what your favorite books were this month!

-B

Minimalism, Self Growth

11 Things I Intentionally Say No To

As someone who has been a chronic people pleaser / yes person for many years, I went into this new year with a different perspective. Saying no more often has been such a powerful tool in gaining back freedom & growth in my life. This mentality has encouraged me to choose what I do, listen to, & even say wisely. Here are 11 Things I Intentionally Say No To…

Being Bothered If People Don’t Like Me…

When there are 7 billion people on this planet, chances are you won’t vibe with all of them. Once I learned to let go the heartache that came from someone not liking me or not wanting to be my friend, the more at peace I felt with myself. I turned the statement more inward & discovered there were people I didn’t particularly like either. And that’s ok. It’s actually really freeing when you stop expecting every single person you cross paths with to like you. You ultimately learn to love yourself more & find the people who are meant to be apart of your lives.

Believing Everyone’s Life is Perfect

I actually deleted my Instagram for this very reason. I was tired of comparing my life to other people’s highlight reels. They are just that – highlights. Or even purposefully curated photos to hide the normalcies & downfalls of life. Nobody’s life is perfect. We all experience ups & downs on our own timeline. Photos are still moments in time. We have no idea [ unless the person tells us] if they had a breakdown before the selfie was taken. We don’t know if that person received bad news in the middle of an event. Or the event wasn’t as wonderful as the photos showcase. I’d rather stick with my own life, power through the rollercoaster moments & create one that suits me. No more, will I ever want to have someone else’s life.

Responding Immediately

This is a habit I’m really trying to break. I’m so used to replying to my phone so quickly regardless how busy I am. I used to think it was a talent to multitask that well. But having this habit, only allows people to think you are always available to their beck & call. On purpose, I’ve been retraining myself to reply to texts or phone calls a day later or even a week later if I’m THAT busy. I’d rather be intentional with my time & reply to something when I’m fully ready. In the world of technology, this has been rather difficult. I don’t respond to emails or notifications [ I actually have notifications turned off of my phone completely]. I let phone calls sometimes go to voicemail & get back to them later. I have even let people in my life know they don’t need to reply right away / respond when you have time. Let them know, they can also be intentional with their responses. By practicing this new way of responding has helped me gain control of my busy life.

Being Authentic With My Feelings & Conversations

It’s so easy to say to someone you are doing fine when they ask how you are. But I’m tired of not being authentic with how I’m feeling & telling it like it is. If I’m having an off day, I say it – unapologetically. I don’t care if me being true to myself makes others feel uncomfortable. I think if you are more real with people in this way, you actually create better relationships because there’s no hint of fakeness. Not only this, but you are becoming more comfortable in your own skin in the process. Being vulnerable, sharing in depth conversations instead of staying on the surface, is where those authentic relationships lie.

Impulse Purchasing

I’ve been wanting to be more intentional with my purchases. Instant gratification only satisfies you in the moment. Most of the time, when I instantly buy something, I end up wasting money & donating said item a few months later. I’ve recently been purchasing quite a few items for our wedding & new outfits for certain events. And on one hand, I’ve allowed myself to replace my old decluttered items in my closet with updated ones that showcase the person I am now. But I also want to get ahold of retail therapy. The things I bring into our home need to hold a purpose in some way. If I do see something I like, I delay the purchase as long as possible. If I still want the item, I will know I truly want / need it.

You Might Also Like: How To Save Money The Intentional Way

People Who Drain My Energy

I’ve learned it’s healthy to have a balance of alone time & community but with the right people. If you are surrounding yourself with people who ultimately drain you of your energy, it’s not beneficial. I’d rather spend my time alone in these cases. But over the last couple of years, I’ve really curated a group of people who truly add to my life & it has made a difference in my individual growth.

Having Too Long of a To-Do List

When you expect yourself to complete a to-do list that is pages long, I personally immediately lose interest in it all together. Instead, my to-do list on my phone usually holds a max of 3 tasks per day. Whatever I want to complete in that direct moment, I will have on my list. It’s not to say I don’t have other tasks I wish to complete later, but only seeing 3 tasks visually is more motivating.

Hectic Mornings

I’ve been adamantly establishing slow living into my routines. Regardless of my busy schedule, I have learned slower mornings, routines with fewer products or steps really make a difference in my mood. On the weekends, when I’m not busy with work or other obligations, I take those mornings to sleep in a little later, make a warm beverage or smoothie & sit in my chair in silence or reading a book. This has also has taught me the importance of “me time” & prioritizing relaxation into my routine regularly.

Having High Expectations

I struggle with being heard & taken seriously in situations. With that, I tend to lean on the side of controlling a times. When things aren’t going the way I planned or people are just not listening, I get frustrated. Lately, I’ve learned to have lower expectations on people & situations. It’s not that I’m giving up exactly. But I’ve found when my expectations are high & they aren’t met, I’m only hurting myself. I’m learning to go with the flow & let things play out. The only person & reactions I can control are my own.

A Perfectly Clean Home

Instead of calling our home messy, I like to use the term “lived in” because we are doing just that – living! So many minimalistic homes are seen perfectly clean & organized. And the reality is your home won’t be like that 24/7. I will say, when you properly declutter you will ultimately have less to clean up. But don’t get yourself down if you have toys all over the living room or clothing all over your closet floor. We are imperfect humans just trying to live our lives.

People Adding Unnecessary Problems To My Plate

Setting boundaries & saying no go hand in hand. My life is busy enough & when other people throw obligations into the ring sometimes, it just adds to my stress. Going back to the first point in not caring if people like me, saying no to their requests or “favors” is a lot easier. It’s not to say I won’t ever help someone out or agree with a suggestion at some point. But I’ve learned sometimes, it’s not mentally help to add anything else on my plate. As you know, I like to keep things relatively simple.

Lifestyle, Minimalism, Minimalism

10 Things You Can Do Besides Scrolling Through Social Media

One of my ultimate goals for this year, that I mentioned in my Mindsets To Leave Behind This Year post, is to be online less often. As a blogger, it’s easier said than done where most of the behind the scenes work with promoting comes from social media. But with the help of scheduling tweets & Instagram posts ahead of time, I’ve been able to be more intentional with my time & allow myself a break from the digital world. This idea of being online less often came to me when I was reminiscing of my childhood. I’m a part of the generation that had the best of both worlds – a life without internet & a life with the internet. I still remember the days it would take me 20 minutes to watch a 2 minute Youtube video thanks to good old dial up. But the one thing of my childhood that sticks ot is the fact I played outside far more often than any kids do now. And so, I thought although social media & the internet are huge parts to our lives, it’s nice to unplug once in a while. Here are 10 Things You Can Do Besides Scrolling Social Media

Read A Book

My TBR list for this year is so long! I plan to do a What I Read in 2022 at the end of the year because reading as become a huge part of my life. It’s a great way to shut off the world & be at peace for a little while. I’m trying to read at least two books a month – one fiction & one “self improvement” or motivational book. I feel like the more I read, the more growth I have. I gain new perspectives & a sense of clarity that helps me tackle obligations.

Listen To a Podcast

My favorite podcast at the moment is Mood by Lauren Elizabeth. She focuses on self growth, self care & our moods [ hence the name ]. I find her so motivating & inspiring. And listening to podcasts are quite relaxing while I’m running errands, taking walks or biking & cleaning.

Get Moving

Whether it’s just a walk around the neighborhood, a yoga practice or a hard core workout – getting active is always a healthy habit to establish in our daily routines. I find so much clarity during these sessions even if it’s only a 20 minute walk outside. Taking in your surroundings & the sounds of nature really ground ourselves & literally bring us back to Earth.

Get Lunch With a Friend

Put your phones away & be as engaged as possible during these outings. Nothing bothers me more than two people sitting at a table just scrolling through their phones & not giving a crap about their company. We need to learn to be more present especially when we specifically plan get togethers. These moments are a perfect excuse to unplug, let that call go to voicemail or read that text later. Having true conversation where we actively listen to each other is a habit we all need to relearn. This will allow you to strengthen said relationships & create amazing memories.

Write A Blog Post

This is obviously directed to my fellow writers, but writing is rather therapeutic whether it be for your site or just for recreation. When we write, we reflect on our thoughts & dreams which ultimately help us grow. If blog posts aren’t your thing, you can start a gratitude journal or a manifestation journal. Not only is it a form of self care, it’s also interesting to read the passages back later on to see how you’ve changed.

Have a Game Night

I love playing board games & having a game night with a group of friends or family. Some of my favorite games include Cards Against Humanity, Monopoly, Scategories, & classic card games. This kind of goes back to childhood roots of those non-technology days.

Listen to Music & Dance Around

When I was a teenager, I had this blue stereo system with CD racks on both sides on my bedroom dresser. As an activity, I would blast The Backstreet Boys or Britney Spears, dance around my room & even jump up & down on my bed with my hands up in the air trying to touch the ceiling. As a dancer in high school – I would practice all the time on routines & choreography. As an adult now – I wish I did this more often because it truly boosted my mood back in the day. Ever since we started wedding planning, my fiance & I have even spent the evenings practicing our first dance together.

Start a Home Project

The pandemic actually turned us into home improvement connoisseurs. We became the biggest homebodies & I don’t know if it’s just because decorating your own home is a lot of fun or quarantine made us notice every problem in the house. I will say – painting or putting together furniture is quite satisfying. We even renovated our backyard which caused us to be outdoors a lot more often. Yay, Vitamin D! And when you see people or they visit your home – it’s fun to tell them about our home projects & the end results.

Learn Something New

Not to sound like a cliche – but knowledge is power. Even I’ve considered going back for grad school because I honestly miss learning. I think we can learn new things every day though – through reading, listening to podcasts or watching a how to Youtube video. Just getting out & experiencing life without starring at a screen can allow you to gain so much knowledge.

Clean The House

I personally love cleaning the house, organizing & decluttering. There’s something so motivating about this routine. Not only this but a clean home can truly spark creative & productive inspiration. Anytime I’m feeling overwhelmed or stressed even, I will clean. Do a load of laundry, organize your closet, vacuum or even scrub some dishes. A clean home makes me feel like I’ve earned some downtime or self care.

Surprise Surprise – there are tons of things you can do besides spend hours scrolling aimlessly through social media. I’m sure you [ who is reading this ] can think of other activities.

-B