Friday, June 30, 2017

June 2017 Reading Wrap Up!

June was a crazy productive reading month for me! I read a whopping 14 books throughout the month and while I was successful in numbers, I didn't love a lot of the books I read throughout the month which is a total bummer. I did make some awesome strides towards my reading goals for the year, however, and I'm really happy about that! Keep reading for more stats for this month, and press play on the video above to hear my thoughts about each book!


Participated in 2 readathons (#SciFiSummer & #ReadORama)
Completed 5 reading challenges
Started 1 new series
Continued 1 series
Completed non-fiction, classic, diverse, and TBR jar reads
FINISHED Infinite Jest
5,413 pages read
14 books completed


Cress by Marissa Meyer
Physical copy, 4.5/5
Continuing a series

The Martian by Andy Weir
Physical copy, 5/5
Reading challenge fulfilled: A book with an orange cover

Citizen: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine
Physical copy, 4/5

Replica by Lauren Oliver
Physical copy, 3.5/5
Reading challenge fulfilled: A book over 500 pages

Since You've Been Gone by Morgan Matson
Physical copy, 4.25/5
Reading challenge fulfilled: A YA contemporary novel

Giant Days, vol. 2 by John Allison
Physical copy, 4/5

Am I Normal Yet? by Holly Bourne (Review)
Physical copy, 4/5
Start 3 new series (fulfilled 2 of 3)

Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
Physical copy, 2/5
Classic pick for June

Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace (Book Talk)
Physical copy/audiobook, 3/5

Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology by Leah Remini
Audiobook, 4/5
Reading challenge fulfilled: A book that features a character of a different religious background than you

Swing Time by Zadie Smith (Review)
Physical copy, 4/5
Diverse pick for June

You Deserve a Drink: Boozy Misadventure and Tales of Debauchery by Mamrie Hart
Physical copy, 3/5
Non-fiction pick for June

Surrender the Pink by Carrie Fisher
Library book, 4/5
Reading challenge fulfilled: A book that was published the same year you were born

A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler
Physical copy, 4/5 (Changed to 3/5 after some thought)
TBR Jar pick for June

Thursday, June 29, 2017

#ViewAThon Announcement!

Today over on my YouTube channel I announced something I'm really excited about - the #ViewAThon! This is a week long event where you focus on watching a variety of movies and TV series and expand your viewing horizons. The #ViewAThon will be happening for the first time between August 7th and August 13th, 2017, and I am so excited! There are 25 challenges you can attempt to really change up your regular viewing habits and try new TV shows and movies. You can either attempt all of them, attempt a few, or really focus on one. Either way, as long as you're trying new TV shows and movies throughout the week you're doing #ViewAThon correctly!

I'm going to be announcing a few more components to this event that are rattling around in my brain as we get closer to August 7th, so be sure to follow the @ViewAThon Twitter page for any and all updates leading up to kickoff! I am so excited to share this idea with you all and I hope you will join in as well!

@ViewAThon on Twitter
Google Doc of Challenges

Book Review: Swing Time

Last week I read and completed Swing Time by Zadie Smith. This was my first Zadie Smith novel and I think this was a wonderful introduction to her work. Based on reviews I've read, it seems like this isn't the book for everyone, and for readers who have read more of Smith's work, it may not be her best. I really enjoyed my time reading this novel, though, and thought that this would be the perfect opportunity to let you know what I liked it so much!

Swing Time chronicles the life of our narrator, whose name is not revealed throughout the duration of the novel, from early childhood all the way through adulthood. Our narrator lives her life extremely interested in dance and performing and aspires to dance professionally, but her mother who is more of an advocate for a traditional education path and hopes that our narrator pursues a life of advocacy and politics, thinking that is how our narrator will make a positive impact on this world, does not approve of our narrator's dreams. Our narrator's childhood friend, Tracey, however, is encouraged to pursue the dance and performance path by her family, and eventually the two go their separate ways as they grow older and find new directions in life.

Later in life, our narrator finds herself working in the entertainment industry as the assistant to an Australian pop star, Aimee, who is someone our narrator admired while growing up. Aimee wants to open a school for girls in West Africa, and our narrator finds herself flying between London, New York, and the site of the new school to help not only with the establishment of the "Illuminated Academy for Girls", but with every aspect of Aimee's life, while totally neglecting her own. The novel switches between our narrator's childhood and her adult life as Aimee's assistant, until the story eventually meets in the middle, creating a full chronological story.

This is a story I really enjoyed reading. While the pacing of this book is fairly slow (this is definitely a novel you need to take your time with in order to fully appreciate it), I really enjoyed returning to it time after time and reading about how our narrator's life progressed while connecting the dots of the storyline. I can definitely see why people would not like this book - it is an extremely slow burn, and many have criticized it for being a bit too wordy, not really saying too much with the massive amount of writing within the pages. I would have to say I disagree with that. I feel like every word of this book played an important role in the telling of the overall story, whether that role was small or large. This is a book that I think you need to have a lot of patience to read, and something that you need to dive into while ignoring the rest of the world for a while. I don't think you can really appreciate it any other way.

As I said at the beginning of this review, this was my first Zadie Smith read, so I don't have a lot to go off of to judge her writing as a whole. However, what I really appreciated about Swing Time was that it felt like Smith really trusted me as a reader to figure things out without her having to point out in great detail what was going out. When writers are able to make me feel this way when I am reading their books, it is always something that I admire. In many parts of this book, Smith showed the reader what was going on instead of telling us. (Isn't that something they always teach in writing class? Show not tell? Or is that theatre?) This is one of the few books that I noticed that was what was happening and I loved that about Swing Time. Smith trusts the intelligence of her readers with this work and I truly appreciated that while reading this novel.

In addition to enjoying Smith's writing in this work, I really enjoyed spending time with the characters. Each character, I think, was fairly believable. Everyone had their own complex and unique flaws, personalities, opinions, motivations, and aspirations. The way each character intertwined in one another's lives seemed very realistic to me. The way Smith presented each person really worked in my mind which is so important in such a character driven story like this. Having characters that seemed like they could be people in anyone's life really made the story as rich and layered as it was and that was something that needed to happen in order for this story to work for me.

While this story is very much so the story of our narrators life, there are so many important themes woven throughout the pages. You'll get themes of love and marriage, money and status, fame and success, race and cultural appropriation, family and friendship, and all of these these are framed in a juxtaposition of wealth and poverty and what that means in different cultures. Smith presented these themes in a really interesting way that you can't really sum up in a matter of a few words (it's really something you have to read yourself to see), but each theme is prominent in almost every chapter of this book which made for a really rich reading experience.

I don't think this book is for everyone and I definitely understand the criticism of Swing Time. As I've said a few times in this review, you really need to be in a place where you're ready for a slower read and have the patience to let the story unfold before you instead of trying to rush through it. If you can put yourself in that place, I think you can really enjoy this book and appreciate it for what it is.

Overall, I gave this book...
4/5 Stars!

I'm definitely looking forward to reading more of Zadie Smith's work in the future. 
If you have any suggestions of something you've enjoyed of hers, let me know in the comments! :)

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

July 2017 Plan with Me! + June Flip Through

Today I'm sharing my July plan with me video over on the channel! Not a ton has changed inside my trusty bullet journal, but I am getting a *bit* more creative with my spreads as I have the time to do so in the summer. I'm still loving my bullet journal experience, and I'm fairly certain this is the longest I've stuck with a planner system in my entire planning life. Looking forward to many more months with my bujo! :D

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Spring 2017 Favorites!

Whaaaaat a SEASONAL FAVORITES?! I know, I haven't posted one of these since December, but when spring rolls around I am so insanely busy that I don't even have time to breathe let alone think of my favorite things from winter. Sorry about that! Hopefully this spring favorites makes up for it, though, and I hope you enjoy my gushing about my favorite things from Spring 2017! :D Watch the video to hear me talk a bit more about my favorite things from spring, and click on the links below to learn more about each item I discuss!

Favorites from Spring 2017

Instax Mini 8 camera
Mandel sandals
The Year of Living Danishly: Uncovering the Secrets of the World's Happiest Country by Hellen Russell
Giant Days, vol. 1 by John Allison
Something New: Tales from a Makeshift Bride by Lucy Knisely
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas (Review)
Pittsburgh Marathon
Hamilton on Broadway

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Vlog: Read-O-Rama Round 7

Last week I participated in #ReadORama Round 7! I had an insanely good reading week, and it was probably one of the most successful readathons I've ever been a part of. I don't know what got into me last week but I was reading like crazy! I really love participating in #ReadORama and this round was no different. I definitely recommend that you participate in a future round because it is just so much fun! :D I hope you enjoy my obnoxiously long vlog of the week! :)

Monday, June 19, 2017

Book Review: Am I Normal Yet?

During #ReadORama last week, I picked up Am I Normal Yet? by Holly Bourne! I really enjoyed it and I don't see too many people talking about this book, so I thought I'd write up a full spoiler-free blog review for this title to hopefully help folks decide whether or not they would like to pick it up. Keep reading for more details on what this book is about and my thoughts on this read!

Am I Normal Yet? follows our protagonist, Evie, who is living with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and Generalized Anxiety Disorder. At sixteen, Evie is recovering from a severe OCD episode that put her in the hospital in her early teens and working toward coming off her medication and living as a "normal" teenager. When she begins college (this is the UK, so college = the last two years before univeristy), she's hoping to have a new start to her life - making new friends, dating boys, and being over all what Evie feels is "normal". Because she is striving so hard to be normal, she hides her mental illness from everyone - her friends, her crushes, her parents, and even her therapist - even though she is noticing her old behaviors are creeping back in. This is the story of Evie navigating living with her mental illness while still trying to live her life.

I really enjoyed this book. As someone who also lives with anxiety, I related to Evie on a lot of levels. There are times in this story where Evie would feel frustrated with herself and her mental illness and would question why she couldn't just be "normal" like everyone else is, and I would just be thinking, "GIRRRL I FEEL YOU". When I was a teenager, I was first starting to feel my anxiety for the first time, yet I did not have the language to identify what was happening to me and why I would feel the ways that I felt. I'm sure if I picked this book up as an 18 year old, I would have LOVED it.

This book is an extremely honest look into what it is like to live with mental illness. It puts you right into the mind of Evie, who often feels confused, frustrated, and lost through her recovery journey. It does not hold anything back. This book is sometimes exhausting and extremely difficult to read because you're often questioning along with Evie why some things that should be easy are so much more difficult for her, but I love that Bourne wrote Evie's point of view in this way because that is what it is like to live with mental illness. You are constantly exhausted and are constantly wondering why things have to be so hard when they are seemingly so difficult for everyone else. I'm not sure if Bourne herself lives with mental illness, but it is clear she did her research for this book.

This book is also a great introduction to feminism, especially for teen girls. Evie and her two friends, Lottie and Amber, discuss feminist issues in depth in several scenes which I think is absolutely brilliant. Bourne presents it in a way that doesn't detract from the central story, either, but enhances it which was so important to make it effective. You can see Evie interweave these new ideas into her life throughout the book which I thought was so great to see. Not only is the book a great read to understand mental health, but it's also a great read to understand what it means to be a woman in our society. A+!

As I said above, I think I would have really enjoyed this book as a teenager, and that's because it's written in a really accessible teen voice. There were times when I would get frustrated with Evie and her friends because of the way they would speak to each other, but then I realized that is probably how I spoke with my friends when I was a teenager - constantly ragging on and poking fun at one another, while acting extremely proud and "cool" to save face*. I had to constantly transport myself back to high school and remember how I would act when I was at that age, and then I had a better understanding of Evie and her friends. That's what made me realize I might be just out of the right age range to really appreciate this book. I know 18-year-old Riley would have loved it, though!

I really love that this book is geared toward a YA audience. I think if I picked this up when I was first experience anxiety without knowing what was going on, it would have been a total saving grace when I felt like I was drowning and no one was understanding what I was going through. I hope that teenagers today who are going through what I went through when I was that age are able to get their hands on this book and are able to feel comforted in the fact that there are people out there who get it, that they are not alone, and that there are people out there that will love and support them regardless of what they might be going through.

Overall, I gave this book...
4/5 Stars!

I think this is a really important read for the YA age group and would definitely recommend giving it a read, especially if you're interesting in learning more about what it's like to live with mental illness. This book is the first in The Spinster Club series, and I definitely think I'll be continuing on!

Have you read Am I Normal Yet? What did you think? 
Let me know in the comments!

*I'm definitely not saying that all teenagers act this way, but I can say for myself that I and many of the people at my high school acted this way!

Friday, June 16, 2017

My ENTIRE Organization System!

This week over on my channel, I'm sharing my ENTIRE organization system! I talk a lot about what I use my planner/bullet journal but I don't really chat about the other platforms I use to get organized in other aspects of my life. While this video doesn't delve too far in depth to how each platform works for me, you will get a bit of an overview of each thing and hopefully get a little glimpse into how I balance a busy work and personal life!

The platforms I discuss in this video are my bullet journal, my Google calendars, and Microsoft OneNote. If you have any specific questions about any of these platforms and how I use them, please feel free to leave them in the comments! I would love to answer any and all questions about my organization system and give you any details you're curious about!

I hope you all enjoy the video and happy organizing! :)

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Marathon #6: Wineglass Marathon in Corning, NY

Despite the crushing 90 degree heat that New England has been experiencing over the last few days, I will be starting my sixth marathon training cycle today. Since I'm hopping back into marathon training today, there is no better time to announce what my sixth marathon will be! This fall I will be checking New York off my marathon map of the United States and running the Wineglass Marathon!

My running partner/friend Danielle told me about this marathon when we first started running together last summer. She had run it a few years ago an absolutely fell in love with it. Last summer we trained for separate marathons together, but over the last few months as we were discussing potential fall marathons, we thought hey, why don't we run one together? Danielle had wanted to get back on this course and I hadn't ticked New York off my list yet, so this seemed like a great race for us to run together! Plus - check out these medals!

Definitely want to get my hands on one of those!

I'm looking forward to another great summer of training, especially with a friend at my side! I'm hoping to make this training cycle and marathon my best yet. Like with Pittsburgh, I will provide monthly training updates for you all so you can know how my training is going. I'm hoping that with a friend training with me, I'll be motivated to work hard and do everything correctly. Wish me luck! :)

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Vlog: SciFi Summer Readathon

Last week I participated in the SciFi Summer readathon! It was a wonderful week of awesome SciFi reads as well as an action-packed week of travelling, seeing my parents run their first half marathon, and complaining about how rainy and gross the weather is/savoring the sun when it decided to make and appearance. I really enjoyed my first Seasons of Reading readathon and I totally recommend you check out participating in the next one! <3

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Read-O-Rama Round 7 TBR!

My dear bookish friend Michael and I were chatting over Twitter a few days ago and he informed me that he was planning to participate in the next round of Read-O-Rama, happening during the second full week of June. Not knowing that this was happening and absolutely loving the Read-O-Rama readathon, I instantly hopped on their Twitter to check out the challenges. 

I knew I already had a hefty TBR for the month of June that I wanted to get through and I really didn't want to bump any reads out of my June lineup, so I was thrilled to find that the majority of the challenges met books that I was already planning on reading this month! Because I've already talked about most books (aside from the graphic novel) in my June TBR video, I did not want to make a separate TBR video specifically for the readathon, so instead I'm sharing it right here on the blog! Keep reading to find out which books I will be getting to during the readathon and the challenges that they will be fulfilling!

Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
A book with water on the cover: The Puffin Pixels edition, which is the edition that I'll be reading, has water on the cover.
Michael and I will be buddy reading this book during the readathon!

Am I Normal Yet? by Holly Bourne
A book with RAMA in the title or author's name: You can easily find RAMA in the title.
A book you've been anticipating: I've been wanting to read this since I first got my hands on it back in FEBRUARY.
A book released in the summer of any year: This book was released on August 1, 2015.

Giant Days, vol. 2 by John Allison
A book with under 150 pages: This volume has 128 pages.
A graphic novel: Pretty self explanatory!

Swing Time by Zadie Smith
An own voices book: Zadie Smith is a woman of color and from what I know about this book, both of the main characters in the book are women of color.

The only challenge I am not planning to meet is the Read 7 books challenge. The titles I have picked out are all quite lengthly (minus Giant Days) so I don't think I'll be able to fit in any more than what I have picked out for myself. That's okay, though! I'm still looking forward to having a great time reading next week and to hopefully find some new favorite books! :D

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Reading Habits Tag!

Today I'm doing the Reading Habits Tag! This tag is extremely old (something like 4 years old... yikes) but I saw a few of the BookTubers I like to watch doing this tag and thought I would also share my answers to these questions! No one tagged me to do this, I just wanted to participate in this tag and talk a little bit about how I read and the things I do while I'm reading. I hope you enjoy watching, and if you want to share your answers as well, consider yourself tagged! :)


1. Do you have a certain place at home for reading?
2. Bookmark or random piece of paper?
3. Can you just stop reading or do you have to stop after a chapter/ a certain amount of pages?
4. Do you eat or drink while reading?
5. Multitasking: Music or TV while reading?
6. One book at a time or several at once?
7. Reading at home or everywhere?
8. Reading out lout or silently in your head?
9. Do you read ahead or even skip pages?
10. Breaking the spine or keeping it like new?
11. Do you write in your books?
12. Who do you tag?

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Black Bear Half Marathon Snaps {June 2017}

Over the weekend my parents ran and completed their very first half marathon! I made the journey up to the University of Maine Orono campus to cheer them on. Running a half marathon is a huge undertaking and I wanted to be sure they had someone cheering them on and giving them support where they needed it! They both did such a fantastic job and I am super proud of them! Here's a few snaps I grabbed before and after the race, as well as a few ~official race photos~ snapped by Marquis Images.

Pre-race! Ready to rock!

Crushing the half!

Post-race! Happy to be finished!

I made a sign to cheer my parents on. Here are the two finishers posing with it! :D

#prouddaughtermoment #runnerfamily

Friday, June 2, 2017

SSSBC: June 2017 Prompt

*Acronym'd to SSSBC (pronounced "triple-S-B-C") for time-saving purposes

It's finally time to pick my first writing prompt of this creative writing project I'm attempting over the summer, and I'm excited to get my first Short Story under way! After some Googling around the internet, I came across this blog that shared a ton of really fun writing prompts. I sifted through them and came across one that I would love to tackle for my first short story of the summer:

"After a religious cult takes over the government, caffeine is outlawed. Tell the story of a brave and coffee-loving family who opens a #CaffeineSpeakeasy."

I really love the aspect of an alternate society as well as the aspect of the use of a #CaffeineSpeakeasy hashtag. I feel like I have a few ways I can go with this prompt and I'm excited to get this project underway! I'll check back in at the end of the month with (hopefully) a finished product to share with you! :)

Thursday, June 1, 2017

June 2017 TBR! + Sci-Fi Summer Readathon TBR

You guys. How is it already June?! 2017 is nearly half way over - WHAT?! While the year is going scary-fast, I am so excited that the hot summer months are knocking at our door. I LOVE summer and I especially love taking advantage of the warm weather and reading outside all day long. It's seriously the best. This month I have picked much more light-hearted reads to get me into the summer reading groove and I am definitely looking forward to indulging in some easier reads throughout the month. I'm also planning to participate in the Sci-Fi Summer Readathon that starts today and lasts until June 7th (more details below!) which I am super excited to try out! Any who, here are the books that I'm hoping to read this month:

2017 Goal Picks

Non-Fiction: You Deserve a Drink: Boozy Misadventures and Tales of Debauchery
Diverse: Swing Time by Zadie Smith
Classic: Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
TBR Jar: A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler


Talking as Fast as I Can: From Gilmore Girls to Gilmore Girls and Everything in Between by Lauren Graham
The Buddha of Suburbia by Hanif Kureishi
Since You've Been Gone by Morgan Matson

This week, from June 1st to June 7th, I'm partaking in the Sci-Fi Summer readathon, hosted by Seasons of Reading! This will be my first Seasons of Reading readathon and I'm excited to use this week to catch up on some of the sci-fi titles that have been waiting for me on my shelf. The point of this readathon is (fairly obviously) to read any and all sci-fi titles throughout the course of the week. I've selected three books, two of which I'm already about 100 pages into and need to get off of my "Currently Reading" shelf on GoodReads once and for all. :P We'll see how the week goes - hopefully every title can be completed! :D

The Martian by Andy Weir
Cress by Marissa Meyer
Replica by Lauren Oliver

To hear what I have to say about each title, make sure you watch my TBR video below!

May 2017 Reading Wrap Up!

Despite yet another busy month (this time in my personal life!), I managed to read quite a bit this month! I read a lot of books that I liked this month. Only one book I read this month was below 4 stars which of course I am thrilled about! I'm really happy with my reading for May and I'm looking forward to a more low-key summer to read much, much more!


Participated in 1 readathon (#BookBuddyAThon)
Completed 3 reading challenges
Completed non-fiction, classic, diverse, and TBR jar reads
Read 109 pages of Infinite Jest
2,226 pages read
7 books completed


Prince of Thorns by Mark Lawrence
Physical copy, 1/5
TBR Jar pick for May

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin
Physical copy, 4/5
Reading challenge fulfilled: A book with a title that starts with "the"

Fear of Flying by Erica Jong
Physical copy, 4/5
Classic pick for May

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas (Review)
Physical copy, 5/5
Reading challenge fulfilled: A 2017 release
Buddy read with Michael

Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon
Physical copy, 4/5
Diverse pick for May

A Dog's Journey by W. Bruce Cameron
Physical copy, 4/5
Reading challenge fulfilled: A book with an animal on the cover

Hamilton: the Revolution by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jeremy McArter
Physical copy, 5/5
Non-fiction pick for May