Natural History of Dragons Review

2016-04-23 13.35.30-2.jpg

Let’s take a moment to appreciate just how gorgeous the cover is. I’ve been eyeing this one for a long time and when the library finally got the copy in I snatched it up.

(Just as a side note, lots of these pictures in the future are gonna be library books. I don’t have the money right now to buy lots of new books.)

This book’s concept is incredibly clever: a Victorian-esque memoir of Lady Trent, a fictional naturalist whose lifelong fascination with dragons is the focus of the book. The story covers her early life and her venture into Vystrana to study dragons.

I’d highly recommend this book for anyone who enjoys an old-fashioned read that will pull them into Victorian times. Lots of steampunk books try to do this but overreach with lots of gadgetry and language that goes over the top. Even though the entire book was written in a formal, older voice, I never felt like it was stuffy or contrived. And even though the book is called ‘A Natural History of Dragons’, it’s much more a book about Lady Trent’s life and how she overcomes her personal barriers to pursue her true love of dragons.

I will admit that the story did go slowly at first, since it followed chronologically from her youth to the Vystrana voyage. The main conflict all occurs once her team goes to Vystrana and so the first few chapters of the book are solely backstory and exposition. I normally hate this in books, but I forgave it because Brennan writes Lady Trent’s voice so convincingly. This is the kind of book I would read in the fall, sipping rum, while in front of the fireplace in my library with a dog at my feet.

I’m really excited to read the next book in this series. I’ll keep you posted when I do 🙂

I Don’t Know What I’m Doing

I Don't Know What I'm Doing

This week I fully internalized that it’s April. The year is almost halfway over and I barely noticed at all (why does this happen every year?). When I did my Miracle Morning a few days ago, I looked at the goals I set in January and my monthly goals and I realized a lot of things that I’ll share here so, hopefully, I can help someone else who might be in the same place.

1) In the conventional sense, I failed
In my system, I have 2016 goals for the year overall. Each month, my monthly goals are small steps to accomplish those big year goals. But once I hit mid-February, I just… stopped. Everything was so overwhelming with work, school, the projects I was doing. The BuJo system was definitely helping, but it can only do so much. You can write down an endless amount of tasks, but if you don’t have the strength to get them done, the planner can’t help you. It’s a tool. Once we hit March, I went down from 15 monthly goals to just 5, only one of which I managed to cross off.

2) Failure is incredibly good
I spectacularly failed. I didn’t fill out my habit tracker, I wasn’t using my BuJo. I wasn’t doing anything because I was too sick to handle things (I’ll talk more about this in another post). But if I hadn’t failed so spectacularly, I might not have realized my mistakes.
Because having 15 goals in a month is just unreasonable. I was asking too much of myself when I was in a bad place; I was setting myself up for failure. My priority, above everything written prettily in my notebook, was to take care of myself.
And to be honest, I was kind of hoping to fail. The BuJo is full of beautiful, artistic journals and it’s really easy to get caught up in wanting to ‘achieve’ that perfection. Because dear God, some people make their dailies look museum quality. In failing, I proved to myself that it’s impossible to be perfect. I faced the fear of ‘failing’ at BuJo-ing, and I faced the fact that the BuJo is a tool and nothing more.
I also ‘failed’ at minimalism. (I’m going to stop using quote marks now because you get the point.) I bought a lot of crap when I was sad, because giving myself presents made me feel better. And, in my defense, a lot of it was very useful things I’d been planning on buying anyway. Just not all at once. And I still use it now, and I’m grateful for those things. But at the time I thought that buying anything was bad. It was an unhealthy mindset, and extreme that I shouldn’t have gone to but went to anyway.

I’m in a better place now and I’ve had a chance to take a few breathers to truly assess what’s going on. This midyear slump has been good to me, as awful as it was to experience, and I feel a little better going into summer. I don’t know what I’m doing, but no one does really so it’s all okay.

Let me know if you’ve experienced this too, and how you plan to/did come back from it!

Dreams of Shreds and Tatters Review

2016-04-16 12.13.31

Author: Amanda Downum

Pages: 256

You can find the book here on Amazon.

I picked this book up on a whim at the library and utterly consumed it in two days flat, even with school and work. I couldn’t focus on anything else. This book is easily my favorite book of 2016 so far, and I immediately bought it after finishing it and restarted it the moment it shipped in.

The basic premise revolves around a Lovecraftian plot with an alternative, astronomical dream-world which contains an ancient danger to humanity.

I loved so much about this book, but here are the main points:
1) The language is utterly beautiful. Downum paints a vibrant color palate of blacks, greys, yellows, and deep blues into the background of space and cityscapes alike. There were multiple moments when I had to pause and reread a sentence because it was just so beautiful. My highest praise to Downum on this: she really knows how to make a sentence a work of art.

2) I was thrilled to have characters of multiple sexualities (including an asexual character!) whose sexuality was present but not the entirety of their personality. It was refreshing, diverse cast. Everyone was unique, thoroughly fleshed out.

3) I am an enormous fan of Lovecraft fiction, even with all its flaws and tropes. But Downum writes it like it should be. She doesn’t sacrifice language, character, or plot for the thrill of the monster. I was captivated on the edge of my

I’ve seen lots of complaints about this book for people being confused or elements remaining unresolved. These are fair: there are lots of subplots and the language is beautiful, not conversational, so it isn’t the easiest to follow. And it’s not for everyone, of course. But if you enjoy science fiction taken to a next level, writing with an almost Van Gogh color style to the language, then this is the book for you.  (It’s so good!! Read it!!)

New Beginnings: Round 2

New Beginnings_ Round 2

I started this blog in January in the hopes that yes! This would be my chance to start afresh and write about my life and create something beautiful. I like to dive into things before I have a chance to hesitate. Mostly this has served me well, because I’ll spend way too much time debating every little detail.

And in a way, the silence on this blog has served me well.

After my last post, it constantly bothered me that I wasn’t posting regularly. I thought about it every week. Then I realized: this wouldn’t bother me if I hadn’t loved it so much. If it hadn’t called to me.

Lots of disastrous things happened this year so far. I’ll talk about them more in later posts, but suffice it to say that I made a post titled ‘Kicking 2016’s Ass’, and 2016 thought it’d be funny to kick mine in return.

This blog is going to go through a lot of changes, pains, and aches, but I’m going to stick with it now because I really love it. And it lets me reach out to inspire and spread joy to others. I don’t know what I’m doing. But it will be cool to figure it out.

-Vero