So, What Have I Been Up To? Books, Yoga, Anime and more!

The time has gone by so fast! I’ve read a lot of things, watched some interesting shows, and even found some promising new series. I’ve also finished and started some stimulating projects! Now, I know there a lot of book lovers who come by and read my posts. I’ve definitely read a lot of things, but honestly my brain and attention have been ALL OVER THE PLACE.

So, this isn’t a book update. Its an everything update! Hope all who come here find something they can identify with.

Let’s get started!

For Yoga Lovers

Co-creators of Boho Beautiful Yoga Mark and Juliana Spicoluk

I found a new YouTube Yoga channel to follow! Boho Beautiful Yoga is run by spouses Mark and Juliana. Their YouTube videos are generally no longer than 30 minutes. They now have an on-demand streaming service you can download to your phone called Boho Beautiful On-Demand where you can take special courses or use longer training videos.

Their styles vary between Pilates, Ashtanga, and Yin-Yang Yoga. What I like to do is go over their videos to find new ways to teach certain sequences.

I’ve also been regularly going to Yoga Dose, which specializes in longer, strength building videos. Cici is one of their teachers who I personally know from my yoga studio in Provo, Utah. She is a great teacher who will definitely give you a great mental and physical workout.

What Books Have I Been Reading?

I have several favorite discoveries since last March!

Christian McKay Heidicker‘s Scary Stories for Young Foxes (2019)

The haunted season has arrived in the Antler Wood. No fox kit is safe.

When Mia and Uly are separated from their litters, they discover a dangerous world full of monsters. In order to find a den to call home, they must venture through field and forest, facing unspeakable things that dwell in the darkness: a zombie who hungers for their flesh, a witch who tries to steal their skins, a ghost who hunts them through the snow . . . and other things too scary to mention.

Overview via Goodreads

What I loved about this story is the format. Even though the storyteller seemed to only be telling a story, it felt too real to be fiction. Somehow, through its beautiful prose I felt myself fall under its spell from the first page. It made me reminisce about my childhood and how invested I became in the characters’ stories and longed for happy endings.

This story portrayed how even when faced with horrible evil and danger, the characters overcame them and continued to survive. It is also very honest. It doesn’t sugarcoat things. I wouldn’t recommend this story for really young readers but would definitely give it to kids 12+ to read.

Arlem HawksGeorgana’s Secret (2021)

1811, HMS Deborah

Georgana Woodall dreams of freedom—freedom from her past and freedom from her secret. She has been living on her father’s ship for years, disguised as a cabin boy named “George.” But hiding her true self is becoming more difficult, and she yearns to break free of her life on the sea.

Lieutenant Dominic Peyton has no time in his life for love, not with his dedication to His Majesty’s Royal Navy claiming his full attention. Determined to prove himself to his new captain, he strives to be an exemplary officer and leader. When he sees the captain’s cabin boy being harassed by the crew, he immediately puts a stop to it and takes the boy under his wing.

Georgana quickly loses her heart to Dominic’s compassion and care, but needing to maintain her disguise as a cabin boy, she is convinced nothing can come of her affection.

Overview via Goodreads

I love sweet, Regency Era based love stories. What I enjoyed most about this novel is how it talked about gender-based boundaries, abuse, depression, and (of course) love. Lately, I’ve been drawn to characters who display great compassion in harsh circumstances and don’t let hate override doing good. I also paid special attention to how Dominic and Georgana faced losing sight of their identity.

If you like sweet romances, this is a definite read for you. It is also very clean (which I appreciate) without overlooking realistic problems which inevitably come up in life.

Image via Potterboy.com

Ben Behunin‘s Pleasantly Ruby (2020)

Two weeks into her five month stint at the farm on Harmony Hill, Genevieve Patterson, will be the first to admit she may have overlooked a few important details for the article she was sent here to write. The keys of joy, shared and understood by Pops and Ruby, as well as many of the townsfolk—and the even the neighboring Amish community—are insightful and compelling. Thanks to Matt and Greg, Genevieve’s appreciation for the deeper meaning of these uncommon keys continues to grow, causing her to question the meaning of her previous life in the city. An exploration of these keys and the personal application of them promises joy and liberty, but Genevieve must decide for herself how and if the keys will influence her future. An Amish invitation, a new Niederbipp tradition, Protopian aspirations, and a Sunday homily will all weigh in to tip the scales—but in which direction?

Overview via Goodreads

First off, Ben Behunin is one of my favorite authors. Second off, he isn’t really a writer by trade. First and foremost he is a potter and artist. From a literary viewpoint, I’d say his books are rough around the edges. From a spiritual viewpoint, I believe this and his other books carry some of the most important truths we can apply to our lives. This book isn’t really about campers learning how to get married. It’s about people learning what truly invites joy into their lives.

If you are interested in this book or others he’s written, Please check out his website Potterboy.com! His Remembering Isaac series is still one of my favorite reads to take with me on morning walks!

Any New Manga/Manhwa?

Roctis Tray’s Atelier on the Sunflower Hill (2019-?)

After discovering a hidden chamber inside her uncle’s house, Evangeline Griffon accidentally awakens an ancient being who calls himself Vernon. Bind by the contract, Eva unwillingly accepts Vernon being her guardian as she starts her new life in the countryside.

Overview via Webtoon.com

Vernon is now one of my new favorite characters! (Well, I also really like Evangeline.) I have a soft spot in my heart for gentle, compassionate people. This Manhwa (?) delves a lot in how to positively face trauma, negative emotions, and how to embrace love into your life. I can’t talk about it too much without ruining this story, but it was one of my favorite new finds in a long time.

The art is simplified, but over time the author gets better at character and background artwork. Warning though: Webtoon.com bumped Atelier to originals so it may take awhile for it to finish.

Morishita, Suu‘s Yubisaki to Renren (A Sign of Affection) (2019-?)

Yuki is a hearing-impaired university student whose world has been shrouded with silence since birth. She has lived in the same place her whole life, and rarely interacts with others save for her best friend, Rin. During her commute one day, she meets the silver-haired and multilingual Itsuomi, a mutual friend of Rin. Unlike most, Itsuomi is unwavering when he learns of Yuki’s impairment; this, along with his experiences abroad, fascinates and touches her. After they part, her fondness of him starts to grow. A new world begins to open for both Yuki and Itsuomi as they learn about each other’s different lives.

Overview via Myanimelist

I can’t get enough of this light-hearted little love story. I’ve always been fascinated by sign language and watching Yuki interact with her world is just wonderful. I’m a big fan of the anime movie Koe no Katachi (A Silent Voice) (2018), so finding this manga was a lovely treat for me.

This romance is incredibly healthy and realistic. There isn’t a lot of drama, Itsuomi is VERY respectful of Yuki and her personality, and their relationship progresses slowly. Neither gives up their dreams or values for the other. They find each other and grow a little closer in every chapter.

If your preferences, especially for love stories, are more mellow and light-hearted this is the story for you! You can actually purchase the manga volumes on Amazon.com already.

Oh! Morishita’s art style and covers are GORGEOUS. I’m a big fan now!

Doruru’s Koekoi (2020-?)

Finding an adequate overview of this series was hard, so I’ll do it myself. 🙂 This story centers around a girl Yuiko, who is scared to go to school after being sick for a long while, and her unexpected relationship with her class president Matsubara who calls her to see how she is doing.

Once she decides to go back to school so she can meet him, she sees him and is shocked to see he always wears a paper bag over his head. Though it’s confusing, she can’t shake how calm and kind his voice had been when he called her. Their friendship/ romance(?) takes flight from that moment forward.

What I like about this story is how it emphasizes the source of genuine human emotion. It focuses on how Yuiko, Matsubara, and other characters struggle to convey their feelings. Reading this made me realize how superficial relationships can be if they are solely based on what we SEE. It makes me believe a person’s heart can be conveyed solely through their voice and actions.

Now, if you want to read this, you’ll need to get an app called Pocket Comics. You can collect daily tickets so you can read one chapter a day or choose to spend money on coins so you can read more.

Snapshot from It’s Okay Not to Be Okay (2020)

What Have I Been Watching?

I haven’t seen any new movies lately (It’s so sad I know!) but I’ve found a few really good shows.

It’s Okay Not to Be Okay (2020)

Moon Gang Tae (Kim Soo Hyun), is a caretaker working at a psychiatric ward who does not even bother to believe in love. He seems to be carrying all the weight and pain in life, and devotes himself only to looking after his disabled older brother.

Go Moon Young (Seo Ye Ji), is a children’s book writer who is clueless about love. She is popular among all age groups, yet very antisocial and indifferent to others.[2]

An extraordinary road to emotional healing opens up for an antisocial children’s book writer and a selfless psych ward caretaker when they cross paths.

Overview via DramaWiki

Wow. I usually watch Korean dramas to laugh at them. (Because they try to be anime, but can’t because. . . they’re live action.) It’s Okay stole my heart in the first episode. It’s expertly paced, incredibly raw, and addresses various mental issues without tearing down those who struggle with them.

I also really enjoyed how. . . off the beaten oath the children’s book author could be. She definitely walked to the beat of her own drum. I loved the characters, their stories, and the deeply poignant children’s stories showcased throughout the show. I don’t want to give too much away, so I’ll leave it at that.

Watch it on Netflix.

Kinema Citrus‘s Made in Abyss (2017)

The Abyss—a gaping chasm stretching down into the depths of the earth, filled with mysterious creatures and relics from a time long past. How did it come to be? What lies at the bottom? Countless brave individuals, known as Divers, have sought to solve these mysteries of the Abyss, fearlessly descending into its darkest realms. The best and bravest of the Divers, the White Whistles, are hailed as legends by those who remain on the surface.

Riko, daughter of the missing White Whistle Lyza the Annihilator, aspires to become like her mother and explore the furthest reaches of the Abyss. However, just a novice Red Whistle herself, she is only permitted to roam its most upper layer. Even so, Riko has a chance encounter with a mysterious robot with the appearance of an ordinary young boy. She comes to name him Reg, and he has no recollection of the events preceding his discovery. Certain that the technology to create Reg must come from deep within the Abyss, the two decide to venture forth into the chasm to recover his memories and see the bottom of the great pit with their own eyes. However, they know not of the harsh reality that is the true existence of the Abyss.

Overview via Myanimelist

Made in Abyss has been on my bucket list for SOOOOOO LONG. I finally got around to watching it with my brother and it was a satisfyingly dissatisfied experience. I realized the show isn’t over. . . and thought well drat. I have to wait to find out what happens!

Let me do a shout out for what I loved without spoiling anything.

1.The Animation– The backgrounds had such beautiful depth and coloring! Character animation was also crisp and captivating to follow. It also blended fantasy and reality through its visuals wonderfully!

2. The Characters– Usually in these types of stories the characters have one or maybe two dimensions to them. It is not so in this show! Plus, their motivations and personalities transform as they go through their experiences.

3. The Mystery- I couldn’t figure it out. That is a sign of a great mystery show. It gave me enough to satisfy some of my curiosity but left enough unsaid so I’ll definitely come back for more later.

This show is not for the faint of heart. It has, like the Abyss itself, a dark underbelly with grisly imagery. I had to turn away many times because I couldn’t stomach some of the scenes. But this means Made in Abyss is for sure a story with an important message.

ufotable‘s Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba (2016-?)

Ever since the death of his father, the burden of supporting the family has fallen upon Tanjirou Kamado’s shoulders. Though living impoverished on a remote mountain, the Kamado family are able to enjoy a relatively peaceful and happy life. One day, Tanjirou decides to go down to the local village to make a little money selling charcoal. On his way back, night falls, forcing Tanjirou to take shelter in the house of a strange man, who warns him of the existence of flesh-eating demons that lurk in the woods at night.

When he finally arrives back home the next day, he is met with a horrifying sight—his whole family has been slaughtered. Worse still, the sole survivor is his sister Nezuko, who has been turned into a bloodthirsty demon. Consumed by rage and hatred, Tanjirou swears to avenge his family and stay by his only remaining sibling. Alongside the mysterious group calling themselves the Demon Slayer Corps, Tanjirou will do whatever it takes to slay the demons and protect the remnants of his beloved sister’s humanity.

Overview via Myanimelist

Once upon a time, I watched Demon Slayer‘s first episode and vowed never to see the show. That was a shortsighted decision. I’ve seen about 10 episodes now and am in awe of how beautifully crafted this anime is! The story doesn’t waste time with filler and fluff. The animation is purposeful and so gorgeous it leaves me spellbound. the characters develop and change in ways that don’t scream at the audience. Their motivations are simply complex and a joy to watch unfold.

I could gush about how in love I am with the show now but. . . I won’t. You should go check it out for yourself! However, this is another show not for the faint of heart. The reason the first episode turned me off the first time I saw it is because of how traumatizing the story is. Tanjirou and his family endure so much grief. Also, the demons are EVIL. Some of them will make your teeth curl.

I hope you enjoyed seeing what I’ve been exploring these past few months! Hopefully, I’ll add to this list as the year goes by.

Happy hunting for books, yoga teachers, anime, manga, and the like!

March Book Madness! Day 25, Do you love books more than people?

Girl Reading by Jean Monti

Recently, I reviewed Diane Setterfield’s novel The Thirteenth Tale. As I relived my experience reading and pondering her story, I remembered a particularly poignant conversation Miss Winters had with the main character Margaret. Miss Winters asked Margaret if she would kill someone, about to destroy the last copies of her favorite books. When with the author asked this question, Margaret responded she wouldn’t. However, later when she was alone, Margaret recanted her answer, stating, 

Of course I loved books more than people. Of course I valued “Jane Eyre” over the anonymous stranger…Of course all of Shakespeare was worth more than a human life.

Diane Setterfield, The Thirteenth Tale

When I read this excerpt the first time I felt so conflicted. The question, “Is knowledge more valuable than human life?” was a unsettling one for me to consider. I argued back and forth in my brain how I couldn’t possible decide between one or the other.

Picture of Notre Dame Chapel in Paris France

It is the same as deciding between preserving ancient architecture and history over preserving human life. It’s the same as choosing to rebuild the recently damaged Notre Dame Chapel or donating to people starving around the world. Which do we choose? Which is the moral choice?

There is no right answer to any of these questions. I hate absolutism. I always wonder if there couldn’t be an option 3 or 4 to any of these paradigms. Both books and people are important. What if the person about to destroy the last books we love will become one of the greatest authors or scientists of our time?

We could wrap our heads around these type of philosophical questions and get nowhere.

Not every book is equal in value.

Not every person has lived a virtuous life.

People have burnt books to smother minorities or degenerates.

People often praise ideologies that are damaging and dangerous to individuals and families.

There have been moments in history when people have had to kill in order to obtain a book or record of great value for future generations.

Though there is no perfect answer for every possible circumstance, it is important to learn the value of books, the knowledge they contain, the authors who write them, and the people they may reach.

Food for thought.

Thank you for reading! See you tomorrow.

March Book Madness! Day 24, My Life in Books Tag

March Book Madness! Days 26-31 My favorite new reads from this month

Feel free to donate! Anything is appreciated.

March Book Madness! Day 24, My Life in Books Tag

Young Woman Reading by Richard Boyer

An original Book tag by Elaine Howlin, I found this tag on library looter‘s blog. Since I have limited time on my hands currently, I’ve been doing more book tags. This particular tag is quick, easy, and fun! I always put links for the authors and books so feel free to click on the provided links if any seem interesting.

Let’s get started.

Find a book for each of your initials

A- As You Are by Sarah M. Eden

E- Even This: Getting to the Place Where You Can Trust God with Anything by Emily Belle Freeman

M- The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie

Count your age along your bookshelf: What book do you land on?

Pseudonymous Bosch‘s The Name of This Book Is Secret (2007)

SInce all my books are packed away, I went through a library catalog of my books on my phone! Since I am 30 years old, I stopped on this little trinket. It’s a fun book which I think fans of Trenton Lee Stewart‘s The Mysterious Benedict Society, or Lemony Snicket‘s A Series of Unfortunate Events would enjoy.

A book set in your city/country?

Rick Riordan‘s The Titan’s Curse (2007)

Funny story! Percy and his friends go to Cloudcroft, New Mexico. People probably would recognize it as the sad village in the mountains. Percy buys a plastic rat from someone because he feels sorry for them. So I lived there at the time I read this book! I still think its hilarious.

A book that represents a destination that you’d love to travel to?

Jennifer Deibel‘s A Dance in Donegal (2021)

I would love to travel to Ireland like Moira Doherty in this book! I have an extensive Irish ancestry. It is on my bucket list of places I want to see in my lifetime.

A book that’s your favourite colour?

Catherynne M. Valente‘s In the Cities of Coin and Spice (2007)

I love, love, love, love orange! This is one of the first books to pop in my mind with this color.

Which book do you have the fondest memories of?

Kate DiCamillo‘s The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane (2006)

I’ve read this book multiple times throughout my life, and each reading is special to me. No matter how many times I experience this story it remains memorable and heartwarming.

Which book did you have the most difficulty reading?

Fyodor Dostoyevsky‘s Crime and Punishment (1866) (In Russian)

I’ve picked my way through several Russian novels but Crime and Punishment is by far the hardest I’ve attempted. I have yet to finish this book completely.

Which book on your TBR will give you the most satisfaction to finish?

Geoffrey Chaucer‘s The Canterbury Tales (1400)

Ever since my European tour in 2013, I’ve wanted to read this book. I finished it once upon a time as a teenager and hated it. However, I learned the history behind this classic collection and realized I had read it with the wrong mindset. I would love to dive back into this novel to understand the archetypes Chaucer tried to depict.

Thank you for reading! Spread this tag around! See you tomorrow.

March Book Madness! Day 23, The Fellowship of the Ring Book Tag!

March Book Madness! Day 25, Do you love books more than people?

Feel free to donate! Anything is appreciated.

March Book Madness! Day 13, 21 Books I could not finish for the life of me

Depiction of the Doldrums in The Phantom Tollbooth (1970)

It turns out I love making lists! It is a welcome invitation for me to sit down and sort out what I value. Plus, I like the variety. Sadly, today is a list of books I didn’t care enough to finish. It was difficult to find these! I rarely do not finish books. Sometimes though, I can’t force myself to read the whole thing. 

I left links for all these books. I’ll post the book details but won’t give too much info. I mean, I didn’t like them. Usually, they either bored me out of mind or had content I found questionable.

To the list!

Bookish and the Beast, Ashley Poston (2020)

Rosie Thorne is feeling stuck—on her college application essays, in her small town, and on that mysterious General Sond cosplayer she met at ExcelsiCon. Most of all, she’s stuck in her grief over her mother’s death. Her only solace was her late mother’s library of rare Starfield novels, but even that disappeared when they sold it to pay off hospital bills.

On the other hand, Vance Reigns has been Hollywood royalty for as long as he can remember—with all the privilege and scrutiny that entails. When a tabloid scandal catches up to him, he’s forced to hide out somewhere the paparazzi would never expect to find him: Small Town USA. At least there’s a library in the house. Too bad he doesn’t read.

When Rosie and Vance’s paths collide and a rare book is accidentally destroyed, Rosie finds herself working to repay the debt. And while most Starfield superfans would jump at the chance to work in close proximity to the Vance Reigns, Rosie has discovered something about Vance: he’s a jerk, and she can’t stand him. The feeling is mutual.

But as Vance and Rosie begrudgingly get to know each other, their careful masks come off—and they may just find that there’s more risk in shutting each other out than in opening their hearts. 

Why I read it: I saw several people online give it a good review so I wanted to give it a try.

Why I didn’t Finish: Bookish and the Beast is my latest rejection. I got five chapters into it and couldn’t finish. I didn’t like the characters. Some of them made me uncomfortable, and the writing was all tell and no show. I got sick of hearing the whining. Anyway, this was not my type of fairytale retelling. 

The Melancholy of Mechagirl, Catherynne M. Valente (2013)

Science fiction and fantasy stories about Japan by the multiple-award winning author and New York Times best seller Catherynne M. Valente. A collection of some of Catherynne Valente’s most admired stories, including the Hugo Award-nominated novella “Silently and Very Fast” and the Locus Award finalist “13 Ways of Looking at Space/Time,” with a brand-new long story to anchor the collection.

Why I Read it: I love Valente’s Fairyland Series and her Orphan’s Tales books. I saw she had this collection of short stories online and bought the book.

Why I Didn’t Finish: The first poem was too sad and had swearing. Then the subsequent stories featured sexual abuse. After a few of the short stories I couldn’t finish. Honestly, it was not a bad book. Just too much for me. It has a lot of sensitive topics and language.

Children of Blood and Bone, Tomi Adeyemi (2018)

Zélie Adebola remembers when the soil of Orïsha hummed with magic. Burners ignited flames, Tiders beckoned waves, and Zélie’s Reaper mother summoned forth souls.

But everything changed the night magic disappeared. Under the orders of a ruthless king, maji were killed, leaving Zélie without a mother and her people without hope.

Now Zélie has one chance to bring back magic and strike against the monarchy. With the help of a rogue princess, Zélie must outwit and outrun the crown prince, who is hell-bent on eradicating magic for good.

Danger lurks in Orïsha, where snow leoponaires prowl and vengeful spirits wait in the waters. Yet the greatest danger may be Zélie herself as she struggles to control her powers and her growing feelings for an enemy. 

Why I Read it: I loved the cover and read a lot of good reviews on Goodreads.

Why I Didn’t Finish: I get tired of dystopian, rise up against the oppressive King/State books. So, I started reading it and I grew bored within a few chapters. I started guessing important plot points too easy. There it is. Adeyemi is an amazing writer but unfortunately I’ve read too many stories like this before.

Endless Night, Agatha Christie (1967)

Gipsy’s Acre was a truly beautiful upland site with views out to sea – and in Michael Rogers it stirred a child-like fantasy. There, amongst the dark fir trees, he planned to build a house, find a girl and live happily ever after. Yet, as he left the village, a shadow of menace hung over the land. For this was the place where accidents happened. Perhaps Michael should have heeded the locals’ warnings: ‘There’s no luck for them as meddles with Gipsy’s Acre.’ Michael Rogers is a man who is about to learn the true meaning of the old saying ‘In my end is my beginning.

Why I Read it: Easy. I love Agatha Christie. I read Endless Night on my Christie reading spree two years ago.

Why I Didn’t Finish: Halfway through the book, I had a horrible feeling something terrible was going to happen. For the first time, I looked up the ending for the book after I returned it. I was right. The story was too disturbing for me. On the flip side, this might be someone else’s favorite because, as always, Christie is one of the best writers to have ever lived.

Hunted, Meagan Spooner (2017)

Beauty knows the Beast’s forest in her bones—and in her blood. Though she grew up with the city’s highest aristocrats, far from her father’s old lodge, she knows that the forest holds secrets and that her father is the only hunter who’s ever come close to discovering them.

So when her father loses his fortune and moves Yeva and her sisters back to the outskirts of town, Yeva is secretly relieved. Out in the wilderness, there’s no pressure to make idle chatter with vapid baronessas…or to submit to marrying a wealthy gentleman. But Yeva’s father’s misfortune may have cost him his mind, and when he goes missing in the woods, Yeva sets her sights on one prey: the creature he’d been obsessively tracking just before his disappearance.

Deaf to her sisters’ protests, Yeva hunts this strange Beast back into his own territory—a cursed valley, a ruined castle, and a world of creatures that Yeva’s only heard about in fairy tales. A world that can bring her ruin or salvation. Who will survive: the Beauty, or the Beast?

Why I read it: I love Beauty and the Beast retellings. Plus, the cover is pretty.

Why I didn’t Finish: The characters. I didn’t like any of them ESPECIALLY the Beast. He was so abusive. I got half way through the book and couldn’t continue.

Rebel of the Sands, Alwyn Hamilton (2016)

Mortals rule the desert nation of Miraji, but mythical beasts still roam the wild and remote areas, and rumor has it that somewhere, djinn still perform their magic.  For humans, it’s an unforgiving place, especially if you’re poor, orphaned, or female.

Amani Al’Hiza is all three. She’s a gifted gunslinger with perfect aim, but she can’t shoot her way out of Dustwalk, the back-country town where she’s destined to wind up wed or dead.

Then she meets Jin, a rakish foreigner, in a shooting contest, and sees him as the perfect escape route. But though she’s spent years dreaming of leaving Dustwalk, she never imagined she’d gallop away on mythical horse—or that it would take a foreign fugitive to show her the heart of the desert she thought she knew.

Rebel of the Sands reveals what happens when a dream deferred explodes—in the fires of rebellion, of romantic passion, and the all-consuming inferno of a girl finally, at long last, embracing her power.

Why I Read it: I like the cover and the magic system seemed unique.

Why I Didn’t Finish: Hmm, it was as much dislike as it was ambivalence. The story wasn’t engaging enough even while reading and walking to work. In fact, I forgot I started it, and a year later I found it under a pile of other books I bought. I don’t remember too much beyond that.

Many Waters, Madeleine L’Engle (1986)

Sandy and Dennys have always been the normal, run-of-the-mill ones in the extraodinary Murry family. They garden, make an occasional A in school, and play baseball. Nothing especially interesting has happened to the twins until they accidentally interrupt their father’s experiment.

Then the two boys are thrown across time and space. They find themselves alone in the desert, where, if they believe in unicorns, they can find unicorns, and whether they believe or not, mammoths and manticores will find them.

The twins are rescued by Japheth, a man from the nearby oasis, but before he can bring them to safety, Dennys gets lost. Each boy is quickly embroiled in the conflicts of this time and place, whose populations includes winged seraphim, a few stray mythic beasts, perilous and beautiful nephilim, and small, long lived humans who consider Sandy and Dennys giants. The boys find they have more to do in the oasis than simply getting themselves home–they have to reunite an estranged father and son, but it won’t be easy, especially when the son is named Noah and he’s about to start building a boat in the desert.

Why I Read it: I love The Wrinkle in Time Trilogy L’Engle previously wrote, so I was excited to read a book finally about the twins in the Murry family.

Why I Didn’t Finish: The setting and story was too strange. I have never in my life thought Noah and his family were small humans living on a paradise island.

Flights and Chimes and Mysterious Times, Emma Trevayne (2014)

Ten-year-old Jack Foster has stepped through a doorway and into quite a different London.

Londinium is a smoky, dark, and dangerous place, home to mischievous metal fairies and fearsome clockwork dragons that breathe scalding steam. The people wear goggles to protect their eyes, brass grill insets in their nostrils to filter air, or mechanical limbs to replace missing ones.

Over it all rules the Lady, and the Lady has demanded a new son—a perfect flesh-and-blood child. She has chosen Jack.

Jack’s wonder at the magic and steam-powered marvels in Londinium lasts until he learns he is the pawn in a very dangerous game. The consequences are deadly, and his only hope of escape, of returning home, lies with a legendary clockwork bird.

The Gearwing grants wishes—or it did, before it was broken—before it was killed. But some things don’t stay dead forever

Why I Read it: I love steampunk based books! I saw this cover in Hastings and thought. Yep, this is my type of book.

Why I Didn’t Finish: Trevayne hardly ever talked about machinery or history. So sad. I barely remember starting it and I might have fallen asleep reading it.

Half World, Hiromi Goto (2009)

Melanie Tamaki is human—but her parents aren’t. They are from Half World, a Limbo between our world and the afterlife, and her father is still there. When her mother disappears, Melanie must follow her to Half World—and neither of them may return alive.

Why I Read it: It was a book recommendation on Amazon. Because I like manga and anime, I bought it.

Why I Didn’t Finish: I hated Goto’s view of the afterlife. I kept having nightmares about it and decided mid-book I couldn’t finish. Though I didn’t like it, I do think it was a matter of taste rather than of quality. I could tell Goto is a good writer.

Heart’s Blood, Juliet Marillier (2009)

Whistling Tor is a place of secrets, a mysterious, wooded hill housing the crumbling fortress of a chieftain whose name is spoken throughout the district in tones of revulsion and bitterness. A curse lies over Anluan’s family and his people; those woods hold a perilous force whose every whisper threatens doom.

For young scribe Caitrin it is a safe haven. This place where nobody else is prepared to go seems exactly what she needs, for Caitrin is fleeing her own demons. As Caitrin comes to know Anluan and his home in more depth she realizes that it is only through her love and determination that the curse can be broken and Anluan and his people set free.

Why I Read it: I love Juliet Marillier’s book Wildwood Dancing so I bought this book the week it came out.

Why I Didn’t Finish: The sex scene near end of the book threw me off. Plus the rape in one of the flashbacks was really disturbing.

Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad (1899)

Heart of Darkness, a novel by Joseph Conrad, was originally a three-part series in Blackwood’s Magazine in 1899. It is a story within a story, following a character named Charlie Marlow, who recounts his adventure to a group of men onboard an anchored ship. The story told is of his early life as a ferry boat captain. Although his job was to transport ivory downriver, Charlie develops an interest in investing an ivory procurement agent, Kurtz, who is employed by the government. Preceded by his reputation as a brilliant emissary of progress, Kurtz has now established himself as a god among the natives in “one of the darkest places on earth.” Marlow suspects something else of Kurtz: he has gone mad.

A reflection on corruptive European colonialism and a journey into the nightmare psyche of one of the corrupted, Heart of Darkness is considered one of the most influential works ever written.

Why I Read it: I had no choice. It was for school.

Why I Didn’t Finish: It was boring as dirt. I cheated and used Spark Notes to pass the quiz for school.

Skin Hunger, Kathleen Duey (2007)

Sadima lives in a world where magic has been banned, leaving poor villagers prey to fakes and charlatans. A magician stole her family’s few valuables and left Sadima’s mother to die on the day Sadima was born. But vestiges of magic are hidden in old rhymes and hearth tales and in people like Sadima, who conceals her silent communication with animals for fear of rejection and ridicule. When rumors of her gift reach Somiss, a young nobleman obsessed with restoring magic, he sends Franklin, his lifelong servant, to find her. Sadima’s joy at sharing her secret becomes love for the man she shares it with. But Franklin’s irrevocable bond to the brilliant and dangerous Somiss traps her, too, and she faces a heartbreaking decision. Centuries later magic has been restored, but it is available only to the wealthy and is strictly controlled by wizards within a sequestered academy of magic. Hahp, the expendable second son of a rich merchant, is forced into the academy and finds himself paired with Gerrard, a peasant boy inexplicably admitted with nine sons of privilege and wealth. Only one of the ten students will graduate — and the first academic requirement is survival. Sadima’s and Hahp’s worlds are separated by generations, but their lives are connected in surprising and powerful ways in this brilliant first book of Kathleen Duey’s dark, complex, and completely compelling trilogy.

Why I Read it: The cover and premise seemed interesting.

Why I Didn’t Finish: This book was disturbing. I felt my stomach churn several times within a few chapters. I gave it to my sister and several years later she told me about reading it and having the same experience. I felt bad about that.

The Kite Runner , Khaled Hosseini (2004)

The unforgettable, heartbreaking story of the unlikely friendship between a wealthy boy and the son of his father’s servant, The Kite Runner is a beautifully crafted novel set in a country that is in the process of being destroyed. It is about the power of reading, the price of betrayal, and the possibility of redemption; and an exploration of the power of fathers over sons—their love, their sacrifices, their lies.

A sweeping story of family, love, and friendship told against the devastating backdrop of the history of Afghanistan over the last thirty years, The Kite Runner is an unusual and powerful novel that has become a beloved, one-of-a-kind classic.

Why I Read it: My History Professor recommended it to me in Islamic History class.

Why I Didn’t Finish: So. I think this story is culturally important. However, child abuse and rape are subjects I can’t stomach. Plus, I didn’t feel the main character changed. I never grew to respect him.

Unwind, Neal Shusterman (2007)

The Second Civil War was fought over reproductive rights. The chilling resolution: Life is inviolable from the moment of conception until age thirteen. Between the ages of thirteen and eighteen, however, parents can have their child “unwound,” whereby all of the child’s organs are transplanted into different donors, so life doesn’t technically end. Connor is too difficult for his parents to control. Risa, a ward of the state, is not enough to be kept alive. And Lev is a tithe, a child conceived and raised to be unwound. Together, they may have a chance to escape and to survive.

Why I Read it: The premise stood out to me on Amazon.

Why I Didn’t Finish: The story was slow. I didn’t attach to any of the characters or their problems.

Eon: Dragoneye Reborn, Alison Goodman (2008)

Twelve-year-old Eon has been in training for years. His intensive study of Dragon Magic, based on East Asian astrology, involves two kinds of skills: sword-work and magical aptitude. He and his master hope that he will be chosen as a Dragoneye–an apprentice to one of the twelve energy dragons of good fortune.

But Eon has a dangerous secret. He is actually Eona, a sixteen-year-old girl who has been masquerading as a boy for the chance to become a Dragoneye. Females are forbidden to use Dragon Magic; if anyone discovers she has been hiding in plain sight, her death is assured.

When Eon’s secret threatens to come to light, she and her allies are plunged into grave danger and a deadly struggle for the Imperial throne. Eon must find the strength and inner power to battle those who want to take her magic…and her life.

Why I Read it: My sister recommended it to me.

Why I Didn’t Finish: Attempted rape, masochism, and a series of other things. I did like Eona and cared about her future. But I didn’t care about the love triangle or political problems.

The Clan of the Cave Bear, Jean M. Auel (1980)

A natural disaster leaves the young girl wandering alone in an unfamiliar and dangerous land until she is found by a woman of the Clan, people very different from her own kind. To them, blond, blue-eyed Ayla looks peculiar and ugly–she is one of the Others, those who have moved into their ancient homeland; but Iza cannot leave the girl to die and takes her with them. Iza and Creb, the old Mog-ur, grow to love her, and as Ayla learns the ways of the Clan and Iza’s way of healing, most come to accept her. But the brutal and proud youth who is destined to become their next leader sees her differences as a threat to his authority. He develops a deep and abiding hatred for the strange girl of the Others who lives in their midst, and is determined to get his revenge.

Why I Read it: My mom bought it for me because I like Historical Fiction.

Why I Didn’t Finish: Near the beginning of the book there was an explicit sex scene. That and the writing was too stiff for me. If you are interested in Primeval History, this is a fascinating book to pick up. There is a reason it is so popular.

The House of the Spirits, Isabel Allende (1982)

In one of the most important and beloved Latin American works of the twentieth century, Isabel Allende weaves a luminous tapestry of three generations of the Trueba family, revealing both triumphs and tragedies. Here is patriarch Esteban, whose wild desires and political machinations are tempered only by his love for his ethereal wife, Clara, a woman touched by an otherworldly hand. Their daughter, Blanca, whose forbidden love for a man Esteban has deemed unworthy infuriates her father, yet will produce his greatest joy: his granddaughter Alba, a beautiful, ambitious girl who will lead the family and their country into a revolutionary future.

Why I Read it: My High School English teacher had it on her shelf and I liked the cover.

Why I Didn’t Finish: I made it through Blanca’s death and autopsy. I made it through her fiancé’s grief. But I drew the line after I read his continuous accounts of raping woman in the village area he took over. By then I had enough.

Moby Dick, Herman Melville (1851)

So Melville wrote of his masterpiece, one of the greatest works of imagination in literary history. In part, Moby-Dick is the story of an eerily compelling madman pursuing an unholy war against a creature as vast and dangerous and unknowable as the sea itself. But more than just a novel of adventure, more than an encyclopaedia of whaling lore and legend, the book can be seen as part of its author’s lifelong meditation on America. Written with wonderfully redemptive humour, Moby-Dick is also a profound inquiry into character, faith, and the nature of perception.

Why I Read it: I wanted to prove my sister wrong when she said it was boring and useless.

Why I Didn’t Finish: . . . It was really boring. I could barely make it through two chapters. Sorry Melville! I tried to stand up for you.

Tess of the D’Urbervilles, Thomas Hardy (1891)

When Tess Durbeyfield is driven by family poverty to claim kinship with the wealthy D’Urbervilles and seek a portion of their family fortune, meeting her ‘cousin’ Alec proves to be her downfall. A very different man, Angel Clare, seems to offer her love and salvation, but Tess must choose whether to reveal her past or remain silent in the hope of a peaceful future.

Why I Read it: I like Thomas Hardy’s The Mayor of Casterbridge. It’s one of my favorite classic novels.

Why I Didn’t Finish: Tess being raped and used sexually by the men in the book.

The Rose and the Beast: Fairy Tales Retold, Francesca Lia Block (2001)

With language that is both lyrical and distinctly her own, Francesca Lia Block turns nine fairy tales inside out.

Escaping the poisoned apple, Snow frees herself from possession to find the truth of love in an unexpected place.

A club girl from L.A., awakening from a long sleep to the memories of her past, finally finds release from its curse.

And Beauty learns that Beasts can understand more than men.

Within these singular, timeless landscapes, the brutal and the magical collide, and the heroine triumphs because of the strength she finds in a pen, a paintbrush, a lover, a friend, a mother, and finally, in herself.

Why I Read it: It had multiple fairytale retellings! How could I not.

Why I Didn’t Finish: Bestiality, sexual assault on a really tiny person, and homoeroticism were scattered throughout the few stories I could get through.

Sunshine, Robin McKinley (2003)

There are places in the world where darkness rules, where it’s unwise to walk. But there hadn’t been any trouble out at the lake for years, and Sunshine just needed a spot where she could be alone with her thoughts. Vampires never entered her mind.

Until they found her…

Why I Read it: I like Robin McKinley. Her books for Beauty and the Beast and Sleeping Beauty were fun to read.

Why I Didn’t Finish: This has to be one of the slowest moving, dullest, anticlimactic vampire novels I have ever read. Nothing remotely interesting happened until 60 pages into the book. Then that was over within 20 pages and the main character went back to her boring life as if nothing happened.

Thank you for reading! See you tomorrow!

March Book Madness! Day 12, My Top 20 Favorite Books/Series

March Book Madness! Day 14, Ben Behunin’s Authentically Ruby 5/5

March Book Madness! Day 9, Tag Tuesday: Top 5 Books I Wish I Had Read When I Was Younger

For future reference, I would love to be tagged in any book initiatives! For this post, I am doing a Tag Tuesday post from Meeghan @ Meeghan Reads. Today I will list the top 5 books I wish I could have read as a child.

Book Details

Once, in a cottage above the cliffs on the Dark Sea of Darkness, there lived three children and their trusty dog Nugget. Janner Igiby, his brother Tink, their crippled sister Leeli are gifted children as all children are, loved well by a noble mother and ex-pirate grandfather. But they will need all their gifts and all that love to survive the evil pursuit of the venomous Fangs of Dang who have crossed the dark sea to rule the land with malice and pursue the Igibys who hold the secret to the lost legend and jewels of good King Wingfeather of the Shining Isle of Anniera.

Andrew Peterson spins a quirky and riveting tale of the Igibys’ extraordinary journey from Glipwood’s Dragon Day Festival and a secret hidden in the Books and Crannies Bookstore, past the terrifying Black Carriage, clutches of the horned hounds and loathsome toothy cows surrounding AnkleJelly Manor, through the Glipwood Forest and mysterious treehouse of Peet the Sock Man (known for a little softshoe and wearing tattered socks on his hands and arms), to the very edge of the Ice Prairies.

Full of characters rich in heart, smarts, and courage, On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness presents a world of wonder and a tale children of all ages will cherish, families can read aloud, and readers’ groups are sure to discuss for its layers of meaning about life’s true treasure and tangle of the beautiful and horrible, temporal and eternal, and good and bad.

Goodreads Overview

Since childhood, I’ve loved stories that depict the battle between good and evil. I started reading this book last summer, and I marveled at Andrew Petersen’s quirky sense of humor, magical prose, and emphasis on childhood’s place in depicting good people standing up to evil in their life. I love the characters, setting, and beautiful messages scattered throughout this and the other Wingsfeather sequels. If I could travel back in time and give my childhood self this book, I would!

Favorite Quote

So this is a story about light and goodness and Truth with a capital T. It’s about beauty, and resurrection, and redemption. But for those things to ring true in a child’s heart, the storyteller has to be honest. He has to acknowledge that sometimes when the hall light goes out and the bedroom goes dark, the world is a scary place. He has to nod his head to the presence of all the sadness in the world; children know it’s there from a very young age, and I wonder sometimes if that’s why babies cry. He has to admit that sometimes characters make bad choices, because every child has seen their parent angry or irritable or deceitful–even the best people in our lives are capable of evil.

But of course the storyteller can’t stop there. He has to show in the end there is a Great Good in the world (and beyond it). Sometimes it is necessary to paint the sky black in order to show how beautiful is the prick of light. Gather all the wickedness in the universe into its loudest shriek and God hears it as a squeak at best. And that is a comforting thought. When a child reads the last sentence of my stories, I hope he or she drifts to sleep with a glow in their hearts and a warmth in their bones, believing that all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.

Andrew Peterson

Book Details

Out of this wild night, a strange visitor comes to the Murry house and beckons Meg, her brother Charles Wallace, and their friend Calvin O’Keefe on a most dangerous and extraordinary adventure—one that will threaten their lives and our universe.

Goodreads Overview

I might be one of the few people in The United States who did not read this book in Middle School. I knew it existed, but didn’t think it would interest me. (I was REALLY into fantasy books back then.) I read A Wrinkle In Time when I was 26 and instantly regretted I didn’t take the time to read it as a child. I struggled knowing my self worth for much of my childhood. Meg and I could have been best friends facing these uncertainties together. Alas, it never was.

Favorite Quote

You mean you’re comparing our lives to a sonnet? A strict form, but freedom within it? Yes. Mrs. Whatsit said. You’re given the form, but you have to write the sonnet yourself. What you say is completely up to you.

Madeleine L’Engle

Book Details

For Milo, everything’s a bore. When a tollbooth mysteriously appears in his room, he drives through only because he’s got nothing better to do. But on the other side, things seem different. Milo visits the Island of Conclusions (you get there by jumping), learns about time from a ticking watchdog named Tock, and even embarks on a quest to rescue Rhyme and Reason! Somewhere along the way, Milo realizes something astonishing. Life is far from dull. In fact, it’s exciting beyond his wildest dreams. 

Goodreads Overview

Sad story of my youth, I never read this book till I was in college. Norton Juster did a marvelous job taking all the quirky Colloquialisms and rules in the English language and putting them to story. It feels like Alice in Wonderland but with proper grammar rules. I really liked Eva Ibbotson‘s books as a kid, and The Phantom Tollbooth feels like it could fit into one of her stories!

Favorite Quote

You must never feel badly about making mistakes … as long as you take the trouble to learn from them. For you often learn more by being wrong for the right reasons than you do by being right for the wrong reasons.

Norton Juster

Book Details

A sci-fi drama of a high school aged girl who belongs in a different time, a boy possessed by emptiness as deep as space, an alien artifact, mysterious murder, and a love that crosses light years.

To Amy, everyone has a flavor. Her mom is the flavor of mint–sharp and bright. Her dad is like hot chocolate–sweet and full of gentle warmth.

Amy lives on a mining colony in out in deep space, but when her dad loses his job the entire family is forced to move back to Earth. Amy says goodbye to her best friend Jemmah and climbs into a cryotube where she will spend the next 30 years frozen in a state of suspended animation, hurtling in a rocket toward her new home. Her life will never be the same, but all she can think about is how when she gets to Earth, Jemmah will have grown up without her.

When Amy arrives on Earth, she feels like an alien in a strange land. The sky is beautiful but gravity is heavy and the people are weird. Stranger still is the boy she meets at her new school–a boy who has no flavor. 

Goodreads Overview

I. Love. This. Series! I went parousing through Webtoons and came across Stephen McCranie’s series in a featured spotlight. I had read several other webtoons and not been impressed, but I liked the art so I gave it a try. I am so glad I did. I love everything about this series and look forward to new chapters every week. Though I am glad I read this as an adult, I really think my younger self would have ate up this story’s beautiful art and depictions of school life. I also think I would have understood and identified with the character Oliver.

Favorite Quote

Oliver, men like you and I don’t make promises unless we can keep them.

Oliver’s Father, Episode 140

Book Details

The story of the new kid in town – little Yotsuba, a green-haired and wide-eyed girl who doesn’t have a clue… about anything! With no knowledge of the world around her, and an unnatural fear of air conditioners, Yotsuba has her new neighbors’ heads spinning. 

Goodreads Overview

Yotusbato is one of the most relaxing manga I’ve ever read. Yotsuba is such a cute little girl, and the author Azuma Kiyohiko is so funny! When I read it for the first time, I had so many times I laughed so hard I cried. I didn’t read manga as a kid, but if I could give myself a headstart into the Japanese reading world, I would give myself Yotsubato and smile. 

Yotsuba: I’ll get revenge! … I’m going!

Jumbo (in a suffering manner): Yotsuba… please, come back alive…

Yotsuba (heroic): Alright. Even if I die… I’ll come back alive.

—–Yotsuba!

Thank you for reading! See you tomorrow!

March Book Madness! Day 8, The Bhagavad Gita, Translated By Eknath Easwaran

March Book Madness! Day 10, Gregory Maguire’s Egg and Spoon (2014) 3.5/5

March Book Madness! Day 4, Erin A. Craig’s House of Salt and Sorrows (2019) 3.5/5

Original 2019 Cover

Book Cover

Young Adult Fairy Tale Retelling

In a manor by the sea, twelve sisters are cursed.

Annaleigh lives a sheltered life at Highmoor, a manor by the sea, with her sisters, their father, and stepmother. Once they were twelve, but loneliness fills the grand halls now that four of the girls’ lives have been cut short. Each death was more tragic than the last—the plague, a plummeting fall, a drowning, a slippery plunge—and there are whispers throughout the surrounding villages that the family is cursed by the gods.

Disturbed by a series of ghostly visions, Annaleigh becomes increasingly suspicious that the deaths were no accidents. Her sisters have been sneaking out every night to attend glittering balls, dancing until dawn in silk gowns and shimmering slippers, and Annaleigh isn’t sure whether to try to stop them or to join their forbidden trysts. Because who—or what—are they really dancing with?

When Annaleigh’s involvement with a mysterious stranger who has secrets of his own intensifies, it’s a race to unravel the darkness that has fallen over her family—before it claims her next. 

Google Overview

Somber, Shocking, and Reminiscent of Greek Mythology

My first thought when I saw this book was, “Wow! This cover is beautiful.” As I read the story’s premise I got excited because I love fairytale retellings. As an added bonus, Erin Craig had changed up the setting and back story for “The Twelve Dancing Princesses”, which is one of my favorites. So, I bought the book and skipped on home for a nice afternoon of reading.

Craig was an amazing world builder and created an interesting mystery. I was genuinely shocked when I discovered who was behind all the deaths. However, this was not my kind of story.

Narrative

Craig’s prose throughout House of Salt and Shadows was very engaging and I never felt bored. That wasn’t my problem. It. Was. Just. Too. Sad! I have six siblings and watching the invisible killer tear Annaleigh’s family apart horrified me. I kept imagining if that happened in my family and by the end of the book I cried.

This is just my personal experience. I kept waiting for a silver lining after all the crazy suicides, house burning, and crying was over but it never came. I can handle tragedy and trauma in a story. However, I need a sound resolution for the characters. Perhaps I need to go back and read this book again so I can more fully appreciate how well written it is.

The Characters

Annaleigh was a good heroine. I have no qualms against her. She actively strove to find solutions and save her family. She is my type of gal! Her love interest Cassius seemed wooden though. His personality never fully manifested in the story beyond being a love interest. However, I did like Cassius and Annaleigh’s scenes together. He has some pleasantly romantic lines. I also like how he strove to be there and help her sisters.

The one character I was the most disappointed in was their father, the king. Though there are other major villains, his choices led his family to destruction. All of the anguish this family suffered was rooted in his infidelity and treatment of others.

I do wish I could have known Annaleigh’s other sisters better.

Who is this book for?

If you like darker fairytale retellings like Brigid Kemmerer’s A Curse So Dark and Lonely, Johanna Ruth Meyer’s novel Echo North or Francis Harding’s Deeplight you might enjoy House of Salt and Sorrows.

Favorite Quotes

Nights like this were meant to be shared, remembered, and talked about for years. Skies like this were meant to be kissed under.

All the dreamers are castle-bound. At midnight’s stroke, we will unwind, Revealing fantasies soft or unkind. Show me debauched nightmares or sunniest daydreams. Come not as you are but as you wish to be seen.

“Oh my darling Annaleigh, remember when you let the turtles go? Some things can’t be kept.” He cupped my cheek, and my tears trickled down his fingers. “Be brave. Be strong. You’ll always have my whole heart.

Thank you for reading! See you tomorrow!

March Book Madness! Day 3, Heidi Kimball’s Where the Stars Meet the Sea (2020) 3/5

March Book Madness! Day 5 Louis L’Amour’s The Lonesome Gods (1984) 5/5

February Yoga challenge: Day 24, How Do You Face Your Fears?

Artwork featured in A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness, from an original idea by Siobhan Dowd,

Life circumstances today reminded me there are still things in this world I fear. I know others besides myself suffer at times from PTSD. These feelings are rooted in fear and are triggered randomly.

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that’s triggered by a terrifying event — either experiencing it or witnessing it. Symptoms may include flashbacks, nightmares and severe anxiety, as well as uncontrollable thoughts about the event.”

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) by the Mayo Clinic Staff

I don’t like viewing my reoccurring symptoms as a disorder. The word ‘disorder’ puts my Obsessive Compulsion into overdrive. It makes me want to rid myself of any feelings of fear in order to avoid shameful judgment. Seeing it that way causes me unnecessary stress and anxiety. I view these feelings as they are, naturally occurring feelings I face and overcome sometimes. There is no shame in feeling fear or being sensitive to our trauma.

Sometimes it feels like these emotions and thoughts are me. But one of the benefits of studying yoga is separating who we are from our thoughts, feelings, and other elusive human characteristics. I love how Caroline McHugh talks about identity in her TED talk The Art of Being Yourself.

You are not your thoughts because you think them. And you can’t be your feelings because otherwise who’s the you that feels them? You are not what you have. You are not what you do. You are not even who you love or who loves you. There has to be something underneath all that.

Caroline McHugh

I featured artwork from Patrick Ness’s A Monster Calls to illustrate how giving our fears and traumas a name helps overcome them. Just as Connor needed to speak his truth about what he feared most, we all need to face our monsters. But just like Connor, our monsters take on different forms based on our experiences. As real and frightening as our fears are to us we can overcome them.

There are important truths I remind myself of to help me endure my mental pain and trauma.

My personal worth doesn’t hinge on my experiences. Individual worth is inherent. That is what yoga is for, so we can se our true, glorious selves.

I am not alone. I have friends, family, and other kindred spirits who I can turn to. Most importantly, no matter where I am I can turn to God in prayer.

I grow beyond my fears. I’ve overcome fears before and I can do it again.

Though this may not seem like a yoga post, I really believe facing and seeing these parts of ourselves reflects how we practice and teach others. I hope my thoughts and feelings came across well enough.

Thank you for reading! See you tomorrow.