July Wrap-Up & August TBR!

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Hello everyone!

Hope you are all doing well! Is it me or… is summer half over!? I am still in disbelief that it is already the end of July. Time really flies!!

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Overall, it has been a busy and stressful month for me although there has been some fun moments that really made up for it. There was work, Nanowrimo, our new dog and lots of summer socials and outdoor activities. As you can probably guess, I am exhausted and sleep deprived but loving life :’)

Reading

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July is a bit of a disaster when it comes to reading because I only read 2 books (usually I can manage 4 books at the very least.) However, it has been a busy month. Not only did I have a lot to do, I also had a lot on my mind, so that even when I had time I wasn’t always in the mindset for reading.

The Gentleman’s Guide of Vice and Virtue was a fun historical fiction about Monty, a nobleman’s son, as he embarks on the Grand Tour of Europe. I loved the humorous narration and dialogue. I also loved reading about the places that Monty travels to with his crew, which makes me want to travel so much! Although I loved Monty’s character, who is hilarious and relatable, I am less interested in the supporting characters Percy and Felicity.

Bossypants is a memoir/autobiography by Tina Fey. This book has been on my TBR for a long time, and I did enjoy it when I finally got around to reading it. I admire Tina Fey’s humor, her strong-willed personality, and the excellent work she’s accomplished so far. However because I haven’t watched Saturday Night Live or 30 Rock, I feel that I can’t appreciate some of the anecdotes and jokes that she tells in this book.

August Goals:

With Nanowrimo out of the way in August, hopefully I will have more time and a better mood for reading. Here are the 4 books on my TBR for the next month:

I am excited for the Night of Cake & Puppets and Anna and the French Kiss which will be my light reads for this month (thanks to Beth for these recommendations!) Among the Red Stars is the debut novel by Gwen C. Katz who I admire very much. Of course I will be continuing with my re-read of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince!

Writing

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July was a big writing month for me because I started writing my new novel Shapeshifter and met my Camp Nanowrimo goal of 25K words! I love that I am getting into the swing of this new novel and starting to love my characters very much. It is also the first time I began writing a novel with a full outline in my pocket (thanks to the Snowflake Method!) and I am happy to report that this is working very well for me.

On another note, I feel that being a writer has made me into a more curious person. When I meet a person I am very curious about what they do for a living, in case this becomes helpful research for my novels. For example, I’ve already met a corporate lawyer, a high school math teacher and police officer whose insights will come in handy when I edit Shapeshifter and Children of the Sun.

August Goals:

Bullet Finish 17.5K words of Shapeshifter, so I am on track to finishing the first draft by the end of September.

Blogging

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I’ve been pretty terrible with blog-hopping this month (sorry friends!!) However here are some of the posts that I really enjoyed:

Marie @ Drizzle and Hurricane Books shares her tips for avoiding reading slumps and questions whether we are too into new releases!

Beth @ Reading Every Night discusses why trigger warnings are so important!

Asha @ The Musing Quill announces her 6th blogiversary! Is that amazing or is that amazing!?

August Goals:

Bullet Hop back on the blog-hopping wagon. Now that I am done Nanowrimo, I should have no excuse haha :’)

Life

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It’s been a fun month with Zander, the new addition to our family. Despite his ripe old age of 14, he jumps up and down for walks and he is always looking up for a cuddle session!

One of my favourite activities near Vancouver is hiking. This past weekend we went on a hike to Mount Brunswick, which is a 12.6km trail with an elevation of 1.5km. Needless to say, we were poofed afterwards! Here is the view from the top:

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August Goals:

Bullet Get back into the rhythm of exercising 6 days per week. I want to experiment with activities like hiking and rock climbing.

Bullet Sew another dress!

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How was your July? Do you have to be in a certain mindset or mood for reading? What outdoor activities do you enjoy? For the writers out there, how do you do your research?

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61 thoughts on “July Wrap-Up & August TBR!

    • Sophie Li says:

      Hi Alexis 🙂
      I think it is normal to have reading slumps every now and then. Sometimes we are in the mood for reading and sometimes we just aren’t! I decided to DNR a book I wasn’t too fond of and switched to something different, which helped a lot 🙂
      Wishing you a wonderful August as well 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Beth (Reading Every Night) says:

    I can’t believe it’s nearly August Sophie, I feel like before we know it it’ll be Christmas and then August 2019 again! 😀
    With everything else you had going on I guess reading had to take a little bit of a backseat but you got through The Gentleman’s Guide which is the important thing because it’s a brilliant book. I really hope you enjoy Night of Cake and Puppets and Anna and the French Kiss (especially because I recommended them, I’d feel really bad if I hyped these books up and they were disappointing reads), and I hope you make it through all four books on your August TBR list.
    Congrats on completing your goal for Camp NaNo as well! With everything else going on you’re like a writing machine at the moment! I’m actually going to try some new research/writing methods next month, basically I’ve come up with a new plan for my WIP and I’m determined to stick to this one.
    Great recap, those photos of Zander are so cute, and good luck with your August goals as well! 🙂 ❤️

    Liked by 2 people

    • Sophie Li says:

      Hello Beth ❤
      Yes time really flies! I have a feeling that Christmas will come in the blink of an eye which scares me a bit haha 🙂
      I started reading Night of Cake and Puppets yesterday night and I love how cute and funny it is so far. It's helping me out of this little reading funk I am in 🙂 I already borrowed Anna and the French Kiss from the library so I look forward to reading it soon!
      I am actually about 500-words short of my Camp Nano challenge haha (when I drafted this post I thought I would be done by now LOL) however I hope to finish by the end of today. Hope Camp Nano went well for you too 🙂
      That's great to hear that you have a new plan for your WIP. Keep us updated about the new methods for researching and writing you're trying out and how they're working for you!
      Wishing you a wonderful August ❤ 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Beth (Reading Every Night) says:

        Well I’m looking forwards to Christmas (I love Christmas so I’m always looking forwards to it!) but yeah a little scary. 🙂
        Oh yay, that’s great to hear, and yes it’s a perfect short but fluffy read when your slumping.
        You’ll be able to get those 500 words done easily I’m sure. Ha, yeah Camp NaNo kind of fell into a black hole a little for me (I talk more about why in my monthly recap, but yeah short story I have a new writing plan for moving forwards I’m a lot more confident in.)
        Thanks Sophie. 🙂 ❤️

        Liked by 1 person

      • Sophie Li says:

        It seems like you’ve had a busy month and you’ve just gotten back from your trip, so it’s understandable to not have enough time to write. I barely just made my 25K word target and I didn’t even travel!
        Glad to hear that you have a new writing plan that you’re feeling good about 🙂 Looking forward to reading more about it in your recap post.
        I am almost done Night of Cake and Puppets already. It is such a cute and fun story and I think it is successful in pulling me out of this slump 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • Beth (Reading Every Night) says:

        Ha, yeah this month has been a bit of a whirlwind. In hindsight probably not the best idea to attempt Camp NaNo on top of everything else I had going on but never let it be said I don’t like to challenge myself! 😀
        I’m always more confident when i have a new writing plan, probably why I come up with so many new ones, and that’s great news about Night of Cake and Puppets. If there’s a better book out there to pull you out of a slump I haven’t come across it yet! 😀

        Liked by 1 person

      • Sophie Li says:

        Glad that you took on the camp nano challenge, and hope that it was helpful even though you didn’t meet your goal. Always good to aim high right? 🙂
        I finished Night of Cake and Puppets today. It is such a fun and effortless book to read. I’m so glad that I came across this one! Thanks for the recommendation 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Marie says:

    I’m glad that you managed to read good books, even if you didn’t have time to read as much as any other month. That being said, you’ve been working a lot on your WIP and that’s awesome, congratulations on meeting your NaNo goal! I hope you’ll manage to finish your draft by the end of September, you can do this – and I can’t wait to read some snippets of your work again, hopefully, sometime? 😀
    I hope you will have a wonderful August, Sophie – and thank you so much for sharing my posts! ❤ ❤ ❤

    Liked by 2 people

    • Sophie Li says:

      Thank you Marie 🙂
      Haha yes when it comes to books, it is quality over quantity. I think I’ve been in a bit of a reading funk this month. I decided to DNR a book that I didn’t feel like continuing which made it much better 🙂
      I will have to make an aesthetics/snippet post sometime soon (maybe after Camp Nano now I will have time to do it!)
      Wishing you a wonderful August too ❤ I love your posts which is why I always end up sharing them 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. MichaelK says:

    Sophie you are so amazing, you make everyone else look like an underachiever! I am happy you did so well in July. Indeed summer is almost gone and the weather has been terrible here! And yes I am a mood reader so I need it be in a certain mood although for me it is more a question of matching the book to my mood. Research is indeed an often neglected part of writing. Even if you write total fantasy there are still things to get right. And with the internet there really is no excuse nowadays.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Sophie Li says:

      Haha thank you Michael. I do my best although sometimes all I want to do is sleep haha 🙂
      I am a mood reader as well. You are right that sometimes we need to find the right book for our mood. I decided to DNR a book that I haven’t felt like continuing and switched to something more interesting. Much better now 🙂
      Research is important but it does take time and effort doesn’t it? It is good to have some leeway with fantasy 🙂
      Hope you had a great month Michael!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Sophie Li says:

        Absolutely 🙂 I love Google and rely on it every single day (for work and for everything outside of work.) Same can be said for my phone haha. It’s interesting that we now rely on our cellphones for more than phone purposes but text messages, social media and other apps too! I find it funny that we still refer to our mobile devices as “phones” though we mainly use them for other purposes haha (at least I do!) 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • MichaelK says:

        Yes and the language is evolving! I was pondering how in greek we have started using less and less the noun telephone in everyday speech we just use the adjective mobile (or fixed for the landline telephone).

        Liked by 1 person

      • Sophie Li says:

        Interesting how Greek is different from English! Sometimes I hear “mobile” being used to describe cellphone but very rarely. People often say “landline” to describe a physical telephone. These days a lot of people don’t own landlines (like me haha)

        Liked by 1 person

      • MichaelK says:

        Interesting indeed! We couldn’t come up in greek with a term cellphone because we use the whole word telephone as phone (greek word meaning voice) is a constituent of many other words. In greek it is common to turn an adjective closely connected with a noun to a noun itself and ditching the original noun.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Sophie Li says:

        That’s really interesting to hear a bit about how the Greek language works 🙂 I think in English we don’t tend to turn adjectives into nouns but we occasionally turn nouns into verbs (for example “Google” and “googling”)

        Liked by 1 person

      • MichaelK says:

        Indeed noun into verb is far more common in English. And because of the cultural exchanges you can see it in greek too, especially in the younger generations. It is not considered “correct” yet but language evolves. And yes “Google” has been turned into a verb in greek too, with two forms and it will be interesting to see which one will become the norm.

        Liked by 1 person

      • MichaelK says:

        An interesting example of adjective to noun if I may continue this thread, is the word planet (yes it is a greek word). Nowadays it is a noun but in ancient times it was an adjective. The ancients called stars (yet another greek one) all the objects in the night sky. Some of them appear fixed (the normal stars) and some of them move with the seasons (the planets). So they were calling them “planet stars” which means “stars that wander” and over the years the adjective planet became a noun.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Sophie Li says:

      I know what you mean! Work can be draining especially what we do haha 🙂 This is part of the reason that I didn’t get a lot of reading done as well. I think that our brain deserves a break once in a while. It usually doesn’t work when I try to force myself to read when I am not in the mood 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. BloomsandBeautifuls says:

    Hey! I can’t believe July is almost over either! Thank you for sharing! I 💜 I have a blog tea party on the 3rd and I’m encouraging my blog readers to drop their link off on my posts. Would you care to share your world with us?

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Sieran Lane says:

    Woah Sophie, you sound like a super productive person!! Even exercising six days a week is normal for you. I’m so envious. ^_^

    I have almost finished editing my blog post, lol. Alas, it seems like my blogging speed has gone down to posting once every 20+ days. =_= And I’m still in my summer holidays too!

    Also, though I understand that blogging takes a great deal of time (I’ve spent over 10 hours on my newest post already, lol), I still feel antsy and guilty about working so little on my novel as a consequence. Rationally, I know I can’t do everything simultaneously, but still, I feel anxious when I abandon one project for the sake of another, even though I know I will switch back soon.

    Wow, I wish I could read four books a month, lol. You are really, really productive!! Right now, I’m reading a gay romance set in a sci-fi world, and this is a sequel that I had been looking forward to. I love this romance so much!!! It’s an enemies-to-lovers story. 😀

    Liked by 2 people

    • Sophie Li says:

      Lol thanks 🙂 I try my best although once in a while I get exhausted and just sleep all day (like yesterday haha.)
      That’s great that you’re almost done editing your post. I’ll keep an eye out for it (but remind me if I miss it!)
      I know what you mean about feeling guilty. That’s the story of my life! When I spend time on blogging, I feel bad about not writing, and vice versa. If only there is more time to do everything we want to do, right?
      That’s great that you’re enjoying what you are reading now. Is it an English novel? Let me know how you think of it when you finish since I love enemies to lovers stories 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Sieran Lane says:

        Hey I posted that blog article at last! Yay! I can go back to my story again, lol.

        Yes, is there a way we can still be highly achieving, yet not feel guilty for something that is not humanly possible anyway? Since we only have two hands and one mind, we can’t actually do more than one thing at once… Some people claim to be able to multitask, but I think even they wouldn’t be able to blog and write their story simultaneously. You could somehow divide your time where you do both story writing and blogging everyday, but the amount of time you spend on each may be unsatisfyingly short. I still have not found a good solution for this problem. How to avoid feeling guilty for being human and not being able to stay on top of everything all the time.

        Yes, it’s That Irresistible Poison by Alessandra Hazard, who is one of my favorite gay romance authors. Omg I am so mindblown by this book (just finished it yesterday). The emotions are so intense and I was screaming like a fanboy all the way through the last part of the book. 😂 (Well, I’m a fanboy regardless, lol.) Even before the last third of the book, though, the romantic tension is great. Alessandra Hazard is brilliant when it comes to keeping the tension high throughout! This is my favorite of her books, and that’s saying a lot, since I’ve read all of her books, lol. That Irresistible Poison is one of my favorite gay romances of all time now.

        I’m currently writing a book review for it, lol. So you’ll know more of my opinions there!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Sophie Li says:

        Yes! It is a dilemma when there are so many things we want to do and not enough time to do it all. I don’t do well with multi-tasking- I need to focus 100% on a task otherwise I would be very inefficient! I think the solution for not feeling guilty for not doing enough is to lower expectations for ourselves. If I set a high goal for writing then it is best to lower my goals for blogging and blog-hopping. During camp Nano I barely did any blog-hopping. I did feel a bit guilty but at least I knew I did all I could given the time restraints xD

        I’ll have to read your blog post soon 🙂 That Irresistible Poison sounds like an interesting series. Looking forward to reading your review!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Sieran Lane says:

        Yeah, now I’m letting myself do an average of 300 words a day for my story, though currently, I’m doing 500+ a day according to the Nanowrimo counter. I also acknowledge that it takes time for me to read books, write book reviews, and do writing exercises too, such that I would have less time to work on my story. However, reading books, writing reviews, and doing writing exercises, evidently help in my development as a writer, so I don’t need to feel TOO bad about writing more slowly! At the moment, I’m letting myself stop blogging for a while, haha, since it seems easier to focus on either my story or my blog at one time. It’s hard to do both at the same time.

        There are plenty of hidden spoilers in that review, lol, but I hope you like both the novel and my review!

        Like

  6. Sieran Lane says:

    Hey Sophie, speaking of romance novels, I wrote down my favorite couples in fiction, (not all of them are from romances), and to my surprise, I cannot find anything in common between all of them. Maybe my tastes are more varied than I thought, lol.

    My four top favorite couples I identified are:

    (Not in order)

    Tobias and Rachel from Animorphs

    Simon and Baz from Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

    Simon and Blue from Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda

    Sayn and Ksar from That Irresistible Poison by Alessandra Hazard

    I realized belatedly that the only straight couple here is Rachel and Tobias, lol. I didn’t do this on purpose! Also, there were a few other couples who are my favourites too, but I found the four listed couples even more romantic, imo.

    Do you know who your favorite couples are? If so, can you find anything in common between all of them?

    Liked by 2 people

    • Sophie Li says:

      Hi Sieran!

      It’s interesting to hear about your fav couples. Here are mine:

      Ron and Hermione
      Simon and Baz (they are sooooo cute)
      Damen and Laurent (from The Captive Prince)
      Rudy and Lisel (from The Book Thief)

      I love the enemies to lovers trope (as you already know!) Related to that, I like couples where the characters have opposite personalities and don’t appear to like each other much in the beginning (in the case of Ron and Hermione).

      I think there are couples that I like that aren’t this type (like Lisel and Rudy), and also I don’t always like the enemies to lovers trope. It all depends on how it’s written 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Sieran Lane says:

        Woo, we both fan-person Simon and Baz! 😀

        Oh yeah, I know many readers are skeptical of “opposites attract,” but I find these pairings very entertaining. It’s also fun to see the characters learn from each other, since they take such contrasting approaches to life. Plus, even if they appear to be “opposite,” they often do have some essential similarities (e.g. some similar values and moral philosophies), so they aren’t actually a complete mismatch.

        Hey I realized sometime ago that though I adore enemies-to-lovers, some of these relationships could be seen as emotionally abusive from the start! But I forgive them because of their sympathetic backstories explaining why they acted in such a jerkass way. It also got me thinking about the real life relationships that friends talk about. Yes, there are terrible people out there, but I optimistically believe that *most* people don’t go out wanting to hurt others. I believe that most of the time, when a partner is being a crappy partner, this is due to some unfortunate other reason, e.g. misunderstandings, poor communication skills, suppressed feelings, etc.

        In the latest romance I read (after Seyn and Ksar’s, haha; I realized I mispelled “Seyn” as “Sayn” in my first comment), character A wanted to abandon character B after sleeping together, NOT because A is an evil asshole. It was because A believed that his relationships were all doomed to die (from looking at his past relationships), and he felt that he was not the person who could give B what he wanted. A wanted to leave because he thought that B deserved someone much better than him, and that it was better to abandon him sooner rather than later, because breaking up after a longer relationship would only make B hurt more.

        Thankfully, A got a big talking-to by a mutual friend of theirs. This friend made A realize that in leaving B like that, A is causing even more hurt. Also, the friend pointed out that A should at least try, and if the relationship doesn’t work out, B would respect that and forgive A. It’s much meaner to up and leave so early, taking away B’s right to choose what to do in this relationship. A also did not realize that he was effectively taking away B’s right to choose.

        Anyhow, that scenario got me thinking that maybe most awful exes IRL were in a similar situation. They had good or at least non-malicious intentions, but they handled the perceived problem in a very stupid way. Just imagine what would happen if that character A didn’t get the talk from his friend!! B and everyone would just believe that A was a good-for-nothing liar.

        That said, I am not condoning any emotionally abusive or other mean behavior, regardless of whether the person realizes that they are hurting their partner or not. But I was just thinking that maybe, in many cases, the partner didn’t want to hurt anybody, but just made the wrong choices to solve the perceived problem. I’ve always found it strange that lots of people talk about the horrendous, abusive, or shitty partners, often saying that their partner was super selfish, whilst they themselves were always so caring and giving. I just thought that statistically, I can’t happen to have ONLY met the caring and giving good partners, and never met the “super selfish and mean” partners. So my guess is that most horrible partners had benign or non-malicious intentions, but just unfortunately made the wrong, idiotic choices to deal with the perceived issue.

        Ksar could definitely be seen as being “emotionally abusive” towards Seyn at first (before they get together), until you see his backstory and understand why he was being such a cold, condescending jerk all these years.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Sophie Li says:

        That’s an interesting thing that you bring up about the opposites attract and enemies to lovers tropes. It is true that sometimes they might be considered abusive (emotionally if not physically) by today’s standards. I do think it’s true that some people have good intentions and don’t intend to be cruel, however if the end result is continuing abuse then that is a red flag! I think good intentions is one thing but people should also be responsible for their actions. For example, if they have committed murder for whatever noble reason, they should still receive the appropriate sentence for murder.
        Maybe it’s because I am in health care but I’ve heard of too many real life stories where a partner experienced a lot of abuse by the other partner but doesn’t want to leave because they are convinced that their partner will change.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Sieran Lane says:

        I agree. I think regardless of the reason, people need to take responsibility if they harm another person, emotionally or physically.

        Baz could be seen as borderline abusive to Simon, as he was such a bully to him! But Baz does get a lot better after they become a couple.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Zoie says:

    I feel like writing has made me into a more open-minded and curious person as well! It’s almost as if being a writer makes you view the world in a different light, because you realize that every single person you meet can give you insights on life that you can add to your writing/stories. Writing (especially blogging!) has actually made me a more talkative person when I’m out and about, because I love hearing about other people’s lives and getting inspired from them! 😊

    You’ve mentioned the Snowflake method a few times now, and since I’m back from traveling and feeling super inspired, I feel like trying out that method to reoutline my story and get back into working on my WIP! Your July sounded super busy but fun as well — best of luck with writing and everything else in August! 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sophie Li says:

      Absolutely! Glad to hear that you also feel similarly about writing. Whenever I meet a new person or hear an interesting news story I wonder if this can inspire something for my writing. Being a writer does make me look at things slightly differently 🙂

      That’s awesome that you want to give the snowflake method a try! Let me know how it goes 🙂 Happy writing and have a wonderful August Zoie ❤

      Liked by 1 person

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