Drabbles · Uncategorized

Developments on the blog . . .

Good morning, everyone! A few things going on at the blog that I wanted to talk about briefly. For starters, I just started a Ko-Fi page. There is a button on the side bar of my blog, or you can see it here. Not much on there yet, but I’m working on it. I’m hoping to earn just a little bit there, maybe, because of my next goal . . .

I want to start a podcast.

To be more specific, I want to turn this blog into a podcast.

Why a podcast? First off, I love podcasts. I first really discovered them back when I was in college. I had a long commute to and from school and also had a campus job where I could listen to stuff on my iPod while I worked. I don’t have as much time to listen these days, but I still really like it as a medium.

I tried podcasting a few years ago. My friend Jess and I started Bibliophiles Anonymous, a book podcast where we geeked out about our favorite things. We had a blast with it but eventually had to give up doing it because our schedules got too crazy. Plus, we live in different time zones and worked different shifts, which made it even more difficult. It was still a lot of fun and I also learned a lot about putting an episode together, editing sound clips, and planning.

So what will this podcast be? Essentially, it will be audio version of the blog itself. My plan is to release episodes weekly, probably on either Saturday or Sunday. I will share my teasers and top tens, current reads, book reviews and more. If it goes well, I will also maybe do some group reads, contests, giveaways, and more. I have lots of ideas.

This will not be just me reading blog posts. That’s boring. And the blog will not be going away. This will just be a way to share my book excitement in a new way and potentially to a different audience as well.

Let me know if there are any things you would like to see (um, hear) in a podcast! I’m hoping to have the first episode out either this weekend or next.

Drabbles

Disney Readathon Recap

It’s officially September and I am happy to say that I completed my Disney Readathon challenge for Team Tangled! I wasn’t able to read any of the other team’s prompts, but hey, when I first signed up, I didn’t think I was going to get through Tangled’s prompts either. But I did! Here’s a recap:

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An Ember in the AshesPrompt #1 – Rapunzel: Read a book with glowing reviews.

I chose An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir. This book has well over 75,000 five star reviews on GoodReads. That’s pretty glowing! One of those five star reviews is now mine because this book was amazing. So beautifully written. I loved the characters, loved the world, all of it. I can’t wait to read the next books in this series! You can check out my review for this one here.

PharaohsStar_1_BPrompt #2 – Flynn Rider: Read a dark/mysterious book.

I chose Pharaoh’s Star by Olivia Hardy Ray. I was already scheduled to read this one for a blog tour and the description certainly fit, so it was a win-win! As you can see by my post here, it was definitely dark and mysterious. A pretty good read over all. So many questions to be asked! It was definitely a book that kept you guessing.

StainPrompt #3 – The Snuggly Duckling Crew: Read a book with a dreamy cover.

I chose Stain by A.G. Howard. This was a book that I had pre-ordered when it first came out, but then just didn’t have time to read it. This gave me good incentive to jump on it. I love A.G. Howard’s work and this book was also really, really good. And that cover — it definitely qualifies as dreamy! The review will be coming out on Thursday, so be sure to keep an eye out for it!

Brave New WorldPrompt #4 – Mother Gothel: Read a book with a power-hungry character – this book must be out of your comfort zone.

I chose Brave New World by Aldous Huxley. This is the only book where I’m not sure if I completely met the requirement, but I’m going to make my case. First off, this book was definitely outside of my comfort zone. From what I hear, it’s outside of most people’s comfort zones. It’s weird. I didn’t know much about it before reading it, but I assumed that since it was a dystopian, authoritarian setting, there had to be a power-hungry character and . . . if there was, it was very minor and in the back ground. The Director and the Controller probably fit that bill though, so I’m still going to count that. They certainly didn’t like when something challenged their status quo. Review to come next Sunday, if I can come up with coherent thoughts about this one.

A Curse So Dark and LonelyPrompt #5 – Maximus: Read the group book.

The group book was A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer. This was another one that I had heard a lot about. It definitely got a lot of hype when it first came out, so I jumped on that train and preordered it. I’m so glad I did! It was so good! I was worried about finishing it, since I started late, but I finished it on August 30th. Since I have a few blog tours and some other reviews already scheduled, you won’t see this review up until later in September, but it’s coming! I have lots of feelings!

So that’s it! I am so happy that I jumped on-board this train (even if it was at the absolute last minute – eh, that’s how I roll sometimes). Thank you so much to all the people over at the Disney-A-Thon twitter for hosting this and organizing everything! It was a lot of fun!

Drabbles

First Day of School

So . . . I’m starting to feel emotionally attacked by Facebook.

My kiddo, who as many of you know, has been going through a very rough few years, started high school today. Yep, she’s a Freshman! It’s been emotional getting her ready for this, not just because of all she has been through, but just because this is such a big life moment for her. High school can be a defining part of someone’s life and I am hoping so much that this turns out to be good for her. She is an odd kid, definitely marching to the beat of her own drum, and I know this world is not always kind to people like her.

How does this relate to Facebook? They have been sharing all my memories over the years, starting with pictures from her kindergarten open house and other first day of school pictures, back when she was a happy, healthy kid. After several years battling with depression, borderline eating disorders, a runaway attempt and major suicidal thoughts, seeing the bright, happy little girl she used to be brought me to tears. I miss that happy girl with the easy smiles and the cheerful attitude. We started losing it, bit by bit, around 4th grade and hit rock bottom last year in 8th grade. I actually had to withdraw her from school and homeschool her for the rest of the year. After that, we applied for and got accepted for a IEP (individualized educational plan) due to being diagnosed with a learning disability that was exacerbating her emotional issues.

We attended the orientation for her high school last Wednesday which was completely overwhelming, but at the same time, we both made it through. As two people who have severe anxiety disorders, you can imagine that it was a bit tough. Overall though, we felt really good about the school. She has some very good teachers who seem like they will be very understanding and will work with the IEP. Now all we can do is hope and work hard. The kiddo is so far feeling very optimistic, or as optimistic as she gets, and has promised to do her best to stay focused and stay organized. Finally finding the right medication has done wonders for that, as well as the right combination of doctors and therapists. She also seems to understand that she got way too involved with other people’s drama last year and has made a goal to stick to her school work and not to worry too much about the rest of that stuff right now. It seems like a good idea.

So Wednesday night, I started feeling pain in my right eye, and a doctor’s visit the following day showed that I had a pretty major eye infection. So now, not only was I out of work for the orientation, I spent Thursday and Friday out of work with my eye swollen and gross. It’s much better, thank goodness, but between that, trying to get everything together for the first day of school, and having car trouble, I’ve been a bit of a wreck. The last couple of blog posts were ones I had pre-written and scheduled (one of them being a blog tour, so I’m glad I had that ready to go and didn’t miss it!), but other than that, I was pretty much silent online. No blogging, no social media. I had shut down. I didn’t even really get much reading done. We watched some movies and videos, played a few games, and tried to relax as much as possible.

This morning, after a nervous night, the kiddo went off to school without a backward glance. She did text me after she got there with a video of her and her best friend being goofy in the cafeteria as she waited for classes to start (she gets there pretty early). She sounded relaxed and happy again. A good sign.

Sorry if this post was a bit long and rambling. I don’t usually bring up personal issues on this blog, since that’s not what it’s for. This is my place to be silly and gush over books, not to cry about how my baby is all grown up now. 🙂 But it is the time of year when parents all over post pictures and share stories, so I figured I’d share mine. No pictures, because she wouldn’t dare let me take one, but stories. The story of a girl who is growing up so fast and is becoming an amazing young woman, facing obstacles, and finally, hopefully this time, overcoming them.

 

Drabbles

Disney-A-Thon TBR

Oh boy, why do I do these things to myself?? I blame Lorryn @ Reading Parental for making it sound like so much fun.

I have decided, at the absolute last minute, to join the Disney-A-Thon readathon for the month of August. I’m going with Team Tangled since I already own a copy of the group book and this will be a good excuse to finally read it.

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Here are my book choices:

  • Rapunzel: An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir – I’ve had a copy of this on my bookshelf almost since the day it came out and have heard nothing but good things about it.
  • Flynn Rider: Pharaoh’s Star by Olivia Ray Hardy – I have this ARC and the description says its about a strange and mysterious thing happening on a dark, lonely road. Works for me!
  • The Snuggly Duckling Crew: Stain by A.G. Howard – All of her book covers are gorgeous, but this one is really beautiful.
  • Mother Gothel: Brave New World by Aldous Huxley – It’s hard to get out of my comfort zone, since I read just about anything, but I don’t read a lot of hard sci-fi. I’m also pretty sure there are many power-hungry characters in it.
  • Maximus: A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer – I have had this one since it came out as well and can’t wait to finally read it!

Will I do any of the other team challenges? No idea. I don’t know if I can do this one, to be honest! But I’m going to give it my best shot. It should be fun in any case!

Anyone else joining in? You can find all the details on the Disney-A-Thon Twitter. Let me know so we can cheer each other along!

Drabbles

Thank you thank you thank you!

So I just took a look and I am really super close to having 500 followers on this blog!

Um, wow! Thank you for taking the time to read my drabbles of whatever-ness. I never, ever thought it would get any attention at all, to be honest. But 500. That’s . . . it’s . . . that’s a lot of people!

So in honor of this unlikely event becoming likely, I want to host a giveaway. I’ve never done one before, but I feel like I should do something to mark this auspicious occasion. Since I blog mostly about books, having a book giveaway seems like the most appropriate thing.

giveaway

Here’s the details: once I hit the 500 mark (which should be over the weekend or early next week, most likely – I’m at 497 now), I will give away one book of your choosing, up to a $25 value (USD), as long as it’s available via Amazon, which most books are these days. Hardcover, paperback, ebook – if it’s under $25, it’s yours.

To enter, simply comment on this post by sharing your favorite book. It can be your favorite book of all time, or your favorite book you’ve read this year. It can be your favorite new release that you’ve heard about and can’t wait to read. Whatever you want. Share a book, and you are entered. Post your comment by Friday, July 19th and I will announce the winner next weekend.

Once again, thank you so much for your friendship and support. It really means a lot to me and it has truly gotten me through some difficult times. The book blogging community is so wonderful and I feel genuinely lucky to be a small part of it.

Drabbles

A personal note on Dear Evan Hansen

102147-1As many of you know by now, I am a huge theater fan and have been since I was ten years old. I love it. I love the drama, the staging, the music, the lights, everything. I even took the plunge six years ago and got involved in theater myself, finally plucking up the courage to audition for a local community theater production of Into the Woods and getting in the show. Since then, I’ve been in ten shows (I think, I keep miscounting them) and have seen dozens of others, whether they be a full production on Broadway or a smaller, more intimate local show.

I don’t think there has ever been a show that has touched me as much as Dear Evan Hansen.

I first heard about the show watching the Tony Awards, seeing Ben Platt sing “Waving Through a Window.” I fell in love with that song and immediately got the soundtrack. I connected with many of the characters the more I discovered. I have dealt with depression and anxiety my entire life, which made me have major issues my senior year of high school, so I connected with Evan’s insecurities on wishing he could just be normal and fit in. I also, perhaps even more so, connected with Evan’s mom, Heidi. She has a song that she sings towards the end of the show called “So Big/So Small” where she talks about her experience as a single mom, watching the father of her child walk away, and constantly feeling like she was never able to do enough for Evan. I have a very difficult time listening to this song without at least getting a bit misty eyed because I know those feelings so well too. My daughter’s dad left us and, while he didn’t completely abandon her, he did live several states away for the last seven years, and I did always feel like I was never doing enough for my kid.

And I knew there would be moments that I’d miss.

And I knew there would be space I couldn’t fill.

And I knew I’d come up short a million different ways . . . and I did.

And I do.

And I will.

Fun story: I got the chance to see Dear Evan Hansen on Broadway last October when my husband and I went up to New York for our anniversary. He knew nothing about the story or the music, only knowing that I really wanted to see it. During intermission, I turned to him, still feeling emotional after “You Will Be Found,” and asked him if he was enjoying it. He said that he was enjoying it a lot more than he expected and then described the show in the best way possible.

“It’s like John Green: The Musical.”

I have recently introduced him to YA literature and he has read several John Green novels and liked them. So this was a good sign to me, who worried that my husband, who thinks musicals should all be fluffy, happy comedies, might really dislike a show dealing with teen depression and suicide. That said, for a show that deals with such serious topics, there is also quite a bit of humor in it, including some laugh out loud moments. And because being a teenager in today’s modern world is like riding a roller coaster, the very high ups and the very deep downs actually works really well.

As soon as I saw the show on Broadway, I wanted to share it with my mom and my daughter. I looked up show dates for the US Tour and originally thought we could see it somewhere fairly close, like Durham or Charlotte. Sadly, due to sharing a season with the juggernaut that is Hamilton, tickets for the entire season of shows were limited. I did find availability in Greenville, South Carolina, which is only three hours away, so I scooped up five tickets and planned to take my whole family to see it, including my stepson who isn’t really into theater, but has heard of the show because he takes dance at school instead of P.E. and one of the routines he did at his last dance concert was to “Words Fail.”

This show hit me so hard the second time around. Here’s why.

I was sitting next to my daughter, who is fourteen years old and who did not want to come to this show. At all. She knew a little bit about it, mostly from me talking endlessly about how much I liked it, and by hearing a couple of songs while we were in the car. Of all the people in my family, it was my daughter who I really wanted to see this. See, she has major issues with depression and anxiety, as well as a tendency to lie (or at least reeeeeeeally stretch the truth). The main plot point of the show is that Evan ends up telling a really big lie to try and cover up his insecurities. Evan is instructed by his therapist to write letters to himself to try and work out some of his issues, but one of his letters is found by the school troublemaker, Connor Murphy. Connor is an outcast who is known to do drugs and lashes out at everyone. He steals one of Evan’s letters, noticing that it mentions his sister Zoe, who Evan has a crush on. Later, that letter is mistaken for Connor’s suicide note.

Evan doesn’t want to admit to Connor’s grieving parents that he was writing letters to himself, so he goes along with what they believe, that Connor wrote his suicide note to Evan because they were secretly friends. This lie gets bigger and bigger as the story spreads and as Evan’s speech given at Connor’s memorial service is posted online and goes viral. At this point, the Murphys have brought Evan into their home, showing Evan what he never had at his own house: a picture perfect family. They find comfort in this version of Connor that Evan has, of them being friends and Connor being happy. Evan finds happiness not only in spending time in their home, but developing a relationship with Zoe. Remember though, it’s all based on a lie. And it does all fall apart eventually.

I never had the dad who stuck it out

No corny jokes or baseball gloves

No mom who just was there

‘Cause mom was all that she had to be

The Murphys appear like a perfect nuclear family from the outside, but they have their fair share of issues as well. This all does lead to Evan understanding his mother, Heidi, a lot more. She loves him so much, which is why she is working so hard to support them and going back to school to try and improve their lives. Nothing is perfect. Life is messy sometimes. But that’s okay.

So back to my daughter, who started crying around the song “Disappear.” She has always had issues with her identity and where she fits in, not just at school, but in our family and just in the world in general. She also had an experience last year where a girl at her school committed suicide. They were friends, although not super close, and my daughter has had a very hard time dealing with it, especially since the school didn’t do much to honor her friend.

No one deserves to be forgotten.

No one deserves to fade away.

No one should come and go,

And let no one know he was ever even here.

No one deserves to disappear.

This failing to honor her friend at her school made the whole scenario in “You Will Be Found” all the more poignant. It was not just about Connor. It was what she wished could have been done for her friend. Let’s just say we needed to find a lot of tissues at intermission.

I knew that this would bring up a lot of difficult feelings for her, but that was also why I felt it was important for her to see it. One of the issues that people with depression and anxiety have is the feeling of being completely alone, that no one would ever understand what we are feeling. Another main theme in this show is that we aren’t alone, that we are all interconnected, now more than ever. It shows both the good and the ugly side of social media, how it can make you feel uplifted (like all the people supporting The Connor Project) or how it can try to crush you (like the backlash the Murphys got after Connor’s suicide note was posted, addressed to Evan and not them).

There was also a time last school year where my daughter kept telling me to just give up on her. That she was a bad kid and it wasn’t going to change, so I should stop trying to make everything better and just quit. During “So Big/So Small,” she reached over and grabbed my hand. No matter how many times I told her that I could not and would not ever give up, sometimes you just need the medium of song to really impart what you need to say.

Your mom isn’t going anywhere,

Your mom is staying right here,

No matter what.

This post has been a bit of a ramble, but I did want to say that this touring production is phenomenal. I actually thought that it was as good or better than what we saw on Broadway. If you have a chance to go see it, please try to. This is a show that everyone should see, that everyone takes something different away from. My mom, who also loved it, saw it in a completely different way, as did my husband and stepson. The music is incredible and will bring all the feels, so don’t forget your tissues like we did.

Dear Evan Hansen,

Today is going to be a good day, and here’s why. Because today at least, you’re you. And that’s enough.