January 2019: Birthdays, Fresh Starts, and Free Time? (I Forgot What it Felt Like)

January was one of the best months I’ve had in a while!

I think it was because I finally finished all of my college applications, which was a huge relief after I spent pretty much the entire last half of 2018 worrying about them.* I do still have a few additional forms and financial aid applications to submit, but they’re all fairly simple and shouldn’t be too stressful to handle.

Besides that, the transition into the new year has me feeling unusually refreshed. This may sound corny, but I’ve started to invest more of my time and energy into pursuing my passions, which means that I’ve been doing a lot more of the things that make me happy: blogging, reading, writing, you name it. I still have a long way to go before I achieve the balance I’m looking for β€” I don’t spend nearly enough time reading, for example β€” but overall, I’m really happy with how January went!

As a quick note, this is my first official monthly recap,** and I’m still trying to figure out how exactly I want to format these posts. If you have any feedback as to what you find interesting in a post like this, feel free to leave a comment below! And be prepared to see me tweak the formatting a bit over the next couple of months β€” there might be sections that appear or disappear, graphics that change, etc. I’m playing things by ear for now. πŸ˜€

*Now I get to spend the next two months worrying about my decisions. Isn’t that fabulous?
**I tried to write one last February, to be fair, but I’m refusing to acknowledge it as official given my less-than-stellar blogging record throughout all of 2018.

Reading

So… remember when I said that I don’t spend nearly enough time reading? Yeah, this section is where you’re going to see evidence of that. January was a dismal reading month for me, and it really shouldn’t have been, considering that I had the entire first week off from school for Winter Break. I’m not too surprised, though. I may be done with my college applications, but between balancing work, school, and the extra classes I’m taking, it’s been difficult for me to find enough time to sleep, let alone read.

But enough excuses: the truth is, I only managed to read 1 book this month, and it was technically a re-read, so I’m not even sure if it counts. It was, however, my first five-star review, so at least I spent my limited reading time on a book that I loved!

Favorite Book

Title: Syzygy: The Complete Novel
Author: J.K. Ullrich
Links: Amazon / Goodreads

I’ve spent the last few weeks gushing about this book to anyone and everyone who will listen, and I’m not about to stop now! Syzygy is some of the most fascinating sci-fi I’ve read in a long time β€” the worldbuilding, characters, and overall concept are all incredible. I’d read it over and over again if I could.*

Check out my full review here: The Book That Made Me Think “This is What Sci-Fi is Supposed to Be”

*Unfortunately, my TBR is approximately ten miles long and only growing bigger by the day, so I miiiiight have to wait a bit before I can do any more re-reads 😦 but hey, a girl can dream.

Most Disappointing Book

The whole only-read-one-book thing makes it slightly difficult to fill this section out, so I’m just going to leave it blank this time around. But stay tuned for my February recap β€” I have some choice thoughts about the book I’m currently reading for my English class that I can’t wait to share!

Book Haul

I went to Barnes & Noble a record number of times this month, but I was too focused on shopping for my friends’ birthdays to buy anything for myself. I did, however, receive a few books as gifts for my own birthday: my sister got me Rosemarked and Umbertouched, while my friends got me After the Fire and Uprooted. I’m most excited to check out the Rosemarked series β€” I’ve been on a sci-fi kick for a bit, but I’m trying to get back into fantasy, and the unique magic system described in Rosemarked’s blurb definitely caught my interest.

*I already posted about them on my bookstagram, as a matter of fact, which you should follow if you want to stay up-to-date on my book hauls as they happen! πŸ˜€

Blogging

January was a huge month for me when it comes to blogging. Not only did I relaunch my site after my impromptu, lengthy hiatus, but I also completely redesigned my theme, graphics, and all of my blog-related social media accounts. And although I haven’t quite settled into a regular blogging routine yet (as my sporadic posting schedule demonstrates), I’ve been having a blast reconnecting with other book bloggers. Everyone in the WordPress community is incredibly kind and supportive, and I’m glad to be a part of it.

Because I didn’t actually start posting until the end of January, my monthly stats aren’t the greatest. I only made two posts, and while they both did fairly well, I wish I had started earlier in the month so I could have gotten more content out. When it comes down to it, though, I’m not too disappointed in myself β€” I’m mostly just excited to finally be blogging again, and I’m looking forward to posting much more often in the next few months!

Top Posts

New Year, New… Blog? How 2018 Kicked My Butt and What I’m Doing To Make 2019 Better! | Published January 25, 2019.

I was a bit worried about how this post would be received when I first published it; after all, it had been several months since I last posted, and I didn’t know if anyone would even remember who I was. Luckily, my worries were completely unfounded, and I received a ton of love in the comments from the blogging community. Thanks, guys. πŸ™‚

Favorite Posts

The Book That Made Me Think “This is What Sci-Fi is Supposed to Be”: Syzygy by J.K. Ullrich | Published January 29, 2019.

I’ve already spent a good portion of this wrap-up gushing about how much I love Syzygy, so I won’t repeat myself here, but I do highly recommend that you check out my review if you’re in need of new reading material!

From the Blogosphere

I’m always in awe of the creative ideas that my fellow book bloggers come up with for their posts. Here are a few of my favorites from last month:

Life

Like I mentioned at the beginning of this post, January was pretty hectic. I had a lot of different things going on both inside and outside of school, and by the end of the month, it was starting to get difficult to balance them all. There were definitely a few highlights, though:

January 9: I got to skip a day of school and fly to Seattle for the 233rd Meeting of the American Astronomical Society, where I presented my summer research on a rare population of stars in the Andromeda Galaxy. It was an incredible experience, and I really wish I had been able to attend for more than one day.

January 22: I celebrated my 18th birthday and officially became a legal adult!

January 29: I re-launched my blog with an all new design after taking an impromptu, seven-month hiatus, recommitting myself to being a full-time (well, as full-time as I can be) book blogger in the process.

Random Updates

  • Somehow, I was able to carve out enough free time in my schedule to start blogging again, which is, quite frankly, pretty shocking! My senior year has been far from relaxing, so it was nice to be able to take some time off for a bit and work on my own personal projects instead of just doing schoolwork 24/7.
  • I started taking multivariable calculus at a local community college, and got assigned 80 homework problems on the very first night of class (yayyy). The material seems interesting so far, and I’ve really missed taking calc, but I could do without the crushing workload.
  • In some cosmic twist of fate, most of my friends have January birthdays: my friend Christel and I were both born on the 22nd, while my friend Lexi was born on the 24th. This resulted in a) a lot of present-buying stress and b) a lot of celebration!
  • I had two college interviews, both of which were for schools that I would sell my entire personal library to get into. I feel like they went well, so hopefully that’s reflected in the college decisions I’ll be receiving in March.

Article of the Month

I read a lot of interesting articles in January, but my favorite by far was one that described a new advancement in astrophysics called dark fluid theory. If correct, this theory could bring us one step closer to understanding the mysterious nature of the dark matter and dark energy that dominate our universe!

Find the article here: https://newatlas.com/dark-fluid-theory-matter-energy/57540/.

January Goals Recap

Since this is my first monthly recap, I don’t have any official January goals to review, but I can talk about the goals that I set for myself going into 2019:

  • Start making time to read again. ❌ Yeah… this didn’t go exactly as planned. I poured all of my free time into my blog redesign and social media, which didn’t leave much left over for reading.
  • Write at least one short story. ❌ Turns out when you can’t make time for reading, you can’t make time for writing, either.
  • Officially re-launch Scribbles & Stories! βœ”οΈ As I mentioned, I spent most of the month working on this, and I’m really happy with how the new design turned out! I regret not taking before-and-after pictures, but you can trust me when I say the space theme is miles better than what I had going on before.

Anticipated Releases

I haven’t had the chance to read any of these books yet, but I’ve been hearing great things about them around the blogosphere, so I’m really excited they’re coming out this month! Last of Her Name particularly intrigues me because of the beautiful cover and the space-themed premise… hopefully it (and the others) will live up to the hype.

Upcoming Events

February 18 – 22: I have yet another week off from school for what everyone calls “Ski Week,” and I have big plans: writing as many blog posts as I can, starting a new writing project, and sleeping in as much as possible.

February ???: I might get promoted sometime this month! My manager has been talking about moving me up into a shift lead position, but nothing’s been finalized yet, so fingers crossed.

February Goals

  • Read at least 5 books. Ideally, I’d like to read even more than that, but given how last month went, it’s probably a good idea to set the bar somewhat low.
  • Choose a writing project to pursue for the year and get a big chunk of planning done. Ever since I re-launched my blog, I’ve been itching to start writing again, but I haven’t been able to find the time. This month, I’m determined to start making the time.
  • Write at least one short story. This is part of my larger goal of writing at least one short story a month in 2019, which I originally outlined in my yearly recap/comeback post. Short fiction has always been challenging for me, so I’m hoping to get better at it this year!
  • Catch up on blog posts. I haven’t been sticking to my posting schedule, so I’m going to temporarily abandon it for February and focus on posting as much as I can to get myself back on track.
  • Finish learning Python. A little over a year ago, I started an online Python course that I never ended up finishing. Although I’ve progressed pretty far in the language on my own time, I want to go back and finish the course just to make sure that I have all the fundamentals down.
  • Get more sleep (at least 6 hours a night). My sleep schedule has been all sorts of messed up lately, and it’s having a significant impact on my productivity… so, if I want any chance of achieving my other goals, I’ll have to achieve this one first!

How was your January? What was your favorite book that you read? Got anything exciting planned for February?

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27 comments

  1. Congratulations on turning 18! I still have like 10 months… how does it feel to be an adult? Also, I hope you get accepted to the colleges you want to go to! ❀

    (Also, I only read one book so ;))

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank youuu! πŸ™‚ I don’t feel any different, to be honest… and the only thing that’s really changed is that I’m registered to vote now. Maybe it’ll kick in later?

      It’s good to hear I’m not the only one who had a lackluster reading month πŸ˜‰ hopefully February goes better for us!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Haha here in the UK we register to vote when we turn 16 or 17 (we just can’t actually vote until we’re 18)… But yeah, it never really feels any different xD

        Here’s to a better February!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Dark fluid theory, yes! When I first read about it back in December, it oozed through my head for days. I don’t know which excites me more about such concepts: the glimpse at the marvelous mechanics of our universe, or the sci-fi potential.

    Speaking of sci-fi, I can’t believe you re-read “Syzygy”. With all the terrific books out there, a re-read is one of the best compliments an author can get!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m right there with you! I love the thrill of reading about theories that, even though they sound as though they were taken straight from a science fiction novel, may very well apply to our real-life universe. It makes me feel as though this mundane life might have a bit of magic in it after all. That feeling is exactly the reason I’m hoping to go into astrophysics research — with any luck, I’ll be responsible for proving one of these theories someday.

      As for Syzygy, I wish I could re-read it again, to be honest — even though all of the plot twists have long been revealed to me, they never fail to delight! At risk of being redundant, it’s truly one of my favorite books of all time. I can’t say that enough.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I love the lay out of this, you’ve given me a couple of ideas for my monthly recaps! Congratulations on finishing your college applications, and good luck with your interviews, you got this! I’ve found to help myself get back into reading, I try set a number of chapters to read each day, even if it’s just one if I’m really tired. And happy birthday, enjoy being 18. The next scary birthday is 20, when you can no longer say you’re a teenager! I’m turning 22 this month, and it doesn’t get any better πŸ˜‚

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you so much! I’m glad I could be a source of inspiration! I actually was heavily inspired by May’s blog at https://foreverandeverly.wordpress.com/ and Julianna’s blog at https://paperblots.wordpress.com/, so you might want to check out their monthly recaps too πŸ™‚

      Anyways, I think you read my mind about the birthday thing — I’m already scared of turning 20, and I still have two years to go! πŸ˜‚ And I think I might just steal your reading technique. It’s similar to what I’m doing to get through my school-related reading, so it’ll probably work for pleasure reading, too. (Although I hate the idea of having to “schedule” my pleasure reading, at this point it might be the only thing I can do!) Happy early birthday, and thanks again for your kind words πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’ve just followed them! Thanks, I love finding new blogs. Everyone has so many different ideas, and sometimes its just what I need for some inspiration when I’m stuck!

        It was very terrifying to start with, and to be honest, it still sucks I can’t say I’m a teenager anymore, although I often get confused with one! It does suck doing it when you want to read for fun, but it just might help you get out of your slump! If its an awesome book, you might find you just can’t stop at one chapter 😊

        Thank you, and you’re welcome!

        Liked by 1 person

      • I feel you on that one β€” it’s super motivating to see other bloggers accomplishing the things I want to accomplish (although it’s also a little stressful, to be fair, it’s mostly motivating). It makes me want to get off my butt and go do everything I’ve been planning on doing! Speaking of, I’ve already gotten a bit of reading done today using your method and I have to say it’s working like a charm. You predicted right when you said I might not be able to stop after just one chapter! πŸ˜‚ Thank you again πŸ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

  4. It’s both great and awful reading about someone achieving so much more than you in the last month XD. Congrats on turning 18 (you managed not to die yet)! I really like you mentioned book bloggers you like because I’m terrible at digging into the blogosphere, I’m definitely gonna follow some of them πŸ™‚ Can I ask where you got or designed your banners? I think they look really cool πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s a pretty big compliment actually, because I feel like I didn’t achieve enough! (1 book?? Yikes. πŸ˜‚) Thank you so much! I hope you find some blogs you like out there. My advice for blog hopping is to check out the book-blog tag in the WordPress reader, or other tags that interest you (like sci-fi, fantasy, etc) and just check out any posts that catch your eye. That’s how I found pretty much all of the wonderful people I tagged πŸ™‚

      It means so much to hear you like my graphics β€” I actually made them myself (which took forever, but was totally worth it)! Because I don’t own Photoshop, I use a program called Microsoft Publisher for all my graphic design. I basically just came up with what I wanted my headers to look like and then tried my best to make that vision come to life with the simple drawing tools Publisher has to offer. It’s not super intuitive, so using Canva or another tool like that probably would have been easier, but I’ve been working with Publisher my whole life so it wasn’t that bad! Thank you again for your kind words πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  5. HAPPY BELATED BIRTHDAY yay! I hope you had a great one ❀ And congratulations on turning in your college applications, best of luck for it all! ❀
    I hope you'll manage to succeed in all of your goals next month, I hope you'll be able to make some time to write, it's definitely something I am struggling with as well. Here's to hoping we can do this and write, write, write! ❀
    All the best for February! ❀ ❀

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ahhhh thank you so so much! ❀️ I hope you’ll be able to make some time for writing as well β€” it’s always difficult, as I’m finding 😭 (but hopefully rewarding, once we actually can do it)! Best of luck to you in February as well, and thank you again for such a nice comment πŸ™‚ it really made my day!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Congrats on turning 18 and all of these great accomplishments!! Even if January was abysmal for reading, it sounds like you still managed to get a lot done. I hope February turns out just as well, if not better!

    Like

  7. i love your color scheme and all of the different graphics!! especially the wave-y ones! i love monthly recaps because they incorparate so many different aspects of life and just feature all different kind of favorites –> super interesting to know and discover!! keeping my fingers crossed that you reach your goals. PS: #SoExcitedForPriory

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much ahhh! I spent a lot of time on my graphics so it means a ton to hear you like them. ❀ I hope you're having an amazing February! And I can't wait for Priory either… it can't come soon enough, haha.

      Liked by 1 person

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