I am finally caught up with The Dresden Files, yay! Even though Skin Game wasn’t really my favorite Dresden Files book it was still a ton of fun. This was so caper heavy in execution and I think that singular focus of Dresden working with a lot of these other bad guys was a bit much at times. Sure, it was a good book but the stand out moments came not from the actual caper but from the quiet moments of stillness between characters and I think there should have been a few more of those moments in this book. Looking forward to reading the short story collections from the Dresden universe next.
Here we go. I never tried to do a monthly writing challenge before and I’m a little bit afraid of failing. I’ve told myself to write more for so many years and every time I make a goal, I usually fail. Well, here I am making another writing goal but this one is a little different than previous ones. With this goal, I am trying to blog every day as well. How is this different? Well, I can share my writing for one, and two, I can finally get this nagging feeling in the back of my mind gone that I’m not using my website enough. Here’s the thing, a lot of times when I would sit down to write a book review or just update the blog, I would rather be reading. I’ve chosen reading over updating the website almost every time. Who wouldn’t right? I need to find out for myself if writing, blog included in that, is something that excites my inner soul, and what better way to do that than to force myself to do it every day for a month? Yah, I don’t know if that is true either.
Anyway, it is pretty obvious by now that my blog posts on here will be a mix mash of different things and not entirely focused on books. I’ll try to bring it back to books or the SFF community in some way but some of these posts will be personal in nature. For some reason, for most of my life, I like to overshare, and oversharing on the internet is easy. I sometimes even share things that I really shouldn’t but in the moment I just don’t care. I trust people rather easily once I get to know them in real life and I think because that obstacle is missing on the internet, I’m way to open. However, as we are about to see, I am embracing more of who I am, and who I am is an oversharing mess. I hope that you will join me for blog-a-day July, but if you don’t read any of them, it is fine. I know how valuable time is for everyone and I don’t expect many views to be honest. I am mostly doing this for myself anyway.
Today being the first day of July, I want to talk about what my goals are this month. Guess what, there is going to be a TBR listed if that type of thing floats your boat. What better way to fail to read the things you want to read than to make an announcement of the things you are going to read? I think I succeeded once in the last 3 years to actually read the exact things I wanted to read for that month. Well, before I turn this post into a rant about how awful I am at TBRs, let’s chat about my July goals. I am still focusing on my fitness/health as the #1 thing in my life before all else though.
1. So, I’m going to talk about each of these a little bit, starting with the first one, focus on today, stop imagining future things. I’ve read so many things about mindfulness(I also misspell it every time I type it too). The idea that your focus should be in the now and not the future or the past is so strong that it is the core of almost every self-help book and a tenant of almost every major religion in the world. It is so easy to say but so difficult to do. I meditate often and I still struggle with this idea. I constantly think about future conversations. For most of my life, I have been a very introverted person, and the only way I could deal with being forced to be social is to rehearse the things I am going to say before I say them. Yes, thinking before you talk is extremely important, but thinking 5 days before a social interaction what you are going to say is a bit much. I also imagine the worst possible outcomes of things in order to make my expectations low, save me from rejection, and crazy enough, be alright with any given outcome. This is a devastatingly horrible thought life because when you think about the worst possible outcomes, you are thinking about people in the worst way and your response in the worst way, and if you practice this thinking, you response when you get upset will fall back to your thinking. Anyway, this is something I have been working on, and will continue to work on. The last few weeks I’ve been using a rubber band to snap when I catch myself rehearsing future events and I visualize a huge red stop sign in my head. It has been helping.
2. The second goal here, write 2hrs a day, is basically what I’m doing now. That can include updating the blog, writing a story, or writing in a journal. I’d like to finish an actual short story this month.
3. Oh, social media, why art thou such a hindrance? Seriously, I don’t need to check status updates every 10 minutes. BLARGH. So basically, I am going to be updating my social media once a day, usually during my writing time, and then only checking my social media while I am waiting for something. While I’m actually actively doing something, I will not check social media. The way I’ll control this is by using timers when I read and write.
4. Life is hard enough as it is, I should be my biggest fan. Here is a secret, there were times where I really didn’t like who I was in my life. I am finally at the point where I am absolutely in love with myself now though. Dude, I am awesome. I read sweet books, watch awesome tv shows, treat people really great, work out, and I’m gradually coming around to the idea that I’m not as ugly as I thought I was. Every once in a while that ugly thinking comes up and I say something that is totally negative about myself. That needs to stop. I will be happy regardless of what I have.
5. Not to be confused with being homeless, being home less is just me going places more. This means me going to the beach 2x a week, reading at the library more, writing at the library, getting something to eat at different places, finding places to chill and read, and things like this. I get more done because there are fewer distractions because I’m focused on what I am doing in the moment more when I’m not at home.
6. Read a lot. OK, so I am working out or going to the beach in the mornings, working during the day, trying to write for 2 hrs each day, and now I’m going to try to read more too? In other words, I have to be a time management god to read more. I read a little over 60 hours in June(I’m doing that summer reading challenge of timing myself). That is far from the 90 hours that I wanted to read in June but still decent. Basically, if I am not doing anything else, I need to be reading. To squeeze in the amount I want to read, I have to limit my social media, I have to limit my television watching, and I have to stay awake. Yes, I need to not take naps or get super tired before my bedtime(10:30-11). At the end of this post will be some books I plan on reading this month.
7. Allow myself to be who I am is something I’m constantly working on. My biggest focus when it comes to this goal right now is to allow myself to be a man. I dial down my masculinity a lot out of habit. I’m a really big dude and to not seem as threatening I dial down my manliness a lot. I especially do this because at the moment I work at a library and all my co-workers are women. Many years ago when I also worked at a job with all women, I learned that the best way to get along with them all in a work setting was to be less masculine. I’ve been doing this at the library and it has taken a toll on me. Some people might scoff at this and think what the big deal is but when you purposely hide your assertiveness, energy, and opinions in order to get along with everyone, it can be emasculating. In the end, I need to be respectful but also true to who I am. This can even rear its ugly head with social media too. When we type things for the attention and approval of our peers rather than for ourselves, it can cause a toll on our self-worth.
Anyway, these are my goals for the month of July. Maybe once in awhile, I’ll have an update of how I am doing. Doing forget to follow me on twitter: Paulctof, Instagram: Paulsbooks, and Snap: Pauldwey. Without further ado, here are the books I want to read in July:
Not shown: I want to read a ton of comic books and catch up on the short stories, novellas, and novelletes for the Hugo Awards.
Blog-a-day July is contingent on my ability to sit down and write. If my body doesn’t want me sitting each day, I will have to stop it.
I’m a few days late on a reading update. Yesterday I was able to finish up Ninefox Gambit and I have to say that I really enjoyed this reread. When I initially read Ninefox Gambit I think that I took way too many breaks at certain points in the book. I think I took a lot of breaks after the 75% mark and I think that influenced my initial view of the book because I thought that the side characters were a much larger part of the book than I realized they are during this reread. Yes, I would still have liked to have known the other characters around Cheris and Jedao more, but for the story that Yoon Ha Lee was telling, it worked. I understood the Calendrical stuff a lot more in this reread and it isn’t nearly as confusing as the first time around. I think the thing that impacted me more during this read through was just how much Kel formation influences every single aspect of this book and into the next book. Raven Stratagem I just started tonight and am only about 40 pages in or so and I’m already enjoying it much more than what I did when I first tried to read it.
I’m starting a buddy read of The Last Namsara by Kristen Ciccarelli with a friend of mine. It is a YA book about dragons and this race’s connection to the dragons. So far, the writing is a bit generic, but I think the story has potential to go to some interesting places(at least I hope). I’m over halfway on my Skin Game audiobook and it is floundering a little bit at the moment. Some of the Dresden Files have this dip in the plot in the middle and I think this is one of them. It is still good so far but I think it is trying too hard attempting to do everything at once at the moment.
I took a gym break for a few days to let my body rest up for a change in my workouts starting on Monday. I’m going to be focusing on fat burning, full body movements, and less isolation weight movements. I’m hoping this can get me leaner, more stable, and building up my endurance. Work has been fine, about to start a project of shifting the books and cleaning. I’m so blessed to work with such amazing women at my job. They are all so nice and supportive of each other, including me. I’m hoping for a great Sunday with a lot of reading time in the afternoon and night.
Other than all this, I must say that I’ve been feeling a little bit blah lately. I just think I’m in a comfortable routine in my life where days are going by really quickly with not a whole lot of difference between them. I think I need to have some new experiences and change things up a little bit. That is one reason I’m changing my workout as well. This is one of the only drawbacks to being a reader is that your days and nights seem to be similar. I need to take some time to go out more so that things aren’t always the same.
It is the 6th of June and I really wanted to read a lot today but once again I chose to be more outgoing. I went out for breakfast with the family and I watched basketball some with my brother tonight. It is so difficult at times for me to make these decisions because in the moment I always want to just curl up with a book. I always have to remind myself that many years from now I will remember and wish I spent more time with those that I love. The books will always be there. I will eventually finish my Ninefox Gambit reread. It may be two days later than I wanted to but I will finish it. Spending the extra 2 hours today to spend time with the family is more important and should be more important to me. I’m not saying I always pick family time over reading but I also don’t always pick reading time over family. The thing of it is, having just one hour a day to read is more than a lot of people get to read. If and when I have my own family or significant other, I’d still like to spend an hour reading every day but the reality is that doing those 3 or 4 hours of reading in a day just isn’t going to happen if I want to have a healthy relationship with the people I love.
Anyways, battles in Ninefox Gambit is just gibberish to me and it bugs me. I don’t understand why science fiction books don’t have illustrations of the ships in the back of the book and what each formation looks like. If the author keeps saying that the fleet of ships moves from formation A to formation B, I want to know what that looks like. I kind of understand that a Cindermoth is the largest ship in the fleet but it is still difficult for me to visualize. This is probably one of the largest obstacles I have when reading science fiction. I can visualize what fantasy fights look like but I have a hard time visualizing ship to ship combat. I basically keep replying scenes from movies in my head during these scenes but I know that can’t be accurate.
I had a good day today. Work was great, though we were a bit slow, I got a lot of side stuff done. My workout was good today but for the first time, I had to be patient for a few machines I had to use. I’m up to about page 180 in Skin Game by Jim Butcher. I’ve been listening to this primarily on audiobook. I’m definitely enjoying it but there are so many new characters in this “evil heist” group. Harry and Michael’s scene was just fantastic. I’ve been waiting awhile for that scene. I kind of rolled my eyes when I found out what was really going on with Harry’s head. Regardless, it has been a fun listen.
I’m actually skipping the gym tomorrow(gasp! I know, right!?) and giving my body some rest. I hope to read a ton of Ninefox Gambit as I’ll be alone and I don’t work until 2. Hope everyone has a great Thursday!
I struggled to get some good reading done today. I think I only got about an hour of reading Ninefox Gambit in today and that is not great. I just was totally tired today after an intense work out this morning and a lack of sleep last night. I ended up watching Supergirl on Netflix when I came home and falling asleep after dinner. Obviously, this is totally alright. Everyone has these type of nights where their body or mind just isn’t cooperating with their desire to read a lot. We can’t beat ourselves up over lost chances of reading more, there are so many more important things in life than chastising ourselves for not reading enough. I’m hoping I can make up for it tomorrow by getting a good night’s sleep tonight and getting up right away when my alarm goes off in the morning. Along with making my last 2 minutes of my shower cold water to increase my resistance to acute stress, I really am focusing on getting up and moving as quickly as I can in the morning to get stuff done. It is so hard not to look at social media when I first wake up and waste 10minutes.
Anyway, Cheris and the swarm are fighting their first battle at the moment in Ninefox Gambit. This is around the part of the book where I kind of didn’t connect to it completely the first time around, the fighting. I was and am much more interested in Jedao’s background and Cheris’ response to him. Here is hoping the “action” parts of the story make more sense to me this time around.
Books that were released today that I’m interested in reading:
Adrift by Rob Boffard
Brief Cases by Jim Butcher (That name is amazing btw)
The Book of M by Peng Shepherd
Sparrow Hill Road by Seanan McGuire (How does she write so much!?!)
I am starting my reread of Ninefox Gambit in my attempt to get through Raven Stratagem, a book a DNF’d last year. This is all for the Hugo Awards baby. Anyway, I am about 100pgs into Ninefox Gambit(or at least I will be before I go to bed tonight), spent probably about 3 hours reading the book to get to page 100 today too. I am intentionally slowing down my reading of Yoon Ha Lee this time around because I remember when I read both books I tried to race through them too quickly and I missed a lot of info. The thing that I’m picking up the most with this reread is just how much the Kel training in Cheris has to do with how she reacts to what Jedao does and says. She is so ingrained with the notion that she must take orders from superiors that I can start to see her becoming submissive to Jedao. Also, I knew that Cheris was manipulated into choosing the Jedao tactic to take back the fortress but with this reread I know much more of the specifics. Overall, I am enjoying the book a lot at around page 100 and finding the reread to be much more clear.
I am so excited to say that I am starting the last released Dresden Files book tomorrow, Skin Game. I am starting it on audiobook in the morning at the gym and I can’t fricken wait! Woo! I’ve been thinking about what I want to listen to after The Dresden Files and I think it might be The Expanse series.
It is Monday so it is time for some fitness talk. I did my Monday weigh in and was at 265.7. This is awesome for me because a month or 5 weeks ago I was at 275. My heaviest weight was at 330. I started at 307 at the beginning of January. So, I’ve lost 65 lbs so far and 42 of that this year! So super excited and proud of myself. I did incline bench press today to firm up a specific spot on my chest and, hahah, when I tried to get off the incline, I just kind of flopped off. It was pretty embarrassing but you gotta do what you gotta do.
I had a fantastic day today, I was happy, outgoing, and calm. I got to read 3 hours and I was productive at work today. Hoping tomorrow will be just as good.