Book Review: The Bird and the Sword by Amy Harmon

I honestly had doubts about this book when I started it. I hadn’t heard much about the book and the cover was a little eh, but oh my lord this book totally blew my expectations out the window. There were just so many things that I loved about this book, from the characters to the plot and the setting. Like my last review, this one is going to be broken down into two sections; a non-spoiler part and then the spoiler part at the end.

Synopsis

The Bird and the Sword starts off with a young girl named Lark who is the daughter of a Lord in the Kingdom of Jeru. Due to circumstances that happen in the first chapter of the book, Lark is “cursed” (but not really) by her mother to never speak or else she and her father will die. “Close your mouth upon the power, curse not, cure not, ‘til the hour. You won’t speak and you won’t tell, you won’t call on heaven or hell. You will learn and you will thrive. Silence, Daughter. Stay alive.” Lark grows up never speaking a word, but has found a way to communicate with her best friend Boojohni, a troll. By not speaking, she is able to protect herself from the magic fearing people of Jeru. Shit gets real when the new King of Jeru, King Tiras, shows up at her door and requires her father (who also wants to be king) to send troops to him and ends up taking Lark as collateral. Once Lark is in the King’s home and is under his protection, she find out through wonderful poetic analogy that though she is named after a bird, she is in fact caged by her father and the magic fearing world she lives in. But, of course, things can’t just go easily (where would the fun be in that?), so Lark and Tiras must work together to fight the evil Volgar bird/monster things. Birds! Swords! A handsome, young King! Magic! Castles! Literally everything you want to read in an epic, romantic, exciting fantasy!

Non-Spoiler Review

Okay, from the intro you could already tell that I loved this book. Let me explain why… Things weren’t forced in the romantic parts. It wasn’t cliché, or tacky, or slightly cringy, but instead it was sweet, realistic, and a little sexy. At points I wanted to punch Tiras in the gut and other times I wanted to climb him like a freaking tree! He was a realistic male character who had his flaws but was willing to stop and listen to others around him. Lark was also a really great love interest. She didn’t just throw herself at the first man to show an interest in her. She kept her distance and slowly learned how to love.

The plot was also very entertaining. There are basically many types magic wielders; tellers (that can use words as magic), changers (basically shape shifters), healers (pretty obvious here), and seers, spinners, etc. But the previous King of Jeru (Tiras’s father) outlawed magic and drove everyone with magic into hiding and created a culture of fear against magic wielders. Lark is a teller, and there are other magic people that are important to the plot, but I can’t give anything away. So you’ll just have to read it to understand and love it.

The only issue, and this isn’t much of an issue, that I had with this book was some of the writing. I just felt like a few lines of dialogue could be better or the order of events could have been reorganized. This is a personal preference, however, so it really didn’t affect my rating of the book. If anyone reading this has read The Bird and the Sword and felt the same way, please let me know so I don’t feel completely crazy all alone.

Other than that one minor issue I had, The Bird and the Sword by Amy Harmon was just amazing. There were exciting plot twists, wonderful aesthetic, amazing world building, and just incredible characters. When I finished this book, I immediately wanted to read it again. Other than my favorite series (the Throne of Glass series) I have never wanted to instantly reread a book. So please go read this book and then you can fangirl with me!

Spoiler Review

Oh sweet baby Jesus! Tiras is a gorgeous god that I want to climb like a freaking tree! He was adorable with how much he cared for Lark and how he reacted when he learned that Lark was pregnant. I would have liked to see more conversation and cute moments between Lark and Tiras after they found out she was pregnant, but I understand the timing of everything (with the fact that Tiras was a bird) wouldn’t have allowed that.

I also was not expecting that plot twist of the villain Volgar dude being Tiras’s father. I honestly should have seen that coming, but I was distracted by how adorable Tiras and Lark were. Tiras and Lark were also giving me Rhys and Feyre (from the ACOTAR series) vibes at the end.

So I listened to the audiobook in the car as well as followed along with the print book when I had the chance and I had this moment where I predicted the line that the narrator was going to read and it was amazing! This is the second time that I was able to predict the next line in an audiobook (the first time was with The Girl on the Train). “You don’t need wings to fly… What do you need, Daughter?… Words.” She said Words were the answer earlier in the book and it was just so exciting to hear it again. I don’t know why I’m geeking out about this so much, it was just really exciting.

Conclusion

I think I have said enough about my affection for this book. I really want to just read more about the adorableness between Lark and Tiras. Just soooooooooo good! Five out of five stars! Thank you Amy Harmon for gifting us with such an amazing story! Also, on a side note, I posted an Instagram story about this book ans Amy Harmon saw it and commented on it! She sent me that face emoji giving kisses! I hope you can hear me screaming while you’re reading this.

How to Make a Book Journal

I’ve been working on by book journals for a few years now, and I’ve gotten a lot of question of how I make it so I decided to write a step by step guide to my awesome process!

Step 1. Get a Notebook

I use a dotted 5 x 8.3 in. Minimalism Art notebook that I found on Amazon for about $9. It’s a nice, well made notebook that isn’t crazy expensive. I also bullet journal and I use Leuchtturm 1917 notebooks that are crazy expensive for a notebook (about $20 per notebook). So if you want to spend $20 on a notebook for a book journal, go for it. Do whatever you want to do, it’s your journal.

Step 2. Find the Right Pens and Other Supplies

If you are anything like me, you can’t write anything unless you have the right pen in your hand. My favorites are Micron 005 point pens, Tombow water based markers, and Taotree Fine Liner 0.38 mm pens. Other than the pens you’ll need a ruler, and some glue or tape. I use the Ad tech rolling Crafter’s Tape.

Step 3. Set Up

I always start my journals with an Index. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, just a space in your notebook where you can easily find book review pages. I also added my books from this year, books I want to read, books acquired, and my unread shelf project to the front of my notebook.

Now, onto the book review page set up! On the left side I glue the aesthetic picture (I will go into more detail later) and on the right side is the written book review part. My basic layout is what you see below, with the review number at the top with the rating to the right of that (I use a star stencil because I suck at drawing stars). Below that is the Title, Publisher, Series, Genre, and Quote on the left and Author, Year, Pages, and Date on the right. Then the Summary/Synopsis has the largest section with the review at the bottom. You can choose any format and any combination of information. You could add a goodreads average rating, if the book was hardcover, softcover, audiobook, or ebook, the language of the book, the setting, or any literary awards.

Step 4. Find Aesthetic Pictures

This is probably the hardest part of this whole process and the one that takes the most time. The process I go through is that I start by searching the book title on Pinterest, then I search by aesthetic words that go with the book. With the Bird and the Sword by Amy Harmon, for example, I searched by lark, eagle, king, queen, fantasy, and romance. With Moon Spell by Samantha Young I searched by school, couple, wolf, woods, cabin, water magic, and character inspiration. For Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens, I searched by marsh, old couple, shell necklace, court room, birds, etc. I think you get the picture. This part is all about your personal preference. If you don’t like a piece of fanart then don’t include it or if you cant find the right pictures, just keep searching. Sometimes it takes me weeks to find all the right pictures. Oh, and it helps to find Pinterest boards that people have made for the book already. If you don’t want to spend hours searching through Pinterest, check out my page (also called Jessie Reads too Much) or someone else’s page for easy to find aesthetic pictures. Do whatever floats your boat!

Step 5. Write the Review

Goodreads is really helpful for finding the basic information that goes at the top of the page, such as the publisher, series name, pages, publishing year, etc. For the summary/synopsis, I’ll generally stick to the summary that Goodreads give, but I’ll change a few words here and there, or I’ll remove some useless sentences entirely. Then comes the review at the bottom of the page. I generally write a few sentences; why I read the book (if it was recommended or if it was hyped up a lot), what I liked about the book, what I disliked, and my general opinion. If you can’t figure out what to say, look up a list of detailed adjectives. I also think about talking to a friend or my sister about a book, and writing what I would tell them. Below are a few examples from my book journal.

Tada!!!!

That is the process I go through to make by book review pages. It seems like a lot of work, and it kind of is, but this is something I enjoy doing, so it’s not really a chore. The question I always get asked about making this notebook is “how do you find time to do all of that?” My answer is that I make time or if I can’t make time, then I find time. Sometimes I wait weeks, months, or even years before completing a page for a book. I’m still working on my books from 2017. If anyone reading this wants to make their own book journal the only thing I would say to you is to do whatever makes you happy. If you love writing book review, dedicate more time and space on the page to writing, if you prefer finding pictures, then damn it just stick to the pictures. Do whatever you want to do! Anyway, thanks for sticking with me to the end! I’d love to see other book journal creations and I’m willing to answer any questions! Ta ta for now!

Book Review: Warcross

Oh my, where to start… Warcross was good, it was okay, and by the end it was just a little disappointing. I’m going to start this review as spoiler free and then I’m going to go into some more detail with spoilers by the end. So,  here’s the spoiler free review.

Warcross had vibes coming from Ready Player One, Mission Impossible (in that “will you accept this mission?” kind of way), and even Fifty Shades of Grey. It had an original story, but I also felt like I had ready it before. Emika Chen is a teenage hacker living in New York City trying to pay off depts as a bounty hunter. She hacks into the opening game of the International Warcross Championships games and accidentally appears in the middle of the game where everyone can see her. Due to the fantastic hacking ability (read: sarcasm), the creator of the game offers her as a player in the Warcross as well as a job to find a more dangerous hacker known as Zero. Living in Tokyo, training and playing in Warcross, hacking into the Warcross code, and flirting with Hideo, Emi must put her hacking and gaming to the test in order to protect the game that has taken over the world.

Lets start with the main character, Emika Chen. Her mother abandoned both her and her father and her father, a fashion designer (which is probably the coolest occupation of any father character in any book series), has died after gambling all their money away. Emika is poor and hungry and works as a bounty hunter and is a waitress on the side. She goes by Em, Emi, or Ems and has a killer rainbow hair and an awesome tattoo going down her arm. She was a decent character. She didn’t annoy me or make be frustrated with stupid decisions and she seemed real. Emika had doubts in her abilities and was honest (well, as honest as she could be without giving anything away).

Hideo Tanaka, the creator of Warcross, was an interesting character. I totally got Mr. Grey vibes from him the moment he was introduced. I mean, he shows up as the super attractive, well dressed guy who intimidates the girl with his speech and mannerisms, come on, screaming Fifty Shades of Grey.

Warcross is set in New York City to start then goes to Tokyo as Emika travels to work with Hideo as his new tracker. Basically the world has been utterly consumed with Warcross as everybody and anybody has access to Warcross glasses. The buildings had animated displays, advertisements are everywhere, and everybody can connect with each other. It’s like Google Glasses on crack.

One of the major issues I had with this book was the descriptions of the tournament games. The action and dialogue between the characters were fine, but the setting was lacking a lot of description. The first tournament game the Emika plays in, for example, is set in this ice, glacier, mountainy, giant animals, racing type setting. It could have just been me, but I felt like the book needed a little bit more description on the logistics of the tournaments.

So without giving anything away, all I’m going to say is that the last chapter of this book kind of disappointed me. It wasn’t the writing or the plot, but one character in particular just went kaput on the entire book. He or she will remain nameless in this spoiler-free section, but ugh, so irritating! Anyway, I have this book a rating of 4/5 because the characters were compelling and the concept was interesting, but the ending just kind of disappointed me as well as the writing felt a little too juvenile. I usually take a while to read a book, but I was able to get through this book pretty quickly. Personally, I wouldn’t say I loved this book, but it was okay. Wow, this review sounds a little boring, but hey, I’m being honest here. I would recommend this book for anyone who loves middle-grade reads (even though this isn’t categorized as such), video game sci-fi, and futuristic settings.

Now onto the spoiler part of the review.

If you haven’t read Warcross and don’t wish to have the ending spoiled, then this is your warning.

I mean it, last warning!

Okay… what in the fucking hell was Hideo thinking!?!?!? How could he be so blind to what is right just because the disappearance of his brother has tortured him for so long? For those of you who haven’t read the book and don’t care about spoilers, when Hideo was nine years old his brother Sasuke when missing while they were playing at the park and Hideo wanted to make sure nothing bad like that would ever happen again so he created this algorithm in the game that controlled your brain and stopped you from making illegal or bad decisions and causing harm on other people. Okay, I get it, Hideo wants to only have peace in the world, but he’s turned himself into a fucking dictator and has turned his game into a fucking weapon! Also, I totally saw it coming when they revealed who Zero was (his brother Sasuke) but I was also very confused as to how Sasuke got to be this great hacker and why he disappeared, etc. It will probably be explained in the second book, but I honestly have no intention of reading it because Hideo pissed me off.

I also kind of predicted the brain control when Hideo introduced the contact lenses. The fact that they leave behind a film that will conduct electricity even when you are not wearing the lenses is just creepy. That means that you will always have a connection to Warcross and it makes you more susceptible to hacking. This was a really cool concept that freaked me out, but I also kind of liked. I have never read a book where a person’s brain could be hacked similar to the way a computer could be hacked.

I can’t say I hate this book, because honestly, I don’t hate it. I cannot hate a book that makes me feel emotions, even if that emotion is hate for a character. Holy bajesus, Hideo is an idiot.

That is the end of my review of Warcross by Marie Lu. Let me know if y’all felt the same way I did by the end of the book or if you completely disagree with me (that’s okay, I’m cool with that). I’d love to hear other points of view on the plot twist of this book.

May 2019

The month of May was kind of insane. I aced all my final exams, I graduated from university, celebrated graduation at EPCOT, planned a surprise birthday party for my sister, and started full time at my job. I was only able to finish reading two books out of the dozens of books I’m currently reading.

Finished Reading

Moon Spell by Samantha Young

Moon Spell by Samantha Young

I read this book four years ago on my kindle and I loved it. So when I found a printed copy of the book I couldn’t resist myself and I had to buy it. I completely forgot, however, how horrendous the book cover it. I was slightly embarrassed to bring this book out in public because of how horrible the cover is. Now, let me explain. The color and the title are fine, but the girl’s face on the cover just made be a little uncomfortable. This probably could have been a better cover if it was zoomed out a little and not this close up. I also really didn’t understand why books have characters on the cover with white hair when the character has blonde hair. They did the same thing with the Throne of Glass series.

While reading this, I found at least 7 spelling errors. I understand that this was probably a self published or a simple eBook to print book, but these seven errors were so simple and clear errors that someone should have caught the errors during a read-through. Something as simple as “here me out” instead of “hear me out.” It felt like a senior project where the student got tired of working on it an decided to turn it in without reading it through for the final time. I’ve read some eBooks with spelling and grammatical issues, but when the book actually goes to print, I expect someone to at least read through it.

Even though I had a major issue with the spelling and grammatical errors, I still really love this book. Moon Spell is a good mixture between young adult, romance, magic, werewolves, and adorable characters. The main character, Caia (I pronounce it like “sigh-uh,” but I honestly have no idea how it is supposed to be pronounced, if y’all know how to actually pronounce it please comment), is returning to her pack after spending almost ten years away. She was sent away for her protection after her parents were murdered by “the hunter.” When she finally returns the pack leader, Lucien, who completely ignored her as a kid, has made it his job to protect her and the pack. She moves in with him and his mother, Caia’s adoptive mother, and soon makes friends and enemies with some of the other pack members her age. Caia then discovers that there is something bigger going on than she originally thought. She has to learn to trust her pack as well as learn to protect herself from people that want to hurt her and her pack.

I really loved how Caia began to own who she was and started standing up to people who lied to her, but she also made some childish decisions. Even though I wasn’t fond of some of her decisions, I have to realize that she is still a child. If I remember correctly, Caia is 16 or 17 years old. She’s not an adult, and she can’t be expected to act like a mature adult all the time. I also love Lucien for being an imperfect character. He knows that he has to do some stupid shit sometimes because he has to make decisions for what is best for the whole pack. He also knows when to let Caia take control of her life, rather than make decisions for her. They are just really cute. And as you can expect, they have a thing together… well, sort of. Anyway, I have Moon Spell the same rating I gave it four years ago of 4/5 stars. Even though it had some issues such as questionable character decisions and spelling errors, it was still a really great book.

Aesthetic Board for Moon Spell (I don’t own any of the pictures)

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

I took this picture at my university for my Instagram page.

Holy bejeezus! This book was sooooo good! I normally try to stay away from books that I see everywhere because they are generally so hyped up and honestly mediocre books. I had been able to resist this book for a while, but then my grandmother mentioned Where the Crawdads Sing, then my aunt, then my coworker, so I gave in and picked bought a copy. I was able to read it pretty quickly, but I had to take a break in the middle of it because it was getting too intense and I felt like something bad was going to happen. I had fallen in love with the main character and I didn’t want to see anything bad happen to her.

So the main character, Kya, known as the “Marsh Girl” is a quiet, intelligent, wild girl who lives by herself out in the marsh of North Carolina. Abandoned when she was six by her mother and siblings then again a couple years later by her father, she has learned to survive on her own in the marsh. Kya is a born naturalist with only one day of school, learning from the fireflies and the gulls. But while she could have lived in solitude forever, the time comes when she yearns to be touched and loved. Drawn to two young men from town, Kya opens herself to a new world, until Chase Andrews is found dead and the locals immediately suspect Kya.

I’m a heathen who writes in my books, I can’t help it.

This book kept me in suspense till the very end. I felt like I knew Kya at the same time that she was so unpredictable. A big part of what made Kya as a person was the fact that people kept leaving her. I was so mad when her mother walked out on her last child, but then I realized that her mother still loved her children, she was just afraid for her life and for her child’s life. Her siblings, on the other hand, were all assholes except for one of them that actually helped her. Delia Owens was just so good at showing how Kya developed as a person and how her relationships changed her. The thing that I loved the most about this book was how Owens was able to describe the marsh and the animals living there. Even before I researched the author, I figured out that Owens has spent a good about of time in a North Carolina marsh and has experience as a nature writer. The simple things like her description of the marsh grass, the way the wind blew through the marsh, and how the birds flew around were so eloquently written that I really felt like I was in the marsh with her. This is Owens’ first fictional book and boy did she start off strong. I highly recommend this book for anyone who loves nature, loves mystery, romance, and suspense, and loves historical dramas. I gave it 5/5 stars, of course.

Aesthetic Board for Where the Crawdads Sing (I don’t own any of the pictures)

Currently Reading

The Witch’s Daughter by Paula Brackston

Synopsis: Elizabeth Anne Hawksmith is 348 years old. Each new settlement asks for a new journal, and so the Book of Shadows begins. In the spring of 1628, the Witchfinder of Wessex finds himself a true Witch. As Bess Hawksmith watches her mother swing from the Hanging Tree she knows that only one man can save her from the same fate at the hands of the panicked mob: the Warlock Gideon Masters, and the Book of Shadows. Secluded at his cottage in the woods, Gideon instructs Bess in the Craft, awakening formidable powers she didn’t know she had and making her immortal. She couldn’t have foreseen that even now, centuries later, he would be hunting her across time, determined to claim payment for saving her life. In present-day England, Elizabeth has built a quiet life for herself, tending her garden and selling herbs and oils at the local farmers’ market. But her solitude abruptly ends when a teenage girl called Tegan starts hanging around. Against her better judgment, Elizabeth begins teaching Tegan the ways of the Hedge Witch. this independent heroine will survive plagues, wars, and the heartbreak that comes with immortality, and protect the protege she comes to love.

First Thoughts: I really love reading Paula Brackston’s books about witches. They are entertaining, well written, and not too intense. The characters are generally lovely and complex so I really look forward to getting to know Bess Hawcksmith in this book.

Jewels of the Sun by Nora Roberts

Synopsis: Determined to reevaluate her life, Jude Murray flees America to take refuge in Faerie Hill Cottage, immersing herself in the study of Irish folklore and discovering hope for the future of the magical past. Finally back home in Ireland after years of traveling, Aidan Gallagher possesses and uncommon understanding of his country’s haunting myths. Although he’s devoted to managing the family pub, a hint of wildness still glints in his eyes–and in Jude, he sees a woman who can both soothe his heart and stir his blood. And he begins to share the legends of the land with her–while they create a passionate history of their own.

First Thoughts: Nora Robert’s books are really a hit and miss for me. Some of them are really good and some of them are really bad. I loved her wedding quartet series, but I could not stand her Guardians Trilogy. I really hope this series is a hit with me. I’m a little over 100 pages into it and it’s got a slow start, but I like the characters and the setting so I have hope for it.

Cry Wolf by Patricia Briggs

Synopsis: Anna never knew werewolves existed, until the night she survived a violent attack… and became one herself. After three years at the bottom of the pack, she’d learned to keep her head down and never, ever trust dominant males. Then Charles Cornick, the enforcer and son of the leader of the North American werewolves, came into her life. Charles insists that not only is Anna his mate, but she is also a rare and valued Omega wolf. And it is Anna’s inner strength and calming presence that will prove invaluable as she and Charles go on the hunt in search of a rogue werewolf.

First Thoughts: So I picked up this book on a whim at the book store because I had seen the series before and it was on sale, little did I know, however, that this book was the second to the series. I was so lost when I started reading it that I knew it had to be a follow up to another book. My feelings so far about the book are a little mixed, I like the characters at the same time that they have their flaws and the plot is interesting at the same time that it lags at points. It’s an eh book so far, but I have faith for it since so many people love it.

Lily of the Nile by Stephanie Dray

Synopsis: Heiress of one empire and prisoner of another, it is up to the daughter of Cleopatra to save her brothers and reclaim what is rightfully hers… To Isis worshipers, Princess Selene and her twin brother Helios embody the divine celestial pair who will bring about a Golden Age. But when Selene’s parents are vanquished by Rome, her auspicious birth becomes a curse. Trapped in an empire that reviles her heritage and suspects her faith, the young messianic princess struggles for survival in a Roman court of intrigue. She can’t hide the hieroglyphics that carve themselves into her hands, nor can she stop the emperor from using her powers for his own ends. But faced with a new and ruthless Caesar who is obsessed with having a Cleopatra of his own, Selene is determined to resurrect her mother’s dreams.

First Thoughts: I’m listening to this audio book and so far it is good, but it’s not amazing. There is one quote that has stood out to me; “There are only three kings of inc that rulers used to write their stories: seat, blood, and tears.”

The Wander Society by Keri Smith

Synopsis: A guide to the Wander Society, a secretive group that holds up the act of wandering, or unplanned exploring, as a way of life. You’ll learn about the group’s mysterious origins, meet fellow wanderers through time, discover how wandering feeds the creative mind, and learn how to best practice the art of wandering, should you choose to accept the mission.

First Thoughts: I actually really like this book so far. I’m a hiker and a traveler, so I love the idea of a guide for how to experience life to the fullest by simply wandering through life.

The Beautiful Strangers by Camille Di Maio

Synopsis: A legendary hotel on the Pacific becomes a haven where dreams, love, and a beguiling mystery come alive. 1958, Kate Morgan, tethered to her family’s failing San Francisco restaurant, is looking for an escape. She gets her chance by honoring a cryptic plea from her grandfather: find the beautiful stranger. The search takes her to Hotel del Coronado, the beachfront landmark on the Southern California coast where filming is underway on the movie Some Like It Hot. For a movie lover like Katie, it’s fantasy come true. So is the offer of a position at the glamorous hotel. And a new romance is making her heart beast just as fast. But as sure as she is that the Coronado is her future, Kate discovers it’s also where the ghosts of the past have come to stay. Sixty years afo a guest died tragically, and she still haunts the hotel’s halls. As the lives of two women–generations apart–intertwine, Kate’s courageous journey could change more than she ever imagined. And with the Coronado wending its way through her soul, she must follower her dreams… wherever they may lead.

First Thoughts: So it might just be the person on the audiobook, but the main character is kind of annoying. She sound a little too juvenile for me, but I’m only about an hour into the audiobook so maybe there is some character development. I heard some really great things about this book online so I was really excited to start reading it. Hopefully it lives up to its expectations.

Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Synopsis: A forbidden romance, a deadly plague, Earth’s fate hinges on one girl… Cinder, a gifted mechanic in New Beijing, is also a cyborg. She’s reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s sudden illness. But when her life becomes entwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she finds herself at the center of a violent struggle between the desires of an evil queen and a dangerous temptation. Cinder is caught between duty and freedom, loyalty, and betrayal. Now she must uncover secrets about her mysterious past in order to protect Earth’s future.

First Thoughts: This is the favorite series of a really good friend of mine and she begged me to read it after she read my favorite series (Throne of Glass). I had bought this book years ago as a gift for my sister, but she never read it so I took it back from her. I’m only a couple chapters into it, but it’s not bad. I look forward to reading all the books in the series.

Plan for June

Audio books

I have a lot of audio books waiting for me on my audible that I should really get to. I used to listen to audio books on my 30 minute commute to school, but now that I’ve graduated and it only takes me 15 minutes to get to work, I haven’t been listening to audio books a lot. The audio books I have are:

  1. The Beautiful Strangers by Camille di Maio
  2. Lily of the Nile by Stephanie Dray
  3. The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon
  4. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
  5. Wizard’s First Rule by Terry Goodkind
  6. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling

New Books to Read

  1. The Truth About Animals: Stoned Sloths, Lovelorn Hippos, and Other Tales from the Wild Side of Wildlife by Lucy Cooke
  2. The Bird and the Sword by Amy Harmon
  3. Child of a Mad God by R.A. Salvatore
  4. Certain Dark Things by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
  5. Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young

So I hope everyone had a great month, I definitely did. It was amazing and so fulfilling to finally walk across that stage for my diploma. Now I get to come home and read instead of doing homework! Yay!

Weekend Adventures at Hillsborough River State Park

So I just graduated with my Bachelors of Science degree from Stetson University and I was so excited to finally go on a camping trip with my family! I plan on taking a gap year before going to graduate school for a masters degree and this trip was exactly what I needed to start my gap. I live in central Florida, about an hour out of Orlando, and my family and I have been trying to visit all 176 state parks in Florida. Hillsborough River State Park is our 23rd Florida State Park (I think…). Anyway, I figured I could share some pictures I took with my fancy new camera. I gifted myself with a Canon Rebel T7 camera for graduation and I’m in love with it! I was able to take some amazing pictures.

Hillsborough River State Park

Geocache

We found a geocache by accident while we were on our morning hike. Geocaching is a global trend where people hide boxes, usually ammo boxes, somewhere in the woods on hiking trails and people have to use their gps to find it based on coordinates. When you find one you write your name and the date in the notebook then leave some kind of trinket. We will usually leave some figurine or toy. We came across this one completely by accident. We knew what geocaches usually looked like because we have been geocaching in state parks for years, so I opened the app and sure enough this was one of the geocaches in the park.

Evening Hike

On our evening like I really got to play around with my camera on the Baynard Hiking Trail.

Tradition

It’s a tradition in our family to take a family portrait every camping trip and boy is it a challenge to get the dogs to look at the camera.

Sunday Morning Visitors

Three deer walking up behind our campsite and I was able to get some adorable pictures.

So that was our trip to Hillsborough River State Park in central Florida. I’m writing this as we’re driving back home and one of my dogs keeps trying to stand on me. Hope you enjoyed! Until next time!