August Bullet Journal & Reading

This month is my mother’s birthday month, so I wanted to go with a green theme. Because I have some green washi tape with Totoros, I decided to make August’s theme Studio Ghibli, specifically Hayao Miyazaki’s Ghibli work. My Neighbor Totoro is also her favorite Ghibli movie, so it worked out well.

As usual, I tried some new things. We’ll see how it works this month.

I have these little block letter stamps that I thought would be cute, so I used them a lot, including with the cover page’s quote which took forever. The quote is from Miyazaki accompanied by stickers of him.

I decided to utilize my calendar since it just sat looking pretty the past several months, so I made it a habit tracker, in a way. It’s habits/health issues I want to keep track of on my journey to better myself. I did keep the separation of bills, entertainment, creative, and bettering sections I used last month, since it worked well. And I separated them with the most iconic line from Howl’s Moving Castle.

For my weekly, I put in sections for individual days, which is my biggest help, and sections for various weekly things including meal planning, finances, weekly goals, and to-dos. These can be filled as needed, so there’s no pressure to me to fill them up. It’s for my benefit and not meant to be an obligation. Each week is assigned a different Miyazaki Ghibli movie: Princess Mononoke, Kiki’s Delivery Service, My Neighbor Totoro (for my mom’s birthday week), and Spirited Away. There’s an accompanied sticker and quote.

With my decor page, I stuck strictly to Ghibli rather than color. Next to the decor page, I put a check list of Miyazaki Ghibli movies. I’ve yet to see two, which I will remedy this month.

Overall, I’m loving this theme and organization.

Now for books.

In July, I read FIVE books. Five! I guess nothing was happening this past month for me to do anything but read. The books were Never Grow Up, The White Sniper, The Scarlet Letter, The Ocean at the End of the Lane, and Unsolved Murders. Out of these five, The Ocean at the End of the Lane was the best; I’ve really loved Gaiman’s writing style and characters. No book was really bad; they were all good, so I recommend them all.

This month, I’m going to try to read three books. School starts up, so my time won’t be as expendable. The books I’m planning on reading are You Do You, How to Catch a Killer, and Tale As Old As Time. Let me know if you have read/are going to read these books and let me know what you think.

We’re here for bettering ourselves, through journaling and reading, so remember to work on bettering yourself whatever that may mean to you.

Hugs

Alexandra

Book vs Movie: The DaVinci Code

The Da Vinci Code” book review – The Kirkwood CallLolo Loves Films: Movie Review: "The Da Vinci Code" (2006)

When I first started reading the Robert Langdon series, I read it all out of order. I read The Lost Symbol (third book) first, then Angels and Demons (first book), and so on. But I guess it doesn’t matter anymore since the movies themselves came out of order. The DaVinci Code (second book) was the first movie, Angels and Demon was second, and Inferno (fourth book) was third. What a system.

Anyway, last time I did this, I covered Beowulf, which as the first known poem made sense to be the first Book vs Movie. Now, I chose The DaVinci Code because Robert Langdon is my favorite literary character and because it was the first movie. I would’ve chosen my favorite Langdon book but it hasn’t been turned into a movie (yet, hopefully). Please, Hollywood, I would give you all my business for a Lost Symbol movie.

After the Louvre curator is killed, leaving a cryptic message for Robert Langdon, a Harvard professor and symbologist, the French police bring him in as an expert (though actually as a suspect). Langdon runs with the help of Sophie, granddaughter of the curator and police cryptographer. Clues are left for Langdon and Sophie that lead them to learning about an alternative religious history where Jesus Christ and Mary Magdalene had a child while caught in a battle between the Priory of Sion and Opus Dei. The book caused a lot of controversy amongst the Christian denominations when they thought the book was an attack on the Catholic Church. It also got a LOT of criticism for inaccurate histories and being an overall “hoax”. Forget the fact that this book is fiction, I guess. There were also three different lawsuits against this book, all of which lost. Let up, guys.

I love this book. The great thing about Dan Brown’s Langdon books is there’s always a villainous twist. I’m a fan. There are moments when research can get in the way and make it almost boring, but the action, suspense, characters, and overall plot make it all worth it.

In 2006 (three years after book publication), the movie was released with Tom Hanks as Robert Langdon. First thing I have to say about this is the casting for this movie was great. I loved the whole cast, I enjoyed casting people from their actual countries (with the exception of Paul Bettany as Silas, but I forgive because I adore Paul Bettany and his work), and I absolutely approve of Tom Hanks playing Langdon. The movie follows the book very well, though they did have to leave plenty out. If they turned the whole book into a movie, it would be 10 hours long. But we don’t have time for a second cryptex or Sophie’s entire backstory/meeting her brother. It’s all good, though. What they’ve included was great and necessary and still created a great story.

I love both, recommend both, and rank both as a 4.5/5.

July Bullet Journal

Don’t judge my theme; I have a perfectly reasonable explanation…

So, for July, my theme is rainbow. Yes, I am fully aware that last month was Pride. But here’s why I chose rainbow as my theme for July: clearance. Because Pride stickers and material are cheaper at the end of the month (and I didn’t have an idea for July already), I thought I would use it for July. Also, because our personal pride should last longer than a month (but that was a cop-out afterthought). 

Anyway. I tried something different with my monthly and my weekly setup since last month definitely didn’t work for me.

I always start with a home page, something simple and with a quote. So. There we go. Nothing complicated.

For my monthly, I separated things in specific categories of stuff I want to accomplish this month. Bills (duh, can’t forget to pay those), entertainment (books I want to read, movies I want to see, etc), creative (stuff I want to do fuel my creative juices), and bettering myself (which will include going back to the gym). Maybe separating everything will keep me organized, less stressed, and more accomplished. We will see.

For my weeklies, I color-blocked according to stickers I found in the Pride set (the two missing weeks are orange and blue, and look like the green week). I just kept everything in separate days without much detail, which might work better for me. But to keep track of myself and some emotions I may feel (thanks to mental illness and empathy), I have a weekly affirmation, a little block to put the best moment that week, and a tiny block to put a little emoji sticker. Plus the color might help me out as well.

I also have a decorative page, but I did it after writing this so I didn’t get a pic.

img_9546As well as going over my plans for helping myself via bullet journal every month, I wanted to include book club again. Reading is beneficial to mental health, so let’s help ourselves by being accountable for reading once again.

This month, I’m going to finish Never Grow Up by Jackie Chan (I started it at the end of June), and I’m going to read The White Sniper and Unsolved Murders.

Remember, if you bullet journal, it really is about becoming the best person you can be. Make sure you’re helping yourself with what you put in it.

Hugs

Alexandra

Book vs Movie: Beowulf

Beowulf (2007 film) - WikipediaAn authoritative translation of the finest heroic poem in Old ...

When I was in high school, either freshman or sophomore year, I had to read Beowulf. Don’t ask me why someone thought a bunch of 13-15 year olds could comprehend Old English on their own, but alas. Soon after reading it in school, the animated movie came out. So, let’s talk about them.

When I first read this, I really enjoyed the story. In fact, I was the only one in my class who liked it. No judgement to the others at all, I just remember being that one nerd who enjoyed it. Essentially, it’s just the telling of a hero named Beowulf and his encounters with various monsters and villains, the most famous probably being Grendel. He’s a Geat who helps the king of the Danes with their two monsters before going back home to be king of the Geats, and fifty years later he fights a dragon. Though he defeats the dragon, he is wounded fatally. And that’s really it. Simply a hero’s tale told in Old English.

Then the movie came out in 2007, and I was actually excited to see it. My family thought it was so weird, but we went to see it in theaters anyway. Also, real quick, I found out TODAY that Neil Gaiman helped write the screenplay, and I don’t know how to feel about it. I was severely disappointed. Maybe because of the shift of story or the anti-hero style of the character of Beowulf or the *ahem* dragon baby. I understand the need of story shift because it’s the movie industry. They need as much drama as they can get. But I really didn’t appreciate how they wrote Grendel’s mother, the dragon, or even how Beowulf became king of the Danes.

On one hand, why’d they change it so drastically? On the other hand, I’m pretty picky. Usually when I judge a movie that’s based on stories or characters that already exist, I separate how the movie is as a stand-alone and how it is compared to the basis it came from. Standing alone, it’s not bad. It was pretty incredible CGI for the time, and if I didn’t know Beowulf beforehand I would’ve enjoyed it.

BUT, I can’t get past the shift.

So, obviously, the original epic poem is superior. If you don’t want to read Old English, the movie isn’t bad.

‘Book’: 4/5 stars. Movie: 2.5/5 stars.

November (and October) Bookclub

I thought I did October, but looking back through my posts I guess I missed that. So, this month you get a two for one! (Honestly, good thing too. I read one thing in November…and it was a play).

Let’s get into it:

On the Road by Jack Kerouac

*sigh* I didn’t get it. The reason I read it is because an acquaintance had literally TEN copies of it in his home (it’s his favorite book). Maybe I just wasn’t a fan, but I was confused and bored and ugh.

The Omen by David Seltzer

This book is based off the movie (what a twist). It was basically just a deeply worded retelling of the entire movie. I didn’t mind though. I actually appreciated the words more than the visuals in this case. BUT when it comes to my recommendation, I would suggest watching the movie over reading the book. It’s the original, after all.

The Shining by Stephen King

And then we had a book that has a movie based on it. The movie is fascinating, even if I had a lot of issues with it. It’s not my go-to suspense/horror. The book, on the other hand, seems to make more sense. The characters and the plot, believe it or not, made more sense. Perhaps it was the way of the two artists: how Stephen King approached the story and how Stanley Kubrick approached it. Basically, the book is better. I do think the movie should be watched at least once though.

Postern of Fate by Agatha Christie

My queen. This one deals with another set of recurring characters (like Poirot or Marple) named Tommy and Tuppence. They are an older couple who served as agents in the British Secret Service, and are now retiring in the countryside with their dog. But they are still detectives at heart, much like Miss Marple, so they solve cases when presented. This book, sad to say, is not Christie’s best. It was her very last book written, when she potentially was suffering from undiagnosed Alzheimers. Definitely don’t let this be your first Christie novel.

Witness for the Prosecution by Agatha Christie

And on the other flip side (lot’s of flip sides this month), there’s a pretty brilliant play by my lady. How about a twist? And then another twist? And then another twist? You’ve got this play! A man is arrested for the murder of an older woman, but while he maintains his innocence his wife decides to testify against him. And it’s a race to get the truth. It’s definitely a read it multiple times to get it story. Worth it, though.

And that was it for the last two months. Next month is December, my last opportunity to read the rest of my books: Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them screenplay by J.K. Rowling. That’s right, only two books left in my challenge! Hopefully after finals, I can get those out of the way so I can start my ever-growing pile of personal unread books (for next year *wink*).

Let me know if you have thoughts of these books or if you’ve read them.

Hugs

Alexandra

September Book Club

As predicted, I was only able to read three books, and just barely.

Let’s get into it:

the mermaid’s voice returns in this one by Amanda Lovelace

I actually finished this on the very last day of August. Oh well. I really enjoyed the conclusion of the magic trilogy. We are all a kind of magic, and this showed one woman’s journey through it. It resonated hardcore with me.

Bag of Bones by Stephen King

This was okay. I think I liked the premise more than the actual story. However, it was amazingly written and I still enjoyed it.

Educated by Tara Westover

Someone at work lent me their copy of the book thinking I’d enjoy it. It was an incredible story that I didn’t want to put down no matter how angry I was reading it (those who read it know why). It truly shows the power of self, of family, and of education—the bad and the good.

The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom

This is a story about a Christian woman in Holland during WWII who hid Jews in her home and smuggled food ration cards for them before getting caught and sent to a concentration camp. It was fascinating to look into the other perspective of these stories. She was a very strong and faithful woman who refused to bow down to a power that was harming people.

And that’s what I read.

I know at the beginning I said three books when I clearly reviewed four. But I actually read three (since the first book was finished in August).

October is going to be about the same, with three books. This month I plan on reading On the Road by Jack Kerouac, The Omen (book based off the movie), and The Shining by Stephen King. If I magically have time, I’ll jump back to Postern of Fate by Agatha Christie since I didn’t get to read it this past month.

Let me know if you have thoughts about these books or if you read any of them.

Hugs

Alexandra

August Book Club

I was on schedule!…until the very end. I’ll explain as I go.

Let’s get into it:

the witch doesn’t burn in this one by Amanda Lovelace

So, I read the first book in the series last month. And for someone who doesn’t like poetry, I really loved Lovelace’s works. Of course I had to read the second book in the series. I do like the first one better, but I loved this one as well. Still recommend, even if you hate poetry (like me, still). And, yeah, I’ll be buying the third book in the series.

Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank

Everyone had to read this in high school but me. And when I said I’d read this, everyone told me to be prepared to cry. After reading this book, this is my response to them: did we read the same book? Though Anne Frank’s story ends sadly, her own writing was hopeful and brighter than people like to give her credit for. She was a lovely writer and had lots of teenager thoughts (hello, she was a child). But she was not a sad girl.

The Two Towers by J.R.R. Tolkien

There’s not much I can say here that I haven’t said in the Fellowship review and that I won’t say in the Return review. Of course I recommend it, let’s move on.

Return of the King by J.R.R. Tolkien

And the trilogy is done. It was an incredible adventure, a grand journey, and an awesome quest. One thing I took away from this trilogy is how under-appreciated and misused (if that’s the right word) Pippin and Merry were. Especially Pippin. They did amazing things throughout the whole journey and were nowhere near as doofy as the movies portrayed them. Beyond that, it was so incredibly written and the characters were multi-dimensional. It’s the quintessential trilogy I believe everyone should read. And now I’m going to rewatch all the movies and the new movie Tolkien (not sponsored, but boy, do I wish).

How to Be a Bawse by Lilly Singh

The original plan was to read some Stephen King, but after so many ‘heavy’ books, I didn’t want to read a 700 page book about more heavy subjects. So I went with Lilly’s book (that I got over two years ago and still haven’t read oops). It was adorable, but it was also very true. I was able to look at myself in a different light, and I was able to see what I can improve on. I do recommend this to all ages, whether you’re into self-improvement or unicorns.

And that’s what I read.

I’m not too hopeful in the coming months about reading more than three books a month because your girl is BACK IN SCHOOL (but more on that later). We have four months to finish the library goal, and we have 10 books left to go. We got this!

The books for September are Bag of Bones by Stephen King (I’ll actually get to it this month), The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom, and Postern of Fate by Agatha Christie (because it’s my birthday month, and I’m gonna read my Queen).

Let me know if you have thoughts about these books or if you read any of them.

Hugs

Alexandra

My History with Books

I read (and own) a lot of books.

Recently, I held a little contest on my Instagram (@alexandrathetg) asking my followers if they could guess how many books I have in my personal library. The contest has since closed and the answer was 380. I say was because I have since bought a few more books…I am closer to 400 than my previous number.

It made me think about my history with books. Where did it start and how did it develop?

This is how I remember my childhood, book-version:

My mother read books to us like ‘The Stinky Cheese Man’ and ‘The True Story of the Three Little Pigs’. It’s no wonder we ended up a little odd. The first books I read on my own in elementary school were The Boxcar Children and a child-friendly biography of Cleopatra.

Then I move up to middle school, the preteen years:

In classes, the books we had to read that I liked included The OutsidersRoll of Thunder Hear My Cry, and The Last Book in the Universe. Of course, we read books I didn’t enjoy like The Old Man and the Sea but they don’t matter. Books I read on my own included The Outsiders (at least 8 times in those three years), as many books as I could about Ancient Egypt and Egyptology, ‘Short and Shivery’ (specifically ‘Even More Short and Shivery’), the Charlie Bone series (better than Harry Potter, fight me), Edgar Allan Poe (duh), and this is when I discovered Agatha Christie (reading her entire play collection). Something else I kept up with is my children’s book genre, reading ‘The Talking Eggs’, ‘Mustafa’s Beautiful Daughters’, and ‘The Children’s Book of Virtues’.

Then I move up again to high school, the teenage years:

In classes, the books we had to read that I liked included a shit-ton of Shakespeare, Tears of a TigerFrankenstein, and ‘The Canterbury Tales’. Obviously, there were class books I didn’t enjoy, like Lord of the Flies and Jane Eyre, but they still don’t matter. Books I read on my own included The Outsiders (maybe only once a year this time), Agatha Christie’s actual novels, plays like ‘Doctor Faustus’, Peter PanAround the World in 80 Days, more Poe, and this is when I was introduced to my favorite literary character Robert Langdon via the book The Lost Symbol (totally read those out of order).

Then I move up once more to college, the young adult years:

In classes, the books we had to read (aka too many to fully remember) that I like included an even bigger shit-ton of Shakespeare, more plays than I can recall, A Monster CallsThe Family RomamovHowl’s Moving Castle, ‘Beowulf’, ‘Sherlock Holmes’, and almost all of my theatre textbooks. So many class books I didn’t enjoy but I don’t want that negativity in my life, so I kinda forgot a lot of them. Books I read on my own included the rest of the Robert Langdon books, John Green, even more Christie and Poe, I Am Not a Serial Killer, The Last Unicorn, Maximum Ride, reread Charlie Bone, and I was introduced to manga (I now own the entire collection of Ouran Highschool Host Club).

Nowadays, I still read Christie, Poe, Brown, and Shakespeare. Stuff I’ve included since was Mitch Albom’s books, autobiographies, Stephen King, DraculaI Am Legend, and a bunch of young adult pieces like StargirlLife of PiThis is Where it Ends, and The Burn Journals.

So, basically I flowed from odd to random to classic to young adult to whatever. From dumb to smart? I don’t really know. As people grow (and as classes demand), tastes change. Sometimes. I did change from Egyptology to theatre. I did change from modern books to classic to both. But my genres just grew, used to stick to one genre then added another and another. I used to be against fantasy (still prefer realistic but anyway), however, it has a place in my library and I’m in the middle of The Return of the King.

The point of this is expand. Add genres rather than dismissing. I’m not saying don’t change. If you want, change. But you know, you can enjoy multiple genres, age groups, and authors. I still have my collection of children’s books right under my Agatha Christie collection.

Expand your mind!

Hugs

Alexandra

July Book Club

I actually wrote August Book Club before correcting myself. Shows you how awesome my mental state is at the moment.

I just hope I can remember what I actually read this month.

The Road by Cormac McCarthy

So, I finished this right on the first or second day. This was definitely a special kind of post-apocalyptic book. And I liked it. I mean, it was horrific and sad and hopeful and crushing, but it was very real and raw. And I don’t know if I’d want to see the movie due to…specific scenes. If you like post-apocalyptic/survival, I do recommend it.

the princess saves herself in this one by Amanda Lovelace

One thing fellow literary people need to know about me is I hate poetry. The only poetry I could tolerate was Poe (even then, I have a much stronger preference for his short films). And then I read Lovelace. There is something so connecting with her work. It’s like she breaks all the rules while creating a large overarching story through various forms of poetry. Talent! I loved it so much I bought the second part of the series: the witch doesn’t burn in this one (which will likely be in next month’s book club). Highly recommend to all ladies, even if you hate poetry (like me).

Dr. Frankenstein’s Daughters by Suzanne Weyn

I’m one of those weirdos that really enjoyed Frankenstein in high school. It’s one of my favorite classics. So I was…interested. At first it was out of pure curiosity since (spoiler) Frankenstein’s wife dies on their wedding night. And until then, he had been somewhere else making a man. But it was interesting. I had a hard time with it…UNTIL THE END. Oh man! This twist was actually unexpected (a lot coming from me). It all came together in the end, and that on its own was worth it. It wasn’t as connected to Frankenstein as I had hoped, but it was a good book on it’s own. I do recommend it.

That Was Then, This Is Now by S.E. Hinton

Hinton is a young adult classic, if not the staple of young adult genre. But I’m talking about The Outsiders. I got another book of hers for a nickel, so I thought I’d give it a try. Unfortunately, I think she peeked at The Outsiders. I had read other works of hers before (TexRumble Fish, and Taming the Star Runner), but TWTTIN seemed to be her next most popular work, so I gave her one last try. Guys, just stick with The Outsiders. That is truly the amazing book.

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

I heard nothing but good things about this. ‘A crazy twist’, ‘the next Gone Girl‘, ‘such suspense, much thriller’. And after I read it, I just sat there asking myself, “really?” Everything about the book was completely obvious! I knew what had happened and why within the beginning of the book. Remember when I said unexpected twists are a lot coming from me (look above), I wasn’t kidding. Dr. Frankenstein’s Daughters was a bigger twist than this! Shame! I won’t spoil anything in case you want to watch the movie or read the book. But I wasn’t a fan.

The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien

That’s right, I started the grand trilogy! I’m a fan of the world, even if I’m not a fan of fantasy as a genre. But reading this book is a lot more than fantasy. I understand now why people love this trilogy so much. It’s amazingly written, the characters are fantastic, and the world is…well…out of this world! Tolkien is a genius and no one can top him (screw you George R.R. Martin). I love it, and am excited to finish with The Two Towers and The Return of the King. And of course I recommend it.

There was a roller coaster of feelings with the books this month, and I’m not changing it next month either. Here’s what we’re reading in August:

The Two Towers and The Return of the King by J.R.R. Tolkien (duh); the witch doesn’t burn in this one by Amanda Lovelace; The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank; and Bag of Bones by Stephen King.

Let me know if you have thoughts about these books or if you read any of them.

Hugs

Alexandra

June Book Club

Because of the show, reading was…scarce…ish. Well, I definitely didn’t read as much as last month. Also, in May, I said I’d read the Lord of the Rings trilogy, but I actually decided to hold off on that until August. In August,  I’ll be traveling. What better books to read than the LOTR trilogy?

Anyway, so here’s what I read:

1984 by George Orwell

I remember ‘reading’ this in high school. I decided to listen to it at work and…it’s not what I thought. While I understand theme and symbol-wise why this would be read in high schools, there were some disturbing elements that might need to wait until college. With that said, I loved the setting, the plot, but man, the characters were awful. They all sucked so bad. Ignoring the characters, it’s worth a read for the setting and themes.

Creative Struggle by Gavin Aung Than, aka Zen Pencils

I went on a Zen Pencils binge recently needing to feel better about myself and what I’m doing with my life (yes, I had some existentialism going on). I picked up the book and went to town on people of the past who had creative struggles. It’s a quick read as it’s almost entirely comics, but it was super great. Recommend for those who like comics and/or great quotes by influential people.

The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

Narration style of an angsty teenage boy.

That’s all I’ve to say about that.

Holes by Louis Sachar

Love the movie, and everyone talked about how amazing this book was. The movie stuck to the book closer than any other movie I’ve ever seen. I read it in under 24 hours in between work, sleeping, a yard sale, finishing the Good Omens show, and rewatching the movie. It was lovingly written with a fun triple plot and some interesting characters. Highly recommend.

I started The Road, but by the time of writing this I have not finished so that’ll wait until July Book Club. Along with that, I’m planning to read Dr. Frankenstein’s DaughtersThe Girl on the Train, and That Was Then, This Is Now.

Let me know if you have thoughts about these books or if you read any of them.

Hugs

Alexandra