What I’ve been up to this past week!

So it’s been some time since I’ve updated, mostly because I’ve been spinning wheels on what to work on, or jumping from project to project and not really getting anything done. I have a big project that I’d like to do just to see if I can, but I constantly worry that I’m too flaky to get it done. Regardless, I’m starting it, and hopefully if I can stay motivated, someday I’ll finish it!

As the start of this project I’ve decided to draw something/someone I’ve never drawn before, which is the depiction of a Trogg from World of Warcraft. I’ve been working on Oggleflint… and he is really, really ugly. I sort of love it, because I tend not to spend time drawing ugly things (barring that negative self-talk, that inner critic that tells me all of my drawings are ugly anyway!).

Here are the sketches and studies I have so far, and I’m working on the line-art, trying out a new program and a new technique, seeing how they work for me. I think this is the first project I’ve gotten really excited about in a while, so that’s actually pretty fun! I’d like to expand upon this and draw all of the bosses in Ragefire Chasm as a challenge, though I might get sick of that neon orange color scheme by the time I’m done!

Aside from this, my video game escapades, I’ve managed to defeat the Cyberdemon (Protip: Shoot it until it dies!) and also checked off another one of my end-of-expansion to-do list items, by getting the Awakened title before it goes away. All I had left was Tol Dagor, and I tell you what… I hate that place. Nothing boils my blood more in a video game than being stuck in combat forever with something you can’t even see because you managed to aggro it through a wall or floor.

The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires

I also finished reading “The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires” by Grady Hendrix in my quest to do Popsugar’s 2020 reading challenge and I loved it. I also hated it. It was one of those books that’s gonna stay with me for a while, I think… sort of like any decent horror movie.

What have you guys been up to this week? Anything cool?

Book Review: The Life-Changing Manga of Tidying Up

Just in time for the new year, a review about a decluttering book!

I’ll admit that when Marie Kondo first became a sensation, I was pretty skeptical. I tried to read her book but it was one of those that I ended up skimming over, going “meh this isn’t for me” and then returning it to the library. I had a laugh when I found this while perusing some graphic novels, and I figured why not? Maybe I’ll learn something.

This manga presents itself as a sweet story about a girl who has an out of control apartment and a fairly out of control life. She doesn’t know what she wants and her whole place is cluttered with items from old hobbies that she only took up to get closer to someone she was in love with at the time. I feel like a lot of people can relate to this, but over time, she discovers what’s important to her while having KonMari’s help with learning how to tidy her place.

I didn’t think that a graphic novel would be a good place to go learn something, but I should have known better, really. This manga presents KonMari’s methods of tidying in an easy to understand, fun format. I actually ended up enjoying it very much! I’m not sure I’ll be going through my clutter anytime soon, but I probably should.

Book Review: The Child Thief

The Child Thief by Brom has been on my reading list for a good long time, as has been The Devil’s Rose and Krampus: The Yule Lord. I figured that now that I’m done with the 2019 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge, I’d sit down and work on a few other books that have been on my list for ages.

I first encountered Brom’s work when a patron at my library requested The Devil’s Rose. It was both beautiful and terribly (as in nightmarish) at the same time, and I was instantly awed by Brom’s paintings. The Child Thief is the first book of his that I’ve read, and it didn’t disappoint me. He’s an amazing writer!

This dark retelling of Peter Pan is hauntingly beautiful, showing us a side of Peter that we’ve never really seen before. The book is full of horribleness of various sorts. Rape, torture, blood, gore, manipulation, murder, backstabbing, cursing, the list goes on! Awful things happen to children in this book, and while some people would find that abhorrent and ask “Why would you write about that?” I felt it was pretty realistic for this world that we live in.

I really enjoyed his explanation of all the mythology that inspired him to create this world that these children live in. Some old favorites of mine were there, and as a kid I remember reading about Jenny Greenteeth and being creeped out because we had a pond at the time that was covered in duckweed and it looked like the exact sort of place that she would live. Overall, this book made me a bit nostalgic for those younger days, despite the kids in this story not being any sort of carefree at all.

Book Review: Hicotea

I read Nightlights by Lorena Alvarez Gomez earlier this year and fell in love with it. I loved the story, but I especially loved her artwork. Naturally, when I saw that Nightlights had a sequel, I had to go pick up Hicotea. I think I liked this one even more than the first, and Lorena’s artwork and storytelling skills did not disappoint. I think my only complaint was the flow of the dialogue, which at times felt like it was sacrificed for the sake of the composition of the visuals.

The artwork is stunning, and I aspire to someday have one of her prints on my wall. I’m seriously jealous of her skill, and hope that I can draw like that one day. The colors are eye-catching, and her characters are adorable. I loved them all, but I thought that Livion was a really cool concept especially. To me he seemed like the all-consuming void of time and space, a reminder that nothing lasts forever.

Still, I liked that it had an environmentalist message, and Sandy, as always, is adorable.

2019 Popsugar Reading Challenge Finished!

So this year I decided to do my first ever Popsugar Reading Challenge. Will I be doing it again next year? Absolutely. I’ve read a ton of books this year (and I’m still not done) but I feel like this challenge really helped me to reach out and choose books that I normally wouldn’t have, or books that I had been putting off reading for ages and ages. The new Popsugar Reading challenge for 2020 has been released, and I can’t wait to get started on that, too!

Because I want to show it off, here’s what I read for the Popsugar 2019 reading challenge!Continue reading “2019 Popsugar Reading Challenge Finished!”

Book Review: Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother

I had such mixed feelings about this book. I think my favorite thing about it was that the front cover sets you up for a little of what you would expect. As I was reading, I had a lot of flashbacks to my own childhood. Not that my parents were strict, and I’m only 1/8th Chinese myself, but there were some echoes there that had been passed down from generation to generation.

I found myself disagreeing with Amy Chua’s methods, and even shocked and appalled at times, but there were also times where her sheer love for her children and the things going on in her life made me cry. I think you should definitely take this as more of a memoir if you’re to pick it up than a parenting guide! I don’t think I’d ever be able to be so strict or scream at my kids like that, but I’m not a parent either so what do I know?

I did enjoy reading about her internal struggle, the doubt in herself, the lessons that she learned while raising her kids. The book was well-written, and I feel like she was brutally honest with herself while writing it, not trying to gloss over her conduct at all. Reading this book gave me more appreciation of all the freedoms I had when I was growing up, and gave me ideas for how to better push myself to reach my goals, too. No, I’m not going to practice things for 3+ hours each day that I want to get good at, but I could probably stand to kick it up a notch and work harder for what I want.

Book Review: This Body’s Not Big Enough for Both of Us

This was a fun, entertaining read. It reminded me a lot of a comic book, with the crazy action scenes, plot twists, clich├ęs and pop-culture references, and I enjoyed Kimrean. I often wondered how on earth Kimrean could function, though, as both A and Z are so vastly different, it really was like having two separate characters the whole time. I had a hard time wrapping myself around them in my imagination, but I think that that’s probably a good thing, because that’s how they were presented throughout much of the book anyway.

Ursula I thought was a little too grown-up for an eleven year old, but I can forgive that a bit I think because writing a character that is a kid can be really challenging (I know, I’ve done it and agonized over it!) so I can cut some slack there. The crush she developed on over the course of the story on someone more than twice her age (trying not to spoil it here) was a little weird, but I remember being eleven once and all those silly teenage magazines we ogled and fawned over with the much-older musicians and sitcom stars, etc, so I can forgive that too.

I thought it was really enjoyable, and I was never bored with the story at all, so I’ll be looking forward to reading more books from Edgar Cantero.

Book Review: Happiness Project

So it’s been a long time since I did a book review here, but books are one of my many passions so I decided I’d start reviewing again with a book that is about the pursuit of happiness. I found myself really enjoying this book. I liked that the author could be honest with herself and about her flaws, and especially with what she found made her happy, and what did and did not work.

I got a lot of ideas from this book, and I decided that I really want to spend more time pursuing my own happiness and improving my own relationships. I found myself agreeing with the assessment that most people would describe themselves around 70% happy or so. I feel like that’s the case for me, at least.

I really enjoyed the creative ideas, like collecting things that inspire you, or lists of things that catch your interest. Or a folder devoted to a project that holds all of your notes and pictures and inspiration related to that project. I loved the Pollyanna week game where you strive to only make positive comments, as difficult as that might be for me, too. I know I can really be a negative person sometimes, but I like to think I’m making improvements there.

I also liked the amount of research that was involved in this book, and how she tested different theories to see what worked for her and what did not. Overall, I think this was a great read, and I wish I had read it sooner!

Garden Update

So being in the new house (and with the heat of the summer still here, despite it now being fall), getting the yard to not look overgrown (with no real equipment) has been a challenge that I am slowly but surely undertaking. I know I have to get things into gear by next summer, otherwise it’ll be a real jungle out there!

I mostly wanted to do a post about how the mailbox garden is coming along, since I haven’t written about it in some weeks now, and it’s been growing beautifully. I added some nursery plants, some mums (with mixed success) and then also some yellow lantana because I really wanted a bushy thing that the butterflies would like.

The passionflower vine I transplanted got mostly eaten by caterpillars, and is now growing back, but that was what I wanted. I love passionflowers, but the wild ones that grow in my yard are ravenously eaten by hungry Gulf Fritillary caterpillars! Still, it’s growing back, so I hope that now that it’s established that it will grow in this time before the frost gets here.

The plant I’m most excited about are the Salvias that recently began to bloom. They are such a vibrant red, and I absolutely love them! I’m looking forward to planting more of them in the upcoming year. These seeds actually came from my local seed library, and if you have a library in your area that offers this service, I really encourage you to take advantage of it! Who doesn’t like free seeds?