August Book of The Month Review:

Title: Not A Happy Family

Author: Shari Lepena

Hey hey, it’ MJ,

         I know that some of you, if you read my Book’s So Far Part 4 post, will have seen a very short blurb on this book because I had this post coming out a few weeks later even though I read the book last month. 

         I read it in three days, I was not planning on reading it in three days, but I did. It kept me guessing from when the murders happened to the end on who actually did it. I was shocked.

         I gave this book a 4 out of 5 because I apparently like thrillers now. Who knew? I probably liked it most because it’s a murder mystery and everyone knows that I love a good mystery.

         If you are planning on reading it, skip this post because I will be spoiling like all of it. I won’t spoil the murderer, but I don’t plan on keeping all the spoilers out of this post. 

         The book is told from several perspectives, I would say roughly a dozen or so in total and that really added to the overall tension of the novel because it kept switching. It gave a full picture instead of being told by one narrator who is either a character or outside of the story itself. This was a good read and it did the omniscient perspective so well. 

         For some reason the phrase, ‘those who live in glass houses should not throw stones’ comes to mind and I cannot put my finger on why. You have an entire family that is being put through a murder investigation, all of them have secrets, and they all proceed to turn on one another. You are left wondering and guessing who actually did kill Fred and Sheila Merton.

         I cannot imagine having parents like that to be honest, but I have friends or at least people I went to school with who did have parents like that. Nothing was ever good enough for them. (My parents weren’t like that but my grandmother was, so I do get it on some level.) Competition and being measured up against your siblings builds animosity and that was a huge theme in this book. 

         Also with the subtle hints that their father was straight up a psychopath, that is proven in the book but I don’t want to spoil that. 

         You learn so much about the Merton kids, from the lies, the scandals, the problems that they all seem to be able to cover up because that is what society needs to see, that is what is expected of them. I wouldn’t want to live like that. 

         Like I said this book kept me guessing on who actually had committed the crime and I was shocked when it was finally revealed. The author throughout the book led the reader to contemplate several possibilities on who the murderer could actually be but the real murderer came out of left field and I was so surprised. 

         The ending itself did leave me with questions because it kind of goes unsolved in a way, or at least no one is prosecuted for it. I think that the Epilogue does give some potential for justice to finally be served and I would love to see that in novel form, to see the family have to live through it again after finding out who actually did it. I think that would be a really good sequel. 

         In truth, I wasn’t sure if I would actually like this book. I was wrong, I could not put it down. Because of the short chapters and how often it switches from character to character it keeps you engaged and flipping pages because you want to know if any of the suspicions are correct. 

         I cannot say that this book has a happy ending, it’s not meant to as books like this usually don’t. Everyone survives, that’s about all we get, it’s not happy, relationships and trust is broken and because the end skips a year we as the reader don’t really know how anyone is doing. We don’t know if their relationships have really survived or if they are working on their demons; it was clear in this book that everyone needed therapy. Like years and years and various kinds of therapy to get over the trauma. 

         If you like the pristine family that is really hiding like a mountain of crap, a murder, an investigation, and a whole bunch of lies folded in, this is for sure the book for you. 

         I will see everyone later in the week with another post, so until then I hope that every stays safe, happy, and healthy.

         -MJ 

Bullet Journal Comparison #2: Book Trackers

Hey hey, it’s MJ,

            Here we are again with another post about my Bullet Journals, I will be doing comparison posts about once a month for the rest of the year because I can! 

            Last month I did the yearly covers from 2018-2021. I have not done my 2022 yearly cover yet. I have finished all of my layout pages for 2022 and that is a huge weight off my shoulders when it comes to Bullet Jounraling. I also have figured out the themes for 2023 and I am already looking forward to it! So excited for two years in the future, I’m excited for next year but I still have some planning to do with the monthly themes. That is not what this post is about though so I am going to roll into that. 

            Today’s post is my book case comparison. Every year I put in a book case to track all the books that I read each year. I have actually marked more space out for next year because I am reading more books next year than I am planning to this year and this year I pretty much ran out of room. 

            I am also doing a book bullet journal next year, thanks TikTok. So I will do an introduction to that later in the year. It’s pretty much done which is nice because then I don’t have to worry about working on it later in the year in prep for what I plan on reading. 

            These posts might spoil some of my favorite pages for this year, but I don’t really know exactly what my favorite pages this year will be. 

            2018: My 2018 Bullet Journal was really just a mismatch of things, I wasn’t really sure what I was doing and I also read like six books in 2018 so my bookcase is incredibly empty. Also, unlike the rest of the years I did after 2018 the book case is at the front. In 2018 it was on the page before I started March. 2018 was really a year where I was learning how to Bullet Journal and a lot of it was a mess. 

            2019: My goal for 2019 was 35, I read 32 and 12 of those were in December. This bookcase I really tried to do something different form the year before. I also was only doing one book case at the time and I changed that in the coming years because this was just not a sustainable design for me moving forward. This one is for sure not my favorite because the bookcase is just a little too fussy for me. The front pages of 2019 before I got to January was what I have taken from that year into last year, this year, and next year. 

            2020: 2020 was a mess all over, we can all agree on that. This BuJo was kind of the BuJo that helped me figure out what exact system in my BuJo works for me. This bookcase isn’t full, I read 40 books last year and that was a lot of fun and I still had space. I like the little shelf decorations that I have in this one and again, I have copied this page to a certain extent for the last two years and next year as well. 

            2021: I am still working on this one because we still have like 4 months until we hit 2022 and I am still reading books. I switched the bookcases in this one from last year and I really like this style. I kept the ‘God Bless this Hot Mess’ sign because that is me as a person and I need that on at least one page in my Bullet Journal. I now regret making the M as large as I did because I needed more space for books this year and I don’t have the space now, oops. I have had to add books to this page since the beginning of the year because I decided to do Book of The Month and that means I needed more space. I also read books with my sixth graders last spring so I put them in a well, I probably shouldn’t have because I do not have a lot of room, but it’s okay. 

I like reading and seeing a filling book case in my Bullet Journal is really cool. This is one of my favorite pages to do every year because it’s progressive. I go back to it all the time when I finish another book and I love that feeling. I am so excited to do my Book Bullet Journal in the new year. 

Alright, there is post number two in the BuJo comparison posts, I will be back next month with the third installment.

I will be back later in the week with another post, so until then, I hope that everyone is safe, happy, and healthy!

-MJ

Books I’ve Read in 2021 Part #4

Hey hey, it’s MJ, 

         So here was are in the last days of August or the early days of September. I am starting this at the beginning of July and I am hoping that by the time that this is posted I have read like a lot. I have over half of the books I want to read this year still currently sitting on a shelf. I am so hoping by the time that this goes up on the blog that I have made a significant dent in that list. 

         This year is for sure overall different from my book habits of years of the past, I actually have a To Be Read pile, I usually just read what I want. That’s why last year I read 20 cozy mysteries. I have well over 100 books in my collection that I have had forever and not read, so for now those are going to take precedence. That will also be true for next year and the year after as I have already picked the books I plan on reading, at least some part of them. 

         Well here I am with the fourth of six of these posts this year and hoping that there is like a dozen books on this list because I need to read more. If you want to know what else I have read this year you can click on the number and it’ll take you to that post: Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.

Soulless by Gail Carriger      

I have had this book in my collection since late 2014 and so it’s moved with me a few times and I have another book by the same author that really sparked my interest in reading her work. Soulless was very funny and by now everyone should know how much I love Victorian England. This was much more my taste in 2014-2015 with supernatural creatures and all of that. I liked a lot of the characters, but I don’t know if I will read the rest of the series because there were some parts that were a little much for my sensibilities. I don’t read romance any more, I used to, but not so much now. There are some characters in this book that had me rolling with laughter while there were some parts where I just skipped or skimmed. That is really just my personal taste in books though, it was cute and a fun story to read with an interesting mystery element. That all being said I don’t know if I will continue to read the series, I know I said that already but I feel it needs to be said again. I love an outspoken main female lead especially when it’s written in this time period, but for me if you want a strong female lead in this time period without the more adult content I really would suggest the Stalking Jack the Ripper series. 

Everyone Brave is Forgiven by Chris Cleave

         I liked the book, World War 2 era Britain, very interesting. I will say this, I did not like the n word used so much, I know that it was common place at that time and historically accurate, but not super great to the modern ear. I liked the book otherwise. I love a good love story that is touching and can be tear filled when necessary. Love is war and war is hell. I had a number of family members serve in World War 2, my paternal grandfather was a gunner on the USS Pensacola, and according to him when he was alive, he was the only one on his gun that survived. My paternal great uncle, my grandfather’s brother, my Uncle Jack, was a Marine and lived the rest of his life with a drinking problem. My maternal grandfather was an army doctor on the front lines in France, he never talked about the war. My maternal great uncle, my other Uncle Jack, was in a field hospital in London, also a doctor. I can’t imagine what World War 2 was like, I have only seen it through the lens of history in both fictional and non-fictional accounts. This book was good, it mixed characters and struggle, and hardship, but also love and commitment. It was good. 

The Complete Sherlock Holmes Volume 1 by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

         This took me like a month to read, it was so much. I love Sherlock Holmes, I have read a number of books that use this character, I have watched movies and TV shows and I love the character. This book was so long though, I found myself skimming it and I never skim books. I wish that it was split a little differently but that’s what I get for buying the Barnes and Noble versions in 2012. If it was split out a little more I think I would have enjoyed it much more than I did. 

Dream London by Tony Ballantyne

         It was weird, it was good, and interesting. I feel like I don’t really have words to describe this book. It took me some time to get into and then I read like 300 pages in a day. I am not used to reading books from a male point of view, usually the narrator or main character is female. I have had this book in my collection since I was in college, the first time. (I have two bachelors and a masters, so I have been through a lot of schooling.) It was good when I got into it, and I loved how the chapters were titled. (you will just have to see for yourself if you want to) I love the idea of something starting to change the city that you are living in, the theme kind of reminded me Annihilation, which I read about this time last year. When I say this, I mean in regard for something happening to a place that was normal before and no one is sure why. It’s vivid and a little confusing, but the story is meant to be confusing and rushed. There is a lot of swearing so if you are sensitive to that, this may not be the book for you. I’ve been watching Loki and for some reason Angel Tower and that whole concept reminded me of the show, again, I don’t know why, but it did. 

A Study in Darkness by Emma Jane Holloway

         This is the second book in the trilogy and I read the first one in January of 2016, I remember enjoying it, but I don’t remember much about the story. Which was a problem as I read this one, I really did enjoy it though. It puts a twist on Jack the Ripper for sure and I have now read what feels like a half dozen books this year where Jack the Ripper is a figure. It’s very strange to have that much contact in different novels with one true crime character. Though I have read a lot of Victorian era fiction this year, so I should not be surprised. I read this book in 4 days I think, it was just really good if you like steam punk and Sherlock Holmes. I plan on reading the third and final novel in the series next year as one of my free choice books because I have had the series for at least 5 years now and I actually need to get things read that I have in my current collection. 

The Marlowe Papers by Ros Barber

         I liked the subject matter and the content of the book, however, I didn’t like how it was written. It was written in verse and while I thought that would be cool, I feel like I absorbed almost nothing. It made it a very quick read because I read this book after finishing A Study in Darkness. I love the conspiracy theory that Shakespeare wasn’t a real person, that it was someone else who wrote all of his plays under a pen name, it’s fascinating. It was an interesting read, but the form of the book itself and how it was written in verse made it difficult for me to read. I like a novel, I love a good book of poetry, but I am not a huge fan of a book written in the form of many poems. It’s just not for me, it might be for you and that’s super cool. I read the back and thought how cool it sounded, I didn’t look into the book before buying it at least a few years ago, I also missed two critical words in the synopsis on the back, in verse. This would be a really good audio book, I don’t listen to audio books, but this, like a play should probably be read to you; you should listen to it. I now want to do more research on Christopher Marlowe because I know very little about him and this book did give me some understanding, but also confusion because I didn’t absorb much of what I was reading.  

A Confederate Yankee in King Arthur’s Court by Mark Twain

         This one also took me almost a month to read and I feel like I didn’t gain much from reading this book. I know that I should like the classics, but they are a little hard to read with a modern ear. Sometimes it’s books like this that also need to be read aloud and listened to. I love Arthurian legends, who doesn’t? It was an interesting premise, bringing someone from the 19th century into the sixth and allowing modern (well modern at the time of writing the novel) technology to be implemented. It would be like going back to the time of the American Revolution and bringing cell phones and Wi-Fi, you would probably be burned as a witch. I did skim some of it because I was finding myself bored, I don’t like to be bored when I am reading a book and I was reading two at a time this month trying to make up for the fact that I have not read enough books so far this year. We all had to read something by Mark Twain in high school, where I went we read Tom Sawyer, I SparkNoted it and 11 years removed from high school, I can say that with no shame. Mark Twain, while a cherished American writer, is a little dry for me. 

Escaping From Houdini by Kerri Maniscalco 

         I did not think that I would be reopening this document for the fourth time this week and the second time today, but here I am. I could not put this one down, I really couldn’t. I love this series, it’s now one of my favorite series and I only have one more book left in it and I’m salty about that. It was so good, it reminded me of The Night Circus which is my favorite book. I love circus and carnival stuff themed around this era of Victorian England. I love Aubrey and Thomas and this novel got a little interesting with the added intrigue of the ringmaster, if you want to find out his name read the book, I promise it’s worth it. I read it in three days and I do not regret it, though I do because that means I’m ¾ of the way done with the series and that I am not okay with. I didn’t pick the killer, I never do in her books and it sets up the next one so well with a certain turn of the century serial killer. I am so excited to read the next one, though that will probably be in November or December because I have a number of books stacked up in front of it. I love the Tarot cards that are illustrated at the end of the novel and I cannot get over how detailed and vivid imagery that Kerri Maniscalco has in her novels. To me it doesn’t really read YA, it just has young characters. 

Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick

         I like funny books by funny people, that should shock no one anymore. I think Anna Kendrick is hilarious and I have for years. I was a teenager when Twilight came out and I was at the proper age for Twilight-mania, I didn’t read the last book. I was in college when Pitch Perfect came out and a bunch of my sorority sisters all went to Buffalo Wild Wings (as you do in a sorority in college) and went to go see it together. I have very fond memories of that evening. I loved this book, I laughed out loud, alone in my apartment a lot throughout reading it. This book came out in 2016 so a lot has happened since then, but these books are almost a time capsule to a time before today, before all of the things that have happened since 2016. It was funny, it was touching, and it got a little weird, but I would expect nothing less. It was good, give it a try if you want to, I don’t think that you’ll be disappointed. 

The Dalek Generation by Nicholas Briggs

         About once a year I read a Doctor Who book, I really enjoyed the series for a long time. I don’t get BBC America at the moment so I haven’t watched since Peter Capaldi left, but there was a time when I bought a lot of Doctor Whonovelizations. This was one of them. I don’t really have much to say about it, I enjoyed it and 11 was my favorite Doctor so it was cool. It was also interesting to see the tables turned with the Doctor’s oldest foes. It was good, it was a quick read, and I don’t even know if you could get this book if you wanted it, but if you like Doctor Who, it’s worth a read. 

Teach Like Your Hair’s on Fire by Rafe Esquith

         This book was in a box of books that I got from a teacher that I worked with, she was retiring and we went through all the books in her office. She spent the last several years of her career as a literacy coach (and my across the street neighbor) in the school where I was an instructional assistant while I was getting my Masters in Education. I found this book in one of those boxes, it had been in a box for years. This year has been difficult with teaching, I lost out on a job that I really wanted because of circumstances beyond my control. But it was something that I really wanted. Reading this book helped restore my faith in things, even just for a moment. I couldn’t put it down because I needed to read about someone that has been in this profession and has seen so much. I worked in a high poverty, high gang activity, and high risk district when I still lived in Indiana. That district taught me a lot and prepared me for pretty much anything a classroom can throw at me. Even though this book came out in 2007 most of the advice is still relevant and I don’t know whether I should laugh or cry about that. It feels like we haven’t gone anywhere in education in over a decade and the kids are the ones who are suffering. You cannot go into sixth grade with a first grade reading level, but it still happens. It’s broken and no one seems to know how or wants to fix it, everyone wants the Band-Aid, blaming the teachers, blaming the funding, blaming the curriculum, and blaming everything else. The kids are suffering and they shouldn’t be. 

Half Sick of Shadows by Laura Sebastian:

         I wrote an entire post about this that came out a few weeks ago and I will say it again here, the book was phenomenal. I cannot describe how much I loved it. I love fantasy and historical fantasy is always cool. If you want to stay spoiler free don’t go and read the post, it’s full of spoilers. I will leave you here with the first line and a warning, “I will die drowning; it has always been known.” It does talk about some sensitive topics, like mental health and suicide, so if you are sensitive to those walk into it with that knowledge. As someone who deals with their own mental health issues on the daily I still loved it, those issues were handled well, and it was so good. 

Not A Happy Family by Shari Lepena 

         Like Half Sick of Shadows there is going to be a dedicated post on this book as well, it’ll be out in a few days. It’s a good murder mystery that kept me guessing the entire book. I had no idea who had actually done it until it was revealed at the very end. This book like the last one I read shifts perspectives a lot and it made the tension in this book palpable. The characters were convincing and even though I have never seen Knives Out it gave me Knives Out vibes, it was something about the trailer that made me think of it when I was reading this book. 

The Loveliest Chocolate Shop in Paris by Jenny Colgan

         It took me awhile to get into it and then I read like 200 pages in a day. It’s a cute story, it’s heartwarming. It was also sad. I can’t describe it any other way, I enjoyed it. I was left a little confused by the epilogue, but sometimes that happens because the end came on so fast and it felt like there were still loose ends. I don’t mind loose ends, it leaves interpretation to the reader and leaves you to draw your own conclusions. I have heard Paris is a beautiful place, I cannot speak French, I regret not taking it in high school. The book mentioned Notre Dame a lot and it was published a number of years before the fire but that is one place that I always wanted to see. That and all of the art museums, I just love old historic cities. It was good, it was cozy, and it was a quick read once I got into it. I read from chapter 10 to the end of the book in one afternoon. I hadn’t meant to, but I got sucked into it and that meant that I read most of the book. Oops. 

Live and Let Chai by Bree Baker

         It’s a cozy! I love cozies and that should shock no one, I have written a lot of blurbs on cozies. I even wrote a cozy suggestion post last year. I really liked this one. The last name Swan will always remind me of Once Upon a Time which I loved when I was in college so that was fun. It was a really quick read, I started it in the morning and finished it in the evening with lots of breaks in between because I had other things I had to do. I was not going to read it in one day, I did though. It’s about an iced tea shop in a fun little beach town and it had me guessing on who done it until about the last five or six chapters, I did figure it out before the end of the book. For a cozy, that is odd for me, but I figured this one out. I would recommend it if you like a good little cozy mystery and I plan on going to buy the rest of the series or at least the next few this week so I can read them soon. (Because after I am done with my year TBR, I can read whatever I want and it’s all going to be cozies, prepare yourselves.)

The Last Days of Night by Graham Moore

         I love historical fiction, that is not a secret. This one has been in my collection for quite a long time. I wasn’t sure what I was expecting when I got this book, it’s about the war over the light bulb between Edison and Westinghouse, with Tesla thrown in as well. It’s focused on Westinghouse’s lawyer, it’s really interesting. I feel like normally this wouldn’t be a book that I would pick up, but it was so cool. I learned a lot and I now want to read the non-fiction accounts that are talked about at the end of the book. It took me almost a week to read just because it was the first week back to school and I have not had a lot of time to read this week. I loved it, I wasn’t sure how I felt about it when I read the synopsis in the front, I don’t know what possessed me to pick up this book from the book annex at Barnes and Noble when they used to actually have books in the Annex. (Now it’s coffee table books, cook books, and a small section of regular books and it makes me sad.) If you like inventions and law then this one is for you. There was a brief moment in my life that I thought I would go into law, (entertainment) it was a very brief moment, but I find law fascinating. 

A Grave Matter (Lady Darby Mystery #3) by Anna Lee Huber

         This is the third in the series and it just keeps getting better. Everyone should know by now that I love a book with a good relationship. Strong, stubborn, and independent woman and the man who just has to deal with her and her ridiculous behavior. Maybe that’s just the relationship that I am looking for because I am a ridiculous person. I love a good mystery and this is a really good one even as someone who normally doesn’t read realistic fiction that takes place before about the Victorian era, this takes place in the 1830’s. Like I said though, I love this series. I have been reading it since like 2017 or so and I am only on the third book because I am so bad about reading the books I already own. The grave robber aspect of this one was really interesting and the twists and turns of who did it and the reactions and revelations that took place throughout the novel itself. Keira is an amazing protagonist and her and Gage are really cute. I am reading the next one next year for sure, it’s already on my list and I need to finish all of the ones that I own because with the promises made in this one I cannot wait to see where it goes. 

         So I read a lot more than I thought I was going to, just under 20 books in two months and that is so insane to me. I wasn’t planning on having a post this long because I wasn’t planning on reading this much in two months and then I did. So here we are, I hope that you liked the post because it is so much longer than I expected it to be. 

         I still have a chunk of books to read and every time I look at the books shifting on my shelf it makes me feel better that I am getting closer and closer to my goal. I have already decided that if I hit my goal before the end of the year I am just going to read cozy mysteries and I am totally cool with that. I kind of miss them ,but I am also getting a chance to read such a variety of books that I have been sitting on my shelves for years just collecting dust. 

         Eventually when I move into a house a plan on being able to unbox all of my books and have a library of my own because that really is the dream. A library all my own because I can’t live in an actual library or a book store even though that would be really cool. 

         Well that’s my book list until my next book post, which by the time this comes out I might already be ready to start the next one. I hope that everyone has a great rest of the week and I will see everyone on Sunday with a new post. 

         So until then I hope that everyone stays safe, happy, and heathy. 

         -MJ

Let’s keep track shall we?:

Classics:  6/10 (Alice in WonderlandTuck EverlastingThe Secret Garden, Dracula, The Complete Sherlock Holmes Volume 1, A Confederate Yankee in King Arthur’s Court,)

Historical Fiction:  4/5 (The Last Days of NightThe Marlowe Papers, Everyone Brave is Forgiven, West of Sunset)

Sci-Fi/Fantasy:  4/5 (Dream LondonSoulless, The Starless Sea, Good Omens)

General Fiction:  4/5 (The Loveliest Chocolate Shop in Paris, Me Before You, All is Fair in Love and Cupcakes, Bridget Jones’s Diary)

Memoirs/Autobiographies: 2/2 (Yes, Please and Scrappy Little Nobody)

Non-Fiction:  1/1 (Teach Like Your Hair’s on Fire)

Thrillers: 1/2 (I, Ripper

Free Choice:  12/15 (Eaves of Destruction, A Wrench in the WorksShot Through the Hearth, Stalking Jack the Ripper, Premeditated Mortar, Hunting Prince Dracula, Death in Bloom, A Study in Darkness. Escaping from Houdini, The Dalek Generation, Live and Let Chai, A Grave Matter)

Book of the Month (late addition): 2/6 (Half Sick of Shadows, Not A Happy Family)

What was in My August 2021 IPSY Glam Bag?

Hey hey, it’s MJ,

            Busy week for me but I am writing this ahead of time because I wasn’t really sure when this package was going to show up. The USPS is great most of the time but when your packages travel through more than one delivery service things can get a little dicey and that always worries me. Also what worried me about this package was the fact that the guy delivering the mail to my apartment complex yesterday left all of the boxes open and left for a while. I don’t think that’s safe.

            But beyond that, I know I should not start a sentence with but, but here we are. Y’all I write for fun and I am a straight up teacher, I am a licensed educator and sometimes my grammar is a hot mess. I blame texting, I also blame social media for the loss of the ability to write properly, but here I am butchering the English language anyway, for fun. 

            That was not what this post was about, that I can promise you. I really cam promise that because the title of this has no bearing on my destruction of written English, whoops me bad. This post is about my Glam Bag this month, and it’s a pretty good one. This post is probably not going to be super long because I am having an allergy reaction in my right eye at the moment so I feel like I am being stabbed. It happened last August too and it’s just super weird. 

The Bag:

            I love a good little fold over moment and it’s alligator print is super cute. I like that it’s tan with that bright green interior like the GB+ this month, I like a contract when it comes to inner and outer colors. The snap on mine is a little stiff, but I think part of that was because the material on the outside got so hot that it just wasn’t stiff enough to manage having it open and close properly. Now that it’s sitting in my apartment hopefully opening and closing it will be a lot easier now. 

The Products: 

111Skin Nocturnal Eclipse Recovery Cream: 

            111Skin is one of those brands that I get super excited about because I love them and they are so expensive I can feel my debit card quaking in my wallet. Like a full size of this one is $280 and that is just insane. Their products are really good though, but way too much for me to spend money on unless I get them in a box. I need a good night cream and I am hoping not to fall in love with this one because then I will have to purchase it and I just can’t do that. 

FARAH Concealer Brush 10 F Rose Gold:

            Who doesn’t love a brush, however I don’t think I have actually ever used a brush for concealer. I use the applicator from the concealer container and then a beauty sponge. Most of the time when I get a concealer brush it ends up being that I use it for eyeshadow because most of the time, a brush is a brush. The brush itself is soft and I love a good soft brush.

Feel Beauty Daily Hemp Oil Facial Cleanser:

            I actually just ran out of travel sized facial cleansers so that’s fortunate that I got one in this bag. According to the highlight ingredients it has anti-inflammatory properties and that is always exciting to see. Most cleansers I have gotten from IPSY don’t seem to effect my skin so I hoping that his product continues that trend. 

Marc Anthony Super Fast Strength Leave-In Conditioner: 

            I picked this one, I don’t do a lot with my hair. I wash it and condition it, sometimes I use a leave in conditioner as well and I figured why not give this one a try as well. I love a good leave in conditioner because then I can get an extra layer of protection on my hair from everything else I put it through. By that I mean throwing it up in a bun and rolling with it because while I know I shouldn’t sleep with my hair up in a bun, I do it every night. 

PÜR On Point Mascara with Hemp:

            Lots of hemp products this month which is interesting. I like hemp products, usually they are super moisturizing and I really like them. This is one of those mascaras that claim that it can do a whole bunch of things and I am hoping that it lives up to the hype. Pür mascaras are either really great or not so great and there is no in between. I am just hoping that this is one of the really good ones. I use so many different mascaras that at this point I can barely remember their brands anymore. I still love a good mascara though.

            So that’s my Glam Bag this month. It might get posted for tomorrow or it might get posted next week, I don’t know yet, I really don’t know at this exact moment. I know that I should know my schedule but this package came earlier than expected and that means now I have a few posts finished and ready to post. 

If you want to check out what else I’ve gotten this year in my Glam Bags, you can! January, February, March, April, May, June, and July.

            So whenever this post comes out I hope that everyone has a good few days until the next one, I hope that everyone stays safe, happy, and healthy and I will be back with another post soon. 

            -MJ 

Writing Binders

Hey hey, it’s MJ,

            I have been writing long form fiction for about a decade now and that is crazy for me to think about. I have 13 almost 14 finished projects, (it hopefully will be 14 within the month) a few current projects, and like 15 future projects. My brain is full of ideas and it never stops. I cannot write fast enough to keep up with the ideas in my brain…ever and that’s hard. 

            This is going to be a long post so if you are planning on reading the whole thing go get a coffee or a tea and a snack. Buckle in. 

            I have used so many methods of actually keeping all of my stuff organized. I have tried notebooks, outlined on sticky notes, just hung current projects on a cork board, and finally binders came into my life because they keep everything organized. 

            Now I have two kinds of binders, specific story binders with the deep dive information that I think I might need, (I do a lot of research online so the binders are pretty empty) but having a binder keeps things as organized as I can while I am working on a project. My other kind of binder is my general projects binder that is a snapshot of everything I have finished, am currently working on, and have already figured out for the future. 

            I don’t share my writing because I fear people stealing my work, I know I need to share it to get feedback for publishing, but I am still scared to. I have sent things to people in the past and they have “skimmed” my work, I want you to read it to give me feedback, I don’t want you to skim it, skimming it doesn’t help me. 

            Let’s go over what a normal story based binder looks like. I will not be showing my outlines because these projects, until they are ready to hit a bookstore are still my babies, they all take pieces of me and I don’t want anything to happen to them.

            Here’s the thing about the story binders, I have been using my general binders a lot more lately because I have been working on different projects that aren’t actually in the binders. The last book I wrote where the binder was super helpful was one I finished at the end of last year that I started writing in 2017. Inspiration struck last fall and wrote like a bunch in two months and finished it. 

            The binder I am using in this example is a series, there are going to be seven books in it that comprise four separate groups that overlap in each of their own books. Started out as one group with a planned three books, then I got an idea for something else which has two, and the other two groups only have one and all four stories culminate and end at the same event so that’s fun. It’s ambitious for me, this was my first “series”, I normally am a stand-alone person but roll with me.

            Most of my binders are set up the same way. Five tab dividers are my best friends! 

            Characters: This is where I have a major characters sheet, sometimes I do a deep dive and have full character sheets that I constantly ignore throughout the process of writing the book. I know a lot about my characters, they all live in my brain, but I want them to form organically even for me. 

            Outlines: I have done outlines so different over the years, stick notes, notebook, and finally a types “idea sheet” I don’t really outline. My first book was outlined by chapter, now I don’t chapter until I am done writing it because I don’t want to put myself in a box. I call them “idea sheets” now because I don’t want to see the outline as set in stone. I have put things in outlines and then completely scrapped them over the years and that’s okay. Find something when you are writing that works for you. I type everything so I have a digital copy and a hard copy because that’s what works for my brain. (You don’t want to know how many folders I have to go into to find anything on my laptop, but everything is incredibly organized!)

            World Info: This is more for anything that I am writing that isn’t realistic fiction, in the book I finished last winter this was where I had the town square, the items for sale in the shop that my main character’s family owned, and several other pieces of world info that I needed because I made up the town. I also have used world building sheets from E.A. Deverell to help me plan things out and have an idea or an expansion on my ideas.

            Misc Research: It is exactly what it sounds like, any research that I do that I want to be able to reference as I am writing the book, things that I will need repetitively as I work. This section is underutilized in my work and I know that because I will Google something and then have to Google it again because I didn’t write it down. I also use the comments feature in Word because then I have a record of questions that I have for myself as I go and can reference later. 

            Visual Ideas: Character mood boards, character sketches, misc. world sketches, house layouts, anything that I will visually need to reference while I am working. For one of my series I have a map that is a 500 miles radius from Nashville, and that is a visual idea I need for that series. 

            Now we move on to the general binders. They are set up similarly to the story binders but the content is easier to carry around. I have three one inch binders that make up most of my canon of work in short form. I started out with one, my Current projects binder, I then created the future projects binder when my ideas started to grow and grow for future projects, and finally very recently I created the past projects binder for use when I am doing revisions. The tabs in all binders are different so we will go through each. I will start with the Past Projects binder.

            Past Projects: All of the binders I have decorated like I am back in high school and I am still using one of those ugly day planners that the school gave us that I covered every year because I didn’t like them. At the front of each of these binders there is random information and stuff, in this one it’s my chapter break down for revisions and also my original word total and my current draft word total.

can you tell I’ve been revising?

            I did co-op these tabs from another story binder because I cannot find cute tabs anywhere right now, when I do the other binder will get it’s tabs back and I will have more appropriate tabs for past projects. So what’s in here at the moment?

            Not much, this is still a work in progress binder, until a few days ago it only had the revision stuff in it and then I printed a bunch of character sheets and outlines. I know I want to have more stuff in here, I’m just not sure what because these are all finished projects. That probably should have been the title but I liked Past, Current, and Future Projects when referring to them. This binder is where I have come from with my writing and I think I’ve come pretty far since I started. 

            Current projects: This is everything that I am actively working on, I mean some of the things in my Future Binder I am currently toying with but these are projects that I am already in and have been writing for some time. This one is much more fleshed out than my Past Projects Binder, it’s decorated as well because I am one of those people. If I need to take a binder with me, it’s this one because it’s what I’m in the process of finishing. 

            Birthdays: Yes I have a calendar that is all of my characters birthday’s, are they super important for the story? Not really, but I still like to know them in case I have to go back and write something in something that I am revising. 

            Extra Layouts: I have moved this over to my Future Projects binder so I need to have something else to put here, it’ll probably just be layouts that are in current novels I am working on. 

            Outlines: Self-explanatory I think, it’s the outlines and idea sheets for everything I am currently working on. That’s one reason why this binder is important, it has all the information I need in a slim binder as I hop between projects, which I do a lot. I always have 4-6 works in progress at any time. At the moment I think I have six or seven, maybe more that I am kind of actively working on. I am trying to get one draft finished that I started in 2019 and just want to get it done because I have another draft that I started in like 2017 and I am still working on that one. I am excited for it and I know exactly where it’s going but I am in a slump on that one. Now that fall is upon us I am hoping to get back into it. 

            Characters: Also self-explanatory, it’s all the major characters for my current active projects. I have more in here than actual current projects because some stuff has been left in here for future projects that are in a series. Those are kind of in limbo projects, they don’t really have a good home so some are in the future projects some are in current projects. 

            There is no fifth tab in this one, it’s empty, I should probably have visuals here because I might move away from the “story binders” here eventually, but who knows. 

            Future Projects: Last binder I promise. This one I came up with when I had a bunch of projects in my Current Projects binder that didn’t need to be there. I am always coming up with new ideas for fictional works and it’s a little annoying. Early in my writing I feared running out of ideas and now I have 15 future projects some I haven’t even started yet and that’s insane to me. The dream is to write full time, but that’s just a dream at the moment. This is my most full binder of all three and that’s a good thing and a terrible thing at the same time.

            Misc Info: This is where I keep a list of all my future projects, if I have even started them, if they are sequels or a series, if I have not started them at all, or if I am not sure if that project is viable at the moment. They may become viable in the future but they are up in the air for the moment. 

            Layouts: I moved my extra layouts here, I love house plans and I have so many saved on my computer from the internet because I use them as inspiration for characters apartments and homes. It gives me a visual so I don’t say that a house has two bedrooms on the first floor and then later in the book say it’s three. 

            Outlines: I have idea sheets for all of my future projects except for the one that I came up with this morning. Yes, that’s right I had a dream that built on an idea that I was already rolling around in my brain and now it’ll eventually be on the list. A writer really is just a bunch of worlds shoved into a person suit, my brain is a creative, but really loud place. 

            Characters: I love my character lists and we can leave it there, this is a common tab in all of my binders, I don’t need to explain it again.

            Visuals: There isn’t anything in this one, I need to put things in it and eventually I will have to upgrade this binder to a larger one because there is almost too much paper in it now. 

            Anything I write with someone else is all stored in a Google doc because it’s collaborative, I have several of those, but those aren’t for sharing. 

            So there it is, this is a super long post so if you made it this far, kudos and thank you. I appreciate any views of this because writing is deeply personal for me. I know there are a lot of writers out there and I read so much that I know how amazing putting words to paper and having something come out of it is. 

            I have other projects that will never see the light of day, that I will never finish and I am okay with that. I hate unfinished things but some of them were written or starting to be written at different points of my life and I cannot finish those stories as the person that I am currently. Maybe down the road those works will open themselves back up to who I am then. I like being a storyteller, I have always liked telling stories and I hope that never changes.

            I will be back later in the week with a new post, I actually don’t know when this post is going to come out it’s either the end of August or the beginning of September because I am waiting for my August Glam Bag so this was a late addition to my docket and I am glad that I wrote it. 

            So until I see everyone again I hope that every stays happy, healthy, and safe!

            -MJ  

July Book of The Month Review:

Book: Half Sick of Shadows

Author: Laura Sebastian

Hey hey, it’s MJ,

         I have been thinking about doing book reviews passed my little blurbs that I write when I read a book normally. If this isn’t your scene, that’s totally cool. Also if you are planning on reading this book and you don’t want spoilers, scroll away.

         I decided that this year I have not actually purchased enough books and I have been thinking about doing Book of The Month for a few years now. I love the idea of getting a new book every month. I didn’t choose a July book, I chose one of the June books (Half Sick of Shadows by Laura Sebastian) because this book came across my Facebook feed in an ad and I loved the cover. I also really love the Arthurian legends so here we are. 

         I gave this book a 4.5/5, which is a very high score for me. I loved the bad ass ladies in this book. We all grew up with stories of King Arthur, Guinevere, Lancelot, Morgana, and the Knights of the Round Table. We all grew up on it whether it was on TV with shows like Merlin, movies like Sword in The Stone, or books like The Once and Future King. I was exposed to all of these forms of the Arthurian legend and they stick with you. Knights, swordfights, magic, and destiny. Destiny and fate are very large themes in this book. You cannot escape your fate and destiny. 

         Elaine is a Seer, I think that would be an amazing but terrible power, to see all the possibilities of the future. I would like to know the future some days, but knowing that, knowing what would or could happen to the people you care about. That would kill me. I love the character though, she’s amazing and a powerful force that sits just behind Arthur. 

         Most stories tell you that Merlin is at his hand and has been since he was a child, in this Merlin is kind of sketchy. 

         I want to visit Avalon, I want to see it, the island beyond the mist. The one where the Fey live, I think it would be cool. You know that all of the people around Arthur are young, but I think even I forgot how young they were. We think of kings as middle aged or the most part, at least I do. You can disagree with me and that’s fine, but they are all young and they have so much on their shoulders. 

         There is for sure a trigger warning in this book and that is drowning and suicide, I really don’t see it as that in this case, it’s an escape a way to change things. If you read it you’ll see, it’s done beautifully. 

         The first line of the book hooked me, “I will die drowning; it has always been known.” That is such a powerful first line and I aspire in my writing to have that kind of first line! 

         It’s tragic, it’s heartfelt, it’s obligation and duty, it’s magic and manipulation, and it’s woven together beautifully. This book blends the past, present, and potential futures together without incident and with such care that nothing feels out of place. I want more. I know that the book has ended, but it left me wanting more. I love a good happy ending and this one doesn’t have a happy ending, it has an ending that leaves threads loose. There is nothing wrong with that, I loved it, but let left me wanting more. It did end a lot different than I expected it to, but it was a fitting end. I suppose the challenge to an author is to allow people to think one thing was going to happen and then throw all of your expectations out a window. I am totally cool with throwing all of my expectations out of the window when it comes to a book that I really enjoy. 

         The writing was beautiful and descriptive, I could picture places and almost hear what was going on on the page. I can lose myself in a book like that, I have a very vivid imagination. 

         I would recommend this to anyone who likes fantasy, Arthurian legends, badass strong female leads, and learning that sometimes fate and destiny, while binding, are not the end all be all. 

         I will be back later in the week with another post so I hope until then everyone has a great start to the week. Stay safe, happy, and healthy out there. 

         -MJ 

August 2021 Glam Bag Plus Unboxing

Hey hey, it’s MJ,

         Look at us, already most of the way through August, that’s insane. Here we are again with another Glam Bag Plus post and I really am liking this one. 

         I don’t really have much to lead up to this post to be completely honest. Usually I have so much to say before I get to the post itself, but this is a monthly post and not much has changed since my last post, which if I remember correctly is about candles. 

         That’s right I now have more than one post about candles. 

The Bag:

         It’s a green alligator silk screen print and I really like the color. The drawstring bags are really growing on me and they have been doing the drawstring bags for almost a year now and I am always interested to see what the bag will actually look like. 

Products:

Skin & Lab E Plus Moisturizing Cream:

         This one was chosen for me. I like moisturizers, I use a moisturizer most days. Some days I don’t because it bothers my eyes. Some days it doesn’t, but some days it does in combination with the other products I am using. This one has Vitamin E in it and Vitamin E is so good for your skin, it also has mango seed butter. It’s K Beauty and in the last couple of years I have seen that K beauty tends to be a lot better for my skin, personally, than other brands. I am really looking forward to using this one. 

Tarte Lights, Camera, Lashes 4-in-1 Mascara:

         This mascara has been around forever! I have had samples of this before, but never a full sized. I love Tarte mascara’s and just Tarte in general. The packaging on this one reminds me of high school because I think this one came out for the first time when I was in high school or college so it gives me really early 2010 vibes. It’s a really good mascara though and I am excited to use this one as well. 

Murad Sensitive Skin Smoothing Serum:

         I love Murad, that is not a secret and Murad is one of those brands that I don’t buy for myself because it’s expensive. There are a few things that I don’t spend full prince on and skin care, now that I get the GB+, is one of those things. It’s a glass bottle! I for sure have dropped it on my desk twice now by accident. It’s also from their sensitive skin line and I have found that that line is amazing for my skin concerns. It has chamomile in it, which sometimes my skin doesn’t like but we are going to give it a try.

Araceli Beauty Bella sponge Trio in Black, Grey, & Pink:

         Who doesn’t need a bunch of makeup sponges? I love beauty sponge and since you have to get rid of them every few months having extras is always a good idea. I love the colors and the packaging. I want to call them beauty blenders so much even though that it a brand name. I have only used beauty sponges to put my makeup on for like two years now which before then I never used them because I didn’t like them. I tried them again when I moved down here and I haven’t looked back. I always have several in the wings so I don’t run out of them in case one of them starts to go. 

Neogen Dermatology All Day Locking Fixer:

         I have lots of setting spray now and I am not mad about it because I always run out or get real close to running out and then I have to guess at what I would like when I get another one. I have used Neogen before in face wash and I really liked it so I am hopeful for this one. I really like the packaging because it’s just minimalist and a little futuristic in a way. I will use it when I am done with the other few that I have in my bathroom. This is another product made in Korea and again with K Beauty, I have never been disappointed. 

         Alright there we go, another month in the books for my GB+. I liked all of the products that I received this month. I chose the Neogen setting spray, Araceli beauty sponges, and the Murad serum. I am happy with my choices. 

         If you want to see what else I’ve gotten in my GB+’s this year, you can, just click on the month: January, February, March, April, May, June, and July

         I will see everyone later in the week with another post, so until then make sure to stay safe, healthy, and happy! 

         -MJ 

Non-Holiday Candle Round Up

Hey hey, it’s MJ,

         So I have an obsession with candles, I have two other posts like this, from fall and winter of last year. I feel like I have certain scents that I like and it was very clear that my scent notes for fall are: Cinnamon, Pumpkin, and Caramel. In winter they are: Vanilla, Pine, and Peppermint. There are others, but those are the predominant scents throughout the more holiday or seasonally based candles that I don’t have out year round.

         It’s also against my lease to burn candles so I just have them everywhere in my apartment. There are a few that I don’t have in this post because they don’t have labels and I cannot remember where I got them or what their scent notes actually are. 

         I have been meaning to write this post since like May and then things got in the way, oops. So here we are about two weeks before I switch out to my fall candles because September 1st is the start of fall for me even though it will still be in like the 80s throughout the month. I would like some fall weather, but usually in Northwest Arkansas it doesn’t become fall until like mid-October. 

         So candles! 

         Y’all are going to see some repeated scents and by the end you will probably know which scents are my favorites. 

         Eucalyptus Spa: I got this one on sale at At Home and I really like the smell and the jar is super cute as well. I feel like I need to say in every section that I can’t burn these, one day, but that day is not today.

         Positive Vibes: This is the last candle I bought, I got it at HomeGoods and it was either this one or one that smelled like doughnuts, and I should have gotten both. This one smells like lavender and coconut. I will probably use this more as décor anyway. 

         Cactus Blossom: This is one of my favorite scents in my apartment and it’s from Bath & Body Works. I cannot describe what it smells like outside the scent notes themselves, which are lemon, coconut, and cactus flower. It smells like something else though, maybe the Soj De Janiro Bum Bum Cream body wash even though none of the notes are the same except coconut. It just reminds me of shampoo or something and I love it.

         Bergamot Waters: Got it at Bath & Body Works, I get a lot of candles there, at least I used to. Bergamot is one of those scents that is repetitive in my collection and I love it. 

         Eucalyptus Mint: Again Bath & Body Works, I love eucalyptus and that is such a hard word to spell so having to write it more than once is a pain. It’s just a light fresh scent that I love. 

         Paris- French Daydream: Back in the day when B&BW had city candles I got this one and London, I think I have a second London one somewhere but it’s not out in the apartment because I don’t have the room. It’s very lightly scented with freesia and sandalwood and those scents are pretty unique to that candle itself. 

         Bergamot Sea: Another Bergamot candle, that makes two or three now. Bergamot and lavender is pretty much my favorite scent combination and eventually I will find a candle that combines those scents. If anyone knows of one, tell me! 

         Pineapple: I got this one at HomeGoods or T.J. Maxx, I can’t remember which one, it has a pineapple die cut out of the top and I love the scent so much. I got it right after I moved down here and it’s been out in every place I’ve lived since I moved here. 

         Chestnut and Clove: It’s a fall scent, this is the only one that kind of escaped my fall round up last year. To be honest, I forgot about it. Oops.

         Piñon: This was a gift from a family friend, she got it in a fabfitfun box several years ago and I love how it smells. I also love the packaging, I am a sucker for good packaging and eventually I could reuse these jars for something else when I burn the whole candle out. 

         Coconut Island: I bought this one a few weeks ago at Yankee Candle because it was on sale and now it’s a bookend. I for sure use candles as bookends all the time. Another coconut scented candle should shock no one. 

         Beach House: Target, I got it at Target. The scent notes for this one are unknown to me because I can’t find it online. I bought it a long time ago and now it just acts as a holder for a painting for height. I like it and it’s a cute candle, I just wish I knew the scents. 

         Amber & Moss: HomeGoods, if I didn’t buy the candle at B&BW I probably bought it at HomeGoods or T.J. Maxx, this one reminded me of the Piñon candle just for the jar itself and I love the smell. It’s warm and comforting.

         So many candles so little time and that is all of them, or at least most of them in my apartment. I used to burn candles like every day when I lived in my parent’s house, but now that I am in an apartment I don’t want to have to pay the cleaning fee for the soot. One day I will be able to burn them, it’ll happen eventually. 

         I hope that everyone has a great start to the week and I will be back mid-week with another post. I think I already have that written, I think, if not it’ll get done. 

         So until then I hope that everyone stays safe, happy, and healthy.

         -MJ 

Was Getting the Jeffree Star Cosmetics Summer 2021 Mystery Box Worth it?

Hey hey, it’s MJ,

         I have been meaning to write this post for weeks, I got this box like a week after I ordered it. I just haven’t had the motivation to put words to paper for the blog. 

         Sorry that I missed Wednesday. I wrote a post and I was sad and I had to get some feelings out in it, I don’t feel comfortable publishing that. I just don’t, I should be, but here’s the problem. I don’t let people into my problems, especially on a public and semi-anonymous forum on the internet. It’s just not who I am. 

         So back to the post! I promise, this is going to be a fun one.

         I am going to answer the question right off the bat, was the $100 price tag worth it on this product? Yes. Was it worth getting? Yea. 

         I did get a duplicate in this box that I also got in my last box, but that is the risk that you run when you get mystery boxes and I am not upset about the duplicate I got because… well you’ll see. I love the idea of a mystery box, I am still really wanting a mirror, like any mirror from the brand because that is the one thing that I really want and don’t have. Maybe next time. 

So what did I get?

Velour Liquid Lipstick in Calabasas:

         I got a mini one of this same shade in my spring box, I really like the shade though so not mad. I love a good liquid lip and the JS liquid lipsticks never disappoint. I don’t really know what to call the shade besides red, the website calls it brick mauve, okay. It’s a beautiful shade though especially as we start to get into the autumnal months. 

Single Pan Shadows: 

         All of these are from the Blood Sugar palette (which has such cool packaging) and I really like all three shades, they are:… Well give me a second because I forgot to take a picture of the back of them and already put them away. They are: O Positive, Extraction, and Intravenous. They are all nice shades and I am a sucker for eyeshadows so I never find fault in them.

Magnetic Palette:

         To put all the single pan shadows in! And it’s pink! I love a good magnetic palette, all of the ones that I currently have are not clear fronted and so much bigger, this is such a good size to slip into your makeup bag and take it with you. I now have six out of the nine shades that you would fit into here actually in it so I don’t have a bunch of loose single pan shadows. 

Velour Lip Scrub in Pink Grapefruit: 

         I have used another lip scrub from the brand before and love it. I do a lip scrub like once a week, I should do it more often and I love the smell of this one. I am one of those weird people who actually like grapefruit. It’s bitter, I can be very bitter, so it’s fitting. 

Tinted Lip Balm in Blood Stain:

         The name is a little off putting but it’s a really nice red shade. I would say it’s a deep red almost ox blood color but let’s be real I can look at something red and say it’s red. Red is not a color that I use frequently because my complexion has red undertones because of rosacea and that means I have to be careful. I love the shade though and it’s a tinted lip balm so all the fun of a lipstick with the benefits of a balm.

The Gloss in Table Top: 

         Here’s the repeat, I don’t think I need to talk about it again. I am not mad that I got a repeat because the other stuff was super cool.

Star Ranch Eyeshadow Palette:

         The shades in here are breathtaking, I love them and I cannot wait to actually play around with this palette. I think this was launched in the box and that is super cool. I moved from corn fields to seeing cows on my way anywhere in this area so I love seeing livestock in the fields. The idea of a ranch has always been really fascinating to me. I love the names but I always do. This is one of those palette’s that is unique enough that I will be using it as accent colors and loving it every time. Like the color Casper Mtn. is probably my fave because it’s beautiful and so unique. 

Green Crocodile Cross Body:

         This is ridiculous and I love it, I have never gotten a bag in one of these boxes and this one for sure is a cool one to have. It’s just cool. It’s huge too, usually with bags like this they are small, this one is actually a functioning bag, not just a cute little accessory. I don’t really know what else to say about it though besides the fact that I plan on using it at some point in the near future. Who doesn’t need/want a ridiculous bag in their collection that actually functions? 

         Overall it was a cool box to get, did I need to get another one? No, I wanted another one. Sometimes you just need something to make you feel better when things aren’t great in your life. I am really hoping they come out with a Halloween one because I think that would be cool. Super lame, but I would rock a shirt that has the Star and J’s cut out of a pumpkin. I super would. 

         I will be back later in the week with another post, so until then, I hope that everyone has a great start to the week. Stay safe, happy, and healthy! 

         -MJ 

Bullet Journal Comparison #1: Yearly Cover

Hey hey, it’s MJ, 

            This is going to be a series, I plan on having one post like this for the next several months because I need a little bit more to write about and maybe this series can help someone who is embarking on the Bullet Journal trend like I did in 2018. I blame Pinterest for a lot of things in my tactile creative arsenal and Bullet Journaling is one of them. I could link all of my Bullet Journal posts here, but that would be in a word; excessive. I will link a few important ones though, like my updates so far this year, (they are linked near the top of the linked post) my Bullet Journal supplies post, and my 2020 Bullet Journal. (again the links for all of those updates are at the top pf the linked post) 

            I don’t expect these posts to be long and rambling, I just want to talk about how much my creative process for these have changed over the years. 

            I started Bullet Journaling in 2018 because I was moving and I could never find a planner that was exactly what I wanted, Pinterest turned me on to this mythical and magical thing called Bullet Journaling. It was such a concept to me, buy a blank journal and then make it what you wanted, creating hundreds of pages out of thin air and I was up for the challenge. 

            This first post I figured could focus on one page, all of them will focus on a singular page in my journals for the last four years. My methods might be different than other Bullet Journalers, (I don’t know what to call it) but that’s alright we can all have a different method to journaling. That is the intense beauty of a Bullet Journal; it can be whatever you want it to be. 

            I am not a professional, I make mistakes in every journal, no matter how many times I have worked on them, I am working on my 2022 BuJo already and I have already made mistakes even though it is almost a carbon copy to my 2020 and 2021 BuJo in regard to the layout. 

            So my page for this post is the yearly cover. These posts are going to give some spoilers for my favorite pages this year but at the moment, I don’t care; just roll with it. 

            2018: I have no idea what I was doing when I threw this page in, I really didn’t. I remember sitting at my desk when I was still in Indiana and staring at the page hoping that it would just tell me how to make a good cover. I went with Hello in over a dozen languages and just ran with it. It was the not the most creative and at the time I will say, my 2018 Bullet Journal was very much a prototype to see if I could sustain actually doing something like this.

            2019: Who doesn’t love balloons, I wish I would have done more with them. Shading or something to make them look more like balloons and not made a few mistakes in them. It was just as simple as my 2018 yearly cover and this is honestly a page I rarely look at throughout the year, but still, I could have done better with this one. 

2020: After what we all went through in 2020 I never want to hear the phrases ‘2020 vision’, or ‘hindsight is 2020’ ever again. I was so optimist at the beginning of last year and then it was a dumpster fire. I wish that I could have seen the future and made this a dumpster instead, but we can’t see the future and that is not a super power that I would want. I loved this cover though, I loved the sunglasses and if I wasn’t a glasses human who has really poor vision I would for sure have about six pairs of sunglasses that looked exactly like these ones. 

            2021: if you were around last year and were following my BuJo posts then you will remember this castle from my October BuJo Disney spread last year. I did all Disney this year and my 2021 Bullet Journal is actually fully complete. I traced the castle, I am not going to lie, I traced it because I am not great at free-handing anything. I didn’t go for the ombre that I tried last year, with this cover I went with more of a stained glass look because I love stained glass. There is no secret there, stained glass is beautiful and scary; too many sharp edges for me to try and make. I think that last year and this year have stretched my creative vision for my Bullet Journals and this cover is my favorite so far. 

            So there it is, one page over four years. I don’t know what 2022’s cover is going to look like; I have not decided that yet. I know what my theming is next year but I have figured out very little when it comes to the actual creative part of all of it. I still have some time to figure that out before I start. I am getting all of the basic pages in as well as the monthly days because I know if I don’t I will fall behind and it won’t be fun. It will be a slog to get through like I did for all of 2018, 2019, and the beginning of 2020 and now I am ahead and I want to be. 

            Covers are just the beginning, I will be comparing a lot of pages and some will look really similar because I have found that if it’s not broke, don’t fix it. I have certain pages that I love and have the same year after year because that is what makes sense to me. You may think it’s lazy to copy a page year after year, I don’t see it that way. I see it as finding something that works for you and sticking with it until something better comes along. 

            Alright, I will see everyone mid-week with another post, I hope that everyone out there is staying safe, happy, and healthy. Have a good start to the week! 

            -MJ