Monday, March 12, 2018

Tales From the Bookshelf - January/February Reads

Hello! Been awhile since I've done one of these. My reading has slowed down a bit. So with that in mind this is a roundup of reads from the past two months. I've been making an attempt at doing more bookish-related things lately too, which has been fun. I've been going to a monthly book group called Book Pub, where we meet at a local pub to discuss a different book genre each month. I also joined Silent Book Club on Facebook, which I really like (most drama-free FB group I've EVER seen - I love it!).

Now, on to some books! Two novels and two comic volumes :)

Alias Grace, by Margaret Atwood
πŸ‘½πŸ‘½ (2/5 aliens)

Based on a true story, Alias Grace is about Grace Marks, who was convicted for the murder of her employer and his housekeeper/mistress. Grace is the definition of an unreliable narrator. The whole book is basically a debate on whether or not she really committed the crime, and even Grace supposedly doesn't know the answer as she claims to have lost her memory. This is my second book by Margaret Atwood (the first was The Heart Goes Last). I really want to like her books, but its been difficult. Alias Grace was so hard to get through. The perspective kept changing (which I usually don't mind) and there were no quotation marks!!! I watched the Netflix series first and really enjoyed it, though. So what gives?? I don't know. I also watched The Handmaids Tale hulu series and really enjoyed it (umm...if that's the right word). I recently bought the book at a used book sale so I plan on trying to read that, too.

Saga, Vol. 8, by Brian K. Vaughan
πŸ‘½πŸ‘½πŸ‘½πŸ‘½πŸ‘½ (5/5 aliens)

As always, Saga is a winner for me. Not gonna get in depth reviewy for this one because 1) If you're not reading Saga yet, then a review of the eighth volume isn't a great place to start (but seriously, read it!) and 2) Spoilers for the people that are reading it. Also good to know - all volumes of Saga are available on my favorite reading app, Hoopla, for freeeeee!

The Wicked + The Divine, Vol 6: Imperial Phase Part 2, by Kieron Gillen
πŸ‘½πŸ‘½ (2/5 aliens)

This is a series I continuously go back and forth on. Not recapping this volume for the same reasons listed above. Honestly I'm not sure if I'd recommend this series? Which sounds silly considering I'm on book 6, but it's true. Half the time I can't figure out what's going on. I do love the art style (great character designs, so many colors!) and the character development has been interesting. Fans of this series chime in - am I just too dim to enjoy this???

Dietland by Sarai Walker
πŸ‘½πŸ‘½πŸ‘½πŸ‘½ (4/5 aliens)
This book was a pretty crazy ride! The protagonist is a plus sized woman named Plum, who's planning to have a weight loss surgery. One day a mysterious woman starts following her, which leads her down a rabbit hole connected to a national conspiracy. Along the way she meets lots of badass woman that live life on their own terms and encourage Plum to do the same (and not get a weight loss surgery). Some parts of the book come off as very over the top, but I think that's kinda the point.

That's all for now :) What have you been reading lately?

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Pokemon Go Community Day, February 2018 - Dratini Hunt!

Hello! So, as the title suggests, I still play Pokemon Go. I think it's so much fun :) I know it's a bit repetitive for some, but I think the events (like the one I'm about to write about) help keep things fresh. Gotta catch 'em all!!!

Pokemon Go Community Day February 2018 Dratini

When most people hear this they say, "Still? Why? I stopped playing that, like, weeks after it came out, no one plays that anymore." Yes, STILL! And good for you I guess? I always fail to understand why the fact that some people stopped playing means that there is no longer any point in anyone playing. And to be fair, millions of people still regularly play :) But, if you really just didn't care for the game style to begin with, I won't give you a hard time for that :P

In January Niantic started a monthly event called Pokemon Go Community Day. They let you know the exact date about a month prior, but so far both have been Saturdays in the second half of the month. The event lasts for three hours, and during it the Pokemon of the month is basically gonna pop up all over the place, and they will all have an exclusive move. There's also a 10% increase of those Pokemon being shiny variants (think of these like your holographic Pokemon cards), lures have an extension of three hours, you earn double XP, and also 3x the stardust! Even if you don't need the Pokemon of the month, the rest of those things are super lucrative for any aspiring poke-master.

February's Pokemon was Dratini! Those don't normally spawn where I live, so this alone had me super excited. I knew that if I was diligent about it, I could finally get a Dragonite! An added bonus was that if you evolved your Dragonaire (to refresh, it goes Dratini - Dragonaire - Dragonite) into a Dragonite during the event, your Dragonite would have an exclusive move that you could only get during the event: Draco Meteor!

Pokemon Go Dragonite Draco Meteor
My fancy new Dragonite! 

The week before my town had a freeze warning (and I live in California, I don't really do cold that well), so I wasn't sure if the weather would be good to go out in. My original plan was to plant myself down at a pokestop where I could sit indoors, use a lure and an incense, and wait for the Dratini to come to me. So at 10:45am my husband and I were sitting in a Starbucks (conveniently in spinning distance from two pokestops, oooh). We stayed there until we finished our breakfast and had only caught three Dratini in that time, so I knew I wasn't going to get my Dragonite at that rate. The sun was out and even with the wind it wasn't as cold as we were expecting, so we decided to take our hunt outside. There's a pond in town that has six pokestops around it, and I could see on my map that they all had lures, so we went to go try our luck there. Success! We walked laps around the pond, and in the span of 2.5 hours we got well over a hundred Dratini candies, more than enough to evolve our exclusive Dragonites. We also caught our first shiny's! My husband caught 2 shiny Dratini's, and I caught a shiny Dratini and a shiny Swablu.

Shiny Dratini, Dragonaire, Dragonite
Here's what the whole dragon fam looks like as their shiny variants.

We also caught our first Tyranitar! You can only catch them by participating in tier 4 raid fights. We'd done raids before, but no higher than tier 3 prior to that. Higher tiered raids require more people fighting with you in order to win. For a tier 4 raid you need at least four high leveled players to win. Since I'm usually playing alone or with my husband, getting enough people to raid with is hard. Anyway...while we were walking around the pond, another group approached us and asked if we wanted to raid with them. Uhhhmmm, YES!

Pokemon Go Tyranitar
New bb

I've read a lot of complaints about the Community Day events being too short. Three hours is pretty short, considering not everyone is lucky enough to have weekends off. However the point behind this is that Niantic wanted to get everyone out playing at the same time, so you can run around and meet other players, too. Sort of reminiscent of PokΓ©mon Go's heyday (ah, the Summer of 2016 was a good time). Running in to a group to raid with us is a great example of this. I've walked around that pond millions of times in the past, but that was the first time I've played with strangers. I can understand both sides of the argument, though.

Compared to January's Community Day, I definitely had a lot more fun this time! January's Pokemon was Pikachu - but everyone and their mom already had plenty of Pikachu's. The special part about it was that all the Pikachu came with the exclusive move, Surf. It's cool to have for collecting purposes, but not much else. If you evolve your surfing Pikachu he loses the special move, and it's not like you're going to use a Pikachu in battle, with or without Surf, considering none of them are very high CP. I didn't even catch a shiny Pikachu that day :( But there were still the other bonuses, so all was not lost. I think they also used what they learned from the first event to make this second one even better, which works for me because we can't always expect perfection in round one.

I'm really excited about this happening every month, and look forward to participating in March's as well. They've already shared that the next Pokemon will be Bulbasaur! No word yet on which evolution will have the special move (I'm hoping for Venusaur). While I do already have a Venusaur, he's not super strong so I'd like another! It took me forever to get it, but not this time :) Andrew doesn't have one yet, so he's super excited. Fun fact - our wedding venue was a Bulbasaur nest! As I was getting my wedding makeup on, one of my bridesmaids (who's also really into Pokemon) told me about all the Bulbasaur, so I handed her my phone and said to get catching! By the time I came back from taking our "first look" photos, she had caught quite a handful. That's what friends are for, right?!

Sunday, January 14, 2018

New Year, Same Me

I had no images in this post, so I threw in my most recent selfie so you can see what 2018 Natalie looks like.
Which is the same as 2017 Natalie, but hey I cut my hair!

Ah, the first post of 2018. This is where I'm supposed to talk about my New Years Resolutions, right?

Lately I haven't been in the mood to focus on new changes and goals. After my wedding I've had trouble getting my mindset as things going back to "normal," and I've struggled getting settled into any sort of routine, so adding new things into the mix doesn't sound appealing. This winter just seemed to be one thing after another. After the wedding was the honeymoon (and we all know how it feels trying to go back to routine after a vacation), then when we came home there was Thanksgiving, and we started a month long run of a new show at the theatre. Then there was Christmas and everything that goes along with it.

I know it just sounds like excuses; but my mind has trouble focusing on too many things at once. Like, I found it hard to sit down and write a blog post (something I started doing, multiple times) when I would realize that I still had Christmas shopping to do, or thank you cards to write, or oh god the laundry has piled up again. Sigh. But I like to think that January is when we get to wind down a bit.

Kind of got derailed there. Back on track! We were talking about resolutions; or the lack of them, in my case. I spend a lot of time wishing I was one thing or another. I wish I was skinnier. I wish I read a book a week like those cool book bloggers. I wish I didn't let others opinions dictate what I do. Just to list a few. This year I'm working on acceptance. Making improvements on yourself can be great, but for the most part I also think it's great just to accept yourself as your are (assuming you aren't doing anything harmful - take care of yourself please!). So this year I'm working on that. For example:

"I wish I was skinnier." Even though this thought creeps into my head from time to time, I know it isn't true. I mean, I wish I was healthier, which can sometimes lead to being skinnier, but no matter. Something I realized in the past few months was that it wasn't my weight that made me dislike what I saw in the mirror, it was my clothes. My drawers and closet were full of things I hadn't worn in years, because they didn't fit well, and I was too sentimental to get rid of them. Keeping them around was only making me wish for the body I had when I was nineteen. I felt overwhelmed every time I was getting dressed because I'd have to rifle through clothes that didn't fit to find ones that did (can you tell I'm not good at organizing?). So I donated a lot of it, sold some of it, and the pieces I truly couldn't part with went into a storage box that went under my bed. Now my drawers and closet are much emptier, but every item in them are things that make me feel good when I put them on. It's a simple thing, but has done loads for my confidence. I do still have some bad days here and there, but it's a process I guess. I'm definitely still working on my health (have you joined Powerpuff Bloggers yet?), but the main goal isn't to lose weight.

"I wish I read a book a week like those cool book bloggers." I used to read much faster. Not a book a week fast, but...faster than I do now. This is something I feel guilty about sometimes. I used to pride myself on being "well read" (for my age, anyway) and that just wasn't the case anymore. My Goodreads reading goal for 2017 was forty books, and I only made it 70% there. What happened? Well, I have more things to do, plus a wider array of hobbies. Back then I didn't work as much as I do now. I also wasn't interested in blogging, video games, yoga, or going out as much. Those are hobbies that are also important to me, and I shouldn't feel guilty for indulging in those as well. But it does mean I spend less time reading, which I need to be ok with. My reading goal for 2018 is thirty books. I think it's a goal I'll still need to actively work towards, but I won't feel as pressured :)

I do have one goal I want to work towards for 2018...but I'm not going to call it a resolution, because I don't want to feel like a piece of shit if I don't accomplish it. This isn't something I talk about much (if ever), but...I don't drive. I've tried learning many times, but I have a lot of anxiety associated with it, which has made things very difficult. Being an adult that can't drive herself around is starting to feel ridiculous (no shame to others who don't drive, I'm simply voicing how it makes me feel about myself). Getting my license is something that I know will take time, which is why I'm saying it's something I want to "work towards." If I do have it by the end of the year, then great! But as long as I'm closer to it than I was at the start of the year, then I'll be happy. In case you're wondering how I currently get around (because people always ask), I use Lyft, sometimes the bus, I'm lucky enough to live two blocks from one of my jobs, and of course Andrew gives me rides when he's available (bless him). I've made my situation work, but that doesn't make it ideal, or any less embarrassing. Anyway, the first step is getting my drivers permit again. I attempted to get it on Friday, but no luck. I went to the DMV in town without knowing they were closed for remodeling. So I went to the DMV in the next town over and by the time it was my turn to talk to the clerk, she said the testing wait was over four hours and by the time it was my turn, they'd be closing. SIGH. But she did give me the paperwork so I can at least get started and bring it in next week and can hopefully take my test!

Well, I guess that's it. Sorry this post is all over the place, and not as fun as my other posts (and less visual, I can't even think of what kind of image I'd post with this). I just wanted to pop in and talk about where my minds been lately :) Hope you're all having a great 2018 so far!