A Few Things I Love

Although Valentine's Day isn't a big deal (or really even acknowledged at all) at my house, I still tend to think of February as the "love" month.  This means that I tend to post more love-related blog posts during February (so far I've shared 10 things I like to see in fictional love stories and some of my favorite sad love songs).

While today's post isn't about romance or my relationship with my husband or anything like that, it felt right to share it this month because it's all about some of the things I love.  Yes, this is a very loose, general form of love I'm talking about here, but whatever.  It fits in my head, so I'm just going to go with it.

- The comfort of lying under a cozy blanket

- Discovering something new

- Looking at adorable animal pictures

- Reading a book so engrossing that I never want to put it down

- Listening to my favorite bands/artists

- Enjoying a cup of coffee during a lazy weekend

- The adrenaline rush I get while riding roller coasters and other amusement park rides

- Traveling anywhere

- Trying new restaurants and/or types of food

- Writing something I actually feel proud of

- Sharing an experience with someone I care about

- Live music

- The warmth of the fireplace on a cold winter evening

- Visiting art museums

- Planning for the week ahead

- Spending time with the people I love

- Feeling productive and accomplished

- Singing at the top of my lungs while driving

- Finding a show I'll actually want to binge watch

- People who give me hope that the world hasn't completely turned into a garbage dump shit show

Now it's your turn.  What are some random things you love?

Currently ... February 2018 Edition

February has been kind of a weird month so far.  I know it's the shortest month of the year, but it has felt unusually speedy this year.  I feel like I blinked and suddenly we're in the last full week of the month.  Maybe I feel this way because I haven't completed the majority of my monthly goals.  (And, to be honest, I probably won't finish most of them.)  All I know is that the month has flown by, and I kind of wish time could slow down (at least a little).

Anyway, here's what's going on with me these days:

Currently I'm ...

- Reading: The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn.  I thought I would be finished by now, but I haven't had as much time to read as I would like.  When I do have time to read, though, I really don't want to put it down!  It's my tenth book for the year and my first book for the 2018 PopSugar Reading Challenge.

- Watching: Brooklyn Nine-Nine on Hulu.  I'd seen a few episodes here and there and thought it was pretty funny, so now I'm watching it from the beginning.  It's ridiculous how much Eric and I laugh over some of the episodes!

- Listening To: A wide variety of things, though I've been semi-obsessed with "TalkTalk" by A Perfect Circle, "Charm Offensive" by Islands, and "High Hopes" by Pink Floyd lately.  They tend to be repeated over and over and over again day after day.  You'd think I'd be sick of them by now, but that's definitely not the case.

- Cooking: Not that often in the last week or so.  Eric cooked the majority of the meals last week because I felt like complete shit every single day.  I think I'll keep him around.

- Working On:
 Getting caught up on things.  I was really on top of things last month, but, as I said at the beginning of this post, this month has gone by way too fast.  I'm going to try to focus on getting caught up on blogs this week.  It definitely helps that I'm not participating in any link-ups.  As much as I love them, I definitely get behind with reading other posts when I'm involved in a link-up!

- Buying: Concert tickets.  I know that I'm trying to save more and spend less, but I'm not even mad that I spent $185 for A Perfect Circle tickets earlier this month.  I've seen Maynard James Keenan live once (with Tool on my 18th birthday!), but I've never seen him performing with A Perfect Circle.  I am ridiculously excited about this show, even though it isn't happening until May 15th.  We're also planning to get tickets for The Smashing Pumpkins this week for an August show.  Eric's never seen them live, and I last saw them in 2007.

- Feeling: Pretty shitty last week (migraines, etc.).  Otherwise, I've been feeling a little behind on things this month.

- Loving: The fact that there is literally a YouTube video for pretty much any workout I want to do.  I wasn't feeling up to going to the gym at all this week, but I forced myself to do a few workouts at home.  I specifically wanted things that were "light" since I wasn't feeling amazing, and there were tons of options for the things I felt like I needed/wanted at the time.  I've been using YouTube workout videos when I couldn't get to the gym for a long time, but I don't think I'd ever really looked for such specific workouts before.

- Hating:
Gun violence.  It's so sad (not to mention scary!) to live in a world where school shootings have become commonplace.  I'm not a parent, but I can't imagine how difficult it would be to not only discuss these things with my child, but also to send that same child off to school each morning with a pang of fear that maybe he/she won't return.  No one should ever have to experience that kind of fear, whether it be a parent, child, or teacher.  This can't go on.

- Discovering: That I care more about certain things than I initially thought I would.  Yes, I'm being vague and yes, I know that can be irritating.  I'm sorry.  I'll elaborate more when I'm comfortable doing so.

- Pinning: Not much in the past few weeks.  I've been trying to keep up with social media for this blog (Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, and Goodreads are really all I use), but sometimes I neglect them.  I probably neglect my Twitter account the most, but I haven't been using my Pinterest account much lately either.

- Considering: Making "try a new group exercise class" one of my goals for March.  There are a few classes I want to try, but I seem to always just stick with my tried and true yoga classes.  I should really try to mix it up once in a while and take advantage of more things offered at my gym.

- Planning: My topic for a short creative piece I have to write and submit at the end of the six week creative writing class I'm currently taking.  I got a random idea for the story a few days ago, but I'm still trying to work through the details.  

Exploring Thrillers: the Good, the Bad, and a Few Top Picks for Future Reads

I love thrillers.  I can't really remember a time when I didn't enjoy them.  As a kid, I definitely read some of the more popular, age-appropriate books (Sweet Valley series, Babysitters Club series, etc.), but I also read authors like Dean Koontz and Stephen King.

My taste in books has changed a lot over the years, but one constant has been my love of thrillers.  Today I'll be discussing some reasons why I love them, some things I tend not to like, and a few books in this genre that I can't wait to read.

I Will Probably Love a Thriller If:

- It has an excellent twist (or two or three).

I love reading a book that can really shock or surprise me, and one surefire way to do that is by throwing in a great twist (or multiple great twists) to mess with my head and make me question everything I thought I knew about the story.

- It has a weird, fucked up premise.

One thing I love about reading is that it offers a form of escape from my day-to-day life.  My life isn't overly exciting (not that I'm complaining), so I don't always want to read about regular people doing normal, everyday things.  (I do enjoy reading about these things in blogs, but I also don't want or expect the same things from a blog that I want and expect in a work of fiction.)  I want to read about things that creep me out, make my skin crawl, and just generally make for good entertainment.  A weird, fucked up storyline is perfect for me for all of those reasons.

- It features anything listed in my post about things that make me want to read a book.

While it's not a guarantee that I'll love a book simply because it has one or more of the characteristics on that list, there's a good chance I will.  (Especially if the book is well-written and is able to shock or surprise me in some way!)

Some of My Favorite Thrillers Include:

These books range from more traditional, fast-paced thrillers to slow burn suspense thrillers to literary thrillers.  All of these books may not work for everyone, but I loved every single one of them.

I Will Probably Dislike a Thriller If:

- It has an obvious "twist" or ending.

I say "twist" in this case because it's not really a twist if it's obvious.  Thrillers should be at least somewhat unpredictable, so if I guess the ending or a "twist" early on, it's probably not going to work for me.

- The twist or ending makes no fucking sense.

I understand an author's desire to surprise or shock the reader in a thriller -- I mean, that's exactly what I want.  But if an author just starts tossing out random things, it's probably not going to work.  A twist and ending need to make sense in the context of the story.  Otherwise, it's pointless (and will most likely make me rage).

- The book relies too heavily on supernatural elements.

I'm generally not a fan of fantasy/paranormal books, so if a thriller relies on this type of thing, I'm probably not going to like it.  There are exceptions, of course -- I'm really drawn to stories involving demonic possession, for example.  But, for the most part, I don't want supernatural elements in my thrillers.

Some Thrillers I Didn't Enjoy Include:

Each of these books received a two star or lower rating from me.  They were each disappointing in their own way, though they all had one or more of the characteristics listed in the "I Will Probably Dislike a Thriller If" section.

I wanted to end this post with a few thrillers I'm most looking forward to reading.  Hopefully I'll get to them sooner rather than later!

A Few of My Top Picks For Future Reads:

I'd love to hear your thoughts if you've read any of the books mentioned in this post.  Are there any books on my "To Read" list that I should bump to the top?

I'd also be interested in your opinions on the thriller genre.  Do you love thrillers?  Hate them?  Only enjoy them if they're fast-paced?  If you decide to write a post about it (or have already done so), please share a link here so I can check it out!

And, of course, special thanks to Lauren at Bookmark Lit for inspiring this post!

Songs for the Brokenhearted

When I was still blogging regularly at Divulge and Indulge, I would post a playlist each month.  Those weren't my most popular posts, but I enjoyed putting them together.

I'm not planning to start creating monthly playlists for The Book Life (though if you're looking for recommendations, I'd be happy to talk music with you).  I will, however, post something music-related from time to time.  I love music more than most things, so it would be kind of weird if I never wrote anything about it.

Today is one of those music days.  

When I was blogging at Divulge and Indulge, I liked to post a sad/angry love songs playlist every February.  With Valentine's Day in the middle of the month, it seemed appropriate.  (Or, you know, in my warped little mind depressing and pissed off love songs seem appropriate for Valentine's Day.)

It's not that I hate happy things ... I really don't.  When it comes to music, though, I tend to gravitate toward the sad and the angry.  I've always really loved sad/angry love songs (regardless of my relationship status) because I feel like they're so raw -- there is just so much emotion behind those words.  

Some of these songs got me through some horrible breakups.  Others are just songs I like.  (And a few of these possibly popped up on previous playlists on my old blog.  Sorry for any repeats.)  Whatever the case, I hope you give them a listen.  

"Near to You" by A Fine Frenzy

"Near to you, I am healing but it's taking so long / 'Cause though he's gone and you are wonderful, it's hard to move on / Yet I'm better near to you"

"At the End of the Earth" by The Dear Hunter

"I never had known such a fragile hurt of a lover's curse / And the echoes of you rhyme like a distant verse on forgotten words"

"Snow Cherries From France" by Tori Amos

"And then one day he said, "Girl, it's been nice ... Oh, but I have to go sailing" / With cinnamon lips that did not match his eyes / Oh, then he let me go"

"Tiny Vessels" by Death Cab For Cutie

"So one last touch and then you'll go / And we'll pretend that it meant something so much more / But it was vile, and it was cheap / And you are beautiful, but you don't mean a thing to me"

"Hear Me Out" by Frou Frou

"Can't you tell I'm not myself? / I'm a slow motion accident lost in coffee rings and fingerprints / I don't want to feel anything, but I do / And it all comes back to you"

"Day Old Hate" by City and Colour

"So let's face it, this was never what you wanted / But I know it's fun to pretend / Now blank stares and empty threats are all I have / They're all I have"

"Oh Well" by Fiona Apple

"What you did to me made me see myself somethin' awful / A voice once stentorian is now again meek and muffled / It took me such a long time to get back up the first time you did it / I spent all I had to get it back, and now it seems I've been outbidded"

"The Engine Driver" by The Decemberists

"And if you don't love me let me go / And I am a writer, writer of fictions / I am the heart that you call home / And I've written pages upon pages trying to rid you from my bones"

"Gravity" by Sara Bareilles

"You loved me 'cause I'm fragile / When I thought that I was strong / But you touch me for a little while / And all my fragile strength is gone"

"Gone" by Ben Folds

"I know that you went straight to someone else / While I worked through all this shit here by myself / And I think that you should spend some time alone / But if you won't, then you won't"

"That Particular Time" by Alanis Morissette

"I've always wanted for you what you wanted for yourself / And yet I wanted to save us, high water or hell / And I kept on ignoring the ambivalence you felt / And in the meantime I lost myself / In the meantime I lost myself / I'm sorry I lost myself, I am"

"Accidental Babies" by Damien Rice

"I know I make you cry / I know sometimes you want to die / But do you really feel alive without me? / If so, be free / If not, leave him for me"

"Hurricane" by The Hush Sound

"You're the finest thing that I've done / The hurricane I'll never outrun / I could wait around for the dust to still / But I don't believe that it ever will / And since the roof fell in, I'll lean on what matters / Caught in the slightest wind, everything else unravels"

"Lua" by Bright Eyes

"I've got a flask inside my pocket, we can share it on the train / And if you promise to stay conscious, I will try and do the same / Well, we might die from medication, but we sure killed all the pain / But what was normal in the evening by the morning seems insane / And I'm not sure what the trouble was that started all of this / The reasons all have run away, but the feeling never did"

"Cup of Coffee" by Garbage

"I'm walking empty streets, hoping we might meet / I see your car parked on the road / A light on at your window / I know for sure that you're home / But I just have to pass on by / So no, of course we can't be friends / Not while I'm still this obsessed / I guess I always knew the score / This is how our story ends"

"I Should Live in Salt" by The National

"Think about something so much / You should know me better than that / Start to slide out of touch / You should know me better than that / Tell yourself it's all you know / You should know me better than that / Learn to appreciate the void / You should know me better than that"

"She's Not Me" by Jenny Lewis

"Remember the night I destroyed it all / When I told you I cheated / And you punched through the drywall / I took you for granted / When you were all that I needed"

"Himerus and Eros" by The Spill Canvas

"I hope to God I mean a little more than the sounds that escape your tired 4:00 a.m. lips / Oh, how I wish I meant a little more than a symphony of heavy breathing and the friction of hips / Yes, it's true, you've brainwashed me and now I'm more confused / I still somehow hope I end up with you / Yes, it's true, I romanticize every single thing I do / Especially when it comes to you"

"All I Ask" by Adele

"I don't need your honesty / It's already in your eyes / And I'm sure my eyes, they speak for me / No one knows me like you do / And since you're the only one that mattered / Tell me who do I run to?"

"I Better Be Quiet Now" by Elliott Smith

"If I didn't know the difference, living alone'd probably be okay / It wouldn't be lonely / I got a long way to go, I'm getting further away / A lot of hours to occupy / It was easy when I didn't know you yet / Things I'd have to forget"

10 Things I Like to See in Fictional Love Stories

I don't read many books that would be classified as "romance," nor do I usually read books in which a love story is the main plot.  They're not really my thing.

I can, however, enjoy a book that includes love/romance as a major theme if it has one or more of the following attributes:

1.) No instalove.

Few things irritate me more than the idea of instalove.  I mean, I know it's fiction, but I still want it to feel somewhat realistic.  You can like someone, lust after someone ... Whatever.  But to truly love someone, you have to know them.

2.) The relationship isn't portrayed as "perfect" or "easy."

I love my husband, but our relationship is far from perfect.  Relationships can be hard, and they require work to remain strong.  If a fictional couple is presented as being perfect with no issues whatsoever and nothing can shake them because they're just so in love ... Well, you've already lost me.

3.) Bad behavior (such as possessiveness) isn't portrayed as "normal" or "okay."

I was once in a horrible relationship with someone who couldn't control his jealousy and seemed to think he "owned" me.  I wouldn't wish that kind of hell on anyone.  It's not sweet and it's not romantic -- it's fucking scary.  Books shouldn't romanticize this sort of thing.

4.) Unrequited love.

I'm sure most of us have, at some point, experienced unrequited love.  Whether it's a friend who doesn't feel the same or an ex you still have feelings for, it's heartbreaking.  It also makes for good reading because it can evoke strong emotions.

5.) A will they/won't they situation.

This is one of the reasons I loved shows like The Office and Friends: Jim and Pam and Ross and Rachel are just two examples of how this type of scenario can suck you in and make you care about the love lives of fictional characters.  This is also true when it comes to books.  I'll want to keep reading if I'm not sure how the situation will play out.

6.) A difficult situation is presented in the relationship.

This could be anything: death of a child, infidelity, the onset of a debilitating illness, etc.  I enjoy reading stories about how people deal with personal struggles, and this is true when it comes to reading about couples as well.

7.) The story follows the dissolution of a relationship.

I love a good break-up story, especially if the author is skilled in character development.  If I care about the characters, my heart will break right along with theirs.  I'm especially drawn to this type of story if it jumps around in time, allowing me to see both the good and bad aspects of the relationship and to truly understand where it all went wrong.

8.) There isn't a happily ever after ending.

I'm probably in the minority with this one, but I don't really enjoy endings in which all the pieces neatly fall into place.  (This is true for all types of books, not just love stories.)  It's not that a happy ending will automatically make me hate a book -- I just prefer bittersweet (or even heartbreaking) endings if I'm reading a love story.  (As for other types of books, I love ambiguous endings that force me to create my own interpretation of how the story ends.)

9.) Obsession plays a major role.

This may seem odd, considering what was said in #3 on this list.  However, if the obsession is not portrayed as normal, I'll enjoy reading about it.  (Some examples of this include You by Caroline Kepnes and The Woman Before Me by Ruth Dugdall.)

10.) The relationship is completely fucked up.

A book that features a completely fucked up romantic situation will very likely catch my eye.  I tend to like my entertainment dark, and that extends to love stories as well.  You can interpret this however you like ... You probably won't be wrong.

This Valentine's Day/love themed list was inspired by this week's Top Ten Tuesday prompt.  I wasn't sure if I would participate this week at first since I don't usually read romance novels.  I guess I thought coming up with a love-related post would be difficult.  I really enjoyed thinking about the types of things I like to see in fictional love stories, though.  It's not something I've ever really given much thought.

Linking up with That Artsy Reader Girl for Top Ten Tuesday!