A to Z Survey

So, I adore discovering tags and surveys, especially when I’m clueless about what exactly to write. I stumbled across The A to Z Survey, created by Jamie at The Perpetual Page Turner, way back in 2013 and decided to give it a shot!

Author I’ve Read the Most Books By

Hmmm…I need to travel back in time for this one, as I tend to jump from one author to another quite a bit! I’d say I’ve read almost all of Ann. M. Martin’s The Baby-Sitters Club series as well as the Nancy Drew Mystery Stories by Carolyn Keene! 😀

Best Sequel Ever

I adored Leigh Bardugo’s follow-ups to Shadow and Bone, Siege and Storm and Ruin and Rising! The original in the Grisha series was awesome, but the sequels tied the whole story together and were very entertaining!

Currently Reading

Right now, I’m officially in the midst of reading four books! I’m reading A Batter of Life and Death, a precious cozy mystery by Ellie Alexander, for The Candid Cover’s Summer TBR Wipeout Challenge and I’m doing buddy reads of both Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray and The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley.

In addition, I’m taking a short break from reading Stephen King’s behemoth post-apocalyptic novel, The Stand. I never used to read multiple books at once, but I think I like jumping between reads!

Drink of Choice While Reading

My drink of choice is always coffee with only cream! I drink it all day, every day! 😀

E-Reader or Physical Book?

Honestly, I enjoy both my Kindle and physical books. Generally, I’ll switch back and forth between reading an ebook and a hard copy.

Fictional Character I Probably Would Have Dated in High School

OMG! I adore Rob in Kelly Oram’s retelling, Cinder & Ella! Although Rob is simply an excellent guy friend to the main character, he is too sweet for words and doesn’t pressure Ella into a romantic relationship!

Glad I Gave This Book a Chance

Insanity by Cameron Jace was a big step out of my reading comfort zone! I’m so happy I decided to read it, a retelling of Alice in Wonderland. It’s sort of overwhelming, as there are at least seven total books in the series, but I love the story and plan to read them all!

Hidden Gem Book

For this one, it has to be John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men, which I read for English class in high school. I went into reading it not knowing what to expect, but it seriously pulled at my heartstrings and will forever be very special to me.

The reason this book holds such a special place in my heart is because my older brother, Bill, is autistic. One of the main characters, Lennie, is descried by Steinbeck as ‘simple-minded’ and his story really makes me think of Bill. 

Plus, with the tragic, yet merciful ending, I can’t help but put myself in the shoes of George, Lennie’s closest friend‘.

Important Moment in My Reading Life

The first thing that comes to mind is when I read Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park as a fifth grader! I read it after seeing and loving the movie and at the time, it was the fattest book I’d ever read! I’m still really proud of that accomplishment! 😀

Just Finished

The most recent book I finished reading was Cinder & Ella, quite obviously a Cinderella retelling! It’s a lovely book and I thank Delaney for highly recommending it to me!

Kinds of Books I Won’t Read

The only kind of book I’m really opposed to reading is straight-up erotica! No judgment toward people who enjoy the genre, it’s just not my cup of tea.

Longest Book I’ve Read

At the moment, the longest book I’ve read is Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina, clocking in at 817 pages. When I finally finish it, hopefully by September, The Stand will bump Tolstoy’s classic out of its top spot, as it has 1153 pages!

Major Book Hangover Because of

Anna Karenina! I adored reading it SO VERY MUCH and I didn’t want it to end! I ended up reading a nonfiction book about Catherine the Great, Portrait of a Woman, by Robert K. Massie, not long after finishing Tolstoy’s work, as my mind was still in imperial Russia!

Number of Bookcases I Own

I don’t have any serious bookcases, sadly! I do have an antique curio that belonged to my great-grandmother, but I only store my babies’ books and pictures in it for the time being. Now I have my books in stacks in my walk-in closet, but one of these days, I will have my own real library!

One Book You Have Read Multiple Times

The only book I’ve reread is J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone! I actually reread it via audiobook and with Jim Dale narrating it was amazing! I’m really glad I chose to listen to the first installment in the Harry Potter series; I had forgotten a lot of the detail included in the story and I look forward to listening to the rest of the series soon.

Preferred Place to Read

I like to read anywhere I can, whether it be on the couch, curled up in my bed, nestled in a nook outside, or even in a waiting room – as long as I can read, I’m pretty happy!

Quote That Inspires Me from All the Books I’ve Read

Since it’s fresh in my mind, there is a quote from Cinder & Ella that I absolutely adore! 

“Her laugh was my new favorite sound in the whole world.”

Reading Regret

I always regret DNFing books, but sometimes it’s just necessary. For instance, I was really looking forward to reading Great Expectations by Charles Dickens, but I just could not get through it. I am going to try reading a manga version by Stacy King!

Series I Started and Need to Finish

I really need to finish The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer! I’ve read both Cinder and Scarlet, but need to get to CressFairest, Winterand Stars Above. While I enjoyed Cinder, Scarlet didn’t really grab me. I have a feeling I will really like Cress and Winter though!

I want to throw in the novellas, Fairest and Stars Above just to get the full effect of the series.

Three of My All-Time Favorite Books

Nothing can top Anna Karenina and Of Mice and Men!

Unapologetic Fangirl for

– a good retelling

Very Excited for This Release More Than All the Others

I love Dan Brown’s Robert Langdon novels and his latest installment, Origin, releasing October 3rd, is definitely the one I am most looking forward to getting my hands on!

Worst Bookish Habit

My worst bookish habit is judging books by their covers. I’ve come to learn that an eye-catching jacket does not necessarily mean a quality book is encased within it.

[Your] My Latest Book Purchase

I’ve been on a serious graphic novel kick, so pretty much any book in the genre must be mine! But, most recently, I bought a book in another favorite genre – the cozy mystery! I purchased Crime and Poetry by Amanda Flower.

ZZZ-Snatcher Book

ANY audiobook is likely to put me to sleep! 😀

Love, Maggie

Getting Really Real

After being all but ostracized by a large portion of the book blogging community due to something I deem very personal, I feel the intense urge to write this post. I’m not only writing this for me, but for all the other bookish bloggers whom I know have experienced the same issues, but for various reasons.

Being bullied is never okay – let me just say that right now. It took me a long time to realize that I was, indeed, bullied. I thought I was wrong for having the audacity to speak my opinion. Notice I’m not stating that opinion here – if you’re one of the people who already knows what happened, well, then you probably know exactly what I’m talking about. To those of you who have zero clue about which I’m referring, feel free to contact me. I’m not hiding anymore.

I’m not writing this to call anyone out; I can’t remember the hundreds of Twitter handles who either unfollowed me, blocked me, called me out and harassed me, or even a combination of the three, to list them even if I wanted to, but I don’t.

I don’t feel welcome or heard anymore in bookish group chats, which I used to adore, but have given up on. I’m scared to death to follow someone whom I know has unfollowed me. I feel the need to hover above people’s profile pictures before liking their tweets, or entering their contests, just in case they did unfollow me. It makes me angry that I can’t see who has blocked me, but they can still see my tweets, if they have the weird urge to stalk me.

I don’t know if anyone remembers my original book blog, The Novel Orange, hence my Twitter handle, but I felt absolutely compelled to delete that site after what I experienced. I even deleted my @thenovelorange account for a bit and opened a new one, only adding the handful of people I knew hadn’t judged my opinion. Even when I announced on Twitter that I was shutting down The Novel Orange, the tweet got TONS of likes – which told me people were ecstatic to have run me out of the community, all because I disagreed with them.

I am by no means perfect, but I just can’t wrap my head around why I was so viciously attacked – all because of my personal values and beliefs. I’m even too afraid to mention exactly what I did to apparently offend SO many people, out of fear of experiencing even more backlash. But, I’ve decided, especially after receiving support from others to continue with this post, that if I do lose followers/get blocked/harassed again, then I’m better off without those people in my life and business.

I decided to open this blog, The Caramel Files, after rashly deleting my beloved The Novel Orange because I truly missed blogging, writing, and connecting with bookish people in general. I’m still angry with myself for succumbing to what the ‘mean people’ obviously wanted – to chase me away – especially since I deleted The Novel Orange without even backing it up. I lost a bunch of posts of which I was really proud in addition to a ton of book reviews. I even deleted my Goodreads account, which I’d had seemingly forever because I didn’t know which of my GR ‘friends’ had dumped me from Twitter.

I’m the first to admit that I did not handle being ‘verbally’ or more accurately, Twitter-attacked, very well at all. I lashed out with a few responses to bullies, some of whom I didn’t even follow nor followed me in the first place. I recall telling a particular person to basically fuck off and they were all ‘how far do you want to take this?’. I just had to stop tweeting at that point. 

I am embarrassed about some of the tweets I posted out of anger in response to tweets aimed at me, but I’m not ashamed of my PERSONAL beliefs and values. None of the people who attacked me know me in real life; they don’t know what I’m about; they don’t have a clue where I’m from or what I stand for. I don’t care about others’ PERSONAL mores or about who they voted for in the Presidential election – there – I worked up the courage to admit that I was tortured because I admitted my feelings of victory after the Republican nominee won. 

If you choose to hate me because of my vote like so many others do, then fine, good riddance; I’m sick of hiding behind the wall and putting on a nice, happy facade. I don’t get why so many people who claim to be so ‘accepting’ and ‘progressive’ don’t respect those with different opinions than theirs, just because they are considered to be conservative.

I didn’t vote Republican because I hate minorities or don’t want people to have health coverage; I voted with my heart – for the record, I’m not a believer in abortion; but I DON’T JUDGE women who choose abortion as the best choice for them. Someone very close to me had an abortion as a teenager – I still love her more than words. Her choice was her OWN DECISION; I didn’t have a say so in what she did, nor did I feel it was my place to disagree. I don’t know what I would have done had I been in her situation – everything is subjective.

Going back to the assumption that I’m against immigrants and minorities, I even had a particular follower state that they felt ‘sorry for’ my minority friends. What the hell?! Honestly, why would someone even assume I have minority friends if they’re ASSUMING I’M A RACIST?! Again, for the record, I’M NOT A RACIST. I personally know plenty of minorities who fall on the same end of the political spectrum as I do, so shove it.

I’m glad I decided to keep my original @thenovelorange Twitter account – I hope some haters see this post – instead of completely running away from doing and participating in something I absolutely love. I was just flabbergasted and INCREDIBLY DISAPPOINTED in the book blogging community when I experienced so much backlash due to MY VOTE. Oh, I want to clear something up – I DIDN’T SINGLEHANDEDLY GET DONALD TRUMP VOTED INTO OFFICE – the majority spoke and everyone hating on every move Trump makes needs to get a life. There – another piece of honesty I’ve been AFRAID to share.

Regardless of who the conservative nominee had been, I would’ve voted for him or her. I disagreed with a lot of things President Obama did, but I didn’t waste eight years of my life griping about him – I accepted reality and went on with my life. I still respected him as our President, as the person whom holds office deserves; after all, he was the candidate people voted for; it was just too bad for me that I was in the political minority at the time.

Here’s a fact that may surprise many: I HAVE VOTED DEMOCRAT IN A PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION BEFORE. I vote based on who I feel is best for our country at a given time, regardless of their political party identification. Here’s another, perhaps shocking, fact: I’M A SOCIAL WORKER. I feel that a lot of people automatically assume that those in my profession are inherently liberal – not so – look at me. Like I said, I’ve voted on both sides of the aisle – I think I’m older than a lot of blog readers/Twitter followers realize. I don’t say that to patronize anyone; it’s a fact. I’ve been 18+ a lot longer than I think some people know.

Luckily, I had a few supporters at the time of my bullying experience. What’s so unfortunate is that even people who AGREED with me were also too afraid to post their support on the timeline; they felt scared enough to feel the need to express that they were with me behind the wall. I really appreciate all the kind people who did offer sympathy and support – y’all made me feel validated at the time and I know you’re still with me. 

I know I’m going on a bit of a tangent with this post, but I’ve been thinking about writing this – and what exactly to write – since November, when all of this ridiculous drama first happened. I used to regret that I admitted to standing with our now President – I don’t any more. I find it reprehensible that there are people out there in this day and age who judge and ATTACK people they don’t even REALLY KNOW. Very few online people know of my background; I’m not going to write an autobiography here, but understand that I DON’T CARE WHO YOU VOTED FOR. I DON’T KNOW YOUR REASONS FOR HOWEVER YOU DID VOTE AND IT’S NOT MY BUSINESS TO DELVE INTO YOUR PERSONAL LIFE AND DEMAND AN EXPLANATION FOR WHY YOU BELIEVE WHAT YOU BELIEVE.

Being bullied for my vote hasn’t only happened online, unfortunately. I have a few now former friends who called me out on Facebook due to my vote and pretty much seemed to need a bullet point list or PowerPoint presentation on why I voted the way in which I did. Sadly, they are no longer my friends either. 

I think it’s really sad that some people who claim to be ‘non-judgmental’ in fact are just that. I feel that it’s time to get all of this off my chest – like I mentioned, it’s been on my mind since November – that’s SEVEN MONTHS. This has all bothered me that much and has tried to rule my life and made me SCARED to stand up for what I believe in, which is America. I understand that people who voted for Hillary or even a lesser known party’s candidate are for America too, in their own, personal, ways. We all voted for who we felt would be best to hold presidential rank. I’m just sick of hiding, as I’ve probably already stated numerous times. 

In conclusion, I appreciate anyone who has taken the time to read this post in its entirety – whether or not you agree with me. I just hope someone out there reads this and feels less alone in the sea of people who hide behind their devices and bully people they don’t even know. You, the bullies, are cowards. I’m not letting myself be classified as a coward along with you anymore. There. That’s how I feel; that’s what I believe; I feel better, like a ton of bricks has been lifted off my shoulders.

If this post upset you, feel free to unfollow/block me or whatever, but DO NOT HARASS ME. I reiterate – you don’t know anything about me except for whom I voted; I don’t owe you an explanation for my vote and I don’t feel the need to explain my vote to you anymore. All I can say is good luck in 2020; maybe you’ll be happy then.

Maggie

I’m Honored!

Hey, y’all! I’m so thrilled to have been nominated for the Liebster Award by my Twitter buddy, @VivWrites! 😀 This is the first award I’ve been nominated for on The Caramel Files and I’m so excited to share my answers to Viv’s questions with everyone!

You can get the lowdown on Viv’s books HERE!

First of all, I did a bit of research and found the official 2017 Liebster Award rules – which you can check out HERE. In a nutshell, the Liebster Award is reserved for bloggers with 200 or fewer followers, which fits my blog like a glove!

My first task in acceptance of the Liebster Award is to discuss one of my favorite blogs to visit. I settled upon the amazing Lonna’s blog, FLYLeF, which features a ton of interesting tidbits, reviews, and giveaways. I not so secretly stalk Lonna’s space on the ‘net not only because of her regular features, including the FLYTIP column, in which Lonna discusses various creativity-related blogging ventures, but also because of a fabulous challenge Lonna cohosts with a fellow blogger.

Lonna, along with Alicia from A Kernel of Nonsense, hosts the seasonal Comment Challenge, during which bloggers are paired for a month-long commenting fest! I highly encourage you to join in on this amazing challenge, which has introduced me to some amazing bloggers. FYI: my partner for June has been the wonderful Bella from Bella Blogs Because Books! 😀

Sign-ups for the July edition of the Comment Challenge are still open, so run to either FLYLef or A Kernel of Nonsense to enter! 

Now, on to Viv’s questions!

  1. Hmm…I love a variety of genres, but I’d say my favorite of all is historical fiction. Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina is my favorite book in the entire world and it really got me interested especially in Russian-based fiction AND nonfiction. I love to learn as I read and after falling in love with Toslstoy’s classic, I read a biography of Catherine the Great, which I also adored.
  2. My absolute favorite ice cream flavor is mint chocolate chip, especially if it’s from Baskin Robbins!
  3. I love my profession as a social worker. I was recently hired as an outpatient therapist at our local mental health center and I’m so incredibly excited! Therapy is something I’ve wanted to do for a LONG time!
  4. I’m really attracted to cats in general, so any big cat makes my heart sing! I’ve always dreamt of having my own tiger or lion or whatever to cuddle with!
  5. My most hilarious dream was the one in which I dreamed about this boy I liked, who liked me also, but he was apparently afraid to ask me out. Pardon the language, but I literally dreamed that his email address was p*uss_wuss@hotmail.com! 😀
  6. I don’t have an ear for music at all, but I did take piano lessons, which I hated, as a child and learned the basics – I taught myself to play Fur Elise!
  7. My favorite type of holiday would be a tie between an amazing beach trip or a simple staycation.
  8. My ideal night in includes lots of TV, fun with my precious little family, laughter, and maybe a round of Trivial Pursuit!
  9. I wouldn’t say I have a most cherished collector’s item, although I do adore my Funko Pop!s! I think my most cherished possessions in general are my wedding ring and the jewelry and other mementos I have of my beloved Grandmother.
  10. I think my best character trait is my empathy, which can be a double-edged sword, as I tend to over-empathize and take on others’ problems instead of focusing on my own issues.
  11. My ultimate life goal is to leave behind a legacy of love and caring, especially regarding my sweet baby boys.

Now that I’ve answered Viv’s questions, here are mine for those of you whom I tag:

  1. Naturally, what’s your most cherished book?
  2. What is your all-time favorite movie?
  3. What would you consider to be your worst habit?
  4. When did you realize just how much you adore reading?
  5. What made you decide to start blogging?
  6. Are you an introvert or an extrovert?
  7. What are your favorite pizza toppings?
  8. Do you keep a journal? Why or why not?
  9. What’s your favorite childhood memory?
  10. What’s some advice you’d like to give other newish book bloggers?
  11. What’s the longest book you’ve ever read in its entirety?

I tag…

I’m so excited to see y’all’s answers! 😀

Love, Maggie

 

 

Nice to Meet You!

Hi, lovely readers! I stumbled across this tag on Deanna’s blog, A Novel Glimpse, and swiped it! LOL! Here’s hoping this survey will help break me out of my intense blogging slump!

Vital Stats

  • Name – Maggie is my name! I was named after my great-grandmother, Magdalena.
  • Nicknames – Mag, Magpie, Magster
  • Birthday – November 25 (I was born on Thanksgiving Day, in case you were curious!)
  • Star Sign – Sagittarius and proud!
  • Occupation – I’m a social worker who’s worked in many different fields! From a psychiatric hospital, to child advocacy centers, to a battered women’s shelter, and *fingers crossed* hopefully as an outpatient therapist! (I have an interview Tuesday!)

Appearance

  • Hair Color – Blond with a black streak; I need to get my color redone so my streak actually shows up again!
  • Hair Length – I’ve had short hair my entire life. Now, it’s probably at its longest ever at just above my shoulders.
  • Eye Color – Blue
  • Best Feature – I think my eyes are pretty.
  • Braces – I got braces in my early twenties and wore them for a year. I have always had a snaggletooth that didn’t bug me until I got older. But, I gave up my retainer and I’m snaggletoothed again!
  • Piercings – I had my left eyebrow pierced in college and took it out after a few years because I got sick of people talking about it!
  • Tattoos – Yes, a pink star on my lower right back. It looks like crap because I didn’t take care of it, but I love it anyway!
  • Right or Left – I’m right handed, but I use my left hand to drive.

Firsts

  • Real Holiday – That Christmas I caught my parents playing Santa!
  • Best Friend – Rachel, Alanna, Carol Marie, and Lindsey 
  • Award – I won the 1st place trophy for my class every year in grade school for earning the most accelerated reader points.
  • Concert – Creed with my cousin! LOL!

Favorites

  • TV Show(s) – WAY too many to list! I do adore reality TV!
  • Color – It’s a tossup between gold and orange.
  • Song – SO many! Right now I’m obsessed with Nirvana again! My favorite song of theirs is the cover they do of The Meat Puppets’ ‘Oh, Me’.
  • Restaurant – J. Alexander’s!!!!!
  • Shop – I’ve got a serious Amazon problem…I also love Etsy, but the shipping costs usually kill me!
  • Books – My most favorite book ever is Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina.
  • Shoes – Flats or flip flops most of the time; I’ve almost broken my ankles in heels SO many times!

Currently

  • Feeling – Pretty good and confident! I’m also trying to block out things that get on my freaking nerves!
  • Single or Taken – I married my husband in 2011, so I’m very obviously taken! 😀
  • Eating – Actually, I’m sucking down a cup of coffee!
  • Thinking About – That jerk on Facebook, which is ridiculous, because he’s a total stranger!
  • Watching – Maury!!!!
  • Wearing – A sun dress with a striped shirt over it – loungewear.

Future

  • Want Children – I’ve wanted children my entire life and I’ve been blessed with two beautiful baby boys!
  • Want to be Married – *see above*
  • Careers in Mind – As I said earlier, I’m hoping to ace my interview next week to become an outpatient therapist at our local mental health center! I’d also adore being able to write on the side!

Beliefs

  • God – Definitely; there has to be a God. The universe is too intricate…
  • Miracles – Yes! I’m Catholic, so I had all kinds of miracles stuffed into my brain as a kid!
  • Love at First Sight – I’ve experienced this, so totally yes! I remember when I first laid eyes on my now husband; I just knew.
  • Ghosts – I don’t necessarily believe in ghosts that haunt places, but I very much believe in spirits.
  • Aliens – Why not? The universe is enormous!
  • Soul Mates – Yes! I believe we have soul mates who are our friends as well as our lovers.
  • Heaven and Hell – Yes; and I’ll throw in Purgatory here too (I AM Catholic!).
  • Kissing on the First Date – It depends on the person; I remember telling this guy I went out with, who ultimately grossed me out, that I didn’t kiss on the first date so he would leave!
  • Yourself – I believe in myself most of the time. I don’t want to jinx anything, but I’m feeling pretty confident about my interview! *knock on wood*

Love, Maggie

 

Blogging Blahs

I really love blogging – so much, whether or not I gain a following. I just enjoy the freedom to write what I want, when I want and to decorate my blog. If you haven’t noticed, I change the look of my blog, even subtly, quite often. However, I’m pretty much in a blogging slump, both here at The Caramel Files and at The Bookkeepers’ Secrets.

For a while, it seemed like I was churning out blog material left and right, even if some of that material was merely a nugget of an idea. Now, I can thing of nothing to write except about my apparent blogging slump. Seemingly, I yearn to write the most when I feel like I can’t – when I’m simply and painfully devoid of original thoughts.

As you might know, I’m ‘participating’ in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge this year. I started out with a bang when the month-long challenge began April 1. I had scheduled some essays I was proud of, then I got behind. Whereas in the past I would have simply given up on the challenge, I’m going to post my letter-based essays as they come to me – even if I post into May. I did well with posting on time until I reached the middle of the alphabet – I’m stuck on O.

I’ve been incredibly absent at The Bookkeepers’ Secrets and I hate it. I’m just struggling to come up with stuff, any stuff, right now. I also have a bunch of reviews I’d like to write, but I can’t seem to get started. On a positive note, I have been doing well with reading and I’ve enjoyed my book choices for the most part this year. It seems like I either do well with reading or on the blogging front, but not with both in unison. I figure I go through phases.

Reading and writing quite obviously go hand-in-hand. When I feel like I can’t write, I don’t feel like I get quite as much out of my reading and vice versa. This sounds like a contradiction as I write it, as I am making reading progress, but I want to read something really rich this year.  Perhaps I am reading voraciously in search of the penultimate and elusive book of the year.

I’m totally stuck again – maybe writing about it will somehow re-release my creative juices. I need that flow, that ease of writing what comes naturally – especially when it involves bookish goodness. As far as ideas for writing go, I have plenty, perhaps too many. I have so many visions for my blog – of additions, of original features, of challenges, of everything. I may have fried my brain overloading it with ruminations regarding my A to Z topic – random essays.

If I wasn’t worried about quality, I would go ahead and write crappy posts that don’t inspire me for A to Z. However, it’s just not in me to do that; I take too much pride in my writing and the basis for what I’ve written. It’s not in me to post something I’m not passionate about, especially when it comes to essays based on personal memories and randomness.

My posts may not always be exactly perfect or have the effect I hope for, but I only hit the publish button when I’m truly satisfied, at least as satisfied as possible. I definitely have a tendency toward perfectionism and if I give in to that side of my personality too much, I basically end up getting nothing done – or started. I think that’s where my habit to procrastinate originated.

So, here I sit, churning out words with great difficulty, but writing nevertheless. I’m hopeful that as I write about my inability to write that tons – I’d settle for a couple – of ideas will zip into my exhausted brain. I have a few ideas for projects integrating fellow bloggers; however, I’m so new to such endeavors, that I don’t really know where to start – how to introduce and structure special blog features.

I’m just a girl full of ideas, yet devoid of thoughts of how to bring such ideas to fruition. Perhaps I’ll get it together suddenly, have several epiphanies, and know exactly what to do as far as The Caramel Files and its contents. I don’t really even know why I’m fretting over blog content – am I too obsessed with perfection? Am I too focused on writing only that which should be well-received? Am I too serious about this blogging stuff?

I don’t have the answers at this time – they may never come and I accept that – I just wish I had a creative crystal ball, one that could reach inside the depths of my soul and pull out ideas without me having to dig for them. But, nothing truly comes easily and when I finally do get something on paper that I’m proud of, the toiling becomes worth it.

Love, Maggie

Pulling the Plug

It’s only the end of February and I’ve made the difficult decision to give up on the 2017 reading challenges I signed up for. The challenges I started are AMAZING and are hosted by AMAZING bloggers – I’ll link to them further on in this post!

While I am totally continuing to track my progress through the Goodreads challenge, I simply cannot bring myself to read set books. Over the past two months, I’ve come to realize that I’m an absolute mood reader!

If I claim I’m going to read blank book for, say, a certain month, I feel like I’m back in English class with an assigned book to put off reading until the last second. Needless to say, this causes me undue anxiety, which I put on myself.

I don’t feel as much pressure with the Goodreads challenge – it’s totally open-ended, meaning, of course, that I can read what I want, when I want. A lot of the time, I’ll go into reading a book with an idea of what I want to read next. However, being a mood reader and all, my plans typically fly out the window and I pick up something the book I just finished inspires me to read, whether it be similar or of a totally different genre.

For example, I recently finished my first Kasie West book, The Fill-In Boyfriend. Instead of reading The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern next, as I’d planned, I opted for the second in the Insanity series by Cameron Jace, Figment. I think all the exquisitely written romance of West’s tale turned me toward a guilty pleasure-type book. [The Insanity series is totally a guilty pleasure!]

While I do hate to pull out of my challenges, I do feel it’s necessary, as I feel like a creep when I don’t meet my goals – and I can already tell, obviously, that I’m going nowhere with my year-long reading challenges this year.

Here are the buttons and links to the challenges I am dropping out of – they are all awesome and if you’re top notch at finishing challenges, I highly recommend these!

The first challenge I’m opting out of is the very cool Reading Assignment Challenge, hosted by the lovely Michelle at Because Reading and Berls of Fantasy is More Fun. I did actually read the book I assigned to myself in January, alas, I never got in the mood for my February pick, hence my mood reading!

Just in case you’re curious, here’s the list of books I had planned to read for this challenge. [I want to get to them, but at my own pace.]

Technically, I could still do the Shelf Love Challenge, hosted by Second Run Reviews, as the point of the challenge is to show those books sitting on my shelves, begging me to read them, some attention. However, I’m simply too lazy to keep up with my progress.

As for the Keyword Reading Challenge, hosted by Claudia at My Soul Called Life, it has the coolest concept I think I have come across, challenge-wise. For the challenge, Claudia chose particular words coinciding with each month in 2017 for challengers to base a monthly book pick on.

While I managed to read – and adore – A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas for January, I had a tough time with choosing books that fit with the keywords for the remainder of the year. I think I tried to get too creative with my book titles!

As for all of you who are dedicated to completing your reading challenges this year, I applaud you! You are very admirable to me; I just don’t think I have it in me to participate in year-long challenges anymore. But, I do look forward to joining in on short challenges and read-a-thons throughout 2017.

Love, Maggie

Freshly Picked

Hi, y’all! I’m Maggie and I no longer consider myself to be new to the blogging community; however, I’m giving myself a fresh start here at The Caramel Files.

I have a blast as a co-blogger at The Bookkeepers’ Secrets, an amazing bookish blog where I write alongside Lila and Claire.

While I adore bookish blogging, especially review writing, I decided that I need my own nook of the internet – a place where I can decorate on a whim and learn to spread my bent blogging wings again.

P.S. I am in no way planning to abandon my post at The Bookkeeper’s Secrets!

As of this moment, I am starting this particular blog with no clear direction on where I’m going. Book blogging is part of my wheelhouse – I definitely want to sprinkle The Caramel Files with reading-focused content. My hope is to generate new and creative content as well, to try to stay away from specifically categorizing my brand spanking new blogging space.

I do have a sneaking suspicion that I will be dabbling in book talk quite often, but, as I said above, I’m hoping to incorporate more creative content, perhaps more writing-focused stuff.

I grew up living on books and pens – reading and writing at every opportune moment. While I’ve successfully reignited my love affair with books, I have yet to get back into the writing groove.

I have tons of memories of the creative writing adventures I undertook with my childhood best friend, Rachel. Practically every school year, we’d come up with new crazy characters and spend semesters focusing on developing said characters.

We made up some hilarious stuff! For example, I created a pathetic guy, Poor Johnny, who, in each story, had horrible luck and would sometimes lose multiple body parts. I remember giving Poor Johnny a glass eye complete with a smiley face as well as a hand missing every appendage save for his birdie finger. This feature often got Poor Johnny into severe arguments, typically with thugs.

Another of my favorite characters to write about was another pretty pathetic guy, Larry Lobo. I wrote of the misadventures of the Lobo family, which included wife Bertha, a truck driver, and a set of Siamese twins. My favorite part of the Larry Lobo tales is that the family’s neighbors live in a mansion dubbed Breaking Winds!

My own longest running series, The Cats Series, started as a school project in fourth grade and evolved over the remainder of my elementary school years. The Cats (and dogs) in the stories were based on my pets and those of friends and was a soap opera of sorts. Speaking of soap operas, I’m suddenly reminded of a ‘script’ I created years ago called As the Hairball Turns!

I feel that I was such a creative child and would like to build off the characters I made up so long ago. My hope is that as I work to evolve and polish my characters of yore that I will have a new creative burst. So, we’ll see what happens here!

To those reading this, I thank you for beginning with me my journey at The Caramel Files!

Love, Maggie