Why I Blog

*I originally wrote this post as part of the Blogging from A to Z 2017 Challenge. Unfortunately, I dropped off in the middle of the month-long challenge. So, against my perfectionist nature, I’ve decided to go ahead and publish the posts I did get drafted, as I am proud of them, out of alphabetical order.

I honestly can’t pinpoint exactly why I started blogging. I do know that I wanted a space on the Internet to decorate and play around with. At first, I blogged about random things and just tested the waters for a while. I even had a site dedicated to touting awesome links on the web – the well quickly dried up for that blog!

I also have had so much fun making up sweet blog names! Two of my favorite past blog titles were The Novel Orange and Joy is Yellow. I began writing mostly about books and bookish endeavors after creating The Novel Orange, which, I quickly figured out, sounded like a book blog.

I remember getting so very excited when the idea for a bookish blog dawned on me and squealed with delight when I discovered that there is an amazing blogging community. I adore playing on Twitter and following bookish feeds and, of course, I’m obsessed with Goodreads.

I’ve met some awesome fellow book bloggers through shared literary love, but that certainly doesn’t mean my blogging journey has been easy. I have definitely made blogging blunders, most of which were pointed out by others. Please don’t get me wrong – I appreciate constructive criticism, but my feelings do get hurt when perfect strangers call me out for mistakes in rude ways. But that’s beside the point.

The great thing is, that after wallowing for a bit in my hurt feelings, I have an uncanny ability to re-frame situations I’ve found myself in by looking at the bright side and learning from my experiences.

For instance, I unintentionally ripped off a super popular blogging event, about which word traveled fast and I ended up being confronted by the creators of the original program. I recall reading the email sent to me by an event originator and feeling a hot chill travel through my body. I pondered running away from the Internet altogether and never showing my face in the blogging world again.

However, I decided against hiding and confronted the situation head on, after freaking out a little. I replied to those I had copied, explained myself, and basically fell on my sword – taking full responsibility for what I had done. Luckily, I was able to mend fences with said bloggers and even got to participate in their amazing project.

I’m still so proud of myself for owning what I did and turning an embarrassing incident into a major learning opportunity. I now know to contact bloggers who host projects, etc. that are similar to an idea of mine and I know to do my research as opposed to diving in headfirst.

While I’ve been justly confronted by a handful of bloggers for blunders, I have also been what I consider bullied due to personal opinions and beliefs – politically. I felt so ostracized and blacklisted after the Presidential election, especially on Twitter, that I rashly shut down and lost my original book blog, The Novel Orange. I let myself be harassed out of doing something I love – blogging.

However, I decided to not let the haters win; I actually got a bunch of likes when I announced on Twitter that I had closed The Novel Orange, which was very upsetting. I couldn’t believe that what I had believed to be such a wonderful online community had turned on me.

I was inspired to step back into the book blogging arena through support I received from kind bloggers who empathized with me. Now, these people whose kindness I was showered with are from both sides of the aisle, politically speaking. Let’s just say that the experience showed me who the real awesome bloggers are – the ones who aren’t judgmental.

While I’ve been through a few rough patches while teaching myself about the blogging world – and learning online etiquette – I feel, cornily, like a phoenix risen from the ashes. I’m still here and I’m not leaving again.

I also co-blog with Lila and Claire at The Bookkeepers’ Secrets – let’s just say that co-blogging is a blast! Lila actually reached out to me during my own personal presidential scandal and totally encouraged me to rejoin the blogging universe. I will forever be grateful to that sweet girl, whom I have never personally met, but who is obviously amazing!

While I’ve seen both the many positive – and few negative – aspects of blogging, I’m so thrilled to still be part of the community. I look forward to continuing to evolve as a blogger, writer, and reader while sharing in my experiences with you, my readers. 🙂

Now that you know a bit about my blogging background, I’m going to briefly break down the reasons I adore blogging.

  • The blogging community as a whole is so very welcoming – I feel like I’ve found the missing part of my tribe – the appendage that shares in my loves of reading and writing. I have met some amazing people through opening up to the online world, and I’m so glad I took a flying leap and did so!
  • Through blogging, I am able to write, which is something I’ve loved to do as long as I can remember. I love sitting down and letting my creative juices flow either through my pen or keyboard.
  • Since branding myself as a book blogger, I’ve had the opportunity to read some amazing books, as I was introduced to the fabulous NetGalley and similar sites.
  • I’ve been introduced to some amazing people via blog swaps and some swaps I’ve discovered through Twitter. I seriously treasure the time, thought, and care that has been put into each surprise swap package I’ve received, although I worry whether boxes I’ve sent are perfect! LOL! However, I really enjoy gifting to others and I have such a blast connecting through swaps!
  • Bookish Twitter chats were a chance discovery and I adore them.
  • I love to spread the love as often as I can by visiting, reading, and commenting on blogs. Getting comments on my own blog is amazing, but I especially like spreading joy and encouragement.

Blogging involves essentially letting oneself go – to free fall into giving personal, sometimes not accepted, opinions. Blogging involves opening oneself up to both praise and criticism, which can be difficult. I’m not normally one to put myself out there, I was the kid in school avoiding eye contact with teachers so as to hopefully avoid being called on in class, which usually backfired.

As I get older, I uncover my voice more and more, freeing my thoughts and releasing them into the public forum. My grandfather always touted the importance of lifelong learning and I’m still taking his advice, seeking to learn as much as possible and hone my skills as well as harden my backbone.

Love, Maggie

April = Graphically Reading

Sporadic Update was inspired by The Sunday Post meme hosted by Kimba at Caffeinated Book Reviewer. 😀

Sweet Reads

I did my first ever reread this month, as I listened to J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone via Audible. I’ve been wanting to reread the Harry Potter series for a while and I’m thrilled that I decided to go with listening to the books as opposed to simply rereading them – the voice of the narrator, Jim Dale, is perfection.

I did not realize how long it’s been since I read the Harry Potter books – I started the series in college in the early 2000s. I remember anxiously awaiting each sequel’s release after falling in love with the books. A friend had to convince me to give Harry a try, as the hype surrounding the books turned me off, but I’m glad I gave in.

There are so many details in the first Harry Potter tale that I’d completely forgotten, such as the prominence played by the jerks whom raised Harry, the dreaded Dursleys, and the awesome introduction to Quidditch. While I will definitely be listening to the books in order, I’m really excited to get to Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, my favorite of the series.

In a few days I read a bunch of graphic novels – G. Willow Wilson’s Ms. Marvel, Vol. 1: No Normal, Ms. Marvel, Vol. 2: Generation Why, Ms. Marvel, Vol. 3: Crushed, Saga, Vol. 2, Saga, Vol. 3, Saga, Vol. 4 by Brian K. Vaughan, and Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead, Vol. 1: Days Gone Bye, and The Walking Dead, Vol. 2: Miles Behind Us.

I quit watching The Walking Dead TV show a few seasons ago, but I love the graphic novels on which the show is based – they’re so much easier to follow than the AMC version. I loved the show when it debuted, but it took a turn for the convoluted pretty quick, so I’m excited to read more of the books to find out what the hell is really going on!

Additionally, I read Jennifer Keishin Armstong’s Seinfeldia, a chronicle of the evolution of the amazing sitcom, Seinfeld, and Scarlet by Marissa Meyer. Seinfeldia was a fun, factual read – it was so cool to read about how Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David conceived the premise of Seinfeld. I also loved learning about the costars, especially the elusive Michael Richards, who played Kramer.

I was really surprised to read about the off-screen drama regarding the show and it was cool to read tidbits about different episodes. As for Scarlet, I enjoyed it, but it didn’t grab me the way the first Lunar Chronicles book, Cinder, did. For some reason, I have a feeling I will really like Cress, the third in the series.

Sour Reads

I didn’t read anything that left me with a sour feeling in April, which makes me very happy! If I were to choose my least favorite book of the month, it would be Scarlet. As I said above, I really enjoyed the second Lunar Chronicles installment, but compared to the other books I read last month, it places at the end of the line.

Welcome to My Library!

As for my personal library, I welcomed quite a few books in April in physical, Kindle, and Audible formats. I preordered a book for the first time, A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas, and it arrived on the release date, which thrilled me to death. I’ve still got to read A Court of Mist and Fury, but I plan to do so soon – the suspense is killing me!

I bought a few more graphic novels in April – I’m so into the genre lately. I got, of course, Saga, Vol. 7 as well as Descender, Vol. 1: Tin Stars by Jeff Lemire, and Ms. Marvel, Vol. 1. I’ve suddenly discovered comiXology unlimited, which is where I read the two Walking Dead books and the second and third Ms. Marvel installments.

Additionally, I purchased Stephen King’s The Stand and On the Fence by one of my newest favorite authors, Kasie West. Thus far, I’m really engrossed in King’s book, by far the largest I’ve ever read at 1153 pages. As of today I’m a tad over 250 pages into it, which is really good for a slowish reader such as I.

As for Kindle editions, I obtained Carve the Mark by Veronica Roth, The Gunslinger by Stephen King, and Psycho by Robert Bloch. I haven’t delved much into horror books, which is weird because I love to scare myself, but I’m really excited about the creepy ones I did get!

Via Audible I got Stephen King’s clown classic, It, Caitlyn Jenner’s memoir, The Secrets of My Life, about which I’m incredibly excited, Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery and narrated by Rachel McAdams, whom I adore, and Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, read by the fabulous Claire Danes. Finally, I got hold of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.

Challenging

I’m so proud to still be able to say that I’m ahead of my Goodreads goal! Yay! Thus far this year I’ve read 26 of 40 pledged books, meaning I’m clocked in at 13 books ahead of schedule. I read a bunch of graphic novels in April, so I’m planning to read harder this month, hence my starting the behemoth epic The Stand.

I’m joining in on the Bout of Books 19 challenge that begins tomorrow and I’m so excited! I haven’t done a reading challenge all year and I think I’ve set an attainable goal consisting of three not-too-long or too emotionally heavy books.

For the challenge, I’ve chosen to read Geekerella by Ashley Poston, On the Fence by Kasie West, and Three to Get Deadly by Janet Evanovich.

May(hem)

Well, from May 8 through May 14, I’ll be focusing on reading the three books I picked for the 19th Bout of Books challenge. In the meantime, and especially after I (hopefully) complete the challenge, I’m going to continue working on The Stand, which is enthralling!

In Closing

Have a fantastic May, y’all!

Love, Maggie

Ensnared

EnsnaredEnsnared by Rita Stradling
Published by Rita Stradling on May 23rd 2017
Genres: Retelling, Romance
Pages: 380
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley, Publisher
Buy on Amazon, Buy on Barnes & Noble, Buy at The Book Depository
Goodreads

Alainn’s father is not a bad man. He’s a genius and an inventor. When he’s hired to create the robot Rose, Alainn knows taking the money is a mistake.
Rose acts like a human. She looks exactly like Alainn. But, something in her comes out wrong.
To save her father from a five year prison sentence, Alainn takes Rose’s place. She says goodbye to the sun and goes to live in a tower no human is allowed to enter. She becomes the prisoner of a man no human is allowed to see.
Believing that a life of servitude lies ahead, Alainn finds a very different fate awaits her in the company of the strange, scarred recluse.
[This novel contains adult situations and is only suitable for readers who are 18+]

A retelling of Beauty and the Beast, the story arc is predictable, meaning girl falls in love with Beast and vice versa, Rita Stradling’s Ensnared kept me guessing nevertheless. The buildup to the final push of love between Alainn, the pretty captive of Lor, takes twists and turns that actually had me wondering if the fated couple would ultimately be together.

What interested me in this book is the fact that it is a futuristic retelling, complete with robots that are very intelligent. Alainn begins her journey into the fortress of the mysterious, scarred Lor, posing as a robot, Rose, which was created for Lor by Alainn’s father.

Keeping up the guise of being inhuman, Alainn soon finds that the plan made for her by the real Rose model is not what she agreed upon, which was to go to Lor in Rose’s place for a short time before being switched out for the real robot.

As she falls in love with Lor, pressure mounts for Alainn to maintain her robotic act. Alainn is a brilliant character; she is very creative when questioned about her seemingly human behavior at times. While in the midst of falling in love, Alainn is being manipulated by another robot, the original Rose model, which is in cahoots withe the newer model.

Alainn’s seemingly idyllic existence with Lor is quickly shattered as she finds herself caught in a race against time to not only save the life of her true love, but to reveal to him her true identity.

Love, Maggie

Bout of Books 19

Yay! I’m so excited that it’s time for Bout of Books again! I absolutely cannot believe this will be the 19th installment! This session begins Monday, May 8 and ends Sunday, May 14. In past Bout of Books challenges, I’ve never been successful in completing my TBR for the week; however, the challenge is so laid back, which is perfect for me.

I have decided to create a TBR list for this round, but I’m not going to be totally overambitious or necessarily hold myself to my list, as I am a mood reader. I figure I’ll add books I’ve been dying to read for a while now.

Following is the official challenge blurb:

The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda Shofner and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, May 8th and runs through Sunday, May 14th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 19 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. – From the Bout of Books team

I’m *pledging* to read the following books next week:

There we go – there’s my modest Bout of Books 19 TBR list! I was tempted to add at least one more book to my list, but remembered that I want my goal to be attainable! To everyone else participating, good luck and have a blast!

Love, Maggie

Blogging Slump Giveaway

Hey, y’all! Due in part to my intense blogging slump and definitely because I love playing Santa year-round, I’m hosting my first Caramel Files giveaway! I’m really excited about this particular giveaway, as I’m rewarding one lucky winner with two, yes I said TWO, books! The winner will have the chance to choose one book and I will also surprise him or her with a mystery read!

The Simple Rules

  • This giveaway is open internationally!
  • The winner will receive one book of choice – excluding pre-orders – from either Amazon or The Book Depository worth $15.00 or less.
  • The winner will also receive one surprise book chosen by Maggie (if you’d like, link me to your wish list in the comments section or via email at thecaramelfiles@gmail.com so I can better choose a surprise for you!)
  • The giveaway will end May 31 at midnight CST
  • GOOD LUCK!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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

Nicholas

My family always had cats when I was growing up. Mom and Dad had two cats when I was born, Nicholas and Alice. Mom has told me of precious memories in which Alice would lay across my baby body while I was being bottle fed. I guess that’s when my connection with cats began. I adore dogs too, but we didn’t get our first, Molly, until I was in high school. Now I’m technically a cat and dog person, but cats will always hold a special place in my heart.

While Alice moved in with my grandparents when my family returned to Tennessee from West Virginia, Nicholas stayed with us until he passed away at the ripe old age of 18. He was a quirky cat. I remember being little and at the time Nicholas was a fat cat. Apparently, due to being nervous, at least that’s how my parents explained it, Nicholas incessantly licked every bit of fur off his stomach – he had a bald belly!

We have a bunch of old pictures of Nicholas just hanging around, lounging, with his tongue sticking out of his face. Mom and Dad also have told many a tale about that cat, who probably really had nine lives. For example, Nicholas was outside, near the road, while my grandfather got the mail. By Granddaddy’s account, a creep driver swerved to hit Nicholas, who survived.

Nicholas lived with my grandparents for a short time with Alice. My Mom has a story of Grandmother driving by our home with Nicholas, whom she tossed out the car window while saying, ‘Nicholas wanted to come home!’ and then sped off! Apparently, Nicholas drove Grandmother nuts because he always tried to run into the house. Alice got to live out the rest of her years with my grandparents, as she loved being an outside cat.

Another time, Mom recounted driving away from home one day. She said she glanced in the rear view mirror and ‘saw fur flying’! Mom instantly pulled over and there was Nicholas, on top of her car, with his claws dug into the top – perhaps it was cloth back then – holding on for dear life. That was at least the second life he used up!

There’s also a story in which Nicholas walked across the canopy of my parents’ bed as they slept one night. He ended up falling through the fabric canopy and landed, claws out, on Mom and Dad! Another time, when he was a kitten, he actually peed on my Dad while he was asleep in bed! Nick went to the vet for neutering the very next day.

When I got a little older, I would dress up Nicholas in my doll’s clothes and put jewelry on him. I could tell he wasn’t fond of playing dress-up, but he tolerated me. Essentially, I grew up with that cat – I remember him living with us at each home we were in, in every state. He slept with me at night every now and then, he liked to spread himself by sleeping somewhere different each night. I remember sitting in a rocking chair with him in my lap. I couldn’t stop wiggling for whatever reason and he literally kicked me with one of his hind legs, basically telling me to be still.

It’s interesting to me how animals seem to intuitively know when they are near death. Each cat we’ve had that was outside at its time of passing has simply wandered off into nature to peacefully die, never to be seen again. That’s what our Nicholas did. I remember our neighbor kids finding bones that were small enough to belong to a cat in the woods near their backyard. Assuming they belonged to Nicholas, I scooped them up and buried them in our backyard – that’s how much he meant to me – he deserved a proper burial.

To Nicholas, my first black cat and beloved buddy – I love you, always and forever.

Love, Maggie

Mister to Miss

I immediately burst into tears when, about three years ago, I heard the news that my husband’s male cousin had come out with his decision to transition into a woman. I didn’t cry out of disgust, disappointment, or judgment. I began to cry because I could somehow feel a pin prick of the pain our loved one had most likely lived with throughout his thirty-something years.

I grieved not only for him, but with him, from a distance. I cried out of happiness that he chose to reveal his true self rather than take an easy way out through either suicide or continuing to live a lie. He was married – I have fond memories of the wedding, easily one of the most fun weddings I’ve ever attended.

We saw him for the last time during the summer of 2013; he had already begun the early stages of transitioning, but no one, not even his family, save his wife, knew. I remember noticing that he not only looked different at the time, but he acted differently. He was more effeminate, nervous, awkward, yet still the pleasant, hilarious person he always was.

I left his home in 2013 knowing that something was happening with him, I just had no clue what it was; I thought that perhaps he was having marital issues. I had no idea just how deeply his circumstances and emotions were running.

He always worked two or three jobs at a time under the guise of paying student loan bills. In truth, he was working so much to save money toward financing the change he was preparing to make. When he came out to his immediate family – my husband and I heard the news from my sister-in-law, via letter, we were all shocked. As the news set in, a lot of things began to make sense. Hindsight is definitely 20/20.

Now she is living full-time as a woman and she is beautiful. She is beautiful not only on the outside, but she is still just as beautiful as she always was – except it was obvious she was so much more comfortable in the skin she always knew she needed to be in.

While she has endured her fair share of struggles that I could never begin to truly understand, she is a true inspiration – a courageous person who had the nerve to attend her high school reunion as she really is. She was embraced by her former classmates and has received an outpouring of support from those who love her.

It hasn’t been a completely easy transition for her family, who never knew of her long hidden, suppressed feelings. I salute her bravery – she was in her mid-thirties when she came out. She easily could have continued living the lie she’d led for three-and-a-half decades. However, she chose happiness instead.

Upon meeting her for the first time, I was undeniably nervous. What if I burst into tears and cried in her face? What if I acted funny, even though I didn’t judge her choice? What if I made her feel uncomfortable? What if I blurted out personal questions? Fortunately, none of these things happened when I was introduced to her. It wasn’t a meeting after all – when I saw her, it was as though she was who she was meant to be all along; our interaction was as natural as before.

While he was awkward, nervous, jittery, and obviously carrying heavy stuff in his head, she is confident, happy, and exactly where she needs to be. Her confidence radiates and inspires me to be a better person, to be brave enough to be my true self as well.

Love, Maggie

A Literary Journey

While I can’t remember exactly how old I was when I first started reading, I do know it was at an early age. I had collections of Dr. Seuss books, fairy tales, you name it, I probably had it – and still do. I recall reading by the light of the hallway outside my bedroom when I was supposed to be asleep.

One summer, maybe after second grade, we were given sheets of paper on which to record our summer reading progress. When I turned in my paper that fall, I had filled it front and back; I don’t think any of my classmates did this. I can still see the look on my teacher’s face when I handed in my paper.

I was all about reading all through elementary school – I couldn’t go without having a book to read and would immediately choose new books to check out of the school library after taking an accelerated reading test on whatever I’d just finished reading. I remember a particular shelf in the school library that was filled with such books by Judy Blume, Beverley Cleary, and Laura Ingalls Wilder, to name a few. That was my favorite shelf and I probably read every book contained within the bookcase to which the shelf belonged.

I loved challenging myself to read ‘big’ books as a kid. I read Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park in fifth grade and adored it. I felt like a big shot reading it during class breaks! I even won the first place trophy for having earned the most accelerated reading points from the time I was able to take tests, maybe in third grade, through eighth grade – it was always a competition between a few of my classmates and I and I would do my best to read fat books offering at least twenty points a pop.

By the time I hit high school, however, I stopped reading independently. While I had the opportunity to read a bunch of awesome books for classes, I had begun getting to the point of being unable to concentrate enough to read at all. I would reread paragraphs and entire pages due to my inability to really absorb myself in stories.

Many years later I figured out my reading habits had drastically changed as a result of being hit by intense anxiety and depression and other things happening in my brain. I was a junior in college and experiencing severe depression. I remember trying to do readings for classes and not being able to retain anything I had just read. Everything was daunting and I missed reading so much.

I feel like I’ve missed out on so many books because of my mental illness. Fortunately, I am now able to concentrate on reading. Being able to actually focus on words now has shown me just how deep my depression ran before I sought help.

I’m proud to say that I’m once again obsessed with reading and have a TBR list at least a mile long! Once again I absolutely must have a book or my Kindle with me anytime I know I’ll be sitting in a waiting room. If I don’t have a book on my Goodreads currently reading shelf, I feel lost!

I’m so grateful that there is aid for those suffering with mental illness and that it is so widely available, even if the quality of care isn’t totally up to par. I’m lucky to have found an excellent psychiatrist whom has helped me return to my old self through a mix of medications and therapy.

I guess this post serves as a pseudo public service announcement: if you adore books but are unable to concentrate on words and retain plot points, you may be depressed, like I was. I was so glad to find out what had caused my years-long reading slump. I’m even more glad to be able to say that chapter is over.

Love, Maggie

The Kindle Lending Library

Guess what?! In case you haven’t heard, Amazon now allows readers to loan Kindle ebooks to others! 😀 The only caveat to this awesome new feature is that not EVERY book is eligible for loaning. However, I have some amazing titles available to lend on a first come, first serve basis – due to the fact that each ebook may be loaned out only once.

The process is simple – I did have to spend a while to figure out the system, but once I did, it’s easy! If you’re interested in any available books from my Kindle library, leave me a comment. If you are the first person to request a given title, I can send you a link via email to access the book. You can keep a book for up to two weeks before it must be returned.

I hope people are interested in borrowing from my Kindle – I love to share!

Following are the books I have available to loan to anyone with the capability to read electronic editions! 😀

Love, Maggie