Lit Tuesday: The Handmaid’s Tale

Cover of The Handmaid's Tale with two women walking by a brick wall

I finally finished The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. One of my good friends at work loaned her copy to me because she wanted me to read it before getting into the show on Amazon Prime.

I’m not entirely sure how to describe how I feel about this book. It was excellent and well-written. But the way it ended–I feel like I had the rug pulled out from under me. It was also unsettling reading about a fundamentalist sect taking over the United States. As a woman, reading the book was uncomfortable because of how easy it was to imagine being in Offred’s frame of mind, not to mention the things that she’s forced to go through.

The narrative can be a little confusing, but I think that lends to the overall tone of the book. Offred is a Handmaid in the beginning of the Gilead takeover. She remembers her life before and her family, especially her daughter. The narrative bounces around as Offred’s thoughts wander to how things were before. then snaps back to her current surroundings. I felt this helped me gain a better sense of the confusion and almost split personality such a change would force on a person.

Offred arrives at a new house to be a Handmaid to a high-ranking officer in the Gilead government. The book follows her experiences there and how she attempts to cope and work through her role as, essentially, a slave who’s there to have babies for the sterile wife. Overall, I found The Handmaid’s Tale… chilling. Chilling is the best way I can describe it.

I think this is a book everyone should read once. It’s one of those sorts of books, much like Fahrenheit 451, 1984 (still need to finish that one), and Paradise Lost. (Yes. Paradise Lost is something everyone should read at least once.) These are some of the great literary pieces that get you thinking. While we read to enjoy, we need to read to expand our horizons as well.

Be sure to check out my other Book Reviews and let me know what you’d like to see more of!

Thirsty Thursday: I Love to Write Day

Today is I Love to Write Day! I’m celebrating it right now by writing up this blog post. It’s not the type of writing I had in mind when I first heard of this holiday, but it works. Writing isn’t just writing books, after all. It might be blogging, articles, screenplays, poetry, or even writing letters or working on a journal.

Speaking of journals, I’ve been working on one for the breweries I visit. I’m trying to collect as many stickers as I can so I can put them in a journal. On the page with the sticker, I’m putting my first Untappd check-in, my first brewery visit, the location/address of the brewery and then writing up thoughts on the beer and the brewery itself. When I’ve completed my first one, I’m going to put it on the bar for people to flip through when they visit.

I know a lot of people will take the stickers and put them on a canvas or a bartop. I love that idea. I’d like to actually learn how to remove labels from bottles so I can put the labels on a canvas. That would be pretty awesome instead of moving five million bottles (exaggeration, don’t worry) every time we move. Anyways, I love the idea of the canvas or bartop for stickers, but doing a journal just seemed more true to who I am. And it saves me more room when we’re moving.

Right now, I have 57 stickers in my first journal. I’m not going to visit all of the breweries in there, more than likely. (I’ve gotten some stickers from tastings and whatnot at festivals in town and decided to stick them in the journal as a “I’m going to visit this brewery, daggummit!” motivation.) I still have some space open for my SC breweries (despite having been to basically all the breweries in town, I need to get stickers for half of them), but all of my space for NC and other states has been filled up. Whoops.

What do you think? Are beer journals gonna pick up? I think they should. (Obviously, I’m biased.)

Lit Tuesday: Missed Posts

There are a lot of things I’m working to improve on–my writing, my career, my knowledge of useless trivia, my awareness of this world. Sometimes, though, I get so caught up in trying to plan for how to improve that I don’t actually follow through. I had a friend tell me one time that, as an INFP according to the Myers-Briggs personality type indicator, that’s because I derive a sense of pleasure from envisioning how I’m going to accomplish things. That doesn’t give me any reason to follow through by actually doing what I envisioned. This statement has stuck with me because, since then, I have noticed that is what I tend to do. I plan and envision and then put off the actual doing forever. (This is part of why I keep trying to work to get in the habit of doing things versus using sheer motivation.)

All this to say that one of the things I’ve been trying to do better at is this thing called bullet journaling. I’m one of those people that remembers things best if I write it down/type it up (huh, that could be a fun rabbit hole to explore) and when I was looking for a planner that covered everything I wanted, I just couldn’t find it. Instead, I found this bullet journaling thing and decided to try it. It has… more or less worked out for me. I don’t do any super fancy drawings (though maybe I will eventually as I used to draw a lot), but having the space to write down what my month ahead is going to look like along with carrying things over between my day-to-day helps a lot.

One thing thing I’ve done with my monthly layout has been to write down all the days I plan to write a post and then try to plan what the topic is. I’m also including fun holidays that I intend to post about on Instagram. I’m not doing such a great job with this on the weekends, sadly. I’ve missed a few posts since I was supposed to post last Thursday (and didn’t due to not good work-life balance).

  • Wednesday, Nov. 7 was World Gin Day (even though the official website said it was in June…. Maybe they have it twice a year?)
  • Thursday, Nov. 8 was Harvey Wallbanger Day. This is a classic cocktail I’ve never had.
  • Saturday, Nov. 10 was Neil Gaiman’s birthday. Happy belated birthday to him! Once I’ve finished The Handmaid’s Tale, I’ll read the copy of Norse Mythology I picked up while in South Dakota.
  • Sunday, Nov. 11 was, of course, Veterans Day in the U.S. Thank you to all of our Veterans who served.
  • Monday, Nov. 12 was National Happy Hour Day. I definitely missed out on that, but considering how social Miles and I were this weekend, yesterday was a day to stay at the house and talk to no one. It was great.

I didn’t have a topic written down for today (or most of the actual Lit Tuesday and Thirsty Thursday posts), but admitting I’ve missed a lot of posts works. Here’s to all of us out there struggling to improve and build those habits that we need.

Lit Tuesday: NaNo-Not Happening

It’s November! That means that I should have already gotten nearly 19,000 words down for a novel for National Novel Writing Month (or NaNoWriMo). But I haven’t written anything to any of my stories. And you know what? That’s okay.

I always try to use a list of prompts to get myself motivated or to get something down on paper. The prompts are awesome but my motivation just still… lacks sometimes. It’s something I’ve got to keep on working at. My passion is evident, but for some reason, my motivation wanes. Like I said, something to work on.

One thing they always say is that it takes up to three weeks to develop a habit. So maybe, for my own version of NaNoWriMo this year, I’ll continue typing up my Betelgeuse Chronicles story onto the computer. The first part is already written on paper. So, I think I’ll take the rest of this month to get my 5:00 wake-up back on track and type up as much as I can every day. Maybe just the habit of getting up and getting something down (even if it’s editing) will help me develop that habit that I need to rely on (because you can only rely on motivation so much).

Yes, NaNoWriMo is supposed to be about writing a novel. But sometimes you have to use that idea towards other energies. (And I think I’ve tried to do NaNoWriMo every year for the last four or five, so maybe it’s time to take a break from the traditional sense of it.)

Thirsty Thursday: Minneapolis and Brookings Breweries

I know. I’ve been absent. I’m sorry! We went to Minnesota and South Dakota for a friend’s wedding and it’s taking me forever to get back into the swing of things. Whoops. (I thought a one week vacation would be long enough. Apparently not. We totally could have spent more time going around Minnesota.)

We had a splendid time, especially since we got to catch up with people we hadn’t seen since we got married three years ago (and even longer for others). Naturally, though, I had to check out some breweries and bars. What else are you going to do on vacation?

  • Wooden Legs Brewing Company – Brookings, SD. This is the original brewery in Brookings, where Miles went to school. It opened up while he was out there (I’m pretty sure), but they’ve got some pretty good beers. I had their 100 Jalapenos lager and the Pub Shandy. Both were enjoyable, but I wouldn’t drink more than one of each at a time.
  • Eponymous Brewing Company – Brookings, SD. This is a new brewery in Brookings that opened up earlier this year. I think they’re off to a pretty solid start. I got a flight and tried their Funkzilla pale ale, Breakfast stout, Late for Church Belgian dubbel, and Third Stall stout. My friend that came with me had some different ones and let me try a sip of her Chocolate Chili S’morgle porter (which was delightful) and the Weizen Blue wheat/fruit beer. The ambiance and the aesthetic of the brewery were what I would expect to find in Park Circle (like Commonhouse).
  • Surly Brewing – Minneapolis, MN. Let me tell y’all. The biggest operation I’ve been to so far has been Highland Brewing Company. Surly is bigger and has a kitchen. Miles and I loved this place. When we go back, we’re definitely spending more time here. I had the Surly Pentagram and thoroughly enjoyed it since I gave it a four star rating on Untappd. (Side note: the meatball sub and chips and the burger and fries were amazing.)
  • Wild Mild Artisan Ales – Minneapolis, MN. This was my biggest must-visit brewery on my list. Wild Mind came down for the Funk Collective that I went to back in June. So when we decided to fly into Minneapolis and stay a couple of days, I really wanted to go. No regrets. They had an awesome little astroturf area for dogs, a little courtyard, and the taps are like a rainbow piano or something on the wall. The beers were great, too, of course. I had the Siam Sipper and gave it four stars.
  • Clockwerks Brewing – Minneapolis, MN. We stumbled on this brewery walking around in downtown Minneapolis. The decor of the brewery was unusual, but cool–it was almost steampumk-themed. Their beers weren’t my favorite, but they were still good. I had the Clockwerk Orange witbier, Tiktoktoberfest marzen, and the Kolsch.

This post is longer than I anticipated! I’ll have to do a separate post for the bars that we checked out. We can’t wait to get back up there and explore some more (especially in fair weather).


Lit Tuesday: Big Magic

Big Magic book in foreground with two corgi planters, a metal bird sculpture of silverware, a hunk of amethyst, and a wire feather in the background

Despite the title, this isn’t yet another book review of yet another fantasy book ( don’t worry–I’ll have plenty of those in the future).  My older sister over at The Beautiful Elements recommended this book to me and said that it really helped her re-frame her thoughts on creativity and inspiration. I’ll admit that I was skeptical at first (I’ve never read anything by Elizabeth Gilbert, not even Eat, Pray, Love) and I wasn’t even certain how to define my thoughts on creativity.

Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert is exactly what the title says. The entire book is how she views creativity (as a mystical, divine force outside of ourselves) and  how she does her best to work with it, work without it, and work despite it. She tackles how she believes creativity comes to each of us and how, if we don’t accept to work this idea it brings to us, creativity will then take the idea to another person (similar to the concept of how people on different continents had the same idea at the same point in time–but there’s no way they ever talked or crossed paths).

She discusses the trope of the tortured artist and how we’re all really doing ourselves a disservice by only creating through negativity (the idea that we have to suffer in order for our art to be considered legitimate or real). This stretch of the book was one that really spoke to me. Because I can’t say I’ve ever really felt like a tortured artist (other than when I am writing as a release from a negative emotion or moaning about how no inspiration is coming to me), I’ve always wondered subconsciously if there’s some reason I’m holding myself back or stopping myself from doing something I enjoy. Maybe this was part of it–wondering how legitimate I was.

I’ll stop there. But overall, I really enjoyed this book and it has helped me think a little more on my creative process and how to best continue trying to incorporate it into my life and make time for it. There are so many things that I want to do and I always feel like I don’t have enough time. But I do. I just have to make sure I make time (just like writing this at 5:27 a.m. on a Tuesday morning). Even the copious amounts of research I’ve done for stories, I’ve wondered if I can consider it part of my creative process and she discusses curiosity as inspiration and Big Magic waiting in the wings for you to put it together.

(If you’re wondering what I didn’t especially like, it was that had a few sections about higher education that she indicated she was against paying money for and that she did incorporate a lot of quotes from other famous friends. Which was cool and I really liked a lot of those quotes, but after the fifth time, it started taking me out of her narrative.)

If you’re looking for a book that’s no-nonsense yet understanding (because she’s been there, too)) about creativity (not just writing, though this book focuses on that) and living a creative life to feel more fulfilled, I recommend this book. This is one of those times I was happy to be proven wrong of my skepticism and read a book that was surprisingly close to my thoughts while improving my stance on creativity, inspiration, the muses, all that jazz.

To wrap up this post, I’ll finish with a quote. I wrote down ten quotes from Big Magic that spoke to me. Maybe I’ll write them all up on a canvas as a reminder to myself and stick it in my room somewhere. This is a quote from the middle of the book, where she discusses ideas that are shared between people by creativity (dubbed Big Magic by her).

“Most things have already been done — but they have not yet been done by you.” (Elizabeth Gilbert: Big Magic, pg. 97)

Lit Tuesday: Fictober 2018

trees with red and orange leaves. a road goes between the trees. Lit Tuesday: Fictober 2018 (Days 1 and 2) overlaid in white text.

Last  year, you might remember I tried to participate in an event called National Novel Writing Month (or NaNoWriMo for short). While I haven’t done any planning for it this year, I thought I might try to warm myself up with a list of prompts I found on Tumblr.

Introducing Fictober! (How do people come up with these cutesy names? It’s a talent I lack, sadly.)

I don’t think I’ll make a post every day I write to one of the prompts like I did last year. But I’ll try to summarize in my posts if I have managed to hit the prompts or if I skipped a day or what. I do have to admit I’m already not off to the greatest start–I didn’t write yesterday. However! This morning, I combined yesterday’s prompt with today and wrote a scene between my main character and one of the villains from what I’m calling my Betelgeuse Chronicles series. (I last touched on it in this post.) Maybe doing these prompts for my stories across the board will give me some inspiration to work on them some more.

Here are the two lines with the prompts:

  • Laurel glared at him, buried memories of scrambling from him, falling in the snow, and discovering her power under his hands. “What do you want? To try and finish what you started?”He narrowed his eyes. “Honestly. People like you have no imagination.”
  • “Let’s start with a preliminary cut.” He took a knife and sliced a three inch cut on her left bicep. “Can you feel that?”She did everything she could not to scream.

I know. Creepy. But this particular male character is pretty creepy in general. We’ll see what happens with tomorrow’s prompt!

(Banner image lifted from

Lit Tuesday: Banned Books Week

Banned Books Week logo of a red book with yellow tape crossed over it reading Banned Books Week

Banned Books Week is upon us once again! I think it’s important to talk about banned books as a society. People have had a long tradition of trying to censor stories and ideas that they don’t agree with or as a way of controlling the populace. But without a lot of those stories or reports, society wouldn’t be shaped in the way it is today. I think it’s incredibly important to read books that challenge your opinions or present new ideas to you. How else do you grow as a person?

If you always have the same opinions and never allow new thoughts and ideas into your life, you’re doing yourself a disservice. Yes, it’s scary to allow those new thoughts and ideas into your life, but who knows? Maybe because you open your mind, you create the next great American novel or discover a hidden artist within you or develop the passion that makes life worth living.

I’ll step off my soapbox now. This is something I still have to remind myself of. When I hit a rut and feel like I’m just going through the motions of life (like I have been), that’s where I know I need to shake things up and challenge myself again. It’s one reason I enjoy writing these blog posts, despite receiving little feedback or interaction with readers. These posts force me to do some research, to put my thoughts to–well, screen– and learn more about topics I’m passively enjoying, but not actively partaking in. I still have a lot of room as a person to grow, which is why I still need to read banned or challenged books as well. I took a look at the Ten Most Challenged Books Lists from 2001 to 2018 to see what caught my fancy:

  • The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett
  • Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi (I believe I’ve watched the animated version of this, but I’d really like to read it.)
  • Looking for Alaska by John Green
  • The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood (A friend is letting me borrow her copy, so I’ll probably read it when I finish Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert.)
  • Drama by Raina Telgemeier (This appears to be a graphic novel instead of a book. Interesting.)

I’m glad that, in looking through most of these lists, it appears I’ve already read a decent number of banned books without realizing it: His Dark Materials (one of my all-time favorite series); The Color Purple; Harry Potter; and others.

What are you going to challenge yourself with?

(Logo artwork courtesy of the American Library Association,

Wordy Wednesday: Distractions

I’m nearly done with my reread of the Harry Potter series! As I knew would happen, though, I’m too distracted by it to focus on anything else. I am hoping to get back to writing when I’m done, though. I was talking to a friend about it and it seems like previously, after I finished the rereads, I would have more inspiration to write and create. He wisely said, “Inspiration is wherever you find it. Those familiar things take you back to your roots.” (Thanks again, Jeremy!)

So, what am I going to work on when I stop being distracted? I’m not sure. I have a lot of distractions coming up–or, well, have plans that will distract me. Miles and I are going to host a diaper party for some friends of ours, so I have some projects around the house I want to take care of before people show up for that. (Make a flowerbed outside, but the bricks that are already there are essentially buried; paint some frames to put up pictures in the kitchen; paint the wifi name and password on a canvas; and so on.) That’s going to eat into my free time in the afternoons. Plus we’ll have a lot of weekend/social obligations coming up in October (although we don’t have anything planned in November right now, so maybe I can actually attempt NaNoWriMo again).

One thing I’m looking into doing is creating a bullet journal. They seem really handy and it would be a good way to combine planners. Right now I have a huge one for my blog to attempt planning out posts, but it’s so big that I don’t usually take it with me around town, and I have one for work/social life. I’m thinking it’ll be easier for me to juggle both if I have everything in one location. We’ll see how that goes, though.

Oh, and of course, it’s football season. The trick is going to be making sure I get my writing done in the early mornings again (it’s funny how I got into the habit of getting up at 5:00 and it was fine, but once I got out of it, I’m really struggling with it again–whyyyyy). I’ll get back to it. Anyone have any tips?

Lit Tuesday: Wanderlust Reads

journal with pen, glasses, and photos on top of old map

Okay, I’m making an attempt to get back on schedule. (Work is crazy for me right now.) In this Lit Tuesday post, I thought I’d discuss books related to something consuming my thoughts right now: travel.

My little sister and her new husband have been in Norway for their honeymoon. Needless to say, I’m entirely jealous (don’t worry–I’m also thrilled for them) because she keeps posting pictures of all the incredible and awesome things they’re doing and seeing. My husband even told her to stop posting things so I’d stop getting ideas (he was joking–I think).  So, while I have spent some time looking at trips and locations abroad to see how expensive a trip would be, I’m uncovering blogs to follow and books to read. Here are five books that I’d like to read for inspiration and to learn more about traveling.

  1. On the Road by Jack Kerouac. This came on up nearly every other list for “top books to read about travel”, so I figured I had better read it. The book is a fictionalized account of Kerouac’s travels with his friend Neal Cassady as they traveled the United States.
  2. Microadventures: Local Adventures for Great Escapes by Alistair Humphreys. Not all travel has to be abroad. This book is about creating “microadventures,” also known as day trips or weekend trips–or getting around town. It focuses on finding the adventure you live every day. Living in Charleston, it’s easy to do the same thing over and over, so this is probably a good way to remind myself that there’s more to Charleston than downtown, shopping, and breweries.
  3. Love with a Chance of Drowning by Torre DeRoche. The memoir focuses on when DeRoche met a man in a San Fransisco bar and fell in love at first sight. He isn’t in town for long, though, and she impulsively decides to go with him on his sailboat. There are a few problems with her doing this, the least of which is her fear of deep water. This sounded like it would be a gripping memoir and would also speak to me about taking risks.
  4. The Beach by Alex Garland. This is a fictional story about Richard, who is a young twenty-something traveling in Southeast Asia. He stops one night in Bangkok and, that same night, another traveler staying in the guest house Richard is in, leaves Richard a map to the Beach and slashes his wrist. Richard embarks with a young couple to find the Beach, which is supposed to be a utopia hidden away from the rest of the world. Apparently this is a movie. Either way, I’m always a fan of dystopia stories and this sounds like it will fit the ticket between dystopia and travel.
  5. How to Travel the World on $50 a Day: Travel Cheaper, Longer, Smarter by Matt Kepnes. A coworker of mine told me about his blog (Nomadic Matt) and I found this book within a few clicks. While some of his advice for saving money seems dated or isn’t applicable to me (it’s hard to get around Charleston without a car and we own a house, so we’re not going to live with our parents to save money), I’d like to read this book to see what cheaper destinations he suggests and other ways to save money both at home and while abroad.

I wanted to cover  several different categories within the travel genre. As some of you may remember, I’m not much of a non-fiction reader (it always takes me forever to get through non-fiction books). With these, though, I remain optimistic I can get through them in a decent amount of time.

And if you’re curious: I want to go to Ireland first. Or Italy. Or France. Or England. Japan would be awesome. The Maldives would be just as amazing. See where I have a problem deciding on where the first trip abroad should be?

(Header image appropriated from