the bookworm tag | rainbow bookshelves, TBR lists, & more!

hey, loves!

i’ve been on a reading kick lately (i’m twelve books ahead of schedule on my goodreads challenge!), so i put together this fun book-themed tag. i decorated my bookshelf with some fairy lights and succulents to make my pictures look extra cute and everything.

also, happy late valentine’s day! i spent the afternoon hanging out with my musical friends, then went shopping with my bff. and my school does candygrams on holidays (you pay $1 and clubs will deliver little heart-shaped cards with candy attached to whoever you want), and i got one?? i was so shocked, and it was from exactly who i wanted it to be from, so overall it was a pretty great day. :)

anyway — the tag!

1) how often do you read?

pretty much every day. i take a book (or several) with me everywhere i go: school, church, car rides, etc. i read whenever i get the chance, even if it’s just one page while i’m walking to class.

my friends (and some teachers) at school tell me that i have a new book every time they see me, and they’re not wrong.

2) do you read or write fanfiction?

oh boy, no. i’ve never been one for fanfiction. i don’t see the appeal in writing it, because when i write, i want my own characters and my own story. i don’t want to leach off of someone else’s imagination. and i don’t read fanfiction, either, because i’ve heard that most of it is really bizarre stuff, or not good quality.

3) how do you organize your books?

just like everything else in my room, my bookshelf is organized by color! the rainbow gradient is the most colorful, happy part of my space.

i’ve thought about organizing my series separately, maybe putting them all on the bottom shelf so they’re easier to find. but that would mean ruining my rainbow, so i don’t know.


4) what are you currently reading?

my lady jane by cynthia hand, brodi ashton, and jodi meadows. i think writeowl recommended it to me? it’s historical fiction with some magic thrown in, and i’m about halfway done with it right now. i’m enjoying it, but i find it a little hard to get into sometimes.

5) what is your favorite genre?

to read, emotional contemporaries or magical realism/fantasy. as for writing, i used to come up with a lot of fantasy stories, but right now i’m mainly interested in poetry.

398915866) how many books are on your TBR list, and what’s the newest addition?

right now, i have 264 books on my TBR list, which isn’t actually that bad, i don’t think. and my most recently added book is #neveragain: a new generation draws the line by david and lauren hogg. it’s nonfiction, and about two siblings who survived the parkland shooting last year. since i’ve never been good about keeping up with the news, i don’t know that much about the shooting, other then that it sparked a huge political debate about gun control. but i want to learn more, and i figured that i should start with reading about what actually happened.

7) pick a book with a cover that’s your favorite color

my favorite color is maroon, and out of all the books i own, the battle of the labyrinth is closest to that. i found my copy at an almost otherworldly book store in pennsylvania a few years ago.

8) paperbacks or hardcovers?

paperbacks. they hold two stories: the one written in ink, and the one written in the crinkled, folded pages. the one written by the author, and the one written by the reader. there’s just something more intimate about them, i think.

also, i like that they’re lighter and easier to hold or slip into my backpack.

9) do you own any signed books?

just two, i think. one is a copy of sarah j. maas’ a court of thorns and roses that i found at a thrift store, and the other is the prophet, the shepherd, & the star by jenny l. cote. she did an author talk at my co-op when i was in elementary or middle school, and she signed it for me there.

10) where do you usually get your books?

the library, mostly. the public one has a fairly large collection of YA novels, plus an indecently enormous children/MG section, and then my school’s library has a surprising amount of interesting books.

if it’s not from the library, chances are that whatever book i’m reading was either borrowed from a friend or found at a thrift store.

11) what books have you read this month?

i’ve finished seven so far: four novels, one nonfiction book, one collection of poems, and one graphic novel. my favorites are dear evan hansen by val emmich and crush by richard siken (thanks for the recommendation, ellie!).

if anyone wants to do this tag on their own blog, please go right ahead! just link back to this post if you do.

what are you currently reading?

xo apollo


my winter camp 2019 experience


i spent a long weekend last month working at that boy scout camp that i’m constantly talking about. (so, yes, this is another camp post, as if i don’t post enough about that place already.) staffing at winter camp was wildly different from my experiences there last summer. i thought i’d share my ordeal with you all, because how often do you get to learn about what really goes on at a scout camp?

packing list for winter camp:

– as many blankets as you can fit in your bag. it will be freezing and the heaters won’t work.

– wool socks, gloves, and a thick coat that makes you feel like a marshmallow. despite all those layers, you won’t ever be warm enough.

– a journal, to keep track of the health officers’ phone numbers and last minute lesson plans.

– don’t bother with showering supplies, because the camp will be winterized and there won’t be a lot of running water. just bring dry shampoo and deodorant instead.

– lots of snacks. the kitchen staff are stingy. they’ll give you two hash browns for breakfast and act surprised when they find you eating lucky charms in the back.

– water bottles. there’s no running water, remember?

– tea bags. preferably a kind with lots and lots of caffeine in it. you will not get nearly enough sleep to function without the help of tea or coffee.

– a knife, a lighter/matches, painkillers, and lip balm. be prepared.

| friday |

just getting to camp in the first place was tricky business. staff was asked to arrive at three in the afternoon, there was supposed to be a one o’clock dismissal that day, and it’s about a two hour drive to get there. so, time was a bit tight, but if i left immediately after school, it should have worked out. but then the school decided to let out at three instead of one. which is, you know, a bit inconvenient.

i ended up leaving school early, then going home to finish packing. because despite planning on staffing at winter camp since august, i still waited until the very last minute to find all my stuff. and i had a lot of stuff: three bag fulls, in fact. one backpack stuffed with things like books and snacks, a smallish duffle bag filled with typical going-away-for-the-weekend things, and then an enormous bag my mom forced me to take. she packed that one for me, and it contained lots of useless, bulky snow gear.

on the way there, i read love & gelato and listened to billy joel’s greatest hits on repeat. i’ve made that drive so often that the two hours doesn’t feel like anything. i just look out the window at familiar landmarks, i blink, and we’re there. amazing, really.

the camp has two sides: the boy scout side, which is where i go to summer camp and where i hope to work this year (i sent in my application a week or two ago . . . wish me luck), and the cub side. it blows my mind a little that i’ve been going there for three years, and i’ve never seen cub camp before.

anyway, once we arrived, i checked in and picked up my staff hoodie. it’s a lovely blue, so warm, and a huge improvement from the disgusting highlighter-yellow t-shirts from last summer. then my mom and i drove all the way to the other side and dropped my stuff of at a staff cabin. the cabins there are really more like plywood sheds, and there was a tiny heater on the floor — really cozy, you know?

and here’s where things get fun. as i was walking back to the main road from staff site, i heard our health officer talking on the phone with someone from admin (this health officer is yanni, the one who made me overdose last summer. i love him). he was complaining about the sink not working in the health lodge, and as he was talking, i spotted a line of port-a-potties beside the road. so, basically: there was just about no running water in the camp. there were a few working bathrooms on cub side, and the sinks at the STEM center functioned some of the time, but the only shower was at admin.

it wasn’t a great way to start the weekend. not being able to shower makes me a little panicky inside for some reason. i really did want to go home then and there, but of course my mom wasn’t going to allow that, so i just thanked God that i don’t sweat.

good things that happened on friday:

– i was reunited with some friends from last summer!! most of the staff are in college, and i assumed  a lot of them wouldn’t be at winter camp because they’d busy with exams or whatever. but most of them made it, so i spent the weekend hanging out with kaitlyn (aka my camp mom), jordan (handicraft director), john (nature director), and brie (friend from ahg camp who works on cub side). it was so wonderful to see them again and i miss them all so much already.

– brie went out to dinner instead of eating camp food (a very wise decision), and she brought me lo mein with tofu!!

– had a wild conversation with kaitlyn and john about how many staffers are gay. apparently, the answer is at least half. i love scout camp.

| saturday |

the next morning, i had to be at the dining hall on cub side by 7 a.m. to help serve breakfast. i got up at 5 o’clock every morning and walked a mile in the cold just to stand around in the kitchen for two hours and dish out a meal that i couldn’t eat while wearing a ridiculous paper hat. the only thing that made it bearable was the classic rock blasting from a speaker. i must have heard jessie’s girl twenty times that weekend.

after an appetizing breakfast consisting of a single dry biscuit, i headed over to the STEM center to help kaitlyn teach programming. i say “teach,” but really i just wrote lines of code on the whiteboard, because i have no idea how to help boys program games and calculators into java.

we had a campfire in the dining hall that night. this particular campfire involved no flames, and i couldn’t see or hear the skits, and it was all around  a little miserable. just before it started, i had spotted someone for last summer, someone who i associate really awful memories with, and i don’t know. i just freaked out. i couldn’t keep still; i kept pacing and fidgeting and i felt like the air was too warm and i couldn’t breathe properly.

i decided to wash my hair that night. i tossed a tiny bottle of shampoo into my backpack and hiked from my cabin to STEM at one in the morning. i have to say, there’s something about washing your hair in a dirty sink during the witching hour, while listening to rain on a metal roof, that is strangely poetic to me.

| sunday |

after another half-awake morning in the kitchen, i helped jordan with space exploration, otherwise known as my favorite merit badge ever. we headed into the dining hall armed with boxes of rockets and hot glue guns. it took ALL MORNING for the campers to get their rockets together, which made me desperately miss my friend scout, because he is a genius and can put one of those kits together in ten minutes flat.

eventually, the rockets were ready to launch, so we took them into the field outside and shot them off one at a time. it must have taken at least an hour. it was windy, and i was starving (i’d been living off of hot tea and vanilla pudding, which isn’t that filling), and my jacket was back in my cabin so i was cold, too. i ended up taking jordan’s coat, which helped some, but still. my only joy was using the C engines. those bad boys sent some rockets all the way to the other side.

Related image
this is a blue card. they are a pain and take forever to fill out.

afterwards, jordan proceeded to make me crouch in the mud while he signed at least twenty blue cards on my back. because, you know, what else is support staff good for?

that night, i moved into a cabin with kaitlyn and brie on cub side. that wasn’t strictly allowed, but i likely would have frozen to death if i hadn’t. it got down into the single digits that night, and had only warmed up to fourteen degrees by 7 a.m. the next morning. there was no chance of me walking a mile to breakfast in that kind of weather.

| monday |

when i was trekking up to the dining hall that morning, i paused in the middle of the icy road to gaze at the moon. the lunar eclipse had taken place over the night, and the super blood moon was still hanging in the sky, tinted red. there was a colorful ring around it that looked just like a lens flare.

they didn’t need help with breakfast that morning, and no one had bothered to tell me, so i made some hot tea in the dining hall and hurried back to the cabin. i curled up next to the heater and got a few more much needed hours of sleep.

kaitlyn and i were teaching the mammal study badge in the nature lodge that day. unfortunately, kaitlyn had procrastinated writing a lesson plan, and we also had no idea where the nature lodge was on the cub side. we ended up wandering around the camp while the freezing wind got under our skin until we got brie to give us directions over the phone.

the nature lodge was conveniently all the way on the outskirts of the camp. we passed some enormous red yurts tucked away in the trees and i started fangirling. that’s really the only way to describe it. i’d read about the yurts on the camp’s website, but i’d never seen them before. they were so cool!! i didn’t go inside any of them, but still. i love those yurts.

mammal studies was a little bit miserable. the lodge’s heater didn’t work at all, the scouts wouldn’t listen to me, kaitlyn and i weren’t prepared, etc. it was such a relief when we finished early. if i’d been out there much longer, i think i would have turned into a popsicle. as it was, i couldn’t feel my hands until at least an hour later, despite hanging out in the heated dining hall with a cup of hot tea.

my friends cleared out shortly after, so i holed up in the cabin with a book and several cups of vanilla pudding while i waited for my mom to arrive. it was sort of peaceful. the camp was quiet for once, instead of being filled with the shouts and cheers of boys playing in the gaga pit.

my mom got lost a few times on the way home. (it is truly amazing to me that after all this time, she is still finding new ways to get lost.) i had been looking forward to finally getting a shower, but as soon as i stepped inside, i got a text from a friend reminding me that there was pep band that night. i didn’t have time to change out of the staff hoodie i’d been shivering in all weekend, much less get a desperately needed shower, before i was at school and setting up a bass drum in the bleachers.

other things that happened at winter camp:

– my “friend” peter called me a communist and a liberal because i said i’m in marching band and don’t like meat?? i was telling him that i play percussion when he interrupted with a gasp and said, “i was afraid you were going to say that you play triangle! i can just see you jamming to a triangle solo.” and it would have been hilarious except i did actually play triangle at one point during our show. :’)

– a scout that i’ve never talked to in my life told me one night that i looked really pretty that day. thanks, i guess?? it was sort of weird. having guys flirt with me is my least favorite thing about staffing there.

– i’m pretty sure this kid that i troop guided for last year was flirting with me. i’m not 100% sure, but hear me out. he was support staff too and we worked in the kitchen together during every meal. he sat with me during breakfast, was really friendly, gave me cookies from his lunch, etc. we hiked all over camp together on friday, he walked me back to my cabin twice, and he even invited me to play cards against humanity with him in his cabin. do i just have a really big ego, or does it sound like he was flirting and i was just too oblivious to notice?

– everyone thought i was older than i actually am. when i mentioned my real age, it was followed by lots of disbelief and exclamations about how i’m “just a baby!” love that for me.

– i got really sick with the flu right after camp and ended up missing a week of school. i think i got it from kaitlyn. thanks, camp mom, i was basically dying but at least i got to stay home and read.

overall, winter camp involved a lot of shivering, not enough sleep, horrible food, and a scratchy throat from yelling at insolent scouts. it was unorganized and the classes seemed to stretch on forever. but do i plan on going back next year? oh, absolutely. i want another staff hoodie.

have you ever been to a winter camp? how did it compare to summer camp?

xo apollo

monstrous affections: an anthology of beastly tales | review



i received monstrous affections: an anthology of beastly tales for christmas, finished it two days later, and now i’m finally sharing my review of it. if i actually went through and talked about all fifteen stories, this would be an incredibly long, wordy post, so i’m only going to review a couple of them.

(this review has some spoilers, mostly for old souls and quick hill, but they’re not so bad that they’ll completely ruin the story for you.)

let’s get into it!

moriabe’s children by paolo bacigalupi – i adored the writing style in this story, which was simple yet poetic, and it was a great way to start the book. it dealt with heavy issues like sexual abuse and suicide without romanticizing them. in just a few pages, you already hated and ached for the characters you were supposed to, respectively, even without knowing too much about them. the ending was shocking and i didn’t see it coming at all.

old souls by cassandra clare – cassandra clare is supposed to be a great paranormal writer, but i wasn’t impressed by this at all. it’s about leah, a teenage girl who’s working at a retirement home over the summer while living with her grandma. she notices something strange about the young male nurse who works there too, and eventually finds out that he’s a vampire. the big reveal wasn’t shocking and kind of fell flat for me. however, i did find it refreshing that he wasn’t interested in leah at all, only in taking the blood of the elderly. it was nice to read about vampires and not have said ancient vampire be obsessed with a minor.

however, i didn’t find the story that engaging, i didn’t care about the characters, and having people from leah’s school bully a girl over facebook seemed farfetched and out of date.

ten rules for being an intergalactic smuggler (the successful kind) by holly black – this reminded me of the hitchhiker’s guide to the galaxy, and it was one of the best stories in this anthology. tera was a fierce, clever and risk-taking mc who stowed away on her uncle’s ship and learned to be a smuggler. i adored her, the way she dealt with terrible situations, and her friendship with the alien was rather wholesome.

quick hill by m. t. anderson – this one started out alright but later descended into madness. the concept of this short story is that a family marries their sons off to a magic hill in order to keep bad things from happening in the world, i guess? it’s set in world war II and follows don thwait as he falls in love with a local girl and tries to avoid his destiny of marrying the hill to end the war. i enjoyed the idea and the slow romance up until part two, marriage, because that’s when the writing style changed and i found myself unable to understand what was happening. 

wings in the morning by sarah rees brennan – i’m going to be honest: this short story is the only reason i wanted the book, and i’m not 100% sure that it was worth it. while i adore brennan’s witty writing and captivating, three-dimensional characters, the story was basically copied and pasted from her novel, in other lands. i knew it was about the same characters featured in the book, so i was expecting something fluffy and cute about the best unlikely couple i’ve ever read about. but it was just the end of in other lands, told from luke sunborn’s perspective instead of the novel’s mc’s, elliot schafer. i recognized a lot of the dialogue as being straight from the book, and i was kind of disappointed about not having any really new content about the characters of in other lands. still, the writing is A+ and i did enjoy seeing luke’s thoughts for once, since he didn’t get as much of the spotlight in in other lands as he should have.

a small wild magic by kathleen jennings – this one is a tiny graphic novel, which was honestly a very welcome break from all the actual reading i’d been doing up until that point. the style is simple and cute, more sketch-like than cartoon-y. i wasn’t really sure what was going on half the time, but it’s about a bird/girl who can grant wishes, i think.

other short stories in this anthology: the diabolist by nathan ballingrud, this whole demoning thing by patrick ness, left foot, right by nalo hopkinson, the mercurials by g. carl purcell, kitty capulet and the invention of underwater photography by dylan horrocks, son of abyss by nik houser, the new boyfriend by kelly link, the woods hide in plain sight by joshua lewis, mothers, lock up your daughters because they are terrifying by alice sola kim

to sum up my thoughts on this book: it started out slow and wasn’t that gripping, but the stories in the second half mostly made up for it. none of them were really creepy at all, though. i think i was expecting more from it, since it has several really popular authors’ contributions. so if you decide to read this, don’t prepare for all of it to be spectacular just because it includes stories by cassandra clare, holly black, patrick ness, etc.

also, this whole demoning thing, wings in the morning, and the woods hide in plain sight all have casual lgbt+ rep: queer people just existing, without their sexuality being the main focus of the story. (wings in the morning is decidedly less casual than the others, but still, rep!!)

i did really loved the “pop quiz” at the very beginning of the book. this is terrible, but it might have been my favorite part? it was cute and funny and made everything more lighthearted.

while i think it’s difficult and slightly unfair to assign a single star rating to an anthology, monstrous affections was about a three star read for me. i adore the cover and the pop quiz, and there are a handful of really well done stories. but there were too many that fell short or left me confused to get a higher rating.

have you ever read this book? do you have any recommendations for books about monsters?

xo apollo

2018 christmas haul


christmas has come and gone, and i’m actually glad that it’s out of the way for another year. i just couldn’t seem to make myself excited about the holiday season, so all the parties and events were a bit of a headache. i feel like a brat for saying that, but i just wasn’t in the spirit this time around.

summer berry meringues from christmas tea

despite not being that into it, i celebrated on many different occasions. some of my friends and i had a mini christmas feast during lunch. my friends from co-op and i went out to watch the new grinch movie and had bubble tea. i got to see my band and choir friends perform at a christmas concert at school. my best friend and i had a christmas tea. i baked cookies and drank hot cocoa by a lake in the rain. my family saw a christmas carol at a shakespeare center on christmas eve. we visited family on christmas and the day after. just a lot of festive events stuffed into winter break.

before i get into what i got for christmas, i want to make it clear that i’m absolutely not trying to brag. i just enjoy reading and writing haul posts, and this is for people who like them, too. i’m extremely thankful for everything that i received.

with that out of the way, here are some gifts that the amazing, generous people in my life blessed me with. :)

(by the way, photo quality is not super great throughout this post. my camera is being stubborn and no matter what i do, the photos refuse to turn out clear consistently. i’m probably getting a new camera soon, but until then, pictures will be a bit blurry.)

i usually do everything i can to get out of buying full priced books, and i must say that i’ve become somewhat of an expert at it (you can see my tips for getting cheap books here). but there are some books that i just can’t find anywhere and have to end up paying what they’re actually worth. the books that i got for christmas fall under that category. (although since they were gifts, i didn’t really have to pay for them myself, but still.)

i am so excited to read these books! especially dr. bird’s advice for sad poets, because that one has been on my TBR for awhile.

i got a little bit of jewelry. the necklace is from a girl from my church and has tiny dried flowers inside! and while i don’t wear earrings very often, i wore the glittery bell ones a few times over the holidays. i love how they jingle whenever i nod or move my head.

my mom is an artist who does watercolors and oil painting, and she’s been trying to get me into her kind of art for as long as i can remember. and i do like art, but i’m more partial to drawing than painting. however, she’s still very determined, so she got me a set of winsor & newton watercolors with twelve different paint colors. i still don’t think i’ll ever really like painting as much as my mom does, but it seems like a good quality set, and i’m excited to try it out.

i wanted a portable charger to take with me to summer camp and on long bus rides to competitions next band season, so my mom got me this. it seems to be a pretty good model, but it’s also large and heavy, which makes me wonder how portable it is. it certainly won’t fit in my pocket next to my phone like my friend’s does. however, i’m still thankful to have it, and my mom did say that we could look into finding a less clunky one.

i got a whole lot of beauty products, which is sort of weird because everyone knows that i’m not that into makeup (just lip glosses, really). but these look fun so i won’t complain that much. i got a LUSH lip scrub that i talked about here, a honeydew/honeysuckle eos, and several lip products from sephora. there’s a honey lip scrub that you apply just like any chapstick, but it leaves your lips soft and shiny. and the banana lip balm, which has such cute packaging and smells just like banana candy.

i also got a lip balm making set (the flavors are raspberry, cherry, french vanilla, and chocolate mint)!

my friend gave me a bunch of face masks, plus some african black soap makeup wipes. i’ve genuinely only used one face mask in my life, so i’m excited to try these out and see if they work.

the same friend got me sephora’s midnight kisses lipstick set! it comes with six different colors: celebrate (#12), wanderlust (#33), a little magic (#22), landing in shanghai (#2), festival lights (#51), and golden gates (#31). i’m not a huge fan of lipstick, but this set has some fun colors that will hopefully help me branch out from just glosses.

my friends kelsie, izzy, and i had lunch together at tropical smoothie cafe one day after christmas, and kelsie surprised us with christmas presents. my gift included these super soft black slippers, peppermint lotion, and a bath bomb.

Image result for boston

and here comes the Big Gift: i had unwrapped a box to find a single, folded sheet of paper inside. the only thing printed on it was this photo of boston, massachusetts.

around september, i found out that music students/marching band members are allowed to go on a trip to boston in the spring. of course i wanted to go, because i love traveling and wanted to hang out with my band friends after marching season and pep band were over. but the trip is ridiculously expensive, so my mom vetoed the idea pretty quickly, and the spots filled up even faster. but apparently there were eight spots still open by christmas, and my mom had found the money for it somewhere, so i might get to go to boston in the spring! my band director hasn’t emailed back to confirm that there’s a spot for me, but i’m hoping it will work out.

what’s the best thing you gave/received this christmas?

xo apollo

goals for 2018 | results + goals for 2019


since 2018 has come to a close, it’s time to revisit my list of goals that i posted last january and see how many i completed. i always forget about the goals that i’ve set by about march, so i don’t have much hope.

(key: ✅ means i reached my goal, ❌ means i failed, and 🔵 means i partially did it.)

reach 1000 followers ❌

guys i was so close :'( i had 994 followers on the last day of 2018. literally just six away from reaching my goal. sigh.

i’m not really surprised, though. with school and camp and marching band taking up my time, my posting has definitely not been consistent this year. and if i’m not regularly sharing content, then i can’t expect to gain a lot of followers, you know?

reach 50k in my novel ❌

oh dear. definitely did not achieve this one. i stopped writing fiction altogether after last year’s nanowrimo, and this november was the first time in three years that i didn’t participate. but i do miss my novel and my characters, so maybe i’ll pick it up again sometime.

not cry on the first day of school ✅

i think i actually did this one, yay me! then again, i don’t really remember the first day of school, so who knows. however, i definitely did cry during band camp, but that doesn’t really count.

learn to play drums ✅

i’m taking percussion 1 this year, so i am learning! i can play basic stuff on snare and bass now, and i plan on joining my school’s drumline next marching season. there’s also talk of a county-wide indoor drumline being started, which would be so amazing.

our christmas concert was lowkey a disaster

go to a concert 🔵

i mean, i played percussion in a christmas concert, and i attended my friend’s choir concert, so technically i did this? but since it’s not the type of concert i was thinking of, i’m not going to consider it fully completed. none of the bands i like had concerts nearby this year, and even if they had, i wouldn’t have had the money to go.

meet an internet friend ❌

no, because most of my internet friends love ridiculously far away, and i didn’t travel much this year. i love you guys so much and it’s a dream of mine to meet some of you.

go to camp ✅

i spent about three weeks at summer camp this year and i loved (almost) every minute. i made so many memories and new friends that i will cherish forever. click here to read about this year’s camp experience.

i am so ready to go back in january to work at winter camp! it’s going to be freezing, but i’m still so excited.

get better at drawing faces 🔵

the one on the left is from spring of 2017, and the right one is from this summer. i guess that’s improvement? i didn’t draw as much this year as i would have liked to, and when i did, it usually opted for my flower people instead of ones with actual faces. but it doesn’t take me nearly as much time to draw a fairly decent face now, so i’ll give myself this one.

get better at gymnastics ✅

i ended up having to quit gymnastics in early summer because of camp, and i wasn’t able to go back in autumn because of marching band. despite that, i think i did complete this one, because at the beginning of the year i learned to do front tucks on the floor and fly aways on the uneven bars, among other things. also, i’m starting lessons again this month!

make a new friend ✅

yes!! i made quite a few new friends, actually, or at least acquaintances. i’m proud of myself for completing this one because since i’m so painfully shy, it’s usually really hard for me to make friends. that’s why i’ve had the same four friends since probably fourth or fifth grade. but being in band forced me to interact with my peers, so i’ve met a bunch of people whom i adore and who (hopefully) like me back.

read 100 books ❌

eh, not quite. i thought i could do it, but i had a huge reading slump over the summer and ended up missing my goal by 23 books. i posted about some of my most memorable reads from 2018 year right here, in case you missed it.

now, moving on from the the goals i failed in 2018 to the ones that i’m destined to forget about this year, too!


read one page of les misérables a day

my brother did the math for me, and if i read one page of les mis a day, i’ll finish it in about four years. this sounds more appealing to me than sitting down and trying to get through 1,463 pages of a book that i’m just reading for bragging rights.

join drumline

i wanted to do drumline last marching season, but due to a miscommunication on my mum’s part, i ended up in front ensemble instead. and that’s ok; i learned to play mallet instruments, aux percussion, and became friends with one of our section leaders, but i really just want to play bass drum.

the drumline’s section leader has let me play bass a few times in the stands and at pep band. and i really like most of the people in drumline, so i think it’ll be a better fit than front ensemble (especially since our section leaders aren’t coming back next season). unfortunately, joining drumline will require me to audition, learn to march, and memorize sets, but i’m determined to do it.

get a summer job

since i worked at summer camp as a CIT last year, i’ll be able to be a full-time counselor this year, which i am so so excited about! i just need my mum to agree, which she’s sort of hesitant about because i’ll be spending over a month away from home, and because she doesn’t want to drive eight hours every weekend to take me to and from camp. but i’m still hopeful that it will work out. and if i can’t be on staff the whole summer, i’ll definitely be a CIT again.

earn 10 merit badges

i always earn about 4 or 5 badges at summer camp, so as long as i do a few by myself during the rest of the year, i should be set. a few badges that i’m hoping to complete include outdoor skills, music performance, skiing & snowboarding, and the two space-themed ones.

vegetarian bean enchiladas

go vegetarian

i’ve been wanting to be vegetarian for awhile, mostly because i just don’t like meat that much. in december, i ate next to no meat and made a bunch of vegetarian recipes, so hopefully this is the year that i really go for it.

continue to explore cooking

i’ve discovered that i really like cooking and it’s something that i want to keep doing through 2019. i want to try more complicated desserts, as well as making my own vegetarian meals so i don’t have to eat my mom’s meat-based dinners. there’s a whole section of vegetarian cookbooks at the bookstore, and i’m hoping to pick up one of those so i have somewhere to start.

read 50 books

i read 77 books in 2018, so i’m kind of disappointed in myself for lowering the number. but i’m just trying to be realistic. i usually do a lot of reading over the summer, but if i’m going to be working at camp, i won’t have as much free time to read as i normally do. 50 books doesn’t sound that challenging to me now, but we’ll just have to see.

what are your goals for 2019?

xo apollo

2018 reading recap

hey guys, i hope you all had a good christmas! or if you don’t celebrate it, just a great day anyway.

since it’s nearing the end of the year, i want to share the books (both the best and worst) that i read in 2018. this posts includes fun statistics and mini reviews/rants. :)

best book with a disabled mc: a taxonomy of love by rachael allen
best book with a lgbt+ mc: in other lands by sarah rees brennan
best book with a poc mc: the gentleman’s guide to vice and virtue by mackenzie lee
best book with a mentally ill mc: charm & strange by stephanie kuehn

not shown: horror, sci-fi

i’m so glad i started reading fantasy again. it was favorite genre when i was younger, but as i grew up i couldn’t find many fantasy books that looked interesting to me. thank god for magical realism and in other lands by sarah rees brennan for getting me back into it.

half stars are rounded up

i guess my star rating system is a little screwed up. because i can read a book that’s practically perfect, but if i don’t have some kind of emotional connection to it, it won’t be getting five stars. i think i only had four five star reads this year.

my favorites


carry on – the beginning is definitely heavily inspired by the harry potter series, but it develops into its own thing that is wonderful and and which i love dearly. so if you like harry potter, you’ll probably adore this book too! in fact, i actually liked it so much more than any of j.k. rowling’s books?? i’m so excited for the sequel to come out next year.

bone gap – i spent most of the book trying to figure out the genre. mystery? romance? fantasy? who knows, but it was amazing and i love it to death. it’s the kind of book that you want to reread as soon as you finish it because it will make so much more sense the second time around.

the gentleman’s guide to vice and virtue – i am not usually a fan of historical fiction, but this book is one of my all time favorites. things i love about this book: queer characters in historical fiction are rare but so needed (lgbt+ people have always existed!), monty is an idiot who constantly makes bad decisions (same, honestly), there’s so much rep, and the writing is witty, sarcastic, and engaging.


charm & strange – this was a twisted and intense story about a boy struggling with his sanity as he confronts a traumatic experience in his past. the mc, drew, is a dark sixteen year old with mental health issues — on top of that, he’s an extremely unreliable narrator, which makes trying to understand what really happens in the story difficult. like bone gap, you’ll understand better after a reread.

the perks of being a wallflower – the first time i heard of this book was about two years ago, when my friend told me it was one of the best books he’d ever read, but that i should probably never read it because it was that sad. and after i read it (without telling him, obviously), i completely understand why he thought that. because this book deals with so many heavy and uncomfortable issues that the mc faces while growing up that it was hard to stomach at times. this is one of the few books that i think actually changed my life.

in other lands – this fantasy story follows a trio of best friends from their early teens to almost adulthood: elliot, a bisexual know-it-all in the council training course; serene-heart-in-the-chaos-of-battle, an elf who ran away from home to join the warrior training program; and luke sunborn, a member of one of the most respected families in the world. full of war and messy romances, it goes from sarcastic and flirty to heartbreaking in an instant, and is one of the best fantasy books i’ve ever read. (also . . . elliot stabbed himself with a butter knife to get out of a conversation, which is so relatable??)

honorable mentions


most disappointing


a court of thorns and roses – a retelling of beauty and the beast. i don’t remember much of it at this point, but i think it was too slow, i didn’t like the mc, there were some sexual parts that i wasn’t expecting, and i just didn’t care about the story. there are only two redeeming things about this book: the cover is pretty, and i found my signed copy at a thrift store for maybe one dollar.

the maze runner – before i start: this wasn’t a bad book. it just wasn’t everything that i was expecting. it took me forever to get into because i found the first half so unbearably slow, and i didn’t think many of the characters were very likable. that being said, the pace definitely picked up towards the end and i plan on finishing the series.


no one else can have you – i only remember two things about this book: it’s about girl trying to unravel the mystery of her best friend’s murder, and i hated it. i’m pretty sure there were a few racist comments, as well as sexism, victim blaming, and a relationship between a teen girl and an old man (aka a pedophile). also, the author apparently stalked someone who left a bad review on her book, so maybe don’t support her by buying it.

schooled – this is about a homeschooled boy going to public school for the first time. i decided to read it because that’s the situation i’m currently in, but it was so, so horrible. the mc, capricorn, is so sheltered that he’s never had pizza, watched tv, or done anything that pretty much everyone, even homeschoolers, do. and then he goes to middle school for some reason that i can’t remember, gets bullied at first, but then somehow becomes super popular and decides that he loves public school?? which is fine but it doesn’t match up with the experiences of any of my formerly homeschooled friends. the rep was just so bad and exaggerated that it was sort of funny.

click here to view my goodreads and see all the books i’ve read this year.

did we read any of the same books in 2018? what are some books that i should definitely read in 2019?

xo apollo