Chill the f*** out

I usually don’t cuss. Mostly because I feel pretentious, like a kid trying to be “cool”.

But lately I’ve been loaded with so much stress that I feel like I could explode. I snap at people, I dig my nails into my palms, I pull at my hair, I stop breathing, I grind my teeth, until I feel a tiny little bit better. Until I feel the pressure on my chest isn’t going to shatter me into thousand pieces.

This probably isn’t a healthy way to deal with stress.

But what can you do if you are drowning with all the information pouring in, things you have to do, and warning bells go off in your head and it’s so freaking loud and you feel like you have to do something to make it all stop.
It doesn’t stop. Just so you know.
The core of panic is still there, building up so it can rocket off again.

At times like these, I so friggin’ hate myself for taking EVERYthing so seriously. Granted, studying Law is like (at least for me) trying to read without having learned the alphabet. Some days you make progress. Then you learn new things that make you despair that you will never fully grasp this stuff.
Cue in my OCD-ish nature peppered with perfectionism.
It’s a meltdown every other day.

After a few hours of this panicking, causing physical pain to stop the mental pain, and calming down only to panic (not full blown-out panic) again, I arm myself with a metaphorical kitchen knife to chop all tasks that I have to do in small, tiny bits. Looking at this slaughtered problems doesn’t make my throat go tight. Then I distribute the problems, and sleep soundly for the night.

The real problem kicks in the next day. Even small quantities make a large quantity when combined. And I can’t afford to go slow, because then I’ll hopelessly fall behind and will never catch up.
University doesn’t wait for anyone. Either you keep up, or it’s goodbye.
So I crawl on my knees until I have the strength to stand on my feet. What I can’t do is to rest. Because I’m in a constant wheel of running and crawling.

What I need to do is to take it day by day. To look only at the next step, not the whole road stretching out, out, out in front of me. What I need to do is to chill the fuck out, and to think of pretty things ’cause thinking of pretty things makes me at least a little bit happy.

Looking back

It’s weird. Four years ago, before I started blogging for the first time, before  I discovered Goodreads, before my TBR list pushed past 50, there was a 15-year-old me who kept a string of notebooks in which she would write down all things. She swooned over fictional characters (before she even knew what the word “swoon” meant), got excited about sequels in a series that were coming out next year, worried about not having enough money to buy books she desperately wanted, wrote down quotes from Night World series by L. J. Smith, nearly died of anticipation for Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare, and mused over her life – sometimes encouragingly, more often impatiently and bitterly.

She felt alone. She had just started getting into YA fiction (although she couldn’t have told you what the heck YA was), her family thought it was “just a phase”, her classmates never read English books, and she felt so utterly alone. She had always stood out because of her Asian origin – it wasn’t just heritage for her, but also origin – in a school that had only a handful of Asian-German students. She felt that her friends were having the life she has always wanted – in the center of attention, while she herself stood in the periphery, tentatively taking a step forward, then backward.
She sought acceptance. She just wanted to blend in, so much, but she stood out, so much. She’d look in the mirror and be surprised that she saw a girl who looked Asian. She didn’t feel Asian. She didn’t want to feel Asian.
She also wanted love. That comforting, all-of-the-world kind of love. Looking back, I think she just felt so isolated when she really wasn’t – so she wanted to fill the void by finding the love of her life, who would be there for her and for whom she could be there. She wanted to be counted in, she wanted to be cherished. Who doesn’t? But sometimes the bitterness and the yearning would overcome her – not in any more dangerous way than a sulk and a brood.

When she discovered worlds and people she could love with all her heart, she leapt for them, plunged right in without looking back. It was addictive. Her reality was a blur, but she so loved to read and escape the boring, repetitive and depressing reality.
Reading was a double-edged sword – on the one hand it helped her cope, and it taught her to be happy for small things. She would get ecstatic whenever she got a new book, or smile goofily whenever she re-read her favorite books. Her English improved. She was proud of herself for reading and writing in English without too much difficulty although her sentence structure was simple, her vocabulary repetitive.
On the other hand, she would sometimes take a look at her own life and compare it to her favorite heroines’, and feel dissatisfied. She wanted to be a Shadowhunter, too, or have Janie Hannagan as her best friend. Or have a boyfriend like Caleb. Or be a dhampire and kick ass alongside Rose Hathaway. Or be a psychic like Kaitlyn Fairchild and her friends. (Then she would read a book called Thirteen Reasons Why and be sympathetic for Hannah and acknowledge that her own life didn’t suck that much.)

The last three months of the year 2009 – and at the same time the first three thrilling, intense, happy-fun-happy and thought-provoking months of my reading history – are still vivid in my memory. I remember the concentration with which I read City of Glass for about 8 hours straight, stopping only for dinner. I remember how obsessed I became with the trailer for the Night World series. I remember the delight, the surprised excitement I felt when Vampire Academy box set arrived on my doorstep (carried by my mother). I remember the adrenaline-pumping giddiness whenever I discovered new books and series I wanted to read through the magic that I called the internet (Modern Faerie series by Holly Black, House of Night series by P. C. and Kristin Cast, The Vampire Diaries series and The Forbidden Game trilogy by L. J. Smith, and Lock and Key by Sarah Dessen and Ellen Hopkins’ books for later, when I was more “mature”).

The years fly by. I am quite surprised at the person I was mere four years ago. My hopes and dreams I had when I was 15, the way I perceived the world… I’ve changed. But I’ve also remained the same.
These memories – these reminders – are so very precious to me. Only if I don’t forget the past I can  forge my future.
I’m so glad I kept a notebook then. I’m so glad I’m keeping a blog now, so I can look back again when I’m twenty-three.

Top Ten Tuesday #2: Sequels I Can’t Wait To Get My Hands On

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and Bookish, and this week’s topic is: Top Ten Sequels I Can’t Wait to Get My Hands On!Here we go (in no particular order)!

1. Untitled (Study #4) by Maria V. Snyder
This book will probably released next year around this time, but the return of Yelena, Valek & other amazing side characters, Ixia and Sitia – I’m literally nervous with anticipation!

2. Untitled (Scarlett #3) by Maureen Johnson
Another book I will probably have to wait years to come out – but after Scarlett Fever, how can I not?!

Frost Burned3. Frost Burned (Mercy Thompson #7) by Patricia Briggs – mass market paperback release date Jan 28th 2014
I know FB is already out, but since the hardcover is so expensive, I’m waiting for the mass market paperback release! I finished River Marked last week and I just want more of Mercy and Adam and their pack. :)

4. Bitter Blood (The Morganville Vampires #13) by Rachel CaineBitter Blood
Again, this book has been on the market for a year now, but I’m waiting for the paperback release of the last book in the series, Daylighters,  so I can read all three of them in one swoop. A good thing that these books are released every half-year!
After the draug-infestation and the defeat thereof, I’m curious to see how Morganville has changed because of those events.

Princess of the Silver Woods5. Princess of Silver Woods (Princess #3) by Jessica Day George
I love Princess of the Midnight Ball and Princess of Glass with their unique spin on fairy tales, so naturally I want this last book in the trilogy, too, a retelling of Red Riding Hood. What I love about this series is that it is set way back in the past (umm… in the Middle Ages? Right?) and I love me some historical fiction. I mean, the modern retellings are so passé *wink*

6. Watch for Me By Moonlight (The Midnight Twins #3) by Jacquelyn MitchardWatch for Me By Moonlight
Unfortunately, this book is probably out of print, and it’s not easy to get this book in Germany. :( I ordered it via Amazon when it was briefly available, but so far, no news – and I ordered it two months ago.
I read and loved (!!) Look Both Ways, book No. 2 in the series! I’ll probably buy the ebook if I can’t get my hands on the physical copy, so there’s that. :)

Perfect Scoundrels7. Perfect Scoundrels (Heist Society #3) by Ally Carter – trade paperback release date Jan 28th 2014
Kat, Hale, Gabrielle, the crew, heist – need I say more? Also, it seems we are going to get a glimpse of Hale’s millionaire-heir side of life!
(Is that supposed to be Hale who is reflected on the sunglasses??)

8. A Clash of Kings (A Song of Ice and Fire #2) by George R. R. MartinA Clash of Kings
I probably don’t need to say much about this one, no? I’m smack in the middle of A Game of Thrones (and it already promises to be bloody – the first half was probably an only “peaceful” prologue of sorts), and while I’m warned to endure lots of heartbreaks, this series is so valued by many people that I want to read it, too. And I can take my time with it, ’cause the last book in the series will (probably) come out a decade later. :3

The Shade of the Moon9. The Shade of the Moon (Last Survivor #4) by Susan Beth Pfeffer
This series was supposed to be a duology, but now it’s a quartet! I have read all three in the series, and while the first one is the best one, with diminishing quality and quantity, reading these books remind me of how lucky I am to live in the world I live now. Also, waiting for the paperback release of this one.

10. Bloodlines (Bloodlines #1) by Richelle MeadBloodlines
Technically, Bloodlines is the first of its own series. BUT. You are supposed to read Bloodlines after Last Sacrifice, so I count it as sequel.
There have been many positive and quite some negative reviews about this book, so I’m keeping my expectations low. Who knows, maybe it will surprise me?

October Wrap-Up & November TBR

I started university in mid-October, and since my major is Law, I thought all my reading would grind to a halt for the second half of the month.
Well, it turned out I was wrong.

* = e-book

WHAT I READ IN OCTOBER:

  • Secrets of My Hollywood Life by Jen Calonita: See my review here. 4 STARS
  • 16 Uhr 50 ab Paddington by Agatha Christie: The original title is “4:50 from Paddington”. My sister told me she found the book a bit boring (even though she didn’t guess the killer!) so I braced myself before figuratively walking through the gate to begin my journey through a dysfunctional family, a search for a body, and one Miss Lucy Eyelesbarrow. But I needn’t have worried, because at first I enjoyed the slow pacing and later when things became more… interesting, I could not put the book down. Oh, and another excellent translation. 4 STARS
  • River Marked by Patricia Briggs: Book #6 in Mercy Thompson series – Mercy and Adam are off to honeymoon after an “impromptu wedding”. But the place has a trouble brewing in the river – a lot of people have gone missing lately, drowning in the river. As Mercy and Adam get sucked into the investigation of the matter, hitherto unknown facts about Mercy’s heritage are revealed, which was super interesting and refreshingly different. Lots of action, no pack stuff but Mercy and Adam’s relationship matures a degree deeper. In short, I can’t wait for Frost Burned! 4 STARS
  • The Pale Horse by Agatha Christie: My first Agatha Christie book in English that I read on my own! No Miss Marple for the narrator – no Hercule Poirot, either. I’m pleasantly surprised by The Pale Horse, I thought it suited the grim weather and the Halloween-ish theme perfectly. So the storyline is that after a dying woman has made her confession, the priest who had heard her last words is clubbed to death on his way home. It’s a list of names hidden in his shoe that gives the investigation police any clue. Told both from a third-party (who later gets involved) Mark, a mid-30-ish writer, and third-person omniscient narrator, The Pale Horse leads the readers to a sinister inn called Pale Horse that is owned by three old women – a witch, a medium and a psychic. Engaging plot line, enjoyable characters. 3.5 STARS
  • Patience, Princess Catherine by Carolyn Meyer: Book #4 in the Young Royals series. This time it’s about Mary I’s mother, Catalina of Aragon, as she journeys from Spain over to England to marry Arthur, Henry VII’s eldest son. But when Arthur dies only six months after their marriage, Catalina – now Catherine in England – faces a choice: Go back to Spain until her parents negotiate another marriage for her, or stay in England… in hopes of marrying the king-to-be Henry. I sympathized with Catherine a lot, and meeting the Spanish court was fun, but it was repetitive quite a bit. 3.5 STARS
  • The Agony of Alice by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor: The book to start off the Alice series that has been recently wrapped up by volume 25! We meet Alice McKinley for the first time as she is just starting 6th grade in a new town. Because she has lost her mother when she was very young, Alice wishes for a mother figure to look up to. During the course of the book, Alice does many embarrassing things she calls “the agony of Alice”. Sweet, nostalgic and funny, I give The Agony of Alice 4.5 STARS.
  • Nemesis by Agatha Christie: The final Miss Marple book to be written (but second-to-last Miss Marple book to be published), Miss Marple is asked by the late Mr. Raffiel (first appeared in A Caribbean Mystery) to solve an mysterious incident that promptly causes Miss Marple to go on a “England’s famous gardens” tour, to stay with three old sisters (one widowed, two spinsters) and investigate a crime that has happened long ago… 3 STARS
  • Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder: A re-read after almost two years! LOVE this one just as much as I did the first time around. *Happy sigh* 5 STARS
  • Assassin Study* by Maria V. Snyder: A novella between Poison Study and Magic Study. It can be found here:  http://www.harlequin.com/articlepage.html?articleId=1257&chapter=1  Can I just say “awwww!!” for the second-to-last paragraph? The first time we see from Valek’s POV, I’m pumped for Study #4!! 3.5 STARS
  • Magic Study by Maria V. Snyder: Book #2 in Study series. I told myself I will read this just as slowly as I did PS, savoring each page and building up anticipation. Yeah, well, that didn’t work out that well. I finished this book in 30 hours, and that include sleep, seven hours at university, etc. MS has a very different atmosphere from PS, and not just because Valek is mostly absent (there, I have warned you now). I looooved learning more about Sitia, magic, and the Sitian side of Yelena :3 Action, humor, AMAZING characters – what more do you want? Oh, and we also meet Opal Cowan, the narrator of Glass series – I can’t wait! 4.5 STARS

WHAT I’D LIKE TO READ IN NOVEMBER:

  • Sync Read for November & December is being hosted by The Classics Club, so I will try to read along and get into David Copperfield by Charles Dickens.
  • I also want to read Fire Study by Maria V. Snyder, so I can wait – along other readers – for the fourth book coming out late next year! (In the meanwhile I can read the Glass series and the Healer series, yay <3)
  • I bought the second Alice book, Alice in Rapture, Sort Of, on my Kindle so I’m looking forward to reading that, too.

That’s all, you guys! I have an important seminar in mid-November, and I have lots of school stuff to catch up on, so my TBR list is fairly short :) See you in my next post!