The New Year is here and I guess that means it’s time to look forward and set my goals and intentions for the year. I’ve never really been big on resolutions, but I do often use this time to set milestones or hopeful achievements for myself. I’m not looking to change who I am or seek a huge life discovery, but I do like having a plan. (Insert joke about always needing a plan)

None of these goals are new or changing the course of any key parts of my life, but I want to share them mostly to hold myself accountable. If only I know about my goals it’s easy to sidetrack and slip up. 

So, here they are – my goals for 2021.

Read 30 Books.

This really shouldn’t come as a surprise. For the past two years, my goal has been 20 books, so I thought it was a good time to up the count. I plan to dive into new books from my favorite authors, pick up some based off #bookstagram recommendations, re-read a few I haven’t visited in a few years, and push myself to read outside of my standard genres. 

Of course, everyone who reads the blog will be along for the ride. I’ll post updates and reviews along the way. I’m also hoping to host a Disappear Here Book Club! If you are interested, let me know!

Shop Local.

Throughout this year, I’ve made more of an effort to shop local whenever I can and support the businesses I like. Some highlights include Old Town Books and Doodlehooper 4 Kids, among others. As we move into 2021 and (hopefully) out of the fog of COVID-19, small businesses are going to need our support more than ever. 

I will continue to highlight local bookstores when providing links to where you can buy books. Do you have a favorite book store or other small business? Let me know in the comments below!

Blog. Blog. Blog.

Starting the Disappear Here Book Blog has been so much fun and a great opportunity for me to focus on something outside of work that I really enjoy. This year, I’m not going to set a goal for the number of posts or types of content, but I will say I want to post regularly and often. That will likely shift throughout the year depending on what I have going on, but I’ve promised to be kind to myself and not let this be another stressor in my life. 

Work Toward My 200 Hour Yoga Certification.

I’ve been practicing yoga since college (around 10 years), and it’s been such a key part of my physical and mental health. Working toward my 200 hour certification is always something I’ve wanted to do ever since taking 5am yoga classes a decade ago. 

After I stopped dancing I floated around a bit, trying to find my place to “move” and found it at the yoga studio across the street from UNC Charlotte (now closed). 

I’m finally at a place in my life where I think I can dedicate the time (and money) to getting my certification. I’ll keep you all updated as this plays out a bit more. 

Do you have any goals for 2021? Let me know what they are in the comments or on IG!

The One That Looks Back at 2020

Throughout 2020, and most of 2019, I went on a bit of a personal journey where I moved out of the fog of motherhood and began to discover things I love all over again. Everyone prepares you for the sleepless nights, the non-stop diaper changes, and everything else that comes along with being a mom. But no one prepares you for how you almost forget what your hobbies are, what you enjoy doing in your “you” time that refills you. 

It started in December 2018 when I realized it had been too long since I read a book. I made a goal to read 20 books in 2019, and – to my surprise – I stuck to it and surpassed my goal. I kept pace for 2020 (already passing my goal of 20 books). I was somehow juggling work, being a mom (to human and fur babies), and making time for something I enjoy. It felt empowering.

Then came Summer 2020 when I decided to pick up a hobby I had in college – blogging. Now, I’ll admit I don’t write or post as much as I want to (reference notes above about work and motherhood), but it has still been so much fun writing, discovering #bookstagram, and once again finding time in my days to do something for me. 

I know 2020 has been an extremely difficult and heartbreaking year, but in all of this time we’ve been spending at home, I’ve had a chance to discover who Ciera is again. That is at least one positive. 

So – let’s look back at 2020 and all of the adventures I went on. 

The One That Comforted Me Through Hard Times ..

When the pandemic first sent us all home in March, I needed something easy and fun to read. Something that could distract from the craziness of the world while also guaranteeing I would not end up sobbing at the end of the book. Re-reading one of my favorites from high school was a comfort move on my part, and it worked out well. 

I was a little concerned The House of Night Series (I read Marked, Betrayed, Chosen, Untamed, Hunted, and Tempted) wouldn’t be as enjoyable to read as the first time through, but I was wrong. It had been long enough that I had a general idea of where the story was going but was still surprised as the story unfolded. 

Zoey Redbird, her native American heritage, and new popularity/importance at The House of Night, a school for young fledglings (baby vampires), took me on a wonderful journey and brought me comfort during a very unsure time. While I only read a handful of the books in the series, I plan to finish in 2021.

The One That Pulled Me In On Page One ..

If you haven’t read The Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness get in your car and go buy it immediately. The remaining books in the trilogy are still on my TBR, but this was one of the fastest “pulled-me-in” moments of the year for me. Full disclosure – slap a hot, possessive vampire into a story and I am ALL OVER that. A friend of mine calls it my “vampire porn.” Think Twilight, True Blood, etc. 

Throw a truly powerful witch, who doesn’t even know how powerful she is into the mix and it’s the perfect concoction.  

I can’t wait to follow Diana and Matthew into the past in the remaining books of the All Souls Trilogy in 2021 (starting to feel like most of my 2021 reads will be sequels to 2020 favorites). Because I’m terrified of spoilers, I’m waiting until I’m done with the trilogy before jumping into the television show. 

The One I Will Not Be Recommending ..

There are two answers here. First, The Collector by John Fowles, which was so off-putting I couldn’t get past page ~50. This starts with a man stalking and kidnapping a girl. Not completely out of my wheelhouse of plot lines. However, the narrator is the kidnapper, which gave me the creeps all over. I’m not sure why this particular novel elicited a negative reaction – enough to make me stop reading the book. This hasn’t been the case before with books like Lolita by Vladimir Nobakov, which is one of my favorite novels and is similarly disturbing. 

The second book I won’t be recommending is The Invention of Sound by Chuck Palahniuk. This was the first of his novels I didn’t enjoy (see review here), but overall it didn’t hit the mark as a thriller. But, don’t worry, I won’t be writing Palahniuk off my list of favorite authors. He’s dazzled me enough with my favorites like Rant and Choke that I’ll still be stalking the “P” section at the bookstore waiting for his next release.

The One That Stole The Show ..

You are likely tired of hearing me rant about Betty by Tiffany McDaniel at this point, but it’s a beautiful book and it remains at the top of my list (see review here and discussion post here). If I were to rewrite some of my early blog posts where I list out my favorite novels, something on there would likely be replaced with Betty

The story of a young Native American girl and the struggles she encountered within her family and from pure prejudice in her community was so riveting and powerful, I think it will remain on my top 10 list for the rest of my life. Reading the story through the eyes of a young girl who witnessed racism, death, rape, psychosis (in others), and more in a lyrical, almost poetic, way changed my life. It created within me a new idea of what perseverance and strength are. If Betty can survive and flourish following everything she experienced – there’s nothing I can’t handle. 

For context, while this is a fiction novel it was based on the author’s mother’s childhood, which creates so much power behind the words. 

In 2020 I read:

Career of Evil by Robert Galbraith

Junkyard Cats by Faith Hunter (on Audible)

Lethal White by Robert Galbraith

The Last Wish by Andrzej Sapkowski

Twilight by Stephenie Meyer

Marked by P.C. and Kristin Cast 

Betrayed by P.C. and Kristin Cast

Chosen by P.C. and Kristin Cast

Untamed by P.C. and Kristin Cast

Hunted by P.C. and Kristin Cast

Tempted by P.C. and Kristin Cast

White by Bret Easton Ellis

City of Glass by Cassandra Claire (on Audible)

Midnight Sun by Stephenie Meyer – Review Here

The Last Magician by Lisa Maxwell – Review Here

Betty by Tiffany McDaniel – Review Here and Discussion Post Here

The Invention of Sound by Chuck Palahniuk – Review Here

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

The Year of the Witching by Alexis Henderson – Review Here

Still Missing by Chevy Stevens – Review Here

Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi – Review Here

You Let Me In by Camilla Bruce – Review Here

The Rook by Daniel O’Malley

The Devil’s Thief by Lisa Maxwell

The Month in Review – October 2020

It’s hard to believe we’ve hit the one month mark for the Disappear Here Book Blog. It flew by in  a way things do when you are passionate about something. 

When I decided to start the blog, I had some reservations around being able to keep up with it. After the first month, those reservations have turned to excitement. With each novel, I’m anxious to finish, not just so I can spoil it for my husband with all of my ramblings, but because I can’t wait to share it with you. My whole life I’ve just been talking to whoever is closest, not sure if they were interested at all. Now I have the Disappear Here Book Blog, and, while the audience isn’t massive (yet ;)), I still have a place to discuss what I love most – books!

I hope you’ve enjoyed month one of the blog. As always, please send me your comments, feedback, recommendations, and book recommendations in the comments or on Instagram. I’m always looking to read outside of my normal queue/genre. 

Alright, now let’s get to it, the month in review — 

October Reads

Betty by Tiffany McDaniel

The Invention of Sound by Chuck Palahniuk

The Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

The Year of the Witching by Alexis Henderson

Still Missing by Chevy Stevens

October Blog Posts

The Foundation

To kick things off on the Disappear Here Book Blog, I put together a list of my favorite novels, and what I love about each of them. From Less Than Zero to Harry Potter, I cover it all.

Book Review and Book Discussion – Betty by Tiffany McDaniel

My favorite book from the month is Betty by Tiffany McDaniel. I loved it so much that, in addition to the book review, I wrote a discussion post to dive further into the novel. If you take any recommendation from me this month, I hope it’s this one. This book will change your life for the better. 

My Favorite Pick-up Lines

Sometimes it’s all about the pick-up line, or in this case the first line of a novel. This post is a list of my favorite opening lines from novels, ones that really caught me at the beginning and didn’t let me go.

An Interview with Francis Chapman, Author of Book of Yeshua

For the first installment in the author question and answer series, I interview Francis Chapman about his new book Book of Yeshua. He provides a look into his new novel and some advance for aspiring writers. 

Book Review – The Invention of Sound by Chuck Palahniuk

Unfortunately, The Invention of Sound may be my least favorite on the book list for this month. It had so much potential but ultimate left me wanting more.