The Weekly Update: 12/31/17


I guess I’ll state the obvious: It’s the last day of 2017!

I think we can all concur that this year in general has been a mess. And it seems lots of people have had individually bad years as well. It hasn’t been my best year, but, honestly, none of the past few years have. So… that’s why I want to use this post to talk about some of the positive things that I’ve done or that have happened to me in 2017!

P.S. There are a lot of photos in this post, so I made them small, but you can click to see them bigger! (Not the book covers though, those still link to Amazon.)

Good Things that Happened to Me in 2017:

– I did some story writing! It was probably less than 10,000 words total, not counting notes and brainstorming stuff, but still! I didn’t expect much when I started that supernatural sims house, but it honest-to-goodness inspired me and made me want to turn these sims into characters and bring them to life. It got me researching and learning about the folklore of different supernatural creatures, brainstorming and figuring out who my characters are and how their supernatural powers work, imagining scenes in my head, and actually doing some writing. Here’s one short scene that I shared (at the end of the post).

– I also wrote a poem! It’s about a misunderstood merman.

– I did some drawing too! I loved drawing when I was younger, but eventually stopped. This year, I started again. And I’m trying to actually learn so that maybe one day I can draw from imagination instead of copying pictures exactly. It’s HARD, and my chronic illness and tennis elbow makes it hard to do it as much as I would like… but at least I’m trying! Here are little drawings I did of some of my sims (ok the drawing of Matthew looks nothing like him, but whatever) and some of my sketchbook pages.


– I won some giveaways!


– I got my first two physical review copies! Granted one was from an indie author and one was for a blog tour, but they made me so happy!


– My librarian proved to be awesome and bought all four of the ebooks I recommended!

– And I’d like to give a shout-out to some awesome bloggers who have great blogs and who are great people and who always visit and have made me feel appreciated this year in one way or another: Becky @ A Fool’s Ingenuity, Annemieke @ A Dance with Books, Lola @ Lola’s Reviews, Greg @ Greg’s Book Haven, La La @ La La in the Library, Verushka @ Pop.Edit.Lit, Brandee @ Bookworm Brandee, and I’m sure I’m forgetting people, and all of you who visit are amazing, and that’s why I rarely ever do things like this (I don’t want anyone to feel bad!), but I wanted to spread some love today 🙂

Ok I’m sure there were some more good things, including non-bookish things, but I’m having brain fog, and that’s all I can think of right now!


Blog/Bookish Updates:

Reminder in case anyone missed it: I uploaded the 2018 spreadsheet template to my “Blogging Tips: Scheduling and Keeping Track of Blog Posts with a Spreadsheet” post. So if anyone wants to download it and get organized in the new year, it’s there 🙂

I also received a book that I won in a giveaway! I think it’s like a M/M sci-fi retelling of the Pied Piper. You already saw it above, but every other book I’ve won got its own spotlight, so here it is again:


Books I Received for Review:

Thorns and Fangs by Gillian St. Kevern
The Ledberg Runestone by Patrick Donovan
The Shadow Weave by Annette Marie

12/17/17: Nothing.

12/24/17: Thorns and Fangs is from NetGalley.

12/31/17: The Ledberg Runestone is from NetGalley. The Shadow Weave is from the author.


Books I Finished:

Rebel Faerie by Rachel Morgan
The Queen of the Damned by Anne Rice
Stone Sentinel by Jex Lane
The Vampire Grinch by Lacey-Anne Frye
Saga Vol. 8 by Brian K. Vaughan & Fiona Staples
Thorns and Fangs by Gillian St. Kevern

12/17/17: Rebel Faerie was the last book in the Creepy Hollow series, and I really enjoyed it!

12/24/17: The Queen of the Damned was good but slow, and I was in a bit of a slump, so it took me a while to read. Stone Sentinel was alright.

12/31/17: I read The Vampire Grinch on Christmas Eve before going to sleep. It was cute. Saga Vol. 8 was great! Thorns and Fangs wasn’t bad but was confusing.


What I’m Loving:

This week, what I’m loving is…

Matthew and Elliott’s Dancing (Again)!

They’ve gotten even better since last time! I swear I can’t watch Matthew dance and not smile. And I can’t believe I’ve been playing The Sims 3 for like five years and never knew sims could improve their dancing and dance like this. A lot of you probably don’t care lol, but here are the videos for anyone who does! (You have to watch to the end of the first one, it goes so perfect with the music. If you just wanna see them really break it down, watch the third one. Also, that song in the last video should totally be what they dance to at their wedding. It was so perfect!)


Ahhhh here’s more photos because this is supposed to be a fun, positive post, and I love these guys, and I don’t care if you all think I’m crazy lol.


Also, they got a guinea pig! That’s not really relevant, but I just like guinea pigs.


In Case You Missed It:

– I reviewed Juniper Unraveling by Keri Lake, a dark post-apoc romance.
– I shared my favorite book covers from books I read in 2017.
– I reviewed The Demon King and the Boy Who Hardly Knew Anything by Pat Ellis, a M/M high fantasy love story.

– I reviewed The Vampires’ Birthright by Aiden James & Patrick Burdine, a good story but a frustrating main character.
– I shared my favorite characters from books I read in 2017.
– I shared mini reviews for three light, fun, M/M Christmas-themed fantasy novellas.

– I shared my 2017 bookish goals update.
– I shared my favorite books/series from books I read in 2017.
– I shared my 2017 bookish stats.


The Sunday Post Link-Up:

Once again, I’m linking up to The Sunday Post at Caffeinated Book Reviewer 🙂


Talk to me!

What's something good (bookish or non-bookish) that happened to you, that you did, or that you're proud of from 2017?
If you play The Sims (any version), tell something exciting or funny that's happened in your game lately!


Your Thoughts


50 thoughts on “The Weekly Update: 12/31/17

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  1. Greg

    Yay for the writing! Nice that you got inspiration from the Sims, I can see how it would generate ideas. Keep sharing your writing, and the Sims updates too because fun! Oh and thanx for including me in your appreciation list- that’s good company to be in. 🙂

    I like Elliott’s moves BTW. And the skull and bones shirt he wore to the club lol.

    Happy New Year. :):)

    1. Kristen Burns

      I don’t think I’ll be doing more sims updates which is why I’m just sharing stuff in these posts lol, but it’s crazy how much they’ve inspired me and become characters in my head. And no prob 🙂

      Yeah I gave him some different outfits, I’m glad someone appreciates them, haha.

      Happy New Year!

  2. Laura Thomas

    What a fun post! And you sure did have some good things happen. My year had some ups and downs too. Love the look of Piper. And congrats on the physical review books. I prefer mine to be print ones too but that Kindle sure comes in handy:) Here’s to a Happy New Year!

    1. Kristen Burns

      Thanks! Piper sounds super interesting, I was happy when I won it. I don’t have an issue with ebooks, but it’s nice getting physical books sometimes, especially when my eyes get tired from computer screens. Happy New Year!

  3. Wattle

    Haha the Sims are cute (guinea pig!!!) Your drawing is like, 1 million percent better than I could do, so go you! Practice makes progress 🙂

    Piper looks pretty interesting, I hope it’s a good read.

    Happy New Year!

  4. Annemieke

    Sending you all the love Kristen. <3 I hope 2018 will bring you more writing, reading, drawing and less pain. Oh and lots of pretty boy sims. 😀

  5. Evelina

    Love those drawings of yours 🙂 I used to draw a lot too when I was younger. And I was good at it, but my problem is the same – at some point when trying too draw my mind would just go blank :/ I stopped having any kind of inspiration. So I think that’s why I stopped.

    Wishing you a wonderful 2018!!

    1. Kristen Burns

      Thanks! For me the problem isn’t inspiration at all. I have so many ideas, and I have the urge to draw all the time. It’s just that I’m still not good enough to draw from my imagination or even to take references and alter them to suit my needs (I can only draw, or attempt to draw, exactly what I see), and also drawing takes a surprising amount of energy and with my illness I often end up feeling bad when I do it, using so much mental concentration or something, idk. If only we could combine our abilities lol.

      Thanks, same to you!

  6. chucklesthescot

    I can’t remember the last time I thought I had a ‘great’ year! When I think back to summers as a kid, everything was so easy and relaxed but now things are stressful all the time. Gah adulthood sucks!

  7. Angela

    I love that you did some writing and drawing this year. I feel like I need other hobbies, but I’m just not very inspired yet!

  8. Karen Blue

    It looks like this was a great week for you. The Sims are funny. I don’t know that much about them, but the videos were kinda cool. I haven’t even started The Queen of the Damned. I think I remember it being slow. I am looking forward to your review anyways.
    2017 has been a tough year for me personally, and professionally. I hope that 2018 is better and I see a lot of positive changes. I hope your 2018 is awesome as well. Have a great new years eve Kristen!

    1. Kristen Burns

      The Sims are so entertaining sometimes lol. Oh no, I’m getting ahead of you on the Vampire Chronicles! It was slow though. Not the best book in the series. I’m sorry 2017 was tough for you. Thank you, I hope 2018 is better for both of us. Happy New Year!

  9. Lola

    I actually had a pretty good year personally. My business improved and some issues I’ve was dealing with at the end of last year have been resolved and I had a few meh years in a row, so I am happy this was a pretty good year. But yeah it seems lots of people didn’t have a too good year. I hope 2018 is a better year for you!

    That is great you did a bit of writing this year and your art looks great! Just like you I used to draw a lot when I was younger, but nowadays rarely do it anymore and don’t really have the urge to pick it up again at the moment. And winning giveaways is the best, I won a few giveaways too this year.

    Aww thanks for the shout out! You’re one of my favorite bloggers and I always like stopping by your blog :).

    I think it’s awesome you’re enjoying the Sims so much. I like their Christmas outfits and tree in those first two videos. Oh and their guinea pig is so cute! Here’s to an awesome 2018!

    1. Kristen Burns

      I’m glad you had a good year 🙂 It did seem like your business did well from what you mentioned in your posts! And that’s great that some issues were resolved. Thank you 🙂

      Thanks! It made me happy to do some writing and drawing again since those are things I’ve loved for as long as I can remember, but I had kinda stopped both, and I didn’t really have any creative outlets anymore. Winning giveaways is always a good feeling!

      No prob! I love visiting your blog, and you’re always so nice and I enjoy chatting with you 🙂

      Yeah I totally got back into the sims this year. Both a blessing and a curse lol. You’re the only person who said anything about their Christmas outfits! I’m glad you like them, haha. I wanted to give them ugly Christmas sweaters but couldn’t find any, so cute patterned Christmas sweaters was the best I could do 😛 I love the guinea pig! Yes, here’s to an awesome 2018!

  10. Amber Elise @ Du Livre

    2017 wasn’t the best year, but it was a lot better than my 2016 so there’s that.

    You’ve had a really creative year, and I’ve always loved seeing your drawings. 🙂 I’m going to have to check out this excel sheet you made!

    Wishing you a peaceful 2018!

    1. Kristen Burns

      Way to look on the bright side of things 😉 I’m glad it was at least an improvement for you though.

      Thanks! It was definitely nice getting some of my creative outlets back.

      Thank you, you have a wonderful 2018 too!

    1. Kristen Burns

      Thanks! I agree, I felt like I had no creative outlets for the past few years, so I like having those back. You should definitely catch up on Saga, the latest volume was great! Happy New Year to you too!

  11. Sam@WLABB

    So happy you had so much inspiration – stories, poetry, and illustrations. That’s awesome! I feel like you’ve reached a certain level when you get a physical copy of a book for review, so congratulations on that. I recommend so many books through Overdrive, the librarian probably thinks i am spamming them. They did get two books I recommended this month, so I am happily waiting on the waitlist. Happy New Year!

    1. Kristen Burns

      Thank you! Haha, I don’t think I’ve quite reached that physical copy level since neither of these were directly from pubs, but hey, a book is still a book! I’m always super choosy about what I request so that there’s a higher chance they’ll actually get the book lol. Glad you got a couple you requested though! Happy New Year to you too!

  12. Let's Get Beyond Tolerance

    Congrats on getting back into drawing – and writing this year too. That’s so awesome. I really need to make more of an effort to write my own stuff in 2018. Blogging ahead would really help with that, so there’s another goal. LOL

    Positive things that happened this year? Well, I was able to attend ALA in Chicago for the first time ever and see some bloggers I love – some I’d met before, but not all of them. I don’t really live somewhere where a lot of bloggers are, so it’s rare I get to meet any of them and that’s great. Plus, I love Chicago. 🙂


    1. Kristen Burns

      Thanks! I would really like to do *more* writing this year, so we’ll see how that goes for both of us lol.

      Ooh that’s awesome you got to attend ALA and meet some bloggers in person!

  13. Dina

    Hi Kristen,
    Happy New Year! I love Elliot and Matthew’s last clip was really sweet. My sister was showing around the Sims (don’t know which one she has), and I was kind of baffled by how awesome their way of talking is? I just love the language they use. So cute. Yay for guinea pigs. What is the guinea pig’s name?

    I am going to check out your blogging tips this year, because I need all the help I can get. Have you written anything on motivation? You read like a ninja, and I wish I could read as much as you do (or even get close to how much you get done around your blog). Plus, you comment like a beast, too (a pretty beast. But, a strong and mighty one, too).

    Haven’t heard of the Pied Piper before, so it’s what I am going to look up next. Thought you should know.

    1. Kristen Burns

      Hi!!! Happy New Year 🙂 I swear I was, like, tearing up while they were doing that slow dance lol. It was so beautiful. Yeah, they speak Simlish! All their songs are in Simlish too. The guinea pig’s name is Jellybean XD Kind of a little homage to the guinea pig I used to have because he had like 27 names instead of just a first and last, and that was one of them.

      Ah, no, pretty much just that spreadsheet. My secret to getting so much blogging and reading done is that I have no life lol. But aww, I’m a pretty, strong, mighty beast? I will take that compliment!

      I’m only vaguely familiar with the Pied Piper, so I will have to read it myself before I get to the book.

  14. Barb (boxermommyreads)

    i hope you have a great 2018 – you deserve it. I agree 2017 was a heck of a cluster in many areas. Glad you’re still enjoying the Anne Rice books. I have so much fun watching your SIMS dance. Well it’s freezing here and I’m getting ready to venture out. Stay warm if you are in the freezing zone right now.

    1. Kristen Burns

      Thank you <3 I'm glad I'm enjoying the Anne Rice books too since I wasn't sure I would lol. I can't get over the sims dancing, haha. Yikes, you stay warm too!

  15. Dragonfly @ Our Familiarium

    yay look at you! library influencer, artist, and writer! 10K beautiful words, poem and all! Proud of you for accomplishing all this even though you haven’t felt so wel. I love that you found the sims so inspiring the way you describe it does really sound like a great writing tool for character and scenes development.
    Thanks a lot for sharing your spreadsheet! I’m always finding new ways to stay organized 🙂

  16. ioana @dragonwaffles

    OMG A GUINEA PIG!! That’s like the best thing ??! My 2017 is better knowing that at least a gunie appreciation has been going on.
    ALSO your drawings are really good!! Copying is the best way to learn. If that sounds really bad IT’S NOT -really copying for practice is underrated becuase it helps so much is you’re self thought!

    1. Kristen Burns

      I used to have a guinea pig, so I just think they’re like the cutest things ever lol.

      I know that copying is how you learn, it’s just that that’s all I’ve ever been able to do my whole life, and I have all these ideas in my head that I can’t put onto to paper :-/ So that’s what I’d like to accomplish one day, being able to draw from imagination and to just use references as references rather than having to copy them exactly 🙂

  17. Karen

    I had a decent 2017 but it was a constant struggle to block out all the noise and not drown in despair. I honestly don’t see it being better in 2018 but we’ll hunker down together and get through it!

    Happy new Year Kristen!

    For What It’s Worth

    1. Kristen Burns

      Yeah, 2017 was a rough year for a lot of people. I’m with you, I don’t see 2018 being any better, but at least we’ll have books to get us through! Happy New Year 🙂

  18. Becky @ A Fool's Ingenuity

    2017 wasn’t my favourite year ever, but it did fly by at least. I may not have loved all of it but at least it didn’t drag, got to stay positive. It’s true it’s better to think about the good things which happened and it’s awesome a Sims game helped inspire you to get creative, I love that. I will tell that to folks who judge me for spending an entire day playing Sims sometimes. You finished way more books than I did for a good long while. I really want to get back into reading often but I feel like I don’t have time to do that and blog and see friends.

    1. Kristen Burns

      Not the best year for a lot of people, but it’s a new year now 🙂 Lol yes! You should totally use that as your excuse when people get on your case for playing Sims 😉 If you’re having fun seeing friends and blogging, then don’t stress by trying to add more reading to the mix! You’ll get to the books eventually!