Monday, April 25, 2016

Readathon Wrap-ups

Hello from the other side . . . of the readathons that is!  (And, a little music video to go along with that because it is what I am listening to as I write this little wrap-up! Go ahead and give a listen while you read.)

Now for the actual readathon stats!  I'm going to break it down by day.  I obviously had some days of highs and lows, but overall I was pleased with my progress.  I didn't actually finish any books, but I did make significant progress in many of them!  Keep in mind when reviewing the stats, that I participated in both the Spring Into Horror Readathon all last week as well as Dewey's 24 Hour Readathon on Saturday.

Pages Read:  38 pages
Minutes Listened:  56 minutes

Pages Read:  110 pages
Minutes Listened:  91 minutes

Minutes Listened:  88 minutes

Minutes Listened:  39 minutes

Minutes Listened:  62 minutes

Pages Read:  113 pages
Minutes Listened:  202 minutes

Pages Read:  30 pages
Minutes Listened:  132 minutes


I was hoping for higher numbers for the physical books, but those numbers for the audiobooks are looking much better than expected!  I am so thankful these days for audio and the ability to multitask.  Now, I just need to find the time to blog and write again!!  I have only a couple weeks left of the semester and then I'm done with classes for a very long time.  I can do it!!

Did you participate in one or both of the readathons?  How did you do?  Were you happy with your results?

Friday, April 22, 2016

Spring 2016 Dewey's 24-Hour Readathon

I'm back again, two times in one week, both times posting about a readathon!!  Woohoo!!  This time, I'm stopping in to officially declare that I'm participating in the Spring 2016 Dewey's 24-Hour Readathon, taking place in less than 12 hours, and running for 24 hours straight.  I know that there is no way that I will be able to read for the full 24 hours, and I really have no intention of keeping track of the total number of hours I will be reading.  I will, however, be reading as much as I can, checking in on Twitter and Instagram, and getting through these two piles of books as much as possible.  (These are the same piles of books that I posted about earlier this week for the Spring Into Horror Readathon, and both piles still apply.)

I may pull in a couple of short stories along the way, especially considering I picked up two of these kinds of books tonight at the bookstore!  If I do get to them, I will be sure to take a picture of the beauties and share on social media.

I will also be sharing a wrap-up post for both readathons on Monday morning, with specific reading and book details.  So, until then, HAPPY READING!!

Are you participating in the 24-hour readathon?  What are your plans for the day?

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Spring Into Horror Readathon 2016

The Spring Into Horror Readathon is in full swing, and I'm a bit late in posting that I am and have been participating!  It began on Monday, April 18 and will run for one full week.  The only catch is that you have to read one horror, mystery, or thriller novel.  It's perfect timing because Dewey's Readathon is taking place on Saturday, and I hope to participate in that one as well (but will post again later this week with updated plans for the day).

What are my plans?  To read as much as I possibly can!!  I have reading to do for my class as I begin to wrap it up.  I have reading to do for two different book clubs.  And, I have reading to do just for fun!  Let's take a look at the books for the week . . .

The King of Plagues is actually my current audiobook read and the book that I am counting as my horror/thriller novel.  I am currently in the midst of reading Green Grass Running Water.  The others I hope to get to by the weekend.

This other beautiful stack of books are picture books (not all pictured!) and some books for my final research paper for my class.  I will be reading these here and there throughout the week.

I will not be setting specific page or time goals for this readathon round.  My goal is to simply read as much as I can, and get through as many as the books pictured as possible.  I will be posting updates via Twitter and Instagram, a quick update for my Dewey's Readathon post later this week, and will share my final wrap-up post early next week.  Life has been very hectic the last few weeks, so I'm hoping to get my reading and writing mojo back very soon!

Are you participating in the readathon this week?  What are your goals and reading plans?

Monday, March 28, 2016

Spring 2016 Bloggiesta Wrap-Up

Last week, I participated in the fun week-long Spring Bloggiesta.  I had pretty high hopes to get back on track, and now is that time to check in and share with you what I was actually able to accomplish.  I've got thoughts as well, but let's take a look at the list first.
  • Back-up Blog (DONE!)
  • Back-up Template (DONE!)
  • Update Books Read in 2016 (DONE! -- Check it out here.)
  • Update A-Z Review Index (DONE! -- Check it out here.) 
  • Update BBI Blog Index (DONE!-- Check it out here.)
  • Update BBI Guest Post Index (DONE! -- Check it out here.)
  • Clean Out TO READ Notebook (currently at 4 -- NO CHANGE)
  • Clean Out Facebook Saves (currently at 153 -- DOWN TO 150)
  • Write Reviews (NONE)
  • Write Book Discussion Posts (NONE)
  • Catch-up on Feedly Reader (currently at 537 -- DOWN TO 214)
  • Finish Prepping Armchair BEA Website (DONE! -- I actually have a few things left to do, but I am waiting on a couple responses before it is completely finalized.  Be sure to check out the site here and be following for up-to-date news.)
  • Maintain Inbox Zero (DONE!)

Overall, I am content with what I was able to complete.  I spent more time on Armchair BEA prep than I had originally planned, but we are almost ready to launch all the goodness of the event starting this week.  I also got a good chunk of things done around the house and am in the middle of working on my taxes.  I'm hoping that the rest of this week will see me finish the other items on this list that I was not able to finish, and all of you will get to see me back to posting on a regular basis again.

Did you participate in Bloggiesta?  How did you do?  What was your biggest accomplishment from the week?

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Spring 2016 Bloggiesta

I am so excited for Bloggiesta this time around because it is a full week.  Conveniently, I also happen to be on spring break from work and will have lots more time to work on the blog.  I really need this time!!

For those not familiar with this event, it is an opportunity to work and improve on your blog.  Challenges and tutorials are provided on the main site, and there are a number of participants to help commiserate with throughout the week.

I have lots of plans and lots of expectations for the week, even beyond the blog.  I have some house projects to complete, taxes to be done, and books that need to be read.  However, I will stick with the blog needs for this post.  Let's take a look at my list . . .
  • Back-up Blog 
  • Back-up Template
  • Update Books Read in 2016
  • Update A-Z Review Index 
  • Update BBI Blog Index 
  • Update BBI Guest Post Index 
  • Clean Out TO READ Notebook (currently at 4)
  • Clean Out Facebook Saves (currently at 153)
  • Write Reviews
  • Write Book Discussion Posts
  • Catch-up on Feedly Reader (currently at 537)
  • Finish Prepping Armchair BEA Website
  • Maintain Inbox Zero

I will be sharing updates via Twitter and will have my full wrap-up post here on the blog at the end of the event.  Let's hope this is the beginning of getting back on track for regularly posting here on the blog again.

Will you be participating in Bloggiesta this time around?  What does your to-do list look like?

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

BOOK TALK: February 2016 in Review

February flew by.  Maybe it was because it was a short month.  Maybe because life was just so busy that I blinked and it was gone.  I'm kind of thinking it was a combination of the two!  The month started slow in both reading and blogging, but it picked up towards the end and March is already looking better.  Let's hope that it sticks!

Let's take a look at the stats for the month . . .

The TOP POST for the month is really no surprise.  Book Blogger Appreciation Week got me motivated to start blogging on a regular basis again, and it was the kick-off post Books = Me that was the big hit, in visits and comments.

The TOP PIC for the month was a bit of a surprise though.  I thought it would be the pic of my February TBR pile, but instead it was my post about my personal connections to the new release, The Flood Girls!  I loved this little surprise!

My BOOKS READ for the month was a bit longer than last month, though most of them were shorter reads.
  1. The Creature in the Closet:  Lord of the Hat by Obert Skye
  2. Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo
  3. Liesl & Po by Lauren Oliver
  4. Cogewea, The Half-Blood by Mourning Dove

Of this list, my FAVORITE READ was definitely Liesl & Po.  I enjoyed the others, but this one was an audiobook narrated by Jim Dale and was a good story!

I'm hoping for continued consistency in blogging during the month of March.  I also have a small TBR pile to choose from for the month, mostly from my class.  However, I am hoping for much more than this small pile because I have spring break from class and work.  That should hopefully give me lots of good time for reading and writing.  Of course, I also need to tackle some renovations and the dreaded taxes!!  Sounds fun, right?!?

How was your February?  Do you have any highlights that you want to share?

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Author Jamie Ford Shares His Favorites

Do you all remember back in September when I got to host the fabulous Jamie Ford for the 2015 #30Authors event?  Well, I was super excited for so many reasons.  I have adored his two published books, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet as well as Songs of Willow Frost.  Also, this amazing author lives in the same town as I do and he is a huge advocate for the library and independent bookstores.  Well, I took the opportunity to contact him and he gave me a little interview on the side in addition to the #30Authors event.  The sad thing is that life got busy and I somehow let it sit in my to-do box far too long.  And, I feel absolutely horrible about it!!  Today, I am here to fix this and share with all of you the exciting result of that interview from so many months ago.  I now share with you a few of Jamie Ford's favorites . . .

A favorite read from childhood. 
Not counting the time I found my father’s Playboy collection in the garage I’d have to go with Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card. Even now I dream about Battle School. Also dream about my father’s Playboy collection…

A favorite read to get in the Fall mood. 
I actually read horror every October. Last year’s standout novel was Bird Box by Josh Malerman which was deliciously creepy. But…if you don’t want to sleep with the lights on, I highly recommend Blankets by Craig Thompson. It’s a graphic novel about first love that will break your heart, glue the pieces back together, and then break it all over again. Then again, to some people that’s kind of horrifying as well.

A favorite author with Montana roots or blossoms. (i.e., authors from MT or ones that write about MT) 
The late, great Ivan Doig. Ivan grew up in Montana, moved to Seattle, but wrote about the Big Sky State. I grew up in Seattle, moved to Montana, but wrote about the Emerald City. When I first met him and we shook hands I thought we might have a Freaky Friday moment where our minds jump into each other’s bodies.

A book that you find yourself recommending the most. 
It’s not a particular book, per se, but I end up recommending poetry a lot, especially to book groups. It’s a nice change of pace. And my go-to is usually Derrick Brown, who is a slam poet. Here’s a favorite piece:

To quote Richard Gere from Pretty Woman: “People's reactions to opera the first time they see it is very dramatic; they either love it or they hate it. If they love it, they will always love it. If they don't, they may learn to appreciate it, but it will never become part of their soul.” The same can be said about slam poetry.

A read that you love to revisit. 
This is a weird one but it’s The Harlan Ellison Hornbook. It’s a collection of his essays from the 70s and it’s become my literary comfort food. Harlan is brutal, and honest, and scathing, and vulnerable, and just sticks his heart (and chin) out there on the page. I’m such a fan of Harlan Ellison that I bought his first typewriter, a 1938 Remington Noiseless Portable, forged in the fires of Mt. Doom. It’s my preeeecious.

A huge thanks to Jamie Ford for this fabulously fun interview!  I had so much fun with this, and I am so sorry that it took me almost forever to share here with all of my readers.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Weekly Words: A Week of Highs and Lows

Welcome to my new feature, Weekly Words!  Over the years, I have shared random thoughts or highlights from my week on a scheduled day.  This year, I decided to try something new and post something similar, but rather whenever I would like.  Sometimes you will see it, sometimes you will not.  Hopefully, more of the former than the latter!  Anyways, on to the week . . .

What a week!  I had some really great moments, and then some not so good moments.  Let's start with the great ones.

Book Blogger Appreciation Week (BBAW) was a complete hit!  I had so much fun participating, and loved being back in the blogging world on a regular basis.  It almost felt like I was organized enough to get back into writing this past week, in both blogging and my personal writing!  Such a great feeling!  Now I just need to finish catching up on all my fellow bloggers contributions for the week.  In the meantime, here's the list of my own in case you missed it . . .

Now for the lows . . . As I have mentioned before, I am currently taking an online class on Native American Literature.  It is a fascinating class and I am loving it, but boy can it be stressful!!  I frequently have papers to write and assignments to finish.  I am currently debating the topic for my final paper.  And, I really should be reading and writing a paper instead of writing this.  Oh well!  As soon as I hit publish, that is where I will be!

In addition to the stress from my class, my dear boy had a bit of an accident at school this last week.  I received a call at work on Friday morning that I needed to pick up my son and get some x-rays.  He was playing basketball before school started, and took a bit of spill.  Well, I took him in for some pictures and initially, the results were a sprain.  Well, on Saturday morning another call came in, and the results had changed.  A small crack was found in his wrist!  Thankfully, there is no cast needed at this time, but my boy has to wear a splint for the next two weeks.  Keeping my fingers crossed that he heals quickly!

Finally, let's close on a high note.  In fact, let's close on two!  In addition to my excitement from the return of my blogging and writing last week, my son and I hit up a local artsy shop for a date night this last weekend, and spent the night creating.  I shared a pic from my art in progress on Instagram here, but I thought I would share a little pic of my final product here (though the quality is a tad poor).  I have never really painted before, so I am excited at how well it turned out and I can't wait to go back for more!!

And, to keep those creative juices flowing, check out what is happening over at Book Bloggers International next month!  I have not participated in an Instagram challenge in a long time, but I'm going to dive in and try to continue my creative streak throughout next month.  I hope that you will join us!

What have been some of your recent highs and lows?  How have you expressed your creativity lately?

Friday, February 19, 2016

#BBAW (Book Blogger Appreciation Week): Blogger Burnout

The final day of Book Blogger Appreciation Week is here, and that makes me a little sad.  It has been a great week of blogger interactions and for me, perfect timing as I am recovering from a bit of burnout.  The ironic thing is that today's conversation is about how to avoid or deal with blogger burnout.  Hmmmm . . . convenient!

In a couple of months, I will be celebrating 9 years of blogging.  I have discovered during all this time blogging that my burnout in blogging tends to coincide with life ... when life gets crazy.  Sometimes it has been during one of my many moves.  More recently, it has come with trying to juggle starting a new job, returning to school for a couple of classes, dealing with a loved one's diagnosis with dementia, and more.  I find that I just lack the time to write, but I rarely lose the desire to write and blog.  I always have lots of books and ideas to write about.  But, life has to take priority, and the blog gets put on the back burner.

When this life burnout happens, I take some time away from the blog.  As inspiration strikes, I make a note.  I still try to write behind the scenes.  And, I always try to read a little bit every day.  When I finally find the time to blog again, then I have my notes of inspiration and writings to refer to.

In addition, at the end of every year, I try to evaluate my current features on the blog.  I look at my priorities for the blog.  And, I make changes necessary to move forward.  Sometimes, the new features continue.  Sometimes, they don't.  I just go with my gut, and write from my heart.  I blog what I feel like, when I feel like, and try not to let the pressures get to me.  And, continuing to converse with my fellow bloggers throughout it all continues to energize me and want to be a better blogger.  Afterall, it is the community that has kept me around for this long and it will be the community that keeps me around for a long time to come!

What strategies do you utilize for preventing and/or dealing with blogger burnout?  

Thursday, February 18, 2016

#BBAW (Book Blogger Appreciation Week): Connecting to the Community

It is Day 4 of Book Blogger Appreciation Week, and the topic is staying connected to the community.  I stay connected a number of ways, so let's see if I can name them all.  I'm even going to try to step it up with listing my Top 5 Ways of Connecting!  Some of these are social media platforms and others are events that I like to participate in regularly.

My Top 5 Ways of Staying Connected

5.  Bout of Books:  I have discovered that in general week-long readathons work better for me than the shorter ones.  I still like to participate in both, but this event usually draws a big crowd, creates a lot of great book chatter, and I tend to feel better about what I can accomplish in the time allotted.

4.  Bloggiesta:  I have been participating in this event since it was first created.  I haven't made every single event, but I sure try to because it is a great way to maintain my blog on a regular basis, learn more about blogging in general, and chat with fellow bloggers.

3.  Twitter:  I love that you can connect with book lovers any time of the day or night on Twitter, and tons of fun chats happen via awesome events through this medium, and all in real time.

2.  Book Bloggers Do It Better Facebook Group:  I don't always join in the conversations here, but it is always guaranteed you can find good ones every week.  My favorite is the weekly #fridayreads conversation, but there is so much more.

AND . . .

1.  Instagram:  I love books.  I love photography.  Instagram is the perfect platform to get a bit of both, and the inclusion of the thriving #bookstagram community, there is always plenty of conversation beyond the beautiful art of photography.

I also have a very special mention that I have to single out -- Book Bloggers International!  I didn't feel comfortable listing it in my Top 5 because I am very biased on this one, but I do believe it deserves to see the love!  This website is dedicated to connecting book bloggers from around the world.  We interview bloggers, we have bloggers guest write for our special themed months, we distribute a monthly newsletter with fabulous book blogger highlights, our personal favorite links from the month, and a list of giveaways happening around the blogosphere.  And, I can't forget to mention our Book Bloggers Community Calendar for the go-to location in finding your next great event.  If you haven't already discovered it, check it out now!!

Other platforms or events that I also enjoy, even if they didn't make my Top 5 Faves are:  Tumblr, Facebook, Goodreads, Dewey's Readathon, RIP Challenge, March Magics (formerly known as DWJ March), Seasons of Reading Readathons, and Google+.  I know that there are so many other fabulous events and platforms out there, and despite my limited time, I'm always willing to check them out.  I can't wait to see what others recommend.

What are your favorite ways to stay connected to the community?