Wednesday, October 11, 2017

I SPY: Jamie Ford

Welcome to my new feature, I SPY!  It's my focus on authors.  Sometimes it will be a focus after attending an author event.  Other times, and because I live in a place that does not always get a lot of author events, it will just be the opportunity for me to share a little author love for one reason or another.  Now, without further ado, let's jump in with the first author of my new series:  Jamie Ford. 

For those who may not be familiar with Jamie Ford, he is the author of the much acclaimed Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet.  I read this book a couple of years ago, and I thoroughly enjoyed his story.  It was such a heart-warming read, and I could not have been more excited to know shortly afterwards that he is an author local to me!

After reading his first novel, I knew that I had to read more, so I moved onto his second, Songs of Willow Frost, listening to it on audiobook.  Where his first novel was one that warmed my heart, his second broke my heart little by little.  Yet, I found myself loving his work even more.  I knew that I would read his next book when it was released.

That third book has now been officially released, and last month, I had the opportunity to attend an event at a local art gallery to listen to him speak.  Just days before, my mother-in-law passed away.  It was an overwhelming week, and I was looking forward to it as a break from it all.  I had no idea that when I would attend this event with a writer friend of mine that I would be laughing so hard, and that it was exactly what I needed after a dark week.

Love and Other Consolation Prizes is Ford's newest story.  It is a book that I look forward to diving into, and hope to finish before this year comes to a close.  I want to know how this book will make me feel after his previous two books created such contrasting feelings.  But let's be honest, I think that he has already cemented himself in my line of author favorites.  At this point, I will buy any book that he writes.  I enjoy his writing style.  I enjoy the worlds that he transports me to.  I enjoy that he brings a touch of history into the present.  And, I am thankful that he was able to bring light into a very dark personal time with his sense of humor.  He's got me hooked!

Are you familiar with Jamie Ford?  Have you enjoyed his novels, either those previously published or his newest release?

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

WEEKLY WANDERINGS: Playing Catch-up & a Little Wonder

The last couple of months, I have been feeling so far behind in everything ... reading, blogging, work, and tasks around the house.  This last weekend, I finally felt like I had a couple of days to catch my breath and get all caught up on so many things.  I even got to spend some good time reading.  It has felt so good.

I still have a lot of catching up to do here, and I'm hoping to do a lot of that this month.  I want to talk about some of the books I've read this year, share with you all a couple of author events that I attended, and chronicle the journey of building my dream library.  There really is so much!!  I hope that I can find the time to blog all about it.

In the meantime, it's feeling good to be caught up on all the things, so I can finally enjoy a few things that I enjoy.  And, one of those things that I am enjoying these days is WONDER WOMAN!!  I went to the movie in theaters with my family (not the most family friendly for the younger crowd, in my opinion, but we did it anyways!) and this last weekend, we all watched it again from the comfort of our home.  This scene from the movie is so amazing, and I could watch it over and over again.  (If you haven't seen the movie, don't watch it.  You really must see the whole thing to fully appreciate it.)

How has your week been?  Are you loving WONDER WOMAN as much as I am?  Can we talk about just how much we love this movie?

Friday, October 6, 2017

BOOK CHAT: September 2017 in Review

It's time to check out how the month of September went.  It's going to be short because it was a chaotic month and reading and blogging took a huge hit.  Let's get to it!

There was no TOP POST for the month because I didn't post a single thing all month long.

The TOP PIC for the month was this solemn shot, taken on the day that our family and friends remembered my mother-in-law.  I thought it was very fitting in many ways for the day and in honor of this important woman in our lives.

My BOOKS READ for the month was sparse.  I was able to finish these two books, but that's it.  It was slow going, and I have found myself in the middle of way too many books again.
  1. Rat Queens #1: Sass & Sorcery by Kurtis J. Wiebe
  2. Requiem by Lauren Oliver

With only two completed reads, it's hard to choose just one as my FAVORITE READ.  I think I'm going to with Requiem by Lauren Oliver.  It was a really good trilogy and I liked the way Oliver wrapped it up.  

As I've mentioned multiple times, SEPTEMBER proved to be a difficult, chaotic month.  I chaired my own Out of the Darkness Walk and had great success, but we also lost my mother-in-law when she passed away only days later.  Sleep came in bursts and I found myself ending the month with my sole wish of just getting more of it.  OCTOBER, on the other hand, I have great hopes for.  First of all, I got to start out the month with an opportunity of a lifetime ... seeing Stephen and Owen King speak about their newest book, Sleeping Beauties!  I hope to share more about this with you all very soon.  I also plan on participating in the FrightFall Readathon hosted by Michelle of Seasons of Reading as well as RIP XII hosted by Andi of Estella's Revenge (I'm shooting for Peril the First, which is four books total with a perilous theme).  I plan to post at least one check-in throughout the month, if not more.  Oh, and I am also planning to re-read The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson with Tasha at Book Bloggers International.  We have started a new Goodreads group to aid in the conversation, so stop by and check it out.  Obviously, I plan to read a lot more this month, but I also plan to sleep a lot more.  I've got some major catching up to do!!

How was your September?  Are you participating in any of these events in October?

Thursday, October 5, 2017

BOOK CHAT: August 2017 in Review

I'm a little behind in sharing my monthly wrap-ups, so today I'm going to share August.  September is coming soon!

The TOP POST for August was twofold:  BOOK CHAT:  July 2017 in Review received the most comments; WEEKLY WANDERINGS:  Healing & Readathoning had the most hits.

The TOP PIC for the month was this little bookish beauty.  I received all of these little books from my grandfather.  He told me all about them growing up, but he never could remember where he put them.  While I was helping clean out my grandmother's house, I came across these little treasures and I have now added them to my own little collection.

I had a great month of BOOKS READ!  Check out this long list of books completed during August:
  1. El Deafo by Cece Bell
  2. Trickster:  Native American Tales, A Graphic Collection by Various Authors
  3. Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver
  4. Saga, Volume 5 by Brian K. Vaughan
  5. Saga, Volume 6 by Brian K. Vaughan
  6. Ms. Marvel #3: Crushed by G. Willow Wilson
  7. Ms. Marvel #4: Last Days by G. Willow Wilson
  8. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
  9. Harry Potter & the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling
  10. Paper Girls #1 by Brian K. Vaughan

Of all those books read, I think my FAVORITE READ is probably Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell.  It was fun to revisit Simon and Baz, even if it was in an indirect way.

AUGUST was a month that flew by way too fast.  It was filled with some trainings for work, and then the return to work itself.  I love that I get to work on the school schedule, and I love getting back to working with the kids.  SEPTEMBER was a big month to plan for, but I will leave that for when I wrap it up.  

Do you remember any highlights from August, or was that too long ago?!?

Tuesday, October 3, 2017


I'm back!  It's been a while.  More than a month to be exact, and I really had no intention of being gone for so long.  Let me catch you up with what has been going on.

I organized my very own Out of the Darkness Walk to help in bringing awareness to suicide prevention and awareness.  The planning of this event pretty much took over my life, and I could not have done it without my super helpful family by my side and a few friends who stepped up for the day of the event.  I had more than 125 registered walkers, with about 100 in attendance, and we have almost raised $7000.  I call that a success!  I am currently planning to bring the walk back again next year, but I will be spreading the planning over a longer period of time and will have more people helping me this next time around.  The walk is a LOT of work for a single person!

After the event, I crashed.  I got a little sick and slept a lot.

Then, we lost another loved one.  My mother-in-law passed away a couple of weeks ago, and that has just been really, really difficult.  We had to make arrangements, and then we organized a memorial, and we find it just odd that she is no longer with us.  I think it will continue to prove difficult as we approach the holidays.  I have already lost a parent, my father, but a mother is different in its own way as I am discovering.  We are just taking it one day at a time.  Some days are more difficult than others, and we are thankful to crash into bed on those days and fall asleep to start a new day in the morning.

I'm hoping that life is finally slowing down for me a bit now, and I can get back to reading and writing.  With all that was on my plate, I simply have not been reading as much as I would like or writing in general except a few freelance pieces here and there.  I'm hoping that will change this month.  I'm going to start with a little catch-up this week, and then see where it will take me.  I have a ton of books that I want to chat with you about, and a couple of author events that I was able to somehow squeeze into my schedule, as well as a few more bookish things.  I've missed the book community, and I am looking forward to joining in again.

In the meantime, I'm heading to bed a bit early tonight in the hopes of cracking a book!  Wish me luck!

What bookish or non-bookish news do you have to share with me since I last posted? 

Monday, August 28, 2017

WEEKLY WANDERINGS: Wrapping Up #BoutofBooks

Wow!  The week of Bout of Books went by way too fast, but it was sure a good week of reading!  Let's look at the final numbers . . .


I even finished five ... yes, five books!!  That's one of the best readathons I've had ever!!  Here's the list of books I was able to complete . . .
  1. Ms. Marvel #3:  Crushed by G. Willow Wilson
  2. Ms. Marvel #4:  Last Days by G. Willow Wilson
  3. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
  4. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling
  5. Paper Girls #1 by Brian K. Vaughan

In other news, I returned to work today.  I write this little update exhausted, but it's a good kind of exhausted.  It's good to be back to a routine.  It's good to see the kids again.  And, I hope it means that it will get me back on a good sleeping schedule again as well as a consistent writing schedule.  I've got hope, and now I'm gonna head to bed!

How was your week of reading?  Any back to school thoughts from your neck of the woods?

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

WEEKLY WANDERINGS: It's #BoutofBooks Time!

It has been 18 days since I last posted.  18 days.  Whoa!  Life just seems to have gotten in the way.  Thank goodness for Bout of Books to get me back in line, and just in time before I return to work next week.

I have no good excuses, so let's just move forward.  Bout of Books is a week-long readathon that kicked off yesterday morning and will run through Sunday.  They have challenges and chats, but this week I am just focusing on reading as much as I can.  I am in the midst of planning a number of other events for September, prepping my office for the new school year, and getting some lesson planning done as much as I can before the kids arrive.  Now, for the pile . . .

If you have been following me the last few months, some of these books may look familiar.  The reason is because many of these books have been on my TBR pile for a while.  I have been in the middle of some of these books for a very long time.  A very, very long time.  And, it is time for me to get through them and move on.  Thankfully, I am feeling super good about this because I have already completed one of those books ... Ms. Marvel #3: Crushed by G. Willow Wilson. I am going to focus on some light reading to start with the graphic novels, then dive into other books, probably throwing in a bit of Sherlock here and there.  I will also be getting in a little audio.  I've got a number of books in the queue, including Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell (okay, so I'm actually in the middle of this one), Requiem by Lauren Oliver, and Thrice the Brinded Cat Has Mew'd by Alan Bradley.  And, I hope to finally finish Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix with my kids.

Lots of expectations for this week, and I hope that I can escape into lots of wonderful worlds along the way!

Are you participating in Bout of Books this week? 

Friday, August 4, 2017

BOOK CHAT: July 2017 in Review

Time to wrap up another month!  July was a great month for reading, though I didn't post a lot here on the blog or on social media.  A lot of my absence was because of my recent surgery that I addressed in a bit more details here.  Another reason is because I am in the midst of organizing an Out of the Darkness Walk for my city and surrounding communities.  Life is definitely not slowing down these days!  Let's get to the books before I share more of the personal details . . .

The TOP POST for the month was actually BOTH of the posts that I was able to get up during the month of July!  Ha!  BOOK CHAT:  High Summer Readathon & #24in48 Readathon had the most hits, but BOOK CHAT:  June 2017 in Review received the most comments.

The TOP PIC was a stack of books!  No surprise there, right?!  This stack was the stack that I was tackling for the month and for the readathons.  I still haven't gotten through the whole stack, but I'm slowly working on it and hope to finish the whole thing before the end of this month.

My list of BOOKS READ definitely increased in July compared to previous months.  Check out this list!
  1. Bite Somebody Else by Sara Dobie Bauer
  2. Dork Diaries #3:  Tales From a Not-So-Talented Pop Star by Rachel Renee Russell
  3. On the Road by Jack Kerouac
  4. The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier
  5. Fostering Resilient Learners by Kristen Souers
  6. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
  7. Diary of a Wimpy Kid #10:  Old School by Jeff Kinney
  8. Diary of a Wimpy Kid #11:  Double Down by Jeff Kinney
  9. Bear Witness by Melissa Clark

Having to choose a FAVORITE READ this month was a hard decision, but I must say that The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas has to take this title.  It was an emotional and relevant read, and one that I recommend everyone read.  This was also the book that I hosted a readalong for over at Book Bloggers International this last month, and it is a story that is very much one that needs to be discussed as you read it.

What's on the agenda for AUGUST?  So, so much!  I hope to get in as much reading as possible, of course.  But, I also have a lot of work to do on this Out of the Darkness Walk that I am organizing.  This walk is one that helps promote awareness of suicide and ways that we can all work to prevent it and provide hope to those struggling.  It is the largest fundraiser for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, an organization that I serve on the state board of.  I am also taking a self-study course on QPR (a suicide prevention training), and am working to also run or participate in a multitude of other events in September for suicide prevention awareness month.  Oh, and of course, school is starting, which means that I will be returning to work.  I will be moving offices this year, so I need to get in there and get it all moved and set up for the new school year. Whew!  I hope I have time to get everything done this month!!

Last, but not least, I have not shared an update in a while on my annual one word:  WRITE.  I have been writing.  I have had three articles published over the last few months in a local magazine discussing suicide and how people can make a difference.  I am in the midst of writing another article for a small-town newspaper about the upcoming Out of the Darkness Walk.  I wrote my grandmother's obituary.  And, I have read through and provided feedback on a friend's story.  As for working on my own stories, I have not really touched them, and I'm not sure when I will have the chance to before this big walk that I am organizing.  So, I will be focusing on getting back to blogging on a regular basis, and working on a few pieces here and there.  I will still be writing, but I have to put the novel on the back burner for a bit.  

How was your July?  What do you have on your agenda for August?

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

WEEKLY WANDERINGS: Healing & Readathoning

Hello!!  Is anyone still out there?!?  It's been a while since I have posted, but I have still been reading.  And, I've got a good reason why I've been away for so long.

I have mentioned on social media that I had surgery a little over two weeks ago.  I have been saying that it has been a little procedure, but really it was a fairly big surgery.  My doctor has told me that I have restrictions for 4-6 weeks.  I have had some good days, where I probably overdo it because usually the next day is not so good and I just want to lay on the couch.  And, when I lay on the couch, I have been trying to get through GILMORE GIRLS (just finished Season 5), read, work on my many projects as I feel up to it, or sleep.  A couple of days ago, I finally ventured out for a little walk.  I didn't make it far, but I got off the couch and I will take that as progress.  I finally feel like I am beginning to have the energy to accomplish something, so I'm back and we will take it one step at a time.

Speaking of reading, I did participate in two recent readathons.  The first one was the two week High Summer Readathon, the second #24in48 that was over a weekend.  The #24in48 readathon did not go as planned.  I ended up spending more time sleeping since I was still within my first week after surgery, but I did get in a bit before crashing each day.  The High Summer Readathon went better.  My reading took a hit during the first week because of my surgery, but the second week was definitely better.  The events overlapped, but here are the numbers broken down for each.

#24in48 Readathon
197 pages

High Summer Readathon
939 pages
about 1 hour of audiobooks
a bit of dabbling in magazines

Not bad at all considering.  And, it's got me back to reading regularly, which is the best result I can get!

Hopefully, I will be back soon to chat more books with you.  I sat down and wrote a long list of posts I want to write for the blog.  Now, I just need to get to writing them!

How have you been doing lately?  Any great books or events you've been experiencing?

Saturday, July 22, 2017

BOOK CHAT: High Summer Readathon & #24in48 Readathon

Good Morning!

I meant to get this posted a bit earlier this week, but life got a bit crazy.  Then, I had a little surgery and I have been sleeping so much that I haven't even turned on my computer.  Today, I am feeling better and I decided it was time to announce that I am participating in two readathons.  What better timing since I am already on forced rest because of my surgery?!

The first readathon, the High Summer Readathon started on Monday, July 17 and will run through Sunday, July 30.  It is two weeks of reading as much as you can.  I did get in a bit of reading earlier this week, but I hope to get in lots more from here until the end of the month.

The second readathon is the #24in48 Readathon, which has participants attempting to read 24 hours over the 48 hour weekend.  I'm not sure I will reach the full 24 hours because I am still sleeping a LOT and I'm getting a bit of a late start, but I am sure going to try my best.

As for what I will be reading . . . I will be starting off with more of THE HATE U GIVE by Angie Thomas for the #12mos12rals over at Book Bloggers International.  Also, I am in the middle of the audiobook, PANDEMONIUM by Lauren Oliver that I hope to get a bit in here and there.  Other than that, this stack will be what I will be pulling from . . .

Well, I'm off to read!  I will be posting updates via Instagram and Twitter over the weekend, so feel free to follow me there for details.

Will you be joining in on either of these readathons?  What are your reading plans for the remainder of July?